Saturday, March 29, 2014

Our life lately: the good, the bad and the ugly

The good (in no particular order of importance or time):

1. Today I went with my friend Jessica to two school rummage sales. One was at the Waldorf School and had a fairly disappointing selection but I found a beautiful handmade dress for Lu (handwash only though, which means she will probably never wear it), some wool jammies for camping in the summer, and lavender-scented bean bags. Then we went to the rummage sale at the public elementary school where it was mostly picked over but I for $3 I bought about 10 t-shirts, a few cotton dresses, several pairs of leggings, and two pair of brand-new Hanna Andersson undies (unfortunately they are boys for Atticus, when it is Lu that needs new ones). I was excited to find two Salty Dog cafe shirts in Atticus's size, an Italia shirt, and one from Lebanon. Atticus has been wearing Tallulah's too-small leggings ("but they are so comfy, mom, inside and out!") so I finally got him a few pair of own in the right size (they are also HA). I have a feeling he won't be wearing his jeans anymore. I was pretty happy to get an entire summer wardrobe for the kids for $10. Mission, accomplished.

2. Atticus is so into Star Wars lately. We were trying to avoid the obsession as long as possible, because guns and violence and scariness, but we finally caved in when he asked to take home some books from the library. At least the bad guys are fascist dictators and the good guys are revolutionary freedom-fighters. I told him I'd buy him a pair of the Star Wars PJs for his birthday, and he is counting down the days.

3. The snow is finally melting, for good, and the days after getting longer and longer. We walked home at 6:30 and the sun was still a shinin'. The summer is so close I can taste it.

4. Tim and I are really into Parks and Recreation the past few weeks. It is just too, too hilarious.

5. I ordered these amazing cloth menstrual pads and they are so pretty I almost feel bad to use them.

The bad:

1. Tallulah started feeling cruddy last week and spiked a fever for a few days. We chalked it up to teething because she had no other symptoms and wasn't eating well and saying "ouchy, mouth" and so simply dosed her up with a little ibuprofen and called it good. Finally, after the fever ended, the blisters in her mouth appeared, her gums started bleeding really bad, and we realized we were dealing with HFMD/Coxsackie virus again. When I realized it, I began having horrible flashbacks to when Atticus contracted it from Annabelle when he was 2. It is an awful, awful sickness and we didn't sleep for a solid three days.

2. Because of Parks and Recreation watching, I am getting very little accomplished in the evenings and the work is beginning to pile up (and now I'm writing a blog post, for even further procrastination).

The ugly:

1. Tallulah's HFMD transferred to my nipple. OUCHHHHHHH.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My faith in my children

I guest blogged over at my top 5 favorite blog, pale cetacean, check it out. How much does our love for our children really mean?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

To car or not to car: that is the (current) question

I've really been wanting to buy a car these past few weeks. There have been a few moments of frustration that have resulted in my sitting down on Craigslist and searching for a nice little used Prius for several hours. I am tired of trying to bum rides for the four of us when we are going to a farther away activity than we can bike to. It would be really helpful in the summer for going camping or traveling in Wisconsin, for taking the kids to their swimming lessons, for going to Costco when my friend Eleanor moves away. But on the other hand, if I am going to buy a car, I want to buy something reliable, eco-friendlyish, and comfortable. After our last not-so-great car-buying experience, I am nervous to do the process all over again. It was stressful enough before we had a crap experience (though looking back, perhaps it wasn't that terrible... we lost a few thousand dollars in the course of a year but we did get a car that moved us across the country twice and helped us move and settle in to our Madison life), but now I am hesitant and nervous and I don't know how people spend so much money on a whim. But we have more money now and could easily pay cash for a decent enough car. But we don't have the prospect of a future salary of any kind and what happens if it needs repairs? I hate the idea of paying taxes and registration and insurance and all of that expense that comes with owning a car after not having those expenses for over a year.

I have also been thinking a lot about the ethics of driving lately, and with the death of two men cycling in Utah at the hands of a driver, I am terrified of being behind the wheel again. And at the same time, I am scared to bike my kids long distances to the nearby state parks in the summertime, though biking in Madison is much safer than Utah by leaps and bounds, there are still some scary sections of the city and biking is still dangerous at times with careless, fast drivers who do not know how to share the road with cyclists.

Tim does not care either which way. He is fine driving the Community Car, and still does not like the financial and moral obligations that come with owning a vehicle. He thinks we can camp in our backyard or the nearby state parks by bike. I agree with him on so many points, and that's why the decision is all the more difficult. I don't want to go spend $10,000 without him fully on board... and even if we did go buy a car, I really have no idea what we would buy. We are pretty sure we are going to be a two-kid family for forever or a long time at least, and so we do not want to get a mini-van. We love the idea of a hybrid but they tend to be priced much higher than a non-hybrid. I've been looking at Honda Fits and the smaller cars but if we do end up moving by car that would not be nearly enough space. I still love Subarus, but am nervous about getting another one. I love the Prius V but it's way out of our price range, and we don't really want to finance. If money was not an issue, and we could buy whatever car we wanted, this is probably what I would buy:


Or we could keep up with the car-free-ness for a few more years (keep saving the money that comes from not owning a car) until Tim or I have a real job and then buy whatever new, cool, awesome electric family car is out there on the market. Or we'll get jobs in some awesome Danish city where cars are a thing of the past. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Happy birthday, Lu!

I feel a lot of pressure to write a poignant and pithy post for my girl's second birthday, but I am feeling a lot less sentimental this year than last. And while I still feel the same sense of wholeness she has brought me, and even shared it with an entire roomful of women at the meditation retreat last weekend, Tallulah's life has become commonplace in our tiny world as often happens as children age and their newness fades slowly away. She still delights us with her sweet personality, and often surprises us with her assertive "NO!" that has just emerged in recent months -- I was worried we were turning her into a submissive female because she would say "yes" sweetly to nearly everything.

She is talking so much in recent weeks... my favorite things she says include "I did it!" and "I love you." As we meandered home from school today, I told her "Lulah is silly" to which she replied: "Mama, silly!" -- we then repeated it several times "Lulah is nice" "Mama, nice!" "Lulah is crazy" "Mama, crazy!" Her personality has always been evident to me, but hearing her vocalize her thoughts and desires allows me to know her even more, and I am continually astonished by how she fills our home and hearts with joy and laughter.

She is nearly potty-trained, and it totally rocks. She has great style and is so friendly. She must say hello and goodbye to everyone she meets... on the streets, onboard the bus, in Whole Foods. She loves babies, dolls, Legos and doing the dishes with her dad. She is crazy about the out of doors, and now that the weather has warmed up to above freezing, she will wander for hours searching for the best puddles and the wild turkeys (she also apparently love throwing flour all over the floor, which she has done while I have been writing this post). She is still nursing a few times during the day and at night, but cutting back considerably and is easily re-directed when she asks during the day (and sometimes at night, she will listen to Elmo music and fall back asleep). She is so cuddly and kissy and lovey. She is a rockin' dancer, and can do these great twirls when the music so moves her. I am so excited for the future, and getting to know her even more this year.


Tallulah's Pi Party

I would consider it a success. If you have enough good food, you can't go wrong (I have learned this birthday-party technique from Ida and Renata). Quiche, pizza, fruit, pies and funfetti cake. Izze sodas and juice boxes. Amen, and amen.


Broccoli-cheddar and mushroom-feta quiches.


Party dress, party girl.







For some reason most of the pictures I have of individual children are of Gretyl.
Probably the floofy pink tutu catching my attention.


These intellectual, socialist-feminist men are three-of-a-kind. Tim just needs glasses, apparently.


Our kids and their unruly hair.

The only picture of present opening... but don't worry, there is a video. 
Tim the monster game.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Women's Retreat

Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending the women's retreat at FUS. In past years, the retreat is an overnight one hosted at a center out of Madison, but trying to draw in more diverse women, they decided to make it less expensive and not an overnight trip. They were very excited to have me and another young mother there (who had a 1-yr-old named Basil who was just so cute).

I was not looking forward to it with any great anticipation, mainly I was worried it would be all old women and we wouldn't have anything to talk about and I would feel out of place. I could not have been more wrong, in so many respects. I loved getting to know these women, I loved the safe space we created for talking to each other, the supportive atmosphere, the guided meditations, the healing art work and dancing. I only regret that it lasted only one weekend, I would have loved to attend a retreat like this once a month. I felt rejuvenated and committed to myself and my family... to rediscovering my spirituality... to connecting with others around me whom I perhaps dismiss as too different or not interested in knowing more about me.


My kids loved hanging out in the childcare room all day (Tim was playing in a basketball tournament so they came with me) and didn't want to leave even though they had been there six hours on Saturday. The entire experience reminded me how much I love FUS and how comfortable we have become there as we get to know those in the congregation, the ministers, the lay ministers, and the staff. If and when we depart from Madison, leaving this remarkable place will be one of the most difficult things to say goodbye to. The building itself is stunning and historical and rare (how many people get to attend church in a Frank Lloyd Wright building?!) and the ministers are insightful and friendly (one is coming to Tallulah's birthday party with her toddler!) and the people we have met and the friends we have made there are the best. Atticus loves his CRE teachers, and I can tell they love him right back. We truly have been blessed to find our home here.

Our spiritual labyrinth. 






The weather was crisp and sunny -- a perfect day for (indoor) self-reflection. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Oscars? Why, yes!

When I told my friend Jessica I was going over to a friend's house for an Oscars party, she looked a bit incredulous. "You, are watching... the Oscars? You don't seem the type." I didn't think I was the type either, but I rarely pass on a social opportunity with my favorite Madisonian friends, and I thought it'd be fun. I expected to be enraged by misogyny and rich people. What I did not realize, was that ELLEN was hosting and is so freaking fabulously funny. Really, she was perfect. The woman has a gift. When so many comedians can't seem to make it without dirty jokes and crass language, Ellen can woo a crowd with her own cleverness. Here are some of my favorite moments:

1) Jared Leto's acceptance speech. Thanking your mother who had you when she was 15 in a small town in Louisiana and who is sitting with you today at the Oscars? Adorable.

2) Lupita Nyong'o -- acceptance speech, dress, hair, everything. She exudes grace and strength. I am in love with her (as I'm sure the rest of America is as well).

3) Ellen ordering pizza! That moment was the funniest of the entire evening (can you imagine being the pizza delivery guy!? I read an article that she actually gave him all of the money too, $1000). And Brad Pitt passing out paper plates like he has 12 kids or something.

4) The Lopez husband-wife team who wrote the music for Frozen, they were so great!

5) The adorable French man who thanked his childrens.

6) Cate Blanchatt's being all like "so yeah, Hollywood, female-centered movies can make a crapload of money and win me an Oscar so shut your face!"

It was a pretty fabulous night, by all accounts. Especially with the curry popcorn and chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies...