get those children out of the muddy muddy

So sometimes I do this thing where I work for two months straight on a craft project, and the whole time I'm working I'm thinking about how wonderful it'll be when I'm finally done with this stupid thing and I can get some photos up on the blog. And after a billion late-night sewing sessions it's finally done, and then I pester Dan to take nice photos, and then I pester Dan to get the photos off the camera, and the I pester Dan to send me the photos, and then I upload the photos, and then I'm like.... duh, writing is hard. Explaining this project might take like a total of three paragraphs. That's like half an hour. Who needs that kind of effort.

Which is why it's almost two weeks after Harvey's birthday and I'm just now showing you what I made for him. I made an ark.

the passengers inside the ark

coming aboard?

The entire project is constructed out of felt - recycled plastic felt to be exact. The ark took the longest part because I made up the pattern for the body of the boat and did a demo. Dan helped tremendously in drafting the shape of the top decks. The little house on top was all trial and error.

ark

there's gonna be a floody floody

Of course, there are animals on an ark too. I figured the farm animals were the most important, so I made those first. First I made some pigs.

two pigs

La La

Because felt has a tendency to pull apart if it's stretched too thin, I had to stitch these pigs entirely by hand. I learned this after the first pig I made came apart in the stuffing. Total time spent making pigs, 5 hours. You don't want to know the time total for the whole project.

stuffed cows

two cows say moo moo.

The cows were a bit bigger so thankfully I could make these on the machine. The draw-back is that they had like a billion tiny pattern pieces to cut out. I bought a pattern for a 9-inch cow and scaled it by half. All the animals had to scale with each other and the door of the ark, you see, which also had to fit the normal stuffed animals that hang around the living room. So much thought went into the sizing. It's called OCD. Or parenting.

And of course I had to make Noah. He's entirely hand-stitched, although I used the machine to make his clothing. He has hair and a beard that are removable, because it's a long voyage. I figure he either grows a beard or loses his hair over 40 days.

noah without hair

before 40 days adrift

Harvey isn't so keen on Noah, although he likes the ark to put things in... out-of-playset things like legos and sippy cups. And he likes the cows very much, probably because every time he picks one up I say "Moooooooo." These days he's starting to grab one and say "mmmmuuuuuuh." He's pretty smart that little guy.

dove

PEACE OUT!

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berry monster

Before I became a parent, I dreamed of raising a child who would be as excited for delicious fresh fruit as other people's offspring are for, say, pixie sticks. It's still early days of course, but so far so good! At the farmers market he lunges violently at tables of strawberries, and waiting for me to pick him some raspberries he produces a truly alarming grunting laugh. In the cereal aisle? So far no response.

I've been indulging his desires at the markets because the end of strawberry season is nearly upon us. As always, I failed to fully appreciate the bounty of the season (never mind all that jam: I never did make the vanilla strawberry). I count myself as a sufferer of fruit guilt, the existence of which I was not aware until recently, but which symptoms describe me pretty well. That's what drives me to make jam: I just can't handle the pressure of eating fruit when it's available! Someday we'll have our own fruit plants producing at the level we want, and then it'll be a good thing that Leah and Harvey will be picking and eating because I sure won't be able to manage it.

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knee-high is like head height to him

I know it's tedious to read about Harvey's food enthusiasms two days in a row, but in the summer the new foods keep coming and the little gourmand keeps enjoying them. Last night it was some super-early local corn (is there any other kind?!), which quite surprised me by its appearance at Wilson Farm, our local farm-stand-slash-supermarket, a full month ahead of schedule—and clearly alot better than knee-high at this stage! Planted indoors and painstakingly set out one plant at a time? Probably. Harvey thought the effort was worthwhile, as he used his oh-so-sharp front teeth to enjoy corn on the cob for the first time (with help from mama holding the cob and keeping him from gnawing on the ends). What he did with the kernels once he had in his mouth I'm not quite sure; how effective is gumming on just-barely-boiled sweet corn? I guess tomorrow's diapers will tell the tale!

happy birthday Tom!

And a significant birthday it is, too, for Harvey's tonton Thomas. It would have been just perfect as a birthday treat if Ghana could have pulled off the win; as it is we'll have to settle for knowing they outplayed Uruguay for most of the game, and for regular celebratory excitements. Happy Birthday!

on the pond

Danny and Harvey at Spy Pond

with a giant pond grass

Katie and Tim invited us to Spy Pond this afternoon for the inaguaral voyage of their new kayaks. It was just the thing. The Archibalds sat on the beach while the newlyweds boated.

Katie and Tim in the new boats

still got that new-boat smell!

I lured some ducks in towards the beach with Katie's wheat thins. Harvey was thrilled at the close-up.

a duck

a little close for comfort...

After a bit, they even let Leah and me try out the boats! We took turns, so there would always be one parent onshore with Harvey. It was great fun, except apparently these are the kind of boats that you have to work hard to make them go.

Danny in a kayak on Spy Pond

lookin like I know what I'm doing!

They even took pictures of me, so there's finally photographic evidence that I exist and and am like a totally awesome boatman.

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happy 4th of July!

Harvey eating a watermelon

tastes like 4th of July

The "Picnic in the Park" in neighboring Concord is now a firm tradition in our family, with Harvey enjoying his second one this afternoon—and he hasn't had very many second times at traditions so far! (Sadly, we didn't blog his first Fourth of July... probably because I didn't like my haircut at the time and didn't want to post pictures. That, or we had a two-week old baby...)

It may be argued that Christians shouldn't be celebrating the 4th of July, but at the picnic the observations are much more about listening to music, stuffing our faces with cupcakes and watermelon, and being in community with neighbors. More than just a celebration of this country—and hey, there's plenty about the United States that I'm happy to celebrate!—4th of July is our summer festival, and it's wonderful to cut loose with some bluegrass music and tasty food, and maybe a sparkler or two after it gets dark (if we aren't asleep by then).

Harvey's back, the bike trailer, and a flag

he loves that trailer

Harvey is happy to salute those ideals... or maybe he just wants to get back into the trailer to go home!

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A Week of Independence Crafting

In honor of independence day, I'm going to celebrate our household independence from the corporate machine by blogging a full week of sewing projects. Or I'll try at least. I've got the craft projects to talk about, but finding time for the photography and explanation can always be a bit tricky. It'll depend somewhat on the corporate machine that employs me, and how busy they are this week.

yellow baby dress, front view

sunny for a summer baby

For starters, I wanted to share the dress I made for our soon expected baby niece. The pattern is the itty bitty baby dress by Rae. It's free on the internet if you want to duplicate the work. I made some alterations by making both the bodice and skirt fully lined, with the lining color extending to the front of the dress on the bottom. (This saved me needing to run to the store for piping. Or from making piping. Both things I didn't feel like doing a day before the baby shower.) I also added a belt with a bow in the back. That piece needed to be hand-sewn on the bottom, but I made up for the extra work there by leveraging some hot serger action to finish all the inside seams without pressing.

the bow in back

it ties in back

As fun and pretty as this was to make, it does not make me long for a little girl one way or the other. On one hand girls clothes are much cuter and come in much fancier colors, on the other hand pleating and ruffling are a big pain in the butt. I say it's a toss up.

You may notice that the orange fabric here is the same that I used to make Harvey's Easter pants. There's still some left over, so I'm looking for a good pattern for a little boy's button-down-shirt. Not for this week, though. I do still have a full-time job, after all.

Anyway, we eagerly await your arrival little Awangi [insert something else African sounding] Grace Archibald. Happy independence from Carters day!

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A Week of Independence Crafting - Day 2

As a general rule I don't make things for myself. There's always something that HAS to get made for Harvey, or something for some upcoming occasion, and it just seems so frivolous to spend time on an item for myself that I'll inevitably hate. When a home-made garment goes on Harvey or Dan they just look so cute that I ignore the piece's inevitable flaws. But when I wear my own work I do nothing but fume all day on how the seaming is messed up in one spot, or how the pattern is so stupid that it said do the ruffles before the straps, and I should just throw the whole thing into the fire and myself in after it.

Despite the obvious perils, I went and made something for myself last Friday. A top (again by Rae) with quilting cotton from the baby section.

Leah in a shirt she made

catalogue model

Dan says I look like a catalogue model. Did you know that they made a catalogue for chunky moms with Jewish looking noses? It's called, "For you? a little clothing. It couldn't hoiyt."

transportation alternatives

It have been very warm here for a few days, leading to the realization on the part of any number of people that a heat wave is in fact a thing. Perhaps it is an annual realization. The worst part for me is that I can't hear the words without thinking of a rather bad song. I guess they can't all be winners, even for Irving Berlin. En tout cas: Harvey and I have been hanging out at home and doing what we can to manage our heat exposure, which is mostly accomplished by heading out for expeditions on the bike.

It seems counter-intuitive, certainly, to choose a human-powered mode of transportation when the news outlets are broadcasting heat advisories and things, and we do get some odd looks from motorists. But a little bit of driving in the car today (we had to take Rascal to somewhere he could swim) showed us that, in today's weather at any rate, biking is actually cooler than driving. At least, than driving in my car with it's regrettably inefficient air-conditioning. The movement of the bike even at low speed creates a wonderful cooling breeze, an effect that isn't replicated by the much faster air around the car: not enough of it gets in, not nearly enough to counteract the effects of sitting inside a metal-and-glass box. The only thing to be careful of is going too fast. Start to work too hard, of course, and that breeze doesn't have a chance of dissipating the heat that'll quickly build up. Now if only I could find a way of dissipating the huge clouds of smugness that envelop me after I travel anywhere by bicycle...

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baby oktokaidekapus

Okay, so I work in online marketing. In the boring IT space, but still. That's what I do all day. I read up on best practices. Blogs. Twitter. I do a lot of data analysis. My job is to keep my clients relevant on the internet.

My stuff on the other hand? Not taking a hint. There was this fantastic idea tossed about over at paperpools a while ago: make some sort of t-shirt design referencing to The Last Samurai. I instantly wanted to try something out. I asked Dan to draw the picture.

Then I said, I'm getting a serger for my birthday. Why not wait a week and make the whole t-shirt from scratch?

Then I took some time threading the serger. Then adjusting the tension. Weeks went by. I made the base but got stuck at the sleeves.

I asked Dan again to draw the pattern, but a moment later I asked him to make dinner.

I made the shirt sans logo and poked Dan in the ribs saying "I can't draw!" but then Harvey needed a clean t-shirt and so he got just a plain gray t-shirt for a while.

There was an interruption in the project for Harvey's birthday. I had to sew an ark.

Then I got rolling again. Is this story taking a long time? I stopped for a while to read The Last Samurai and that was much more interesting. Dan made a beautiful design and we tested a t-shirt transfer but the test looked crappy. We decided to print on fabric and applique the printed piece to the shirt. That required a bit of a re-design. Dan had to do the same work three times because Illustrator kept quitting.

But finally! We have the shirt. Only it appears the original inspirational conversation occured on April 17th. See? There's your lesson on how not to be relevant on the internet.

Harvey modeling his oktokaidekapus shirt

18 arms to hold you

At any rate, he looks just adorable. Here is the source design. You can verify for yourself the number of legs.

The t-shirt is made from jersey knit and totally serged, which means the actually sewing part of this project only took like a total of 45 minutes. Embarrassing. Oh well, it's the cute baby picture that counts in the end.

a closer-up of the new duds

count the legs, they're all there!

At the bottom left of the image you can just glimpse a container of bubble suds. He's saying "bubble" now, my little brilliant boy. Novels next year, I think.

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Jammin the Jams

Almost to the end of independence crafting week, and I feel a bit cheated because really my pictures from yesterday had two crafts in them. In addition to the t-shirt, I also made the shorts Harvey is wearing in those photos. With the recent heat-wave light-weight cotton shorts (Jams really) have proved to be just the thing. So last night I made him another pair.

Harvey posing on a chair

watch out, he can climb now

This time I used two of my old t-shirts from the scrap bin. The yellow one came from my old Santa Monica room-mate KPPM, who got the monkey drinking alcohol masterpiece at the local Goodwill. I wore it hiply many a time, but after I became a mom I felt that a super-tight alcohol-themed tank top no longer jived with my overall image. So I recycled it into these shorts, along with another black t-shirt from the scrap pile.

I'm finding with these shorts that the stiffer and less stretchy the knit, the better (making the green ones from yesterday my preferred pair). Also, I'm not a master pattern draftsman. These shorts are a bit big and the rise is too long, even after altering the pattern to try to compensate for these factors. There's something to be said for buying patterns, I guess. Because this little guy needs a lot of shorts. He's on the move!

Harvey going up the garden stairs

up the stairs that dada built

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independence crafting week - refashion

When Harvey was born I invested in some nursing tops, which the magazines and blogs say are absolutely ESSENTIAL for breast-feeding discreetly in public.

The first few times I went out in my special tops I beamed with confidence. I can breast-feed whenever I want, wherever I want! I thought. That is, until I tried the dang things out. "Let's see... reach through here, unsnap this here... pull this out here... cover this with this... wait, he can't find the... hold on... I've just gotta cover this with this...." After a few tries I just said "To hell with it!" and pulled out my entire breast to offer to my child. The world can see an inch of exposed breast once in a while and not explode. And in the end, I decided that I hate nursing tops. Because when you're not breast-feeding, they look pretty frumpy.

the shirt before alterations

before

I wanted to end independence crafting week with a re-fashion, so I decided to re-fashion this nursing top into something I might actually like to wear these days. The first thing I had to do was get rid of the double layers of fabric on the top. I cut free the top layer, folded it down, and turned it into a long belt loop through which I could string some ribbon. Then I shortened the straps (thank you serger), sewed a dart in the back, and embellished with some spare fabric and the ribbing I had cut off the top.

the shirt after being upgraded

after

I'm pretty happy with how it came out (if not so happy with looking at myself in pictures).

I'm also happy that independence crafting week is officially over! It's been a hot week in the sewing room!

ask me again in a couple years

We went berry picking this morning, and it went alot better than the last time. We were better prepared with carrying devices, and Harvey was better prepared with an appreciation for berries and also goats, which provided him with amusement after we decided that he had eaten enough blueberries for his little tummy. That's good parenting, unlike some of the other examples we saw.

And I tell ya, nothing brings out the worst in parents like berry picking under a hot sun. Some wonderful displays of family togetherness and enthusiasm, sure, but just as much unproductive nagging, threatening, and hitting children who aren't as into the whole agriculture thing as their parents. To be fair, the parent who smacked her kid did it because he had just hit his cousin; that'll teach him not to hit, right? If you don't want to escalate all the way to physical punishment, there's always threatening to deny your little monster the traditional post-picking doughnuts (blueberry this season, and delicious!), and, once you've already told him that he's not getting the doughnut and he's still not listening, threatening to take back the toys you gave him yesterday. Is it worth it to get your blueberries at below-market rate? I say yes!

Of course, we're never going to do anything like that because we're perfect parents. We showed him what berries to pick ("not the green ones!" resounding from all corners of the farm) and gently discouraged him from pulling off leaves and stems; we allowed him to eat a representative number of berries, but not go nuts; and we provided him with an enjoyable alternative when his interest in berry-picking flagged (though his interest in berry eating was unchanged, if not stronger than before). And we'll give him some of the jam from the berries we picked, because, again unlike last year, I was able to get myself going to make both raspberry and blueberry jam the same day we picked. I also made bread this afternoon for my precious darling son to eat. Are there any parenting awards that I'm eligible for?

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lucky bay

Harvey got to go swimming today—and a grand job he did, sitting in water up to his chest and putting the back of his head in the water (or rather permitting it to be put). But swimming's got nothing on the most exciting part of the day: riding in the wheelbarrow!

Harvey in the wheelbarrow with some leaves

look, I'm helping!

let the action be unlimited

Every week—if not more often, it's hard to tell—the mail brings us Action Unlimited, a free newspaper-like thing not unlike a grocery store circular but longer and bound with a pair of staples. Until today, we've just thrown it out without a glance, or at best used it to start the fire for the grill (it's important to use what newsprint you can get your hands on when you no longer take the paper). Well, not any more! I happened to glance at the most recent issue this evening, and was positively absorbed with fascination. Whether you want to hear about local reggae shows on the library lawn or learn how to spot signs that someone is having a seizure, this is the publication for you! It's even more interesting because they rerun the little "news" pieces apparently at random as needed to fill up the space they need to run ads; the effect is strangely disorienting, destroying traditional notions of the "progress" through a text in a very refreshing fashion. Just lovely!

You can read it all yourself, wherever you are in the world, if you care to: we receive the "Concord Edition" if you'd like to fully replicate my experience.

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looking the part he was born I should play

I've been a mom for a little over a year now, and I'm still getting the hang of it. Many days I'm crabby when I come home from work, or I need a break even before the day starts, and I let out an exasperated "Haaarvey!" too easily, and make disciplinary statements that are in-actionable like "Stop - Being - Impossible!"

Of course I think I am the world's worst mother.

But then I take a look at the pictures off of Dan's camera and catch tiny glimpses of a good mother renting my body. Lovingly holding her child. Instructing him. Showing him the world. Stealing kisses when she thinks no one is looking.

being a birthday helper

being a helpful lap and hands

Introducing Harvey to a pair of cows

introducing Harvey to new things

momma and harvey looking at ducks

bravely facing new experiences together

And I think, I'm not doing that badly after all. Or at least, I'm play acting well.

other parents

Harvey and I were in the library this morning, as we are many mornings, and it came to our attention that "story time" was happening somewhere in the building. Rather than enjoying the emptiness of the children's room, we decided to go check it out, and caught the second half of the proceedings. I think it's safe to say that we both found it... interesting. I was not the youngest parent there, and I wasn't (quite) the only dad, but I may have been the least inclined to, for example, get up and do the "Peel Peel Banana" dance. It's not that I'm shy about dancing in public—the last wedding Leah and I went to we were totally the only ones out on the dance floor for quite some time—it's that I'm just not a fan of that sort of semi-music. Just because they're kids doesn't mean they have no taste!

So instead I stayed right where I was on the floor, and I'm sure Harvey preferred it that way. He, too, seemed a little nonplussed by the goings-on, mainly wondering why everybody else was making so much noise. It may surprise you to hear it, Leah, but it turns out we have a pretty quiet baby! In the end, though, while we might have had more fun hanging out with the puppets and the board books, I think it's nice for Harvey to see what other kids are like every once and a while—it's important for him to be able to realize how advanced he is. And I didn't mind, because just like in middle school I was reading a book the whole time, one I picked up from the new books stacks on the way in called Hell Is Other Parents. Good thing it was a paperback so I could keep the cover folded back as I read: I wouldn't have wanted the other folks in the room to think I meant it as any sort of personal reflection!

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other parents!

I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate my brother and his wife on the birth of their first child early this morning; once they recover from the shock of it all, I'm sure they'll be wonderful parents indeed. And if at any point they happen to be called upon to dance like a banana, I'm sure they'll pull it off with the utmost style and aplomb. Leah and I, it goes without saying, are going to be tremendous in the role of auntie and uncle.

an evening out

With my mom out of town visiting her new grandchild, we allowed my dad to take us out for dinner. Having never yet seen little Nisia, he was as happy as ever to visit with Harvey, and Harvey could say the same about him. They get along famously, and it sure is fun to see how entranced Harvey is with his grandpa's antics—understated antics, of course, as befitting an Archibald, but antics nonetheless. Especially fun considering it lets us enjoy our dinner in peace! A little dinner, a little dancing afterwords at a very-well attended concert presenting Ben Rudnick and Friends—a band who, incidentally, prove that not all kids' music has to be brain-melting dreck (sorry to keep bringing that up... it's just that the memory of "Peel Banana" has stuck with me...). As an added bonus, we got home before the thunderstorms moved in! A good time all around.

picking pictorial

blueberry close-up

blue is beautiful

We went blueberry picking again. While we once again forgot any device to carry Harvey, it mattered much less this time as he is semi-mobile and even managed to pick a few blueberries himself—they weren't even all green!

Leah and Harvey in the blueberry fields

working up to the capabilities of each

It helped that the bushes at Parlee Farms are so laden with berries that you can pretty much sit and pick in one spot for long minutes at a time, because a one-year-old holding on to your legs (not pictured) does tend to impede mobility.

Harvey checking out the goats

the goat says "baa"

When the bay got bored of picking I took a turn to bring him to see the goats ("goh!" he says). Leah tirelessly picked eight-and-a-half pounds of berries, and while other engagements prevented me from yet turning any into jam, Leah froze a considerable amount—about half of the total—for later consumption in smoothies. Yum!

blueberries in the freezer

storing away in barns

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making going to church an adventure

We were feeling jealous of the riders out there on the Tour de France course, so we did a little long-distance ride of our own this morning. Not only did we get to church in a completely carbon-neutral fashion, we also got to go swimming, go out for lunch, and get ice cream on our way back home. Plus, we put in a good 23 miles of cycling. Now that's how to enjoy a summer Sunday!

All the fun even wore Harvey out, and he spent most of it sitting down in cushioned comfort, so I'm not entirely sure how that works...

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jam packed

sticky equipment after jam-making

the leftovers

I was just organized enough last year to have created a record of what preserves we had sitting around at the end of the summer, so unless we had eaten a tremendous amount between processing in June and July and recording in August, I can safely say we're doing even better this year than last.

With all the strawberries I got we put up 12 pints of strawberry jam, against seven last year; eight pints of blueberry versus last year's four; and two pints of raspberry, something we didn't even preserve last year (though we did make raspberry freezer jam). Up next is relish: there are six big yellow zucchinis sitting on the counter and another one ready to harvest, so I'd better get going!

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Some babies get all the luck

On Friday Gramma Bef came over with an arm-load full of unwanted shirts. "Ooh!" I said, pulling out one then another. "This one is nice! I'd wear this! Thanks!"

Leah wearing the

before

"Um, I thought you could use them to make some clothes for HARVEY?" she suggested with eyebrows raised.

"Oh. Right. Harvey."

You know... your son? Who you love? And make clothes for? REMEMBER?

Anyway, by dinnertime on Saturday I had him looking like a little Frenchman.

Harvey in the

it's hard to concentrate on the modeling sometimes...

Thanks to the wonderful convenience of owning a serger, this piece only took me 30 minutes. I used the existing hem from the t-shirt for all four pieces, so alls I had to do was cut em out, serge the front and back neck-lines, and serge the whole thing together. No pinning except for the sleeves. And then he had a new t-shirt!

There's a little bit of scrap left over... I might make myself a headband. I know right? INDULGENT!!!!!

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the littlest coal miner

Harvey with a dirty face

we play hard

Harvey doesn't shy away from getting dirty in the course of having fun outside.

Harvey fast asleep in the car seat

after a long day

Of course, even coal miners have to sleep sometimes...

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eating saltines for fun and someone's profit

Folks have asked me recently whether we're trying for another baby, and I guess that yes, we're trying a little bit, if your definition of trying involves having sex x number of times where x > 0.

Look, we took a loooong break. I know there are women who get right back to it 6 weeks after delivering, and I have no way to explain the anomaly, other than to say that those women are porn stars. Porn stars who probably like it up the butt. Normal people don't have sex after the birth of their child. They direct all their caring nurturing energy to their precious perfect baby, and once a month dole out a stray HJ with the same gusto as cleaning around the toilet. Until it's time to think about another perfect precious baby, when they'll entertain a consort briefly, only on the 14th of the month, and only as if they're sitting through some sort of unpleasant medical procedure.

So yeah. We just started trying, but with a laziness that prioritizes many things in front of child-bearing, like folding laundry and sleeping and reading crap on the internet.

So that's the context in which I woke up yesterday feeling like crap. I was tired and nausious and didn't want to eat, but then after I ate I felt better. Also crampy. And over-emotional. Either I'm pregnant, or I have PMS plus the flu.

The soonest that a pregnancy test might tell me that my nausea will persist until fall is Sunday, three days away, although a false negative could persist on a test until the following weekend. It's a tricky business, because you want to start swallowing horse-sized vitamins as soon as possible, but those tests are like gold-laden pee sticks how expensive they are. I went to pick up a package at Stop and Shop this morning, and in addition to being smacked with sticker shock (THIRTEEN DOLLARS FOR TWO???) I was surprised to find the First-Responce box encased in a larger plastic cube, like an antique display Barbie. The cashier removed it at the check-out and I said to her "That's the most well protected pregnancy test I've ever seen!"

"We see more people steal pregnancy tests than anything else. You know what, I think they're embarassed. They don't want to run into their mom in the check-out line behind them."

"And they're really expensive!" I added.

"The second most stolen item is Preperation H. That only costs 2.50, but when you put that on the belt we all nod and say 'We know...'"

I hear that there's a cheaper way to tell if you're pregnant, something that involves waiting a week and a half to see if you get your period. But where's the market stimulus in that?

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feeling like a VIP

A work colleague left in April and for reasons of customer service I started to get her mail forwarded to my inbox. She lives in a particularly posh section of Long Island, and one of her e-mail newsletter subscriptions is something called the "VIP Clubber." Every day an email about some New York night-club comes into my inbox, and I've been deleting them up until yesterday, when I was so bored in a meeting that I started perusing the text and realized it was comedic gold! If you get a kick of making fun of the neuveau riche, then this is for you. Check out this email copy. I've bolded the things I take to be "laugh lines."

Subject: New Status Thursdays at 46Lounge Arabian Nights Theme Party

Description:
46 Lounge: Martini Bar Wine Bar Tapas Menu Eclectic Dining Lounge Nightclub Tropical Outdoor Patio. 46 Lounge is an ultra-chic lounge with flavors of Manhattan, Miami and Los Angeles packed into one exciting venue. With trendy Contemporary Design featuring Italian Metallic Tile, Brazilian Cherry Dance Floor, Posh VIP Area with Custom Lighting, Granite, Slate and Steel Bathrooms and 3 Designer Martini & Wine Bars, 46 Lounge is the most upscale & hip bar/restaurant/nightclub outside of Manhattan.

Drink Specials:
- $150 Bottles of Ketel One All Night
- $80 Bottles of Nuvo
- $5 Frozen Drinks
- $3 Corona & Heineken & Well Drinks till 11PM
- 1/2 price specialty drinks till 11PM
- $3 Drinks & $5 Martini till 11PM

Music by:
Dj David S along with Todd George, Joey C and Joe Giorgio

More Specials:
Hookahs, Belly Dancers, Henna Tattoos, Free BBQ on Patio.
Coconut palm trees, Cabanas, Tiki-bar, White drapery & Frozen drinks including our NEW Call-A-Cab & Miami Vice

Door Policy:
Doors open at 6pm; Must be 21+.
Dresscode: sexy and casual, we do reserve the right to be selective.
Guest lists closes at Midnight. Open till 3am.

Today's email brings me news of SoHo's first eco-friendly nightlife destination with transparent ceiling fixture comprised of over 5,000 individually hung crystals designed to emulate a rolling landscape. How could you not want to go? But be careful; Dress is Grown and Sexy, and they reserve the right to be selective.

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salvage operations

The other day I was out biking with Harvey and I happened upon a giant pile of items being disposed of by a family who looked to be moving away imminently. My attention was caught by a Flexible Flyer sled on top of everything, and I immediately desired it. Who cares that those things only run on a vanishingly small range of snow conditions?! They're classics! Happily, it fit very nicely on the back of the bike trailer.

a sled on the back of the bike trailer

sled portage

Here at the squibix household we're firm believers in taking what we can get from other people's cast-off possessions. I mostly come home with useless things like sleds and lots and lots of windows, but Leah's finds are far more practical: a rubbermaid container for storing clothes, a set of bed rails still in their original packaging. The other day while we were biking she noticed a big bag of kids clothes and snagged five very serviceable pairs of trousers. Too big for Harvey now as-is, but the two pairs with more-than-cosmetic rents in the knees have now been transformed into shorts that will fit him from now until when he's four. Below-the-knee cargo shorts? Pretty stylin! Especially when paired with an equally-free mama-made shirt and a cutie belly-button. Aw.

Harvey sleeping in a cute free outfit

those cute clothes? totally free!

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update...

UPDATE: First response responds negatively, and I have the flu. Ugh to a seven dollar test. Double ugh to the flu.

skipping town

Bright and early tomorrow morning we're heading north to the wilds of Maine. Yes, the time has come once again for our annual camping adventure (the lack of a link on "camping" represents the fact that we failed to blog about the proceedings, that I can discover, in 2007 or 2008). It's been a long time coming!

Since we have fairly optimistic plans as to the hour of our departure, we've done a good bit to get ready already. The car is half-packed, lists have been made and crossed off, and we feel reasonably confident that we'll get on the road in good order. One thing that isn't ready is that I still don't have a telephone of the mobile variety. I made a trip to the Apple Store yesterday to replace my recently deceased iPhone, only to be told they didn't have any new phones to give me. You'd expect that given the advertising and publicity blitz Apple would be able to sell me their current flagship product, but apparently not. I suppose scarcity adds to the mystique. I was counting on the new phone to keep you all up-to-date with our doings; absent that I'll do my best with Leah's (ew) Blackberry.

I'm also, as I write these words, desperately torrenting a number of episodes of Between the Lions for Harvey to watch in the car. Right now the average expected download time Transmission is giving me is hovering around 13 hours... we don't have that much time!! Oh well, if all else fails we can always show him Bourne Ultimatum... or just turn on PhotoBooth and let him stare at his own cute little visage for five hours.

Lest you think badly of me for not providing for my offspring's video needs, I will say that I baked two loaves of bread and several dozen cookies—two kinds!—today, which must be worth something. We've managed to convince even more friends to come along this year, and their presence must be rewarded with delicious baked goods.

Whether or not we manage to blog from the campsite, there will be pictures on our return. I'll go charge the camera batteries now.

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we're back

It turns out they don't have the internet in Maine, which is just as well I suppose. I come back to 25 emails and 145 posts in the rss reader; we had better things to do than read all that! We also come back with 226 photos, and who knows how much video, so some of that will make it's way to these pages at some point. It's sad to be done with vacation, but coming home does remind me that our house is actually kind of nice!

camping 2010: days 1 and 2

Harvey atop Parkman Mtn

intrepid climber

So we camped, and it was even kind of fun at times! Harvey was certainly better able to enjoy things this year than he was the last time he was in Maine, and of course his proud parents thrilled to see him playing on various mountaintops. But before that could happen, we had to get to Bar Harbor.

the boys in the car right before we leave for MDI

pretty cushy seats

Despite how awesome was the setup I created for Harvey and Rascal, the drive up didn't go incredibly smoothly. Well, Rascal didn't have any problems, actually. How amusing it is to think how much we worried about stopping enough for him before we had the child! Harvey doesn't mind the car in small doses, but he wasn't happy to be unable to leave it for such an extended period. We weren't desperately pleased either, come to think of it, especially when we got stuck in traffic between Portland and Freeport and a stretch that should have taken 15 minutes took an hour more than that. Harvey wasn't the only one shouting then, but luckily an emergency stop in Yarmouth for a stretch (for dada and Rascal) and iced chai (for mama and Harvey) put everyone in a happier mood. For a little while, anyways: Harvey still needed a number of stops in various picturesque locations.

Harvey and mama on the beach in Lincolnville

being out of the car is fun!

Eventually we made it, and Harvey very kindly allowed us to set up the tent and everything without interruption, because he was asleep. Somewhat later our friends arrived, already unhappy with us and this vacation we'd dragged them out on because they too suffered through terrible traffic (I refrained for asking for a show of hands from those who traveled with a screaming baby). We mollified them with dinner and planned the next day's adventures.

When we woke up to steady rain, though, everyone was unmollified again. Being a holiday guide is stressful work! Refusing to mope in the tents, we pressed ahead with the plan and headed downtown to breakfast (at the Cafe, natch). By the time we finished up a delicious and leisurely meal (did you know they have toy animals for the kiddies?) the rain had stopped, and we ventured a walk along the shore path. The heavens showing no further signs of opening, we piled into our three cars and headed out for the day's hike.

the archibalds on the summit of Parkman

cool, calm, and ready for another one

Hoping to present our friends, first time visitors to Acadia all, with a varied and not-overwhelming introduction to the park, I took them up Parkman Mtn and Bald Peak. Besides the oppressive humidity it was a wonderful hike, and no one sustained injuries of any great severity (my wrist already feels better, and Leah probably won't have a scar unless she keeps picking at that scab). To top it all off, the top of Parkman was enlivened not only by a delicious lunch of sandwiches prepared in the parking lot below but by a number of sizable puddles—ponds, almost—left by the recent rains. Harvey enjoyed them tremendously, and luckily we had dry clothes for him after.

Harvey playing in a puddle atop Parkman Mtn

guess what happened next?

Bald Peak was nice too, but you know, the second summit of the day just can't be as much fun.

Back home, we kicked back to enjoy some beers and a delicious meal of pizza cooked over the campfire. Plus, there were cupcakes to celebrate Katie's birthday! Now that's what camping is all about. Right Harvey?

Harvey grabbing for a can of beer

the pleasures of camp

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camping 2010: day 3 and 4

the archibalds up on Penobscot

windy!

The third day of the vacation began with grand plans for a big hike, before our group started to shrink due to work demands (oh, where are our European-length vacations?!). We even skipped our traditional early-morning trip to the cafe to save time, breakfasting instead on bagels, leftover pizza, and cupcakes. Unfortunately, car troubles intervened and it wasn't until after 11:00 that we finally got going, sadly without Andrew who had to make a trip to the closest Honda dealership—50 miles away in Augusta.

But it was a beautiful day, and we were well-supplied with lunches and treats, so spirits were high as we headed up the steep cliffs at the base of Penobscot Mountain. Unlike the previous day's varied hike, the way up Penobscot has basically two parts: first straight up the cliffs (though not so straight as to require any ladders) and then gradually up the ridge for a full mile. The wind got stronger and stronger as we approached the summit, and Harvey wasn't too sure if he liked it. When we finally ran out of climbing we posed for the requisite photo, and ducked into the lee of a rock to have lunch.

Rascal resting atop Penobscot

he waits for the humans to get going again

On the way down we detoured a little bit to take a dip in Sargent Pond, where the Archibalds were the only ones foolhardy enough to put their heads under. Harvey loved it, as he loves all natural bodies of water, and I wore myself out tossing him up and down. Rascal only swam a little bit, distracted as he was by another dog who dared to invade his presence.

the expedition cooling off in Sargent Pond

look who's the center of attention

The way back to the car was long but unremarkable, as Leah failed to fall in the mud like she did last time we were on this hike. Back at camp we went for a swim—civilized camping here, none off your backwoods stuff!—and headed into town for burritos. Apparently Monday is the day for band concerts in Bar Harbor, and we were lucky enough to catch part of one; but baby bedtime kept us from seeing if Mary, local saxophonist extraordinaire, was with the band that night.

Rascal fishing for stones

trying to fetch stones

The following day everyone but us was heading home, so after another delicious Cafe This Way breakfast we did some shopping in town and took another walk along the shore path. This time the warm sun encouraged us to hang around, and certain members of the group tried to show off their jumping skills and earned a good sized scrape of the knee for their troubles. Harvey was happy sitting still and playing with rocks, smart boy.

Harvey playing in the cobbles

no pictures please!

After everyone else had left we declared a rest day and headed back to camp to play on the playground, swim, and read. It was relaxing enough that we decided not to bail on our last day and head home early. That warm pool—and contemplating another long trip in the car with Harvey—even made us think about setting up permanent residence at the Narrows campground. If only we'd brought more clothes...

sunset at the campground

an idyllic location

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Camping 2010: day 5

Harvey eating breakfast at the campsite

getting used to this camping business

Despite the fact that we were up at dawn with Harvey, we decided that we just couldn't leave town without going on one more hike; but it had to be a short one, since we also had to pack up and get breakfast before hitting the road. It was a good thing we were up so early, actually, because we didn't make it to the Cafe until after 9:00—easily the latest we've ever been there. It didn't help that we forgot the clothesline and had to go back to camp; but that's alright, since it gave us a chance to say "bye-bye site!", "bye-bye pool!", "bye-bye campground!", etc. Harvey was saying "buh-buh" for the next few miles down the road.

a view into the front of the tent

our home away from home

Unlike last year, I remembered to take photos of our totally sweet setup before taking it down (just before). You can see our front porch, and beyond that the queen-sized bed to the left and the changing station for Harvey—which Rascal appropriated to sleep on, when he wasn't on the bed with us—to the right. I think I did a pretty good job of keeping things neat and organized this year; Leah might agree if she's in a good mood.

After breakfast we headed out for a short hike—very short, as it happened. I think it took us longer to park and get our gear together than it did to get up North Bubble, our fourth and smallest peak of the trip. Despite it's curtness it was a beautiful hike, and we regretted not having the camera when we got to the top and saw the view down the length of Jordan Pond. It was fun to compare how much we could do this year after only making it up the even smaller South Bubble last year; as we ascended the beginning of the trail, which is shared between both Bubbles, Leah asked incredulously: "You made me do this at five weeks post-partum?!" Yes I did!

Back down again it was time to get going. Harvey fell asleep almost immediately, and we used some portion of his naptime to procure a film for him at the new Walmart in Ellsworth: Homeward Bound, which, if you understand as little language as Harvey, is mostly just dogs walking around. Just the thing! He liked it when he woke up.

We made our next stop in Searsport to eat a late lunch in a tiny park across the street from the Maritime museum and explore a wonderful little bookstore called Left Bank Books that I can't recommend more highly. They allow dogs in the store, they had a chair and toys for Harvey, and they have all the good books and none of the bad ones. We were sorry that, at the end of the vacation, we were not in a financial position that would allow us to buy something; we'll definitely be back, and if you're anywhere in the area you ought to stop by.

Harvey and Rascal playing in a river

out of the car and into the river

We skipped Linconville, having hit it on the way up, and crowded Camden, and on Leah's suggestion took our next break in Warren where there's a little park just off the road with a playground and a river: two of Harvey's favorite things! It has a name that I can't recall, but if you're interested you can find it on Google maps. The babies enjoyed playing in the water, as usual.

By then it was almost dinnertime, so when we reached Wiscasset and noticed that for once there was no line outside the little lobster shack on the corner of Rt 1 and the train tracks—and parking right there, too. We had to stop and see what the usual fuss was about. It turns out that Red's Eats is famous for their lobster rolls, so of course Leah had to order one—even if we did have to stop by the ATM to fund our cash-only dinner (you see that we value food more than books... a sad commentary). Harvey can't eat lobster, but he liked the rest of the dinner.

Harvey with dinner from Red's Eats

"as good as the last fries?"

As the sun set we rolled into Freeport, where we were disappointed by the lack of a Gap outlet and where I was kind of horrified by the mall atmosphere after a couple days out in the sticks. Then on to Portland and more construction traffic—but this time Harvey fell asleep in the middle of it so our stress level never had a chance to even begin to tick upwards. The rest of the ride was uneventful, and we made it home just after 10:00. I call that a successful vacation.

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First Haircut!

The sudden drop of humidity today meant that Harvey woke up with a serious case of bed-head which persisted throughout the morning. I noticed. Dadda noticed. A stranger we passed while walking the dog said, "Look at that HAIR!!!!"

There was no denying it anymore. Somebody needed a haircut.

Harvey's hair: the before picture

hair before

I very cautiously took a comb and clippers, snipping here and trying to keep it as even as I could under the constraints of a twisty turny dodgy baby. I left the top long and only trimmed the sides and the back.

Harvey's hair: the after picture

hair after

I thought I did a pretty good job, although looking at this picture it looks a bit longer on one side. Keep in mind that his curls work differently on the two sides, and also he's cocking his head. I kept asking Dan if I should cut it more on the right (Harvey's left) and he kept saying, "No! Stop cutting! Leave him be!"

What a dapper little boy he is! I think the new hair style really highlights his cheekbones... er.... cheeks!