Be Kind

30 Oct

Vivian and I took advantage of the crisp fall weather early Friday afternoon and walked up to our local library, which has an excellent playground. Nearing the crest of the hill, I could hear the sounds of children playing and hoped that it wouldn’t be too crowded. My heart sunk when we rounded the entrance and I saw at least a dozen young teen girls on the equipment. Irritated, I thought of what to say to reclaim the occupied infant swings; my fake smile barely concealing my annoyance as we approached. But, before we reached the play area, the teen offenders hopped off the swings and ran giggling past me – though not without pausing to coo at Vivian’s cuteness. A few seconds later I heard one of them announce, “Guys, you can still play, but there’s a baby here now so we need to be considerate.” And they did, and they were.

I felt ashamed at my reaction – what would my tight-lipped request to share the swings really have said? The girls may have just chalked up my annoyance to my being a grumpy adult, but the underlying message was clear:

“You are obnoxious. You shouldn’t be playing. You are in the way. You don’t belong here. Your happiness is less important than mine. Your joy is annoying. Your gaiety is unwelcome.”

The same shitty messages that I grew up with. Poor girls. Temporarily safe and sheltered on old, familiar grounds; enjoying the last vestiges of childhood while teetering on the brink of entry into an unknown, frightening world – and there I am, a shining example of adulthood, of what they are to face and what they will become. Was that really the best I could do? As Vivian swung happily in her baby seat I looked over at the girls, who were busy clamoring up and down the slide and taking pictures of each other dangling upside down on the monkey bars. And I smiled. Smiled at their fun, at their joy, and at their play.

Later, on our way home, we walked past a mom on a nearby bench, her arms crossed and her face angry. Her two children, who had previously joined us on the slide near the baby swings, played quietly nearby. I wondered if she was annoyed with the teenagers like I had been. I wondered how much difference a smile would have made. I was reminded of this:

This week, I will do my best to be kind. To smile more and judge less. Will you?

Autumn is the mellow time.

24 Sep

We live in a walk-up apartment built in 1929 that is – with the exception of the stick-on (!) laminate tile in the kitchen, a new toilet in the bathroom, and several dozen coats of paint – what I believe is known in the home renovation business as “authentic.” Some aspects of our home’s authenticity are more charming than others, but we love it, quirks and all. (Well, except for the window unit AC and space heaters, but I won’t go there.)

One of my favorite parts about our place is the stairway itself. It was never finished, leaving the raw wood that would have otherwise been covered by plasterboard exposed. The cracks between the boards fascinate me to no end – I wonder how many people have dropped pieces of mail or other identifying papers down into the space over the past 82 years, hoping that someday they will be found and remembered.

Decorating in the stairwell has been pretty sparse, despite its great potential. I’ve had fantasies of adorning the walls with old thrift shop paintings that have a vaguely unifying theme, or maybe installing some quirky faux taxidermy; but Mr. Right is more of a minimalist than I am, so we’ve stuck with a few framed pictures, a plant or two, and the occasional gourd or garland during the holidays. But, yesterday I got a little bit crazy, and made this:

I won’t condescend to you with a step-by-step tutorial, since the process was super simple. I used The Google to find a nice few words about Fall, typed them up using Courier in a landscape-oriented Pages document, and printed them on an old paper grocery bag that I trimmed to 8.5 x 11” sheets to fit in the printer. I thread a salvaged ribbon through slits cut on either side of each word and, voila! Near-instant seasonally-themed banner.

Do you have a favorite feature or quirk of your house? Something you’d rather do without? Do you have decorating plans that have never come to fruition? What would you do with a paper grocery bag?

Viv’s Nursery

11 Jul

This blog began as a place where I could consolidate and nurture ideas for Viv’s nursery and accompanying playthings. But as Vivian grew during her three trimesters and as I struggled through my two full semesters of chemistry, calculus, and engineering classes, I didn’t end up accomplishing much outside of memorizing formulas. Well, that and growing a marvelous little human being…

View from our bedroom

The nursery is a 9×12’ room in the back of our bedroom that previously existed as a seldom-used sunroom, which is really just a nice way of saying that it’s where we kept our old living room furniture set up after we bought our fancy new stuff. But these days it’s rare to find us in the living room – Viv’s nursery is definitely the place to be.

The globe mobile is one of my favorite things about the room. And, her bookshelf is quickly filling up with board books and simple toys.

Vivian arrived on May 19th and is a beautiful, charming, and clever little baby. I’ve taken several kajillion photos of her but haven’t decided if we’ll be sharing them here or not. As much as I want to, I kind of feel like her web presence should be a decision she makes for herself. Thoughts?

Spring Break

24 Mar

Mr. Right took vacation during my school’s spring break, and while we had originally planned to go to Dallas to see a Gustav Stickley exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art, an unexpected heating oil bill for Home Up North had us reconsidering and ultimately canceling our plans. We didn’t do anything remarkable – perhaps ate out a bit more than we should have and slept in later than usual – but still had a fantastic time together. In between our leisurely activities, household maintenance, and my catching up with calculus, I even had time for some knitting, and finished a jumpsuit for Viv:

Sadly, while cleaning on Tuesday we discovered that moths had gotten to a sweater I knit for Mr. Right several years ago. It was in storage under the bed and was devoured within a matter of weeks. I’ll freely admit to crying – it took me months to knit and it was a special gift that I was really proud of making for my husband. After some tears, though, we got down to business and with any luck have destroyed the last of the moths. And, in a fit of feeling it quite necessary to show the now-defeated moths that they can’t get me down, I decided to knit Mr. Right another sweater, and set out experimenting with several different yarns. While I still haven’t found the perfect new yarn, I’ve been stopping after each new swatch to make use of the remainder of the skein, and have been knitting up a batch 2011 Christmas gift hats in the process. I have another yet one on the needles, and am also working on a crocheted yoga mat bag… The moths may be gone, but the yarn/craft bug has definitely bitten.

Hats, Swatches, and Cats


Jungle Safari Diaper Cake and Sleep Sack

13 Mar

Our friend Kay and her husband (who works with Mr. Right) got a positive pregnancy test about six weeks after we found out that Vivian would be joining our family. They aren’t finding out the gender of Vivian’s future playmate, instead opting to go with a gender-neutral jungle safari theme for the new baby’s nursery. Of course, this gave me an excuse to go to JoAnn Fabric and find some appropriate material for a sleep sack:

I’m co-hosting Kay’s baby shower with another girlfriend, who is due a few weeks after Kay (and whose husband also works with Mr. Right). We’re sticking with the jungle safari theme for Kay’s shower, too. On Friday I had the good fortune of having no obligations other than a morning appointment with my OB, and gathered the supplies to make an appropriately-decorated diaper cake. Whew, diapers are expensive! We’re planning on using cloth diapers with Vivian and had already done plenty of research about cost savings, but I still had sticker shock looking at the shelves of disposables. Fortunately, the store’s generic brand happened to perfectly match Kay’s shower motif.

Fun, isn’t it? I’m looking forward to putting the rest of the shower together. And to more sewing for babies – I’m considering making some matching bunting to welcome Kay’s shower guests and will definitely sew a couple of bibs out of the leftover sleep sack fabric! Meanwhile, I have yet another scrappy sleep sack for Viv waiting to be sewn up, and need to start thinking about sewing for A’s baby, too. And then there’s that whole school thing… So much to do! Seven weeks until finals and seven weeks until Vivian’s due date. Yikes!

Adventures in Spray Paint – Viv’s Refinished High Chair

8 Mar

I had been planning on spray painting Viv’s high chair on Tuesday or Wednesday, but nasty weather combined with a busy school schedule meant that I didn’t have an opportunity to haul out the tarp and freshly-sanded chair until Friday morning. I was chomping at the bit to get started, figuring I’d have a finished chair to show off with plenty of time to spare before going out for dinner in the evening.

Almost finished with sanding

Painting was more difficult than I had anticipated. Despite trying to keep a good distance and spray lightly, I still ended up with paint drips. I managed to remove some of them with my fingers but others remained pretty obvious. With a relatively even but amateurish coat of paint applied, I walked away, allowing the magical spray paint leveling agents to (please please please) do their work and make the paint dry drip-free. The remainder of the afternoon was spent checking on paint drying progress (slow to non-existent) and waiting for my order to serendipitously show up so I could stick to my (totally unrealistic) timetable…

…by Saturday morning, the most glaringly obvious drips seemed to have disappeared, my fabric had arrived, and the chair was ready for its final, touch-up coat of paint. Home stretch! And then the cracking started – and I was not going for a faux country look. According to Google, spray paint is prone to cracking when 1) multiple layers are applied too quickly or 2) the temperature is too cold. And, with Friday’s paint drip debacle and a temperature hovering right around 50, I was an unsuspecting prime candidate for yet another spray paint disaster. I prayed to the DIY gods and went inside to knit and bake corn muffins.

The paint was dry when I went outside to check on Sunday. The cracking was apparent but minimal, and generally on the underside of the chair. I was getting impatient by this point and decided I could live with the cracking – time for upholstery! Searching for information on making the corners look especially awesome yielded few results, so I just folded and re-folded it until I thought it looked acceptable, and stapled away. I’m pleased with the result:



  • High Chair – $40, Craigslist
  • Sandpaper and Mask – $11.00, Lowe’s
  • Spray Paint (three cans) – $14.00, Lowe’s
  • Tarp – $10.oo, Hardware Store
  • Upholstery Tacks – $4.00, Upholstery Supply Company
  • Fabric – $22.00,

Total Cost: $101.00

Obviously, I didn’t save a whole lot of money by choosing to refinish a high chair instead of buying one new. But, I do feel like I ended up with a product of far superior quality to the plastic-and-particleboard high chairs that are so common today, not to mention the fact that I’m pretty sure Viv’s chair is fairly unique in its style. It’s a nice addition to our dining room and I hope that Viv will get a kick out of it someday.

Pancake Breakfast and a To-Do List

13 Feb

Mr. Right has been sick all weekend, so this Sunday’s breakfast didn’t amount to anything especially extravagant. I made pancakes for him, we both had raspberries, and I also had some pretty plain scrambled eggs and veggie sausage patties in an attempt to meet the egg and protein requirements recommended for us pregnant folk. Obviously, my pancake-shaping skillz need some improvement. Texas got stuck in its cookie cutter and didn’t exactly inspire much awe, although I’m told that El Paso was delicious.

Things I want to do this week:

  • finish Viv’s high chair
  • finish knitting baby overalls (and blog about said overalls)
  • begin knitting a pair of “soakers”
  • replace bent needle on serger and work on another vintage sewing pattern (including making it available for download)

Things I have to do this week:

  • study for Calculus test
  • study for Engineering Geology test
  • begin considering Environmental Geology project due in three weeks
  • keep house clean

I need a better brain and a housecleaning service, or infinite free time. It’s difficult to concentrate on much of anything with a baby due in 12 weeks.