Friday, September 21, 2007

Sparkles for Hannah

Today was the sixth birthday of a very special little girl and her mommy asked for all of us to have sparkly days. It was a gorgeous late summer day here, in the mid-70s with a crystal blue sky. Eli and I spent the morning doing various fun things (a meeting about the new playground, story time at the library, a visit to another playground). But he would tell you that the true sparklies came in the afternoon, because that's when Eli had his first ice cream cone, in honor of Hannah's birthday. Now, before you think that I'm the strictest parent in the world, he's had ice cream before. But he's never had his very own cone. Today seemed to be the perfect day for that to change.

We start out very traditionally, with great expectations...

The first licks are divine...

But maybe a finger is better...

Oh, heck, let's just put it in a dish. It still requires great concentration...

But the rewards are awesome!

There must be more in there...


A truly sparkly afternoon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Freedom is going in circles in the belly of a giant yellow and purple bear. Freedom is seeing your parents whiz by at every rotation. Freedom is going on a carnival ride by yourself. Freedom is also a little scary. And freedom is this week's Theme Thursday.

(Incidentally, freedom was not quite this washed out in the original shot, but I can't seem to fix it. My boy is not as green as he looks!)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Left brain, Right brain

I got news today of my first professional indexing job, some editing work, and I sold a couple of bibs. Not bad, and overall I have to say I like the balance.

I got my Etsy shop going a couple of weeks ago and have sold a few things since then. I also got a message from someone opening a store in downtown Boston (on Newbury Street, no less) who would like me to consign some, so that's fun. I just keep making 'em, much faster than they sell. It's fun, though, and it keeps the creative juices flowing.

The editing work should be fun and the money will be great to have. We moved to a more expensive town a year ago and since then money has been incredibly tight. I have to say, I do miss my impulse purchases. Thank goodness for ebay and Craig's List - not only for the buying but because I have managed to sell all kinds of superfluous items from our home. By doing that I have managed to score a few impulse purchases (like my digital SLR that I justified by calling it a 40th birthday present to myself). I wouldn't trade being home with Eli for anything but there are definitely days when I miss my disposable income!

But this post was supposed to be about balance, and how I seem to have found it. (Focus, Karen, focus.) The other day I was working on that old journal article that has been resurrected and I decided to drop what I was doing and finish up these guys for a friend who is a children's storyteller:

In that moment I realized I have found my perfect balance between right and left brain, between hobbyist and professional, between fun and work. It won't make me rich, but it does make me happy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


This week's theme is THREE. In a family of three, where so much of my thinking is focused on just how big this family should be, it's not that difficult to find something that fits the bill. I like this one because it's us, but not. And we are three.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Party of Three

If I ever threw a party and no one came, I imagine it would go something like this:

I would awaken the morning of the party, excited about all the possibility the day was going to hold. I'd be giddy. I'd imagine all of the details, everything unfolding in just the most perfect of ways. I'd envision the perfect conversations I'd have with my guests. I'd anticipate how they would love all the tasty treats I had prepared for them. I'd preoccupy myself for all the morning hours just knowing how perfect things would be.

As the hour of my guests' arrival approached, I would begin listening for them. I'd listen for their cars barreling down the street; I'd hear car doors slam in the distance and move quickly to the window to know immediately who had done it. As the time drew even closer, I wouldn't spend even a second worrying that they weren't coming because of course they were. Instead I would focus my energy on guessing who was going to arrive first.

A few minutes would pass and all of my guests would officially be late, but I still wouldn't worry. Most people don't show up on time, and no one wants to be the first person at a party. I'd take a walk into the dining room to make sure everything was in order, to make sure I hadn't forgotten to put out the artichoke dip or the cocktail napkins or the little sesame pretzel things I found at Trader Joe's. Feeling reassured that all was, in fact, right with the world, I'd return to my perch just to the side of the window - the perch that's close enough to see what's going on, but not so close that I feel I'm hovering. A watched pot never boils so I wouldn't want to hover.

After 10 minutes I still wouldn't worry. There must be traffic somewhere. Maybe I should have scheduled my party a little earlier in the day? Another 10 and I might start to wonder, but certainly someone will be here soon. By half past the appointed hour I would feel officially justified in worry, and some sadness would probably creep in. But mixed into all of that would be some hope, too. After all, 30 minutes late is not too late to arrive at a gathering.

That hope would fade, I suppose, as another half hour crept by with me on my perch and my artichoke dip cooling on the table and the drips of water on the outside of my lemonade pitcher pooling on the table beneath it. And at a certain point I might decide it was time to put some food in the fridge - just for safe keeping, because surely someone would come to eat it. So one by one I would take my dishes and cover them with saran wrap and make room for them on the shelves.

There might be some decorations on the wall, but I'd leave those, at least for another day. It would seem too final to take them down altogether. Not just yet. But after another hour or so, it would seem silly to leave the lights on, and I'd be tired anyway, so I'd quietly switch them off and just go to bed. And I'd drift off to sleep knowing that my party would have been grand, but unfortunately, no one came.

But here's the thing: I didn't throw a party, I tried to have a second child. And I made all kinds of preparations and I waited and I looked for signs and I thought I saw signs and I checked to make sure everything was in order and it was and I went back to waiting and still no one came and I started to lose hope and to wonder if maybe I shouldn't have tried all this a little earlier until finally it became clear that no one was coming so I shut down and tried to get some rest.

And while there's no denying the sting that comes along with opening yourself up only to be left alone, this one doesn't sting quite as much as you might think. Because first of all, I wasn't waiting alone. I had David there with me through it all and he makes any party worth having. And the other thing? I threw this same party three years ago and just the right guest arrived at that one. So even though this party didn't quite pan out, I do know the joy of a party gone well.

I am starting to find some peace concerning this journey we're on. I haven't taken down those decorations yet - still too final - but I have started to nibble at the untouched party food and I have started to accept the fact that this party may be simply a party of three.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Theme Thursday brings us to a conversation about exposure. There are so many fun ways to interpret this one, and I decided to go with practical and maybe even a little depressing. It's on my mind, though: Expsoure to BPA in all of Eli's plastic sippy cups. Some of my favorites stopped to pose for that photo on their way to the recycling bin.

I try not to be an alarmist about things like this but I think I've become hyper-sensitive, with all the lead paint recalls, etc. And I realized... some days his milk, juice or water sits in the same cup for 12 hours. If there's the potential for leaching, it's likely going on in our house, especially because I have been known to spend 15 minutes rearranging the dishwasher just to get an extra dish in there. So yeah, those cups are getting washed in there.

So today I gathered up all his pretty translucent cups (which I love, by the way - I have a thing for pretty plastic items) and I spent a good amount of time researching and ordering alternatives. I found one blog with a particularly useful review and ultimately got him one of these:

and one of these:

Hopefully, that will be the end of his exposure to bad, bad things. Until the next recall, anyway.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


The last week or so has been one of those good ones that offers unexpected surprises and happy moments. Two examples, only tangentially related:

I know I'm not the only person who finds it difficult to make new friends as an adult. Sure, that was that mini surge right after Eli was born when New Moms Groups yielded a small tribe of fabulous, supportive, wonderful women, but prior to that and following that, there's been a bit of a (not at all surprising) dearth. A couple of months ago I was at the playground with Eli (and, coincidentally, part of that tribe I just mentioned) and a woman with two boys struck up a conversation with me. It was one of those easy conversations, the kind that takes no effort whatsoever, the kind that requires few explanations and certainly no apologies. We've had a weekly playdate ever since. This by itself would be serendipity, since all of Eli's local friends are girls and I had desperately wanted a male playmate for him (for various reasons, including the difference between Eli's and the girls' developmental stages).

One of K's boys just had surgery for a cleft lip and the recovery period required him to wear cuffs around his elbows to keep him from bending his arms, to keep him from putting anything in his little six-month-old mouth. And the cuffs? Made of hard plastic. And the weather? Some of the hottest of the summer. And the sleeping? Not really happening. They borrowed an air conditioner from us, which I assure you caused us absolutely zero inconvenience. They returned it recently with a hearty thank you and I hadn't given it much thought.

Fast forward to last Friday. As we pulled into the driveway we saw two packages sitting there waiting for us. One was a box of Pampers (woo hoo, I guess) but the other was small and brown and as we got closer we could see that it was marked with the name of one of the best chocolate shops in the area. At first we thought it must be some ebay purchase I'd forgotten about that someone had very cruelly shipped in a misleading box, but a quick glance at the return address showed us that, indeed, we had been sent chocolate.

If you had witnessed the giddiness that ensued you surely would have been a little scared. We laughed, we danced, we rejoiced. We opened the card with true wonder - who would have done such a nice thing for us? Turns out, it was our newest friends, who wanted to thank us for the air conditioner, so they sent us this:

That, of course, is not the actual box because before there was any hope of taking a photo of it, it looked like this:

We were so happy with our surprise gift that we spent the whole weekend trying to decide how we could pay it forward. We still haven't figured it out, but someone in our lives has a box of chocolate coming their way sometime soon.

The random happiness continued through the weekend, which was largely uneventful and unplanned (just the way I like it, actually). We didn't have much going on so I signed up for some mystery shopping at a mall we needed to visit anyway. I had to go to a couple of department stores, ask some questions about a large purchase, and then make a purchase for $4.00 or less. After learning more than I ever wanted to know about luggage sets at the first store, I started my search for a small purchase. I can't tell you where I was, but suffice it to say I should NOT have had trouble finding something for $4.00. And yet I did. Everything was "$5.50 or three for $12.00" or "$4.79." Finally, because I wanted to end the misery, I dug through the clearance underwear bin and found one pair I liked for $1.97. Only problem? Size small. Trust me when I tell you that my rear end is not a size small (and if you doubt me, that photo of the ravaged box of chocolates should provide you some evidence). But I needed to be done and I wasn't finding anything I could actually use, so I grabbed them and headed to the register.

I didn't think about them much after that, except when my pint of Ben & Jerry's dribbled on my desk and I needed something to wipe it up. I had the bag sitting next to me because I needed the receipt to file my report and then I did what anyone would do: I wiped up the ice cream with my size small undergarments. I mean, let's face it, I wasn't going to wear the things (and eating a pint of Chubby Hubby at my desk pretty much sealed the deal) so really I had just purchased a two dollar rag. Later that day I threw them in the wash and the next day they made their way to my drawer.

This morning when I was getting dressed I figured, "Hey, what the heck, let's try them." And, friends, they fit! Not only do they fit, but I think they might be the most comfortable pair of underwear I've worn in a long time. And yes, I'm one of those women who prefers to shop at stores where I fit into a smaller size even though I know it's because the store cuts their clothes larger to make women feel good about themselves. So you can be sure that I am thoroughly enjoying the fact that my new favorite blue tie-dyed skivvies are a size small.

Turns out Forrest Gump was right. Life is like a box of chocolates. You never do know what you're going to get but sometimes, if you're very, very lucky, you get new friends, comfy underpants, and some actual chocolate. Not a bad deal. Not a bad deal at all.