My Convertible Life

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday's 5: Pippi Speaks

My baby girl is growing up fast -- she's sleeping in a big girl bed, wearing undies and giving up her nap (most days). But she still says "kankoo!" when she means "Thank you!"

And I find that very comforting. As long as she still has some baby quirks, I can still hold on a little longer to the illusion that's she's not on the fast track to turning into a teenager. Which is terrifying.

So for now, here are five words that I love to hear Pippi say in her own way (with translations)...
  1. Nimps: mints, specifically Altoids, which she asks for every time we get into the car
  2. Allums: olives, preferably threaded onto her fingertips
  3. Guh-normous: ginormous, usually in reference to the size of her poop 
  4. Bamamma: banana, one of her favorite snacks
  5. Mackin: napkin, something she needs a lot of at every meal

Thursday, April 28, 2011

In Case the Birthers Ask

Given that everyone is all hot about the President's birth certificate these days (really? like there's nothing else we need to be talking about?), I feel I must make a confession.

I am not a Tar Heel born.

There, I said it. It hurts a little, but it's true.

I am still a Tar Heel bred. And when I die, I'm a Tar Heel dead. But when I was born, my parents were living in (...wait for it...)


Gasp! Shocking, I know.

My dad took a job with U.S. Steel after he graduated college, so my parents were living in Pittsburgh, PA, when their first bundle of joy arrived. Because I was only nine months old when they packed up and moved us to North Carolina, I've always considered myself a life-long Southerner.

But if you asked me to prove my NC pedigree, I'd have to show you something other than my birth certificate. Things like... eating barbecue and Krispy Kremes, loving sweet potatoes (the state vegetable!), saying "y'all" regularly, having two degrees from Carolina, drinking sweet tea and Cheerwine, knowing how to shag (the dance, people -- get your British minds out of the gutter).

You think if I go to a NASCAR race, that would be enough to silence any birther questions?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Can Quiet Time Actually Include Some Quiet?

Over the past couple weeks, Pippi has graduated from an afternoon nap to quiet time.

And by "graduated," I mean "broke mommy's heart and destroyed any chance to get an hour alone." And by "quiet time," I mean "45 minutes of Pippi trying not to stay in her room and definitely not being quiet."

But it was getting impossible to put her to bed before 9 p.m. and that just created another big mess. So we decided to bite the bullet and let her give up the nap in exchange for a 7 p.m. bedtime.

Most days, she's spent her quiet time hopping in and out of her room, running to the potty, asking for help getting various costumes on and generally demanding lots of attention. It was basically 45 minutes of work for me and no rest time for her.

Then I tried putting the baby gate at her door to keep her contained. Several minutes later, when she appeared downstairs at my elbow, I asked her how she got out.

With a stern face and loud voice she announced, "I stomp on that gate!" Well, so much for that plan.

So today, she was actually staying in her room, playing and singing and entertaining herself for a good 30 minutes. I was so impressed and hoping for just 15 minutes more when she started calling for me from the top of the stairs. After attempting to negotiate another 5 minutes and watching her despair across the top of the stairs in a dramatic whine, I walked away and went back to my work. (And by "work," I mean "Twitter." Let's be honest.)

Several minutes passed and I suddenly realized it was totally quiet upstairs. Crap, I thought. She's either silently dismantling the bathroom sink or she snuck into my room and emptied my dresser drawers.

When I turned the corner to head upstairs, here's what I found:

That's right. She's SOUND ASLEEP, wearing only her princess undies, in the exact spot where I left her whining about not wanting to stay upstairs. Clearly she still needs a nap -- she just doesn't want to be told to take one.

Here's a closer view of her sweet face:

When she finally woke up, she was covered in carpet creases and her left hand was asleep. She'd been sleeping so hard, she almost tumbled down the stairs trying to get up because she had no idea where she was. Fortunately, I was there to catch her -- because obviously I was taking pictures for the blog (duh).

So there you have it. Even the most stubborn three-year-old can still be conquered by the need to nap.

What's the strangest place you've found your child asleep? And speaking of children napping in crazy places, if you haven't seen Naps Happen, go check out this blog immediately.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Saving Summers at Governor's School

Do you remember when you knew you weren't a kid anymore?

I don't mean losing your virginity or buying your first beer -- I mean the moment when you knew you were a person who would actually turn into a grown-up responsible for your own choices, someone who existed beyond the space of your family.

For me, that moment was in July 1990 at St. Andrew's Presbyterian College, where I attended Governor's School East. It was the summer before my senior year of high school -- the first summer I'd spent away from home, the first time I'd had a roommate, the first time I went somewhere and didn't know anyone. (Also, the first time I fell for an older guy, but that's another story.)

Thinking back, I'm not even sure how to explain it all. But I can remember very clearly sitting at night on the campus tennis courts (there wasn't a lot to do in Laurinburg, which was probably a good thing) talking with a friend who I'd just met a few weeks earlier but who seemed to have always been there. And there, sitting beside the service line, I had this out-of-body, existential sort of teen moment.

Somehow, without my parents around and without all the familiar trappings of my own room or locker or school friends, I suddenly realized that I existed separate from all those things. Like I was floating out into some parallel universe. And yet, all those people -- and the objects I'd left behind -- were still there, going on living without me.

And for a moment, I forgot who I was. Lost track of the me that had always been there, the one that belonged to those other people and places -- and I realized I was someone else. Instead of daughter, student, sister or friend, I was simply and independently Me.

It sounds a bit ridiculous when I write it down like that, but I've been thinking about that moment a lot lately.

You see, the North Carolina legislature (like governments across the country) is slashing through the budget to try to make the state's ends meet. And one way they've proposed to do that is to end all funding for Governor's School.

While I recognize the difficulties our legislators are facing, I know that cutting the funding allotted for this fantastic program will do much more harm than good. By eliminating the oldest statewide summer residential program for academically or intellectually gifted high school students in the nation, North Carolina would save $849,588 -- a drop in the $2.4 billion deficit. Meanwhile, 800 students each year from across the state will miss one of the great opportunities to explore life, learning and culture beyond the walls of their own schools and communities.

One of the things that made Governor's School so impressive is that it was, until very recently, free for students to attend. That meant that any student who was nominated and selected by his or her district -- not just those whose parents could afford it -- could attend. If state funding is reduced or removed and students have to pay to attend, the program will no longer be accessible to all. And that fact will change the very nature of the program.

Those six weeks in 1990 changed me in ways I cannot explain. It was without a doubt the absolute best thing I could have done that summer.

If you had a similar experience in high school or just value this sort of program, I encourage you to take a moment and let the North Carolina legislature know -- start with the House and Senate committees on education appropriation or just write to your own representatives. Our state can do better -- and our students deserve more.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Capture the Everyday: Three Kitchen Items You Can't Live Without

When we gutted our kitchen, I packed up most things to keep them safe and out of the way. We ate out or used paper plates when we could.

But I still kept a few things out until the last possible moment so that we weren't completely off kilter. That's how I know these three items are ones I can't live without.

  1. Measuring cup: It's a 2-cup measuring cup that we got as a wedding present. I still have a set of the standard plastic ones in the four usual sizes, but I use this one a lot more -- so much easier to be able to measure large and small quantities in one shiny cup.
  2. Knife: This lovely Henkel knife was actually a Christmas gift to my husband from my mom. But I'm the one who uses it most. It's a great weight with the perfect blade.
  3. Panini maker: Okay, it's actually George Foreman cooker. But we use it almost exclusively to make perfect grilled cheese sandwiches almost once a week. Clean up is a simple wipe with a paper towel.
How about you? What's in your kitchen that you just can't live without?

Capture the Everyday from Adventuroo
Capture the Everyday is about getting you to capture those everyday moments in your life! Each Thursday, Melissa at Adventuroo will issue a simple challenge to capture something that’s a part of your daily life. You can post just a picture or add some words to go along with it. You’ll have a week to get it done and then she’ll issue another. It’s a quick, easy way to start capturing those little parts of life we sometimes take for granted.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cry, Cry, Cry

When I was a kid, sometimes I'd get weepy for no apparent reason.

I'd pad quietly through the house, looking for my mom. Often she'd be sitting at the piano, so I'd climb up on the bench beside her.

"I feel like crying and I don't know why," I'd tell her.

And she'd always tell me that was fine. That it was okay to cry, to let it out, even if there wasn't an explanation or an answer to go with the tears. Then she'd listen to me let go, holding me just a little so that I knew I wasn't alone.

That's how I feel today. Like crying, but I don't know why.

Maybe it's because my children were apparently conspiring to kill me between 4 and 9 a.m. today while my husband was away overnight. Because every time I turn around, Pippi is naked -- even after I've dressed her and am waiting at the door to leave for the morning. Because neither one of them will ever. stop. talking.

Maybe it's because I seem to be physically incapable of going to bed before 11 p.m., no matter how exhausted I am. Because my sinuses are clogged with pollen-induced snot. Because my right wrist and hand ache so much I can't hold a pen properly.

Maybe it's because there's yet another hole in my kitchen ceiling. Because I had to grocery shop with Pippi today. Because it's gray and cloudy.

Or d) all of the above.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday's Five: The Tao of Mr. Steve

You may remember my list of things we discovered from our contractor, Mr. Joey. But what I failed to mention in that post is that Joe doesn't work alone -- he's got a great crew, led by Mr. Steve.

Steve's job title on his business card is Director of Operations. Apparently that translates to Doer of Whatever Needs Doing. And there's been a lot of that at our house over the past several months.

I don't know if Steve actually has his own Tao (although it was a good movie), but I do know that we've enjoyed having him around. Here are five things we love about Steve...
  1. Good advice: As we went through the project, there were at least 8,742 decisions that had to be made. Often I had a strong opinion (I know, imagine that), but sometimes I needed someone else to weigh in. Steve was great about offering advice (like adding an outlet in our coat closet so we can hide the router in there) or sharing a clever solution.
  2. Light in the laundry: One example of a great Steve idea? Our motion-sensor light in the laundry room. It's in the ceiling -- the light turns on automatically when we walk in and shuts itself off when we're done. Genius.
  3. Fridge box fort: When our new fridge was delivered to the house, Steve was the only one there to receive it. He not only accepted the delivery and checked to be sure everything was okay, he also told the delivery guys to leave the box behind. Then he set it up in the driveway with a door, windows and a sign announcing it as Juni & Pip's new fort. Awesome.
  4. Christmas Eve service: Two days before Christmas, our storm door broke off its hinges and dangled onto the front porch. The next day, Steve picked up a new door at the store, brought it to the house and installed it with a smile.  
  5. Emergency call: And just in case we were really starting to miss our renovation crew, we got to call them back today. Because my brand new kitchen? You know, the one with the beautiful, perfectly smooth ceiling? Today it had a waterfall in the middle of it, dripping down off the ceiling fan. Turns out our upstairs toilet was clogged and leaking under the floor. After I stopped panicking enough to turn off the water, I called Joe and Steve. Within 15 minutes, Steve was at the house to rescue us. That's him in the photo above. Tonight, we've got a neatly cut hole in the kitchen ceiling (ugh -- although at least it's clean and square -- but ugh) and a brand new toilet in the master bath.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The F-Word

This is the conversation I had with Junius last night... as if I needed another reason to love him.

Junius [stage whispering]: Mom... I have a secret to tell you. But you can't tell anyone.

Me [stage whispering back]: Okay, what is it?

J [reaching up to my ear]: When I was upstairs this morning, I heard Pippi use the F-word.

Me [trying not to blanche]: Um, really? Uh, which F-word would that be, buddy?

J [looking concerned and glancing around to be sure no one is listening]: She said... "fart."

Me [now trying not to laugh]: Oh, right, "fart." Of course. Well, you're right -- that's not a polite word to say to other people. But it's okay if she says it at home alone.

J [relieved]: Okay, I just didn't know.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Putting My Teeth Back Where They Belong

In fourth grade, my classmates and I used to pretend we had braces by unfolding a paper clip and bending it across our top teeth. We'd click it around and try to talk and act like we were older and cooler than we really were.

Why did this seem cool? I have absolutely no idea.

(As an aside, this was the same year we were smuggling someone's dog-eared copy of Judy Blume's Forever into our desks and flipping to the racy parts. We were young and sheltered. It was a small school. Who knows what made us do these things.)

Then in fifth grade, I got actual braces on my top teeth. With spacers. And neck gear. It was quite a look. Especially as I was learning to play the flute that year.

But all that metal did its work, making enough room in my too-small mouth for all those adult teeth. In one year, I had a beautiful smile and felt good about my straight teeth.

Now, almost 27 years later, I'm back at the orthodontist's office. Turns out, your teeth continue to move your ENTIRE life. So if you don't wear your retainer FOREVER, then all that time as an awkward metal-mouth pre-teen will be for naught.

So here I am, teeth wedged into plastic, hoping that invisalign can magically (and somewhat painfully) bring back that straight, beautiful smile. It's actually not as bad as I thought it might be (after wearing them for a week), but it does make me talk like I have a slight cold. And my kids think it's crazy to watch me "put my teeth back in," like some 90-year-old grandma.

I don't feel nearly as cool as I thought I was with that paper clip retainer jingling in my mouth -- but at least this process should be more effective.