Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Our tiny human

Being a mom of a toddler is awesome stuff. Even though "no" is her most frequent world, she is so much fun to watch. For example, tonight she started crying in the bathtub. I looked up to see what was upsetting her. She always has to put her bath toys away before I let her out of the bath.  Apparently she was ready for me to take her out, because she had put all her toys in the basket. One problem - the basket was underwater so the toys kept floating off, which is why she was crying.

She also has started copying us a lot. Matt had to fix my bike tire this weekend because I got a flat. He had all his tools out and was working on it while I sat on the porch talking. Madeleine played in the front running around with the bike pump and taking out Matt's tools. When Matt was ready to put stuff away, we found Madeleine "fixing" her bike. It took her about 10 minutes before she decided it was good to go. 

Then this afternoon I was sitting on my bed on my computer, when I noticed that Madeleine was running in and out of my room with spools of thread in both hands. (I keep all my sewing notions in our room well...in theory). After the third trip of this, I followed her out to see what the heck she was doing with it. I found her lining them all up in front of my sewing machine...each with two or three pins sticking out of them. She then tried to figure out how to turn the machine on and why the thread was important. After she picked up the scissors, I decided it was time for bed.

I think it's so cute that she's imitating us. Matt fixing the bike and I've been ignoring her a bit more so that I can sew. I just finished my quilt top and basting last night. I'm so excited to start quilting it as soon as I finish this blog post.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Halloween costumes

We had our church Halloween party today! We were more than ready for it. Unlike last year, I actually finished more than a few hours ahead of time. (Probably helped that this costume was simple enough to do in 5 minutes.) Madeleine got two costumes this year, because Matt deemed the first one, the paper bag princess, too cold to wear outside. So I made her a dragon cape to wear with it.

If by any chance someone wants to duplicate this, I have a few tips for you. First of all it's really just a bag with three holes cut out of it. I reinforced all the cuts with packing tape on the inside of the costume, which prevented it from ripping. Another thing that helped was the arm holes were between the bottom of the bag and the first crease. I found in my trial costume that if I did it a bit farther down it ripped a lot faster. Also a few people asked me how I got it all poofy like a princess dress. I just tied the center with a ribbon.

It was ridiculously easy. The cape was a lot harder though.

This was my inspiration for the cape.
  If I had to make it again, I would have magically had a serger. The ends frayed and curled on the green fabric and the gold was a bit slippery. I had to use a really large seam allowance to make it work. Thankfully, I didn't use the stretch silk otherwise it would have been a lot harder. Also, I would have measured Madeleine better. The cape is a little long on her. The front covers her hands a tiny bit and it bugs her.

But all in all, I'm very happy about the costumes! She was so cute to watch running around collecting chocolate. When everyone had run out of candy she started asking people to open it for her so she could eat it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Mommy fashion and Project 100

Matt has been bugging me for the last few months about spending more money on myself. He thinks it's silly that I get more excited about dressing Madeleine than dressing myself. We aren't so cheap that I can't get new clothes if I need them. He says there is no reason that I hang out in the house some days in our old high school P.E. clothes. It's been an on going conversation and last night I finally cracked and started to do something about it.

The biggest reason is our bedroom isn't functioning as well as it needs to be. It works great for Matt and me sleeping there, but Baby X sleeps in there for his naps. I hate having to kick aside clothes aside to put his bouncer down while he's screaming. It really annoys me, and clothes on the floor is one of Matt's pet peeves.

I also got these two articles in my facebook newsfeed. 

The first one made me feel less guilty about getting rid of perfectly good clothes and the second is what I've been thinking about for the last few months.

I loath doing laundry with all my heart. I told my mom in college that the only reason I was going to college was so I could make enough money to pay someone to do my laundry. I've done laundry a total of four times since we got married (Matt is a "bit" OCD about his laundry so it works out). But even still, if I can reduce the amount that Matt has to do this evil chore, then I'm being a sweet wife and should do it for his well-being. 

This idea of reducing laundry had occurred to me before. The thing is we don't have a washer and dryer. So we went the other way, we have a lot of clothes so we only have to do laundry every 3 weeks. It was working for a while, and when we had enough clutter that the rest of the house seemed pretty clean the clothes were at the bottom of my list. Now they are at the top, right under dishes.

So last night I went through all my clothes. I got rid of everything that I have owned that was stained, ripped, or more than five years old. 

Stained and ripped clothing
After that I took inventory of everything I own, according to the Project 333 rules.

Blouses                          2
Button downs                4
Long sleeve t-shirts        5 
Short sleeve t-shirts       10 
Tank tops                      5
Cardigans/Jackets         4
Sweaters                        2
Sweatshirts                    2
Coats                             3
Shorts                            1
Pants                             2
Skirts                            6
Dresses                        3

If you include all my shoes and accessories, the total is 58.

I don't know if that seems like a tiny amount or a large amount to you, but before I started this I gave myself the goal of 100 for a year round wardrobe. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with that limit now that I'm quite a bit under it, but I'm definitely going shopping.

"Matt, I only own 49 articles of clothing."
"Uh huh. I told you you need to buy more clothes."
"Okay, you're right. Want to go shopping for date night?"

So today I went to pinterest to figure out what I need to buy to look less like a bum around the house. I quickly found a big problem. A lot of the "stylish mom" outfits are not kid toddler approved.

(So cute! But do you think the skirt can get thrown in the wash? And that shirt would have a baby hand down it in less than a minute. And how in the world does she have a spare hand to hold a clutch?)

1) I use to wear light happy colors. I really did. Just each of them encountered some type of food that made a stain that left me sobbing by the counter as Matt explained to me why he couldn't get it out. Now I stick to clothes that I either can't see the stain on or can bleach.

2) Blazers. So cute. Not so comfy when juggling a kid on your hip.

3) Same goes for heels. Cute, but not practical when you're running out of toy store because your toddler decided she liked Kate Spade better.

4) Scarves and necklaces. How do you train your child not to choke you? Big pretty colorful jewelry looks nice, until you can't breath.

5) Quality. I love quality clothing, but it's hard to justify the money when small people just like to smear strawberries on my clothes multiple times a day. But the lower quality clothing pills and doesn't drape as well. How do you solve that problem?

6) V-necks and scoop necks look flattering, but little people like tugging on said necklines and then everyone is staring at your bra. I'm so grateful that fellow mommies are oblivious to bras and breast flashing. Saves me a lot of embarrassment.

7) How do you find t-shirts that you can't stick your finger through or won't lose it shape? I can't scrub a stain out if the material is only a 1/128th of a inch thick. Toddler clothes are made so much better than women's clothing.

So these are my current questions that have prevented me from buying clothes for myself. I know there are stylish moms who probably think that these are just minor inconvenience that know how to easily work around these problems. But I group those ladies into "the people that know how to pull off the color brown." I still puzzle over that one.

What problems do you come across when buying clothes? Do you have any solutions or suggestions?

Thursday, October 23, 2014


The last week has been a frustrating one for me. My little people are getting smarter and in more trouble. It's ranged from popping in the bathtub to coloring in library books (on the color wheel of all things). And during all of this, I decided that it was a good time to make Madeleine's Halloween costume. But now her costume is done, (it was supposed to be an hour project), and I can turn back to some of the more important things in my life, like cupcakes.

So almost a week ago, we went to the re-opening of House of Cupcakes!
We got there 10 minutes early and I was a bit surprised there was no line at the door. Turns out they had just opened up and there was already a group of people inside. The previous store would have been full from the number of people that was there, but in this new place there was plenty of space! I was really happy about that, because that was one of the things I disliked about the last store...there was no room.

We ordered my favorite cupcake - fudge truffle for Madeleine and me to split.

I snapped a quick picture before cutting it in half. Baby X took advantage of that moment and swiped a bit of Madeleine's frosting. He was so proud of himself, but then frosting ended up on his forehead instead of his mouth. Ah, the advantages of having good hand eye coordination.

After I finished up my half and was waiting on Madeleine, a reporter came up to me and started to talk to me about the cupcakes. Madeleine finished up her half while I was talking to the reporter, and then tried to get my attention. I personally wanted to clean up Madeleine's chocolate covered hands before she wiped them all over me, (Too late, cupcake ended up all over the front of my shirt) but the lady didn't take a hint. So Madeleine being the little independent toddler that she is, grabbed her plate and pushed through the crowed to the counter. She stood on her tip toes and pushed her plate onto the counter, "More. More."

Everyone froze and looked at me. I was full out laughing. It was too cute, and I told them that half of cupcake was plenty for her.

And go figure...that's the part that made it into the article.

""With remnants of the dark chocolate cake and frosting still clinging to her face, Nielsen’s daughter brought her empty plate over to the bakery’s counter after she was finished, hoping to try some more.
“She’s 21 months old, and that’s not stopping her from asking for seconds,” Nielsen said."
She did get seconds later that night. After we picked up Matt, we swung by for a second cupcake. 

And you know...we might have a lunch date there today too.

What can I say? Their chocolate cake rocks.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Feminism and Princeton

Princeton's used book sale today. I had been looking forward for it for months. Matt and I have drastically slowed our book buying since minimizing our things, but I had one book I desperately wanted - the book, The Feminine Mystique. That's all I came for. I'm a bit of snob about classics. I only buy them if they are used and hard-cover. I like them marked up and used, not new and pristine, on the off chance that the previous owner had some insight that I'd be interested in.

The sale opened to the public at noon, so I carefully put Madeleine and Baby X for an early nap, so they'd be nice and happy for our errand. We came twenty minutes early so I could feed them before we walked in the room. It seemed to be going fine, until we actually got in the room. And we realized that the stroller didn't fit.

"Ma'me the children's books are in the back. There is a separate entrance for that."
"Oh no thanks, I'm looking for a book for me."


"Can you help me find it? I'm looking for The Feminine Mystique"
"I'll just give you a map."

She handed it to me and then I was faced with trying to get this double umbrella stroller through these narrow rows. Technically the stroller fit through the rows, but turning the corners was difficult. The whole mission was made even more difficult by stubborn people who wouldn't move an inch for me to get by. As I struggled, Baby X started to cry. I was in the middle of the maze of books. There wasn't much I could do about it. Anyway the section I was looking for was right next to the exit, so I figured I'd just go for it.

I could make it about a foot before someone's foot was in the way. I would have to say "Excuse me" several times before they'd usually acknowledge me. Somewhere in Autobiographies the rude looks turned into whispers. The two old ladies behind me started to "whisper", the way old ladies at church do when they don't like the teacher - they move their heads together but talk loud enough that everyone can hear. "She's so young. Why in the world did she bring that stroller in here?" "Didn't you see? There is two of them!" "How irresponsible. I'd never bring my babies to a place like this. Not that I had children at her age." 

I was able to escape into Fiction, but my stroller got stuck on a table leg. I would have been able to clear it except for this man would not move over a few inches for me to get by. Another women came over and tried to get his attention, but he just ignored her too. As she helped me lift the stroller over the leg, he mumbled. "This is why they invented birth control." Can you believe he said that! Ugh. That jerk.

Finally I reached the Gender section. While I quickly scanned over the titles of the books, Madeleine starting to act up. The one person in that small area (the least crowded of the whole place), rolled his eyes, "F*ing children" before walking off and complained to the librarians. One of the librarians scampered over to me, helped me look for the book, said they must of sold out of the copies, "Too bad. We had a signed one here earlier but it was a bit more on the expensive side." Before guiding me to the children's section and leaving. I left on the verge of tears and let Madeleine play upstairs until I had calmed down.

So can we talk about this?

Do you read anything that rubbed you wrong?

Here's a few things that bothered me. 
1) A community event was not arranged to accommodate families.
2) As a mother, clearly the only thing I'd be interested in reading is children's books. I never read for myself.
3) My age deemed me an irresponsible parent and probably person.
4) People felt comfortable to make comments about my life planning and birth control methods. 
5) People rather complain and swear about me bringing kids than helping me find my book.

So why did this bother me so much? 
Princeton is such an educated community. There were rare and expensive books there. The people shopping were not poor college students. No, most of them were the rich retirees that make up the rest of the Princeton community. These people are educated and they value education. But they didn't value mine.  They rather glare and make comments about me than support a mother who values educating herself and her children. They feel superior and confident enough to not only make comments, but to quietly assert that they could make better decisions about my life than I can. They also feel comfortable enough to imply that I should be more careful about birth control. Classy right there.

What gave these people rights to comment about my birth control and sex life?
What gave them the right to be there but not me?
What makes them superior than me?

From my point of view nothing.

The thing that struck me the most was the irony of the situation. One of the main focuses of The Femine Mystique is about how housewives get depressed. Matt and I discussed this at length and decided that it wasn't necessarily being a housewife that causes the depression, but the lack of serious thinking and acknowledgement. I was there to get a book that made me think. I was there for a book about feminism. Yet, these highly educated people at the moment would have loved to have me home tending to "my" children instead of trying to get a book for myself.

Feminism to me fights for women's right for privacy about their birth control, sex life, and life choices such as being a stay-at-home-mom and having my children when I want.
 Feminism to me fights for all people to be treated with respect - even children.
Feminism to me means that I have a right to education and books.

I've seen people post "why I don't need feminism."

Well I do, because I absolutely hated this afternoon.

I'd really like this blog post to be a starting place for a good discussion. So can we chat about this? Do you think I'm being too sensitive or I was right to be upset? What does feminism mean to you? Do you think it's still relevant? Do you think things like access to birth control should be something that people should be voting on? (You either have to deal with kids or birth control is how I see it. And with kids, comes maternity and family care...which I know people don't like.) Do you think there is such things as a "feminist housewife"? What things does a "feminist housewife" stand up for?

Please comment, even if you think this is all BS. Really.

Morning Photos

I'm kind of a brat when it comes to family photos. I insist on them at least twice a year if not more. This fall has been a bit of doozy though, since I waited to late too book most of my favorite local photographers. I'm still trying to get a professional photographer, but that didn't stop me from waking my family up at sunrise (7:11 is not that early) and dragging them to our backyard for practice photos. 

I took just over 100 photos...and we got 6 that kind of turned out. :) Posing a family is hard stuff when you're not behind the camera! I should have taken a picture of all the things we needed to keep Madeleine looking the right way. It helped that we were looking toward her best friend's house. So all we had to say was "Where is B's house?" for the first twenty photos or so.

The lighting was beautiful. Did I mention I love living here?

So yeah, hopefully we can get a few more pretty photos before Fall is over. I would love to get some done on campus.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Princeton in the Fall

I love living here in Princeton. It's beautiful basically all year round, but Fall in New England is especially beautiful. On Sunday we went on a family drive and later bike ride to enjoy how beautiful our home is.

Here are a few from our bike ride. These are all less than 5 miles from our home.

Choosing to start biking as a family was a brilliant thing for us. Not only do we get to spend time together, we get to work out, save money, and enjoy the view.

I mean wouldn't you be looking forward to going to the grocery store if this was your drive?

I honestly can't get enough of it. I love sitting on the back porch with Baby X as the wind blows the leaves around with Madeleine chasing after them. It's basically perfect.

Today was one of those days that was a bit harder as a mom, but I'm excited for tonight when Madeleine and I get to bike to the store to grab diapers.

We live right on the right side of this bridge. I was so disappointed that I couldn't get the light balance right to really capture how pretty it is, but I really I love living here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Recipe: Black pepper sandwich

Madeleine and I have been battling it out with food. She has started refusing about 80% of the food we give her, although she is never consistent and will usually eat most things at some point. Apparently, she isn't a picky eater, just a snooty eater, so I've started offering her vegetables for breakfast, which, more often then not, she will actually eat. It's an ongoing battle, like today all she wanted was "babple" (apple). She ate four of them, core and all. (And left the peels and seeds in little chunks all over the neighborhood.)

Yesterday, she woke up from nap hungry. I didn't have any food ready for her that she'd eat, so I started making a grilled cheese sandwich. Baby X started crying soon after I popped it in the pan, so I ran to the other room while Madeleine sat on the floor sobbing that I hadn't given her food. It turned out that Baby X desperately needed a diaper change. I went in the other room to change him. Meanwhile, the sobbing in the kitchen stopped. 

When I walked back in, I found Madeleine on her stool with a piece of bread pounding the black pepper shaker into the bread. Unbeknownst to me, I was witnessing her make her first original recipe.

So without an further ado...here is the recipe of the "Black Pepper Sandwich"

Black pepper (grinder)
A piece of bread

1. Put bread in front of you. Without removing the cap on the pepper, pound the piece of bread.

2. When the cap has popped off and the bread is starting to fall apart, start shaking and grinding the pepper. Continue until desired flavor is reached.

3. Carefully scoop bread into a bowl. Add a spoon.

4. Enjoy. Add more pepper as needed.

Apparently it was really good. She ate the whole thing and cried when Baby X tried to swipe a bit. She wouldn't even touch the grilled cheese sandwich.

Toddlers. They are weird.

And maybe I'm a bit weird too, because the whole time I was watching this I was thinking about this part of Alice in Wonderland.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

General Conference, Starbucks, and Leaves

It's Fall! 

Yesterday was basically the most perfect day ever (minus the fact Matt is sick.)

We woke up and played.

Madeleine had boxed mac n' cheese for the first time in her life.
We played outside, while listening to Conference.

Afterwards we went to the bookstore and got Starbucks.

And Matt and I even got a photo together!

Madeleine tried to get in on it too.

Today has already kicked off with cinnamon rolls and bubble baths.


Hope your weekend is awesome too. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

When a post goes "viral"

This blog is no means an "official" blog. 

I don't know if that's news to you, but I don't put a ton of time and effort into this blog. I see it as my little corner of the internet where I write about us - how we are doing, how vacation was, what we eat, you know, the little stuff. Blog posts are written not in one sitting but in small pockets of time that I get throughout the day. Sometimes I find myself bouncing Baby X to sleep with my foot while blogging. Other times it's when I'm waiting for Matt to come home. These aren't large stretches where I have time to write an outline and edit my posts multiple times. I usually quickly write down my thoughts, maybe have Matt look over it and call it good. The reason is if I made these really well thought out blog posts, I would never blog. So yes, I'm aware that my grammar isn't perfect and my thoughts aren't always super clear.

I also write with the assumption that everyone that reads this knows us. 
Now, I know that I have a few readers that read fairly regularly that I don't know, but for the most part 88% of my blog hits come from my facebook page, 9% from bloggers (that I know), and 3% of random.

Matt and I glanced over these statistics several times as we debated about making our blog private. We realize that there are a lot of photos on the internet of our kid, but we have also decided to raise her with the assumption that people are kind. In the end, we choose to keep it open because the relationships that this blog strengthens, out weighs the small risk of the negative to us.

It works great for our regular post, but over the course of this blog, I've had 3 posts go "viral."
The first is from pinterest, 10-12 month activities. I get about 30 pings a day since I published it and I've had several people emailing me and thanking me for the ideas. Now, I know compared to bigger blogs, that's nothing, but for me that's a lot more than usual. 

Sweet! That was the easy one.

The other two post were controversial LDS posts. 
Now, if you know me in person, I'm easy-going person in general, but there are a few things that really get under my skin. 

- I hate it when people doubt capable parents' judgement calls. 

- I hate it people criticize and belittle a group or person because their beliefs are different than their own.

- I hate it when people impose unnecessary, harmful practices on themselves in order to please people. 

So, when we first got married, I would rant and rave about things that would upset me. Matt would sit there amused at me and tell me that telling him wasn't going to make any changes and I really needed to tell other people. I'd glare at him but shut up, because I knew that I wasn't confident enough with myself to speak up. Over the last few years though, I have got more confident, and finally during last General Conference, I wrote the blog post about Ordain Women.

It was something that bothered me. I saw several personal friends of mine have nasty things written on their facebook for openly supporting Ordain Women. I saw them struggle and hurt. Meanwhile I struggled with this organization. Women's ordination is something that really doesn't bother my personal faith. I prayed and prayed and prayed about it, and in then end, the conclusion I came to was love them. Then during Conference I felt this feeling to write the blog post. 

I was really nervous. I hate speaking up, but I knew that I was supposed to write it. So I did. And I don't know if it helped my friends, but I was emailed from people that it did help. And that made putting myself on the line, completely worth it. The negative backlash of course came too, but I was comfortable in my opinions, because that's all they are...opinions. We can have different opinions and still be good people.

I think people sometimes forget that because different is still scary. What if your opinion is wrong? Then what else do that you think could be not quite what you think? And that usually leads to uneasiness and a bit of fear. I really think if you can push back that fear though, that's when productive conversations start. 

And that's how I see both of those blog posts, they are places that I hoped would make conversations start. And from what I can tell, they did.

"You must be the change that you wish to see in the world."

The Ordain Women post, I wanted to help people see that everyone has doubts, and the way to fix and help them is through love not criticism.

And this more recent post about the Mormon video, I hoped that people realize that saying "no" doesn't mean you're a bad person, that saying "yes" to everything does not equal more Christ-like, and our definition of "perfection" isn't necessarily Christ's definition. The Atonement and grace is there to make up for what we can't do.

It sounds like from this blog post and this reddit that my writing wasn't completely clear. I guess in the future I might need to spend a bit more time on each of these post, but I also want to invite people that if you don't agree, write or speak up. A conversation is two ways, if we want to be the change, we can discuss, and in the end, we still might agree to disagree, but hopefully we learned something from it. We can even stay friends. ;)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Gilmore Girls

Matt and I got our free month of netflix for two reasons...

1) Sherlock.

2) Gilmore girls

We have one month to get through all of the episodes of both shows.
We crossed off Sherlock early last week. We are both big fans. Steven Moffat does such a better job of writing Sherlock than Dr. Who in my opinion and we loved ate it up.

And last night we started the Gilmore Girl marathon. It's been great. Madeleine and I picked up Matt and then we all biked to Trader Joe's to stock up on junk food and cheese. We basically threw Madeleine in bed before cozying on up on the bed. I forgot how much I like this show.  I've fallen all in love with Dean again and Chad Michael Murray is such a great guy to look at and hate. Also, it's funny. I have a new found respect for Lorelai now that I'm a mom. 

I watched it until 2:00 AM when Matt shut and hid my computer so I couldn't watch anymore. 

So in celebration...here are a few of my very favorite quotes from each episode thus far.

Dean: Last Friday these two guys were tossing around a ball and one guy nailed the other right in the face. I mean, it was a mess, blood everywhere, the nurse came out, the place was in chaos, his girlfriend was all freaking out, and you just sat there and read. I mean, you never even looked up. I thought, "I have never seen anyone read so intensely before in my entire life. I have to meet that girl.

Miss Patty (to her students): Walk smooth. That's the new Harry Potter on your heads. If they should drop, Harry will die and there won't be any more books.

(Okay this episode gets two quotes, I couldn't choose)
Lorelai : Are you sure? My days of the week underwear only go till Thursday.

Michel: To me you are the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoon

Lorelai: Hey, Backwards baseball hat...new look for you. (Looking over at Rory) She's eating pie? Did she eat dinner?
Luke: You raised her. I just serve.

Lorelai: I repeat the question, why should we date?
Max: Because we are clearly attracted to each other.
Lorelai: Well, I'm attracted to pie, doesn't mean I feel the need to date pie


    Emily: What's a Sookie?
    Lorelai: (pointing to Sookie) That's a Sookie.

    Lorelai: Are you crazy? You can't watch Willy Wonka without massive amounts of junk food! It's not right. I won't allow it. We're going in.

    Taylor: Well, excuse me, Andrew, but some of us have businesses to run that don't involve peddling drug paraphernalia to kids. 
    Andrew: It was a lava lamp, Taylor. 
    Taylor: There is no use for a lava lamp unless you're on drugs.

    Anyway I'm going to be distracted until I get through six out of seven season of Gilmore Girls. In high school I made a vow not to watch the last season, so I can just pretend whatever happy ending that I want up. It works so much better that way in my head.

    Anyway are you a fan of Gilmore Girls? If not, what movies and tv shows should I watch during our one month subscription to Netflix?