Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bethisms #9 and #9.5

Yesterday in the car:

Me: "We're going to the bookstore! Does that sound like fun?"

Beth: "Uh-huh."

Me: "I think it sounds terrific!"

Beth: "You said it, Mommy."


This morning, as she was rummaging through her top drawer looking for clothes to wear to her friend Josh's Lego-themed birthday party, Beth said in a disappointed voice, "I thought I had a Lego costume, but I didn't."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

For this, I got a $25 Visa card and a free liter of bottled water

Here's what the graduate marketing students should have learned from our market research interview this evening:

1. Even if everything you're asking is an open-ended, free-association-type question, you may not want to hear everything your interview subject is willing to talk about. Every once in a while you'll interview someone who likes to talk, thrives on free association, and has never ever ever learned to shut up, even if it's in her best interest to do so*. Move things along at an appropriate pace or your professor will come in to remind you that your class is about to resume.

2. Be very, very careful about the assumptions you make when you recruit people for market research interviews. Don't assume, for example, when you're doing research for a shoe company and you say you're looking for people who enjoy being around the water, that the people who show up will all be preppy northeastern sailing types. You might just end up with a displaced Southern California girl who thinks that the only appropriate footwear around water is flip-flops, Tevas or aqua socks. (And roller blades, but that's too Southern California to explain to someone who doesn't pronounce his Rs.) I've been on a sailboat maybe three times in my life, but the poor guy interviewing me jumped all over that: "Tell me about sailing. What would you wear on your feet?" Um...sunscreen?

Turns out their market research was for Sperry Topsiders. Sorry, guys. If I'm going to be around water, I want to be IN the water, not standing on a yacht sipping upscale microbrews and chatting about the Harvard-Yale game.

I can just picture what happened when these two unfortunate souls walked back into their class: "So, tell me about the person you talked to." "Well, she's a crazy mom who likes to swim with sea turtles and wear red patent-leather heels — not at the same time — and she forces her kids to go to the beach even though they sunburn easily and are terrified of waves. Oh, and she used to be a Mormon missionary. We got nothin'."

Unless, of course, they're trying to re-brand which case I expect to see a pair of candy-apple red high-heeled aqua socks at Nordstrom next spring. Or at least Sperry ads featuring models taking off their preppy shoes and actually getting in the water**.

* I did have some composure. I never once mentioned the skinny-dipping incident. That should count for something, right?

** Actually, my real prediction is this: If anyone ever does look at their research, there will be a major Sperry ad next year featuring a pair of gorgeous bare feet with a sandal-line suntan, bright red toenails, and sand between the toes. No shoes — the shoes will be implied.

Parenting lessons

Since Brittany just posted about learning some parenting lessons the hard's mine for the week:

Do not leave the bathroom alarm clock within arm's reach of your three-year-old. Said three-year-old will inevitably push buttons and flip switches, and the alarm will inevitably be set for 6:00 a.m.

That's all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


It's almost 5:30. Sarah just barely woke up from her nap, and tried to use the potty, and is now hanging out with me and drinking water out of her beloved sippy cup. When I put her down for her nap more than three hours ago, she actually thanked me.

Beth, who insisted on wearing her pajamas to take a nap this afternoon, is still asleep. I tried to wake her up at 4:00 for a playdate, but she only rolled over and closed her eyes again.

Something is definitely amiss. Not that I'm complaining, but this is not normal.


This is what a rough draft looks like in muslin and (mostly improvised) stuffing. I'm going to have to use some sort of wire to keep the ears up (that's why the pencil is there now), and there are safety pins and pen marks all over the place where I need to make some alterations. The neck should be positioned lower on the body, the arm/body seams should be more rounded, tail (not shown) should be about twice the size I planned on and placed higher. If I can figure out how to do some friendly-looking claws, they'll be in there too.

Oh, and I had no idea how hard it would be to find good gray fabric. Yowza. Fortunately, one of the sites I'd looked at previously got something in stock last week that I hope will work.

He's chilling upstairs in the attic right now, awaiting dismemberment and minimal redesign, which will have to happen on the sly after bedtime. Strangely, I miss him. Even in muslin, he's awfully cuddly.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sarah and the budding sense of humor

A few days ago, after Sarah and I had spent a chunk of the morning next door, I asked her, "Did you like playing with Sam?"

"Gup!" (That's "yup," for those of you who aren't fluent in Sarah.) "Ooo-ooo-ah-ah-ah!"

"Do you think Sam is a monkey?"

"Gup!" And then her great belly laugh: "Hahahahahahahaha!"

A joke! She made an actual joke. This is going to be one entertaining ride.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Convergence, and life imitating art

Sarah closed the girls' bedroom door tonight during Beth's pre-bedtime potty run, and we've been reading David Wiesner's The Three Pigs pretty obsessively, and the combination resulted in this:

Beth (from the hallway, behind the closed door): "Little pig, little pig, let me come in!"

Scott: "Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!"

Beth (opening door, giving her father an exasperated look): "Daddy, you don't have any hair on your chin."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cabin fever solution #1 (assuming — and desperately hoping — that I can come up with more of these)

Played Hullabaloo with the kiddos this afternoon when the chaos got to be a bit much. It's great. Foam rubber spots on the floor and an electronic M.C. The hardest part was putting in the &%(@#*! batteries.

Beth, true to form, carefully (even studiously!) followed the directions, ended up on the right kind of spot, and frequently won a round. Sarah joined in and tried to copy Beth. If she got tired of the game she sat down and picked up the game spots with just as much enthusiasm as she'd shown while actually playing. Beth's buddy Avery had only the slightest interest in ending up on the right spot, but took the "skip...hop...twirl" directions to a whole new level. When they won a round, all three girls demonstrated amazing victory dances.

Me? I'm just a bit taken aback at what a good workout it was. Ooof.

And I like my victory dance. It rivals Joey's domino champion dance, with a more appreciative audience.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Newsprint, newsprint everywhere

In the last few weeks, I've had not one but TWO people accuse me of being craftsy. (Note the "s." I know I'm crafty. But that's another post.) I shudder at the thought of this: I don't scrapbook. I cringe at the thought of vinyl lettering anywhere in my house. There are no stuffed bunnies in calico dresses hanging from my doorknobs.

But, they both said, sewing is crafting! You sew!

Grr. Yeah, I sew. It's in my blood. Both of my grandmothers sewed — one taught textiles at the college level, the other just made fantastic clothes for her kids after looking at what was in style in shop windows. My mom sews occasionally (I learned a healthy number of my good swear words from her when she was making me a velvet and paper taffeta dress for a high school dance). I learned to sew clothes for my Mandy doll when I was, what, six? When I was in high school my dad made me a deal that he'd buy me the fabric for any clothes I'd make myself. He ended up regretting that deal after a certain box-pleated Black Watch plaid wool skirt, which I only wish I still had.

Now...I make baby blankets, and piece the occasional baby quilt to give away (and boy do I mean occasional), and hem Scott's pajamas. And...okay. Some doll clothes. And a doll blanket. And pillowcases out of a torn sheet I couldn't bear to throw away. I made a quiet book with some friends a few years ago. But that's it. Mostly my sewing machine is used for mending torn clothes, and the cabinet doubles as my computer desk, and I spend way more time on the computer than I do on the sewing machine.

So why does it bug me to be told that I'm a crafts person? I suppose that somewhere in my head I link crafts with all things frivolous. I do have this taste for projects. Making things. Useful things. Fun things. Not add-more-kitsch-to-my-country-style-kitchen things. I just sent a batch of mix CDs to a CD exchange group I joined a few years ago (I'm really, really late) and they look and sound awesome, if I do say so myself. When I'm working, I love doing websites and graphic design. And then there's the matter of the mid-century dining room set that I've been halfheartedly working on refinishing/reupholstering for several years now....

...anyway, here I am, working on making a BIG stuffed Totoro for my kids for Christmas. There's no such thing as a pattern out there, so I've made a prototype out of newspaper, which I'll then dismantle so I can use the paper as pattern pieces. Cutting the pieces freehand worked surprisingly well, and I only had to do a few little tweaks on the body. But I have newsprint everywhere. And I can't get the head to look quite right — something about the nose, which I think needs to be lower and perkier. And I'm wondering whether, given the cost of good fuzzy fabric and the likelihood of finding the right stuff for whiskers, it isn't a really bad idea. But somehow I can't seem to give up on it.

I think I need a life.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

How weird is my three-year-old?

Beth requested sushi for her snack yesterday morning.

Bentley's cafeteria has a sushi bar, and she got her wish for lunch. Lucky kid. California roll...but still, I think we're raising her right.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election day: pigtails, tears, awe

I took my kids to vote today. I've heard stories about people standing in line for hours, but at the senior citizens' center down the street there were no lines, no Black Panthers, no lawyers I could identify as such. Just elderly civic-minded ladies manning the polls, and a few of us civic-minded citizens. The girls had red, white and blue ribbons on their pigtails (we dug out the Fourth of July stuff), and the poll workers couldn't stop telling them how adorable they were.

In Massachusetts we vote using oversized Scan-Tron sheets, which makes me feel like I'm back in high school taking a test, and also makes me miss the more balloty-feeling punch cards I had in California. Here's the thing, though: as I was standing in my little semi-private voting carrel, I had a rush of patriotic pride (huh? me? wow) and my eyes welled up with tears as I bent over the paper. I had to blink the tears back to make sure I was really filling in the circle next to "Obama/Biden," and had this overwhelming feeling of being a drop of water in a massive wave of change, which I'm still getting a little choked up over.

And then I went to the library, where The Audacity of Hope finally came in (I've been on quite the waitlist), and I got choked up over that, too.

Stayed up way too late watching election results (I realized as soon as Fox News called Ohio for Obama that I could probably go to bed, but didn't). I watched McCain's concession speech — the best political speech I've ever heard in my life, and the most heartfelt I've heard him in the last year — and cried more. Watched Obama's speech, thought about that wave of change again, cried even more.

Agree with me; disagree with me; I don't care. I voted for someone I believe will infuse hope into our quite-jaded view of all things political, someone I hope will be able to bring about even a smidgen of the change and purpose he advocated in his campaign. I'm deeply moved at the thought that our individual voices or stylus punches or filled-in ovals mean something, and I'd defend your right to vote your conscience whether or not it agrees with mine. I was trying to explain the concept of democracy to the girls in the car (got pretty sticky when I realized my encapsulated American Revolution story was encouraging disobedience among the pint-sized ranks) and it just got to me how cool this all is.

Three best quotes of the evening:
  • On BBC World News, an American commentator who said something along the lines of, "This should silence the people who are still saying America is a racist country," and then turned to one of the other talking heads and added, "Right?" Silence.

  • Karl Rove, on Fox (Scott got to drive the remote last night): "Every American ought to be celebrating tonight." Well said. Unexpected, but well said.

  • Fox's Juan Williams: "This is truly an incredible moment of American history.... I don’t care how you feel about him politically, on some level you have to say this is America at its grandest, the potential, the possibility, and what it says for our children. Black and white, the image of Barack Obama and those little girls in the Rose Garden in these years to come. I think it’s just stunning."

Wow. Wow. I'm so proud of my country right now. So hopeful for the next four years.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Linguistic progress

Sarah has finally learned to say her name, and it comes out "Rah-rah!" Which is pretty much how I feel about her.

I knew that Bethie would start speaking more clearly after some time in preschool, and I know that in the long run it's a good thing...but she's started to say th at the end of her name, and I miss my Beff-Beff.