January 31, 2012

Tattoo Removal.

My destroyed tattoo, after 3 or 4 removal treatments
When I was 21, I went by myself in the middle of the day to a tattoo parlor in Knoxville. I knew I wanted a sun tattoo on the back of my neck, and I sat right there and picked the best of the worst from the sun/moon tattoos in their book. This tattoo was the stuff that '90s throw blankets were made of, and from the second the artist first passed me the hand mirror to check it out, I thought, "Oh, nooooo." My stomach sank. I don't know what I was thinking. What was I thinking? 

Worse, I don't really know what I was thinking when I started the process of having it removed three years ago. Because it's really not that bad, and I never hated it. It was just sort of embarrassing me, and not something I wanted to live with forever. I had three or four treatments, but stopped when I got pregnant because they don't really want to shoot you with a laser while you're cooking a baby. In the meantime, my body worked a little more on dragging away some of the ink, but I still have a long removal road ahead of me.

Yesterday I had my first removal treatment in two-and-a-half years. It lasts all of 20 seconds, but is the most excruciating thing I can remember since labor pains. I felt sort of faint for an hour-and-a-half afterwards, and this faded little sunshine turned blood red and puffed up and throbbed like a biatch. Right about now it feels like someone let acid fester on the back of my neck. And ... I am estimated to need another 8 or so treatments to get it fully removed. At $100 (at least) a pop. Plus, it's a time-consuming process because you can only have a treatment every two months. At this rate, I'll be 40 by the time it's gone. The point of this: Don't get a tattoo unless you're bonkers about it, and don't remove a tattoo unless you loathe it. Trust me. 

January 30, 2012

The Greatest Show on Earth.

Last night was one of those nights when Nekos and I just look at each other and exchange can-you-even-believe-this smiles and can't get over how fun it is having a kid. 

On the way to the circus: "Mom, you don't expect me to be impressed, do you?"

Even though that said kid doesn't even seem very floored that we've taken her to the friggin' Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus and are watching elephants and tigers and ponies and tightrope walkers and men bursting into flames.

No, she is doing her best to take out a 40-ounce soda and spitting chewed-up peanut into my hands and dropping the little wind-up toys we bought her during intermission onto the ground and then crying and making us get down on all fours, potentially baring a butt crack, to grope around the popcorn kernels and the peanut shells to find the wind-up clown, all while there are friggin' elephants out there being, like, amazing.

Did I mention there were elephants?

We had so much fun. Well, at least Nekos and I had fun while Tess discovered the joy of a Big Gulp.

January 27, 2012

This week.

Popcorn, eaten out of the dogs' bowls, natch. 

This week Tessa told Nekos, "Bye-bye, Dada," per usual, but then added this morsel of adorable: "I wanna kiss."

This week I cleaned vomit out of every crevasse of Tessa's car seat.

This week I found out that Tessa tested negative for the autoantibodies that might have made her a candidate to inherit her dad's Type 1 diabetes.

This week I chewed off all my fingernails after a two-month sojourn from nail-biting.

This week Nekos and I happily spent an obscene amount of money on Tessa's birthday outfit (still two months away). 

This week my girl, who usually sleeps 12 hours straight without a peep, was up at least once a night, howling for milk and food and rocking chair loving.

This week Nekos and I completed the first season of Boardwalk Empire, which is so sex, drugs and rock and roll, but in the 1920s.

This week we found out Tessa had the makings of a double ear-infection, hence the late-night howling.

This week I wrote a short story.

This week I saw a four-month old little boy in a coffee shop who made my ovaries do cartwheel after cartwheel.

This week Tessa started saying hilariously long strings of, "Ok, Ok, alright, alright, OK, OK, alright, alright, Ok, Ok," which I suspect is what she so often hears me say wearily as she asks me for her umpteenth cup of milk.

This week I fell in love with my husband. For the ten-thousandth time.

This weekend we will take Tessa to the circus. For the first time.

January 24, 2012

Shopping for Spring.

January's almost over, and I've only worn my heavy coat three times all winter. Tessa and I were flying high on a swing set yesterday and today, and I plodded barefoot out to the mailbox today. It's the mildest Nashville winter I'm remembering; it's been perfect, and I don't feel like I've suffered any of my usual cold-weather blues. I'm not even super wistful for spring, since I feel like we're already living it. 

Speaking of spring ... I've never ordered any clothes-clothes from the Victoria's Secret catalog before, other than swimwear and yoga pants and that sort of thing, but I always pore over everything and dogear the pages and seriously contemplate ordering stuff. Anyone else do that, too? I had a coupon code so today I did order something--two somethings--the Colin Stuart Ankle-tassel sandal (in tan) and the Embroidered Blouse (in natural). Pretty sure I'll wear both constantly and that my boobs will look exactly like Candice Swanepoel's in my new top. 

January 22, 2012

Stuff I Made: Beach Bag.

Happy Sunday!

We've had a lazy little weekend; we had friends over for dinner on Friday night, and then right before I was going off to bed that night I went in to Tessa's room to check on her, and she was drenched in puke. This was followed by another (almost) 24 hours of puke-drenchiness. Nekos actually got puked on the next day, all down his shirt and into his lap. Needless to say, all other plans went out the window and the three of us spent yesterday on the couch watching Yo Gabba Gabba (while Tessa was still awake) and Boardwalk Empire (after she was sleeping). The only good thing about a sick baby are the extra cuddles, even though those cuddles smell vaguely like puke that even the coconuttiest shampoo can't out coconut. Poor kid. She's had a rough go of it lately.

Today Tessa was all better, and Nekos and I were relieved that we hadn't caught her bug. I got started on this beach bag in the morning and was surprised that I was able to finish it in a couple of hours while Tessa sorted through my ribbon box, unspooled my purple ric-rac, and dumped out a baggy of rosettes to count ("Two-three-four-eight," she always says, no matter what she's counting). A friend dropped this island-y vintage fabric by for me last week; I think it had been her grandmother's, and it was spot-on for making a beach bag/pool bag/big carry-all (in the dead of January, I know). To make this, I used the "Mama's Bag" pattern also included in the Handmade Home book, but I made mine several inches wider and taller so there would be room for a couple of beach towels. This project was super gratifying because it's really sturdy and fun and foolproof. I want to make another one, like, now--a smaller one to bop around with. Next time I'll include pockets. And, also, I have to make this "doggie bag" for Tessa.

January 20, 2012

Body of Work.

For the past two months, I've been working out three to six times a week. (My rule is to exercise at least every other day.) This always means going to the YMCA, since our membership comes with eight hours a week of childcare, but I switch things up a lot and take Bosu, Zumba, weights-only, and Pilates classes or sometimes I just climb on the elliptical for 45 minutes with a couple of magazines and my iPod. The first two weeks or so were ehhh and then it all of a sudden became like ohhh. I look forward to my workouts, and Tessa looks forward to going to Y Play, and it's even encouraged Nekos to get back to the gym; he's been getting up at 5 a.m. three times a week to go to spin class before work.

All this working out has resulted in me getting back into three old pairs of jeans and losing four pounds. Four really hard-fought pounds. Sweating my face off, gasping for air, blotchy-skinned pounds. I'm really proud of this small loss because it's come through an honest combination of diet and exercise. In the past, I would join Weight Watchers and lose weight from dieting alone (with lots of Diet Cokes and low-fat ice creams and low-fat chips along the way), but this time I'm doing it on my own, the right way. And I'm honest to God having so much fun doing it and loving the endorphin explosion that comes with exercise.

The reason I'm blogging about it is because I think this blog has been part of the reason I've worked so hard, and I want it to help me stay accountable. Because the truth is, no one cares how much I weigh except me. I've been 20 pounds heavier than I am now (post-college pudge attack), and Nekos, God love him, didn't blink an eye. But I care, and it helps motivate me to spell out my goals in a public place. I blogged in December about wanting to get back to my pre-Tessa weight by the time we go to Key West in February. With four pounds gone, I only have four more pounds to get there. And this time I'm going to be not just slimmer but stronger, too.

This improving-my-health thing wasn't so much a New Year's resolution as it was a turning-29 resolution. I started slowly by giving up aspartame, which I thought would be terrible but which has been A-OK (and given me better skin!). However, I started drinking more lattes in the afternoon to make up for the missing Diet Coke and my insomnia got temporarily worse. One visit to the chiropractor later, and I realize what a dope I am for drinking coffee in the afternoon and then complaining of sleeplessness. I realize now that coffee aggravates my anxiety, making the already sensitive me hypersensitive to this loud, wild world. I am the sort of person who can have one cup of coffee in the morning and that's it for the rest of the day. Total epiphany. That doesn't mean I'm sleeping like a champ every night, but it's gotten so much better and I'm relying far less on sleeping aids.

Besides the fact that I want back into my size 8s, all of this self-improvement is geared, too, toward one very important, very exciting future event: another pregnancy. I want to be back to my happy weight and completely off of sleeping aids by the time we try to get pregnant with our second child. Sometime this summer, y'all. Doesn't that sound soon? I'm not looking forward to the morning sickness, the mood swings or the stone-cold-sober lifestyle, but I am looking forward to having another freshly baked mocha muffin around the house. And I want to be ready.

January 18, 2012


The same week that my toddler almost gouged her eye out she began speaking in full sentences.

Which means that the first time she looked at me and, unprompted and out of nowhere, said, "Love you, mama," her eye was almost completely swollen shut and painted the darkest purple. (I can't bring myself to post photos of how terrible her eye got two days after her fall. It was really sad and made me very blue for a while there, although she never seemed bothered by it one bit.) Which also means that hand in hand with the heartbreak of motherhood comes the most profound joys.

For posterity's sake, Tessa's first sentences captured here:

"Bless you, Daddy." (when Nekos coughed)

"I want some, too."

"I want to touch."

The aforementioned "Love you, mama," which occurred as I was gazing at her, smiling, while the sun came in and drowned her highchair in buttery morning light and she shoveled spoonfuls of yogurt in the general direction of her mouth. There were tears. My own.

"Love you, too."

"Goodbye, Daddy. Love you." (when Nekos left for work this morning)

And then there was this disjointed but spot-on account of how she came to have such a scuffed-up mug. "Eye." (points at her scabby, bruisy, puffy eye) "Tripped. Fell. Bed." (trots over to yank up the bed skirt and inspect the offending bed frame.) Yes, that's exactly right, little lady.

And so it begins.

January 17, 2012

Bloggy Bits.

Just wanted to share a few blog-related tidbits that made me smile:

This is a skirt that a reader made for her two-year-old by following the basic idea of my "Pillowcase Trim Skirt" tutorial. Emily says, "I was so inspired by this cute skirt, I made one for my H today! I used strips of fabric from some fat quarters I had. I'll be making more." To my knowledge, this is the first time anyone has actually used one of my tutorials to make something. At least, the first person to tell me they did so. Which means this pretty much thrilled me. And I think hers is presh!

Also, Melissa Esplin at "I Still Love You" blogged recently about how she went about redesigning my blog last month. I can't say enough about this awesome woman and her html whiz of a husband and how grateful I am to have gotten a bloggy facelift from the likes of these two.

Lastly, a friend sent me a link to this blog post, which dissects the age-old mommy blogger question: How do you find time to do it all? Answer: They don't. It's mostly a sham. But a really beautiful sham.

Hope you're all having terrific weeks! Will check back in tomorrow.

January 16, 2012

Stuff I Made: Picnic Blanket.

I've spent the past two weeks working on and off on this pretty picnic blanket--an hour here, an hour there, between work, Tessa's naps, a skirt-making sojourn, and trips to the ER. I tend to do small, easy sewing projects that I can accomplish in one or two sessions, but I felt ready to take on something more and picked out this "Beach Blanket To-Go" from the Handmade Home book. I found it relatively easy to make (albeit time-consuming), and the process taught me some new tricks (like how to work with bias tape).

I wanted to say: I think it's so fun to work with a pattern that's made the rounds so you can see all the different versions people have come up with. Would you believe this woman made three of these blankets in a single day?

Turns out, I love it. It's so cheerful and works as a beach blanket, couch blanket, picnic blanket and afternoon nap blanket. I hope that this cozy spot will be the backdrop of many of our family's sweet days.

To make it, I made the thrift store rounds and cherrypicked my favorite of the vintage sheets, pillowcases and tablecloths, which I used for the panels. I used this bedspread for the back and made it bigger than the original pattern called for because Nekos requested a blanket big enough to both snuggle on the couch with. Done and done.

January 15, 2012

Stuff I Wore: Overalls!

Jean Jacket - Gap
Tee-shirt - Target
Linen Overalls - Free People (Christmas present from Nekos)
Shoes - Converse
Purse and jewelry - vintage

These wide-legged overalls were my favorite Christmas present from Nekos, and that's saying a lot because he did super good this year. I feel very me in this oufit--comfortable, casual, half-bohemian, half-busy mommy; I think this is because overalls are in my fashion DNA. In middle school and high school I had a pair of Dickies railroad-stripe overalls that came from a Delia*s catalog, and I wore them as often as I could, slouching through the hallways with a men's flannel shirt unbuttoned over them. I've reunited with a ghost of fashion's past, and it feels so good.

January 12, 2012

Baby Black Eye.

Last night Tessa ran, tripped and fell at full force into the metal frame of our bed. I was in the bathroom, just out of the shower, rubbing lotion on my face, when I heard the sound of it. It was the worst sound I have ever heard. I mean it. I can't even explain it. I ran in and had her in my arms before she, all kinds of shocked, even started to cry. Her fresh cut turned pale blue and then began to ooze blood, as her eye inflated and turned an ombre of angry colors. While she howled, I tried to remind myself to breathe, but it was a task. I was home alone with her and scared to death, thinking of all the things that might be wrong or that could go wrong. By the time she'd stopped crying I was crying hysterically, inconsolably. Finally once I calmed down enough I put her in the car and drove to the ER, where we met Nekos and my mom. In the end, they told us she had an orbital contusion (fancy way of saying "black eye") and a possible orbital fracture, though they didn't want to risk putting her under and exposing her to radiation with a CT scan to see about the fracture.

The nurse also told us that her eye would likely be swollen shut this morning, and it was, mostly. The picture on the right is from a few hours after she'd woken up, so her eye had actually deflated a bit. She looks terrible, like a baby boxer after a brutal match, but she seems to feel just fine, and I am so relieved that she didn't hit anywhere near her brain, or directly on her eye, nose or mouth. I am so relieved that she's going to be OK. We are so lucky.

My takeaway from this freak accident is to try to limit her running in the house, which I normally actually encourage because I like her to "get her energy out" and get exercise and be the wild little spirit that she is. She was actually wearing shoes and socks when it happened so I'm not sure how she tripped or slipped. It's just hard to know where to take her to get all of this energy out when it's cold outside, but I think more trips to the science center are in order.

In the meantime, she gets lots of love from mom and dad and any food, cartoon, book, or toy she wants in the world!

January 6, 2012

Stuff I Made: Pillowcase Trim Skirt

Somehow this is the first wearable thing I've ever made for Tessa! This is because I'm really intimidated by patterns and don't want to spend hours on something she'll outgrow in a few months. But this skirt came together in less than an hour and was really fun to make and super easy. 

I've been working for the last two days on the Handmade Home picnic blanket I blogged about earlier this week and am using lots of thrifted vintage sheets and pillowcases for the panels. As I was cutting off the hemmed ends of the pillowcases and sheets, I kept setting them aside thinking they'd be amazing for something but wasn't yet sure for what. This afternoon I realized they'd be great for a ruffly little girl's skirt. Oddly enough I used pretty much the same idea when I made this lampshade last year. Note: Tessa is barefoot and bare-legged in January because it got to be 68 degrees today! Another note: I'm thinking a super cute adult apron could be made with pillow case and sheet hems, too. Here's how I made this skirt for this doodle-dumpling: 

First things first, I decided what order I wanted the "ruffles" to be in. 

Then I pinned them together. This is the piece pinned from the backside. 

The I sewed them all together.

Next I measured Tessa's waist, which is about 20 inches. She's 21 months and fits perfectly into 2T things, FYI. So I cut a 20-inch piece of elastic for the waist and measured and cut the long "ruffled" piece so that it was 28 inches long. 

Next I folded the ruffled panel in half, and stitched it closed, leaving the top band unsewn because I know I'll need to insert the elastic waistband through it. This is it inside out:

Then I used a safety pin to thread the elastic through the waistband and hand sewed the pieces of elastic together as well as the raw edges of the waist band. And ... done!  

P.S. For the record, she digs it. 

January 3, 2012

A Few Happys.

I'm struggling badly with insomnia again these daysdagnabbit! Are you tired of hearing about that? I'm tired of thinking about it. I want nothing more than to write some splendid blog post about how I've conquered my middle-of-the-night monster. Maybe one of these days. In the meantime, I'm actively searching for some sort of solution. I spent the two hours before bed last night listening to Dr. Andrew Weil's Healthy Sleep: Fall Asleep Easily, Sleep More Deeply, Sleep Through the Night, and Wake Up Refreshed audiobook on my iPhone, but I think it got me even more anxious about my problemaffirmed its realnessand I not only had insomnia before bed (per usual) but then woke up for several hours in the middle of the night also.

On days when I'm tired, it's more important than ever to remind myself of life's goodness and to try to distract myself from how exhausted my eyes look and how weary my heart feels. Here are a few things that made me smile today.

I've been poring over this book (a birthday gift from my friend Emily that I just now am really looking through) the last two days, picking out my next projects. Written by a mother of FIVE (talk about insomnia), these are all sewing projects that use old materialsmostly vintage sheets, blankets, doilies, hankies and other odds and ends. Right up my alley.

I'm maybe most obsessed with this beach blanket, which uses 10 fabric panels and is lightly machine quilted. After I went to the YMCA today, the thrift store across the street beckoned and I picked up some good retro sheets to start compiling materials for this project. Would you believe that I found the exact same sheet as the one that she uses in the left-hand corner of this blanket?! 

And then there's this purse. I mean, I probably mostly love it because the fabric (an old curtain) she used is so dang cool, but the pattern looks terrific and quote-unquote simple enough. So I'm on the hunt for the perfect mid-weight fabric to repurpose to make one of these in time for Key West next month. 

I also found these Mexican-y leather flip-flops at the thrift store today for $2. Let's not talk about the fact that the high today was 30 degrees. 

And finally, my mama got this Underwood portable typewriter for me for Christmas. It's from the '20s. The '20s, y'all. There's a special story behind it, too, because my mom took a solo journey through New England this fall and found this typewriter in a little shop in New Hampshire. She thought of me but ended up not buying it. When she got home to Nashville, she was still thinking about it, phoned the shop and had them ship it to her. I received lots of generous, beautiful gifts this holiday, but this is my favorite. I wonder who might have typed on it so many years ago. Were there love notes drafted here? School papers pecked out at a window overlooking a moonlit Ivy League courtyard? 

Other happys:

Got my Erin Condren 2012 Life Planner in the mail last week, and it has thrilled my Virgo heart. Meant to take a picture of it, too, but here's a link to the one I got. It is fantastic! There are places for to-do lists and monthly goals, fun stickers to mark special dates, and plenty of room for notes.

One of my favorite singers and people, Jessie Baylin, is on the verge of releasing her new album Little Spark. She's been teasing us with the new tunes for years and is finally going to formally release them on January 17. In the meantime, she's been putting out all kinds of beachy, peachy singles. Check out "Holiday" and "I Feel That Too."

Here's hoping for lots of sweet dreams!