Sunday, June 29, 2008

Girls and dolls


The summer I turned ten, after begging my parents for two years, they ordered me an American Girl Doll for my birthday. I waited what seemed like forever for UPS to bring Samantha and when she arrived I gleefully ripped the box open to unveil my perfect doll. She smelled sweet and her hair hung in loose curls. I dressed her up, tucked her into bed at night, and carried her everywhere. I also read the books, which discussed historically relevant happenings. In the end I collected four of these dolls, but I never loved or played with the subsequent three as much as I did the first one.

Fourteen years later, we are visiting a large Georgia mall and I spot the American Girl Boutique and Bistro. I had no intention of buying anything (I am too old, Suzi is too young) but I had to take a look. My disappointment surprised me. There was nothing they didn't have, but I had to ask myself: Do girls need all that? Will it cripple a child's imagination if, instead of letting her build a doll treehouse with her father, we buy her one for $250? Is it necessary for a girl to have not only Victorian era Samantha, but her friend Nellie as well? When I started collecting these, there were five historical dolls. Now I've lost count!

I will definitely be buying one or two of these dolls for Suzi when she gets older. Why? They let a ten-year-old girl be a ten-year-old girl. They are not curvaceous, don't wear any makeup, and encourage reading and learning rather than teaching girls how to attract boys. But I don't know about the boutique. As we approached it I thought oh, I can't wait to bring Suzi here and buy her a doll! On our way out I was contemplating whether I'd ever take her there. Is it good for a child to go into a shop and leave ten minutes later with a doll? Wasn't half the fun waiting for the doll to arrive in the mail? When we were in the shop I saw several mother-daughter pairs and wondered, are these the same moms who are taking their "tweens" for a $300 spa day? Because that is so not me!

What do you think?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Suzi's first swim & I'm tagged

Kelly tagged me, so here goes!

Two names you've gone by: Jenny and Jennifer (but I don't prefer it)

Two things I’m wearing right now: Bravado Essential Nursing Tank (I am pretty much always wearing one, except when I'm in the shower. If you are breastfeeding you should buy at least one. Commercial over. Also wearing the matching shrug.

Two things I have in a relationship (with Jordan): A best friend. A sweet best friend who doesn't mind me blogging on his MacBook Pro from a hotel room.

Two of my favorite things to do: Hanging out with Jordan and Suzi, and babywearing. Sometimes at the same time!

Two things you did last night: A little laundry and cleaning. I want us to come home to a clean house! Then I went to bed early.

Two people you last talked to: Jordan and Suzi

Two things you’re doing tomorrow: We're taking Suzi to the aquarium and then the Centennial Olympic Park! I'm excited but she doesn't much care. I think she will tomorrow.

Two longest car rides: There was the physically longest car ride to Disney World, which I've done three times in my life. Then there was the ride that seemed the longest, which was the cab ride from the airport in St. Lucia to our resort. We were on our honeymoon. It was about an hour but it seemed like three hours; I thought we were going to die. They drive crazy!

Two favorite holidays: Christmas and Easter

Two favorite drinks: Water. My second favorite is coffee with a little ice cream in it. Instant latte. I'm not a Starbucks guru (could you tell?).

Two things about me you may not have known: Up until halfway through my freshman year of college, I was planning to go into the Air Force. I did AFJROTC in high school and after four years just couldn't imagine my life without it. The only thing I missed was the esprit de corps. I'm also afraid of the dark. If I wake up in a dark room I panic; in the dark everything looks like something scary. It's even worse if I'm in a hotel or someone else's house.

Two jobs I’ve had in my life: Counting pills in a pharmacy. I hated it! After graduation I moved on to Impressions Appearance Shoppe where I was going to learn to fit breast cancer survivors with prosthetics, bras, and wigs. I was thrilled to get that job, but then decided to move over to Jennie G's when it became available.

Two movies I would watch over and over: Harry Potter, and it doesn't matter which one. My favorite is #4 because of the Yule Ball and I think the Beauxbatons girls are funny too. Also The Office. If you've had a bad day at work, this one will cheer you up.

Two favorite foods: Chocolate and Chick-fil-A (chicken nuggets, fries, Polynesian sauce). I just had some Chick-fil-A and it was yummy!

Two places I’d rather be right now: I'm happy here. In a minute I'm going to go cuddle with Jordy but he's right across the room. I'm also looking forward to the aquarium but that's for tomorrow.

Two people I tag: Memoirs of a Mommy and Knotted Apronstrings (my mom). It will be interesting to see Mama's answers so I hope she does it!

Coming soon: Pictures of us and our perfect purple ring sling, which really is the last carrier I'm buying... for a while. If possible, there will also be video of Suzi learning about ocean creatures at the aquarium.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In the Night Kitchen

(Remember this, Mama?)

This night reminds me of one of my favorite almost-forgotten books, Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen. My mom bought it for me when I was five or six but it waited patiently in the top of her closet for years due to nude illustrations of the little boy. (The nudity bothers librarians, principals, teachers, mothers--not children.)

From what I can remember, Mickey floats out of bed and into a huge kitchen where he falls into some dough that bakers are making into bread. He has a grand adventure in which he fashions a plane out of dough and flies into the milk, and then he falls right back into bed as though nothing happened.

Working at night has always fascinated me. I get distracted so easily, and during the day when I have people calling me on the phone, Jordan telling me a story and a whiny baby chasing me around, it's hard to get anything done. At night there is no one to sidetrack me; I can turn my music on and zone out. Jordan fell asleep and I slipped out of bed. He and Suzi are cuddling in a deep sleep and I am taking a break from laundry and picking up toys. When I'm finished I'll slide back into bed and no one will have noticed I was missing. In the morning when they come downstairs it will look as though a winged fairy maid has picked up after us. I will drink a cup of yummy coffee we bought at Whole Foods and go to work.

I want to read this book to Suzi in a year or two. I hope we can find our old copy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cosleeping and new carriers!

The other day I got an email from a friend saying she was selling several choice baby carriers for a super-low price. (In case it has escaped your attention, I love babywearing. Carriers are now like shoes were to me in college.) We got an Ergo, which was previously cost-prohibitive; I'd never even thought of buying one. She also sold us an Ellaroo Podaegi, which Ellaroo no longer makes and is nearly impossible to find. Right now Suzi is breastfeeding in the Ergo as I blog. (Did you know you can breastfeed in an Ergo? I didn't!) If I can breastfeed Suzi hands-free I can get all kinds of things done. I could probably mow the lawn if I wanted to (but I'll leave that to Jordy).

I haven't had a chance to do much with the Podaegi, but did achieve a front carry with straps. Suzi wasn't in the mood to try a bunch of new things.

Grandma and Grandpa kept Suzi last night while Jordan and I attended Julie's class on Nighttime Parenting. The most important thing we learned was to trust our instincts. Julie told us that every behavior is undoable, but should be changed gently. So for instance, not like this. I once loved Supernanny but now that I actually have a child I'm seeing that many of her techniques wouldn't work for me. (However, I do love that she forbids parents to hit their children and that she talks to kids as though they are people.)

I feel so much better now about our nighttime situation despite ugly remarks from a few people. What I've most often heard is that cosleeping is for the good of the parents, not the baby. Heh, no. It would have been simple for us to let Suzi scream her head off and hyperventilate through the night until, finally, her spirit was broken. My maternal instinct said no. Some babies are able to sleep in a crib fairly happily; Suzi is just not one of them. She sleeps in our bed and that works for us.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dear Computer Desk, It's not you, it's us.

You were a good computer desk, but it's time. The fact is you were just too big to fit in the living room! We got tired of running upstairs every time we wanted to check our email, and you cluttering up the guest room? That just wasn't working. Sorry.

If anyone wants this free computer desk, email me (the_other_alice_ (at) We'd prefer if you could come over and pick it up. It's in good shape, and you can use the shelves on top or take them down. We'll clean off our hot mess first! The chair is not available; I think it's going to Jennie G's. If the desk is not taken in a couple of days I'll post it on Freecycle.

Speaking of Freecycle, the Clemson group will be four years old on July 4th! My brother Paul told me about Freecycle when I was in college, and when I found there wasn't a group in Clemson, Jordan and I started one. I sent emails asking my friends to join, and we even wrote "" all over the sidewalk at the University and put up fliers to spread the word. I remember being so excited when we hit 40 members! Now the group is at nearly 1600 and it makes me happy to see how it has grown. It's been a long time since I've posted any items, but I still moderate the group. I need to do some decluttering and offer some stuff!

Anyway, I am now happily blogging away down here in the living room from our quirky stool we bought at Goodwill today. It may look funny but it beats being isolated in the guest bedroom upstairs! We repurposed the table, which we bought at a yard sale a couple of years ago. It first served as a kitchen table in the house we rented, but when we moved we put it out on our balcony, thinking we might go out there to eat breakfast sometime. Yeah, right. We will probably paint the top black later to match our bookshelves. The beauty of it is the table has two plain stools, which I can recover and put at our counter! Then all I'll need to do is buy one or two similar ones and cover them with the same fabric. That shouldn't cost much.

Ahh. This is so much better.

Weekend pictures

Today my copy of BOBB arrived and Jordy watched it with me! I'd already seen it once but that was on my computer screen (thru Netflix) so this was better. Once again, if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant soon, you need to watch this! Let me know if you live around here and want to borrow it.

Friday: Vicky, John, the boys, her parents, and my mom met Jordan and me on the square to listen to bluegrass music. Suzi clapped to show her appreciation. She also enjoyed playing with Nolan and Braydon and walking all over the grass barefoot.

Suzi says: Uncle Brad, I am enjoying that tambourine you and Aunt Cortney sent me for Christmas! (She is stepping over my pile of Saturday's yard sale loot. I got a bunch of clothes.)

Daddy's hat on Suzi's little head never ceases to be funny.

By the way, you must see I Can Haz Cheezburger. I laughed so hard it ought to qualify as exercise. Thanks Carey.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Milestone (and a few little extras) video

1) We bought this for Suzi's birthday, and at first I hated it because it wasn't the quality I'd hoped for (like mine from 1985) but Suzi loves it. She doesn't differentiate between this phone and a real cell phone; when you hold it to her ear she gets the same expectant little grin on her face.

2) She's walking! Yay!

3) I'm going to go ahead and predict that she'll ask to take dance lessons in a few years.

4) "NO!" This is adorable now, but I'm guessing the cuteness will continue to deteriorate as we approach the teenage years.

5) I'm pretty sure she's bluffing here--I keep telling her she's cute.

6) Watermelon = more wet diapers to change!

7) She's been picking her nose for the past couple months, after she figured out (as my dad phrased it) "her nose has two holes in it!"

Today was my day off with Suzi. Carey, Tallulah and Clementine came over to play! Carey and I talked while Clementine attentively mommied a doll and Tallulah played with Suzi and ate some goat cheese. Suzi showed off her new walking skills. Jordan and I went to the farmer's market on the square and hopefully tomorrow night we will be going back to listen to bluegrass. Suzi enjoyed it last time--the music and the attention she got from the people around us!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

She's so sweet

These cake pictures are from June 5--I have just now gotten around to blogging this! I was having a horrible day due to stupid insurance problems. Jordan and I are trying to decide when might be a good time to try for another baby (no, we are not pregnant), and it looks as though we'll be paying for it out of pocket because we want to go to a birthing center and our insurance company will not cooperate! (This may delay our plans considerably.) Suzi was enjoying the last of her birthday cake.

But then she noticed I was feeling sad.

Here Mommy. Have some cake. It's my last piece, but--you eat it. It'll make you feel better.

She's so thoughtful.

And in other news, those chubby little legs have (in the past week or so) taken off! That's right, she's walking! Luckily she's walking slowly so I can still easily catch her. Video evidence coming soon.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day!


Watching you grow as a father has made me love you even more.

Just the way you make Suzi laugh, read her books, rock her to sleep...

And when you agreed to wear that Hotsling I bought you, I knew for sure you were going to be a great dad!

Suzi and I are so lucky to have you!

Happy Father's Day!
ETA: I just entered this in Baby Sling Blog's babywearing photo contest here. You should enter too, but hurry! It ends today!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

This is what would happen if I tried to wean Suzi right now

Last night I found this snippet from an episode of Family Guy on Motherwear. It was so cute I wanted Jordan to see it, so with Suzi in his arms he stood behind me at the computer and watched. When the video was over I looked back at Suzi and the panic in her big brown eyes spoke volumes. Oh, Mommy, TELL me that can't really happen! I know you wouldn't do that to ME! She demanded to breastfeed immediately and was in a funk for a couple of hours.

Then she became fussy and I thought she might need some extra milk. (I am no longer pumping at work so I'm sure my already lackluster supply is down a bit.) Jordan fixed her a bottle of goat's milk and we both tried to give it to her. After a couple of sips she shoved the bottle away, leaned back and wailed. I breastfed her and she was a happy camper.

So friends, I don't think I'm going to wean this little girl. I'm hoping she'll wean herself eventually, but if not, I promise to take action and be sure she is off the breast in time for college.

(I'm hoping the extra time will ward off the terrible childhood allergies she has coming to her from her father's side. He was also allergic to milk and when we gave Suzi cow's milk a few days after her birthday, a little rash popped up on her cheek. No more of that!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

There aren't even words.

I was trying to think of a title for this post to convey how angry I am right now, but I can't. Sometimes I am ashamed to be from South Carolina, and this is one of those times. You've no doubt heard about the four-year-old girl who shot herself in the chest in Sam's Club on Monday using her grandmother's gun. Her grandmother, an Aiken County Magistrate Judge, even had a concealed weapons permit. Thank GOD the child survived!

This post might make a few people angry, and that's why I try not to discuss politics on my blog. I know a few intelligent people who own guns and know how to use them responsibly. However, I can't talk to Jordan about this because he thinks guns are a wonderful avenue of self-preservation which everyone should own and we'll get into a big argument. Therefore, I am blogging instead.

I wouldn't be so upset if the grandmother had been some criminal who bought her gun illegally from someone she met in an alley. This woman surely went through some measure of gun education in order to get her concealed weapons permit, and then proceeded to place her loaded gun insecurely in her purse and place the purse within reach of her innocent four-year-old granddaughter. What do they teach in those classes, anyway? As commenter Jackson points out, "there are only a few requirements for carrying a concealed weapon and unfortunately common sense doesn't appear to be one of them."

The icing on the cake: People are defending her decision and acting as though this were an unfortunate but inevitable result of defending herself--something which could have happened to anyone who "totes a gun," as a friend of Williamson's points out. "We have to have guns to protect ourselves!" they scream. But who is going to protect the children whose caregivers insist upon leaving loaded guns lying around? That this happened to such a respected member of society is a red flag that our current gun control system isn't working. Sure, I have the right to protect myself by keeping a pistol under my pillow if I choose. But who is going to protect my daughter when she is in high school and some unbalanced juvenile delinquent steals his mother's gun from under her pillow and comes to school to randomly gun down half of homeroom? Call me alarmist, but it's happened! Again and again and again. Increasingly, even. Homeschooling is looking like a damn good option right about now.

You'd think that in the face of all these tragedies, our country and the great state of SC would be coming up with a plan for heightened gun security and safety education. PSYCH! Instead, South Carolina is subsidizing the distribution of even more firearms by declaring a 2009 tax-free weekend for guns! Classy, no?

One more note to Suzi's friends and family: This is probably common sense, but please do not ever purchase a toy gun of any sort for my daughter. It will be thrown away, and I don't care who you are. There's no chance she'll find a loaded gun in this house, but you never know what she might find elsewhere and I want her to know the difference between a toy and a deadly weapon.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Let's have a quickie!

I was reading one of my new favorite blogs, Crunchy Domestic Goddess, and saw this challenge to reduce shower time to five minutes. At first I didn't sign up because I didn't think I could commit to that (my showers take at least ten minutes and that's when I don't wash my hair). Then the other day I was reading an update in which Amy mentioned we were allowed to turn off the water while we shaved legs/washed hair and as long as no water was running, it was dead time. Hey, I thought, even I can do that! I am pretty sure I didn't use any more than five minutes of water this morning, even though I spent about 20 minutes total in the shower. It's actually easier to wash my hair (using baking soda and vinegar) without the water on. Too much water makes it hard to scrub in the baking soda. Today I bought a little timer so I can know for sure how long I'm taking. This might be fun!

There's one more tip I'd like to add: Wash your hair last. I used to wash my hair first, but if you get it wet first and then wash it last, the water and humidity have a few minutes to sink in and it's just all-around more amenable to being washed. It doesn't take me quite as long to wash and rinse that way. This was true when I was using shampoo and is still true now that I'm "'poo free."

How are you all doing on shower time? Do you already take short showers? Would you be willing to start? If so, head on over to Crunchy Domestic Goddess and sign up!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Wardlaws at the Highland Games

Here we are at the Highland Games! This was taken Saturday afternoon, when we finally arrived (I had to work until 2:00). That was okay though, because it was hot! We only stayed about an hour and were ready to go when the awards ceremony ended. As we walked to the tent there were still a few people tossing the caber, and the fencing people from the parade were teaching people to throw battle axes.

The parade on Friday was fun but sadly we have no pictures, except ones taken with a cell phone. My mom and I forgot our cameras! There were all kinds of people, tartans, and attire. My favorite was Braveheart. I don't need to explain, do I? This guy went all out and I bet no one ever asks him if he's wearing a skirt. Suzi pointed at him and asked, "Dat?" ("That's Braveheart, honey.") We'll have to show her the movie when she gets much, much older. The streets were lined with people--two or three deep, in some places. I was not expecting it to be so crowded! Lots of people commented on the beauty of our purple tartan, as well as the cuteness of our one-year-old in her little tartan hat. (I am kicking myself right now for not having pictures. I really am.)

This was taken in our front yard when we got home; I asked Jordan to run inside and get the camera. I didn't get all laced into that bodice to not have a picture taken!

We went shopping Saturday at the vendor tent and I bought these: a Celtic knot tote bag (it matches my bodice!) and a pin. I had to safety pin my tartan on and this will look much better. It wasn't my first choice of pin though. I saw an amazing one-of-a-kind sterling silver Celtic knot with I think amethyst in the center and it was handcrafted by a silversmith in Scotland. It was big, beautiful, and 350 bucks. So I backed off. My mom's pin fell off and she nearly lost it Friday, so I never would've spent that much even if I'd had it! That's just setting yourself up for a panic attack.

And one more thing. We had a few people ask us "is that the Montgomerie tartan?" Theirs also has a lot of purple in it. I found a picture of the Montgomerie and want to show how different they are. Here's the Wardlaw...

And here's the Montgomerie:

Our tartan is relatively new, designed in 2005 by Diane Wardlaw with help from the House of Tartan. Of course, I think it's the most beautiful tartan there is! The tartan is new, but the lineage is not. There is a history page on the Clan Wardlaw site but I can't link directly to it.

Note: This post was made possible by two sleeping angels.

P.S. It's a good thing the little sleeping angel didn't have a dirty diaper.
P.P.S. I hope the big sleeping angel doesn't mind me posting yet another picture of him sleeping.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Good hair day

(Pay no attention to the shampoo in the background!)

Yesterday was a good hair day... I started following Julie's hair care advice. On a wash day (every other day) my hair is usually standing out a few inches from my head. Blow-dried or not, conditioned or not, it doesn't matter. The only thing I have found to tame it is a hair iron, but that's a hassle and if it's humid outside (and in South Carolina, when isn't it?) it'll just frizz right back out.

I took a couple of dollar-store sippy cups we weren't using and mixed some baking soda and water in one, then poured some apple cider vinegar in the other. The baking soda didn't feel so nice, but if you get your head covered in the baking soda solution, scrub it in, and then pour on the vinegar it gets better. I was surprised to find once I rinsed I could easily get a brush through my hair even without conditioner! I did blow-dry a little (can't go to work with wet hair) but it was shiny and smooth once it dried. Then all I needed was lavender oil so I could mix it with water and use it as hairspray. I went to Impressions and was disappointed that they didn't have any, but then spotted this bottle of Cooky's lavender linen spray. The lady who makes it is local (her name is Edwina, not Cooky). I called her up to be sure it was only water and lavender oil, and she said the only other thing in it was a solution to allow the water and oil to mix. It smells good and rids my hair of any leftover vinegar smell. (This morning while I was in the shower Jordy stuck his head in the door to say "You smell like a french fry... That's a good thing!" It may be good for him, because he likes a little fries with his vinegar, but I prefer to smell like lavender when I go out in public.)

We will see how the shampoo withdrawal period goes. I have always been hair-challenged so I may have to get Carey to teach me the up-dos she mentioned on Julie's blog!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Breastfeeding just got even cooler

Today when my parents brought Suzi home they also brought the rest of my Highland Games outfit: my purple nursing bodice. The Wardlaw tartan has a lot of purple in it, but my bodice also reverses to black. The lady who made it, Dayna Wright of Seams Wright, also makes an array of other bodices, most of which have shoulder straps (like Kim at the top right of this page). I was wondering how I would manage to breastfeed in one. A lot of unlacing would be involved for sure. I was wearing a bodice I felt okay about and Dayna's mom was marking it up with chalk for adjustments so they could make it in the color I wanted. Then she brought out a notebook full of pictures of her work.

"...And here's a nursing bodice we did for a--"

GASP! Love at first sight.

Not only can I easily breastfeed Suzi in this, it reins in mommy-belly (not to mention my-daughter-just-turned-one-and-I-ate-like-half-the-cake-belly). It's basically a corset!

But that's not all! A few months or a couple of years down the road when I'm pregnant again (hopefully) Dayna will be able to replace the front panel with a maternity piece to allow for a stuck-out belly.

I love it. And when people ask me about it, because there are only two like this as far as I know, I'll be proud to tell them it's a nursing bodice.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I would prefer not to

So Suzi has just started to say no. She doesn't cry or scream, just respectfully refuses.

We are in bed trying to get her to go to sleep, but she isn't tired. Her daddy decides to give me a break and take her downstairs for a while. He holds his arms out and asks her to come to him.

"Nie," she says indifferently and shakes her head.

Several repeat attempts to get her to come are met with similar replies.

"Nie." And she shakes her head.

"Suzi," I say, "go with your Daddy! He'll take you downstairs so you can play a little while, and maybe have some milk! Honey, what is your deal?"

Daddy holds his arms out for her once more.


I think when she gets a little older, instead of plain old no, I'm going to teach her to say I would prefer not to. Wouldn't that be cute?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Our little birthday girl

Her birthday outfit! She didn't care for the headpiece, but she wore it a few seconds.

Our cake-crusted princess

Now that's a Grandma Julie smile if I ever saw one!

They made her cry the night before, but Suzi eventually decided she likes balloons.

Patty made the cake. It was huge, chocolate, and moist and it disappeared quickly!

Sunday, June 1, 2008


(Full birthday coverage, to include pictures and video, coming soon.)