Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Girl and Her Bear

When Madeline's Aunt Carol and Uncle Kevin tracked down a perfectly cuddly teddy bear for Madeline's first birthday, I was thrilled.

It's my firm belief that every kid should have a well-loved bear.  Throughout my childhood, I had a Tedadore, (he was French, naturally) and he kept me company from my first Christmas through adulthood.  I even brought him off to college with me, where my roommates quickly dubbed him Crusty.  After nearly twenty years of hard lovin', the name was apt.  He certainly was not a dapper bear.

Tedadore is worn to the seems now.  He is missing his nose, and half of the stitching in his mouth droops down to the left.  Still, I can't just toss him.  Ted is currently enjoying his retirement from the  the top shelf of the downstairs closet.

 Meanwhile, Madeline's buddy, Olaf, is her most constant and loyal companion.  

Olaf has quite the gruff exterior.  First off, Uncle Kevin made it clear that Olaf speaks with a Eastern European accent and sounds surprisingly similar to Henry Kissinger.  Sometimes this makes it difficult for Eric and I to understand what Olaf says.  Luckily, Madeline understands him perfectly, and is able to translate for us.

Olaf does not enjoy the company of Madeline's more frivolous toys.  Frankly, the princess dolls annoy him.  He can't understand why one would want to spend so much time singing about feelings and gossiping about princes.  Plus, they always want to give him hugs.

 Elmo flat-out confuses him.  He is furry like a bear, but red with no ears.  What is he?  A monster?  Olaf thought monsters were supposed to be scary, but Elmo uses crayons and sings to his pet Goldfish, Dorothy.  This cannot be the case.

Unfortunately for Olaf, however, he is the beloved possession of a two-year-old girl.  This means he is constantly forced into new and embarrassing situations that a bear of his stature and lineage should not have to endure.

For example,  we sometimes dress Olaf up in clothes Madeline refuses to try on.  This included her lawn gnome Halloween costume:

"Lawn Gnomes....disgusting little creatures...digging in the dirt all day, picking tulips."  
This also included her big-girl under-roos.  Rapunzel themed...of course:
"I won't stand for this kind of humiliation.  Next you'll be expecting me to prance about like one of those bears with the toilet paper stuck to their bottoms."  

And even Winnie the Pooh Bear:  
"I do not like honey.  I eat real bears do.  This Pooh is just made of fluff."  
He also takes part in most of Madeline's games:

"Who is that other bear beneath your arm, Madeline?  He does not look like a gentleman." 
"Sigh...once again I am surrounded by morons."

Yet, in spite of his protests, it's clear that Olaf has a soft spot for our little Maddie Bear.  He can never stay angry with her for too long, no matter what she subjects him to.  

And Madeline loves Olaf far and above her other buddies.  He's the first thing she asks for when we tuck her in at night, and she makes sure she brings him back downstairs to play every morning.  I think something about his stern manner and beady eyes makes her feel safe.  

He's there when she's sick:  
 And when she goes to bed at night:
 And I've even caught him enthralled with Sesame Street on more than one occasion when he thinks no one is looking.

"This Oscar the Grouch...what is his problem?"  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Joy in the Small Things

Having kids is a lot of hard work, but mostly, it's pretty awesome.  Not only will I theoretically have someone to at least make sure I end up in a good nursing home when I get old, but we also get the thrill of experiencing childhood all over again through Madeline's eyes.

As a result, it gets pretty easy to spoil her.  I get a huge thrill from buying her toys that she doesn't even particularly care about.  For example, I picked up a set of tiny pots and pans from Ikea a few weeks ago because I just had to have them for Madeline's play kitchen.  She's banged them together a few times, and uses them to put her princesses in the microwave, (ummmm?) but she really isn't that interested.

The concern that we might be spoiling Madeline first entered my brain on Christmas morning when she didn't even want to open her presents.  It's probably a good thing that she isn't too concerned with material objects, but at the same time, I wondered if she was simply bored because she already has so many great toys.  (Oh, another toy, Mumma? That's nice.  Toss it in the pile.)

Yet, most of the time I don't think too much about spoiling her, and I think we really are setting good boundaries for her for the most part.  It's just too much fun sharing all these new experiences with her, and in a couple of years, the magic will be over.

The thing that always amazes me is how much pleasure Madeline gets out of such simple things.  For example, Eric had to work last Saturday afternoon.  Since Madeline and I had the day to ourselves with no plans, I decided to take her to Friendly's for lunch.

I can't speak for other Friendly's restaurants, but the one near us?  It's pretty gross.  (However, the CT Friendly's are quite lovely.)  It's like walking into a much dirtier, dingier version of the 80s...because you know, that was 30 years ago, but somehow they're still using the same silverware.

But when you're a little munchkin like Madeline, Friendly's is freakin' awesome.  A greasy grilled cheese, chocolate milk AND a hot-fudge sundae? Just stop.  Stop right there.  Somewhere a toddler is becoming dizzy just from the thought of it.   Oh wait, they also gave us a pink balloon on our way out the door.  Boom!  Drop mic!

Plus, I let Maddie sit in the booth across from me all by herself without a booster seat.  She was so, so happy, and such a good girl the entire time.

Of course when we got home she immediately started pouting because she was not getting her way over something, and the spell was broken.  Still, it's nice while it lasts.

The biggest indulgence last weekend, however, was going to see Sesame Street Live on Sunday.  This was a total situation where I got more excited than Madeline did.

When I saw that it was coming to town, I actually let out an excited little squeal.  You mean, we get to meet Elmo?!  The real Elmo?!  Yet, Maddie Bear didn't share the same level of enthusiasm.

I noticed a lot of the other kids her age jumping in their chairs and clapping their hands throughout the show, but that's not really Maddie's style.  Madeline doesn't scream or dance when faced with new and exciting things.  Instead, she very quietly watches and listens.

Her eyes lit up with a mixture of excitement and confusion when a giant Bert and Ernie walked across the stage.  She stuck her tongue out in quiet concentration when they began singing.  When Elmo finally made his grand entrance she quietly exclaimed, "It's Elmo!  Dat's Elmo!"  She spent the rest of the time cuddling on my lap while I stomped my feet and clapped my hands for her.  

Somewhere right before intermission, she turned to me and asked very politely, "Can we go home now peeese?"

We got her spirits up with a bag of M&Ms during the break, and rallied for the second act, but by the time the show was over, she was ready to leave.  In fact, she kept leaning her head on my shoulder and trying to sleep.

So although I think she liked it overall, Sesame Street Live wasn't the best thing since slice bread for little Madeline.  Friendly's, on the other hand?  Pretty darn amazing.

I guess I should learn my lesson and stick to the smaller joys, but I just saw a commercial for Disney on Ice...and. it. looks. awesome.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Downton Dish: Week Four

I didn't watch Downton Abbey last Sunday night because football was on in our house instead. We lost. Womp, Womp.

Then when I caught up with Downton, it turned out to be a pretty boring episode. Womp. Womp.

Poor Edith...reduced to early breakfasts with two of the most boring men on the planet. Is it just me, or are all of the men on this show turning into complete turds?  Matthew with his eye rolling, the father losing his...cough...his wife's money, Sir Anthony being all old and boring, Branson burning down rich people's houses...we're you roofied this time too, buddy?

At least Bates still seems decent.  Except for the fact that he may have murdered his wife in order to marry the young blond from the manor...

This week I made some tea sandwiches for the episode...egg salad, ham, and cucumber.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

In Defense of the Color Pink

***Warning:  The post you are about to read may turn out sounding like complete word vomit.  It's been on my mind for a long time, and I've re-written it and walked away several times.  I may not have a valid point, and I may be completely wrong.'s my blog, and I'll whine if I want to.***

Madeline is currently obsessed with princesses.  She also loves ballerinas, and the shoes in her closet.  When she sees me applying makeup, she begs to wear my lipstick, and she absolutely loves it when I occasionally paint her toenails.  Most of all, she adores the color pink.  In short, our daughter is what you'd call a "girly-girl."

I'm tempted to try to over analyze the reasons behind Madeline's ultra-feminine behavior.  Did we somehow send our daughter the message that she must like dolls and the color pink, or was her brain programed to like these things regardless of what Santa leaves under the tree?    

Yet, while the whole nature vs. nurture debate is interesting from a sociological standpoint, when it comes to my own family, I really don't care.  Maybe some girls really are just born to be girly.  Maybe I forced my own love of the color pink onto my daughter.  At the end of the day, she is who she is, and as long as she's happy, so am I.

Besides, I think the color pink is making a comeback.

Since having a girl, I've become hyper aware that the color pink is considered a big no-no by a lot of mothers in my age bracket.  I'm not sure exactly why.  Perhaps it's because we were raised in a gender-neutral era ourselves shortly after the women's lib. era.  Maybe it's the opposite, and we cringe at our Pepto-Bismol-hued baby pictures.  Maybe the only thing we remember from all those gender studies courses we took in college is that pink = subservience.

Whatever the reason, I know that a lot of people go out of their way to avoid the color and all it implies.   Nurseries are no longer traditionally pink...they are grey.  Clothing is yellow or teal or red....which leads to a lot of uncomfortable situations at the supermarket when strangers try to guess the gender of your baby lest they resort to calling her "it."

I had a friend (who is the mother of a boy) wrinkle her nose at a pink outfit Madeline was wearing and express her distaste for feminine baby clothes.  When toying with the idea of painting Madeline's nursery pink, I've had people literally cry out in protest.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with gray nurseries, or gender neutral toys.  It's great.  Do what you want.  Most of our baby things were gender neutral to deal with the possibility of future babies.  And I totally get why parents want to keep the Disney princesses away from their's a marketing behemoth. BUT.  I don't see why there's anything wrong with painting your daughter's nursery pink either.

Here's my problem with the anti-pink attitude.  Just because something is stereotypically feminine does not automatically mean that it's bad.  In fact, isn't suggesting that things that are traditionally feminine are somehow less than other forms of expression just as sexist? Girl things = bad.  Boy things = good.  Red Lego's = good.  Pink Lego's = bad.

Take my nose-wrinkling friend.  Her son wears blue a lot.  He wears dinosaurs and airplanes and other stereotypically male things, and no one questions if she is doing her son a disservice.  "Uh-oh!  He's wearing blue!  Watch out...he might turn into a macho, violent football player!"  It's not gender-specific clothing she has a problem's just gender-specific female clothing she has a problem with.  

If we took Madeline aside and told her she had to wear pink dresses only, or if part of being a girl means that you have to be a shallow, mini-mouthed, princess then that would be bad.  Telling my daughter she can be whatever she wants to be except anything too "girly" also seems a tad hypocritical.

As it is, I don't see why a person can't wear pink while kicking ass and taking names.  Didn't we learn anything from Elle Woods?! (I kid....sorta.)

If your belief is that things that are pink, or overtly girly, are somehow symbols of weakness, subservience, and stupidity...then maybe  a small part of the problem is the way you view women.  Femininity...whether displayed in a male or female... is not weakness.  The negative perception of femininity is the problem.  

I don't worry about my daughter turning into a subservient air head just because she likes to wear pink boas and twirl around the living room in her Snow White costume.  I give her more credit than that.  Most of the women I know are well-educated, fair-minded, and financially independent in spite of   playing with Barbie's pink Corvette.

Yet, I've noticed the tide against pink turning recently.  More pink nurseries are popping up on Pinterest.  I've read other blogs about similar feelings.  There's an entire Disney Princess campaign aimed at the idea that being loving, kind, and nurturing are not signs of's a sign of strength.

I guess what I'm not-so-eloquently trying to say is this:  I'm not going to stress about gender-izing or degender-izing my child, and I don't think others should either.  As long as you teach your children to be good human beings, to stick up for themselves, and to work hard for what they want...I think that the color of their nursery, outfit, or building blocks doesn't matter so much after all.  That woman in high heels and a ruffled dress could be a really kick-ass business woman, doctor, teacher, or hair dresser.  Either way, she's a worthwhile human being.

All I know, if it's okay for the, now former, Secretary of State to wear pink to's probably okay to dress your baby in pink too.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Water Baby!

It seems strange that we were sitting by a pool only a few hours ago when it's currently snowing and squalling outside.

Eric's parents came to visit this weekend, and they have wisely chosen to stay in a hotel with an indoor pool whenever they come to town. This works out great for Ms. Maddie Bear. Not only does she get spoiled by her grandparents whenever they visit, but she also gets to go swimming! I'm worried she'll be quite let down when we visit their actual house in a month and she discovers there's no pool.

Madeline has always been a water baby. She's loved the bath since her first splash.. She asks to go to the beach all the time. I remember having to physically restrain her from running into Walden Pond during a visit last fall. She basically has no fear of the water.

This was evident during today's swim since she spent the whole time trying to wiggle away from Eric and Nana. There was a large group of kids splashing, jumping, screaming and dunking at the pool. Madeline figured if they could do cannon balls, so could she.

She kept yelling, "No. Don't hold me!" at Eric as he tried to keep her from floating away. She also kicked some water his way.

It looks like Madeline has some swimming lessons in her future this summer. We should probably also invest in some flotation devices. Hopefully the cold weather will keep her from swimming away with the mermaids till then.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Around the Mighty Internets

Laughing About: 

"Experts Say Not to Bribe Your Kids.  I'll Give You $10 and Stale Candy if You Prove Them Wrong."

I may or may not be guilty of using my daughter's number-one desire to eat all the M&Ms to my advantage.  I'm just pushing her to do the things she only thinks she doesn't want to do.  Trust me, Madeline...pooping in diapers is not cool.  You may not know it yet, but you want to use the potty.  In the meantime, have an M&M or two for giving it a go. 

Like everything in life, I think raising children is all about balance.  The advice cited in this piece about never using the word "shouldn't" with your toddler is ridiculous.  If I offered Madeline a new toy every time she ate her dinner, that would also be ridiculous.  I offer her chocolate instead.  See?  Balance.  

Scratching My Head Over: 

"The Early Education Racket"

We spoke recently to friends of ours who are against preschool.  That blew my mind.  I didn't think anyone was against preschool (except some members of the case of Teen Mom.)

The article basically states that if you are wealthy and well educated, your kids don't need preschool, but if you're poor and uneducated, they do.  All I know is that I will never wait in lines, go through interviews, or heft out major bucks to send my daughter to preschool.  I don't think that is the realistic preschool experience for most of the American public.  Therefore, I'm mostly confused by the author's point.  

All I know is I'm pro preschool.  It's educational, fun, provides good socialization skills, and we need professionals to look after Madeline while we are at work.

Smugging Over:  

Tell Me About It

This advice column, where a neglected friend expresses her confusion over why parents are so busy, was making it rounds via social media this week.  Columnist Carolyn Hax's response was pretty right on.

I think parents should try to make time for themselves and for their friends, but I am also mystified by people who don't get why parenting is exhausting.  Before I had Madeline, I certainly didn't fully understand parenting, but I heard around the grapevine that it's pretty hard work.  I didn't think those millions of people were lying...

Just for Kicks:  

White House Responds to Death Star Petition: No

"The administration does not support blowing up other planets."  I know someone who will be disappointed...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sick(ish) Day

Sunday night, Madeline came down with a sudden high fever.  I was sure we had contracted the dreaded plague.  "Eeek, Eric!" I grimaced, "It's the flu!  Quick, pack our bags! Let's head for the hills!"

Yet, the following morning, after calling in to work for the day, I scratched my head in bewilderment as I watched a seemingly healthy Madeline twirl around the living room between bites of bagel.  She totally duped me!

Except for a runny nose and a general crankiness to let me know she isn't quite faking it, Madeline is pretty much back to her normal self.  Of course, now I'm feeling a little off, so at least there's that.  (I finally got my flu shot, but that sucker takes two weeks to work.  I may wear a mask to face my students tomorrow.)

Still, even if we are a bit under the weather, it's always nice to get a bonus day with my girl.  It makes me wonder about how glamourous (or chaotic) my life would be as a stay-at-home mom.

Madeline used the day to soak up as many cartoons as I would let her get away with.  Meanwhile, I tried to get as much grading done as possible in between catering to the needs of a toddler with  a feigned illness.  (I think it took me over twenty minutes to grade a single paper at one point...)

Once I had heard all the Disney Channel I could stomach, we turned our attention to painting.  It seems we are out of paintbrushes, but luckily, we have jars and jars filled with wine corks.  We painted with those instead.  Mother of the year up in here, folks.  At least the next time I crack open a bottle of cheap wine in the middle of the week I can say it's in the name of Madeline's art.

A very sick Maddie Bear last night...

A perfectly normal Maddie Bear the next morning...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dear Madeline: January, 2013

Dear Madeline,

Time is passing by so quickly, but it seems like forever ago that I was writing your last monthly letter.  Here we are in a new year.  This year you will turn three.  You will learn so much.  You will grow so tall.  You will probably start preschool this year.

It seems recently that all traces of baby are gone from you.  You're such a little kid.  You don't look like a baby anymore.  Your legs are getting so long and skinny.  Your face is thinning out.  Those baby curls are finally starting to fill in and grow longer.  Your hair has been one giant red mop these past few weeks.  It's like you have a permanent case of bed head no matter how much I try to brush it and tease it into a manageable shape.

You're so smart and curious about the world. You ask us questions all the time.  Everything is, "What's that?" or "Whatchu doin?" or "Where we goin'?"  You never stop talking.  At this very moment, you're upstairs chatting yourself to sleep.  I've heard you reading to Olaf, singing a song that involve the lyrics, "I can be anything!  I can go anywhere!"  and pretending to talk to a friend from school.  Two minutes ago you yelled, "Mumma?  Can you hear me?  I love you!"  Heart melt...

And your memory is pretty darn incredible.  Your poor Mumma can't remember where I put my car keys most of the time, but you seem to remember everything.  Dada put on a black cap the other day when it was extra chilly.   You looked at him and said, "Pop has a hat like that.  Pop. In New York."  You were right.  Dada's hat does look a lot like the one your Pop has, and Pop does indeed live in New York.

You had a fever this evening that seemed to come out of nowhere.  You were lying low on the couch, looking sad, so I let you use my phone to watch a movie.  I was pretty impressed with your skills.  You not only got to the Netflix app on your own, but then you scrolled through the movies, chose one you wanted to watch, and pressed play by yourself.  Um...I think my two-year-old knows how to use my phone better than I do.  Almost.  What will the world look like when you're my age, little one?

Meanwhile, you've become a princess to the max.  Mimi got you some dress up clothes for Christmas, and you spend a lot of time trying on your various princess dresses.  Snow White is your favorite to wear, but Rapunzel is still your favorite to watch.  You have a Rapunzel doll and a Merrida doll from the movie Brave (red hair...although you haven't seen the movie yet) that have become your best buddies.  You like to give them hugs and stand them up to watch you color.  Sometimes when you're wearing one of your princess dresses, you ask to listen to princess music, so I turn on Pandora while you twirl around the house.  I think we're raising quite the girly-girl.

You're also a girl with a stubborn streak.  We joke that we missed our window of opportunity with potty training.  There was a time, almost a year ago now, when you were very interested in the whole potty thing.  Yet now that we're actually trying to get you to use it, you've dug your heels in the ground.  You're just not interested in anymore.  Not even the promise of M&Ms or big girl underwear does the trick.  I'm hoping that changes soon...

Before we know it, it'll be 2014, and you'll be going on four.  At this rate, you just might be ready to take over the world by that point.

Love You Most,

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Downton Dish Week 2

For this week's episode, I made crumpets with clotted cream.  They turned out awesome.  I also had some orange marmalade and jasmine tea on the side.  Nom.  Might have to start the Downton diet after this...

I was a little "meh" about this season's first episode.  Of course I was glad to see everyone back.  Lady Mary was a perfect combination of charming and raging bitch as always.  Branson was dreamy as always. (Except when he got roofied.  Um, what?)  Matthew was whining over Lavina to fuel his own always.

I asked Eric to watch it with me, and he didn't even make too many snarky comments.  I got the usual about Master Bates, but that's to be expected.  He did shout, "Damn, can't you afford to buy a jacket, you old bag?!" at Matthew's mother at one point when she was rushing to the carriage in her wrap.  But overall, it was pretty lackluster.

I did like the bit at the end about Bates and his cellmate.  Did he say that because he was trying to seem tough...or is he actually guilty?  I'd love it if he turned out to be a complete ass hat in disguise because he's always been such a white knight.

Any Downton fans in the States out there?  What did you think of the first episode?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Around The Mighty Internets

Chuckling Smugly Over:

This article about bad memoir writing is harsh, but true.  Also, it's totally self-indulgenent snark on my part because there's been a huge push toward the genre at work recently, and I dislike memoirs.  Strike that.  If someone had an amazing experience that the rest of the world should know about, and she/he/it can write without sounding like the narrator of Dear God, Are You There? It's Me Margaret, memoirs can be awesome.  However, any memoir written by a beautiful,  upperclass white woman complaining about how much belly button lint she has makes me want slap someone across the face with a bottle of Lancome youth serum.  This sound bad, but it comes from a place of love...I could care less about your voyage of self discovery.  It's called life...suck it up...breath...move on.  There's a time and place for such whining...start a blog.

Fascinated By:

So I listened to this woman on NPR this afternoon.  She's a photographer who drives around neighborhoods at night, peeks through the windows of people's private homes, and takes pictures of the weird stuff she catches them doing.  It's art, man.  Or, is she simply a creep with a nice camera?  

It's not so much the art itself that had me squirming.  The photos are really grainy, and you can't see the people doing much of anything.  It was the way she so breathily described her experiences.  Among other things, she described catching a girlfriend popping the zits on her boyfriend's back and a woman licking her desert plate..."as if in slow motion."  She sounded strangely turned on by the whole thing, even though she said it makes her feel very uncomfortable.  Good thing she's a "real artist" and not just some dude from the neighborhood with a strange hobby because I'm pretty sure people have gone to jail for less.

Worried About:

THE PLAGUE! Anyone else been obsessivley washing their hands recently?  
I never got around to getting a flu shot this year.  Meanwhile, my students have been dropping like flies all week.  It's only a matter of time before it makes it way into my home.  I tried to go get a flu shot yesterday afternoon, (your nagging and fear mongering worked, mother) but everyone seems to be out.  I plan on searching again this afternoon, but in the meantime every slight ache, pain, or chill has me convinced I'm sick.  I have a bad case of parnoia. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Small Changes: Dining Room

I used to have dreams.  Big dreams.  Dreams of a cozy, perfectly accessorized, Pinterest-worthy house.  

But as anyone who lives on planet Earth knows, it takes a long time to transform your living space to your dream home.  If I were independently wealthy, or a witch, I could just wiggle my nose and be done with it.  As it is, by the time we're done, I'm pretty sure Madeline will be thirty years old, and we'll have to start all over again.  God, look that that old rug!! It's so 2013!!!  

Therefore, it's all about the baby steps.  We'll tackle one small project at a time, with a few big ones in between, and someday our house will be finished.  

Take our dining room for instance.  Last February, Eric and I let a few pumpkin-spiced lattes go to our heads and painted the walls orange:  
I thought it was the right decision at the time, but a year later, I'm still not 100% sold on the orange.  I like it.  I just don't love it.

This is what our dining room looked like when we first moved in:

When the walls were blue, the dining room looked so cheerful!  Now it seems dark and old fashioned.  Plus it's hard to find things that go with pumpkin orange that don't make your house look like your great Aunt Ethel lives there.  And even though I found about five white hairs about my temples in the mirror last night, and even though sometimes my underwear covers my bellybutton, I'm not going for old lady status quite yet.  

On the other hand, Eric likes the orange a lot. (He's not as fond of my granny pants.)  I think he's worried that our house is becoming too gray, and I suppose he may be right.  If it were up to me, I'd probably paint the dining room gray along with the living room, hallway, and bathroom....Maybe an ice blue.  

Other than paint, we haven't done much to our dining room in the past year.  Very recently, we made the following improvements:  

I finally touched up the trim (we were sloppy orange painters) with a brighter shade of white instead of the creamy color left over from before.  

White on white, doesn't make a huge difference to outside eyes, but trust me, the room looks so much brighter and less drab than it did before.  

See the difference between the freshly painted door panels versus the rest of the door?  
I still want to tackle the ceiling at some point...but God almighty, quell nightmare.  We'll save that for another time and place...and maybe some hired hands.  

Right before Christmas, we added a decorative shelf and mirror between the windows over the radiator.  

Then for Christmas, Eric got me this gazelle head I've been irrationally wanting for a long, long time. 

Her name is Giselle after Tom Brady's wife.  She likes to give me lots of unsolicited advice about breast feeding and judged the amount of food I put of my plate during dinner.  She's also the highest paid faux gazelle in the world.  

Finally, last weekend I got this awesome sideboard on Criagslist for only $60.  I can not tell you how long I have been scouring Criagslist for something like this.  Do you know people want to charge you $200 for a buffet they got at Ikea ten years ago?  I kid you not.  So when I saw this, I jumped right on it.  

It looks a little huge next to our tiny table, but it fits along that blank, empty wall very nicely.  (Right across from Giselle.)

We're deciding what to do with it to make it even purty-er.  It's sturdy but has some cosmetic old hand prints, scratches, and a few splinters around the edges.  (Don't worry, Maddie can't reach the top of this thing.)

At first I couldn't wait to slap some paint on it.  Then Eric couldn't wait to slap some paint on it.  Now we're thinking of other options.  We're leaning toward staining.  I don't need things to be matchy-matchy.  In fact, it bothers me when they are...but this particular shade of wood really clashes with our black table sitting directly across from it.

We need to do something to it, and my redheaded, mad genius mind is swirling with possibilities. But which choice is the right choice???

We also need to do the following:

  • Find a new rug that isn't too small for the space. 
  • Find a mirror for the wall above the sideboard 
  • Find a new light fixture
  • Repaint the built-in cabinets.  Right now they are a beautiful sunshine-y color that looked swell with the blue, but terrible with the orange.  ORANGE!!! (Shake fist.)  
  • Find, or make, new curtains.  I've decided one of the biggest problems I have with the orange is actually just simply that I hate our curtains.  


  • Paint the ceiling
  • Add quarter-round base moulding

Any suggestions for the buffet?  Any suggestions for modern colors that go with pumpkin?  (Other than moss green.) I'd sure love some ideas!

***Update with some better pictures of the entire room***

The side of the room with the buffet needs the most help.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Big Girl Bed

The strangest thing happened tonight.  While we were sitting on the couch relaxing after dinner, Madeline...a whole hour before her normal bedtime...eagerly rushed to the stairs and asked to "go night-night."
Eric and I looked at one another and shrugged.  It seemed pretty early, so Eric set his phone alarm for twenty minutes and told Madeline when it went off, we could go upstairs.  Parents, arguing about an earlier bedtime?!  I know, right?

When the alarm sounded twenty minutes later, Madeline's eye lit up and her head snapped around to look at us eagerly.  "Hooray! Let's go guys!" she clapped.  We laughed to ourselves and shook our heads as we followed our sleeping beauty up the stairs.  

You see, we finally bit the bullet and converted Madeline's crib into a "big-girl" bed yesterday afternoon, and if I had known she'd be so excited, I would have done it a lot sooner.  She's been more enthusiastic about her new bed than she was for Christmas and her birthday combined.  

I don't know why we waited so long.  We used to say that the moment she tried climbing over the sides of her crib, we'd switch to the toddler bed.  The thing is, Madeline isn't much of a climber, so we never had to address that problem.  Then we'd mull the possibility over from time to time, but worried about the prospect of wrestling Madeline into a bed every night, we just never got around to it.  

The past week, our normally content crib dweller, was begging not to go in her crib at nap and bedtime.  It was time.  

Yesterday, I bought a princess-themed bedding set and brought it home to surprise Madeline.  I'm usually against character-themed sheets and such; I'd much rather get something with stripes or flowers on it.  I don't know why.  Perhaps it's a leftover grudge against my first-grade best friend who had a New Kid's on the Block comforter set.  My sheets were plain blue.  I did have a pretty rad electric blanket though.    

Still, when I saw the bedding on the shelves yesterday, even though they weren't my top choice, I knew Madeline would go crazy for them.  Besides, the toddler set is not a long-term life decision.  Before we know it, we'll be moving her to a twin bed, and then I'll opt for more sensible sheets.  

Madeline eagerly watched Eric take the fourth rail off her crib yesterday afternoon.  She kept trying to help him.  And as soon as we laid down the new sheets and added her first-ever pillow, she could contain herself no longer.  Up she went, pulling the covers tightly about her chin.  

She played upstairs in her room for the rest of the afternoon, returning to her new bed every few minutes while I put away her laundry.  

Last night we wedged ourselves in her bed together for the first time to read a few stories.  It was so nice to lean back against her Rapunzel pillow case, pressing our heads close together, to study the illustrations in her books.  

So far, Madeline has not gotten out of bed.  She seems to be well trained in that least for now.  Still, I'm sure it won't take long for her to discover that she can get up and explore.  We have the baby gate on the doorway to her room just in case.  Don't want the gal perusing to kitchen for a midnight snack, now do we?    

It's also taking her longer to fall asleep.  Even though she went to bed early, she's up later than usual.  

When I went in to get her this morning, she had kicked all the blankets off and was not using the pillow at all.  This new arrangement will take her some getting used to.  

It seems like just yesterday that I was quietly watching the first season of Downton Abbey on my IPad while Madeline slept in the co sleeper beside me.  When we first moved her into her crib, it seemed way too big for such a little loaf of bread.  When did my baby become such a little girl???
I'm too excited to sleep!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Downton Returns

Facebook was blowing up today with the news that hockey is back.

Meanwhile, I was all, "Who cares?!  Downton Abbey is on tonight, m' lady bitchessss!

And you know what that means???

Via HaveYouMetMsJones

Even though the Brits have already seen Season 3, I have managed to avoid spoilers...except for one, which was totally not my fault.  It snuck up on me in the first sentence of what I thought was a review.  Bastards.  This is a big deal coming from the girl who read the last page of the The Deathly Hallows first and who looked up everything that happened in the Game of Thrones series half way through book two.  

To celebrate, I made myself a pot of tea and some popovers so that I could nosh away while watching the drama unfold.  I think I'll make this a weekly tradition...maybe mix up the teas and snacks a bit.  Cucumber sandwiches perhaps.  

Predictions for this season:  (Don't read if you don't like guessing at this sort of thing..)  

Lady Mary and her boy-toy/cousin will snog, then fight, then snog some more, then fight some more...ultimately, snogging wins out.  Lady Cora will resent her husband for losing all her money.  Bronson will get involved in some nasty Irish rebellions...perhaps die?  Meanwhile, downstairs, the Butler did it.  Remember that weird, drunk Mr. Moseley guy who was jealous of Mr. Bates?  I have a hunch he had something to do with offing Mrs. Bates.  Just staying.  Throughout it all, Edith will feel left out.  

P.S. Not nearly enough snogging! Seriously, Maggie Smith and the chauffeur have more sexual chemistry than those two! Did you hear The Dowager telling Branson to take his coat off???