Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Whoooooooo goes there?

Tonight we escort Flipper the Owl and Baby Seamus the Cowboy through our small neighborhood (yay, Dogwood Acres!) for trick-or-treating. She has been practicing her spiel for several days now. Blessedly, she has the Thank You part down pat. She is so excited, and it is so precious to be a part of it. Last year she was also excited, but it is more so now. Rose will being Baby Seamus over when they get home and we will eat dinner together, then don costumes, paint faces, and head out, new red wagon in tow. For the kids, mind you, not the candy!!!
For my own treat, I am getting my hair cut today. Finally. At a nice salon, DB Sutton, on the Carrboro end of Franklin Street. I am considering going short, quite short. I had short short hair for YEARS and loved it until I began getting hit on by women. Which was flattering, yet disappointing nonetheless. Since I like boys. So we'll see what happens today. It will not be some stupid bob, I can tell you that. The problem is that I am beauty-lazy, and do not want to use or do anything to my hair ever. Even mascara on a regular basis feels taxing. No blow dryer, no "product" no nothing. And certainly no dyes, perms, etc. Nothing that requires maintenance. Yet my hair is boring, dull. Perhaps like me. The only thing I have been accomplishing lately is a lot of sleep. 10 hours a night for the past two nights. So much sleep that my back hurts now. Hopefully, my boss will take pity on me and toss me some Percosets or hydrocodones. He has the good stuff. Many many pictures tomorrow of the cutest owl in the whole night sky.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sinking feeling

Quick rest-of-week-end wrap up before moving on to current misery. On Sunday Flipper and I took the dogs to this beautiful piece of (private) property in our neighborhood for a jaunt around the field before leaping into our very busy day. While there, I met our friendly neighborhood bow-hunter, and we talked for about half an hour. Actually, he could have talked FOREVER. At one point, he reached into his glove box and I knew immediately what he was going to pull out, and I was right: photos. Not of his little boy, but of the various dead deer he has shot/arrowed to death. I actually don't have a real problem with hunters like him, ones that eat everything they kill, practice good land stewardship, etc., although I wish I had been feeling bold enough to ask him why, if it is such a glorious sport, he feels the need to bait the area directly beneath his deer stand with corn, but I wasn't actually feeling that bold.
Then we went to Elijah's birthday party, which was a blessing on many levels: Flipper stopped her annoying whiny-day as soon as we got there, the party was fun and required minimal participation from me, thank god. Justin, bless his soul, was happy to take Flipper along on the scavenger hunt, etc., leaving me free to do what I love: talk. Except that the very love of talking is costing me in a big way: I am losing my cell phone since I have gone over the minutes too many times. Cannot decide if I want to get a phone of my own and drop the landline, or live without a cell phone for the first time since Flipper arrived. I really can't have both phones. As always at this time of year, my finances are very depressing. I have to make major changes, no more eating out, no more breakfast from Weaver St with a cup of coffee on the way to work, no Christmas craziness. Am even worried about paying for Christmas cards. Racking brain to figure out ways to increase bottom line, but am coming up short of ideas AND time. Just 100 extra dollars a week would be big for me. Even though Flipper stays until 3 four days a week, too often I leave work at one, go home, eat a quiet, peaceful lunch, take the dogs on a quiet, peaceful walk, and then pick her up. I crave that time alone, but I really should stay at work until 2:30. How I hate having to suck it up! No one could be worse at it than me! No one!! Any and all ideas welcome. I think. Cute picture below of Flipper at the birthday party.

Monday, October 29, 2007

How sweet it is...

Friends at last.

Well, it's just breakthrough-central around here these days, as best exemplified by Flipper's week-end activities and actions. On Friday we went to Rocky Mount to visit "Aunt" Jessica and the boys. Side note: I drove through a heavy downpour...and it took almost 45 minutes longer than usual due to the bumper-to-bumper stalled traffic that slowly, agonizingly inched past yet another wreck caused by someone STILL driving 85 mph on puddle-filled, rain-soaked roads. Somebody must have missed some sort of hydroplaning-physics lessons along the way. But we made it. And then, finally, Jessica and I got what we have been waiting for since both of our children were born 4 years ago: their ability to play together without constant tears, apologies, refereeing, misbehavior and general unhappiness. We were practically giddy over the whole thing. Flipper had her first taste of Barbie, and how sweet it was...unlike any toy from my childhood, my very Virgo best friend's Barbies were in pristine, immaculate condition. The teeny shoes were all there, the hair was in pefect, shiny softness as opposed to the tangled Brillo-mess most doll hair eventually turns into...Flipper gently and carefully dressed each doll while Connor tore a naked Ken's leg off over and over again. Nothing but books survived our childhood's. My sister and I were, apparently, brutally hard on toys. We directed the kids through the making of caramel apples, which they both ended up rejecting as "yucky" and "too sweet." What the hell is wrong with them??!?!?!! (We ate them after they went to bed.) Saturday morning we went to the Rocky Mount Farmer's Market where I bought two of the most beautiful pumpkins I have ever seen for Flipper and Baby Seamus. And a chocolate pound cake, since not much is too sweet for me!!!
Then we came home Saturday, filled with good feelings. Overflowing, as it were. Ending this with pictures and will recap rest of week-end tomorrow. It was a very full one. May be taking a Mental Health Day off from work later in the week to deal with house.

This was a stroke of genius; unwrapping the little carmael cubes occupied them for a solid 45 minutes.

Her one-and only-bite after all that hard work!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Lies lies lies

I am re-reading one of my more-favorite parenting books, an oldie but goody: How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk. Emabarrassing cartoon scenarios inside, but I was struck last night at how good the advice is, how I need to practice more of what they preach, and carefully weigh what I say to Flipper. I try very hard to be consistant...but I fail sometimes. And the one area where I fail is reading aloud before bed, something I see as a total privilege, especially considering how much she loves it. Yesterday she was GREAT...but I caught in a fib, a tiny lie, but one she has repeated several times. And gotten caught each time. Just when I'm convinced she's any rate, she totally knows she's done something wrong, because she buries her face into my legs and won't look me in the eye. Oh, may she always be so transparent!! But I couldn't think of an appropriate "punishment", one that was logical or felt OK to me. SO I let it go, after my little mini-lecture about how lying makes me not trust her blah blah blah. A lecture she obviously IS NOT taking to heart. Because she repeats the same lie. And here is what she's lying about: whether or not she has wiped herself after peeing.

ME: Did you wipe your popo? (our family word for private parts. Do not laugh.)


ME: Then why is there no paper in the toilet?

FLIPPER: Looonnngggg pause. Silence.

Unlike many other parents, I do not care AT ALL why she occasionally doesn't wipe, perhaps it is an attempt to "drip dry like daddy"-I just don't know. Or care. But I DO care that she lies to me about a direct question.
So I went off to yoga/pain, and came home and we got ready for bed. She was already in her adorable starry night organic cotton pyjamas and I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and asked her a simple question. Can't remember what it was. She yelled "I TOLD YOU ALREADY!!" Which she hadn't. Which is beside the point. But, I thought, This is it. No stories. I never knew she could cry so hard. The MOST pathetic thing was that she wanted me to cuddle her, even as she was sobbing and begging and bargaining and promising...all tricks that had worked before. But not this time. And then she rolled over and went to sleep. And I was reminded her alst night; today is a new day.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

At long last...

We have experienced a breakthrough recently...and no, it did not extend to food. Last night's lima beans rejected because "someone put mashed potatoes inside." Maddening. This breakthrough has come on the fashion-front. Because it is so important, you know. Flipper spontaneously tried on a pair of jeans over the week-end...and liked them. Trivial, you say, in the face of California fires and our drought? Well, you would be right. But she has categorically refused to wear almost any pants, especially jeans, for the last 2 years. And I want her too. She looks so cute in them!! But her huge puppy-belly has always gotten in the way. But suddenly, she has gotten longer and leaner and her plump Buddha belly has started to disappear.

This is the last time she wore jeans, March of 2006. And that was under some duress.

That belly you see above? It is gone.

One more thing slowly vanishing as she continues to grow. But the jeans! I am happy. I am happy to see her not wear a skirt or a dress every day, happy that she can indulge my inner-tomboy fantasies for her. And believe me, more pictures to come. When she wears them again. They were actually in my "get rid of" pile of stuff because I was pretty convinced she wasn't going to ever put them on again. But the oranges are still free to a good home...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A long time 'til breakfast...

We are having food issues. Actually, only one of us is having issues, the young, small one. The other one, the big, angry one, is not. It is an endless struggle to deal, patiently, with Flipper's erratic eating patterns. And it makes me crazy. I have tried very hard to walk the fine line between catering to her as though my kitchen is some sort of 24-hour cafe, and not being as rigidly dogmatic as my parents; the words, "It's a long time until breakfast" STILL ring in my ears. In a bad way. While I totally get that little kids go up and down, love something one day but not the next, etc etc., it is extremely hard to handle on a day-to-day basis. I also thought she would have outgrown that by now. Two reasons I feel crazed: money and wastefulness. I hate throwing food away. It makes me angry to receive her gentle hippie-dippy lunch basket every afternoon and open it to find uneaten food. Food that one week ago she loved. Like the orange slices she clamored for, so I bought a whole bag, and now they are slowly turning brown on my counter. The ham she loved so much in sandwiches at the beginning of the year have slowly morphed into a request for white bread, then no lettuce, then toasted bread...and still going uneaten. Because it is just the two of us, there is no hungry man around the house that will gladly eat the ham, the turkey, all the dead stuff I won't touch. The dogs are getting plumper and plumper, and see Flipper as a conduit to human food only. And as much as I love the incredibly healthy hot snack her school makes and eats every day (think brown rice and cheese, millet pizza, porridge with maple syrup) I kind of wish it didn't exist. Then she would be hungry for lunch. I just cannot bear to make just the food she will eat; I hate those kids that will eat only white food, or no vegetables at all, but this isn't really our problem. Our problem is the sheer capriciousness of her food-whims. Here is our rather frighteningly healthy dinner last night:

This is all, by the way, thanks to Justine who provided me with a few extras from her own any rate, toasty tempeh squares, sauteed spinach (in sesame oil) and brown rice. She ate some, then cried and cried. Then she had a piece of cheese toast. The other issue is that I simply hate to throw food away. It feels so privileged-American, that I can and do toss perfectly good food in the trash, or in the compost pile day after day. And I am equally sure she is tired of my annoyed anger that I feel pretty much on a daily basis when she rejects, yet again, something I've made for us to eat on a pretty limited budget. I just refuse to make some sort of pasta or the like night after night. I fear her becoming one of those nightmare grown-ups that has these erratic, inconsistant whims and flights of fancy regarding food. Like me.
p.s. Anyone want some oranges? They're free to a good home...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Have I ever mentioned that sometimes, when you have to eat your words, they taste sweet? And other times, well, quite bitter. But today is a sweet-word-eating day. Some of the loyal readers of this space on the Web might recall last month's sarcastic attack on the whole American Girl doll enterprise. But on a tight budget, I have to break one of my very own rules about holidays, and plan ahead. Even though I hate it. Before Flipper came on the scene Keith and I would race out on Christmas Eve, or the day before, and buy presents for EVERYONE. And we liked it that way!! I loved it, the exhausted clerks, the hustle-and-bustle, the thrill of the hunt...but that ended, along with our relationship, about 3 years ago. This year, I have carefully observed what Flipper circles in the many toy catalogs we receive every day, and have created a list to correspond with her shaky Magic Marker circles. Blessedly, my parents as well as Keith's mother simply enjoy buying what I tell them. This is a boon for me: people with more money than me that like to be told what to do!! A match made in heaven!! So my "dream present" has been bought.

I love it: the perfect blend of my own personal treehouse fantasy and regular, yet Waldorf-y dollhouse. Love it. Much to my surprise, she has consistantly circled a toy crane for three catalogs in a row. I find this somewhay surprising, and the alacrity with which Keith leapt at the chance to buy something not fairy-or-doll-oriented cannot be overstated. She does love little meachnical things, and the chance to wind the little basket up and down seems to have enthralled her. As for me, well, I am going to indulge her and her love of things way more American and plastic than her gentle Waldorf doll and get her another circled item, a new doll. Brand new. She loves Victoria, my ancient Madame Alexandar doll, but Victoria is a bit battered,and I cringe when I see Flipper let her head smack on the floor, or twist all the way around, like Linda Blair. Why, this sounds peachy! You might well think...where does the "eating of one's own words" come into play? Because I am going to buy the doll from the American Girl catalog. Yes, you read that right. But the baby dolls are not only cute, but they meet my personal requirements of not making any sound whatsoever, and having eyes that open and close. Plus, I can buy one that has brown eyes/hair. And I am going to get the diaper bag, falling into the bottomless pit of accessory-heaven, because for some reason. Flipper is quite obsessed with helping any mommy change diapers. She kneels beside Rose and baby Seamus, passing Rose the wipes, the diaper with as much concentration as an operating room nurse slaps fresh scalpels into the hands of a surgeon. I watch her with her dolls and feel a bit like Margaret Meade; it fascinates me and confuses me all at the same time. My sister adn I simply weren't doll-kids. Any doll or stuffed animal that fell into our hands was usually dismembered and stitched backl to gether. At one time we received the Bionic Woman AND The Six Million Dollar Man dolls and ultimately stripped them naked, tied them together in a compromising position, and fed them to our dog, which chewed off their entwined legs at the knee. Brutal. But Flipper seems much kinder and nurturing than me, and I love to watch how she gets completely invilved in her second-hand doll, telling me to be quiet while she naps, that she's hungry, etc. It is precious. Will keep audience posted on doll purchase. Cannot believe I am doing it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Last Straw

Oh, the hardest lessons we learn...are usually the first ones I forget. We had yet another fantastic week-end...but it differed wildly from the past, oh, 20 or 30 week-ends. But let me start at the beginning...Friday was a disaster. Last week was one of the most frantically busy weeks I have ever had, non-stop meetings at her school, yoga, a dinner party to discuss money issues at The Cult (how do all those other cults rake it in?) and Friday was the end of a very busy week. I picked her up. Then I went to a meeting and she played in the dirt of a bunny's cage/pen for 2 hours...only to discover that contrary to my promise, the bunny did not want her to hold him. Tears. Sobs. Major disappointment. Usually I am really really careful about NOT setting her up for big let-downs, and Friday I failed completely. Then home at 3:15. Walked the damn dogs, then frantically cleaned the house because I had a friend and her daughter coming over at 5 for play and dinner. Flipper was good for about an hour. Then she just couldn't keep it together, was short-tempered and rude, I got angry at her, pulled her towards me by the arm and she jerked away and I let go, which caused her to fall hard on the wood floor. Screams. "You hurted me!!!" (Before any of you think I am an evil abuser, there is a back story to this: the same set-up but with me as a small child but my mother didn't let go and dislocated my elbow by accident.) Then Keith came over. Or should I say, the straw came over. The straw that broke the camel's back. She told him to go away, sobbing, and I backed her up and he left, hurt and angry. So after she fell asleep, I thought hard about our week-end, and what I needed to change/work on. So on Saturday, a gorgeous fall day, we had a yes-day. I forced myself to slow down, way down. I did not clean the house (much). I put off my huge to-do list. We made pancakes together, Flipper sitting on the counter beside me, dropping our frozen blueberries from the summer on her pancakes, we went to the Farmer's Market, we stayed home. Pretty much whatever she wanted to do, I said "yes" to. Too many times I tell her to wait, to find something to do, that I don't feel like going outside/playing/reading her a story. So she wanders off. And this sucks for her. And, deep down, for me. So it is ending. More time with just the two of us, for however many years I have left before her friends become much more important than me, no more rushing hither and yon, and fears of offending someone by canceling plans instead of expecting her to suck it up and behave. More stopping whatever I am doing to just take the 15 minutes to engage with her 100%, which always pays off in her getting her fill of me, then going off happily to tackle one of her many projects. A friend and I were discussing relationships recently and she spoke of her father, how much they loved each other, and how his attention, always when she asked, was her. He would stop, put down what he was doing, focus on her, listen to whatever she had to say. And as a result, she was very open with him. Every now and then he would pick her up from school and do something, just the two of them. I was both inspired and envious. Sadly, he died on Flipper's birthday. For some reason, this is very affecting to me; I find it reverential and deep and intense, that her birthday would be shared by the death of someone I never knew, and then, later, met and became friends with is daughter. But not creepy. And not morbid. Somehow special. This week is already filling up. But I will be watching-and listening-a lot more closely to what she has to say.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Every sport, every activity, every hobby; they all have their own language, slogans, buzzwords, what-have-you that takes a bit of time to grasp when trying something new. But then you sound like a pro. Kind of. At first, I thought yoga-speak was hard to grasp. There are many different branches of yoga, many different paths to follow, many teachers to emulate. Plus, the poses and the chanting is in Romanized Sanskrit. Below is the Anusara blessing-chant that we sing three times before each class. Quite something, isn't it?

ॐ नमः शिवय गुरवे Om Namah Shivaya Gurave
सचिदननद मुतयै Saccidananda Murtaye
निसपपचय शनतय Nishprapanchaya Shantaya
निरलमबय तेजसे Niralambaya Tejase
ॐ Om

But last night I felt as though I reached a new plane, a new level of understanding, if you will. The yoga words used in class, the directions provided are becoming clearer and clearer. And so, since I am nicer than some might think, I have decided to share it here with you:

Gentle yoga words=Translation

deeper=more pain
feel it=pain
stretch into it=reach for pain
relax your face=your face is full of pain
push down to rise=agonizing foot pain
you got it=pain
that was great=pain
reach for the sky=reach for pain
sweet=you love pain
good job=pain
thanks for a great class=thanks for loving pain

I think you get it now. I know I did.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Loch Ness

Ferris Wheel

Flipper's love of the tawdry-and incredibly unsafe-looking fair rides- sparked an enjoyable do-you-remember conversation between my sister and me last night as I was driving home after a Steering Committee meeting. "Steering Committee" somehow reminds me of large ranches filled with cows. Or, steers, to be exact. When I was in junior high I spent all three years taking-and failing-Spanish. But one of the benefits of this class was that it enabled us to go on a big trip at the end of the school year, to Busch Gardens in Williamsbirg, VA. Why Busch Gardens, you might ask? Well, "Spain" was there. And "France" for the French students. Somehow this was passed off as vaguely educational. Oh, the 70's!! At any rate, we were always allowed to take a friend with us, and I generally took my sister. It was so much fun; these were the days when we were unleashed on the park and given completely free rein until time to re-board the Grayhound buses for the 3-hour journey home. On one trip we rode this times in one day!! And once waited for eons to get in the coveted, yet incredibly terrifying front car!! Youth. Ah, youth. At any rate, Flipper's lust for adventure has rekindled these dormant memories, and now we will need to feed her some sort of growth hormone so she can reach the height limit for these rides, because Kathryn and I totally plan to take her there. This is something that our parents never did with us. It would be, in fact, my father's very own idea of Hell. But not ours. Merriott has timeshares and other properties at Williamsburg, so we can stay for free or cheap, which is a blessing, since the park costs -get this-55.00 per person. Except the wee folk: she's discounted to an incredible savings of...50.00. But no matter. As much as I would like to think that she will look back on her childhood and treasure a trek through a few museums, and who knows, she may very well, I also hope she looks back and rememebrs the times her mother and aunt took her to experience pure total fun. With no lesson attached.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's Fair Time!!

I went to a birthday party recently and met another parent that said she likes blogs that have a lot of pictures with short captions. Yesterday was a parenting dilemma day: Flipper woke at 5 a.m. with a fever (again) and her hideous tubercular cough that sounds as though she should be in a sanitarium somewhere. Somewhere NOT at school. I was torn: do I make her go, and risk the well-deserved wrath of any parent that found out that just 3 hours before school started she had a fever? Or keep her out YET ANOTHER DAY. I fell to the latter...but then comlicated things by not only facing a long day alone with her, as Smokey was scheduled to be at the doctor all morning for her cancer-check (she is a few months away from hitting the 5-year mark)and so obviously I was not going to be going to work. Shockingly, Keith actually got his way in terms of something concerning Flipper, and we decided to take her to the State Fair. You know, because it is so restful and all. He had been gunning for going on a week-day morning, I felt that to take her out of school for the State Fair was beyond lame. So her illness solved this for us: too contagious with the cough to go to school, but not sick enough to stay in bed all day. So we went. And it was great. I love the Fair, although we were unable to do the stuff I like, the flower show, best quilt, etc. Flipper is all about the rides!! I went on ONE. The ferris wheel. And I found it terrifying. SHe and Keith went on about 10 rides. So with no more endless writing, here are some pictures documenting a truly NC experience.

What great free advice!!

The cute 4-H kids show off thier goats. Flipper is observing in the foreground.

Total sensory-overload. This is the type of thing that instantly induces a headache in me. And begging from Flipper.
Blogger unhappy. No more posting pictures today.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Almost heaven...NOT West Virginia

There is a new item on Flipper's Christmas wish list (with a slight emphasis on wish), and it is a HOT TUB!!! I literally could not drag her out of the one at the beach; she was in it every 2-3 hours.

The week-end at Topsail was beyond heavenly; I did not want to leave and wished we could have stayed another, oh, 6-8 weeks. Unlike the mountains, Flipper would happily move to the beach, with or without her little friends. Next fall Smokey is up for renting a house for a week, as long as we revert to our childhood and get one of the old-fashioned square houses with, hopefully, the original pine paneling. But the house we invaded from Thursday to Sunday was a far, far cry from the beach houses of old...note this kitchen below.

It is a distant memory to arrive at the beach and find a few random serrated-edge knives in the kitchen, along with some lidless Tupperware bowls. This kitchen was better-equipped than most people's (including mine) regular, full-time houses are. Granite countertops? Check. Incredible, 5-burner stove? Check. Built-in wine cooler in island? Check. Demented "art"? Double check. I will refrain from making TOO much fun at this "painting" but seriously, how could one resist? It boggles my mind that not only did someone actually think this up, but then took the pains to execute it!! I ask you, why?

Flipper fell in love with Cowboy, who is quite possibly the biggest dog I have ever been around. He is so incredibly sweet, but there is a full-blown Lab lurking under his German Shepherd exterior, as he has a limitless capacity for fetch. And...repeat. A million times. Look how huge he is!!

Flipper was quite well-behaved, attaching herself to Colleen like a limpet, albeit a cute one. The weather was stellar, mid-70's, warm enough to get in the crystal-clear water, yet nippy enough that a long-sleeved shirt felt good in the morning. Must return. Off to look at hot tubs on Ebay...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tiny Bubbles...

More fodder, but sadly, no pictures. Actually trying to accomplish something today while at "work." Yesterday more catalogs came...I wonder if there is some sort of "no mail" list like there is for the telephone "no call" list. I would sign up although Flipper loves to take a Magic Marker and hopefully circle items that she wishes someone, somewhere, would buy for her. It keeps her occupied for hours, and I recommend it heartily!! At any rate, we got the kiddie version of the Lillian Vernon catalog yesterday, and after Flipper fell into a feverish slumber, I spent a half-hour perusing it's contents. It was...disappointing. There were 3 or 4 pages devoted to "girl" toys-and I use the word "toy" loosely, because they were all the same. They were not only all pink or lavendar, but they were all about how she looks. Toy vanity tables, "dress up" which sadly did not include any type of actual career clothes or props, like some sort of vet outfit, but I would actually prefer that her career goal not include the word "princess" in it's title. The "boy" toys were all about things they could do, build, throw, kick, play outside...and the girl toys were all about how they could enhance or enjoy or whatever the way they look. Icky.

Moving on...Flipper did, however, for the very first time use the phrase, "When I grow up, I want to be..." and I must confess, this is one of those things that was on my mental list of milestones, things I have been, in one way or another, anticipating from her since she was a baby. What would she say? What tiny seed of ambition might be flourishing in her non-drought plagued fertile little brain? Well, I won't keep you in suspense any longer...

That's right. This is what came out of her mouth: When I grow up, I want to be a Hawaiian girl. Go to it, Flipper. Just let mommy park her RV in your backyard.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's Coming....

Chilly weather, that is. Just in time for our beach venture! But I don't care. Flipper, bless her little reptilian heart, is unbothered by heat OR cold, which makes travel/outdoor activities with her blessedly easy. Tomorrow we will be returning to the beach of my childhood for a few days, a random, somewhat spontaneous trip. It should be fun. She, like almost everyone I know, (save Keith's father), loves the beach. She loves the sand, the sun, the houses, the food...she loves it all. My "big camera" is loaded with black-and-white film, in hopes of capturing our Christmas card picture; I have a few others that are "in the running" but will keep trying. All in the name of accomplishing these tiny petty tasks way before December 15 or 20th. Unfortunately, she is currently a bit under the weather, slightly feverish with a drippy nose that will apparently turn into a hideous, tubercular cough in a few days. I will pack tons of OTC drugs to take with us, including the unfortunately named but incredibly effective Mucinex, along with sand toys and pants and sweatshirts. There will be a long post on Monday when we return, and when she returns to kindergarten. The Cult has a week-long break every 6-8 weeks throughout the school year, insterad of any teacher workdays. This afternoon is our first parent-teacher conference. It is at 5:15-6:00. We will go to the school early to keep an eye on E and F, and then Flipper will go home with them and we will pick her up. Until then, a few pictures from the beach of my youth taken in July 06.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Willing Victim

Flipper is at work with me for an hour or two while Smokey goes to the dentist in yet another attempt to keep all of her teeth, many of which are wrecked by a somewhat-neglected early childhood diet of Coke and water with no fluoride. Currently, she is doing this:

She is so good here, just sits on the floor coloring and cutting. And has been for 90 minutes now. I don't mention much about Keith, but over the week-end he was around more than usual, and for Flipper, this, combined with his inability to deny her much of anything, made for the biggest and best human canvas of all. And so I present to you Keith, good dad and perhaps better sport. Note: he left our house (which is really his) and went to a friend's without washing his forehead.

Work in progress..and the finished result.

Monday, October 8, 2007


How convenient! The State Fair opens this Friday and luckily, Flipper can just head on over and work for the entire 10-day duration of the fair, plying her new trade: face painting. At times my hands-off, she's-not-hurting-anything-and-my-new-issue-of-People-is-too-interesting style of parenting very much works to her advantage, and this week-end her desire to use her watercolors to face-paint many innocent victims (including herself) made her happy/kept her occupied for HOURS. With no human canvases about, she quickly glommed onto Sonia as a beautifully blank slate, and seemed to be channeling her inner Ted Danson in the process:

But she much prefers human victims, or, rather, canvases:

As ever (God, we're lucky) we had a great week-end. Friday night we closed out the summer music series at the Bynum General Store, adding our support to one of the best things around. You can read about it all here:, all fueled up on an entire BBQ plate from ALlen & Son, actually acted like a regular, outgoing kid, shedding us immediately as soon as we got there, and spent more than an hour outside with Glenn and the other kids, listening to stories, playing in the wet grass, etc. She and Glenn finally deigned to come inside, where they (this was adorable) "passed the hat" to collect money for The Carolina Boys-they were excellent, by the way-and they were just so cute, each clutching one side of an Army-green pith helmet, accosting perfect strangers for money, and being quite young, they would just stand there until the person gave up a dollar or two. Keith got to talk boy-talk with his old wrestling coach (Dawn's father) and related his horrifying snake-tale to anyone that would listen. Sunday we took her to the poor relation/pale imitation of the old Apple Chill festival in Chapel Hill. Tiny. But still cute. Great music. She loves the bounce houses now, and begged for multiple turns on the huge slide. I found the batik artist that made one of our baby-favorites,and bought another for my ever-bigger little girl.

And that wraps up yet another fantastic week-end.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Disjointed Holiday Rambling

This is my year. Or, more specifically, this is my year to plan ahead for Christmas, something I have always been loath to do because it seems to be just plain wrong to even THINK about Christmas before Halloween. But I am not going to wait until mid-December to start shopping, as I inevitably end up broke AND disappointed. For there are many things I want to get for Flipper. I am going to compromise this year, and get one cheap tawdry plastic toy that I know she will LOVE: a Lite Brite.She played with one in the mountains, and loved it. My sister and I had Lite-Brites as kids and spent hour upon happy illuminated hour puncturing the black paper with the tiny pegs. The new Lite Brites are-of course-much tackier and more bells-and-whistles than the ones we had as kids, (see here) and so I will rely on my secret addiction, I mean the one besides the cell phone: Ebay. I will find a retro one, the big white one that plugs in, and feel less guilty about it for reasons that are unclear even to me. Or perhaps ESPECIALLY to me. And Flipper will be happy. I will assuage my guilt at purchasing this by bullying/browbeating/manipulating my dad and Keith into making this: But I will stain the roof dark red, and mount it on a green-stained base. Why make, Leigh, when you can buy instead? Well, if you look at the will quickly find your answer. But God, I love it. I love the whole dollhouse thing. The last thing I want to buy for her-and believe me when I tell you that it surprises me more than I ever thought possible, as I hear my principles and ideals crumbling away and gathering dust much like the ERA Amendment, is a rather well-made and un-Disney princess/Maid Marion dress. There is even one for adults. And no, I won't be wearing ANY type of costume at all,let alone one that MATCHES my child's. I was asked at the playground recently what I was going dress up as, and I said, "A grown-up." Only if I was going to see Panic would I do a costume again, although nothing could top the Pilgrims-inspired "Sweet Corn Princess" I displayed in New Orleans 8 years ago. But speaking of Halloween...and you know I will again in the coming weeks...Flipper, bless her little flexible heart (thank God she's a Gemini)has quickly (thanks to Robin) switched her allegiance from a cottontail bunny suit that required effort on my part to an owl, an owl costume that already exisits, indeed, is already in my hot little hands, a Pottery Barn Owl. It is PRECIOUS. AND, it requires nothing from me. Just borrowing and returning and taking good care of which even I can handle. Henry is going to be a wolf, in an incredibly real costume, and Robin and I are hatching this plan (HA-get it? hatching..Robin...a bird...) to have Flipper wear this red boiled hooded cape that was mine as a child that my parents got when they went to Europe in 1969( and left me with thier neighbors for 6 weeks, during which I took my first step. Oh, the parenting of the 60's and 70's!! So our plan is to pose Henry in the wolf-suit,and Flipper in the red cape with a covered basket, and take some pictures of our very own Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. I cannot believe that I actually have the time, energy, and most disturbing of all, the DESIRE to do this. But I do. And I will. And then I will post the pictures for all of you to laugh at.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

In the closet.

For anyone disturbed by terrifying animal encounters, you should stop reading here. For the rest of you, let me relate this tale. Firstly, Robin and I were incredibly successful whilst shopping last night, being the good little patriotic Americans that we are. We had a good dinner out, without having to issue any admonitions like, "Please don't spill that. No, you can't eat any more salt, etc." Then we leisurely sauntered through just 3 stores-with a Williams-Sonoma departure-and I got three things, and, shockingly, the three things that were my "goal." Only disappointment was that the pants (grey cords for Talbot's) were not on sale. I came home and found Keith and Flipper asleep on the bed together. He came downstairs and told me this: keep in mind that, unlike me, Keith IS NOT prone to exaggeration. I say it makes things interesting, he considers it lying. At any rate...three days ago he exited his bedroom (Keith lives around the corner from us in a brick ranch house in the woods) and there, coming down the hall was a very long, yet friendly, black snake. Long as in 4 feet. He shooed it into his closet, stuffed books under the crack at the bottom of the door, and left it "Until I can decide what to do with it." Which means it is currently curled up on his gorgeous Alpaca sweater sound asleep. We hope. But...yesterday afternoon he was in his bathroom washing his face and hands, and, dripping, he turned to his hand towel, bent his face down towards it...and there, hanging over it was a copperhead. About 18-24" long. He shooed this one into a cooler,and it has been riding around in his van ever since. He cannot decide whether or not to kill it or let it go. I am voting for letting it go, believing in some twisted, Karmic way that all the snakes in the world will magically hear of his good deed, attach my name as the inspiration for it, and leave us alone forever. Pretty terrifying, huh? Good thing his heart is in great shape from endless games of soccer and toting around massively heavy tools and air compressors and the like.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Somewhere Over the Rainbow...

Cuteness overload.
Mini-Boden order came in the mail Monday. Now, more than ever, I want, nay, I NEED it to get cold. Just so Flipper can wear her adorable new clothes. I love Boden clothes for kids more than should be possible. The above shirt (and skirt) are proof enough: cute but not silly, feminine without sickening girly-pink, playful and uitterly unique. Much like Flipper herself. I find many clothes for girls to be hideous, and often just plain inappropriate and boderline trashy. I am pretty into the modesty thing, though perhaps not as extreme as THIS:
This link also came from the Duggar family website, a family I am bizarrely fascinated by. My neighbor's mother is a producer for the Discovery Channel documentaries about this massive family,and so I am privy to a lot of inside info about them. And it makes me LIKE them. A short clip of me asking them a question was aired on the second of three documentaries!!! I am famous!!! At any rate, I digress. Back to modest clothes. I joined an online petition group called (get this) Mommies for Modesty that encourages companies to sell clothes for little girls to little girls, not clothes more appropriate to an MTV back-up dancer. But many of the other parents on the modesty-front are terrifying (to me) right-wing, ultra-religious (aka "intolerant")people. Although modest. Would like to find ultra-LIBERAL, non-religious parents like ME that loathe the crass commercialization and hyper-sexualization of our daughters, all in the name of "fashion." Enough ranting. Back to work. Hot date go shopping. For me, which I do once or twice a year. Hopefully, we will be as lucky as we were this summer, my partner in crime and I. Or is it me?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ickyy and Disturbingg

Remember when I mentioned fodder arriving in my mailbox, fresh for scathing commentary? I wrested this most recent catalog from Flipper's sweaty little paws and brought it into "work" for my viewing/reading audience's pleasure.

This catalog, entitled "My Twinn" is a doll company that makes a doll that looks like your child. My first question-and last- is why?? How would this be more appealing to a child than some random doll that costs considerably less that 139.00? Do little girls (and make no mistake about it, there are no little-boy twinns for sale) want to see themselves reflected in doll? Does it make play more interesting, rewarding, what have you? Note doll and little girl as depicted on cover of said catalog. Firstly, would you ever, ever let your four-eyed child wear pink cat-eye glasses? And lest any of you think I am being mean, keep in mind that I got my first pair of glasses when I was 7. Sadly, they weren't pink cat-eyes!! You can choose from 8 different eye colors, hair and skin tone, and you include a picture of your child so they can get the face right! I am suspicious of this company whne reading that they think "school pictures work great!" I ask of you: do ANY school pictures REALLY look "great"? And, much like the whole American Dolls marketing scheme, you can buy tons and tons of accessories and clothes so you and your 16" tall "twinn" can dress alike. The day Flipper wants to dress like a doll is the day we move into a yurt on some remote mountiantop and live off the land. But I put on my Observant Mommy cap and watched her go through the catalog. And jsut which doll did my little brown bunny desire?

The Aryan one. Because of the hair. Of course.

Monday, October 1, 2007

I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles...

Forgot to bring catalog-fodder in to jeer at, and so will simply post photos from quickie week-end trip instead. My god, the weather was glorious. Chilly at night (mid 40's) and sunny but with that fall nip in the air that makes me frisky and filled with energy, and my god, how I miss living there. I was in great shape then, hiked 3-4 hours a day at least 4-5 days a week (pre-child, pre-job) unless it was raining...and hiked/explored even then. Flipper had a great time, as did my parents. I think they had forgotten how glorious it is in the NC mountains, and how close it is, just 3 hours!!
Quickly, here was our schedule. And it was indeed just as exhausting as it sounds:

Arrived at house at 4 on Friday. Walked around Crystal Mountain and looked at houses. Had spinach lasagne, garlic bread and salad for supper. Took another walk around upper part of mountain. Flipper watched her first episode of The Muppet Show. Hysterical laughter.
Left house at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Drove to Boone, then to the Moses Cone Manor on the Parkway. Bought blue Nalgene water bottle with "Blue Ridge Parkway" seal on it. Love it. Drove into Blowing Rock and had lunch at little pub-like place. Bought candy from Mast General Store candy counter. Returned to house, packed for hike and drove short distance to Hebron Colony, massive rock formations and little waterfalls. Hiked around on rocks for 3 hours. Drove from there past Hound Ears to Valle Crucis and original Mast store now giant tourist trap. Returned to house, prepared Wild Mushroom and Leek Strudel for dinner, hot shower. Bath for Flipper. Ate. Second episode of Muppet Show. Passed out.
Woke on Sunday, breakfast out. Returned to house, cleaned well, left at 10:00. Drove south on Parkway to Rough Ridge turn-off, fantastic hike with specatacular views. Drove past Grnadfather Mountain to tiny town of Linville, ate lunch (BBQ) in cute counntry store. Cute college boys insiode playing guitars and singing. Played Brown-Eyed Girl for Flipper. Nauseatingly cute. Got back in car and drove to Morganton then home. Arrived Chapel Hill 6 p.m.