Monday, April 29, 2013

Springtime Catch Up

It's springtime (finally) and things seem a little more cheerful around here.  Josie brought home the above art project (it's a carp from her class' Japan study) and I hung it from our kitchen window to add color to our view.  The sun is finally warming things up in Massachusetts.

Josie is doing her part:

Today she wore a spring flower in her hair.

You could say that I've brought spring inside, too:

For the last two weeks, we've had these two artificial grass samples on our table.  Our big yard redo is starting soon, and we had to pick the size of the play area turf.  (we chose the shorter grass on the left)

Our one flowering Azalea brush has blossomed: 

It currently resides in the middle of my future English Country Garden, so it will be moved to the front of our house (or was it to the side... I don't remember).

Josie posed for a photo behind the Azalea and at the corner of my garden.  I can not wait to get the fence up and start the work.  I'm looking forward to having more privacy in our backyard.

Springtime also signals the arrival of more outdoor time.  Today the girls took out spectator chairs and set up camp on our front stoop with a neighborhood friend, Audrey:

After a long winter of being cooped up in the house, everyone - including me - is happy when the kids go outside to play.

Hope you all are enjoying your spring, too.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sexy Elephants and Other Misunderstandings

Martha is feeling uninspired today, so she has asked me (her husband, Gordy) to step in and write a guest post.  Personally, I'm surprised since my last guest blog effort resulted in her losing countless followers, but I guess she's willing to take that chance......

I've always enjoyed pop music and I pride myself on picking up lyrics and committing them to memory quickly.  A group of Canadians at a hockey camp that I went to when I was 12 took to calling me "Top 40 Gordy" because of my encyclopedic knowledge of pop song lyrics.

I think my kids have inherited this (skill?) from me, particularly Josie, who was singing along to every word and inflection of Alicia Keys' "No One" when she was two.  Georgia and Henry are good too and when it's our family alone in the car, we typically sing along word-for-word to just about anything on the radio.

Of course a significant peril of this hobby is that you get things terribly wrong once in awhile.   Singers mumble, background music gets in the way and sometimes the songwriter really should have gone for something that makes sense (to you) rather than something more abstract.  For instance, for a long time I was convinced, no certain, that the chorus of Toto's "Africa" was, "I guess it rains down in Africa," only to end up horribly embarrassed at an 80s party in college (correct lyric = "I bless the rains down in Africa").

Everyone seems to have at least one of these misinterpretations.  Martha readily admits that when she was younger, she thought that instead of saying, "Take your passion and make it happen," Irene Cara was instructing listeners to,"Take your pants off and make it happen."  Now that's a Flashdance.....

Her sister, Elizabeth, thought that Aerosmith's classic, "Walk this way" was actually, "Born to sway" (don't let the title of the song get in the way of your ears, Elizabeth) and back in the grunge 90s, her husband, Sean, was a huge fan of that song, "Black Whore Son" by Soundgarden ("Black Hole Sun") - Though the alternative would make for an equally compelling song....

In any case, with lyrics now readily available online, these mistakes have become far less frequent (at least in our family).  We recently heard of a couple of doozies from friends that now make us laugh every time the songs come on the radio.

The first, from our dear friend, Laurel, comes in the opening line of Taylor Swift's infectious new hit, "22."  I mean, why shouldn't it be:  "It feels like the perfect night, to dress up like hamsters..."?  It's actually, "hipsters," which I guess makes a little more sense, but who really knows what's happening out there in Hollywood these days anyway?

But the best I've heard in a long while comes from our friend, Clint, who was pretty certain that instead of saying the title of the song, "Sweet Nothing," the singer, Florence Welch, is talking about the "sexy elephants" that her somewhat mercurial lover is regularly giving her.  Ridiculous, right? I mean, given space constraints, how many sexy elephants could you receive? More than one?

So, I laughed hard at first, but I have to say, now that I've heard that, I have to admit it's a pretty reasonable interpretation.  Here, listen yourself:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Air Rangers: An Epic Fail

Both Henry and Georgia got flying sharks for Christmas.  Yes, I am well aware that it is now April and I am still writing about Christmas presents.  While most of the other presents have been played with, used up or worn down, the Air Rangers remained neatly in their boxes, unused and unloved.  

And that is because when we first opened the boxes and read the first instruction, we hastily assembled the whole kit and caboodle back into the box and shut the lid quickly.  The Air Ranger was obviously for another day.

What was that dreaded first instruction?  I'm paraphrasing, but it went something like "Step One:  go to a nearby party-store and pay to have the sharks inflated with helium.  Carefully and without letting go of the string, put the two huge sharks into your car and drive home with them exploding in the trunk."

Who has the time to go to a local party store and fill up balloons?  Not us, certainly.

And so the remote-controlled, flying sharks lay sadly in their boxes until April vacation when I gave into the Georgia's incessant nagging and brought the balloons to IParty to be inflated.  It was a much bigger deal than even I expected.

Those sharks (although it's hard to tell from the photo) are HUGE.  HUGE!  Each was 4 feet long and hard to manage once the helium was inside.  And because of their size, each shark cost $12 to inflate.  $24!!  

And then we got home and took out the instructions and...

Good gracious - it was like trying to read ancient runes.  I've got a college degree and I could barely understand one word.  From what I could tell, we were supposed to use thin, double-sided stickers to hold heavy plastic pieces to the body of the balloon.

... thin, double-sided stickers that barely stuck to my finger when I pulled them off the sheet.

What's more, the helium and the large, awkward shape of the shark made holding it still long enough for the stickers to adher was next to impossible.  How could these manufacturors claim that the stickers would hold heavy plastic pieces, upside down, from the bottom of a balloon?!?

I read and re-read the instructions hundreds of times.  There had to be something I was missing.

And actually, there were lots of things missing.  Georgia's kit was missing the U-shaped stickers and Henry's kit was missing the rectangular stickers.  Both kits came with instructions for a clownfish, but we had sharks.  

We all wanted to get to the remote-control flying shark part and it was taking hours to get past step 2.

What the heck?

We all read the instructions multiple times, we tried multiple different configurations but there was no way those stickers were going to hold up the control mechanism needed to steer the shark.

We gave up.  I told the children that maybe Gordy would be able to figure the instructions out when he got home but if not, at least we had some pretty fun shark ballooons with which to play.

This thought was not a comfort.  Twelve and ten year olds are not as enthused by mylar balloons as they were when they were three.

Gordy spent about 5 minutes reading the instructions that night before he threw them down with disgust.  "There's no way that's going to work,"  he said.

And so now we have shark balloons floating around our house.

It's like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in my kitchen.

Only smaller.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Trying Out The New Playground

Our town as a brand new playground.  It's at a baseball field not too far from our house and it is built in a spot where a different playground once lived.  We used to go to the original playground all the time when the children were little.  When we first moved to town, the playground was a wooden maze with 2-story plastic climbing tubes and rubber tire bridges.  The park was a child's dream and a parent's nightmare.  Once the child had climbed up the swinging tire entry (falling through multiple times and scrapping limbs against the tire chains) they were free to run along structure, stopping to fall periodically through those 2-story plastic climbing tubes which were meant as a way up to the second level, but acted instead as a dangerous, rapid-fire way down.  My poor mother-in-law learned this the hard way while playing with Georgia at the park, and I'm pretty sure she's still emotionally scarred from the experience.  God forbid your child needed help once they got to the top level -- there weren't any steps or parental access points.  If a child was stuck at the top level, his mother had to climb those tires bridges herself just to reach her distressed child.... and since most of us were pregnant periodically during these years, you can imagine the difficulty (and the lack of grace).

A few years ago, our town got federal (or state?) funds to widen the river that runs alongside this playground of horrors and the construction crew used the playground area as it's staging area.  And while the river was expanded (to prevent serious flooding), parents began a fund-drive to build a new, better and safer playground for the children.

Fastforwarded a year or two and the new playground is finally up and running.  Henry and Georgia are not really playground age anymore, but Josie wanted to give the new equipment a try.  So during April vacation, she and I walked down the hill for a good play.

Georgia joined us because she is nice that way (and who doesn't want to christen a playground?).

Much of the play equipment is geared for the very little child.  

The Eight Year Old Josephine was perhaps a little large for the bouncy elephant.

But she did really like the spiderweb:

and the tire swing.

I think the highlight of the new park is this spinning thing-a-ma-jig:

Both girls spun until they were dizzy.

There are also some pretty cool instruments strewn around the park:

There was a noticeable absence of dangerous climbing tubes and that was just fine.

Georgia - and her bones - thank the playground planners for that:

And I thank the planners for only using the tires as swings and not swinging stair cases:

We didn't stay long at the new park.  We decided to leave the playground to the tiny citizens who really needed the space:

But we gave it six thumbs up.  Job well done, town!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Another Stitch Fix Post

I've been keeping rather mum about my monthly Stitch Fix boxes and that is because mine is a Mommy Blog (and proud of it) and fashion posts do not seem very relevant to mothering.  But recently, I was asked to share more photos of what I had been receiving (and sending back, sadly) from Stitch Fix and I decided to put two months worth of boxes into one post to save the rest of you from boredom.  

If you want to read my last post about stitch fix, click HERE! and if you'd like to read my original post about this fashion service, click HERE!

This month, I received the above (and below), Tart wrap dress in black and white.  I like a wrap dress and I like black and white patterns...

and this one fit me well:

but I couldn't help feel like I had seen it before.  Where was that.... hmmm.

Oh, yes!  Now I remember.  Three months ago, I got the below Tart wrap dress from Stitch fix:

I actually like the newest print better, but since I've already bought the first dress, I had to send the second back to the store.  Why on earth would they send me two almost identical dresses by the same designer?  Don't they keep track of what they've sent me?  

The next out of the box was a full, blue mini-skirt:

(the top is my own)  This isn't horrible, I suppose, but I can't imagine myself ever wearing it.  I'm 41 and my cheering leading days are over.  And since I was a violin-playing, black-wearing, 1980's teen-ager, I never actually had any cheering leading days, anyway.

And is it just me, or is this hem-line a little wonky?

What is up with Stitch Fix and it's mullet hem lines?  The only thing missing from this order was a cap sleeve.

Whoops.  I spoke too soon.

Baggy, shapeless, cap-sleeved... it's my lucky day.

I may write countless comments regarding my hatred of the cap sleeve on my Stitch Fix site return form, and they might be constantly ignored, but at least my request for a tunic came through:

The fact that it was a strange batik-like pattern and long enough to be a dress, isn't really the tunic's fault.

I sent the entire box back.  

I sent last month's entire box back, too.  

With winged-sleeves like this, do you blame me?

And this way-too-large and shapeless sweater wasn't my favorite either:

But both shirts were better than this weird dress:

It reminded me of house coats worn by grandmothers in the 1970s.  


Stitch Fix and I are not loving each other right now.  Perhaps I have completely the wrong aestetic for Stitch Fix.  Maybe their ideal client is a young woman in her 20s who lives far away from Bloomingdales or Neiman Marcus.  I have received a few pieces that I have liked and have kept.  I do like that blue wrap dress that I showed you above and in that same box, came a cream colored sweater that I thought was pretty.  Maybe it would be a better service, if your stylist emailed you photos of what she is putting in your box before she mails it and you can save each other the hassle of packing and mailing unloved clothes back and forth.

Someone recently got to my blog with the Google search "How do Stitch Fix and Cake Style compare?"  I had never heard of Cake Style, so I looked it up myself.  It seems like a Stitch Fix with well-known (read expensive) labels.  Where Stitch Fix has up-and-coming designers at low prices, Cake Style features famous labels at regular prices.  I've enjoyed the concept of getting packages of clothes in the mail, so I signed up for Cake Style, figuring that if I liked it better, I would cancel my subscription to Stitch Fix.  That was over two months ago, and while I did "hear from my stylist" and I did get one email apologizing for the delay, I haven't actually received a single box or even a confirmation that I was ever GOING TO GET a box.  At least Stitch Fix is prompt and communicative.

I'll do a post on Cake Style, if a package ever arrives from their company.  Both times they've emailed me, it was to make sure that I understood that I have to be at home to sign for my package -- if only I'd be so lucky to be able to sign for a package!

How has everyone else been finding Stitch Fix?  Has anyone else tried Cake Style?  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Baby's First Blue Streaks

Georgia has the sad misfortune of having her birthday during the craziest, busiest two months of the year.  Her birthday is nestled between the chaos of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve, and when you add ballet recital practices/performances, office and neighborhood holiday parties and the arrival / departure of every relative in our family arsenal, you don't leave much time for a friend birthday party.  This year, as February approached with no end to the activities in sight, and no free weekend to hold the much-delayed party, I proposed something bold - a bribe.  I told Georgia that if she agreed to forgo her friend party, Gordy and I would give her a $100 gift card to spend however she saw fit.  

She took us up on our offer immediately.  

Georgia already had a large gift certificate for our local bookstore (a Christmas gift from her grandparents), so she decided to use the Birthday Party money to do something she has always wanted to do:  put streaks of color in her hair.

I made an appointment with Georgia's hair-cutter who is a stylist in an actual, adult salon.  I figured that when hair dye is concerned, an expert is the best option.

Above is the "before" photo and below is the "during"

Georgia chose a bright royal blue.

which started working almost immediately applied to the hair:

This is what Georgia's hair looked like before the final rinse  (a little green):

And here is the final result:

Her hair looks normal and then the wind blows a little or she pulls her hair back and you See The Color:

Georgia loves it - and so do I.  

I've always liked a little individuality - especially in my own daughters.  And if my daughter is ready to eschew the color pink and move into a more urban, punk aesthetic, than good for her.

I draw the line at body piercing, though.  Even this punk mother has her limits.

Georgia, the blue period.

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