Wednesday, January 16, 2013

blogging dilemma (aka: first world problems)

oh, my dear and loyal readers!  i'm sorry for every time you've come here expecting a new post and been met with my obnoxiously month-old post ironically titled, "i'm back!"  i've had so much to write about: sho's first airplane ride, the first year that i've "been" santa for her and she really got it, so many gifts made by her with love, adventures large and small embarked upon, a big-relief milestone a year in the making...

but the truth is, i have been having a bit of an internal struggle with this "mommyblogging" deal lately.  first let me say that even years before i had a kid, the so-called mommyblogs (hate that term, but there it is) were my favorite.  i still read and love dozens of them, big and small.  they're a great part of my life, and i admire and respect the mothers writing them.  i just keep thinking about my own kiddo though, and how she might feel about all of this someday.  (not that "all of this" is really much of anything - if i was a bigger blogger, i'd be having a much bigger blogging dilemma.  hooray for mediocrity!)

in so many ways i would love to read a blog today written by my mom when i was a youngun.  it would be an honor to read her thoughts and see the day-to-day photos of our lives together...truly, i would completely love it.  who wouldn't?  but would i have felt the same way as a teenager, with my entire easily-googleable childhood on display for anyone who thought to go looking?  the jury is still out; sho's generation is basically the first to have had their lives blogged about from before their birth and onward.  for the most part, this generation has a ways to go before they are able to experience and process what the repercussions of blogging will even be in their lives.  as a fiercely private and secretive twelve year old, it's tough to imagine that my now-delighted reaction to the idea of my own childhood being blogged about would have held true.

it does trouble me a bit that i am writing about and sharing photographs of my daughter online long before she is of the age to give consent.  she has no idea that photos of our recent night swim at a pool in omaha, nebraska are now available for the public consumption of anyone who cares to take a gander, for example.  how would she feel about that right now?  in ten years?  in twenty years?  as my blog has gotten a bit more popular in recent months (still very tiny however), i have briefly considered making the switch to a for-profit blog...but what repercussions would that have for my daughter?  suddenly her childhood memories are closely tied up with our livelihood, before she's even old enough to understand what's happening, much less give her consent.  i guess i am just so curious how we'll all be viewing this mommy-blogging zeitgeist five or ten or twenty years from now.  empowering women to share their experience?  or exploiting our children for page-views?

like i said though, my blog is still so tiny that i don't really have to worry much about these dilemmas.  it's just something i've been thinking about lately.  i know that a big portion of the people who read this are just family and friends who appreciate getting a glimpse into our lives that they might not ordinarily.  frankly, it's an honor that anyone cares at all!  and i do love blogging, the excuse to write on the reg and formulate my random thoughts and experiences into something coherent and memorable.  i often feel better after pressing "publish," and i have loved the chance to meet and interact with other woman and mothers on this ol' internet of ours.  i just never want my kiddo to feel like i have violated her privacy, however good my intentions are, you know?

i don't know - i'd love to hear your thoughts, whether you're a blogger or lover of blogs.  and i wanted to explain why i haven't been blogging lately...just had to mull some things over, i guess.  it makes me sad to think about no longer writing in this little blog o' mine; i definitely don't think i'll quit completely.  ah, if i only i could visit future-shoshi and ask her what she thinks...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

i'm back y'all!

gosh, i win slacker blogger of the year, huh?  sorry it's been so long since i've written.  i guess sometimes you're feelin it and sometimes you're not, and that is a true beauty of having a blog that brings in zero dollars.  thanks for checking in though, it means a lot to me and i'm going to be updating more often in the days to come.

every year christmas for me becomes a lesson in letting go of the list, paring it down to its most essential, choosing experiences over things, simplifying and remembering that this moment, this, is all there is.  simple, homemade gifts, made with love: that's where it's at.  we have been starting new traditions and remembering the old.  getting ready for sho's first airplane ride in four days.  making wrapping paper (see above) and putting the finishing touches on all our gifts, sho and i both.  learning how to co-parent again, now that sho's dad is back in town after two months spent in california.  (this one is beyond frustrating at times...deep breaths.)  holding my daughter extra close, and parenting her just a little more gently, in the wake of what happened in connecticut.  feeling grateful for this time i have been given, to be alive and be shoshi's mama.  everything else pales in comparison.    

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Friday, November 30, 2012

the great bear adventure (washington dc)

next stop for our worldly bear: washington dc!  my little brother matty actually lives in connecticut, and his girlfriend amanda is going to med school in virginia, but they met up in dc to show the bear a patriotic good time.  and what could be more patriotic than the most phallic monument of our nation?  

sho adores matt and amanda so much - the last time they visited, she actually sobbed heartbrokenly when they left.  i don't know who is more excited to be spending the week with them this christmas, sho or me.  cannot wait!  my little bro is super-smart and funny, and we always got along pretty great as kids. (the possible exception being the time he once locked me in our shed, and when he finally opened the door i swiftly punched him in the face as hard as i could. for a terrible moment i thought i had killed him (the ol' nose bone into the brain situation) and was so horrified that i didn't even mind the subsequent fury/ass-kicking i received.  ah, the magical bond of siblings!  really though, mostly we got along great.)  i really lucked out getting him as my brother...previous story notwithstanding. and my family all adores amanda so much, and pretty much can't believe our luck that our goofy matty ever won the heart of such a beautiful, kind, smart woman.  anyway, these pictures are great.  my favorite part of this bear project might be imagining my loved ones taking so many total nutter pictures of a teddy bear in matt's case, also directly in front of a secret service agent.  thanks for being willing to look slightly crazy, you guys!  that's love.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

the great bear adventure (philadelphia and new orleans)

next stop, new orleans!  where my friend emily lives with her brand-new husband jon.  she also went to philly with her sister and brought the ol' bear along...he is turning into a seriously well-traveled little dude!  if only i could mail myself in a priority box for about six bucks and go to visit all these pals o' mine...i'm starting to get a bit jealous of this bear.

emily is the kind of person who always has a new, almost unbelievably crazy story to tell every time you see her.  for the first few months i knew her, i totally secretly wondered if she might be an ever-so-slightly pathological liar, because her stories were just so outlandish and hilarious (although at the end of the day i didn't really care).  but then (once i went along for the ride on a few of them), i figured out that she's just the kind of person who's up for anything, and therefore always has interesting friends and stories and insights.  she never judges either, which is one of my all-time favorite traits in a friend.  thanks for taking the bear on his first emily adventure, emilia! and double-thanks for the angsty train track shots (it HAD to be done) and the super-secret spy portrait.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

the great bear adventure (vermont)

in yesterday's post, we left shoshi's teddy bear in the bustling metropolis of new york, hopping from taxis to the subway to mopeds on his quest to find shoshi. his next stop is a tiny farm in vermont, where our friends tim and casey live in a circular house and raise chickens and grow food together. i've been friends with casey since we were fourteen, and lucky me for that, because she has a heart of gold and a great contagious enthusiasm for life. we had so many adventures involving secret lakes and road trips and mixtapes in high school together. nowadays her partnership with tim, a solidly good man, is one of those rare and shining ones that gives me hope for relationships and the world in general. and, i can say this publicly now, they're having a baby! i am beyond excited, and spent the weekend washing and folding all of sho's most memory-laden hand-me-downs, which i've painstakingly saved for the next baby in our crew. finally, sho gets a cousin! (well, pretty much. all the women who helped with this bear project are sho's adoring "aunties," making her possibly the luckiest kid in the entire world.)

anyway, when casey sent these pictures she was all, "if you don't use them i totally understand.  i had [this insanely awesome plan] and [this equally crazily amazing plan] but i had the flu the entire time we had the bear so this is what we threw together, i'm sorry."  uhh...casey you are crazy.  these pictures are so rad.  goodnight moon, a chicken, and a hot air balloon ride?  while you have influenza?  color me impressed!  i also love the contrast between the bear's nyc and vermont adventures, and of course the glimpse into both my faraway friends' lives.  thank you so much for hosting shoshi's bear, casey and tim!    


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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

the great bear adventure (new york city)

awhile ago, i asked shoshi what she wanted for christmas and she said, "an apple.  and a teddy bear."  pretty lofty dreams there!  because i can never do anything simple and easy like just buy my kid a stuffed animal, i came up with a rather grand idea for the teddy bear portion of her list.  i decided to make a picture book of this teddy bear's adventure from santa's workshop to shoshi.  he gets lost on the way and goes on an epic voyage around the country looking for her, asking at each stop, "are you my shoshi?"  "no," our friends reply, "but i think i know someone who might be able to find her..." and the bear is off again.  i ended up buying two identical bears, one to send to out-of-towners and one to stay here for the kalamazoo friends and family pictures.  the bear has already made five stops around the country, and the pictures from his adventures are starting to trickle in.  they are amazing!  seriously, too amazing not to share.  i can feel the love and silliness radiating from each one, and i'm so touched that shoshi's closest loved ones have all put so much effort into this goofy project of mine.  i'm excited to share some highlights from each of the bear's stops with you.  first!

kelsey and i have been friends since first grade, which makes her my oldest friend.  she's an amazing artist living in brooklyn now, but i'm proud to say i've known her since the days of endless stirrup pants, lisa frank stickers, and concocting elaborate potions in her family's upstairs bathroom.  we were both slightly strange kids who grew together into slightly strange teenagers, and somehow remained friends through the transformation and on into (slightly strange) adulthood.  we rented a house together (with our totally strange friend emily) our senior year of college in ann arbor and THAT was a good, weird year for sure.  she is such a dear friend to me and shoshanna, and it made me smile so much to see these pictures and imagine kelsey approaching strangers and photographing a teddy bear everywhere she went like a total nutjob.  thanks, kelso!

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Monday, November 26, 2012

holiday crafts you can do with kids, part 3

for this project, i was inspired by these embroidered bookmarks, but really you could embroider anything and turn it into a top-notch holiday gift (especially for grandparents) - a pillow, quilt square, apron or (in this case), a heating pad.  shoshi and i went to visit our friend sara last night after her most recent chemo treatment, and wanted to bring a lil something for her.  heating pad it was!  i'm obsessed with these - super easy to make, and so cozy and warm.  sometimes i heat one up even when i have no aches and pains whatsoever, just to cuddle with its warmth.  it reminds me of the days of placing a hot water bottle at the foot of the bed (or better yet, for its old-timey factor, bricks pulled from the woodstove fire and wrapped in a rag).  i'm even working on a stuffed bunny (with silky ears) for sho that's filled with rice, so it can be heated up before bed.  how cuddly is that?  i will keep you posted about my success/failure with that one.  anyway, this project!

the part that elevates it from mere heating pad to something far greater is the embroidered portrait of the recipient, drawn by your little one.  i had shoshi sketch out a drawing of sara before bedtime, and when she woke up the next morning i had the finished product ready and waiting for her to see.  she really does get a little thrill out of seeing her artwork immortalized with fabric and thread, and the person receiving it is pretty much guaranteed to adore it.  (possible exception: hitler?)

i cut out a square of fabric and embroidered the portrait in the upper left corner - i think you can use some sort of transfer pen for this, or if your child is older and less taken with flourishes of scribbles all over their completed drawing, you could have them draw directly onto the fabric with a fine marker.  in the past i've traced sho's drawing onto a lightweight white fabric, but this grey linen was too dark for that method, so i just glanced at her drawing as i stitched freehand.  i used a stiff stabilizing fabric for the back and trimmed around it when i was done embroidering.  as an afterthought, i cut out a tiny heart from a scrap of felt, and stitched that onto the fabric as well.  embroidery is great - it's mindless and portable, so you can do it while lounging around and still feel like you're getting something done.  

to sew the heating pad, just fold the square in half, right sides together, and sew along the three sides, leaving a two-inch gap unsewn.  turn the rectangle right side out and iron.  stuff with rice, enough so it has a good heft to it but is still floppy.  i used a rolled-up piece of paper as a sort of funnel for this step, which made it lots easier.  if you have any essential oil on hand (lavender would be nice), now would be the time to add several drops.  then sew up the open side, either by hand or on your machine using a zig-zag stitch.  i also sewed the opposite side, for aesthetic balance.  et voila!  isn't it sweet?  my two-year old is obviously still too little to really do this craft with me, but i told my friend at work about the idea and her five-year old daughter made a bookmark over the weekend that she mostly embroidered all by herself, with a little help from her mom.  ahh...i do love crafty kiddos.  start 'em young, i say!  and as with any project i post on this little blog, if you end up making this i'd love to see a photo and hear all about it!     

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