March 30, 2012

One of Those Days.

The very day after I posted about how Tessa takes my breath away, I feel compelled to write about how she also infuriates and exhausts me. Yesterday she threw roughly 10 tantrums, each epic in its own way, most of them in public places. I have no control over how supernaturally loud her cry is, but by the dirty looks people gave me yesterday maybe I should try harder.

There was one bizarrely serene break in our day when we visited unintentionally with the Easter Bunny, who Tessa loved so much more than Santa. Have a look at this cheese, whydontcha?

As we were driving home from the errands, she fell asleep in the car for five minutes. That's all it took to totally spoil the three-hour nap she usually gives me as a reprieve in the middle of the day. I have no idea why but sometimes a car cat nap gives her the energy to go on, albeit grumpily, for the rest of the day. She made the mistake of falling asleep in the car again today, and as soon as I spied those eyelids droop in the rearview, I shouted, "No! Wake up! Almost home!" Poor kid.

Today I got up before six to work and by the time Tessa woke up at 7:15 I felt totally ready to take on the day with her. I missed her; I had visions of taking her to the zoo and knocking out tons of writing during her nap. But she woke up on the wrong side of the crib again, and I felt dread/panic rising, plus a little resentment that Nekos got to go off to an office, where he could, like, concentrate. How was I going to face another day like yesterday? And how was I ever going to get my work done? Sure, I can park her in front of the TV for a bit, but after two episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba or Curious George, my chest is

So not long after Nekos left for work, the idea popped into my head: Drop-in daycare! Does that tell you how spent I was? I did some Google homework, drove across town to one of Nashville's nicer neighborhoods and signed my little diva into this daycare, which looked pretty neat-o to me, like an indoor playground. I cozied up to a table at the Starbucks down the road and ordered an obscenely large Earl Grey latte. I got work done.

But when I drove back to collect her, optimistic that she'd be doing ring-around-the-rosie or learning to count backwards from 100 or something like that, I found her slack-jawed in front of a TV with the rest of the kids, WATCHING A CARTOON WITH RUSSELL BRAND IN IT. What the what? If I wanted to put her front of the TV, I could have done that myself! Is this a thing at daycares? This TV-watching? My only experience has been with Mother's Day Out programs, where that's a no-go. Cue heaps more mommy guilt.

Still, the short break was just what I needed. I finished an assignment and caught my breath long enough to return to motherhood without dread or anxiety. Now, I hear her fidgeting around in her crib upstairs, reading a book to her stuffed frog and her enormous Elmo. Let's hope she falls asleep, OK?

While I'm on the subject of her, here are a couple of Tessa tidbits that I really have to remember:

Ask her her full name and she'll tell you it's "Tessa Bean." Evidence that we've used her nickname too long/too much? Ask her my full name and she says, "Mama Barnes" and Nekos is "Daddy Barnes."

Also? When she's upset with me she wags her finger at me and says, "Bad dog!" And I can't stop laughing about it.

March 29, 2012

Stuff I Love: Dandelion Daughter.

This was from last week, when Tessa massacred every dandelion in our backyard, one by one. The seeds kept floating off and then settling into her curls, which took my breath away. Because I am her mother, and that's about all it takes to take my breath away. 

March 27, 2012

It's Her Party. She Can Cry If She Wants To.

We threw Tessa a second birthday party on Saturday afternoon, with all the fixings: two massively decadent cakes, pin the tail on the donkey, 70 balloons, little friends and big friends (including my best friend, who flew in from Spokane for the occasion), and a pile of presents. It was raining when everyone arrived, drumming down on the balloons tied to our mailbox, but within an hour the sun came out, a late but favorite party guest, and we moved outside. 

I don't know why it didn't occur to me that Tessa might be a little overwhelmed at her party. It's just that she is so social, gets thrilled when we have people over, and has been talking about her "birfday pawty" for months. Still, she sprinkled quite a few tantrums and tears throughout her celebration, mostly to do with sharing her new toys and not understanding why there was a cut-off to the amount of candy she could ingest or that she had to wait to open presents. Mostly, though, she was fantastic, and she had a hell of a day, even up until then end when we lined all her little friends up on the couch, put on a movie and snuck outside to light a bonfire. Happy birthday, Tessabean! You are our sunshine. 

About the crying? See:

March 26, 2012

Stuff I Made: Spray-painted Necklace.

I got this piece of costume jewelry not long ago, but never could find anything to wear it with because it's so dressy and I don't do dressy very often. Dressy is just not my thing. Plus, the bottom beads had tarnished. But I love the dramatic lines of this piece so I decided to use the rest of the spraypaint from my kitchen chair to follow the spraypainting jewelry trend that I've seen on a lot of DIY blogs.

Necklace 1 & Necklace 2, both from A Pair & A Spare blog

I like the result. Perfect way to make a white tee-shirt and jeans really pop:

March 23, 2012

Tess Turns 2!

Tessa is two years old today. Two years ago a stork delivered her to earth and threw everything into focus for me and Nekos. And not just, "Woah, we have a howling baby to take care of, and how do you swaddle, again?" (although there was lots of that), but "Woah, we have so many things to take care of": the safekeeping of our marriage, our dreams, our careers, our friendships and ourselves. 

We've seen Tessa through this first 730 days, watched her and encouraged her and made mistakes and held her chubby, tiny hand as she's learned to hold her head up, roll over, sit up, hold her own bottle, stand up, use her imagination, walk, feed herself with a fork and spoon, draw a picture, talk, ask questions, jump, pet a doggie, and express love and affection for others. She inspires in me more pride and undiluted joy than anything else I've known. When she yawns, I still lean in to smell her breath, warm and sweet. And in darker hours, I think I couldn't go on without her. Before I climb into bed each night, I open the door to her room and tiptoe in to look at her once more, splayed out in her crib. I touch her forehead, hot with sweat and smile down at her face mashed into her favorite grimy blanket (once white, now gray). She sleeps deeply. She isn't worried about a thing at all.  

I'd say motherhood has been 90 percent great, and besides her hysterics in the car and some heinous tantrums, most of that 10 percent bad isn't even Tessa's fault; it's been more about me beating myself up for not living up to the ideal of perfect motherhood that I once held. I'm working steadily toward telling that ideal to kiss my ass because I'm pretty sure that perfect mothers don't have any fun at all and neither do their kids, and I also think that these supermoms are supermoms at a cost, which is the sacrificing of themselves. As Tessa has grown and learned and changed, so have I. But I haven't changed too much.  

When I was pregnant with Tessa, I didn't know how I would feel about having a kid. I was thrilled, sure, but nervous about feeling saddled by too much responsibility or that my life would change too drastically. I was elated to find that life only got better, especially if I was willing to devote time and energy to the people and things I loved before Tessa arrived: my husband, girlfriends, writing, traveling, beer-drinking on patios, clothes, sewing, reading, and on and on. So, wow, what a journey. I'm so ready for all the rest of it, Tessa Jean in tow. 

Here are some pictures of us at the zoo this morning:

March 22, 2012

What Would Karen Wear?

Sometimes, getting dressed in the mornings (when I do actually get dressed in the morning), I think, "What would Karen wear?" and it totally helps. Karen from Californication, you know. What that basically means is that I wear my boot-cut jeans, a button-up shirt, a bright scarf and aviator sunglasses, plus some jewelry. It works every time. In five seasons, as the quality of the show fluctuates, Karen's style has stayed totally solid, a really well-curated collection of casual '70s-inspired pieces that tell us exactly who her character iscool, calm, collectedin spite of Hank Moody and all his asshattery. 

Like so:

Sources, clockwise: aviators, bellbottoms, belt, button-up, boots, maxi dress, earrings, scarf 

Good stuff, huh? I like to do fashion wish-lists with each new season (see winter and fall), but this summer I'm determined to shop out of my own closet, which is pretty dang stocked. Watch out, closet. 

March 19, 2012

Stuff I Made: Flower Power Shower Wrap.

Yeah, I said it.

Flower. Power. Shower. Wrap.

That's its name, and I'm sticking to it.

So ... not sure if anyone else except me thinks a "shower wrap" is rad. But this guy has been on my To Make list for over a month now. While we were in Key West we wandered into this beach towel shop and I saw these shower wraps that the shopkeeper said a woman made locally. They were $60, but so lovely I thought about buying one. I need a shower wrap, I suddenly realized.

I ended up making one today because the need wasn't going away. I think the whole thing cost about $10 to make + several hours of my afternoon. Happily spent hours.

Let's talk about something ridiculous: Trying to photograph yourself in a towel in your dining room. Anyway, hope you got the gist of the shower wrap's aesthetics.

Here's how I made it, if you like shower wraps as much as me:

What You Need:
  • 1 and 1/2 yard of terrycloth or any variety of fleecey-lovey-goodness fabric (mine was on sale at Jo-Ann's for $6 a yard)
  • Fabric scraps
  • Scissors, thread, sewing machine
  • Velcro
  • 1 and 1/2 inch elastic, about 25 inches long
(This pattern is for a one-size-fits-most shower wrap and makes allowances for different chest sizes.) 

1) Cut your fabric so that it measures 33" by 55". 

2) Measure yourself around your chest and under your armpits so that the measuring tape is sitting atop your bazoombas. Whatever your measurement is, subtract 10" and cut piece of elastic this size. This gives just enough stretch to your elastic to keep your wrap in place. 

3) To form the elastic casing of your wrap, fold two inches over, pin in place and sew down. 

4) After hemming, attach a safety pin to one end of your elastic and use it to wriggle the elastic through the hem. Pull the elastic through so that there's six inches at one end that has no elastic. (This six-inch space is where your Velcro will go.) Stitch the elastic down, running several rows of stitched over it to hold in place. Then continue threading elastic through hem, stopping within six inches of the other side. Stitch that elastic place, too, leaving another six inch space with no elastic. This should give your wrap just enough of a gather.  

5) Pin the sides and bottom of your wrap and hem. 

6) Cut out your Velcro pieces and pin them in place. Try it on to make sure everything lines up. Use your machine to sew the Velcro down. It will look like this (before you sew):

7) Find a shape you like and want to applique. To get this pattern, I used this image and blew it up on my computer screen. Then I taped paper to the screen and traced it. I decided to use vintage sheet scraps leftover from another project to make the petals. 

8) After you cut everything out, pin it in place. 

9) Use your sewing machine to stitch around the edge of your circle, tucking the petal ends underneath. Then sew along the edge of your petals. Word up. You are done. 

10) Wear (in your dining room or elsewhere) and enjoy!