My Convertible Life

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When Fashion Happens

There was this girl in Junius's 2-year-old preschool class who wore something smocked and monogrammed. Every. Single. Day.

You know what I'm talking about -- the matching ruffly outfits, the seasonally decorated dresses, the ready-for-a-professional-portrait clothes. The girl with nothing from Old Navy or Target in her closet. 

She ended up being one of his best buddies because beneath those fancy duds was a really fun little girl. But I teased her mother regularly about the outfits. 

Why in the world to do you do that to her, I would ask. It's just preschool, not a fashion show.

Her answer? "Because it's fun and I can and it won't last forever."

I still thought she was crazy.

Until I had Pippi.

Let me tell you, no matter what you might believe before it happens, having a daughter is not the same as having a son. I enjoyed dressing Juni in cute outfits as a baby, but nothing compares to little girl clothes. The vast and unending realm of patterns and ruffles and layers and smocking completely overwhelms the tiny little boy section of stores.

Although I never got to the smocked-every-single-day level (mostly because my budget wouldn't allow it), I did so love dressing her in adorable outfits. I even let a photographer friend use her as a photo model for a fashion project because she just looked too cute (I mean, seriously, just look at that picture!). 

And then Pippi decided she wanted to dress herself. 

[Cue sound of screeching brakes]

After far too many knock-down-drag-out fights over what she was supposed to wear to preschool last fall, I finally just gave up. I decided that as long as she was wearing something weather-appropriate, she could pick out her own outfits most days (I reserved the right to put her in smocked for church). 

I knew it was the right call on the morning we went grocery shopping -- Pippi was wearing pink leggings, a white long-sleeved shirt, a satin floral sleeveless bubble dress that was two sizes too big, silver glitter shoes and a tiara. The 50-something woman in the elevator with us looked at her with a big grin and said, "You dressed yourself this morning, didn't you? You look very beautiful!"

She was right. Pippi did look beautiful. And it was quite obvious that she'd dressed herself -- no one was judging my personal style or my parenting skills because of Pippi's own sense of flair.

In order to really enjoy this fashion as it happens, I started taking pictures of her outfits -- trying to catch the essence of Pippi style.

So I'm happy to share with you my latest venture: I Dressed Myself. It's a new blog about how the best fashion happens when mommy and daddy aren't involved. I hope you'll check it out, follow along and maybe even share some of your own gems. There's a few posts there already and I plan to post at least one new outfit a week -- because there's no better way to keep myself sane than to enjoy the wealth of blog material in my crazy life.

photo credit to evolve studio photography

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Friday's 5: Books for Pippi

I've been binge reading again. This time it was The Hunger Games trilogy -- in total, I read all three books in about five days. Would have been faster, but I decided to sleep some here and there.

Highly recommend the books -- but as a public service announcement, I should caution you not to start them unless you have a few days to spend doing nothing but reading. Or unless you don't really need to sleep at night.

The good news is that I'm not the only who's been finding good things to read lately. My kids are having fun digging into their own books. Like me, Junius is getting into some good series -- The Magic Tree House and A to Z Mysteries are currently at the top of his list.

Pippi isn't actually reading, but she's got some strong preferences. Lots of Barbie and My Little Pony books, which I can't stand (sorry if those are your beloved books). But also these five titles that I enjoyed along with her.
  1. Miss Fannie's Hat by Jan Karon and Toni Goffe: Miss Fannie is 90 years old and owns just about as many hats. The story is sweet, but I think it's the illustrations of all those hats that Pippi liked best.
  2. Every Cowgirl Needs Dancing Boots by Rebecca Janni and Lynne Avril: As a girl with her own pink dancing boots, Pippi was bound to like this one. I like the main character for her unwillingness to give up on finding fun friends.
  3. Tallulah's Tutu by Marilyn Singer and Alexandra Boiger: We probably should have named Pippi "Tallulah" in real life -- I'm sure that's one of the reasons why she likes this book so much. That, plus the dancing, the tutu and the fiesty main character.
  4. The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler and David Lee Csicsko: Without getting all preachy and political, this book uses cute illustrations and fun rhymes to point out that not everyone has the same skin -- but we can all feel good about the skin we've got.
  5. Louise the Big Cheese (Divine Diva) by Elise Primavera and Diane Goode: Louise doesn't get picked for the role of Cinderella in the school play, but she doesn't let that stop her from saving the show.
So what are you (or your kids) reading this weekend? Share your recent favorites in the comments below.

Note: All links go to the titles at Quail Ridge Books & Music, which is my wonderful local independent bookseller. If you don't have your own independent bookseller close by, I'm happy to let you borrow mine -- order online and let them ship to you. QRB does not compensate me for linking to their site, but I love them anyway.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Watching Him Go

Somehow it never gets any easier. More manageable, but not actually easier.

I still ache when I leave him somewhere.

Yes, Junius is six-and-a-half (and we all know how critical that extra "half" can be). And yes, he's fine and will have fun and will somehow manage to stay safe without my hovering over him.

But knowing those things hasn't stopped the lump in my throat, the feeling of my heart dropping into into my stomach.

Last week it was hockey track-out camp, where he didn't know anyone. Even pumped up with shoulder pads and standing taller than usual on his ice skates, he seemed so little as he walked away. I loitered in the lobby, wondering if he might turn around and change his mind about staying. The camp lasted for five full days, but he asked me to pick him up after lunch each day -- and, of course, I did.

This week it's grandparent camp, where he gets to be the center of the universe for four days with my in-laws and then my parents. Today he practically pushed me out the door so he could have alone time with his grandmother. Every night this week I will call him before bed, listening to him recounting his day and helping me hold onto the illusion of tucking him in. Having only one child will make my week easier, but strangely lonely.

It's a cruel trick of parenting. When they're here, they are crazy, exhausting, unrelenting, needy -- some days I want nothing more than to walk away for an hour alone. But when they're gone, their absence doesn't bring simple relief -- although it does create a quiet that is welcome, for a bit, until it's not.

Already I know I will cry when he leaves for overnight camp, for college, for study abroad, for some job in another state. I will want him to do all of those things, will put on a brave face for him so that he will trust his decision to go, will be unreasonably proud of his accomplishments.

But it will not be easy watching him go.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Color Me Crazy

Anyone who suggests that I'm a neat, tidy, organized kind of person doesn't really know me -- or has only been over to my house when I'm expecting company.

The counters and tables are regularly covered in piles and I shudder to think what our bathrooms would look like without help from a housekeeper. Even my desk at work is a mangled mish-mash of lists, notebooks, brochures and reports.

But I do like for everything to have a place -- and ideally for all those things to be in said places.

Particularly when it comes to Play-Doh. I mean, there's a reason that each color comes in its own container with the little color-coded lid, right?

So why does my daughter love to inflict so much pain by doing this?
Watching her gleefully smush all the colors together actually makes my palms itch. Or maybe that's just an ingredient in the Play-Doh. Either way, it's all I can do to let her enjoy it the way she wants to.

When she's busy building something, I catch myself at least trying to group the rainbow lumps into color-themed piles (note the pinkish, bluish and yellowish balls above). But it doesn't work. She sees what I'm doing and starts taking chunks of my piles and blending them into a new shape.

So how do I keep from destroying one of her creative outlets by enforcing my organizational rules into her game? I turn to my own creative outlet -- writing -- to get me out of her way.

Now excuse me while I go check out Pippi's newest creation: the pinkyellowgreenbluetanpurple double-winged, four-eyed wedding bird.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Say Cheese

A year ago, you saw what happens when Pippi takes the camera. This year, she's focusing more on herself than the house.
There's no profound message here. Those expressions just made me laugh -- plus the close, chin-multiplying angle she gets by having preschooler arms.

Happy New Year! Hope 2012 is bringing smiles.