Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wa Wah Waaaaahhhh*

*As in the sound the trumpet makes when the punchline is corny.

The house inspector's report arrived in my inbox this morning. As Harlan scampered beneath my feet, trying to climb into the revolving office chair, I leaned over him and read the computer screen while my heart stopped. The roof, foundation, plumbing, HVAC, and electric have major problems and all need to be replaced or repaired. Any other problems other than everything major you ask? Why yes! There is mold and moisture damage in the walls. But there is brand new carpet and fresh paint on the all the walls,!

The real estate agent called and let me know that the roof, foundation and electric issues could be fixed before our move-in date of August 1. She offered to research the cost and then approach the seller to make these repairs for us. Sounds good! I hung up the phone and all I could see was moldy walls and leaky AC ducts so I e-mailed her to let her know that it's just way too much for a house that was not priced as a fixer-upper. Now I'm thinking our best bet is to get a rental and pound the pavement for a fifties ranch house that is in working condition. I still want my original kitchen and bath, none of that granite and marble crap.
On a cheerier and craftier note, here are my scores from Renegade last weekend:
Suitcase and pail from Pixigenne!
Cool silkscreened and appliqued T-shirt for Harlan (his handmade wool shorties/ diaper cover also arrived in my mail this week from royalbuns):

And of course a sad rotten banana and a happy good egg from My Paper Crane:

I also got a lovely package in the mail from Veronica of Petunia fame. It included a handmade ribbon brooch that now lives happily on my diaper bag, a quilted card, and some vintage buttons that I put away before photographing them to keep Harlan from eating them:

Friday, June 15, 2007

Look what I got!

Aside from an electric toothbrush embroidery hoop and lens cap I got a house.
Our bid was accepted and I'm already picking out Anthropologie resin cabinet pulls for my new 50's kitchen. Unfortunately this is about all we can afford to do to the house right now. Who cares though? We got a cool house that we can call our own.

Are you wondering about Harlan and the embroidery hoop/electric toothbrush/ lens cap/ Yahoo Serious hair-do photo? All of a sudden he is into everything. It's a constant trail of destruction. His favorite new toys are my large embroidery hoop, which he throws over his neck, and my electric toothbrush. I have to buy him his own (toothbrush, not hoop). I grabbed my camera to take a photo and of course he had to nab the lens cap before running off with all three, only to drop the lens cap and pick up my sandal which he then threw in the toilet. This morning I ran around trying to get everything together to go meet some friends in the playground and I couldn't find Harlan's left sandal anywhere (note to self: buy more than one pair of shoes for Harlan). We put on his too-small sneakers and left. I finally found the missing shoe this evening in my top desk drawer which is usually secured with a safety thingamajiggy. I must have left it unlocked. Apparently Harlan's cohorts are in the same phase. I saw my friend Kara today who is 7 months pregnant, and her son Arthur who is about a week apart from Harlan in age. The rascal had her chasing him all over the street as he opened people's gates, pulled dirt out of people's planters and dumped it on their front steps, and then ran into the middle of three deaf guys having a heated discussion in sign-language on their front lawn. The guys all thought it was pretty cute and so did I, but I was in awe of Kara's mellowness as she carried him over her swollen belly, kicking and screaming. She didn't even raise her voice or seem annoyed as she said, "No hitting buddy". I feel like she's an angel and I'm going to turn into a crazy Jewish mother running around screaming at my kid every time he gets a crumb on the floor (O.K. Not even close to reality, but I just feel that way). I think I am ready to sign up for anger management half the time.

You know what's great about having our own house? No more crazy landlord. Oh, did I tell you the latest in the Landlord Chronicles? Months back I ordered a year's worth of Croq zines from Heather in Portland. A month went by and I never received them. I e-mailed her and she had mailed them Priority Mail with delivery confirmation and it was signed for. Neither of my neighbors would steal my mail, nor would they sign for my mail and lose it somehow. I was stumped. Heather was generous enough to send me new copies. FF to last week, I walk in the vestibule and what should I see but the original package. According to my neighbors their months-old lost packages showed up the same day. We can only deduce that Landlord had been signing for our packages and just keeping them in his basement apartment because he was too lazy to walk them up the front steps to our entryway. Classic.

One more bragger shot: This is Harlan in his new, super soft Baby Beehinds bamboo and cotton diaper.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The House

We put a bid (a low bid) on a house in a great neighborhood, just minutes from where Joe will work. The neighborhood has been steadily going up in value for the last ten years when the first gays moved in and spruced up the fifties limestone houses into Dwell magazine modern homes. I'm not big on the new modern aesthetic, I'm more of a Victorian and fin de siecle kind of gal, but I can definitely fall in love with the fifties kitchens and spacious floorplans. And the small turn of the century homes that I saw were just way too small and un air conditioned. So here's the deal: We may not end up with this house but I wanted to be able to show it to friends and family and this format beats a massive e-mail with tons of attachments. I hope everyone else in the internets enjoys a little voyeurism into my life:

Going in the front door (I'm not showing the full front of the house for privacy/safety reasons):

Window to the right of the front door:

This funky shelf is by the thru-way to the kitchen/dining area:

Stacie is looking through the window into the garage door. When she looks to the left she sees this built-in:

Across from this built-in is the kitchen:

Spice cabinet under big cabinets:

There is also an oven built into the wall and a fridge and washer dryer that isn't hooked up:

Behind this area is a door that goes to what we call the "mother in law" annex. It's an addition that has three rooms, railroad style. The back room has tons of built-in shelves. I would probably use this area for a craft workshop and library to house all our books since the air conditioner is a wall unit and there is no central heat in this addition:

Back in the main house are three bedrooms. The master is L-shaped and has a bathroom in it. This is the linen closet and toilet:

Here is parts of the other bedrooms. It's hard to get a whole room in a shot:

Other bathroom:
So cool!
Fenced in back yard:

Jen and Yoshi saying hi to remind everyone that I will have friends with babies Harlan's age:

Friday, June 8, 2007

Quest for Diaper

Before I talk about diapers I'll spare all of you who don't have to worry about such things. Let's talk instead about great stuff to arrive in the mail this past week.

From the other side of the planet came a great package from Anastacia, a wonderful artist whose collages I have been admiring for a while:

It's a whole bunch of handmade tags, to go on gifts for others or to be hoarded by yours truly. I love the vintage children tags the best. These are definitely getting hoarded. I am making a small package to send over to A to thank her.
Speaking of collage work, I can't wait to get my greedy paws on one of Pixiegenne's fabulous decoupage suitcases this month at Renegade. To justify the purchase I am buying it for Harlan to keep his little Leggo and Fisher Price toys in. If he ever decides he is too old for it or it's just not "him", then I'll have to take it I suppose.
This official sewing pattern arrived from Liesl yesterday as well:
When I took her backpack making class last month we used a draft of the pattern. Now I have the finished publication, along with the book with directions. Great graphics and very comprehensive.
My Martha Stewart craft supplies came in quick time this week too. Oh, did I forget to confess to a little online shopping? I ended up buying the special ruler with the edge that attaches to the rotary cutter for automatic straight lines, no matter how much booze is in the system (or my case no matter how much clumsiness is in the system):

I threw in a lovely blue ink pad (images to come soon) and a couple of circular punches since they can supposedly cut through felt.

The only craft item I have done any work on lately is finishing up this baby pillow which is reserved for Kim S:

It was a lot of fun to make and I'll do a few more when time permits. I think it's just the kind of thing a mom wants for her baby's room. I know I do!

There is not going to be a plethora of crafting this summer. I am focusing wholeheartedly on moving south which is taking up almost all my free time. So far I have been looking at houses on the market (online) and tomorrow I fly down to see a few of them over the weekend. This is the first time I will be without Harlan for more than about two hours so I'm kind of scared, but also looking forward to the down time this trip will involve. My blog posting will probably only be about once a week until I am settled in our new home (and I have internet access. They have that in Texas right?)

Now, on to my Quest for Diaper. I originally decided it was time to switch over to cloth when the garbage issue reached full force in our building. Once El Raton was discovered I decided to cut down on garbage production as much as possible. Composting happened, and recycling went nuts. I even started saving plastic bags and batteries to bring over to Whole Foods which has bins to collect these items. I also really wanted to save money and to use something natural on my baby that would also be super cute and fun. The system I have been primarily using consists of a G-diaper which is sold with flushable inserts. I do not use the flushable inserts because they end up costing as much as disposables, and they do not hold much urine. Instead I place a micro-terry insert and a micro-terry doubler in the removable nylon pocket that snaps in the G-diaper cover. I wrap the two inserts with a biodegradable diaper liner for the purpose of easy-poop-removal. Just lift the liner off the diaper and drop the whole mess in the toilet. Then drop the dirty liners in the diaper bin to be washed. Assuming the diaper cover has not been dirtied, replace the nylon liner with a new one and plop in a new insert sandwich:
This is the inside of the diaper cover with the nylon liner holder:

Here it is with the insert sandwich put in:

Here is the whole thing on:

At night I like to use what is called a pocket diaper. The first pocket diapers I ended up liking are called Fuzzi Bunz. They are pretty popular. This type of diaper is like a pair of snap on panties that can be stuffed with additional inserts to absorb urine. Each pocket diaper must be washed after each wear. The outside of these diapers are usually made of a waterproof material called PUL, and the part that touches the skin is usually micro-terry fleece.

I discovered another brand of pocket diaper that is my favorite, called Green Acre Designs. These are made and sold by another "work-at-home-mom" so that is an added bonus for me. I love the design of these diapers and you can order them with custom color combinations. I started with a brown and pale blue combo and it fits like a glove and is super absorbent. No leaks at all:

The inside material that I chose (you can choose from a couple of different fabrics with GADs) is called suede cloth and it's made with bamboo which is very absorbent:

The fit of these diapers is really above and beyond the other brands I have tried. It's very trim and not bulky under clothes. Look how cute they look on:

I would use these all the time personally, except that I am concerned that the PUL outer layer is too hot for the Texas climate. I poked around on some diapering message boards (OK, I am obsessed, let's face it) and the message I got loud and clear is that cotton and hemp or cotton and bamboo fitted diapers beneath thin wool covers are the coolest and most absorbent way to go. At first I was quite skeptical about how cool it might be to wear wool in the summer, but then I remembered my corporate days of having to wear a suit all year long, and I did have a summer weight wool number from Brook's Brothers that was surprisingly cool. Here are two beautiful wool covers I ordered from Sugar Peas:

They sell hemp/cotton fitted inserts that snap inside:

All diapers need to be pre washed a few times before they become totally absorbent. This is especially true for hemp which apparently contains oils that need to be washed out of them before use . Wool diaper covers also need to be treated with lanolin on occasion to keep them water resistant. They do not require frequent washing and do not smell from contact with a dirty diaper underneath them. I also ordered a super luxurious wool cover from Kiwi Peels but it's back ordered. These are also handmade by a stay at home mom. She's sewing as fast as she can.

If any of you are interested in learning more about cloth diapering there are some great resources online. This forum has a ton of information for beginners, on everything about the choices available to how to prepare new diapers etc. I've been really enjoying posting on the diapering forums and exchanging information and support in a friendly environment, but, get this: The forums are frequented primarily by super Christian home schooling moms and super crunchy attachment parenting types. Who knew there was a world where these two worlds collided? I sure didn't. My friends and I have mulled over what the common ground might be and I have come to the conclusion that it's mostly about simplicity and living in a natural environment.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Harry is just easier to understand.

I've been tagged by Shiso Mama for a meme about names:

Give the meaning of your kids’ names, and write about what or how or why you gave the name to your kids. Tag five people to play along and leave a comment at their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

I have had my children's names picked out since my early twenties. I've stuck to them as well. The names I have for girls are still just waiting to be used on a future daughter, even though one of the names has become slightly popular (Talullah nickname Lula). The other name will probably never be popular, Luciana. These names go with my basic theme for good names: Either they are names that sound southern and old fashioned or they are Italian. My number one boy's name has always been Harlan. I don't know where I first heard this name (or Talullah for that matter, but I did have a neighbor named Luciana when I lived out in Bensonhurst which is where I basically fell in love with all the Italian names). When I worked at Tiffany's and told all my coworkers that my favorite boy names were Harlan Clyde and Rocco they all spat food out of their mouths with laughter (it was lunch time). They said it sounded like I would have a litter of bullies.

Well who's laughing now, huh? I get complimented on Harlan's name often and he's the only one I have come across who is under the age of thirty. When I was pregnant Joe and I decided on two things together about the name, 1) that it would be Clyde, because Joe wasn't sure about Harlan but we both liked Clyde, and 2) that we would keep the name quiet until the baby was born. Thing #2 was a fantastic piece of advice given to me by my old friend Lindsay from when she was pregnant with her daughter seven years ago. She told me that everyone has an opinion and that most people are underwhelmed by whatever name you tell them. Sooo true. I have so many friends with babies now who had miserable results from telling their families the chosen names prior the the birth. One friend even had her mother in law burst into tears at the suggestion of the name Lulu. The MIL told her that the name should really be a family decision (since when?) and that she would die if she had a granddaughter named Lulu. They ended up giving Lulu a different first name but they all call her Lulu. Oy.

So how did Clyde become Harlan you ask? When I was in labor it was rough. The major contractions lasted 36 hours and there was back labor involved. After the first 12 hours at home I decided I could not handle any more "natural" childbirth and begged to be given anything to take the pain away. The anesthesia lasted for a while, but had to be re-administered over the next day and then taken away during the final hours of pushing so that I would be able to feel what I was doing as I pushed out the ten and a half pound baby-man. Needless to say Joe told me during this time that I could name the baby whatever I wanted.

When I called my grandmother and told her Harlan was born and that his name was Harlan her response was (imagine this being said in a Boston accent), "Well don't you just think people will call him Harry? It's so much easier to understand." To this day I like to call Harlan Handsome Harry as a nickname.

Not much crafting going on right now- lots of preparing to move: Looking at houses online, figuring out plans on how to deal with everything from getting a TX teaching certificate to a bio fueled car to what to keep and what to sell and give away. Plus I can't breathe out of my nose. Clairitin and Sudafed don't do squat. If anyone has any suggestions I'm begging you to put me out of my mouth-breathing misery.

By the way, for the meme I'm tagging Anastasia, Bitter Betty, Angelina, Veronica, and Ruth.