Sunday, December 21, 2008

I'm trying to win some jeans here, people

The task was simple, really: post a photo of yourself in, um, "unfortunate" jeans. The number of photos (1) I could put my hands on was drastically smaller than the number of jeans in this category that have been in my possession (too many to count). I mean, let's face it, I went to high school in the 80s. Enough said.

This particular photo is from college, probably 1988, just after a squash tournament (hence, the giant squash ball on the wall and my post-match hair-do). Let's count the sins:

The jeans are Levis, which would be fine, except I went and bleached them to make them extra special. (See that blotchy effect? That's exactly what I was going for. God, I was proud.)

I also pegged them myself. Not with the patented peg and roll technique that Katie Holmes has been trying to reintroduce to the world, because that was SO 1986. No, I turned those suckers inside out and put needle and thread to the inseam. This meant they were skin tight from hip to ankle (the hip-to-knee portion thanks to the freshman 15 that had become old friends by this point).

And let's just all praise some higher being that I didn't then tuck them into my oversized socks (which were squeezed into my undersized loafers). I mean, I tucked in my oversized sweater, so it does leave me wondering why I didn't follow suit down below. Thank heavens for small miracles, I guess.

Added 1/23/09: I WON!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I took on more crafting projects than I should have this holiday season, but I don't regret a single one--especially now, as they're starting to move into the "completed" column of my to-do list. One important project was actually five projects: creating something for the teachers and administrators at Eli's preschool. There was a group gift that consisted of cash, collected from all of the families. That took me of the hook for making sure it was something practical, so I could just have fun. I decided tote bags were the thing, so I set off to find a pattern. I ultimately decided on Amy Karol's Pleated Beauty, from Bend the Rules Sewing. It was simple enough to suit a wide range of styles, but allowed for a little bit of personalization for each individual. Ultimately I made six bags, knowing that one would be my least favorite (or at least the one I was least confident in). I wanted to make sure I was in love with each bag I gave.

This first bag is for one of Eli's teachers. I couldn't get a perfect grasp on her taste, but it definitely tends toward traditional. She's not afraid of color (think: splashy sweaters) but I didn't want to go too bold. I combined a deep red corduroy with a Japanese print for the pleats.

The next one is for the center director who wears lots of earthy colors, along with some brighter ones. I stayed earthy with hers. (I think hers is probably the bag that comes closest to "the one I would have made for myself.") It's wide wale brown corduroy with one of my favorite quilting fabrics in the pleats.

This one is for the teacher I know the least; she's only in Eli's class one day a week, but I didn't want to leave her out (so many gray areas in holiday gift giving!). I went for classic, with a fine wale navy corduroy with another Japanese print for the pleats. This is the first bag I made, so this one has just one interior pocket, which is very large. This is the one that prompted me to shrink them down and do two instead of this giant one. I added pleats to the pocket because it was sagging so much.

This is for the assistant director of the center, and it's one of the ones I'm most excited about it. When I'm making gifts for people (or simply choosing them from a store), I'm on constant "high alert," waiting for the clue about what will suit them best. The recipient of this bag very often wears bright blue, either in her clothing or her jewelry. I didn't want the bag to be too over the top, so I saved the color for the lining and I love how it came out. Now, every time I see her wearing bright blue I get a little giddy about giving her the bag. This one is fine wale corduroy with Alexander Henry prints from JoAnn's for the pleats and lining.

And this one will be my absolute favorite to give because I had the best, best clue for what to do. This is for the lead teacher in Eli's class. One day at the start of the year I was wearing a shirt I'd purchased on Etsy that had Russian dolls silkscreened on to it. She commented on it and told me that she collects Russian nesting dolls. I filed that little factoid away, not knowing if or when it would come in handy. I was thrilled to find this Japanese print and bought it in gray and off white. I hope she loves it as much as I do.

And this one was going to be the "spare," I think because it didn't feel as personalized as the others. And then it just so happened that my sister was in my sewing room and saw the fabric and said, "Oh! Make me something with this for Christmas!" DONE! Instead of sewing in an accent fabric on the exterior, I just followed the lining measurements and pleated the fabric on its own. I think it would have been too busy with something else added. This is the only bag that's not corduroy.

Based on the numerous other blog entries out there about this bag and some of my own preferences, I made the following adjustments:
*I widened the straps by 1/4 inch and added a flannel facing to make them a little cushier.
*I also sewed the straps into tubes and then turned them right side out and topstitched them. That was just easier for me.
*Instead of one large pocket I did two smaller ones, one on each side of the bag.
*I didn't measure the rigid interfacing for the bottom of the bag until the lining was fully constructed. I found that the measurements that Amy provided were just a little shy of how I wanted it.
*I tacked the rigid interfacing at the center as well as at the corners. It seemed to want to flip without that extra stitch.
*I reinforced the attachment of the straps to the bag with an additional line of stitching just above the top stitching that went around the entire bag.

And one thing I would do if I made another of these bags in the future:
*I'd increase the length of the straps by about an inch so that I had more to work with as I attached them to the bag. This would allow me to further reinforce them. I'm not entirely confident in their strength at this point.

Overall, this was a very easy bag to make and lent itself well to multiple iterations and some fun creativity.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The image I think of when I think of Obama's victory speech. It moves me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A letter to my parents

Last week, inspired by The Great Schelp, I wrote and mailed this letter to my typically-Republican parents. Both are relatively private about their political choices, but both had indicated they were undecided about the upcoming presidential election. My intent was not to barrage them with emotional arguments because I know my father and I know that would turn him off immediately. Instead, I went for the gentle, cautious nudge in the hopes of winning a couple more votes for Obama. We'll see how it goes.

Dear M&D-

I am writing to you about something that really is none of my business: Your vote. And even though I recognize this, the end result of your vote—or, more accurately, the end result of this election—is so very central to my life that I can’t help but write this letter. A few months ago you (Mom) told me that you had not yet decided who you’d vote for in November. Maybe that’s changed, but in case it hasn’t, I wanted put my two cents in. I’m sending you a letter because I want to be clear that you do not need to respond or even react to what I have to say. Take my thoughts for what they’re worth, do with them what you will.

As you know, I am a strong Barack Obama supporter. I think I’ve always voted Democratic, primarily because there are some fundamental tendencies of the party that I align myself with, the most important of which include education and other domestic/social policies. I simply agree with the approach that the party takes. So it was no surprise to me that I have chosen to back Obama. What has surprised me, however, is the conviction with which I support him and my increasing fear of what a McCain presidency would do to this country.

To whatever extent things like a conservative Supreme Court or an extended war in Iraq are important to you, you have already considered them and I don’t need to re-hash them here. I will say, however, that one of the core reasons I have supported and do support more liberal candidates is their investment in ensuring rights, liberties, and opportunities for all people. I believe that the inevitable Supreme Court appointments made by the next administration will have a significant impact on our future in that respect, and that when it comes to issues of social progress, an Obama administration would offer strength, while a McCain administration would create significant, even insurmountable obstacles. The direction they wish to take the country in is not a direction I would ever choose to go.

Undecided voters have received a lot of media attention in recent weeks because this election appears to hinge on them. (On you.) And each time a person who has not yet made up his or her mind is interviewed, I want the opportunity to say this: If the policy differences have not already swayed you, please just look at the approach that each man has taken to his campaign. Look at the steadfastness and integrity displayed by Obama and contrast it with the negativity and (I’ll say it) desperation displayed by his opponent.

Early on, when it became clear that McCain would be the Republican nominee, I said to David that I don’t agree with him politically, but at least McCain is a man I can respect. In the last few months my respect for him has all but disappeared, as I have watched him change his approach numerous times, always arriving at a less honorable way of attacking his opponent. I actually still believe that McCain is an good man (and I think this is best evidenced by his unwillingness to himself repeat the attacks made on Obama by his running mate, and by the grimace on his face each time the attacks are mentioned in his presence) but ultimately this is his campaign and he can control whether those tactics are employed. He has chosen to allow the campaign to take this path, and for that reason my respect for him has diminished to almost nil.

I do not agree with the pundits who argue that a candidate should not be judged by his or her running mate. On the contrary, I think the choice says a great deal about the candidate and, as importantly, the qualifications of the vice presidential candidate need to be considered because so little stands between him or her and the Oval Office. My thoughts on this subject are not original: Sarah Palin is a smart woman with what was most likely a promising political future. But “future” is the key word here. She is simply not ready to lead the country. I believe she has learned a great deal about foreign policy in a very short time, but I also believe that once she has had the time and experience to form her own opinions about what she has been spoon fed, that she will do so, essentially making her a wild card. Moreover, McCain’s argument that she will “shake up Washington” is questionable at best, as she receives more and more scrutiny for the ethics of her behavior.

McCain’s selection of Palin as his running mate flies squarely in the face of his slogan, “Country First.” If he really and truly wanted to put his country first, he would have chosen someone with enough experience under his or her belt to help mend this country from the moment they took office. Instead, I believe, he chose a political gimmick to boost his numbers. I lost respect for him and confidence in his ability to effectively lead this nation.

As you know, Colin Powell recently endorsed Barack Obama, saying that his plans for the economy are more sound and that he has the ability to lead this country out of Iraq. I do not know your feelings about Colin Powell, but I think it would be difficult to disagree that his opinion on the matter is well-reasoned, informed, and relevant. He has spent time with both candidates and is intimately familiar with what it takes to run this country. If you have not seen his interview on Meet the Press, it’s worth watching. (The video is on-line, and I can send you a link if you’d like it.)

Your ultimate decision is not my business, and I hope that my mailing you this letter has not given you a the impression that I think otherwise. But there seemed to be an opening to share my thoughts about why I would choose Obama over McCain, and I took that opportunity in the hopes that you might be swayed in the direction that, I believe, will make this country better for your generation, my generation, and the next.

I’m relatively certain that I haven’t said anything in this letter that you haven’t already read or heard somewhere else, so I think it makes sense for me to end by telling you something that you could not have heard elsewhere: I care about the outcome of this election more than I have ever cared about the outcome of any election before. So, if after reading everything I have already written you are still on the fence, and if after considering whatever other sources you have chosen you are still undecided, and if ultimately there is no other factor that sways you in one direction or the other, I ask this of you: Vote Obama because it matters so much to me. Trust that I have considered many factors in my decision and that I believe an Obama presidency will begin to create a better place for your grandchildren to inherit.


Monday, September 15, 2008


I've been thinking about Sarah Palin a lot (mainly because she's everywhere and it's difficult to avoid) and I've come to the following conclusion.

She is clearly a smart, smart woman. So far I don't think I agree with a single one of her political beliefs, but that doesn't mean I can't recognize her intelligence. So as much as I'd like to think the fact that so many of her answers to Charlie Gibson's questions last week sounded like regurgitation of ideas she'd been spoon fed was a reflection of her intellectual capacity, I know better. It was because she is inexperienced and needed to be brought up to speed. Quickly. She crammed for a test, and because she's smart, she aced it.

But here's the problem: She didn't have ownership of those ideas. If she and McCain are elected, she'll have the chance to (no, wait, the need to) reflect on every single one of those issues and, because she's a smart woman, she'll come to her own conclusions -- some that align with what we heard from her and, most likely, some that don't. So basically, my opinion is that we still don't know a thing about what this woman believes because on many of these issues, she herself probably doesn't yet fully know what she believes.

She's a wild card. And for someone who is one heartbeat away from the presidency, I'd like more than that.

What's Up

My kid doesn't nap anymore.

I am sad.

That is all.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Very pleased with myself today. I've been getting terrible pictures of Eli lately because he seems to contort his face in the most awkward way possible just as I click the shutter. Today I told him to pretend he was an angel, and lo and behold I got this:

I also figured out that by taking along my little 50mm lens I could eliminate a couple of pounds out of the diaper bag and still get great photos.

Small ideas lead to a happy mom.

The truth

Dear Eli,
Your mommy is a terrible, slacking blogger.

Friday, March 28, 2008

You know what stresses me out?


I've almost gotten used to having every single Lego tower I build get knocked over before I'm done and I can deal with the fact that anything I put away gets taken right back out again, but for some reason, mixing the play-doh colors makes me nutty.

But I let him do it because I know it's the right thing to do.

But again for the record, it makes me nutty.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Too smart for my own good

Before Eli's nap each day I usually spend a few minutes cuddling with him. I used to tell him I couldn't, not wanting to form "bad habits," but then one day I realized, "Am I nuts? He's not going to ask me to do this forever." So, now I do it. The first day I said yes it took him by such surprise that his response was, "You can? Why could you?" And now, just about every day, when he asks and I say yes, he says "Why could you?"

Today as we got comfy he asked if I was going to go soon (I always give him a one minute warning) and I said yes. He said, "Why will you go?" And I said, "Because I can do things while you sleep, like cook and clean...." And in a sort of quiet sing-songy voice he repeated it back to me: "Cook and clean and watch television..."


It's not as if the first thing I did when he fell asleep was go grab that piece of carrot cake I snuck into the cart at the supermarket when he wasn't looking and then settle in on the couch to watch the episode of The Hills I knew Tivo had waiting for me. Geesh. It's not like I did that. No.

I checked email first.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Yeah, I know, but I kinda thought maybe

If there's one phrase that could sum up the last year and a half it would be this one: "Yeah, I know, but I kinda thought maybe." It fits in so many situations, from the macro - "Really? You don't think you're too old to have another kid?" - to the micro - "Every sign points to you not being pregnant; do you really think there's hope this month?" I can't even tell you how many times I've said it to myself... yesterday included, just before another cycle drew to a close.

Things are winding down here, with my 41st birthday three days away and an absolute certainty that there will be no pregnancy before it arrives. I know that deadline was self imposed with a convenient built-in exit clause (which I will be using, most likely) but it still looms large. Or medium-sized, anyway. I guess I thought I had to have some dramatic conclusion to all this "trying," but I think instead it will just quietly go away. Not this month, probably not next month, but soon. And I think I'm okay with that.

I realized something recently, though. I've been dreading telling people that we've stopped trying almost as much as I've been dreading the point where we stop trying. Why? Well, I guess that the best way I can explain it is to say that right now, infertility is like a painful cut. Continuing to try for another child is a protective bandage. It puts up a symbolic shield and eases the pain a bit, in part because I know we’re still trying, but also—just like a band-aid that people can immediately see and know there’s something to be careful of—other people understand how badly we want it. Take off the bandage, stop trying to have a baby, and the wound is just open, and practically invisible unless someone takes the time to look closely. And just like any wound, it will heal with time, but never completely. To put it succinctly, that’s gonna leave a mark. There’s no doubt about it.

In our old house we had neighbors with an only child, a girl named Danielle who was one of the most delightful 10 year olds you could ever meet. Eli was just a peanut at the time and I remember her mother saying to me that seeing him made her wish for that baby stage again. I, in all my infinite, ignorant insensitivity replied, “Well, you could always have another! La la la!” (No, I didn't say the "la la la" part, but I may as well have.) Now, two years later, with a wholly different perspective, I cringe when I think about what I said to her. Sure, there’s always a chance that having one child was their choice. But there’s an equal-if not better-chance that it wasn’t a choice. And knowing what I know now, I believe what I said to her was painful. This is the type of salt-in-the-wound comment that I dread.

I think this is at the root of how I can feel so content with the idea of raising Eli as an only child, and yet still feel so hesitant to tell people so. Because saying we’re done at one could easily imply that one is all we decided we wanted, when really it’s what we’ve made peace with.

I've started to think about what what to do with our guest room, the room that was supposed to belong to another child. I'm thinking a small wall-mounted flat-screen and some furniture rearrangement to allow us to move the exercise bike up from the basement. I'm thinking maybe I'll still go ahead and get the print that I bought as a "nursery decoration" framed because otherwise it will just collect dust in the closet. I'm thinking some new bedding, since it will likely be there for a long time. I don't relish moving forward in this direction, but maybe it will distract me for a little while. None of it feels good, but ultimately it feels right. And I guess that's the best I can ask for.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I have one and I'm AWESOME

What's been eating away at me lately is this feeling that I, for some reason, "should" continue trying for a second child. I had thought it was because eventually I know Eli will ask why he's an only child and I wanted to be able to tell him that we tried everything we could. I wasn't getting that settled feeling that I normally do when I find the root of my discontent, so I knew there was something else at the heart of it, and I finally think I figured it out.

It's this: If I only want one, I feel like I've failed. It's not at all that I think families with one child are somehow "failed families." It's that I had always been on autopilot, thinking I wanted two, and now, if I only want one, what does that say about me? Again, this has nothing to do with families who want one and have one and are happy. I really, really want to stress that because it is SO about me and so NOT about anyone else. But the point is, if I wanted two, and I got one, and now I don't want two anymore, does that mean I don't like being a mom? Or that I don't think I'm enough of a mom?

I know (on the logical, intellectual level) that of course the answers to these questions are "Of course I do" and "Of course I am." It's just there seems to be some guilt about saying to myself, "I don't want any more of this. Thanks anyway."

I think the reason I separate myself from other families with only one at this point is, well, first and foremost, I have these tendencies toward self-imposed (and unwarranted) guilt but, more importantly, it's this changing-of-my-mind aspect. What changed my mind? Why is one enough? I wanted two. Why don't I feel like I want that second one anymore? It's convenient to say that over time I've just kind of lost my enthusiasm, but in the grand scheme of infertility, we've been trying for NO time at all, so if the true desire was there at the outset, I think that a year and a half later it should still be there.

We're continuing to try for a bit longer, but I'll admit that it's half-hearted. I rarely chart; there are no more "let's do it one more time just to cover our bases"; sometimes a new Project Runway is just more interesting. You get the picture.

I am very much the type of person who has to have some psychological peace before I can let something go, and half the battle with that is finding the root of my discontent. I think I'm on to something with this one. I've got more to think about.

Before I go: I think I made my point but I feel very strongly about making absolutely certain that I'm not misunderstood: I am not not NOT saying that mothers of only children are not "enough" in some way. The ridiculousness of that idea is what led me to this revelation in the first place, because no one should think that, including me. What I'm trying to do here is just sort out my convoluted, confused feelings.

Friday, February 1, 2008

My one and only

Lately I've noticed a subtle but significant semantic shift in my life, one that followed a more dramatic one. When Eli was tiny, the common question was "Is he your first?" Easy question to answer. Once he reached a certain age (maybe 18 months) the question became "Is he your only one?" Also easy. Lately, the question has become (pay attention here because this is the subtlety) "Is he an only child?" A little more complex.

The reasoning behind the first question is obvious. The reasoning behind the second question, in my estimation, is that people want to know if he's an only child but he's still so little that if even if he is, he may not be destined to stay that way. But now, at almost three, the minor language change speaks volumes. The etching of his identity into the proverbial stone has begun.

It doesn't really bother me, it just gives me potloads of food for thought. These days, everything gets me thinking about Eli as an only child. I meet grown only children and study them, their comments, their thinking, their ideas. And, if I know them well enough, I ask them about it directly. I watch TV and think things like, "Well, Little Bear is an only child and he seems happy. Mother Bear doesn't play with him much, though, and Father Bear is quite serious. Little Bear must be lonely. And yet he seems happy. Thank goodness for Duck. And Cat. And the others. Who will be Eli's Duck?" (Dora used to be another only child role model but I found out recently that she has twin baby siblings. Why'd they have to go and ruin a good thing? I liked her. So spunky, that one.) So it's only natural that as people have started asking directly whether Eli is only child I have found myself mulling it over (and over and over and over). Each time I say "Yes, he is," I try it on for size. I wonder, "Will that feel natural for the next twenty years?" "How will it sound when they ask him and he says, "Yes, I am."

As you might have gathered from all of this, I'm still not pregnant. I don't expect to be. As sands through the hour glass, so are the months of our TTC. We're giving this another few months and calling it quits, and we feel pretty good about that. Soon I will be 41. At that point, a baby conceived would be exactly four years younger than Eli. More importantly, at that point, I would like to get on with my life. I think because I had always "planned" to be done having children by the time I was 40 (which then became "done getting pregnant"), my 41st birthday just seems like a nice cut-off. And, more importantly, an age difference larger than four years seems so big -- too big for us.

At first I resisted having a set cut-off (and of course I reserve the right to completely ignore it when the time comes), but I look at it as giving myself the gift of freedom: freedom to embrace what we have and make it extraordinary; freedom to stop thinking about what might be, and start celebrating (completely) what is. David would be content to stop right now. I'm not quite there. I'm almost there, and every month lately as I'm waiting to blow a few bucks for the privilege of seeing just one lonely line appear on that stick, I tell myself "Yeah, this is the last month." But then I can't quite follow through with it, and we try again. But I do think it will happen once and for all, very soon. There are too many wonderful things about raising an only child, and too many fantastic things about taking our life off hold.

So obviously this wasn't our choice at the outset, but I feel good about the fact that it's our choice now. I feel good about deciding when enough will be enough. I feel optimistic about our future as a threesome. I feel optimistic about Eli's future as an "only." Even without Dora as his animated counterpart.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A New Year

Eli was born on New Year's Eve, and this year he turned, well, I think you can guess what he turned.

We had a great time celebrating his birthday together. I took a risk and scheduled his annual check up for that morning. Before you accuse me of being an uncaring mother, I did confirm that there would be no shots involved. The whole thing went fine, except there was supposed to be a shot involved. Oops. So I'll suck up the co-pay and go back. I just can't do that to him, even though I know it would only hurt for a second. It's just not fair.

Everyone needs a post-doctor reward, so we headed over to Dunkin Donuts where they had, of all things, a white frosted donut with M&Ms on it. I swear, Eli -- who had never seen anything like it -- thinks they made is especially for his birthday. He was excited, to say the least. Then we headed to our local children's museum (which was happily very empty) for a couple of hours of playing. Home for lunch, the centerpiece of which was a cupcake, and a hard-fought-for nap. He needed to sleep because in the evening hours we headed to a friend's house for a European New Year's celebration. (Actual midnight just doesn't work well for three-year-olds.)

We saved Eli's present from us for the following day because we knew it would require some real time, which we just didn't have on his busy busy birthday. Needless to say, he was pleased with it.

So. Three. He's three. And he's a good three, not that I'm biased. It's true what they say, that they just get more fun. I've thought every age has been the absolute perfect one and then he just goes and gets even more charming, more interesting, more adorable. Some days I can't believe how big he is, that he can reach every light switch in the house now. I can't believe how much he's developed cognitively in the last six months, either, that he actually reads such a wide range of words. And then other days I look at him and think, "Look at that tiny person. He's still very, very small." But every day I love him to pieces.

And guess what? He loves me back. I have very purposefully not encouraged him to say "I love you" to me (or to anyone, really) because as much as I wanted to hear it, I also wanted to know it was coming from him when he said it. He's said it spontaneously a few times, but mostly accompanied by some whining or some manipulation or some other scenario that didn't make it feel like "it." A few nights ago, though, before he fell asleep, he was calling for David (who does bedtime) and I went in instead and he was so surprised and happy, and then even more so when he asked me to cuddle (his usual stalling tactic) and I said yes. I laid down next to him and he said, "I love you, Mommy." That one I count.