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on 21 May 2010

Once upon a time I kept a blog regularly.  I wrote every day or every other day at the least.  I tried to be funny and insightful.  I tried to write the things that I wanted to read.  And then LIFE happened.

When we moved down here I bought a sewing machine and two books recommended by my awesome (and madly skilled) sister.  I was determined that I was going to learn to sew.  And I was convinced that I wouldn't make any friends so I would have all kinds of spare time.


Well, as it turned out I did make some really awesome friends and my time was soon filled up with play dates and service projects and mornings at the pool and trips and my fabric and patterns and sewing machine languished.  Oh, I still used it, but for simple things:  baby blankets for my friends who were (or ARE) with child.

We're staring down the barrel of another move (probably not until the end of July, but you never know), so I'm starting to gradually purge our stuff.  And in the purging I arrived at my bin o' fabric and patterns and I felt horrible for neglecting it for so long.  So I got down my machine, I sorted through the bin and I made a list and it looked like this:

  1. finish quilt for the Boy--I repurposed the flannel of 9 little receiving blankets and 1 slightly bigger receiving blanket, I cut them into 5" squares and pieced them together to create a quilt top.  All it needed was batting and a back and then some ties. 
  2. finally make reusable grocery bags from my friend Heather's tutorial.  I had bought all of this light-weight cotton in bright fun colors to make lounge pants out of and had never made them so I was going to use the fabric for something I would USE and something that would help me regain control over the plastic bags taking over our apartment.
  3. repurpose some more flannel to make cloth wipes.  I have reached the point where I am DONE throwing money away in the form of wipes.  I know.  This will seem extreme to many of you...but what with the cloth diapering, it's really not that extreme anymore.  We'll use water to wet them down and I have an inkling that the Boy may be potty training in another 6 months or so...
  4. Make one more baby blanket and matching burp cloth for my friend Celeste who is due the end of July.
  5. Make some super soft pajama pants from a whole pile of homespun that I inherited from Chris (it's a long story).
  6. Make up some cozy flannel pajama pants for the Boy.
  7. Make up a few new fun summer skirts.

And here's a list of supplies I needed to pick up (I've made one run to JoAnns, and I need to make one more to finish off the list):
  • 2 yards of flannel to back the Boy's quilt.
  • a piece of batting for the Boy's quilt.
  • some flannel for the blanket for Celeste's babalah.
  • some fun cottons for those skirts (I didn't get these on the last run, I'm going next week in search of them...)
So.  With all of that, here's what I've been working on this week while the Boy whined for his paci and learned to climb all over tarnation!
  1. FINISHED HIS QUILT!  YAY!  It turned out super cute!  The color palate for the quilt top is a variety of soft creamy blues so I backed it with a chocolatey brown and it turned out MUCH cuter than I expected.  The batteries in the camera have died and I have not yet replaced them so if you want to see it, you'll just have to come over.
  2. Made up a cute-cute gifty for Celeste.  She's an amazing woman and she's been a thoroughly wonderful friend.  It makes me happy to have something so cozy and cute for her little one.
  3. Made up 12 (TWELVE) reusable grocery bags!  Having now used them, I can safely say that I needed about HALF that amount.  They're much bigger than the plastic grocery bags and they're so much sturdier that you can really load them up.  Heather's tutorial is clear and makes it super easy, you should definitely check it out!
  4. I'm halfway through finishing the wipes.
Which brings me to the revised To Sew list:
  1. cut out pajama pants for the Boy
  2. sew pajama pants for the Boy
  3. cut out lounge pants for Moi.
  4. sew lounge pants for Moi
  5. purchase cotton for skirts
  6. cut out and sew together skirts

We're off to a long awaited wedding reception tomorrow so I'll probably do a run to JoAnn's next Tuesday.  I might also get around to replacing the batteries in my camera by then, so I can post pictures of the fabric for the skirts.  But then, you know, I've got a fun pool play date already set up and then it's Memorial Day weekend and some friends are coming for a visit and then we're off to Durham the next week for the Grand Family Reunion so who knows when I'll actually get the sewing done.

(I might be able to get the Boy's pants cut out at least...and maybe the lounge-y pants for me...they're pretty simple, I could maybe get that done tonight...)

I have learned something through this whole week of obsessive sewing.  I don't mind it.  And it makes me feel good knowing that I can sew for my family as we need it.  But I am not likely to ever have one of those amazingly beautiful homes or uniquely well-dressed children.  It absolutely exhausts me...all of it.  Choosing projects, picking fabric, cutting, pinning, piecing, sewing, finishing...all of it.  Have fueled myself with diet coke to get this far and will likely continue the trend until the projects are DONE.

I just love crossing things off of lists.  It's VERY satisfying.

A Fairy Story of Toddler Life

on 19 May 2010

Once upon a time, I shook my head and pitied those poor undeserving mothers of toddlers who CLIMBED. 

"Climbers," I thought, and shook my head.  "I am SO glad the Boy isn't a CLIMBER."

I'm still not entirely sure what happened.  Last Thursday we took the paci, the bink, the soother away from our child and now he has morphed into A CLIMBER.

NEVER.  Not when he could crawl and pull up, not when he started walking, not when he started RUNNING.  He's NEVER been a climber.  He's not brave enough for one, just sign me up as the mother of the cowardly lion. 

But NOW.  All of a sudden.  Quite literally OVER NIGHT my child has phased into this Climber of epic proportions.  He climbs on chairs and tables, he climbs UP the bookshelves!  He jumps on the blessed furniture! 

I'm pulling my hair out so fast it doesn't have TIME to turn GREY over here, people.  I am at a loss.  I don't know how this happened and I have NO idea what to do about it. 

And the WORST of it is...I don't know how to express this...I don't want to nip in the bud too severely.  Because I want him to explore.  I want him to be brave and I don't want him to be afraid of getting a few bumps and bruises along the way.  But neither do I want him to break his delicious little neck!

What is WRONG with me?

This Mothering Gig

on 14 May 2010

I'm having one of those days where I stand on the verge of tears and wonder what I have done.

Yesterday we bade farewell to the Bink.  And so far the Boy is doing just fine.  He woke early this morning at 1am and cried and cried like his tiny little untested heart was breaking.  I tumbled out of bed and held his long, gangly body in my arms as I quietly rocked him back to sleep.  I haven't done that since he was sick last fall.  And before that it had been since the winter before when he was just 6 months old and still small and round.

It felt wonderfully familiar.  But I digress.

He did just fine again today.  After his altogether too short nap, he got down and looked under the crib and his dresser calling, "BINK?  BINK?  BINK?"  I sat in the floor feeling small and mean and explained to him that binks are for babies and he's a big boy.  He doesn't really need that bink.  He looked at me as if to say, "What are you talkin' about, woman?"  And quietly went on his way.  He asked for it a few more times but for the most part...he's just grand.  There haven't been any screaming fits.  No long crying jags.  Just the occasional pitiful request for his bink.

And I think I may have met something every bit as hard as holding him down for the shots.

I told Chris today, after the looking under the furniture but before his dinner and bath, that I feel this crushing empathy for the Boy right now.  What he wants is so small and so simple and he's had it for so long that he can't understand why he can't just have it now.  And I feel the weight of that in grown-up proportions.  What we want seems relatively small and common to us.  Nothing fancy or unusual.  Basically what we've had all along.  But for whatever reason we can't have it yet.  And oh it's hard.  And made harder still by replicating the difficulty for our child.

He had an awful time going to bed tonight.  He was wired from not having napped well and there was no bink to signal to him that it was now time to be quiet and get ready for bed.  We read and cuddled and said prayers and sang a few songs and then I lay him in his crib.  He fussed and fretted.  Not active crying, but just that festering discontent.  After a half hour or so it became outright crying and I went in, feeling sad and mean all over again.

I picked him up and carried him to the rocking chair.  The Boy and his Blanket.  I sat and settled him against my chest and quietly rocked and rubbed his back.  I whispered the things you whisper to the ones you love when the ones you love are distressed, and he pushed his face into my neck as snugly as he could and as I rocked and rubbed his back he grew heavier and heavier and heavier.  I knew he was asleep.  He was all heavy and slightly twitchy, but I needed to sit there in the dark and rock him and comfort him in some small way while I still could.

I asked Chris today, why does it seem inevitable that you always hurt the ones you love?  Even when you know that sometimes it's for the best, when you tell yourself that it's a short-term hurt for a long-term gain, why?  Why is it necessary at all?  Life gives us enough disappointment, enough denial, enough hurt, why can't we find only peace and comfort at home?

And I know...well, I think I know.  Because he can't very well go off to college with his blanket and his bink.  Because I'm raising a confident, competent adult, not a perpetual child.  Because the disappointments, denials and hurts only get bigger and more damaging.  I think maybe we're all just feeling a little raw and ragged around the edges. 

Obsessive Little Sucker

on 13 May 2010

From day one, my Boy has been a sucker.

He latched right on and sucked for all he was worth.  My sister gifted us some Nuks and I thanked her repeatedly for them because he would have sucked me 24/7 if I had been amenable to the idea.  I was not.  I am fond of showers and using the toilet alone. 


He just sort of picked up the habit...especially when he was tired.  He wanted that paci and his binket and his Mama (in that order).  And because it made for a calm and happy Boy, we just sort of went along with it.

And then at his 1 year check up the Doc asked about the paci and suggested it was time for it to go away.  I had perfected my smile and nod by this time, so that's just what I did and we went home, he got his paci and went to sleep for his nap.

And so we delayed.  But then we went to New York and saw these parents with FOUR and FIVE year old children with PACIFIERS and I thought, "Oh, it is SO time for that to go away."  And we came home and I had steeled myself for it, but then it was another trip and then we all got sick and then it was the holidays and then ANOTHER trip and then more sick and then another trip and and and, well, I just put it off until it was a better time.

I made a new goal.  By his 2nd birthday, I wanted the paci GONE.  But now I'm looking at the calender and thinking, "Well, we have a family reunion and then potentially a move and everything that goes along with that, all right before his 2nd birthday.  So it's either get rid of it NOW, or wait until we're settled after his birthday."

I just threw out all of the pacis.  I talked to the Boy about it all morning, how they were going to go away.  How he's a big boy and pacis are for BABIES.  How he's brave and strong and he doesn't need that paci any more.  And he really doesn't.  But maybe I do...when I'm stumped and I have no idea what's wrong or what he's saying or what to do for's just so easy to pull out a paci and say, "Hey!  What's this in my hand?!"

I've spent the past few days mourning the loss of my Babe.  I had lamented to one of the secretaries that Chris works with, that the Boy was still a baby when we moved here and sometime over the course of the past few months he's lost all of his baby-ness and now he's 100% grade A certified Big Boy.  So maybe the paci was a crutch for me to hold on to the last vestiges of baby-ness that he had left, I don't know.

All I know is that we've thrown out all of the pacis and we're moving forward into toddler-dom.


on 07 May 2010

I love Wives and Daughters.  The miniseries is delightful but the book is SO much better.  I've been thinking about it a lot lately.  Well...I've been thinking about a particular scene from the Who Is Elizabeth Gaskell special feature.  They tool around England with the Gaskell Society, it's mostly old ladies and maybe one or two old men, and some of them are just hilarious.  I'm not sure they mean to be per se but they are.

Anyway, Elizabeth Gaskell spent some of her favorite years in Italy, specifically Rome, so off to Rome they all trot and they're chatting with a local historian and one of the ladies (she's quite animated and funny) was asking him if he also thought that Rome for Elizabeth Gaskell was a RI-sor-GI-MEN-TO!  I absolutely love her pronounciation of it, it cracks me up every time, more particularly because of the reaction of the Italian historian.

Anyway,  Risorgimento is an Italian word meaning any instance or period of renewal or resurgence.  And it's what I'm feeling coming our way.

When Chris and I got married, we named our home (where ever it happened to be) Burnstopia.  It was (and is) our own little utopia, our refuge, our safe haven.  And when I originally set up the blog, I had intended it to be a window on our world for our friends and family who don't live near by.  Over time I tried to bend and twist and shape the blog to fit the way that I needed it to fit, but it just wasn't working.  And then things have also shifted between Chris and I since we've moved South.  I think we've learned a lot about each other, and we've learned a lot about what our marriage needs and what it doesn't.  We've seen pretty clearly our weaknesses, and recommitted to that path that we're on.  One of the things we need is to close the blinds over the window on our world. 

And so I made the decision to close the chapter of the blog that has been Burnstopia.  Much has changed since I started that particular chapter, I tried my best to interweave it all, but it just wasn't working, the seams were coming apart and the fabric was bunching up in unsightly ways.  And sometimes the most productive thing you can do is cut it apart and move on.   

(There are a lot of metaphors happening in this post...maybe I should rethink that...)

Which brings us here.  I'm sorry I couldn't come up with a more clever title, but it is what it is.  This is it.  This is Heaven to me.  Small and insignificant to outsiders, to those of us privileged to live here it's a safe place, a comfortable place.  Not very stylish perhaps, nothing chic or cool.  But soft and welcoming--like well worn flannel.

I'm hoping that with some time I'll find my writing groove again.  And once I get my groove back I'll go public again.  But for now, this is the next chapter.

Welcome to Spring

on 05 May 2010

I often wonder what Spring looks like to those lucky people who don't suffer from seasonal allergies.  It must be lovely.  All that sunshine and pretty flowers and the refreshingly warm breeze after the cold of winter...

And yet.

I have allergies.  Chris has allergies.  And between the two of us we sneezed the world clean.  So it's hardly surprising that around these parts, Spring looks a lot like this:

Laying prostrate at the back door? check!  
blanket?  check!  
tractor? check!  
paci? (and yes, we have a date set to quit the paci cold turkey, it will be sad, but it must be.) check!  

Poor kid.  He LOVES to be outside, he loves to chase the birds and the dogs being walked by their people.  He loves to race down the slope into the mote that abuts our apartment and then race up up UP the other side.  He loves to emphatically point to the cars and then hunker down next to me practicing "vroom vroom vroom" under his breath.

Sadly, whatever pollen is currently swinging freely in the air has laid us mostly flat.  Poor Chris was sneezing so badly he took benadryl to try to combat it and get some work done.  I take my trusty Zyrtek but the Boy can't take anything just yet.  So I follow him around with tissues and when he gets drippy and I'm not near by he finds me and points to his nose and grimaces and says, "ew ew ew."

And I quite agree with him.  ew.

Monday Chuckles

on 03 May 2010

I have this list.

It's not anything I have written down, and it's not a serious, working list.  It's more something that I shake my head over and when Chris climbs into Bed Sweet Bed in the evening I regale him with tales from My List.

It's a short (but growing) list of Things I Wish I Had Not Taught My Child.

For Today here is what's on the list:

  • I wish I had not taught him that toy cars can drive up legs and arms.  I thought it might feel like a massage but it doesn't.  It feels like being run over.
  • I wish I had not taught him that birds chirp and crow.  I thought it would be cute and endearing like the MEOW, but alas, it's loud and my head sort of hurts.
  • I wish I hadn't let him see where I keep the chocolate.  
And just for your enjoyment, here's another list of Things He Came Up With All on his Own:
  • When he wants "some" of whatever you have, instead of asking, he taps his forefinger on his tray until you dole out his own serving.  If you don't respond quickly enough the tapping becomes more insistent.  If you still don't respond he moves from tapping his tray to tapping his tongue. 
  • He calls the aforementioned chocolate "peese" because I try to use refined sugar to teach my child to ask nicely.  
  • When I wink at him, he squishes his eyes up.  And yes, it's every bit as adorable as you may imagine.

 And yes, one day I fully expect to die from such cuteness.

    6 Years In

    on 01 May 2010

    Six years ago today, Chris and I were married.

    Six years ago yesterday we got into the little yellow beetle.  I had brought a battered copy of Sense and Sensibility to read in the car on the way.  I fell asleep snuggled under a fleece blanket and woke up sweaty, somewhere in South Carolina.  I had spent the week before writing four final papers for my literature classes. 

    Six years ago my dear friends Sarah and Layne were taking care of my cats so that I could marry Chris.  They made our little home all neat and pretty for our return, leaving flowers and a beautiful green bamboo which I proceeded to kill somehow.

    Six years ago today we went to be married at 9am and drove all the way home to Athens, Georgia.  We left at 6pm and didn't get home until just before midnight.  At several points I turned to Christopher and said, "Why are we doing this?!  We're tired!  We're fried!  Let's just stop and SLEEP!"  But no.  We didn't stop until we got home.  I don't think we even turned on any lights, we dropped our luggage in the living room and collapsed in a heap in bed.  Those were the days before Bed Sweet Bed.  We piled into a twin bed for the next year or so...

    In retrospect, those early years were easy.  They were simple days.  We were both students, we lived cheaply, we studied and read and worked hard.  But it was just us two and so the unsettledness and uncertainty weren't quite so heavy as they've become.  I've thought often of how some newly weds really struggle after they get married.  The adjustments are hard.  And there were some adjustments that were hard for us too, but as the years go by, I've found that adjustments are continual.  It's not something you learn once and you're done.  There's a constant re-coreographing of the dance of our marriage and I find that lately we've been out of step a lot.  Not so badly that either of us will leave the floor, but enough to make us both feel embarrassed and clumsy.

    But for all of the embarrassment, for all my own missteps, trips and falls.  I can't imagine trying to dance the steps with anyone else.  Thanks for the dance, babe.  Happy Anniversary.