Friday, September 30, 2011

Artsy mamas work on projects

I was going crazy. All my craft supplies are still in a pile of boxes in the hall because I can't find shelves I like*, and I hadn't really made anything since I had to give Elizabeth's sewing machine back before we moved.

But now. I have two projects in the works: a cardboard box playhouse in Meg's room, to which she adds more color daily, and another big one hogging the dining table. No details yet... but I'm thinking Scottish thoughts. No, not Macbeth, the other kind of Scottish thoughts.

Stay tuned. :-)

*Because they've got to be TALL and the $30 Target/Ikea ones are seriously uninspiring, and I can't bring myself to spend $150. Yet.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A girl after my own heart

Meg: ::something incomprehensible::
Me: I'm sorry, sweetie, what was that?
Meg: London.
Me: London?
Meg: Yeah.
Me: We need to go to London?
Meg: Yeah.
Me: I agree. We'll tell Daddy when he gets home.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Or, you could get a real job

I have to actively remind myself sometimes that my job, taking care of a little family, is honorable and adequate work. It's just so much snazzier to be a suit in DC.

Brian Brown calls it "Saving the World, Professionalized." He's got a fascinating little article on how Emma was a professional charity-giver, but Mr. Knightley, in the course of being a farmer, had a much better handle on what people really needed. Brown notes the cool factor in working (salaried) for nonprofit agencies and thinks we shouldn't all turn up our noses at working for money.

All well and good. I flipped to the next post in my reader, one from a missionary engineer I know in South Sudan. She quotes a book she's reading:

"Post-conflict situations need squads of bricklayers, plumbers, welders, and so forth, who set about training young men. Unfortunately, it is too mundane for the development agencies to organize it. We need Bricklayers Without Borders."

Perfect timing! I'm sensing a wavelength here. I should go do something useful. Like go to bed, so I can clean house in the morning.

On the subject of families, and not at all about unglamorous work, this was so real. I laughed and laughed.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I've got the beige carpet blues

"If I can cross [her] any way, I bless myself every way." - beige carpet, to me

Beige carpet has to be the most incomprehensible design standard out there, right in front of unwashable matte paint. What perverse zeitgeist decided that very light brown was appropriate for all rentals? Don't people have lives? I just spent the first part of the afternoon scrubbing grungy bits, sat down for a break, and knocked my Dr. Pepper over. So then I scrubbed it up.

I saw this one coming a mile off. We can't have meals in the kitchen because there's no room for a table or high chair, so I bought big area rugs for the dining room and living room and runners for the main traffic areas. Doesn't matter. There are still cracks between the throw rugs. (The beige carpet cackled when it saw this.)

I can only assume that some people are sufficiently coordinated to never spill brown drinks. I take off my hat to them. But I am reminded of a story Jonathan shared out of Sun Tzu. You don't want your general to be the most physically awesome person of all time, because then he can't identify with normal soldiers who, you know, get tired after marching all day. In the same way, the builders really ought to remember that some of us need more washable floors than a dreaded beige carpet.

Now that I think of it, beige carpet apparently doesn't even like itself, judging by how anxious it seems to become any color but beige.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

100 years of style

There's something about zipping-through-history videos that sucks me right in. This is a nifty one - 100 years of fashion (and dancing!). Well worth a watch or three. Catch what the guy does for WWII.

100 Years/Style/East London

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Fall clothes shopping

Switching out unseasonal clothes is one of my favorite activities. It's like Christmas. It's a perfect excuse to put away in bins the ones I'm tired of, give away the ones that are beyond hope, and get out a fresh wardrobe... and try things on, of course. Switching out by season is also a good way to deal with limited closet and dresser space, which have always been pretty limited to me. And, of course, it gives me an idea what I'm lacking.

Fall also makes me want to "school" clothes shop. This year, happily, we all three of us need clothes, so Meg and I hit the outlet mall yesterday. We had some success and got ideas to go back for more. I'm making mental lists of what everybody needs. In Meg's case, of course, it's pretty much everything, but I still think standard pricing is excessive. ($20 for a toddler shirt? Seriously?) I want a pair of brown cowboy boots, but I'm holding out for either awesome clearance or the most fabulous reasonable-full-price pair ever of all time. My beloved $5 clearance boots finally wore out under me.

I started craving dark colors, of all things, about the time we moved into this house. Conveniently, that was not long before Labor Day when I would have put most summer stuff away anyway, so I just got started early. My in-laws kindly stored a lot of our things while we were in transition. I did get my bin of fall clothes, which is great, but my cold-weather jammies are still up there. If that's the worst mix-up from this move I'm doing well.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Greetings from scenic Leesburg

Let's see. Last time I posted, it was Thursday and we were starting the house-hunt from scratch. So that's what we did Thursday and Friday, talking to a realtor, talking to friends, doing internet searches for all we were worth. It didn't look like anything could happen till Monday at the earliest.

On Saturday, a friend shot me an email and mentioned that some mutual friends were moving to California and urgently looking to rent their little condo in Leesburg. We called them up, it sounded good, and we accepted it sight unseen! I did later find photos online. The next day, Sunday, we drove down to look it over and sign a lease.

Sunday noon we stopped for lunch at Moe's and just happened to run into one of my old professors, having lunch with church people. We chatted and I asked her where she attended, and I filed it away mentally before dashing over to the place. It did look good and we took it then and there. There was much rejoicing. Also, I bought towels so we could make it till our stuff arrived.

We went back to New Jersey for the night and came back the next morning with our various supplies, and moved in for real. We camped out Monday night, and Tuesday the pod people delivered our stuff. We were, miraculously, able to scare up eight friends on short notice who not only unloaded the entire thing that night, but assembled the bed and crib and several bookshelves while they were at it, and then some of them came back Wednesday morning and helped unpack further. It was pretty amazing.

Meanwhile, Jonathan had started work on Tuesday, and his first day involved going to an old three-story court building in Alexandria. Does anyone remember what happened Tuesday, August 23rd? The EARTHQUAKE! So yes, Jonathan started work and the very earth shook. I love it.

We spent the rest of the week settling in and buying stuff for the house. Lights were a high priority, as the bedrooms didn't have any light fixtures at all and things got dark at night. Another major priority were rugs for the living and dining area. The house has beige carpet, and I detest scrubbing carpet stains, so big rugs were the obvious choice. We have also acquired four ottomans (Jonathan calls them the empire) and a microwave. Woo!

Hurricane Irene came that weekend. We had intended to run down to Richmond and straighten out the post office sending-us-mail situation on Saturday, but what with people fleeing the storm and all, we stuck around Northern Virginia and hit the Wegman's annual green chile roast instead. The hurricane was pretty much a non-event for us. It rained Saturday afternoon and night, and that was about it.

Sunday we tracked down the church we'd heard about. We met several old friends who now go there and their new babies we hadn't met. Then we went out to lunch with Joey and his family, who don't even attend that church but were visiting town for the hurricane. We went to Moe's again, which seemed appropriate.

Then on Monday Meg and I did go down to Richmond. About half the West End was still out of power, but happily the post office was able to process our change of address with hard-copy forms and we aren't going to have to make another trip. We also visited friends while we were down there, who were themselves fleeing an electricity-less and air-conditioning-less house at a friend's place. So we all hung out at the other friend's. They had really amazing toys there and a dog named Hercules.

The rest of the week we spent settling in. On Thursday we finally got INTERNET! ::cue four-part harmony::: Friday Meg and I had time to go to the pet store to watch the fish and the cats, and then to library storytime afterward. In between we keep having playdates, friends to dinner, movie nights with friends, First Fridays in old town with free ice cream samples, and today a church picnic. So we're pretty much living it up. God has been so good these last two weeks.