Monday, August 20, 2007

The Album Cover

I got lucky with this photo. Harlan was running amok in his favorite playground and I was trying to get at least one non-blurry photo. I didn't have to do anything to adjust this one, it just came out great.

Last Saturday we cruised a couple of yard sales (Scored a P.D. Eastman board book for 50 cents, which is great because Harlan is learning the alphabet with these Eric Carle animal/alphabet cards and now his new board book) and then went on to my all-time favorite place to shop: The City-Wide Garage Sale. As we walked into the auditorium we noticed people coming out holding lots of good stuff. Good stuff that they should have known not to buy because I was on my way. Stuff like antique children's western rocking chairs and Haywood-Wakefield dressers. These gloaters wore badges on their chests that announced that they were Early Shoppers. Turns out anyone can get there at 8:30 (an hour and a half before the doors open to the rest of us slugs) and pay $10 to go all Wilma & Betty when the horn sounds for the sale to begin. I shouldn't complain because I got what I went for: Two antique metal wall sconce/shelves to hang in our bathrooms (no photo sorry) and some vintage embroidered pillowcases for $2 each from the guy who always has four giant tables of vintage linens in massive heaps that you have to dig through along with other crazed enthusiasts. I love how soft vintage cotton and linen bedding is. Check out the French Knots on the first one:

I also have to admit that one thing I love about Austin is the abundance of taco trucks. Here's one at the closest gas-station to our apartment to sell Willie Neilson's Biofuel(the store that carries our regular B99 was closed on Sunday and my tank was seriously empty):

I got a phone call on Saturday from the driver of the truck with all of our belongings on it. They were broken down in West Virginia. I called him this evening and he says he'll be here tomorrow or Wednesday. I'll believe it when I see it. So far I have gotten pretty good at making dinners that you can bake on tin foil and serve on plastic plates. Last night we had pecan crusted salmon, baked asparagus with parmesean, and corn on the cob. I salted it with salt packs left over from a trip to Sonic. I refuse to pay for salt when I have perfectly good salt coming to me any day now in a truck.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hard lessons on services

The bad news: The movers are not even picking up our stuff from the NJ warehouse until this Wednesday. No one at Moishe's called me to tell this news, despite a guarantee that our stuff would be here no later than August 12th. I had to call several times to find out what was going on, and apparently there was a "truck delay" and so our stuff is now expected to arrive next weekend. Word to anyone considering using Moishe's movers: Don't.

The good news: I found my camera's USB cord. I had packed it after all.

More good news: Harlan, the kid who used to refuse to get close to the ocean or step foot in a strange bathtub is completely bursurk for swimming pools.
This is him in the kiddie pool in our condo complex. As you can see Harlan is struggling to break free of his daddy's arms so that he can run into the adult pool. He has no fear of drowning obviously, and I'm going to have to buy a life jacket for him (we borrowed one for Muskoka for the boat rides) because he thinks that a very fun game is played by running into the adult pool at top speed while I scream WAIT FOR MAMA!!!!! He runs down the steps as I clutch his arms and proceeds to plunge face down into the water so he can blow bubbles (with his mouth wide open somehow). Then he picks his face up and laughs and blows more bubbles and then enjoys holding my shoulder while I float him around the pool. I've got to get this kid some swimming lessons A.S.A.P.

So far the pools are shaded and comfortable in the evenings when the blazing heat begins to let up and the chicaedas aren't buzzing quite so loudly from the trees. We go down to the pool after dinner and Harlan plays and swims for a good hour and a half before coming up and going to bed. It's even more ideal than I had imagined to end up here instead of in a house, because for right now pools are Harlan's favorite place to be. We went on Sunday to a near by pool over at Little Stacy park and Harlan spent two and a half hours in the pool, along with me and several other toddlers and their parents. We met some great people who reminded me of my friends in Ft. Greene, and I felt releived that we had decided to move to this neighborhood.

More bad news: We hired a guy off of Craig's List to scrape the popcorn surface off of our ceilings and to paint them white. We thought it would be a great opportunity to take care of all the renovations we want before the movers arrive. Good old Clint arrived and seemed like he knew exactly what he was doing (although it was a bit hard to tell because he really talks like the King of the Hill guy who no one can understand; A super sloppy southern accent mixed with a mumble and delivered at top speed). He promised to tape off all the walls and cover the floors with plastic so nothing would get wet or damaged. He promised to be finished in two days. At the end of his second day Joe checked out the progress. I don't even want to go into too much detail because it just makes me upset, but let's just say that the ceilings look like cottage cheese in the midst of patches of flat cement, with totally shredded up edges. Clint said he wasn't finished and would be back the following day to clean it up and smooth it all out. The next day he did not show up and he did not answer his phone. We assumed he realized the job could not be remedied and so that was that. The following day I got a call from his wife, explaining that Clint was in jail, but wanted us to know that he was coming to finish the job when he got out. "But it's not his fault. You see this guy owes us money...." I cut her off and said I didn't care because he was not welcome back. As if the crappy ceilings weren't enough, he never properly covered the floors and all of the wood was now buckling around the edges, ruined from being covered in water that was not cleaned up. I had to spend hours removing the scraped cement and paint from the floors as well as our freshly painted walls. The floors will need to be replaced if I ever want to sell the place. Lesson learned: Word of mouth is always the better way to go when hiring someone to move your stuff or work on your house.

The good news: One thing I love about Austin is the access to great yard sales. So far I scored a bunch of small things, but one coup was this rocking horse ($10):

I also see that there is tons of stuff for sale on Craigslist that would never go for so cheap in NYC. I wanted to get a Radio Flyer no-pedal trike for Harlan and I scored one for $10:

So far these two toys keep him endlessly entertained in our almost-empty apartment.

More good news: The crafty business community here is a busslin'. I knew this already through my pal Jen Arnston, but it's great to start meeting other women doing what I have been trying to do for a while now (selling handmade items). I think that Jen and I may share a booth this November at the Stitch craft bazaar and fashion show. I better turn up the volume as soon as my stuff arrives and get cracking to make sure I have enough stock.

More bad news: Getting your kid into "the right" preschool is just as much of an ordeal here as it is in NYC. There are apparently more toddlers than there are cool/prestigious/right-minded pre-schools and so parents here place their kids on waiting lists as soon as they are pregnant. I'm going to be persistent though, and see what I can do because I have a feeling where there is a will there is a way, and Harlan really needs to start spending time without me for a few hours a week (both for his own sake and mine). Plus this way when I go back to work he can go full-time and it won't be traumatic for him.

More good news: The price of childcare here is drastically less than it is NYC. This goes in accordance with all the other wages here, but the point is that even on a public school teacher's salary, you can send your kid to a prestigious daycare or preschool and still have enough left over to live on. We've only been down here a couple of weeks, but already all the stress caused by living in Brooklyn without being rich has disappeared. Suddenly I'm just like everyone else: I don't have a nanny or a housekeeper and I get to spend time with my husband and my friend's husbands (I met some new friends we were invited to go to a pool at the Elk's club in the afternoon with their husbands, because they weren't working jobs that required twelve hour days. What an oddity!)

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking anyone who has the luxury to work a job that pays enough to hire a nanny or a housekeeper, but when most of the people around you live in this world you constantly feel like what you are doing will just never be enough and your child will go to a crappy public school with no toilet paper in the bathrooms (I've read too much Jonothan Kozol) because you couldn't afford to send him to pre-school, and he will end up in a gang and have to scrape ceilings for a living while you spend your old age in a welfare hotel because you never saved enough to move to Florida with all of your friends.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

It's Hot + Cool Stuff

Supposedly Austin has had a relatively mild summer so far. Since moving down here it's been in the mid-nineties with a couple of days of such intense humidity that I almost fainted at one point. One would think that such conditions would force you to stay inside all day with the air conditioner blasting, but fortunately we have discovered some lovely parks that are quite shady and pleasant for Harlan to romp around in. There are even pristine swimming pools nestled below the cover of live oak trees, and I must admit it kicks ass to be outdoors here despite the oppressive heat.

My camera's USB connector is currently in a warehouse in New Jersey with almost everything else we own, waiting for a long distance truck to pick it up and bring it to us. The expected move in date is now August twelve, which seems like a hassle considering they picked everything up on July twenty-fourth, but is actually a blessing in disguise. We are using the time to paint, re-floor, and de-popcorn the ceilings of our new condo, so it works out quite well to have the place remain empty a little longer.

Since I don't have interesting crafty photos of my own to share, I figured I would post about children's items available online that I love and recommend.

For those of you who, like me, can not get down with Crocs or Tivas on your own feet or those of your offspring, I am loving the Saltwater Sandals. They make them for toddlers:
and also for adults: They are leather with natural soles and they are waterproof! No need for rubber shoes ever again. To top it off they are cheap cheap cheap (well the women's ones are anyhow). I paid under $30 for my red pair at an annoying hipster Williamsburg store where the salesdude acted like he was doing me a huge favor by selling me shoes. I think I'm going to order a white pair online. I got Harlan's the week before I bought my own, and they are so darn cute on him I can't stand it.

Children's art: I have four prints for Harlan's room from One Good Bumblebee which I adore.

When we actually live in a house with more room, I would love to buy some Ashley G. prints:

Who can resist the funky prints by Portland's popular Apak?

Harlan has been sleeping in this travel cot which is not only super easy to set up and extremely light, but also super comfy, since there are no bulky metal bars around the edges of the mattress for Harlan to bang his head against.

I highly recommend spending the extra fifty bucks on this over any of the other pack n play type of travel cribs.

We just bought a cute Sigg sippy cup so that Harlan can drink his water and look cool at the same time, without worrying about plastic and whether or not it's going to poison him even more than the mercury in our air or sea or any of the other far more serious dangers in the world. As you can see, I may use cloth diapers and own a car that runs on veggie oil, but eating and drinking from non-plastic items is not high on my priority list. I do avoid plastic when possible (ie the Sigg canteens) but at the same time I am also aware of the fact that we can not avoid all of the toxins that are out there, and to obsess over avoiding every toxin would end all of us up living like the lead character of Safe. Don't get me wrong, I pop Excedrin if I come into contact with Windex or a kitchen just "cleaned" with a bottle of Fantastic, but just because I'm hyper-sensitive doesn't mean I don't realize that there is no truly "safe" way to live in an industrialized nation. (For any of you who have spent time in Berkeley, what's up with those germophobes who dress in all white and wear face masks to keep the germs away? Why does wearing white help?) There was a great article in Elle a couple of months back where the author had her blood, hair, and dryer lint tested (along with samples from her children) for every possible toxin out there. The results were really quite upsetting, because they included DDT from thirty years ago still in her system as well as that of her kids, but ultimately the author realized that there really is no way to avoid every possible poison out there. Sad but true.

Wow, that was totally an off-topic rant. More cool stuff for kids to buy or make:
These cowgirl/cowboy outfits
Free amigurumi patterns to crochet.
These amazing bears
Anything from here
And of course the amazing light switch plates and tiles from Robot Candy. I can't wait to get one for Harlan's new room.