Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The B-Word vs. the C-Word

One of the great things about having a circus as a client is that there's always something unexpected going on. This morning, the person who works near me was trying to choose some sea shanties for an upcoming show, but running into problems because they generally are not toddler-friendly in terms of language or content. (shock).

I suggested a group called the Ditty Bops, who do slightly more innocuous versions — though I warned her that I find them impossibly twee — though qualified that with "Yes, but I am generally just a bitch."

"Yes," replied Rainy, but you see, bitches get things done."

Which I realized might as well be my tag-line.


Compare that with the incredibly offensive (and in no way satiric) Onion tweet following the moderately offensive Oscar awards this week.

You see, folks, calling a woman a name is a slippery slope. In general, you don't want to do it.

If you do, you just might want to be sure if she is comfortable with owning it. You can call me a bitch all you want.

But this is your clue that calling a woman a c*nt is just never ok. And calling a 9-year old girl one is really never never never ok.

And really, no one should have to tell you that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fields of Felted Flowers

Continuing the crafty theme, the other night my friend Krista came over to create.

We started with dinner, and a hot fudge cake from one of my Pinterest board that broke my moratorium on rich desserts.

Then, we headed upstairs. My goal for the evening was to make felt flowers, so I made the two pink and blue pins in the picture. Krista, who has far greater artistic sensibility than I do, made the funky embroidered pin. And Beatrix spread glue all over big pieces of felt and then encrusted them with glitter. Everyone was happy!

Later that night I made Beatrix the pink flower hat, because she covets my hat with flowers. She wore it skating the next day.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Christmas Crafting

Yes, you read the title right. These are items I made for Christmas presents, but could not post until after Christmas so people would not see them. And then January/early February kind of got away from me...

The bird feeders were the first thing we made, and were a family project. Beatrix really enjoyed shaping them and pressing them out of the molds.

I had seen the necklace idea on Pinterest, and ended up at Joann Fabrics for far too long one evening falling in love with various beads. I made most of them for friends, but admit to keeping one for myself.

I also made some very successful spiced nuts. I did not, however, chronicle the dismal fail at "shower discs" that I tried with a baking soda/essential oil base in paper muffin cups. They were absolutely useless!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day

My Valentine's Day was just about perfect, and not in the stereotypical lobster/diamonds/champagne way, or even the way I would have celebrated in the past, but in a way that reflects my life now.

Beatrix's school, rather than having valentines for each child, has the parents make valentines for their child and put them up on the wall. The night before, Patrick put tons of thought into making a Valentine's Day puzzle for Beatrix, because she loves puzzles. She was so happy to see it up on the wall of her school.

That morning, we had Beatrix bring up the Valentine's day gift of the sunny orange shirt we had gotten for my mother-in-law. We wanted to make sure the day was great for her, too!

I got Patrick a subscription to Bespoke Post, and pretty much hit it out of the park. He loves the curated "awesome boxes" of lovely, manly treats (and who does not like to get mail?)

Patrick's gifts to me and Beatrix were perfect — all about fixing broken things. For Beatrix, he got a headband to replace one she had lost, which we originally got at the Renaissance Festival (though the new one was nicer!). Then she got to open the several Valentine cards sent to us.

For me, he replaced the antifreeze ice cream scoop my MIL had recently put in the dishwasher, plus sharpies, a mug to replace one he had broken, a new recycling bin (the old one shattered in the cold), and a notebook I had been coveting. Plus roses and homemade chocolate chip cookies — my absolute favorite!

We went to dinner on a Pei Wei coupon, and I got to duck into the craft store and pick up supplies to fix a zipper. Then, Patrick and I got to catch up on Downton Abbey.

Ok, it does not sound exotic. But I have to say, it was such a great day of true thoughtfulness and love — exactly what Valentine's Day should be.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


My friend Laura is wonderful at Facebook-journaling her vacations. She writes lively, exciting entries that make you feel like you are there traveling with her. On our vacation last week, I had every intent of writing Laura-style entries and wonderfully chronicling our entire Disney World experience.

Instead, as you may have noticed, I did not write a thing.

The truth is, I think we all needed a vacation more than we knew. After a busy 2012, a December that was particularly fraught, and a January that kicked my a** professionally, this particular break was so very needed. I didn’t do any of the work I brought with me, and barely made it through one book.

What I DID do was to completely enjoy Disney World with my husband and especially my daughter. Beatrix turned 5 on the trip, and she is of the age where all of this is magically perfect. Every princess she met was her friend, she asked if every character was “the REAL Mickey/Simba/Beast/etc.”, and she lived every experience completely. We went on rides, explored the Epcot world, enjoyed the dolphins and other exhibits, went to CdS’s La Nouba, met friends, swam in the hotel pool, drove through Celebration, shopped, and basked in the warm sun.

Disney is an amazingly sophisticated entity that packages up your dreams and delivers them back to you, enhanced, brightened, and at a slight surcharge. I’ve travelled all over the world — climbed rice paddies in the Philippines, taken the Trans-Siberian Express, slept in a former prison in Prague, walked through the hill towns of Spain. As wonderful as all of those experiences were, and as much as I would not change a minute of them, at this particular time I badly needed the Disney dream. It was the perfect vacation.

(If you want some more insight on the trip, check out Patrick's blog here. His descriptions are more detailed and thoughtful than my broad strokes. There are also some princess pictures here.)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

School Choice

We’re in the throes of school choice here in Saint Paul, which one friend called “death by opportunity.” Saint Paul has open enrollment throughout the city, so we have over 50 different public school options for Beatrix. As one school official (not so) reassuringly put it, “If it seems like a big choice, it is — likely the biggest choice you will make until college.” Well, ok then.

We started by looking at Nova Classical Academy — well, Patrick did, while I stayed with Beatrix. He’s not so sure how he feels about it; he thinks it might be too academically rigid. It’s a competitive lottery anyway, so our chances of getting in are low. My best friend’s children go there and love it, so we’ll see if that is an option when the lottery occurs.

We then toured our top five of the Saint Paul schools:

Horace Mann – supposed to be excellent, and an area school for us, but I got the wrong vibe from it.

Highland Elementary – an IB program that was very good at selling itself. Diverse, good technology, staff that really seemed to like each other, but weaker on science and somehow missing something. Still, a very viable option.

JJ Hill Montessori – A very authentic Montessori near us. Highly rated, and great teacher/student ratios. Parents I know love it. But would entail going the Montessori route for her entire elementary education, which I am not sure about.

L’Etoile du Nord French Immersion – a late entry that I (surprisingly) really liked. Lots of options for her, including a strings program, and of course, French! The teachers seemed very enthusiastic. It’s a little far away, and they have recently been through some neighborhood/parent/administration issues (and are moving/splitting campuses next year).

Randolph Heights – This is our neighborhood school, which we have dubbed the “reading immersion” due to their excellent focus on reading. We really loved the whole feeling of this school, and the feedback from current parents, plus the test scores, are great!

That’s without looking at the other immersion schools, the charter Montessoris, Expo, Linwood arts magnet, and the rapidly-failing school at the end of our block!

So after all that, we are ranking Randolph Heights first, and French Immersion second, with hopefully a good chance of getting into both, and a possible reconsideration if  reconsider if we get into Nova. We were reassured by the JJ Hill teacher who said that there were often more openings in upper levels, so if we find Beatrix really thrives best under Montessori, we can always switch her. And then, of course, there is testing to get into Capitol Hill next year!

Yikes! After all this, we need a vacation...

Friday, February 1, 2013

Just Read

Every year, in February, the Saint Paul Public Libraries do an awesome reading promotion called Winter Jackets. See that lovely mug? I got it free just by stopping in and writing up a book review for them to promote (double points — I reviewed Patrick's book Enough). And I think when Patrick goes to get his matching mug, he may review our friend Kelly's books.

We already have a red set, which is kind of wearing out (I think they are 2 years old). We got those by turning in a booklist of five books.

This year, there is also a promotion where you can read away your library fine. Sit in front of the fire, read, and erase something I feel guilty about? I am so there!

We've recently starting reading nightly with Beatrix. I know — you say "Recently?!" We would read before, but in fits and starts. Now, almost every night, we sit down and all read together. Whoever is not reading to Beatrix reads on their own, preferably from a book rather than a screen (I'll admit, this is hard for me since I usually have my kindle in hand). These nightly reading times have been wonderful, and Beatrix very much looks forward to them. I personally can hardly wait until we do more chapter books!