18 December 2014

spending the big bucks, or not

Unless it lives in gorgonzola cheese, I am staunchly anti-mold. I loathe it almost as much as the smell of melted butter during my first trimester, which is to say, a lot. The nasty stuff likes to taunt me from the corners of the bathroom. I've tried a number of high-end shower curtains that advertise themselves as "mold repellant." But they always get pink and black streaks along the bottom within a month or two, and sometimes they don't even come clean with bleach.

Finally I gave up and bought a couple of super cheap curtains at Target-- and behold, the cheap curtains stayed mold-free every bit as long as the fancy ones did. When I washed them with hot water and bleach they looked good as new. So you see that spending more money does not always pay off in the long run.

The Moneylender and His Wife by Quentin Metsys

Two things that are worth lots of pennies:

Tea. I am snobby about my tea. (And even expensive tea is cheaper than coffee, so I can still maintain a sense of smug superiority to my coffee-addicted husband.) Lipton tastes like grass cuttings, Bigelow is almost uniformly repulsive, and don't even get me started on Tazo, which I believe is composed of factory floor sweepings. I will drink cheap tea in a pinch-- I'm cold and I need caffeine and this is all I could find in the hotel lobby-- but my own stash consists of the good stuff: Yorkshire Gold, Twining's, Harney and Sons.

Actually, come to think of it, the nationality of the tea company seems to matter more than the price point. Moral: American tea bad. English tea good.

Shoes. Expensive shoes-- so long as the expense means quality and comfort, rather than name recognition-- reward the investment. I've thrown out countless cheap shoes that squeaked, slipped, and fell apart long before I wanted to buy replacements. Meanwhile, a pair of Bass snowboots purchased early on in college are trekking on valiantly. I'm still wearing my wedding shoes five years later and they are in near-perfect condition. I get a new pair of Dansko professional clogs every couple of years for everyday wear, and even after they are scuffed beyond rescue, they stay structurally sound and just turn into my weeding/painting/running-errands-on-a-rainy-day shoes.

The other advantage of only buying pricey shoes is that you end up with fewer pairs and need less storage space. ;-)

Two things that are not:

Pillar candles. Buy them from IKEA! They're pretty and they don't sputter or give off tons of smoke! And because they are so cheap, you can get tons and burn them all the time without feeling like a wastrel.

Wrapping paper. You can find adorable prints for a million dollars at Anthropologie. When the paper costs more than the gift (and gets tossed out anyway), who really wins here? Just go to the dollar store and get simple paper. Add pretty ribbon, maybe a free printable tag or two. Tada!

14 December 2014

family snippets // weekend linkage

At the Seashore by Edward Henry Potthast

It has been a long weekend, in several senses of the word. My grandma passed away recently; her funeral and memorial service were on Friday. Everyone who could (and there were a lot of us) packed up and drove to Fremont, Ohio, where she lived almost her entire life. The services were really lovely. It was sweet to recall all the memories we have of Grandma, and it was good to see so many extended family members, since we are geographically far-flung and don't have the opportunity to get together very often.

Time for parental bragging. Ellie is the best traveler you can imagine. She had to sit in her carseat for about eight hours each way, not to mention all the running around while in Fremont, the new people, the odd schedule, the unfamiliar sleeping environment . . . but she seemed entirely unfazed.

Both she and I did pick up a bad cold, and I ended up with quite a few contractions on the trip back. So today all of us stayed home from church to recuperate, with the help of lots of elderberry, vitamin C, and Vivaldi.

Now links. I have a lot.

Some excellent articles about parenthood: "Mothering in the Internet Age" by Betsy Childs, "A Mother's Repentance" by Rebecca Reynolds, and "The Cult of Kiddie Danger" by Lenore Skenazy.
Today it is a sin — and sometimes a crime — not to imagine your children dead the moment [you] take your eyes off them. The moment they skip to school with a Chapstick, wait in the car a minute, or play at the park. We think we are enlightened in this quest to keep kids completely safe. Actually, we have entered a new Dark Ages, fearing evil all around us.
About food and home: a fascinating interview with Christopher Kimball, founder of Cooks Illustrated, and thoughts on the true nature of "home economics" by Daniel Bearman.

The funnies: Brits try to label a US map, an Aaron Sorkin monologue generator, and 25 kids' jokes "so terrible they're hilarious." They are.

Just plain interesting: 10 ways that companies can trick you into buying more, from Money magazine, and "Why We Don't Need Mrs. Jesus" by Maureen Farrell Garcia at CT.
We don’t need Jesus to be married to know that he was fully human—our orthodox conception of Christ as the God-Man already demonstrates that. We don’t need a female deity to affirm the value of women—the One who created both sexes in the image of God does that already.

05 December 2014

Family snippets

Jellybean is trying to decide if she wants to go head down or not. Mostly she does, but she also likes to switch it up and lie diagonally. I've been doing a lot of yoga poses to encourage her towards the correct position. Ellie gets annoyed by this, because most involve me being head-down, and she wants to see my face at all times. So she runs up to me, grabs my head and pushes, yelling "Off! Off!" (That is her all-purpose preposition and in this case it means get up.) I have to explain to her that no, she may not push Mommy, and Mommy is going to stand like this for as long as I want, whether she approves or not. Sorry.

I had a midwife appointment this morning. I go every two weeks at the end of my pregnancy; I can't believe that we might only have a month left before Jellybean comes, only one or two more appointments before the actual birth. I hope she does come early. It won't be the end of the world if she is late, and I don't put much stock in due dates, but even when I am freaking out about how I'm going to juggle two small children, I do want her to arrive soon. We can't wait to see what she looks like.

This week Ellie proudly formed her first sentence: "This is a toe!" (while pointing at my bare feet, festively adorned with Water Street Blue). Followed by "This is our car!' and "This is a jacket!" She loves to demonstrate her naming knowledge.


She also loves to demonstrate her pantsless engineering skills-- and yes, that is a lot of coconut milk. When BB's has the good stuff for 75 cents each, you buy every last one. No apologies to my fellow shoppers. Better luck next time, slowpokes!

I am finding that as Ellie's mobility grows, so does her mischief. It's not necessarily intentional. This week she has fallen into the bathtub, dumped salt and pepper on the floor, upended a candleholder filled with Indian corn kernels, shut herself into the coat closet, and split open her lip, all out of innocent curiosity. Other times it's clearly premeditated: pulling out all the books on the shelf, pushing a dining room chair over to the whiteboard and drawing on it, splashing in the toilet, putting her sippy cup into the trash can, decorating her face with (washable) markers.

I think she goes on troublemaking streaks. She'll be a little angel all morning and then cram her craziness into the half hour before lunch.

22 November 2014

Weekend linkage

Elizabethan superheroes. Iron Man in a neck ruff!

Timelapse video of one day in UK airspace. Amazing.


Jim Gaffigan on binge-watching. Ha! I am currently on a self-imposed hiatus from Netflix because I just managed to watch all 5 seasons of Chuck in less than six weeks. Which is quite enough for a while. #ohyes #ilovechuck #ialsolovejimgaffigan

This is clever: a typeface for dyslexics.

Russell Moore's address from the recent Vatican Colloquium on Marriage and Family.
People are looking for a cosmic mystery, for a love that is stronger than death. They cannot articulate it, and perhaps would be horrified to know it, but they are looking for God. The Sexual Revolution leads to the burned-over boredom of sex shorn of mystery, of relationship shorn of covenant. The question for us, as we pass through the Samaria of the Sexual Revolution, is whether we have water for Samaria, or only fire. In the wake of the disappointment sexual libertarianism brings, there must be a new word about more permanent things, such as the joy of marriage as a permanent, conjugal, one-flesh reality between a man and woman. We must keep lit the way to the old paths.
Great TED talk: Leana Wen on "What your doctor won't disclose."
If you go to your doctor because of back pain, you might want to know he's getting paid 5,000 dollars to perform spine surgery versus 25 dollars to refer you to see a physical therapist, or if he's getting paid the same thing no matter what he recommends.
 An interesting perspective from the American Enterprise Institute: "The Crucial Importance of Stay-At-Home Wives," specifically in terms of social capital.
It is entirely understandable that some wives work full time, either for the fulfillment of a vocation or to make money–the same reasons men work full time. But when either partner in a marriage—and it will usually be the wife—chooses to devote full time to being a parent and neighbor instead, that choice should not just be accepted, but celebrated.

21 November 2014

Family snippets

"Ellie, if you don't behave we are going to box you up and ship you to Kamchatka."
-Daddy takes parenting cues from Risk


Ellie's capacity for imitation and imagination astounds me. Most of her activities begin with what she sees me do, but she gives them her own spin.

She enthusiastically pushes the Swiffer and hurls clothes into hampers. She uses dishcloths to clean everything from baseboards to blocks. She switches on her musical toys, then performs wild dances around the living room. She "reads" her books with great animation. She builds increasingly complex Duplo architecture. She provides sound effects for her toy cars. She rocks her baby doll while singing a wordless lullaby; she gives it water and feeds it. (Chocolate, mmm! she says.)

Pregnancy is still fine. A healthy and squirming Jellybean, no medical complications or undue hardship. I passed my gestational diabetes test with flying colors-- since Ellie was so big, I thought I should take the test, but no cause for alarm-- and my iron levels are even normal this time.

All that said, I have already told Jared that I feel ready to be done. I am tired of being large.

Jared has been working on Ellie's new bedroom every free weekend. It required some plaster and paint work, and had a rather vigorous draft that needed to be fixed, but all that should be finished before long; I am looking forward to the decorating portion of the project. Though Jellybean probably won't sleep in the nursery at first, we will move Ellie out of the nursery and into her "big girl room" as soon as we can, just to get the transition over with. I think she might sleep in a pack-n-play at first, rather than in her new toddler bed. I don't feel like teaching her to stay in bed at the same time that I'm trying to figure out a newborn. :)