Monthly Archives: January 2013

Faster than Guantanemo

On September 11, 2001, I was sitting in the construction site that would become the Fun Apartment, biting my cuticles and listening to the radio. Tired of watching me shred the bloody bejesus out of my fingernails, The Mr. handed me some orange yarn and knitting needles. I started a scarf. There was a lot of stressful news coverage around that time, so I finished my September 11th scarf before the War in Afghanistan was finished. Oh. Wait. . . .

Anyway, I finished the scarf fairly quickly, but promptly lost it wandering around Camden Market in London. I believe I was more hungover than jet-lagged, but I can’t be sure.

On September 11, 2011, I started the scarf again. And I finally finished it. This week. Look, here it is:

I'm in Gryffindor.

I’m in Gryffindor.

There are larger, more poignant metaphors to be drawn here, but as I was knitting both scarves, I had a sense of time passing, of tragedy moving further away while still leaving a trail behind it. And I felt the palliative power of making something.

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This is the way we wash our sheets. . . .

Image

Weekly laundry, with cat for scale

Laundry is never done. Unless you live alone and can do your laundry naked (hopefully without leaving your home!), thenĀ  it’s the same story every time: just after you finish putting it all away, you take off your clothes and put them into the empty laundry basket. The snake is hungry for its tail again.

As you may have guessed, because nothing at the fun apartment is easy and uncomplicated, doing laundry is kind of a pain in the you-know-what. We’re a family of four, so there’s plenty of laundry every week, but there’s no laundry facilities in our building. Or on our block. Or the next block. But there is one on the block after that.

An upshot: I get to do laundry ALL BY MYSELF. After several frustrating months (I’m a slow learner) of trying to keep Little happy in his stroller and TRex from eating the food offerings from the Buddhist altar set right at his eye level, I finally decided my that mother-in-law’s offer to babysit while I did the laundry was not only earnest but life-saving.

So now, I set the boys and their sainted grandmother up with some fun snacks and I lug 40 lbs of laundry down from the 4th floor over to 8th Avenue. I cram it *all* in the triple loader and I wash it in cold. (My husband claims that when he does the laundry, he actually separates it into different colored loads, but as this only happens semi-annually, he’s welcome to his way.)

I have this belief that one should wear one’s sloppiest clothes to do laundry, because one probably will want to wear some of the more favored clothes during the coming week. In practice, this means that I am wearing seriously misshapen pants that haven’t ever fit me, and I have to walk around clutching the waistband with one hand, lest they fall down to unmotherly levels due to the $35 in quarters I have in the pockets. But at least I’m alone!

During the wash cycle, I usually have errands to run. I save these up to do solo, because if I do them with my “helpers,” we are not “running” errands, so much as dragging them.

It’s the dryers, though, that give me the strength to continue on. While our clothes are chasing each other around in those little hotboxes, I scoot over to a cafe a block away. In their darkest, cosiest corner with a glass of their cheapest wine, I have almost 30 minutes all my own. ALL MY OWN.

I’ve sworn up and down that when we live in the dream house, our laundry won’t have to go on field trips like this anymore. But I wonder where I’ll find those 30 minutes. . . .

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More holiday economizing

I’ve never been big on wrapping paper. It just seems weird to me that it’s paper you buy–paper whose main purpose, paper whose reason for existing is–to be thrown away. Almost immediately.

But I do like surprises, and I understand that wrapping paper is part of the surprise. And it does work better than just holding something behind your back. So usually I just go through the paper we have laying around and wrap the presents in them in a vaguely creative way. In fact, last year, I wrapped all the books I gave like snowmen and they were really cute.

Now, I *love* Christmas and am working my tail off to make sure the boys do, too. Granted, it is not too hard to convince little boys that a holiday during which they are showered in gifts is awesome, but I mean the parts of Christmas that are not the tearing open of presents. I mean the parts of Christmas that make you feel like the world is magic and all things are possible, provided you remember your mittens. So I am involving my little elves in any number of secret holiday projects so that they too might spend December with their chests fit to burst from happy excitement.

This year, we made our own wrapping paper. And it wasn’t a horrible, painty nightmare. See for yourselves:

Sponge painting

Sponge painting

You might think I stripped the boys down so they didn’t get paint on their clothes. You’d be wrong. This is how they look all the time. Ask anyone. We don’t call it the fun apartment for nothing.

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My brother blog

Adam and Matt, my brothers from another mother, and I had this idea to start a blog. This one. And that one spawned this one (that you’re reading now).

And Matt and I, being good midwesterners, both swore that no one could possibly care what we had to say about anything, least of all the daily failings of our full time parenting. Adam said it would at least amuse the three of us for a while. He was right, of course, He always is. (Then again, it’s easy to be right about stuff when you’re in Maui without your kids. Jerk.)

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Now, if I just had time to shower. . . .

I was trying to rely on handmade holiday gifts this year, as much as I could. I thought, “I’ll just think of something I can make, and then I’ll make a lot of it, and give it as gifts! It’ll be cheap and easy. I’ll make it out of things I have around the fun apartment. I wonder if I could just tape the boys together? Would that make anything?”

Eventually, I settled on body scrub and lip balm. Easy to give as gifts (to girls, anyway) and easy to make. Except the recipe called for raw brown sugar, not regular brown sugar. And it called for grapeseed or almond oil, not the olive, sesame, vegetable, mineral, or safflower oil that we already had in the cupboard. Where can you buy essential oils that doesn’t look as though you are taking the children to buy marijuana? Beeswax is not that easy to track down when you actually want to find it and containers for the lip balm were not making themselves obviously available (I ruled out using the hot wheels cars).

You see, New York has this reputation for providing anything you need at any hour anywhere, but that is somewhat exaggerated. There might be a store that has what you need, but you probably don’t know its name, and it is probably a pain to get to with a stroller. And it probably closes early. Unless you need red velvet cupcakes. Those you really can get anywhere, anytime.

At last, I tracked down all the componentsĀ  (thank you Handmade Librarian!) Almost none of them were already in my apartment, except the jars I had been saving for 4 months. But I was, at least, ready. And it was before Christmas!

And you know what? Making body scrub, once you have everything assembled, is mad easy. Look! Here’s a picture:

For some reason, the photos of my kitchen look like I am cooking in a witch's cottage.

For some reason, the photos of my kitchen look like I am cooking in a witch’s cottage.

All you have to do is take one of the baby food jars you have been hoarding for months, and fill it half way with brown sugar, and half way with white sugar, then pour almond oil over it. Add 5 drops or so of essential oil that doesn’t smell like patchouli and stir with a chopstick (something we already had in the Fun Apartment!) You’re done!

Umm. . . . If you already got some body scrub from me, just pretend I put extra effort into yours. If you get some in the future, try and act surprised.

Next: Lip Balm, and how not to wreck your double boiler making it.

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Thankful

I'm thankful for . . .  lots of good scrap paper.

I’m thankful for . . . lots of good scrap paper.

In the month of November, I was trying to catch the boys on the idea of being thankful, so every night at dinner, we would write what we were thankful for on a leaf. It showed me that Theodore actually has a fairly well-developed, if concrete, sense of appreciation, and supported his burgeoning literacy. Jamie was generally thankful for garbage trucks or trains.

(Sorry, this is a terrible picture again. When we get a new apartment, we really must think more about what will look better in the blog. But I think Adam, at least, will appreciate the stray googly eye on the table.)

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January 5, 2013 · 8:33 pm

The depths to which I sink, in order to feed a picky eater.

Let's make a break for it!

Luckily, the turtles are too slow to escape.

On Fridays at the Fun Apartment, we usually have what has become known as “Silly Eggs.” And if my older son will joyfully cram protein and vegetables into his mouth, I will provide plate after plate of silly eggs.

You can tell this is a lobster, right? RIGHT??

You can tell this is a lobster, right? RIGHT??

"Mine isn't really cheese either."

“Mine isn’t really cheese either.”

Ok, the rabbit's a little wonky, but the tree is pretty good.

Ok, the rabbit’s a little wonky, but the tree is pretty good.

(Just noticed how really, really bright our kitchen light is. Oh well, this isn’t a blog about how fancy we can make the pictures.)

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