My Convertible Life

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pippipalooza 2012: Such a Big Girl

Pippi is growing up even faster than Junius did -- the blessing and curse of a second baby, I guess. One minute she looks like a toddler, the next minute more like a 10-year-old.

But there are a few baby-ish things I'm clinging to. I just hope she'll let me for a little while longer.
  1. Nighttime snuggling: Pippi is fully potty-trained now, even at night. But we cheat a little by taking her (mostly asleep) to pee before we go to bed. When I carry her back to her room, I stand by the bed and snuggle with her for a minute or two. It's not quite the same, as her legs are dangling down for what seems like miles -- but it's still a small reminder of when she was a baby and still snuggling in to nurse at night.
  2. Cute talking: It's been said that the nut seldom falls far from the tree. And when it comes to talking a blue streak, that's certainly true for the Pip. She's learning words like "exquisite" and "fascinating" thanks to Sesame Street and Fancy Nancy, so her vocabulary is keeping up the pace. But she still says "merfume" instead of "perfume," "mackin" instead of "napkin," "nimp" instead of "mint," and "kank you" instead of "thank you." You will not hear me correcting her anytime soon.
  3. Couch napping: Pippi gave up the nap about a year ago. It was both a relief (to not have to schedule around it) and a heartbreak (to not have that quiet hour), but she was ready. Still, now and then she wears herself out enough (or wakes up painfully early enough) that she'll curl up with us on the couch and fall asleep. Her cheeks flush, her lips pouf out, her lashes brush against her face -- and in that sweet moment tucked into my arm, I can still see her babyness lingering under her big girl look.
  4. Book cuddling: As a book nerd, I find some of my favorite moments with my children are those spent reading. Junius doesn't fit very well on my lap anymore, but Pippi can still curl up just enough that we can cuddle when we read. It doesn't last long before her legs unfurl, but I love feeling the weight of her leaning back against me while we enjoy reading together.
  5. Bedtime kissing: After Pippi falls alseep at night (in her very big girl bed, of course), I go back in to check on her. She still spins and twists during her sleep, so we never know quite where she might be in the bed or which direction she might be facing. But once I find her, I lean in for one more goodnight kiss on the cheek -- her cheeks are about the only part of her that's still plump with baby fat and it's almost like kissing a marshmallow (not that I've done that, but it's what I imagine it would feel like). 
What treasured remnants of baby-hood are you clinging to at your house -- or what do you miss from those sweet early years? Or, if you're in the throes of those not-actually-always-sweet early years, what baby moments are you ready to be rid of?

Catch up on Pippipalooza 2012:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pippipalooza 2012: Preschool Musical

Pippi is now officially 4.

She's had her school-special-snack party, her family-goes-out-to-dinner party and her invite-too-many-friends-to-the-house-for-cake party. She loved every minute -- the rest of us are still recovering.
So while I collect myself enough to be able to write about the festivities and about our Princess Pip, you can entertain yourself with the playlist I used for her CD party favors.

 The Pippipalooza Dance Party Like a Rock Star Mix

1. Big Bang Boom (Part 1) – Big Bang Boom
2. High Five! – They Might Be Giants
3. Get Up and Go – The Biscuit Brothers
4. It Makes You Feel Good – Renee & Jeremy
5. Mahna Mahna – CAKE
6. Molly the Moose – Ira Marlowe
7. I Never Go to Work – They Might Be Giants
8. Stand Up Song – Big Bang Boom
9. The Hoppity Song – John Ondrasik
10. D Is for Drums – They Might Be Giants
11. Drawing – Barenaked Ladies
12. Dance Party – The Biscuit Brothers (Buttermilk)
13. C’mon – Renee & Jeremy
14. Ooh La! Ooh La! – They Might Be Giants
15. No Hands Band – Ray “Walrus” Laughran (on BBB)
16. Big Bang Book (Part 2) – Big Bang Boom

All of these songs (and the albums they came from) are technically kid songs, but they're ones that pass the parent test -- that is, kid songs that even the parents like.

You're welcome.

Note: Referencing this post title, if you haven't seen the Sesame Street "Preschool Musical" sketch, it's worth watching.

Catch up on Pippipalooza 2012:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pippipalooza 2012: It's On

Hard to believe, but it's already time for Pippipalooza again -- my baby girl turned four today.


There's been lots of time spent lately on everything except blogging, but I hope to catch up soon. In the meantime, you can celebrate with Pippi by checking out her post from Monday on I Dressed Myself. See how she can turn one set of clothes into three outfits over the course of one day.

Just one of her many amazing talents.

Happy birthday, baby girl!

And in case that's not enough, you can always go back in time:
Pippipalooza 2011
Pippipalooza 2010 (which was really only one post)

Catch up on Pippipalooza 2012:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday's 5: Kitchen Remodel

Part four of an occasional series about what I'm enjoying in my "new" house one year after we started our big renovation project.

We saved the kitchen for last during the renovation, knowing that it would be the most disruptive part of a very messy process. You may recall my tips for eating when you don't have a kitchen -- and I've already shown you some of the before-and-after shots of the kitchen.

The change was dramatic and wonderful. But the more we live in our kitchen, the more I discover that it's the little things that make me love it the most. Here are five of my favorite details:

1. Drawers: In a space that used to have four small drawers and a jumble of cabinets, we now have three big-ass drawers. The top one has silverware and cooking utensils, while the middle has foil, bags and other related items. But the bottom drawer is the genius one -- contains both tupperware and my kids' plastic plates and cups so that they can serve themselves. Plus, all of our drawers (and cabinet doors) have this awesome soft-close feature, so you can just give it a push and it closes gently the rest of the way. (The only danger with that feature is that now I go around accidentally slamming the cabinets in the bathrooms and other places, but it's a price I'm willing to pay.)
2. Window wall: The kitchen window, which looks out over the backyard, is a stroke of genius recommended by our architect. It's a casement window, so it opens out on a crank instead of raising up on a sash. This is perfect over the sink for two reasons: it's super easy to open (no leaning over the sink to push a stuck sash) and there's no bar right at eye-level (where the two sashes meet) to block my view. I also love the open shelves beside the window (there are some on the other side, too) -- less bulky than cabinets and  a pretty way to display fun things. Plus it keeps the wine glasses at the ready.
3. Sliding shelves: I used to store my crockpot on the dining room table, the electric frying pan on top of the fridge and other big pots/pans so far back in a corner cabinet that I practically had to crawl inside to get them out. Now I just open the cabinet doors, slide out the shelves and select whatever I need. And we can actually eat dinner at the dining room table now.
4. Smoothie station: Because we make smoothies every morning, we keep the blender on the counter along with an excess of bananas (I usually buy 12 at a time). So we carved out this little counter area between the fridge and the pantry cabinets to have a space for making smoothies. We also store the toaster and the electric can opener in the cabinet below, so everything is close to an outlet.
5. Spice rack: When we took out the top half of the wall between the kitchen and dining room, I lost the over-the-stove cabinet where I used to keep spices, oils, etc. So when we redesigned the kitchen, there was just enough room to tuck this handy spice/oil sliding cabinet beside the stove. It keeps everything right where I need it and doesn't require having a spice rack on the counter.
What little details do you love best about your kitchen? Or what spaces would you most like to change?

Check out the rest of this series...
- Part 1: Powder Room
- Part 2: Dining Room
- Part 3: Family Room

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Marital Threats and How You Can Help

Somehow, I just can't believe that 76-year-old Lennie and 87-year-old Pearl are a threat to my "traditional" marriage.

And yet, conservative politicians, religious leaders and other groups keep trying to convince me that allowing homosexuals to get married threatens the very foundations of the institution of marriage.

Yeah, right.

I'm here to tell you that what threatens my marriage is not the notion that my across-the-street neighbor might one day want to marry his adorable boyfriend, or that my friend a few streets over is planning to have a baby with her girlfriend. And I definitely do not see a clear and present danger in two septuagenarian/octogenarian women who have loved each other faithfully for 45 years while making great contributions to their community and generally being nice people.

If you really must know, here are a few things that are an actual threat to the health of my one-man-one-woman, walked-down-the-aisle, have-a-license-to-prove-it marriage:

  1. My children get up absurdly early. Every. Single. Day. My son is up AND DRESSED no later than 6 a.m. Even on Saturdays -- okay, he's still in his pajamas on the weekend, but he's up nonetheless. My daughter, convinced she might miss out on something fun, is up with him at the same time. And they expect to be entertained. Otherwise they start whining and annoying each other.
  2. My husband has his own opinions and ideas. I mean, I thought he was just going to agree with me. Who knew he'd have his own vision about decorating the house, planning vacations or scheduling our weekends. Now we have to work together and compromise to get things done -- this means disagreeing sometimes, even arguing or fighting occasionally. After 10 years, there are no deal breakers, but it still takes work.
  3. Babysitters can be expensive. In order for us to spend time together without our kids to nurture our relationship, we have to hire a babysitter. Then we have to go somewhere, which means spending more money. Without even doing anything fancy, we can easily spend $100 on a evening out. It might actually be cheaper to go to a marriage counselor who offered childcare in the waiting room than to plan a date night.
  4. Social media is a time suck. After the kids go to bed, when we should probably be engaged in quality conversation together, we both tumble down the rabbit hole of Twitter, blogging, Words with Friends, Angry Birds, Pinterest, Gentlemint and a hundred other online traps. Not that there's anything wrong with reading blogs (ahem), but it does keep our focus off of each other.
  5. Downton Abbey and Mad Men are too good. Again with the night-time distractions. But seriously -- how can we focus on each other when there's Lady Mary and Don Draper to worry about? Plus there's Modern Family and 30 Rock when we need a laugh, or Psych and White Collar when we want some investigating, or Portlandia when it's time for something random and hilarious. That TiVo box is seriously hazardous to our marital health.
  6. The house is not self-cleaning. Even if we manage to turn off the TV and other electronics, there's still the laundry to fold, the dishes to wash, the grass to mow, the bathrooms to clean, the dinner to cook, the lunches to make, the bills to pay, the groceries to buy, the appointments to schedule. It would take six adults running this house in order to free up enough time for us to really stop and just be with each other. Again, Downton Abbey seems like a good idea.
So if you're really serious about wanting to protect North Carolina families and preserve healthy marriages across the state, you have a few options:
a. You can volunteer to babysit my children for the weekend free of charge.
b. You can donate time or money to an organization like Protect NC Families, the Equality NC Foundation, Race to the Ballot or We Are NC -- or attend the Love Wins dance this weekend in Durham.
c. You can make sure you're registered to vote NO on May 8.
d. All of the above.
Just let me know when you're ready to schedule that babysitting weekend.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Best Friends Forever

Every girl needs at least one long-time, old school BFF.

That friend who loved you when you were an awkward teen-ager and still loves you when you're both heading into your 40s. The one you can call and pick up right where you left off, without explanations or apologies. The one who knows your whole family and all your skeletons and would never think of using any of them against you. The one who has an arsenal of big hair 80s photos of you and hasn't posted a single image to Facebook.

I'm absurdly lucky to have more than one of those friends -- just a few treasured women who have known me for almost three decades and remain a part of my life, even before we had email and social media (gasp!) for keeping in touch.

There are many wonderful women in my life -- my list of good friends is an embarrassment of riches. They've been neighbors and classmates, colleagues and roommates. Some friendships I've wandered into and others I've wooed strategically planned.

But there's nothing quite like that best friend since age 12.

We live in different cities and don't get to see each other very often -- life sometimes has a way of getting in the way. Even when we don't visit or talk regularly, I feel better just knowing she's out there if I need her.

And that's why I'm so sad tonight. Because my friend Marty lost her best friend Susan today.

Although I felt like I knew Susan thanks to Marty's stories and connections on social media, we never actually met. I loved her anyway -- not only because she seemed like an incredible person, but mostly and simply because she loved my friend.

We are too young to lose a best friend. I have nothing useful to say to Marty except that I am so incredibly sorry for her loss. And that I will probably bring over a casserole at some point, because that is what we do.

In the meantime, I will be saying prayers of thanksgiving and peace -- for Susan and her family, for Marty, for my friends from all stages of my life.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Name Dropping

This is the conversation that Pippi and I had in the car on the way to preschool this morning.

Pippi: Mommy, do you know Anna Lewis?

Me: Sure, I know Anna Lewis. She's in your class at school.

[Long pause]

Pippi: Mommy, do you know B.B. King?

Me: Umm. I know who B.B. King is. Do you know B.B. King?

Pippi: Yes! I see him at the coffee shop. [pause] Does his guitar have a name?

Me: Yes, it does. Do you know his guitar, too?

Pippi: Is it Lucille?

Me: Yes [laughing], actually it is Lucille. Is that funny?

Pippi: [cracking up] I'm going to call Anna Lewis "Lucille"!

* * *

Not to ruin the comedy, but just as background... Pippi's dad sometimes takes her to a nearby coffee shop on Saturday mornings. Apparently there's a picture of B.B. King on the wall, so they've talked about him and his music while they're having Saturday scones. Just goes to show that kids are really listening sometimes -- and there's no telling when they're going to share what they remember from those conversations.

Image borrowed from The Silver Tongue.