Thursday, December 8, 2011

Birthday post for Mom

It's Mom's birthday today!

She's lovely.

She deserves all your well wishes and more.

At first, I didn't know if I should write "Mom" in the title of this post, or "Gil," because Evelyn is here now.  That makes Mom "Gil" and me "Mommy", and ohbytheway, did you know it sounds weird for your parents to call you "Mommy"?  Because it does.

I decided to type "Mom" rather than "Gil", though, because this is my blog and Evelyn can't read.  And because Mom is my mom.

This is fairly obvious, but Mom has taught me a lot about being a mom this past year.

Stuff like: having a baby is no reason to stay home and miss out on everything, but sometimes it's a very handy excuse if you need it to be.  

She also showed me how to bathe a baby without getting its awful little umbilical cord wet, or letting it slip away from you like a wet bar of soap. 

She reminds me that I didn't cut a single tooth until some time around 10 months, and that Evelyn's little gums are so pretty. 

Also, she comments on my blog, and I love that.

She tries to teach Evelyn nursery rhymes, and how to clap her hands--two things I'd honestly forgotten that I was supposed to care about as a parent until I saw Mom and Evelyn having a blast doing them together. 

Evelyn starts laughing whenever she first sees Mom, because this girl loves her grandparents and knows when she's about to have lots of fun.  Mom and Evelyn always have lots of fun.  I made a whole photo book about it and gave it to Mom for her birthday.

It's been fun and strange and reassuring to watch Mom be a grandma this past year.  I know I've talked about it before, but I love seeing how well-loved Evelyn is.  Cody and I rely on a lot of help and encouragement from our families, and Mom is Evelyn's main baby-watcher when we're not around.   They both seem to love seeing each other so often, and I love it too.

Happy birthday, Mom!  We hope you love your day!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

O Christmas tree

I put up our Christmas tree!  It's pretty small this year.  And flat. 

December was approaching, and people were ramping up the same "Your baby will pull a tree down on herself and get hurt and ruin Christmas" speech they've been giving since I was pregnant last Christmas, and I was just not feeling like finding a place for our tree this year.

Cody and I talked about putting a little 4 ft. tree on our table, but then we wouldn't have a table to use.  I thought about putting our tree on top of the coffee table, but then Evelyn started pulling up and I realized she'd be able to reach the branches.....and then pull the tree down on herself and get hurt and ruin Christmas and maybe even--gasp!--mess up some of my ornaments.

Neither idea seemed appealing and I didn't want to spend a month pulling my nine-month-old away from something so pretty when she didn't understand why she couldn't eat it.  But I didn't want to skip having a Christmas tree altogether, even though a small part of me is still burnt out from when I had a tree up for the entirety of 2010 just because I felt like it.

(Looking back, that was a bit much.  I'm not sure why I did that. I don't think I'll do it again.)

So last week, I was nursing Evelyn and thinking, because I have a lot of time to think while I do that.  I was considering some cute papercraft version of a tree on the wall when I realized that I have a lot of granny squares.

As in, two decades' worth.

Any time I have spare yarn, I usually make a few granny squares just to stockpile them.  And then there were the squares I made for Evelyn's afghan before I changed my mind and did something different.  And then there was my stash of green yarn and.....well, you can see where it took me.

Evelyn fell asleep, and I pulled out my existing granny squares and started making designs in the floor.  I realized pretty quickly that rows of 1 square, 3 squares, 5 squares and so on would make the tree pretty big and I wanted to keep things small and simple and relatively free of fuss.  So I picked my spot on the wall and took some measurements, and set to work on crocheting a few more green granny squares for rows that increased by one.

I finished up at work the next day and laid out my design:

Then I sewed the squares together with the weave stitch, and sewed the rows together.  I even added a little brown square at the bottom for the trunk because I think I'm so clever.

On Saturday, I pinned the tree to the wall with push pins in each outside corner of the tree because we're totally not getting that security deposit back after everything else we've pinned to the walls.

I realized (too late) that the wall would have the outline of a weird triangle after I took down our tree (because I said I wouldn't leave a tree up year-round ever again, remember?), and I started to feel like this was silly.  

Then I took pictures of the tree anyway:

Then I pulled out our ornaments and decided which ones would actually make it to the wall.

I thought I'd feel some regret at keeping some things put away.  Then I remembered that Cody is one of the least-sentimental people I know, I'm tired of these ornaments from last year, and Evelyn is a baby.

Then I felt fine.

Evelyn, meanwhile, played with a Christmas bracelet made of bells.  It was festive.  Then she ate dry cereal.

Then Cody came home and we chatted for a little while before he glanced over, smiled, and asked "Is that our tree?"  Yup, dear.  That's our tree.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ateca and Jen have a playdate!

Ateca sent me a text a couple of weeks ago to let me know that she was watching her cousin, Kasey, for the weekend and that we should set up a playdate for our girls.  This confirms my suspicions that playdates are just for big people who have to take little people everywhere they go. 

So last Saturday, we made Evelyn (5ish months) and Kasey (21 months) play together while Ateca and I talked about our jobs, apartments, and the next generation of Duggars.  By "play together" I apparently mean that they were just mystified by each other.  Kasey played with the baby toys and Evelyn chewed on things.

As always, Evelyn loved Ateca:

But I'm not sure Kasey was that fond of me.  I'm a stranger, I didn't let her pick up the baby, I'm a bad playdate hostess because I didn't think about juice and snacks (that one actually bothers me!), etc.  And then there was this:

I'm the kind of monster who sets out candy within reach of short people who aren't allowed to eat it.


And that's why we have this picture now.

Sorry, Kasey.  I hope there's a next time so I can make it up to you.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I got the call this morning that EA was gone.

I am so glad we went to visit a couple of weeks ago.

I'm glad he saw Evelyn twice.

I don't know if he ever knew that their shared initials were intentional.

There is so much I want to tell you about him and how wonderful he was, 
but I can't really form the thoughts right now to write out all the ways he influenced me.

I am so profoundly grateful to have known him and to have him be my grandpa.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Book list for August 2010

Lady Oracle. Margaret Atwood.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Stieg Larrson.  Trans. Reg Keeland.

Knitting Without Tears. Elizabeth Zimmerman.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"We are not wasting time. We are living slowly."

(And taking silly pictures.)

I saw that phrase somewhere and thought it was a nice thought.

How slowly did I live today?

Pretty slowly when you take into account my nearly 3 hours of napping.

My new schedule has finally been approved and I am now spending a couple of afternoons at home!  Today was my first day and I practically skipped out of the building and all of the way to my car.

I thought I could throw Evelyn in the Moby wrap and walk to the library before her nap because the weather was so nice.

She cried, spit up all over the Moby wrap, and was practically falling out of the wrap trying to lay down on the way home.  I ate lasagna while nursing, and then a piece of pie with my bare hands while she fussed and nursed.  I intended to lay down with her for a little while.


One hour later, she'd woken up and I was still in bed.  We were so comfy there that I nursed her back to sleep and--poof!--2 hours were gone and I was waking up only because she was hungry again.

So.  To recap: my afternoon was perfect.

Monday, August 1, 2011

July's book list

We like reading in this family.


Since it's been a while, I thought I'd re-explain how the monthly book lists work:

I write down a list of the books I've finished for the month.  I don't include anything related to work.  I've also decided that I won't include anything that I've read to Evelyn strictly for her entertainment (although we're still working our way through Beowulf).  So that adorable picture up there is just being adorable, and not for assuring you that we've read a lot about firefighters lately.

Library books are marked with an asterisk.  

Audiobooks also count.  I just made up that rule last month when I wanted to read, but couldn't because Evelyn won't let me sit on a couch and ignore her for hours at a time.  So I tried out some library books on CD and enjoyed nursing her at night while listening to stories of bereft women with disintegrating marriages and mystery stories filled with violence against women.  That was not intended to be as sarcastic as it looked.

Eats, Poops and Leaves: The Essential Apologies, Rationalizations, and Downright Denials Every New Parent Needs to Know and Other Fundamentals of Baby Etiquette. Adam Wasson*

The Knitting Circle (CD). Ann Hood. Read by Hillary Huber*

The Girl Who Played With Fire. Stieg Larsson. Trans. Reg Keeland.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (CD). Stieg Larsson. Trans. Reg Keeland.  Read by Simon Vance.*

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Literary events with Evelyn and Mommy and Kevin Brockmeier

Last night I went to see Kevin Brockmeier give a reading at the Laman Library as part of their Adult Summer Reading Series.

I stinking love Kevin Brockmeier.  And yes, I always use both names when I talk about him.

I have not attended one of his readings since 2009.

I skipped his session at the Arkansas Literary Festival in 2010, because I am an idiot.

Then his session at this year's festival was ticket-only.  I did not know this and did not buy a ticket, and did not really have a chance to buy a ticket because the organizers accidentally sold too many tickets.

So instead I bought stamps for Evelyn's birth announcements at the post office, ate sandwiches with Mom and Dad, and tried not to cry even though postpartum book nerd disappointment can be very, very acute.

Cody and I took Evelyn to the library for the first time ever the very next day so we could attend a Kevin Brockmeier-moderated session for Peter S. Beagle.  It wasn't quite the same, but it was still fun and I hoped we'd have better luck next year.

But then I saw a poster last week for this event and became very excited.  Then very fearful I'd forget.  Then concerned that something would somehow prohibit me from attending.

But nothing bad happened and I went!

I came home.  I fed Evelyn.  I changed my clothes.  I changed her clothes.  I tried to comb her hair.  I took her to the library.

And then we listened to Kevin Brockmeier read from his new book and talk with the audience!

Evelyn made it through with a minimum of fussing.  It was around 80° in the room, so she was extra squirmy and unhappy.  Me, too.

She slept a little, but woke up during some applause.

Cody gave me The Illumination for Valentine's Day this year, but I haven't finished it because it's just so sad.  He read one section that I'd already read, then another section I hadn't read, and then he took questions from the audience.

I love when he takes questions from the audience.  He's updated his Top 50 Favorite Books list, and created a Top 50 Favorite Movies list, so when people asked him about that he was all set.  Yes, I took home copies of both.  He told stories of how he accidentally wound up with a literary agent, how he stopped someone from stealing his lunch out of his locker in junior high, and what he does during the day. He even talked about 2 unpublished children's books he has sitting around that need to be published so I can buy them and read them with Evelyn.

I can never think of anything to ask him.  Oh well.

Then it was time for book signing and I was still on the back row, nursing Evelyn without a cover.  I had spent the last part of his talk walking and bouncing her in the back of the lecture room and praying that no one was bothered by her little grunts and squeaks.  Then she really started fussing and I sat down in the nearest chair and fed her. 


An old lady came up to me while I was feeding her and I got nervous because I've been told older people hate boobs.  Or something.  But the woman just wanted to let me know that my baby was very "good" (as far as I can tell, when people say this they actually mean "quiet") and very pretty ("the most amazing baby in the world").  I was incredibly relieved, and this was when I remembered none of these people had her 2" away from their ears.  And that the night's demographic was... well, older.  Yay for diminished hearing!  We discretely finished up and joined the line, where people talked to Evelyn and she smiled back at them.  When it was our turn, Kevin Brockmeier remembered me! 

He has remembered me since 2007. Awesome.

No, really.  See?

This is not my standard literary-matters post.  This is not my standard adventures-with-Evelyn post.  This is a post about me wanting to do something really, really badly for myself and actually pulling it off and feeling like I rocked it (instead of survived) and being completely excited.  Mom offered to watch Evelyn while I went to the reading, but I wanted to take her with me.  I wanted to hear my favorite author read from his work.  I wanted my daughter to go to this.  I wanted her with me after being away from her all day.  I kind of wanted to make up for her first book signing event being for the Duggars' new paycheck.

I know I won't be able to take Evelyn, or babies that may come after her, to everything.  And I know I won't be able to go out and do everything like I did before having Evelyn.  Things are different now.  I don't read as much.  I don't take as many pictures of things when I'm out and about.  My time for knitting is nearly non-existent (which actually made me want to make the most of my time and start knitting things other than scarves.  And that's cool).  It's the new normal for now and I'm fine with it, except that I really maybe needed to go to the reading last night.  And it went just fine.  It was better than fine. 

It was great

Evelyn's awake more at night now and more vocal, but she wasn't disruptive. 

I made it to the event on time, after work. 

I kept a three-month-old occupied and relatively quiet for nearly 2 hours. Someone pin a medal on me!

I nursed without a cover, and even though it doesn't seem like something you should do in a library, no one was outraged or ugly about it.

Even though I don't recognize myself sometimes, Kevin Brockmeier remembered me and signed my book. 

I actually remembered to take my book.  I remembered a pacifier.  I remembered my camera.

Oh yes, my camera. 

You know, for pictures.

Like this one:

I think they're friends now.
See?  Proof that my evening was great.

I like to think Kevin Brockmeier had a good time, too.

Evelyn was fine.  Promise. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Crochet scarf post (or an attempt thereof)

A disclaimer: I know how to crochet.  I promise!  But I was taught when I was around 8 or 9.  When you're 8 or 9, your grandmas can just sit you in their laps and say "You do this [shows you] and then you do like this [shows you the next step] and there you are!"  And, indeed, there you are!  You can crochet!  And then you spend the next 20 years not bothering to look up the terms for what you're doing and when you attempt to write a simple post about a simple scarf pattern, you must frantically refer to the page on learning to crochet from the Lion Brand website in order to make sure you're calling the stitches by the correct terms.

A second disclaimer: I am tired and a little distracted, so you may need to should absolutely check out the learning to crochet page in order to make sure that I haven't fed you a whole mess of misinformation.

Without further excuses, here are the instructions to make this scarf:

Crochet a chain stitch for 16 stitches.  Hold and crochet 3 more loops (like you would when starting a half-shell in a granny square) and crochet a double stitch in a stitch, and repeat.  Crochet one more double crochet stitch and skip over one stitch.  Crochet double 3 double stitches and repeat until the end of the row.  Then crochet 4 stitches to make a loop, connecting the chain to the end of the row. 

See what I mean?  That's how you make the start of the scarf.

Turn your work and make a single stitch along the loop for 3 stitches. 

That's how you get the edges of the scarf.  (Circled badly.)

Chain stitch 3 stitches and begin crocheting half-shells to the end of the row.  Do this a million times, or until the scarf is long enough for your tastes.
 This is a pattern that measures around 4 inches wide.  I used medium weight yarn and a medium-sized needle--either a size I or J. 
 I've also used chunky yarn and a fat needle to get a fat and chunky scarf that I've inexplicably never photographed.

I've also used this pattern with sock yarn and a tiny needle (I think it was a C) as well.  You should have to have a longer chain when you start.  I like this scarf because it's lightweight. 

And that!, as promised, is my scarf post.

And there you are.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Evelyn June

arrived at 3:20 in the afternoon

on March 15

She weighed 7 pounds and 11 ounces

and measured 20 inches long

And to no one's surprise and everyone's delight,

she was found to be absolutely perfect,

very beautiful,
and completely loved.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Book list for January 2011

These are the books I finished reading in January.  Just finishing the titles probably really took it out of me.

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet.  Joy Hatch and Rebecca Kelley.
I liked this for the 'hey, pick and choose the parts of this book you like' attitude of the authors.  And for the buying guides and lists of websites.  Speaking of which, these authors have a website!  (Just in case you're interested.) I initially checked this out from the library, but wound up buying it after renewing about 4 times and nearly finishing the book, only to have Cody flip through a couple of sections (especially on making your own baby food) and say "We should buy this."  So I did, and now I'm glad we have this on hand for various baby stages.

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary.  Simon Winchester.*
I'd read The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, also by Simon Winchester, before (I think I own it) and liked that story and Laine had told me I needed to read this book.  So I did.  The story of the OED is fascinating, okay?  Fascinating.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Book List for 2010

These are the books I finished in 2010!

I think I only read one book in December (but it was really long!  Even if it was just the Harry Potter book.  Still!), so I'll skip doing that post and go ahead and list everything I read in 2010. 

Asterisks mark library books.

Adams, Douglas. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

--. The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.*
Brown, Larissa Golden and Martin John Brown, Knitalong: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together.*
Browne, Jill Connor.  The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love
Byatt, A. S. Possession: A Romance.
Chappell, Fred. Castle Tzingal.*
--. I Am One of You Forever
Danielewski, Mark. House of Leaves.
Douglas, Susan. Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message that Feminism's Work is Done.*

Drabble, Margaret. The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws.*
Faludi, Susan. Backlash: The Undeclared War on American Women.

Farrell, Chris. The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More, and Live Better.*
Grisham, John. The Firm.*

Hall, Donald. Without.*

Hatcher, Michael. Keeping Chickens.*

Jackson, Shirley. Life Among the Savages.*
King, Stephen. The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower I.
--. The Drawing of the Three: The Dark Tower II.
Kostova, Elizabeth. The Historian

LeCarre. John. The Constant Gardener.

Leonard, Annie. The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession With Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health--And A Vision for Change.

Lessing, Doris. Ben, in the World: The Sequel to The Fifth Child.*
--. The Fifth Child.

Maisto, Michelle. The Gastronomy of Marriage: A Memoir of Food and Love.*
Nichols, Sharon Eliza. I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar: A Collection of Egregious 
Errors, Disconcerting Bloopers, and Other Linguistic Slip-Ups.
Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar.*

Potter, Andrew. The Authenticity Hoax: How We Get Lost Finding Ourselves.*
Reed, Stanley. Oriental Rugs and Carpets.

Rice, Anne. Taltos: The Lives of the Mayfair Witches.*  

Rich, Adrienne. An Atlas of the Difficult World, Poems 1988-1991.*

--. A Change of World.*
--. Diving Into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972.

--. The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977.* 

--. A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far: Poems 1978-1981.*

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Seals-Alders, Kimberly. The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy.*  

Sedaris, David. When You Are Engulfed in Flames.*
Shell, Ellen Ruppel. Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture.* 

Smith, Alexander McCall. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.*
--. The Kalahari Typing School for Men. *
--. Morality for Beautiful Girls.*
--. Tears of the Giraffe.*

--. The Full Cupboard of Life.*

--. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies.*

Stewart, Martha. The Martha Rules: 10 Essentials for Achieving Success as You Start, Grow, 
or Manage a Business.

Trooper, Jonathan. This is Where I Leave You.*
Valenti, Jessica. The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women.* 

Woolf, Virginia.  Orlando.