One of our less brilliantly successful forays into attachment parenting was The Family Bed. When Axa was born, we had a queen-sized mattress on box springs on the floor. Unfortunately, it was Tony’s old bed from when he was growing up, and he still had his old habit of sleeping diagonally on it. That technically still left half of the space on the bed open, but it was not very usable space, since it was bisected by him. I got my revenge when I was pregnant, because I slept on the wall side and rolled my very pregnant body right over him every time I needed to go to the bathroom (which at eight months pregnant was pretty often).
OK, I realize that this is going in a TMI direction. The point is, by the time we added in a baby who was a very active sleeper, that queen-sized bed was feeling pretty small. We toughed it out for nine sleep-deprived months before finally making her a little bed on the floor next to ours, and then kicking ourselves and our bed completely out of our apartment’s lone bedroom when she turned one. Yes, it was awkward seating our dinner guests on the edge of our bed and pulling the table up to them, but it was worth it for the sleep. (At least it was for us. I’m not sure about the dinner guests.)
When Raj came along two years later, we already knew that one queen-sized bed was far too small for three people. So we went overboard in the other direction. We bought a California king-sized sleigh bed and a matching crib. We adjusted the crib until the mattress was exactly the same height as the bed, carefully filled in the small gap between, and bungeed the two together. It looked a little strange, and it took up most of the room in our bedroom, but the sleeping space was vast. Of course, Raj turned out to be a much easier sleeper than Axa (and much less addicted to the all-night milk bar). But it was pretty fun to have such a gigantic bed.
When Raj was ready to sleep on his own, we converted the crib into a toddler bed, and that’s where he’s slept up till now.
He loved his little bed. But at the age of 5 and 11/12ths, he could barely even stretch out in it. So we began the search for a new one. Since there were no beds handy on the curb, we went for the next best thing: craigslist. $85 and 24 hours later, Raj could be found in his bedroom, busily erecting his new, twin-sized bed.
It took a good two hours of hard labor,
And assistance from Axa and Dad (not pictured),
But by bedtime, the new bed was fully assembled and functional. And possibly the most awesome bed on the planet. I give to you: Raj’s castle!
Yes, it’s pink, and I absolutely love that Raj didn’t even comment on the color. He just picked it out of all the available beds on cragslist and said he wanted it. So he’s dealt a heavy blow to the stifling monochromacity of gendered marketing and become king of the castle all in one day. Not bad at all.
April 30, 2013 4 Comments
When it comes to the frugal branch of the homemaking arts, I am pretty much a failure as a couponer. In fact, I’m lucky if I manage to redeem the coupons stuck right on the package for instant savings. But I do have a nose for other people’s garbage. Because I’m all for saving the earth, saving money, and saving hassle.
Since my last post on dumpster diving in May, I’ve taken abundant advantage of the fact that people leave all sorts of goodies out next to their garbage can on garbage day. Every so often on that magical day I take a walk or a bike ride around the neighborhood to see if it’s my lucky day. In fact, not one of the following items was found any further than a block from home. Just look at these great finds:
One utility cabinet with six drawers, left only three houses down by our neighbors who just moved out. We snagged this minutes ahead of the garbage truck this morning. Just one more reason to get up early.
One cute little nightstand just right for Raj’s room.
The stereo on top was found in the same pile of garbage, if I recall. It has a tape player, which is perfect for our library’s large collection of kids books on cassette tape (as well as the substantial collection of dramatized Shakespeare plays on cassette tape that I found two library book-sales ago). The CD player works more reliably than our new cheapo Walmart CD player, although it does have its own eccentricities.
One cardboard box from a truly gigantic television. The kids (and Tony) have repurposed it into a circular playhouse.
Here’s the inside of the house, where you can see, among other things, Axa’s homemade “laptop” with a great dinosaur screen saver.
One teal beach chair with attached pocket and drink holder. I like this chair, and often sit in it as I watch the sugar gliders frolicking on the back porch. The only weird thing about it is that the gap between the back and the seat is unusually large, so if you’re not used to it you might find yourself slipping out the back. But I don’t think it’s possible to actually fall right through to the ground.
One blue beach chair with comfy head pillow, that folds up into a backpack.
It’s true that this one had to be fixed up with duct tape (causing Tony to almost veto its requisition), but it’s a great little comfortable chair. Also in the background you can see a green plastic patio chair with a matching . . . something that’s too high for a footstool and two low for a table. The children use it as a table with their mini camping chairs.
Even better, last week my church women’s group had a gathering of like-minded souls where we all brought stuff we didn’t use any more and took home some new treasures. Tony fell into a momentary bout of despair when he saw I had brought home the equivalent of three shopping bags worth of other people’s junk. But he quickly mellowed out (or anyway he ought to have) when he realized that several of the items, rather than adding to the clutter in our house, were actually designed to organize and mitigate it. I also made sure to tell him about all the items I restrained myself from bringing home. The following is only a selection of my amazing finds.
Now Tony’s shoes have a home other than most of the floor in our walk-in closet.
Axa got one too:
If you are my age or older and grew up Mormon, you probably remember spending a good portion of the Sundays of your youth singing songs out of this book:
I got this lovely little metal box to wrap a present for Axa’s birthday. (Don’t tell!)
And what homeschooling mom could resist free educational materials?
We have a fun little menu planned for the traditional brunch after Axa’s baptism next month. Now we can add mini muffins!
But my favorite find of all was these vintage cookie cutters. I remember my mom having some of these exact cutters when I was a kid (including the lovely ceramic cookie stamp), and I think they were kind of antiques even back then. Also, my cookie cutters got lost in some move several years ago, so every time I want to make cookies I have to borrow Axa’s, and then I can only make little hearts. Now we have a bit more variety. Aren’t they wonderful?
Thank you to all my friends and neighbors who have made this post possible by passing their used treasures on to me instead of the dump. Mother earth is thrilled, and so am I.
January 14, 2013 3 Comments
Soooo . . . I was really dying to write this post, but then I decided not to because I figured nobody would really be interested in yet another post about what I ate for Thanksgiving. But then Michelle (through whom I am vicariously living in Umbria) asked me how it all turned out, and I figured, as I usually do, that if one person is saying it then there must be at least ten or twenty of you thinking the same thing. Right? So here’s a little rundown on how all those Thanksgiving recipes actually worked out for us.
I went to bed with my hair smelling like bacon grease on Thanksgiving night. Which may explain the strange dreams. I don’t believe I’ve ever spent so many hours in one day cooking, from 5:30 a.m. when I woke up and remembered that the turkey was still frozen after two days in the fridge, and got up to put it in water in the sink until 5:30 p.m., when we finally got Thanksgiving Dinner on the table. The only thing that kept me going was remembering that I wouldn’t be cooking for the next three weeks as we ate our leftovers.
Not only did we cook all day, but we also sort of ate all day. Or at least we divided Thanksgiving dinner into two segments and had the first for lunch and the second for dinner.
Lunch consisted of:
Pickled Okra . This was amazing. I made it a couple of days before so that it would have time to marinate and I would have time to cook everything else on the menu. I thought the spices sounded a bit bland, so I googled “pickling spices” and came up with this useful page. I just threw in whatever ingredients I had from both sides, including, among other things, allspice and juniper berries. And I skipped the canning step, since I didn’t have the equipment and I’m perfectly capable of eating two pints of pickles in the course of a few weeks anyway. They ended up tasting like extraordinarily flavorful bread & butter pickles. Just an adviso, we are talking about okra here, so if you don’t do slimy, these are not for you.
Pigs in a Blanket. These turned out delicious. I’ll never use vienna sausages again. My kids also had a great time rolling the sausage into snakes and then brushing the finished rolls with egg wash. And since I omitted it from the first post, here’s a link to The Perfect Afternoon Tea Recipe Book, whence came the recipe.
Heirloom Squash Farrotto.I did not end up procuring any farro, nor did I stir my rice for 45 minutes straight to make a real risotto, but this was excellent as a rice pilaf. I sprinkled very coarse sea salt over the cubes of butternut squash before roasting, and they were transcendent. I have another butternut squash in my pantry already so I can make this recipe again. Also, I forgot the garbanzo beans, but it was still good.
We still had plenty of recipes left over for dinner:
Per Tony’s request, I did end up wrapping the entire turkey in bacon (not pancetta, unfortunately).
Before wrapping it, I followed the slathering steps in Pancetta-Sage Turkey with Pancetta-Sage Gravy. And I made the gravy too, although I didn’t add any extra bacon. The turkey did turn out incredibly moist. But the whole thing tasted like bacon. It’s pretty weird, although not entirely unpleasant, to have 14 pounds of meat with the consistency of turkey and the taste of bacon. Especially after all the bits of crispy bacon we ate off the outside of the turkey, the bacon-flavored turkey swimming in bacon-flavored gravy was just a little much. But if you are one of those people who can’t possibly get enough bacon, this recipe is for you.
Here’s a picture of our Thanksgiving dinner, arranged a bit haphazardly.
Italian Sausage and Bread Stuffing and Apple, Sausage and Parsnip Stuffing. I followed the former recipe, with the additions of apple, parsnip, and sourdough bread from the latter. Stuffing/dressing is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal, so I consider myself something of a connoisseur. And this stuffing was the best I have ever eaten. Seriously amazing.
Not Your Mother’s Green Beans were delicious, as always. We had them with balsamic vinegar, shallots, and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Roasted Winter Vegetables were also good, as always. Remind me to always use cauliflower. It caramelizes delightfully.
Cranberry Tangerine Conserve. I was surprised at how much I liked this recipe, which has only five ingredients. I prefer my cranberry sauce rather tart, so I reduced the sugar by about half, and it was perfect. I didn’t have sultanas, so I used regular old raisins, but I think it would be even better with the sultanas. The curls of tangerine peel were delicious, and very tender after simmering, so I recommend not taking them out.
Bubble-Top Brioches. These were just OK. I thought they were unusually hard on the outside, and they tasted a little yeasty, but they rose beautifully and the rest of my family liked them.
Key Lime Pie. We’ve become key lime converts. This pie was delicious. I had much internal debate beforehand over whether or not to cook the filling. I did taste the filling before it was baked and didn’t drop dead of salmonella. But I chickened out at the last minute and cooked it for the recommended ten or fifteen minutes because I am a bit allergic to raw egg. I can eat the occasional bite of cookie dough, but a whole piece of pie would probably leave my throat feeling raw. I read all 351 reviews of the recipe on Epicurious, and followed sundry advice like increasing the filling by 1/2 to fill up the pie pan, cutting the key limes in quarters and juicing them with a (very clean) garlic press, and leaving the whipped cream completely unsweetened.
The crust was divine too. I had gone to the store earlier in the week intending to buy graham crackers, but couldn’t bring myself to buy any of the brands I found, because they all had corn syrup, preservatives, and other nasty stuff. I even considered a ready-made crust because of all the other recipes I was planning to make for Thanksgiving, but I just couldn’t do it. So I came home and made these wonderful graham crackers from Smitten Kitchen. Seriously, they are so good it’s almost a shame to hammer them up into crumbs. But we made sure to make some just to eat too.
The only thing I didn’t like about the pie was that weird taste of canned sweetened condensed milk (which I would normally never use in a recipe, but which according to my research is the only way to make an authentic key lime pie, since Florida at the time that it was invented did not have a population of cows, so condensed milk coming in on the supply boat was the only dairy product available). My mom suggested making my own condensed milk by adding powdered milk to regular milk. I’m not crazy about the taste of powdered milk either, but it really might be worth a try. Alternatively, I think I may make it sometime with cream, which although inauthentic would probably be delicious.
We didn’t end up making the Berry Streusel Pie until Sunday, since I had neglected to buy vanilla ice cream and Tony did not think it could be eaten without. My well-known pie crust phobia leaves me a little high and dry when it comes to pies. But here’s my secret weapon: French Tart Crust. Read through the recipe, dear readers, and be shocked, delighted, mystified, and cautiously hopeful. If you have ever wrestled with cutting in butter and sprinkling ice cold water and chilling and rolling and vainly striving to handle your pie crust as little as possible in quest of some elusive, unattainable, possibly completely fictional state of flakiness, this recipe will change. your. life. I use it for savory quiches and tarts as well as dessert pies. It’s easy, meltingly tender, and works perfectly deliciously with half or even all whole wheat flour.
As far as the Berry Streusel Pie, it was delicious. I used frozen berries, so I thawed them on the stove with the sugar so they would produce enough juice to hydrate the tapioca, being careful not to cook them. We had only one disaster. I love warm berry pie, especially with ice cream. So I didn’t take seriously the recipe’s injunction to let the pie cool for at least three hours before serving. We had the missionaries over, and I was forced to serve them Berry Streusel Soup topped with vanilla ice cream. It was still good, but I am resolved in the future to let the pie cool properly.
This is the first Thanksgiving where I really could happily re-use nearly every single recipe. So we’ll call it a success.
December 9, 2012 2 Comments
I really had too many “special” ornaments on my Christmas tree to fit into one day, so here are some more.
This one is a leaf made out of clay. The color didn’t really come through in the picture, but it is glazed with a deep, shiny gold. It’s also very, very heavy for a Christmas ornament of its size, and you can probably see where it was broken in half one year and carefully glued back together. My Young Women’s president at church, Sharon Duqué, made these for all the Young Women one Christmas. In the northern California town where I grew up, there are still huge oak trees standing around town that are left over from before there were any people or houses. She traced real oak leaves, and each one was different.
Sharon was the most influential church leader I ever had, and a woman after my own heart. When I turned sixteen and became a Laurel, she gave me a copy of Jane Eyre as a birthday/welcome gift. I remember many happy hours spent at her house doing clay, participating in her piano recitals, and even babysitting her children, who were the only children I really enjoyed babysitting as a teenager, because you could actually talk to them and they would talk back intelligently.
Gail Glende was another dear adult friend from when I was a teenager. As a matter of fact, I recall I had more adult friends than teenage friends at the time. I traded giving her children piano lessons for art lessons from her. She taught me all sorts of unique things like woodburning, printing, and Ukrainian Easter eggs. The ones that really look like Ukrainian eggs hang on my parents’ tree, but these other fun eggs ended up on mine:
One year my mom got each of us counted cross-stitch ornament kits. So this is my very first counted cross-stitch project. First of . . . not very many. Isn’t it great that no matter how little experience you have with needlework, counted cross-stitch looks so perfect if you just follow the directions? I was tickled to see my little brother’s counted cross-stitch ornament also prominently displayed on his Christmas tree this year.
Tony and I got married on December 27th, so it was definitely a Christmas wedding. It turns out to be not the most convenient time in the world to celebrate an anniversary, but we weren’t thinking about that when we got married between BYU semesters so we could make it back to Provo in time for Tony to start classes in January. These little silver bells decorated someone’s wedding gift to us, and later hung on the rear-view mirror of our car for a couple of years because we liked to sentimentally remind ourselves that “the honeymoon never ends.” The bells were eventually retired to an annual appearance on the Christmas tree, where every year they make me think of our Christmas wedding and those first few years in Provo, Utah.
We would usually go to my paternal grandparents’ house for Christmas when I was a child. It was typically the only time of the year when we saw our cousins. All of my dad’s five sisters have children close to my age, so we would have great fun together. My grandparents always gave us books for Christmas. I remember one year getting Charlotte’s Web, and another year a whole set of National Geographic books about animals. I still treasure the maroon and gold One Hundred and One Famous Poems they gave me for my tenth birthday, and memorized at least a dozen of them as a child. Grandma and Grandpa Bringhurst were on a mission to Chile one Christmas, but they still sent us Christmas presents. Grandma had crocheted us all tiny stockings and Copihues, the national flower of Chile. I think my parents still have the Copihues, but this is one of the stockings. Grandma always had a lot of these around her house at Christmas too.
Every summer during college I went back to work at the same law firm (except for that one summer when I rebelled and worked at a gas station making Blimpie sandwiches for truck drivers, and dated the guy with the tattoos and earrings). I was at the Legislative Intent Service when my mom called me to tell me that my mission call had come in the mail. I watched Arnold Schwarzenegger’s inaugural gubernatorial address on a TV we set up for the occasion at the Legislative Intent Service. I remember everyone being sent home from work mid-morning on September 11th, because we were all just kind of milling around in a daze.
It was to the Legislative Intent Service that Tony brought flowers for my desk when we were dating. He also used to bring me lunch from I Love Teriyaki, and we would sit at the tables downstairs on my lunch hour and say smoochy things to each other, or have lover’s quarrels. It was to my co-workers at the Legislative Intent Service that I showed off my ring when we got engaged. And I think it was that very last Christmas that my lawyer bosses gave me and all my co-workers these Swarovski crystal ornaments.
And now that I’m even waxing sentimental about old jobs, I think I’d really better sign off. Have a lovely December day.
December 8, 2012 No Comments
Growing up, I remember how much fun we had every year getting out the Christmas ornaments for the tree and reliving the memories. There were the delicate balsa wood birds my dad had made when they were very first married, and the fascinating blue amulet from Greece that Jesse’s birth-midwife gave him as a baby to ward off the evil eye. One of my favorites was a little salt dough ornament that our beloved pet rat, Walker, had nibbled the foot off one year. We kept it even though it was a little mangled, to remind us of her.
Now that I’m all grown up with my own family and Christmas tree, I’ve had some time to collect my own ornaments. Here’s a sampling, in no particular order.
I got this little angel at a wedding shower for Tony’s best friend’s fiancee (the one who got engaged thanks to the famous bottle of Brut cologne). It’s the only ornament we have from our very first Christmas tree, since most of the “ornaments” we used to decorate it were not ornaments at all, just oddments out of my sewing box.
In fact, here’s a picture of our first little tree (with the angel playing tree topper) next to my seven-months-pregnant belly. Merry Christmas.
My very first paying job was giving piano lessons to some fellow homeschoolers when I was twelve or thirteen. I would ride my bike over to their house every week, and I got paid $5 a lesson. One Christmas they made me this lovely wheat doll treble clef.
On my mission in Chile we were knocking on doors one day and were surprised to encounter a woman from China. She had moved there with the Chinese company she worked for. We gave her Spanish lessons, and she was also fascinated to hear about our church, since she was completely unfamiliar with any form of Christianity. Before I left the area, she gave me this cool miniature Chinese mask. It’s actually a bottle opener on a keychain, but I think it looks pretty darn awesome on a Christmas tree.
This next one is from my mission too. One of my companions was from La Paz, Bolivia. She had all sorts of fascinating stories to tell about her life in a tiny mountain village, where she became a sort of de facto mother to her younger siblings at the age of nine. It’s a miniature of a monolith from the UNESCO world heritage site at Tiwanaku near her home in Bolivia.
And here’s our beloved tree topper. It’s hand-crafted by a tinsmith in San Diego’s Old Town.
You can find these stars all over San Diego. The El Torito where we used to go and drown our stresses in tacos when we lived in La Jolla and were running our business had a beautiful dining room with dozens of huge stars hanging from the ceiling. Here’s a picture of some larger, more intricate examples at the tinsmith’s shop.
December 6, 2012 2 Comments
We incorrigibly insist upon cutting down our own Christmas tree, even when we’re living in climates not necessarily conducive to lush evergreen foliage. Such as southern California or Florida. So we duly went to the Christmas tree farm and hopped on the hayride to find our perfect tree.
The pickings were a little slim. Most of the trees were either under three feet tall or over twenty, giving the farm a sort of “Ents herding guinea pigs” look. The ones of moderate size were all, shall we say, eccentric. One tree was half green, half yellow. Another had a trunk that zig-zagged like a lightning bolt. Still another looked as if someone had been taking bites out of it.
After walking through row upon row of sorry stragglers (who’s scruffy looking?), I was feeling sorely tempted to throw in the towel and just settle for one of the already cut spruces or firs evidently trucked in from some far distant northern clime.
And then we saw it: one fairly decent looking tree. Needless to say, we made quick work of the sawing, and skipped the dusty hayride back, carrying our prize to the barn to be shaken, netted, and packed into our car (yep, it fit inside through the trunk instead of on top, and now we no longer need a “fresh spruce” air freshener).
Once we got it home and into the stand, we realized that very thin branches are characteristic of the quick-growing pines of Florida. Most of the ornaments had to be hung well in on the branches of the tree, so as to avoid the branch bending and dropping them to shatter on our tile floor. Fortunately, Florida pines are also obligingly sparse, so even ornaments hung near the trunk are perfectly visible. Even better, our tree decorating ensemble includes a dozen fake poinsettias, large enough to fill in even the most egregious gaps.
So without further ado, I give you our Christmas tree!
Stay tuned tomorrow for an intimate introduction to some of my favorite Christmas ornaments.
December 4, 2012 3 Comments
Raj got sick right after Thanksgiving, and the rest of us soon followed. I was the last to succumb, and last Tuesday I spent the entire day in bed. It’s the first time I’ve been that sick in quite a while, and I was amazed at how much my kids had grown up. They got themselves lunch. They brought me water and soda crackers. They got themselves dinner, and brought me some dinner in bed too. They fed my pets. And they mediated their own disputes. Somewhere along the line it’s happened: I am no longer parenting toddlers! They’re not quite adults yet, but they’re competent little people with real skillz. Hurrah for them, and hurrah for me!
I’m still kind of dragging around the house coughing and in need of naps, but fortunately I live in Florida and can go outside, and even lie out on the lawn in the sun. Despite the weather, which remains stubbornly nice, I was pleasantly surprised the other day to notice that maybe fall really will play out here after all. Our trees are definitely losing their leaves. The leaves are only an inch long, so I’m not sure about the feasibility of raking, let alone making huge piles to jump in, but they do crunch a little when you walk on them in the driveway.
We also got out our Christmas decorations today. I am not one of those people who has special Christmas towels, sheets, curtains, dishes and soap dispensers. It’s hard to lug around too much stuff you’re only going to use once a year when you move as often as we do. We got out the Advent Calendar (and opened the first three days. I can never manage to get it out on the right day), hung our stockings in the window, since in this house we don’t have a fireplace, and moved the furniture around to accommodate the tree we will be getting tomorrow:
Nothing quite brings our habitual nomadism to my mind quite like the holidays. In almost nine years of marriage, we’ve never spent two Christmases in the same house. So we have lots of memories, but relatively few traditions. We make Christmas treats for our neighbors. We have pineapple bacon wraps on Christmas Eve. I put gigantic gingerbread cookies in the children’s stockings. And my kids love to make presents. Lots and lots of presents. Axa already has twelve presents wrapped and ready to go under the tree that we haven’t gotten yet.
December 3, 2012 3 Comments
Yes, I’m in love. It’s hard to imagine a time when Merry and Pippin didn’t belong to our family. I carry them nearly everywhere with me, snuggled and sleeping in what looks to the uninitiated like an innocent little purse. In the evenings, Tony and I (and sometimes Axa) go out on the back porch and watch them climbing up and down the screens.
When we first got them, I would spend a couple of hours every night in a tent with them. They are so inquisitive and hyperactive that in the enclosed space they couldn’t help running all over me, and taking little flying leaps into my hair. Once they seemed fairly comfortable, I took them out to the screened in porch. They love it, and act like they’re in a jungle gym. They can even walk upside down, hanging by their claws from the ceiling. Every few minutes, they either leap or scurry down to check in with me, running up my leg and then over my shoulder to my back, and then back over the other shoulder and down the other leg.
And I’m slowly learning how to take photos of them. For example, here’s sweet Pippin, sitting on my knee.
I tried a lot of different camera settings, including the close-up, dusk, and museum options. The only one I really got to work was the “sport continuous” setting. Although without a flash, it has to make do with the available light in the room, it leaves the shutter open only briefly, and so sometimes manages to catch my little energy bursts. Although I still get a lot of photos that turn out as sugar ghosts.
And yes, Photoshop
is still my friend.
But I’ve also gotten some photos that are in focus enough to actually recognize. That’s progress.
My babies obviously take after me in the appreciation of fine music
They still feel most comfortable on me or on their cage, both of which feel like safe places, as well as being convenient for climbing.
But they like exploring the rest of the house too, and especially hiding under the couch cushions, where they would happily curl up and sleep all day if I weren’t afraid someone would sit on them.
I can’t possibly get enough of them. Just call me the sugar mamma.
September 6, 2012 2 Comments
Yesterday found me furiously nesting. I sewed until my sewing machine broke (actually, my sweet daughter broke it, but we won’t go into that). I swept and mopped the entire house. As I finished up the last of the dishes, I found myself scrubbing the outside of my frying pan with a stainless steel pot scrubber. Even as I scrubbed, I reflected bemusedly that whether my frying pan was sparkling would really make no difference whatsoever. Still, I scrubbed.
Finally, at 10:15 p.m., Tony brought home my new little babies. And so, without further ado, meet Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took. (Merry and Pippin for short, of course.)
Yes, you’re right. It’s a blurry picture, and one of them is moving so quickly he’s become a photographic ghost. That’s because photo flashes can damage their eyes, and they are so energetic (and I’m not the greatest photographer).
But here’s what they look like in real life, thanks to a real photographer:
Tell me they aren’t the most adorable little beings you’ve ever seen in your entire life.
I have been wanting a sugar glider for years. I found out about them in California, where they are unfortunately illegal. Remember my first thought when I saw our lovely screened in porch here in Florida? Originally, I thought getting a sugar glider was just a dream, since our landlord had said no pets (other than fish). But when we started thinking about getting Axa a guinea pig or rat we inquired again, and he said a small animal in a cage was fine, and what he had really meant when he said no pets was no dogs or cats. Unfortunately, Axa turned out to be allergic to both guinea pigs as rats. And then I had the idea again of a sugar glider. The care and feeding of sugar gliders is a much more involved prospect than that of most small animals, so these are my pets, but I’m sure the whole family will enjoy them.
Sugar gliders are tiny marsupials with large, soulful eyes, a patagium (flying membrane), and the softest grey fur imaginable. My little gliders are 8-month-old rescues from a family who just didn’t have time for them. Gliders are very social animals, who in the wild live in colonies of up to twelve. To properly bond with a human, they need hours of time together every day. Since they are nocturnal, one of the major ways of bonding with them is to carry them around in a pouch under your shirt all day as they sleep. As an attachment parenting nut who would still be carrying around her five-year-old in a sling if he weren’t too heavy (and on top of that, too busy now with his own important engineering projects), I think sugar gliders might just be the perfect pet for me.
Sugar gliders are native to Australia, where they live in trees and eat Eucalyptus sap and insects. In our house, they live in a cage taller than me, full of baby toys and polar-fleece hammocks, and eat a complicated diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, mealworms (despite my rampant arthropod anxiety. Yes, that’s how much I love my new babies), and a specially formulated protein mix blended up with honey, pollen, and scrambled eggs. I feel like a real zookeeper.
Here’s a closeup of some of their “stuff”:
It’s been years since I got my sewing machine out for anything but mending or hemming cut-off jeans. Here are the results of my sewing project last night: a flannel-lined bonding pouch with inside seams, boxed corners, and velcro closure. Hey, it was harder than it sounds. For me, at any rate, with my rusty sewing skills.
You might recognize the fabric from my long ago (and ill-fated) foray into sewing all-in-one cloth diapers when I was pregnant with Axa. Funny, she doesn’t look all that happy with her diaper . . .
For now, my babies are adjusting to their new home, so I am limiting my contact with them to feeding them raisins through the cage bars, getting up in the middle of the night to watch them play for hours, and putting tiny blankies with my smell on them in their bed. Next week we will start the “real” bonding. I’ll let you know how it goes!
August 19, 2012 3 Comments
Because I’m such a successful fashion blogger (not!), it doesn’t surprise me a bit that my daughter likes fashion too. Actually, I admit that she’s already way more fashionable than I’ve ever been. At least I can take credit for her first full year of fashion, though. Here she is ready to party on her first birthday:
That was more or less my last hurrah, since at about 18 months, her favorite phrase suddenly became “do it myself!” As in, “do it myself put on panties” (even though she could never figure out which way was up, and the panties invariably ended up being worn with both legs through one side, resulting in a lot of very stretched-out panties). Other favored “do it myselfs” included “do it myself pick my clothes,” or “do it myself cut up that apple with the very sharp knife.” You get the picture.
A year or so later, she went through a hilarious stage where she would put on as many layers of clothing on top of each other as possible, and then walk into our bedroom in the morning laughing and barely able to move.
At four, she decided that layers were once again a la mode, but kept it to one short-sleeved shirt over a long-sleeved shirt (and sometimes shorts over pants too). Interestingly enough, Raj is now doing the same layering thing, although I sometimes have to send him in to take off a layer to avoid heatstroke in the Florida summer.
Now, at the age of seven, the thing that fascinates me about Axa’s fashion sense is her clever and sophisticated use of available materials. Case in point:
Dress: polarfleece blankie given to her as a baby, draped up her back lengthwise and then strategically knotted in the front.
Crown: aluminium foil over cardboard, present from Raj.
Belt: Out of a big box of clothes from the cousins.
And here’s that same outfit, dressed up with satin fabric out of my sewing box and a necklace from Tunisia.
Most of her outfits have utility as part of her games. For example, here she is with Raj, and she’s dressed them both as spies, ready for some alpine winter (ready minus the ubiquitous bare feet, that is):
Hats, scarves and gloves: courtesy of Grammy
Coat: The cousins’ box
Goggles: Swiped from the beach bag
Thing hanging down at the bottom of Axa’s coat: her beloved blanket, made for her as a baby by Grandma Betty
Here she is wearing just the baby blanket:
And look! It’s reversible, for a more casual hippie look.
Axa’s latest fashion success was precipitated by a really awesome hat she made at nature camp. Behold!
Hat: Recycled Newspaper
Pinwheel Flower: Recycled 1/2 liter bottle
Shirt: Gift from Grammy
Skirt: Made by Grandma Betty
Bandanna: from a recently attended pirate birthday party
Necklace and bracelets: hand-strung by Axa
My little girl is growing up!
August 6, 2012 2 Comments