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More about Mallory

...written by the girl herself:

Hi! I am going to be 11 in 8 days! I am going to go to the movies with my friends. Then we'll go to Maggie Moo's for ice cream. This is a list of information of when I was 10:

Food: Chicken fingers and fries
Color: Blue
BFFs: All my aunts
Dessert: Cake
Subject: Science (just experiments)
Movie: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
TV Show: Modern Family and Toddlers &Tiaras
Book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Activity: Decorating Cakes
Goal: To start a babysitting business

Her mother will add:

Whenever Mallory is outraged or surprised or indignant, she'll say, "But what?" with the funniest, completely un-reproducible inflection. It makes no sense but it makes me laugh every time.

She's a keeper, that one.


As for Mallory

Mallory will be eleven (eleven!!) in eleven days.

She is five-foot-two-and-a-half inches tall -- just an inch and a half shorter than me.

She got glasses!

She doesn't like it when I say this, but I think she's very pretty.

She likes to experiment with makeup:

She loves babies. She's taking a Red Cross Babysitting class after her birthday and is beside herself with excitement about the prospect of getting babysitting jobs.

She loves puppies, and hates wearing pants:

In many ways she's still the same little girl she's always been:

But she won't be little for much longer. Where did my baby go?

Fortunately, I never have to look to hard to find her.


Sneak Peek, Ctd

Here are some other items I have for the craft show tomorrow:

So, yeah, basically, I have five of the same thing, only in different colors. (The head is creepy, isn't it? I found it in Chris's studio.)

I meant to make some appliques for the headbands -- flowers and owls and whatnot. Ran out of time. I meant to make some more hats, maybe a scarf or two. Ran out of time. Oh, I had big plans,all right. Ran out of time. I guess that's what happens when a) the craft show is only announced 6 weeks in advance b) you have a full-time job c) you keep finding cool projects and then abandoning them halfway through when they don't turn out exactly the way you want (see: nativity scene).

So, my pile of wares is going to be quite small. (I do have some other things, not pictured, but...not really that many.) Oh well, it's all for a good cause. If I make enough money to go out to dinner once it's all over, I'll be happy enough.


What the world needs

and what I would invent if I were at all an inventor, is a gauge, a scale, a measuring device of some kind, that could tell a parent, by means of a retinal scan or a finger prick or a puff of breath, whether a child is sick enough to stay home from school. And I don't want any gray areas, no scale from 1 to 10 because if the child gets a 5 then what? No, I want a red light (child is too ill, will not be able to make it through the day) or a green light (child is fine regardless of her own self-assessment, put her on the bus).

Why is this not a thing?


The Bangs are Back

Phoebe has always had bangs:

But this summer, I asked the girls if they'd like to grow their bangs out.

"Would that mean we wouldn't need so many haircuts?" Mallory asked. I said yes; she was sold.

"Hermione doesn't have bangs, does she? And she has long brown hair like me?" Phoebe asked. I said yes; she was also sold.

So throughout the summer, we had bangs in the face:

By the time school started, they were almost long enough for the side-swept look:

We tried various methods of keeping the bangs contained:

But mostly they just hung down over her eyes:

Then Halloween came, and Phoebe was a perfect Hermione:

And as soon as she took her costume off, she said, "Whew! Now I can finally cut my bangs!"

So this weekend, that's what we did:


Sneak Peek

Rather at the last minute, considering that the event is next Friday, I decided to crochet a Nativity Scene for the kids' craft show.

I finished Mary Saturday night and, no disrespect to the Blessed Mother intended, she was such a pain in the neck to do that I'm not sure I'm going to even attempt the rest of her entourage. Joseph and the baby, maybe. Three wise men, forget it. Lambs and donkeys, don't make me laugh.

So many fiddly bits! Hands and arms and sleeves and hair and head-dresses...I just have no patience. And I am no good at lining things up -- you see that her headcovering is slightly off-center and her arms aren't exactly at the same level. Plus her bangs are askew.

Chris told me I'm too hard on myself and perhaps he's right, but I hate it when things don't turn out exactly the way I envision them.

Then there's this:

I donated it to the craft sale raffle. I am happy with the way it turned out; on the other hand, I tried to make a puppy and a frog from the same basic pattern and both of them flopped.

It's hard, having a hobby.

More items coming soon! (Although not nearly as many as I'd like.)


So much for that

It is the trend on facebook in November to do a daily post on what one is thankful for.

With the obligatory caveat that of course I am grateful for my family, friends, good health, roof over my head, results of the election, and so forth, I have to say that I'm not feeling terrifically thankful right now. In fact I'm feeling downright whiny.

My life is in disarray. Chris and my -- Chris's and my? Mine and Chris's? how do I say what I'm trying to say -- both cars which Chris and I used to own and drive are kaput. (Mine was sold for scrap last weekend. The girls and I were coming home from the store when we passed the tow truck hauling it away. "Say good-bye to our car!" I said. Phoebe burst into tears and Mallory said, "I didn't agree to that!") We are borrowing cars from his parents, who fortunately for us have a lot of cars. But the car Chris was using broke down last week, so we've had to carpool to work for the past week and a half. (The place where he works is in the opposite direction from where I work; his hours are 7:45 - 3; mine are 8:15 to 4:30; you can see this is not a great situation for either of us. In most circumstances I am a supporter of carpooling!) The girls have been sleeping over at  his parents' every night, so they don't have to wake up an hour earlier than usual. (I would like to send his parents on a cruise or something to thank them for helping us out so much. They will have to settle, for now, on a gift card to the movies.) It has been days of packing bags, forgetting socks, doing homework projects at the last minute (thanks to Auntie Mimi too!), losing lunch boxes, and a host of other inconveniences.

Also, my laptop died, I seem to have misplaced all my long-sleeved shirts, and Phoebe has no winter school uniform pieces (the uniform store is inconveniently located and has bizarre hours, so I'm not sure what we're going to do about that one). And, the kids' school principal resigned abruptly and communication from the school has been a mess. A PTO meeting scheduled for Wednesday night was rescheduled at the last minute -- no one told me, I showed up to find an empty room. ("Oh sorry, we forgot to send an email about that," said the person I called to ask what was up.) Last night at 7:30 we got an email that today was the last day kids could bring in donations for a Thanksgiving food drive -- this was the first notice that such a drive was taking place. Phoebe's class was supposed to bring in gravy; Mallory's class, cranberries -- do you think I had either of those items in my pantry? (Answer: no.)

Look, obviously I know things could be worse. We could be in New Jersey, shivering and showerless after 11 days without electricity. Millions of people around the world would kill to be in my shoes, carless and long-sleeve-shirtless as I am.

But man, life is really wearing me down. I look ahead at the holidays coming up and just want to run away and hide.


Election Day

If it goes my way, I'll give a bit of the credit to magic:

If it doesn't, I'll console myself with ice cream:

Either way, I'll be glad when it's over.


Ultimate Grand Supreme

Sometimes I feel like I'm not very good at this parenting thing. Do I make one crying child attend piano lessons even though she has a headache? Do I let the other child skip lessons too even though she doesn't have a headache because she doesn't think it's fair if she has to go when her sister doesn't? Do I acquiesce to one child's wishes to let the holes in her recently-pierced ears close up because she's suddenly decided she doesn't want to wear earrings anymore? Do I make children who are playing nicely outside in gorgeous fall weather (one of them remarking, as they go out the door, "Hey, we're getting along great today!") come inside and clean their rooms and study for vocabulary tests? Should I force them to try broccoli, should I enforce bed-making, should I help them find their shoes in the morning even when not helping them means that we're all late?

I don't know the answers to these questions.

So, sometimes I feel like I'm not really a very good mother.

And then, I watch an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, and I change my mind.


Hooked on procrastinating

In a few weeks I'll be attempting to sell a few of my crocheted items at a Christmas bazaar at the kids' school.

If I would spend as much time actually crocheting as I do looking at crochet patterns on Pinterest, I 'd have a lot more than a paltry "few" items to sell.


Bad luck

I spent a large portion of my childhood in my bedroom with my door closed, either reading books or writing. Sometimes I wrote in my journal, sometimes I'd write stories, and lots of times I just made lists of names. I was obsessed with names; I read baby name books from cover to cover, and on my dinky little word processor I made endless spreadsheets of my favorites. Girl and boys names, with meaning, country of origin, alternate spellings, possible nicknames. "A" list names, which would be suitable for future children or future protagonists of the novels I would someday write when my lists of names were complete; "B" list names for middle names or secondary characters.

My taste wasn't the best when I was younger. I preferred baroque spellings - Kourtenaye, Robynn, Kyleigh; I liked names with a foreign flair -- Katacia, Damek, Acacia. I abhorred the traditional and my list was devoid of classics such as Sarah or Margaret or Elizabeth.

"Phoebe" was not on my list of favorites. I did use the name in a story, though; she was the snotty older sister of the best friend (Haleigh) of my main character (Desirree). Phoebe did show up on Chris's list of favorite names, back in 2005. At first I dismissed it with a "meh," but a day later I suddenly realized that of course our new baby was a Phoebe. There was no way she could be anything else. (And it's true -- Phoebe is such a Phoebe. Can you imagine her with any other name?)

Mallory was on my list back then, although I had reservations about it because of its meaning -- ill-fated, or unlucky. These reservations surfaced again when Chris and I discussed the name back in 2001. Would our future daughter mind the unfortunate meaning of her name? I thought of ways to cushion the blow. We're not French, for one, so as long as she stays in America, it's unlikely that someone will hear her name and say, "Oh! Mal heure! Quelle horreur!" Also, Thomas Malory wrote the Arthur story, which was my fave. And there was that guy who climbed Everest -- his name was Mallory, too. (Although I guess in his case the name's meaning was, in fact, prophetic.) Maybe, I finally, thought, my child wouldn't even be interested in the meaning of her name. Maybe she'd never ask.

She did ask, of course, when she was not even all that old, and was not impressed by the answer. "It's okay," I said, "it doesn't mean that you're unlucky, no one pays attention to the meaning of names anymore, and anyway it only means that in French." She was not consoled. "And," I said, grasping at straws, "lots of names have bad meanings. Your grandma Claudia? Her name means 'lame'!"

This cheered her up somewhat. And, in the way children have of never forgetting things that maybe you wish they would, she has remembered this fact about her grandmother's name...sort of. Tonight she asked, "So what name means stupid?"


"Well, my name means unlucky, and Mama's name means boring, so there must be a name that means stupid."

"I don't think so," I said. Then, "Wait, what did you say Mama's name means?"

"Boring," she said.

"No, no," I said. "Claudia doesn't mean boring. What made you think that? It means lame."

"Uh, yeah," she said. "Lame. Boring. Same thing, right?"

It's our fault, of course, for naming her Mallory; otherwise we wouldn't have had the conversation in the first place. But I think maybe she needs to spend some time in her bedroom, with her door shut, reading a thesaurus.


I voted!

And I voted for Obama, in part because I have daughters. My vote is a vote against the idiotic and repulsive statements recently issued by a handful of Republican men about a woman's right to choose what she does with her body.

This sums it up:

The idea that coerced reproduction is God's will is of a piece with the belief that the subjection of women is God's will. The two ideas are inextricably intertwined historically, and the former is stubbornly resilient relic of the latter. To unpack this a bit more: According to Mourdock's thinking, a man who forces a woman to have sex with him against her will is a criminal, but a man who forces a woman to bear his child through forced sex should be permitted to do so, because abortion is murder and every conceived child is a gift from God.

Do we want to live in a country where any man at any time can decide he wants to bear children with any woman and she has no right to stop that from happening if he can overpower her by force? If we do -- and that's the society Mourdock is advocating -- then we have immediately left the society the feminists constructed and re-entered one where coerced mating is rewarded reproductively. (Full article here.)

 I wish it were Tuesday night already. All this drama is wearing me down.


It used to be a thing...

for bloggers to post every day in November. I'm not sure if it is still a thing. I'm not even sure if blogging is still a thing. I'm fairly sure it's not a thing for anyone to come look at this blog anymore. I gave up writing here for a number of reasons, chiefly because the subject of most of my posts (i.e. my daughters) can now read and have opinions on the things I write about them. I also ran out of steam; it's easier to post a sentence or two on facebook than it is to write a whole blog post. But sometimes I miss it. So I'm back, for one month at least.


Yes, it's me again

Really, the last line of my last post would've been a good line with which to shut down the old blog...but I've had a request from my daughter to keep it up, so I'll see what I can do. Most important news: School's out!

Phoebe and Mallory both won "Super Reader" awards; I only got a picture of one of them (sorry, Mallory):

Best thing about summer -- zany fun with friends:

This week we're being totally lazy; lots of video game playing, no cooking of dinners or reading of books or cleaning of rooms, showers only in deference to an upcoming piano recital. Next week I'm going to implement a series of Daily Duties which I'm sure my children will enjoy. (Ha) We're going to the beach in a few weeks; Mallory is attempting to launch a cake-baking business; Phoebe has been invited to two pool parties and is planning her own birthday with great anticipation. I only have about 24 more squares to crochet for my afghan (but then must stitch the whole thing together, yikes). I've also tried some simpler projects, such as the fancying up of footwear:

I'm thinking about making the flip-flops as favors for Phoebe's party; but her pair has already started to unravel, so I obviously need to refine my technique.
Happy summer!


Stomping Ground

As part of a Social Studies project that has overtaken our lives, Mallory is conducting a tour of cupcake bakeries in the Triangle area. The research involved in this project, as you will imagine, has been quite tasty. Yesterday we went to Chapel Hill to visit Sugarland, a bakery featured on Food network which also happens to be right across the street from where Chris and I first met.

Chris and I kept mentioning this kind of thing -- This is the restaurant we ate at on our first date! This is where I'd pick your mom up after class! Our first apartment was right down that street! -- and each time the girls would say, "Ewwww!" It's unclear why details of our past life disgust them so greatly. "If your daddy and I had never met, and had never dated, you wouldn't have been born," I've said numerous times. Mallory, however, seems to find the whole concept of dating very unpleasant, and I think Phoebe just doesn't like to contemplate a world before she was in it.

We parked at the Turtles -- a free lot so named because of the giant mural on the wall facing it:

Phoebe was disappointed that this was just a mural and not the outside of an aquarium. The Turtles was where, one evening, right after I'd parked and gotten out of the car, a drunk guy came into the lot, got into his own car (which was perpendicular to mine) and yelled out the window, "You'd better hope I don't hit your car!" and then proceeded to back out and do just that -- he slammed into my car, then drove forward, and then reversed into my car again. Chris ran over and started yelling ferociously and defended my honor (and my car from further damage). Good times.

We ate lunch at Pepper's Pizza (where, in fact, we had dinner right before seeing an REM concert on November 10, 1995 -- which we do consider our first date) -- it's a divey kind of place where all the waitstaff have piercings and tattoos and the seats and tables are decidedly vintage. Delicious pizza, though.

We then walked down Franklin Street to the comic book store, where the girls wheedled me into buying them stuffed animals, because apparently we can't go anywhere without buying a stuffed animal.

Then on to Sugarland, which was immediately impressive to the girls because of the mosaic in front of their entrance:

It was, indeed, a land of sugar, showcasing some really amazing cakes like this one:

That's a cake! A real cake! What the!

They also have gelato, which I'd never tried before but which is now my favorite thing. I had coconut and the girls had vanilla and we all agreed it was divine. Apparently they make frozen margaritas and daiquiris with the gelato and I must go back to try one of those. The cupcake -- we split a Red Velvet -- was merely okay.

Then we took a walk through the UNC campus. I should've taken more pictures because it was just gorgeous -- UNC has a pretty campus anyway, but with everything freshly blooming and kind of damp from recent rains it was just lovely.

Phoebe kept asking Mallory, "Do you think we should be Tarheels or NC States?" as though those two colleges were the only options. (And yes, the choice should have been Tarheels or Wolfpack.) Mallory said she wanted to be a Tarheel; Chris replied that she'd have to get really good grades. After a few moments thought she said, "What if I don't go to college at all and just work at McDonald's? That would be okay, right?" I said, "Not if you want to have a house and a car and to be able to afford to have a family." She said, "I'll just find someone to buy those things for me." Ha! Good luck with that, kid.

I have to say, though, that as we left the prettiness of the quad and got into the section of campus that I'd spent all my time in -- the graduate school buildings, the library, the gross dining hall where I'd eat my lunch -- the fond nostalgia I'd been feeling turned into something else. In fact, as we passed by Greenlaw Hall, where I'd had most of my classes, I just had this feeling of oppression and dread -- much the same as I'd felt during my two years as a graduate student, in fact. (At least, that's how I remember it.) Mallory and I went into the library because I wanted to find my thesis, but I couldn't figure out how to work the computers, so we just kind of wandered around for a few minutes. The library is not a pretty building, it's depressingly industrial and gray, and I had unpleasant memories of the boring job I had there (Interlibrary Borrowing, can I help you?) and the hours I spent at a desk on the 6th floor, taking notes and writing papers. Ugh. I'm sure I did enjoy some parts of getting my degree -- surely? -- but on the whole I just remember feeling weighted down the whole time, much like this girl with all the books:

As we walked back through campus to the car, I found myself wishing, again, that I'd pursued another course of study, that I'd done something different with my life. I thought of the advice I would give my 18-year-old self, if only such a thing were possible.

Then Phoebe complained that her feet were hurting, and I said, "Maybe you didn't wear good walking shoes," and she said, "No, I think I just don't have very good feet," and I laughed and felt glad, after all, that I've ended up where I have.


This is just to say

I'm posting this picture because I like the way my hair looks:

And this one to show that good hair is temporary, but the cuteness of Phoebe is not:

And this one to thank my husband for hanging out with the girls at Girl Scout Family Fun Day while I manned the "Time Capsule Signature" Station:

And this one because I like it: