Miss Fancy Pants

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Anya’s aunt sent her a pretty dress and a zany swimsuit for her birthday. When Anya’s teacher told the class they’d get to play in the sprinklers the next afternoon, Anya knew right away what she was going to wear.

I’m not a big stickler about what Anya wears out of (or in) the house. My requirements are that whatever it is be mostly clean and mostly fit and not be so out of season as to cause fear of heat stroke or frostbite to rise in my heart. So, when Anya came out of her bedroom that morning in just her swimsuit, I paused for a bit. I really did want her to wear a bit more than a swimsuit to school, but I wasn’t sure how to say it without making a big deal out of it. Eventually I somehow managed to convince her that it would probably be nice to wear a dress or something over it until that afternoon when the sprinklers came out.

This is what she came up with.


In case you can’t tell, in addition to her swimsuit, she is wearing a tie-dyed tank top UNDERNEATH the suit and a froofy sparkly skirt pulled up under the tutu on the suit. This kid rocks.

The Cake Boss

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This year for Anya’s birthday party (which was over a month ago, yes), we shared the day with another little girl from school whose birthday is only a few days before Anya’s. They are in different classes, but nearly everyone Anya wanted to invite, the other girl wanted to invite, too, so it seemed like a good way to keep everyone from being over-birthdayed. It was sort of strange to coordinate with another family, especially since we parents don’t know each other all that well. Luckily one thing we two moms had in common was a fairly laid back approach to the event.

I’m not sure if we didn’t do a theme because it would have been tough to get both girls to agree on something or because we moms just didn’t feel like it. Either way, we didn’t have any sort of theme other than lets have some fun! We held the party at the school, and it was definitely nice to not have to worry about having a bunch of people over (no extra cleaning!). Plus there was lots of room for the kids to run around outside (until it started raining, at least).

If you are considering holding a joint birthday party for your child, I will warn you about one thing. Present-opening time is CHAOS. (Perhaps this is a look at what it’s like to have two kids at Christmas?)


Each birthday girl had her own cake. I suppose (going back to the theme thing) if we’d had a theme, we could have made one giant sheet cake, but since we didn’t and since both girls had different ideas about what they wanted and since there were going to be a LOT of people there, we had two cakes. For about two weeks before the event, Anya insisted she wanted a strawberry cake. I even pureed up the last of our frozen garden strawberries to make one, but before I got to that point she changed her mind. She wanted a chocolate cake, of course. I had planned to make the strawberry cake from scratch, but when we switched to chocolate for some reason I felt the need to go with a box mix. We got to the store and, yup, she changed her mind again. She wanted a yellow cake. With chocolate frosting. And strawberries on top. So, I guess in a way all her ideas were mixed into one cake.


We made a two layer cake, but I’d planned on a big sheet cake so we had extra batter. A few cupcakes and a tiny space ship cake later, the batter (GREEN) was in the oven. After it cooled, which took FOREVER according to Anya, we frosted it and went to sleep. What a day!


The next morning, I whipped up some frosting and colored it according to Anya’s wishes. I filled up the decorating bags, and then Anya took over. I did help her squeeze the frosting out on the main cake, but she did all the designing. I was really impressed with how well she did. When she was satisfied with the frosting decoration, she added strawberries, and then TADA!


Anya decorated the cupcakes completely on her own. I got distracted doing something else, and then I turned around and BOOM. She was done. The cake was awesome, but the cupcakes were even more fabulously decorated. Perhaps from now on I should have her make my birthday cakes instead of Andy?



Her real birthday was on a school day, so we made some chocolate chip cookies to take to class.


Then we skipped out early, and Anya, Gramma, Grampa and I did what every normal person does for a 6-year-old’s birthday. We went to a plant nursery. What? Don’t you celebrate birthdays with plants? (I remember one birthday of mine about ten years ago, some of my friends in MI kidnapped me and took me to a nursery for my birthday. One of the plants I got that day is growing right now in my backyard, and I think of those friends every time I see it.) This nursery had about a dozen greenhouses in two rows, each with a number on it. Anya ran from greenhouse to greenhouse (in order, of course!) and squealed when she entered each one. She picked out some tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, cucumbers, herbs, and a LOT of different kinds of flowers.


That night we opened a few more presents.


And played with some presents.


And went to sleep happy.

Everything old is new again

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Last weekend I finished putting down the pictures for my 2010 scrapbook. (If you know anything about folks who scrapbook, you’ll know we are almost always behind. And we really like to talk about adhesives.) So, unlike most scrapbook folks I’ve met, I approach my books with an assembly-line mentality.

Step 1: organize all pictures and memorabilia chronologically
Step 2: put down all pictures with some decorative paper
Step 3: journal on all pages (that’s where you write the wordy stuff)
Step 4: add all titles

This works for me. I’ve found that each of these steps requires a different sort of thinking and way of working, and when I tried to do all the steps for each set of pages one spread at a time, I got bogged down. I’m going to say that learning this (how I work) is why I am three years behind. Yeah, that’s why. (Of course there are those rare people — I know only one — who are current on their books, so they can do one spread at a time, all parts at once, easy peasy.)

So yeah, last weekend I finished Step 2 on 2010. To prepare for Step 3, I printed out all my 2010 blog posts. What a great help that is for me to remember what was going on in all those cool pictures. Today I started journaling for 2010 and was all, “Yay! Happy blog posts to help me” and then I was all, “Damn, I’ve only written about 10 posts in 2012 and 2013 combined. What the bleep will I write in those books?” This is a realization I have every six months or so, and then I start blogging again really faithfully. For about a week and a half. And then I forget. And then I finish Steps 1 and 2 of the next book. And then I remember.

An interesting thing about this is that by writing this post about how I haven’t been writing posts, I am fulfilling an inner need to write a post. But I’m not really writing about anything that would help with my next scrapbook. Unless I decided to make a scrapbook about scrapbooking. (I just had to google “a scrapbook about making a scrapbook.” I didn’t really find anything, but I didn’t try too hard.)

If I made a scrapbook of scrapbooking, what would I put on the cover page? It’d be neat to take a photo of the finished book for the cover, but how can I take a picture of it if I need the picture of it to finish it so I can take the picture so I can finish it? This is harder than I imagined!

So, the first spread could be of me going to the store to buy a book. I could include my sales receipt and maybe a copy of the craft store flier for that week; a copy of the coupon I used. I suppose before that I could have a photo of me digging through my stuff to see if I already had a book I could use, but then I’d have to take a picture of me throwing my arms up in resignation after three giant bags of yarn and a dozen paint bottles fall on my head when I open the craft closet.

The second spread would be me picking out which pictures to send to print and then getting the package in the mail and then sorting the pictures. Again we’re back to the chicken and the egg thing because I’d have to wait until I was done with the book so I had pictures to print so I could take pictures of me printing the pictures.

What next? Perhaps a spread where I take a scrapbook hiatus and make cards for a few months? Or maybe a montage from all the times I missed scrapbook opportunities with my friends because I was (a) sick, (b) snowed in, (c) out of town, (d) busy with a school or other kid-related function, or (c) incredibly forgetful.

I’d definitely need to include a spread or two of me going back to the craft store a few dozen times to get the doodads I need. And some of me climbing through the craft closets and stomping my feet when I can’t find what I need (which, of course, means I need to go back to the craft store). Perhaps I could write a short poem for this section called, “Where the bleep is my adhesive gun?”

There’d be a few pages of me cropping pictures and cutting paper and staring at paper and cutting more paper and sticking pictures and paper on cardstock and holding the results in the air and blinking a lot and sighing and pondering and going to get a snack.

Of course there would be some pages about crops/crafty days with friends. I’d journal some of the gossip (names removed to protect the innocent). I’d rate the comfort level of the chairs at the different crop locations. If I was feeling particularly spunky, perhaps I’d even do something daring like snitch one embellishment from each cropper present to use on these pages. Well, no. I’d probably just ask each person for something, and they’d give me something because crafters are generally like that.

And there would be some really dark pages there towards the end. From when I hit that super bleak spot around the end of Step 3 when I realize all I have left (ALL! HA!) is cutting 30+ titles out on the cricut and then xyroning them onto the pages. These would be tales of torture. Of the taunting light at the end of the tunnel hovering just out of reach, and no matter how fast you run the tunnel keeps getting longer so the light is always the same distance away and it’s just you stuck in that tunnel with the mechanical whine of the cricut and then you put the letters in the xyron backwards or you lose the “o” for “Snow Day” and you are all out of the exact right shade of white that you used for “Snw Day” or even worse yet your letters get all mixed up and you forget what you spelled out and then you have to play a twisted game of “Wheel of Fortune” to try and figure out what you wanted to say. These pages would be on black card stock.

The next spread would be the one where I start to wonder if the book really needs titles at all. There’d be pictures of me sitting, gazing off into the distance, thinking very hard about calling the book done as is. But then there would be a photo of me with a look of resolve on my face and maybe a rainbow sticker over my head as I realize I just need to push on.

At the end, I’d probably need to do a page with gratitude and acknowledgement of all those who’d helped me. Perhaps a list of the supplies I’d used. Because that’s what scrapbook people do. “This is the Smooshie line of paper from X,Y, and Z company. And the flower embellishments came from Flibbertygibbets.” Of course my list would be more like, “I used some paper I got from the free pile at the last crop, and the flowers were from…oh wait, was I supposed to put embellishments on this thing? Crap! Does that meant there is a Step 5? Am I not done yet! What the FNURFLE?”

The very, very last page, the one at the end that isn’t a spread but is just one page…that would be a photo of me with a gleam in my eye as I hold a stack of photos and another empty book and there would be a thought bubble over my head that says, “YAY! Time to start a new book! I can’t wait!”


The Pot Maker

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I bet if everyone knew you could buy a Pot Maker, which turns ordinary newspaper into ordinary pot, well, I bet things would be different.


Darn. I really feel like I should be able to come up with some awesome pot jokes given this great prop, but I see now that I didn’t even take the photo correctly. You can’t even tell it’s a Pot Maker. It could be a Bot Maker or a Rot Maker or a rare and coveted 3ot Maker.

So, Spring is on the horizon, and [even though I told Andy at one point last summer when the weeds had taken over and the groundhogs had eaten the last cucumber vine: “the gardening part of me is dead”] I decided to give gardening another go this year. Ever since we moved here oh so many years ago (SEVEN!), we’ve tried to garden and mostly failed. Last year was the best, but still pretty much all we got were potatoes and pumpkins. This is sort of embarrassing what with me supposedly being a Master Gardener(tm). This year, though…this year is going to be different! Yah! We’ll have potatoes AND pumpkins AND one more thing! It may even be something we like to eat!

I’ve had my Bot Maker for probably about 15 years, and I’ve never used it. What with my newly found gardening zest and determination, now seemed like a good time to break it in. Anya is absolutely in love with the Rot Maker. Even though we didn’t have any newspaper last night, we still had to make some pot…s. We used some drawing paper she’d doodled on, and it worked really well. Then today, we had to take it to school to show everyone how to make pot….s. I guess there wasn’t time to in class today to learn about making pot…..s, but the teacher said she’d love to have us bring the 3ot maker back another time. I don’t really intend to grow any plants from seeds, so I’m not sure what we’ll do with all the finished pot…..s. Want some?

Too much of anything, even pot making, is not good for anyone. [Plus we haven’t finished reading the weekly local newspaper yet. It just arrived today, and there’s a sudoku puzzle in there!] Because it’s still way too early here to plant anything and I want to keep my excitement alive and educate the kid and actually do something I’ve pinned on Pinterest….I bring you my Great Bean Experiment.


The original looks a bit more interesting. I clearly have too large a container and too small a bean to ever have my experiment Pinned. Hrmpf. I wonder if I get extra points for having FOUR beans instead of just one?

The experiment started yesterday, and not much has happened yet. No wee green sprouts. No fuzzy white mold. No giant stalks shooting up into the sky, which I freely admit I am glad about because we got a bunch of snow yesterday and it is COLD and I am pretty sure our insurance wouldn’t cover that. I suppose if one day the beans do sprout, we’ll be prepared what with all the pot….s.

The only rule in Chess Club is…

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Actually there are quite a few rules in Chess Club because…well, chess, you know? You can’t be moving your pieces about willy nilly and you can’t be calling the knights “horsies” or the rooks “castles” or the pawns the “lowly peons.”

Can you believe my kid is in Chess Club? This is the part where it would be fun to tell you about how Anya is a chess genius and how she plans to sweep the world’s chess tournaments in 2013, but pretty much she plays a beginner’s chess game with her buddy E. for about half an hour and then runs around chasing balloons. Also, apparently, there may be cookies involved. (No one told me this, or I’d have joined Chess Club, too.) Balloon chasing and cookies aside, I still think it’s pretty cool.


It all started the Thursday afternoon before the school’s Mardi Gras Ball. (If you haven’t read about it, you should. It was a blast! Don’t worry if you missed it; you can join us next year!) I was running around school putting things together to take over the hall for the party, and Anya stumbled upon Chess Club, where three of her friends were engrossed over a game. Anya asked me if she could watch them, and she did. She stayed the whole time, and afterwards she asked me if she could join. And also, could we get a chess board, please?

A few days later, we had this: No Stress Chess. It’s a beginner’s chess game where the players draw cards to determine which piece to move next. Each card also shows you which ways the piece can move. It’s good for learning, but if you already know how to play it’s a bit frustrating; you see a move you could make, but no, you didn’t pick the card for that piece and so you have to move some other piece and then the King runs away and you lose.

Anya has requested to play chess a few times a week since we got the new board. Sometimes we use the cards, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we play by the rules, and sometimes we don’t. And that’s okay because even though there are rules in Chess Club, we don’t worry so much about them at home. Please, don’t tell them I still call the pieces horsies and castles and lowly peons. Shhhhhhhhhhh!

Visiting the Big City – Part 3

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When we last saw our heroes, they were bravely…sleeping.

On our last full day in DC, we awoke and set off in search of food. (I will now take a moment to reflect on how, in such a big city, there are surprisingly few restaurants open on weekend mornings.) We decided to head in the direction of our target, the Museum of Fine Art, and hope that we would stumble across some place to eat. During our travels, we saw and heard our first real-live DC protesters marching along, “Hey! Obama! We don’t need your *mumblemumblemumblesomethingthatrhymeswithobama!”

We ended up in an ORGANIC bistroy-chain-type place. Everything was ORGANIC. The staff wore shirts that said ORGANIC. The menu couldn’t just say, “Everything here is organic.” No, it had to list that the ORGANIC french toast was made from ORGANIC bread made from ORGANIC grains and the syrup was ORGANIC and the water was ORGANIC and the tables and the silverware and the lights and the doorknobs were ORGANIC. The food was good, but the tables were crammed in too closely and as we left, my big ORGANIC butt nearly took out the ORGANIC beverages of our neighboring ORGANIC diners. HA.

Now it is time for a random geeky reference: Look! We found the Tree of Gondor!


We made it to the museum, and the first five minutes were good, but I really should have taken it as a sign we should turn around and leave when I set off an alarm and Andy got reprimanded by a guard (two separate incidents) all before we’d left the first exhibit.

That first exhibit had fancy, old furniture. I was hoping I’d find some items decorated with quilling, but when I saw the embroidered fire screen, I figured that was interesting enough for closer inspection. I leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaned towards the screen to check out the stitching close up and then BEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! I jumped back and when no one tackled me to the ground I figured I would survive and quickly moved away from the motion sensor guarding the embroidery. I met back up with Andy and Anya just as Andy was putting Anya up on his shoulders so she could peer into a fancy, old game table (checkers AND backgammon!). A guard boomed, “You can’t do that.” Andy put Anya down and there was much, “I’m sorry! She’s short!” The guard glared (he’d probably seen/heard me set off the alarm), and we raced out.

We behaved for a while and looked at all sorts of neat paintings and sculptures and whatnots from olden days. Anya really liked the Degas ballerina sculptures. I really liked the super old books. I’m not sure what Andy really liked, but I’m guessing the naked lady statues. After wandering the mazey building for a while, Anya and I crashed on a couch and waited for Andy to finish exploring. That’s when things really started to get bad. The kid entered meltdown mode.

[In this photo, Anya had not yet melted. I don’t like taking photos in art museums, but in this central atrium place it seemed okay. I do like photos in my posts.]


There are few places actually good for a five-year-old to have a meltdown. The middle of an art museum is definitely not one of them. I had no idea where Andy was, I couldn’t leave the building because we’d checked our coats and Andy had the tickets, people were glaring, the guard was staring, and I was about to scream. I picked up the very unhappy kid and tried to figure out how to get out. (Did I mention the building was a maze?) We made it back to the lobby, I texted Andy “HELP. COME NOW” and I tried to contain the beast until Andy arrived. Thankfully, I didn’t set off any alarms, no guards boomed at me, and Andy arrived before I went to find out if the coat check room took kids.

Andy had been looking forward to this museum the whole trip, and we waited until the last day because a new exhibition was opening that he wanted to see. So, I let him stay and finish up while the kid and I headed back to the hotel. I think she screamed for 15 minutes. I don’t really remember what happened after we got back to the hotel, but I am pretty sure it involved jellybeans and a nap.

[Here’s some art from the hotel. I’m putting the picture here because I thought this post needed more pictures, and I was just talking about art and the hotel. Doesn’t this look like someone slapped a bunch of scrapbook paper on a canvas and framed it?]


Naps make everything better. Dinner is good, too. We decided to try an Italian place near the hotel. The hotel people had said it was “somewhat” child friendly. When we walked in with a kid, I think the staff tried to use their collective mind power to get us to leave. But then the girl with the blue hair and a cow costume came in, and the staff had to divert their super powers…leaving us to have our dinner in psychic peace.

We decided to take the metro to our last museum of the trip, and as we zipped along in warmth and relative comfort I found myself wondering, “WHY haven’t we been taking the metro the whole time???” Alas, our destination was a sad one because the Air and Space Museum was not among those open late on weekends. We peered through the windows a bit and then, after promising Anya we’d see it first the next time we visited DC, we marched back across the mall to the Natural History Museum, which was still open.

We only had about an hour, and we spent it in the history of humans area. Anya was fascinated with ancient humans, and we stayed until we heard that boomy voice all security guards must have as a prerequisite for employment: “CLOSING TIME!” Before we left, though, we did manage to get pictures made of what we’d look like if we had been early humans.


It was all downhill from there. Eating cold leftovers in the hotel room, folding dirty laundry so it would fit in the luggage, stashing the fancy schmancy soap and lotion in our high tech cosmetic case — the ziplock bag. Sleeping, waking, metro to Union Station, back on the bus, back home, barfing in the grocery store, barfing in the car, and, of course, a nap.

The End.

Visiting the Big City – Part 2

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I started the day with a bubble bath, and then we were off to The Hamilton for brunch. They seated us in a booth with doors. DOORS. The booth had doors. I suppose when you ask the concierge at the fancy schmancy hotel where a good place to eat is, you are going to be sent to fancy schmancy restaurants where the booths have doors. Surprisingly, the meal didn’t cost all that much more than a chain, but it was sooo much better. Sometimes I find myself day dreaming about that french toast with the lake of buttery syrup on top. (And yes, we did close the doors.)

Our first museum of the day was the Museum of American History, or as Anya called it, “The Place with the Ruby Red Slippers.” Half of the museum is under construction, and I was worried the slippers wouldn’t be on exhibit. We wandered around in war exhibits for a loooong time. I think one floor was all war. My favorite part of the war floor was all the clothing exhibits. This surprised me a bit ’cause I’m not a clothes person, but the embroidery and other detail work really caught my attention.

Finally we found what we’d been looking for…the slippers! YAY! Anya was being a goober, though, and I think I bribed her with two pounds of twizzlers to get her to pose for this photo.


In the same area, I also found my favorite part of the non-war floor: Kermit!


For some reason on this day we had trouble keeping together as a group, and so while I analyzed Julia Child’s kitchen, the kid and the dude went off somewhere else. I’m not sure where. I finished and hit the gift store, where the other two later joined me. The entire time we were in DC, we only bought two souvenirs: a ruby slipper magnet and a paddle ball thingy for the kid. How we managed to escape without any t-shirts or post cards or ball caps or stuffed animals or whatever, I’m not sure.


Back to the hotel for a nap, and then we were off to the second museum of the day. First, though, we had to stop at the carousel, on which Anya “wheeee’d” for the entire ride.


Then we were on to a sculpture museum, which also had non-sculpture stuff. Most of the stuff inside was that crazy modern art where you paint a canvas blue and say VOILA. Still it was fun, and we all agreed that the coolest things were the snake made of backpacks winding around the ceiling of one floor and these great zodiac statues outside.


We had dinner reservations, and so we had to practically run allllllll the way across town to get to the Old Ebbitt Grill on time. When we arrived the place was packed, but we were shown right to our table. Yay for reservations! [I’d like to take a moment here to talk about fabric. In particular I’d like to talk about how vinyl-like fabrics (that is to say smooth fabrics) really are key to successful seating in booths. When booth benches are upholstered in, say, fuzzy velvet-like fabrics, the ability to scoot across the seat vanishes.] Anya says this place has the best mac and cheese EVER, and although I wasn’t too keen on my dinner, the dessert was awesome. I really should have listened to the waiter when I ordered my entree because he was right on with dessert. Oh well.

We all rolled back to the hotel, stopping briefly for the required tourist shot outside the White House.


Back at the hotel, Andy and Anya took bubble baths, I did some crewel work, and then we all crashed.

To be continued….

Visiting the Big City – Part 1

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One great thing about Anya’s school is that we get lots of breaks. We are now finishing up a week-long mid-winter break, and although I am most definitely glad to return to our regularly scheduled program, I am also most definitely glad to have had the time off to explore new places with my family.

A few months ago, Anya’s teacher sent home a dinosaur book in Anya’s homework bag. In the book, the main character goes to a super cool museum jam packed with dinosaur fossils. Andy and I wondered if the book was based on a real place, and if it was could we go there?? Turns out the museum is real and it is in New York City. We pondered for a while how we could make that trip happen, but we decided it wasn’t doable right now. However, there are these pretty cool museums in this little town nearby called Washington, D.C.

When I realized that mid-winter break was coming up, I suggested to Andy that we maybe go to DC. He jumped on the idea, and the next thing I knew, he’d reserved a hotel and figured out which bus (YES BUS) we’d take to get there. I’m not sure which excited Anya more: the idea of going to DC or the idea of riding a bus for a long trip. I know what did not excite me: waking up at 1:30 am to drive to town to sit in the cold and wait for the bus to show up.

Buses are nice. Why don’t more people travel by bus? (Maybe that waking up at 1:30 am?) I get that it’s not the best thing if you’ve got a baby or a gaggle of kids or if you are on crutches or if you have a ton of money and can fly everywhere or if you need to pee every hour. It is so nice, though, to sit back and chill and let someone else do the driving. On the way there, we all three slept. On the way back, we played cards together. All the passengers were quiet and respectful and the bathroom didn’t stink and there was wifi. Megabus, you have my vote.


We arrived in DC around 7:30 am. Yay! Rush hour! The bus dropped us off at Union Station, and we had to get on the metro subway thingy to get to the hotel. There are LOTS of escalators involved with the subway. Escalators are scary. On the first one we encountered, Anya freaked out a bit. Andy went first, and Anya was supposed to go second, with me following behind. She stepped on and I stepped on and she stepped back off and then there Andy and I were going down the escalator with Anya at the top holding up traffic. (Did I mention it was rush hour?) I was turned around calling up to Anya trying to get her to step on, and the next thing I know THUNK. My shoe caught at the bottom where the escalator swallows the belt to send it back up and around. The good thing is that (unlike my in life-long fears of being eaten by an escalator) I wasn’t sucked into the escalator’s teeth. The bad thing is that (did I mention it was rush hour) my foot stopped the escalator. [Interesting Note: When we were leaving DC a few days later, that escalator still was not working. Oops.]

We emerged from the subway and after getting lost a few times and asking a hot dog vendor for directions, we made it to our hotel. They let us stash our bags there even though we couldn’t check in yet, and after Anya changed out of her pajamas we headed into the big city. The first museum on our list was, of course, the Museum of Natural History (aka The Dinosaur Museum). Turns out it didn’t open for a while, so we had breakfast in a food court at the old post office building and then headed back.


Pretty much the moment we cleared security at the museum, Anya took off skipping and squealing, “OOOO! LOOK AT THAT LOOK AT THAT LOOK AT THAT!” We saw sea creatures and mammals and mummies and gems and orchids


and REAL LIVE SCIENTISTS working with fossils in the fossil lab and baby butterflies and meteorites and a movie about our ancestors where we got to sit with one of our relatives


and of course we also saw dinosaurs. (No, this photo is not of a dinosaur, but it is a really old critter!)


Somewhere around the gems and mummies, we all started to crash. Luckily we were able to check into our hotel early. It was a super fancy hotel that Andy got some good deal on, and I think they maybe thought we were super fancy, too. But we aren’t. I felt a little out of place when the tall dude with the fancy coat and top hat opened the doors for us with a “Bonjour!” And then there were the super posh flower arrangements in the lobby. And the real live painting hanging over the bed in our room.


And the bathroom with a shower AND a tub AND a hairdryer in its own little cloth bag.


And then later? Some fancy-dressed dude brought us a little dessert plate because Andy’s good deal involved some sort of membership in a super-schmancy platinum diadem club or something.


The view from our windows was fascinating. I could watch folks working in the offices in the buildings across the street, and I could see people coming and going at the hotel entrance, and I could watch all the cars as evening rush hour came and went. After napping and munching and napping and looking out the windows and taking baths and napping, we went out in search of nail clippers, bubble bath, and soda. All three were conveniently found at a nearby CVS, which was on the other side of a small park with a neat monument and ducks and rats.

To be continued…

My kingdom for a “before” picture

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I hope I didn’t build up the anticipation too much with my last post. We didn’t actually do a huge redesign of Anya’s room in an HGTV sort of way. We didn’t repaint, we didn’t add accessories, we didn’t build a bookcase out of recycled soda bottles. Mostly? We moved stuff around.

Since I forgot to take a before picture of the room, those of you who haven’t seen her room will probably just say, “Ah. Okay.” There are probably only a very select few of you out there who have seen her room in all it’s “how do you get from the door to the bed” glory. For those of you who haven’t, I’ll lead you through a little visualization activity. Ready?

Close your eyes. Imagine a really messy kid room with all that junk from the previous photo (where it’s on the floor) on the floor of that kid’s room. [Hey, how are you reading this if your eyes are closed?] Add in a laundry basket of dress-up clothes, three armfuls of regular clothes (dirty, clean, who knows?),and a wheel barrow of stuffed animals. Got it? Good. You can open your eyes now.

So, without further ado, here is the Cleanly Swept (yes, we did actually sweep it) room of Anya:



Look! Floor! In fact, there is so much floor now, we really ought to get a rug. The truly magical part is that her room still looks like this.

Operation Clean Sweep

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Back in the day (I’m not sure which day it was), I loved watching a show called “Clean Sweep.” It was the perfect mix of “Hoarders” and a room re-design show. The cameras peeked into the chaos of the house of a “normal” family, and after those of us watching on tv had a chance to remark about how cluttered the place was, the host ordered his peons to take everything in the rooms (they did two rooms per show) outside. The homeowners would walk outside and see the mess of their rooms spread out in the front yard for all the neighbors and all the world to see. It looked something like this (but outside):


The host had four piles staked out in the yard: keep, sell, donate, trash. The homeowners didn’t get to make their own signs, but if they did, it might have looked like this:


In about 12 tv minutes, the host and the homeowners went through ALL the stuff and whittled down the pile to a fraction of the original heap. To get from Point A to Point B, though, things could get really messy and crazy and wild and look something like this:


Finally, the peons loaded the “keep” stuff back into freshly redesigned rooms while the homeowners had a garage sale and made tons of money because everyone wants to be on tv even if it is just buying someone’s junk at a yard sale.

I’m realizing now a flaw in this post…the kid is asleep and I didn’t take a picture of her freshly redesigned room. I guess I’ll leave you hanging!