Monday, June 29, 2009

Breaking the Photo ban

Clio has been uninterested--no, unwilling--to be photographed lately. She has also truly developed her fashion sense, meaning that I constantly want to photograph her, and she pouts or whines or wails or, mostly, shrieks and turns the other way, shouting NO PICTURES! Sometimes this means I improvise, and manage to get her in motion as she runs away:

Not long ago, I described another one of these amazing outfits on facebook, and there was a general clamor for photos, but the snapshots I managed to get from my reluctant subject did not do the outfit justice:

For one thing, she's not wearing the pink snakeskin gladiator sandals because, well, "no shoes on the carpet" is just about the only rule Clio insists on following in the house. Also, the angle doesn't really show the bling at the waist of the dress, and the double tutus are obscuring both the fact that this dress has a bubble skirt (which is tie-dyed) and that it has matching, cropped leggings.

So I also mentioned on facebook, to explain the poor photography, how Clio lately has disdain for the mamarazzi, and a colleague commented that her son had gone through something similar, and the phase ended when she gave him control of the situation by handing over the camera.

Guess what?

Worked like a charm.

After she took these:

She let me take this:

And I don't know what Dave's trick was, but somehow, as usual, he got it figured out before me. I found this picture that he took while I was pulling the ones above for this post:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

We have a house!

In Boulder.

Come August, we will be found at 215 30th Street (Our current address is 202a 30th street. Confusing, I know, but also comforting, as if we're moving just down the block instead of across the country.) After a slightly disheartening search for a big-enough rental on a pretty small budget (so far, no one really has any income planned for next year), and checking out lots of places with stained carpet or hollow doors or exposed wardrobe "closets," I came across these photos in an ad on craigslist:

Adorable, no? And the ad was clearly written by a regular, intelligent, maybe even caring person. My heart did a little dance: we COULD have something cute without breaking the bank! There WERE rentals in Boulder with hardwood floors! Some landlords WERE real people!

I met said landlords and their 8-year old daughter on site and was sold. It's a great 1950s ranch with a nice big yard for the kids, in a neighborhood called Martin Acres. It reminds me of the sleepy little neighborhood between the house I grew up in and the one we moved to when I was in High School, called Friendly Hills. While I know I said I would never live in an old ranch house, I'm actually looking forward to trying out what I have taken to calling "horizontal living": you know, living all on one floor. While the house is small (overall square footage probably less than we have now- though that was true of every rental we saw), I think it will live larger because the girls will be able to wander to their room(s) - not sure if they'll be sharing- and just as easily go outside. It's an experiment- one that will hopefully be helpful once we're ready for our "forever" house (which I put in quotes partly because Dave, the serial monogomist, seems to fear commitment if he looks it in the eye, and partly because I really just mean our next longer-term living situation, whatever that might look like.)

So, we'll see if I can live without A/C (in a climate with not a lot of humidity- should be fine.) If a linen closet is everything I've dreamed of. If we can all share one bathroom. If lots of outdoor space really does make up for less indoor space. If a separate kitchen (as opposed to open plan living) is a plus or a minus. It's a process. Because our current house has no front hall closet, our next long-term one will likely have a whole mudroom with all the bells and whistles.

We'll likely put some things in storage, and I look forward to living with less stuff. (Dave and I have a LOT of it. There's a whole other post coming on that, so get ready.) I like the idea of enjoying our kids, enjoying this funny little interim life, directly, not through so many filters. I like the idea of trying on some new good habits. Like bike riding to work (or to get Clio to school.) A healthier, outdoorsier life. We'll see.

Friday, June 26, 2009


That's how I hear you pronounce FSBO, the acronym for For Sale By Owner, a perhaps Herculean task that we are currently engaged in. Our first Open House is on Sunday, an ad is in the NYTimes and on craigslist, we have a website, and we only have... about 1 million projects to accomplish in the next 40 hours. This should be a new HGTV show, kind of like a combination of Get it Sold, 24 Hour Design, and Designed to Sell, with just a touch of 24 thrown in to really capture the drama.

Allow me to raise the stakes: Other than the few hours we can eke out tonight after Clio goes to sleep (at 9, if we're lucky), we will have both children on our hands for all 40 of the remaining hours. And it is supposed to rain straight through until Sunday.

Last night I painted the walls of the outdoor stairwell to the basement, in the dark, holding a flashlight between my thighs. Today Dave spent 7 hours stripping the front door (stripper doesn't seem to work as well in 90% humidity) because--naturally--it is not a standard size so we could not go for "money" in the money or time dilemma and simply buy a new one. We hired cleaners to come in and do the heavy stuff (ceiling fans, floor scrubbing, dusting the lampshades), and then proceeded to track dirt through the house as we brought boxes to the car to go to storage. We are trying to be smart about all of this, and not send things to storage that will have to be repacked or in some way reconsidered for our actual move. We are holding on to things to try to sell later- but that means they need to be photographed and inventoried before they go to storage. How many of you know that I am excellent at doing things the hard way?

Still to do: paint that front door (buy paint at Home Depot), clear out the basement and stage the office as a guest room, organize the closets, read the For Sale By Owner Handbook so we know what to do if we actually get any offers, get flowers and balloons and pre-made cookie dough (who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies at an open house?), oh, and a cute umbrella stand in case it does in fact rain on Sunday- no need to have wet umbrellas dripping through the clean house. Make take-aways (flyers and stat sheets on the house) and have them copied: What's the right amount? Who knows? Paint the frame around the bathroom ceiling light and scrub the bathroom ceiling. Etc. Etc. Etc.

And tomorrow I am supposed to go to the opening of This World and Near Ones, a major 19-artist installation on Governors Island, the last project I really worked on for Creative Time that will be realized, where one of the two books I just edited will also debut. Do you think I have time to go? Let me mention that to get there I would need to take a subway to a ferry.

So, this post is partly a post- this is very much where we're at right now- but it is also an excuse, to let you all know why I have not been posting so much. There's so much to tell, so little time to tell it.

Wish us luck on Sunday!


(after finding a stemless carnation on the street):

When I get home, my dad is going to smell this flower, and when he sees how good it smells, he will make a face like this (makes a face as if she has smelled something horrible.)

(Upon arriving home):

Dad! Smell this flower! It smells good! Make a face like this! (makes a face as if she has smelled something horrible.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Status Update

First impressions: the air smells good. A little bit LA, a little bit Santa Fe (definitely "Western"), but if you hold your hand over the mountain view, you could almost be in parts of the Midwest. Our first night I went to the grocery store behind our hotel to pick up snacks and dinner supplies (we finally got wise and booked a suite with a kitchenette and separate bedroom- no more going to bed at 8pm with the girls--though, with Eleri's internal clock set to NY, we would have been wise to go to bed early; yesterday I got up with her at 5am local, today Dave had the pleasure at 5:45); the woman at the checkout said that they, too, have had two weeks of rain, but to remember Boulder is some kind of desert (note to self: what kind? look this up) and to drink lots of water an invest in some chapstick. And it's true: my lips are constantly dry.

I drove all over town in my early morning with Eleri, and Boulder is small but lovely. When Garmindy (our Garmin GPS system has been inexplicably named after Carmindy, the make up artist on What Not to Wear who, incidentally, I worked with on a photo shoot a decade ago and who Dave and I both can't stand) sent me on a weird detour through a high-end subdivision, I came upon the Boulder Reservoir, a man-made lake and recreation spot, which, at 7am, was teeming with cars. Turns out there was a triathalon (there ususally is) but, undeterred, we came back to spend Father's Day morning there. And despite my misgivings, mine was not the only soft, pale body (though boy, was I in the minority.)

Speaking of pale, the town is, as we were told, overwhelmingly White. The only minorities we have seen are maids in our hotel. Coming from the racuous mish-mash of NYC, and particularly our current nieghborhood where, as White Americans, we are the minority (following Hispanics and Eastern Europeans), this strikes me as weird. But far more than the lack of racial diversity, I wonder if this place will feel one-dimensional in terms of ideologies: is everyone here liberal? relatively affluent? well educated? Or is this a town, like other college towns in beautiful settings, that has only a few distinct class populations: a student class, a more-or-less leisure class, and a service class? Where will we fit in to all this? I have noticed that, again coming from New York, the job opportunities seem to be narrow, and I have said that I would work at a bookstore (or whatever), yet I find myself surprised to see these young, white, educated people working at the car rental or the hotel front desk or the deli counter.

I have also heard that Boulder is a nice place to live "for a year or two," and the rental properties that I have looked at seem to speak of the itinerant nature of a college town. Serviceable. Rents higher than you might think because they can be--the population of Boulder is 95,000, of which 25,000 is the UC Boulder student body; that's a lot of turnover--but a real dearth of options for a family. It's freeing to be a renter; but it's a little depressing to look at rentals, especially on what will essentially be a student budget, when you have been a professional and a homeowner for a decade. But I have managed to shift my perspective, not to think in the long term about having a home, but to think about what will work, what's right for the girls, and even to try something on in terms of lifestyle: a townhouse with a pool and maintenance built in to the rent; a tiny house with a big yard; a less-desirable property in a more-desirable part of town.
So I guess I'm expanding my horizons. Which is a good thing.

I will say this: driving here is more pleasant (and parking galore!), people make eye contact at check out lines, biking is not a combat sport, good pre-schools are STILL enrolling for the fall, and my suspicion that there are easier places to live than NYC, and that choosing to "sell out" for an easier life, is a good choice. The right decision.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Motherhood is cleaning up the barf without gagging

Sometimes I think parenting is largely about how well you manage the bodily fluids of your offspring. Gross, I know; but true. We've been in Boulder for about 24 hours; before we even arrived, Eleri spit up all over Dave's (only) pants, though we did avert the usual Clio throw up on landing (she rode much of the way with the air sick bag to her mouth- or, alternately, her eyes- but managed to keep it all down in the end). When we got to the hotel, I changed Eleri's diaper- and she peed all over the duvet cover (and it's one of those big brocade ones that's more for show than for use). And today Clio pooped-just a little-in her bathing suit in the hotel pool.

Seriously. How are we doing?

Hmmmm... quite a post for Father's day!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cutest Eleri Outfit Ever

I mean seriously, mom. how do you do it?

Eleri sported the ensemble to check out her new birdhouse "in-out" toy

And to do some serious scavenging under the couch

Monday, June 15, 2009

You're Wanted on the Telephone

When we were kids, my brother Brian and I loved this song from camp; a call and response game, the first singer chose someone in the group to address, and that person responding, as follows:

Hey Heather/
Someone's Calling my name/
Hey Heather/
And I hear it again/
You're wanted on the telephone/
If it's not [choose new name, like Brian], I'm not home

and then it repeats with the new person,

Hey Brian/
Someone's calling my name/

and so on.

I mention this here because, I suppose, summer makes me nostalgic for summer camp (one of my life's main regrets is not being a counselor at Camp St. Croix, because the summer I would have been an AC- Assistant Counselor, for those not in the know- I decided to stay home to be with my boyfriend instead, and then we broke up anyway; I spent my days as a receptionist in my dad's shoe store, where the slogan was Comfort is Our Business); also, yesterday Clio finally, after months of refusals, had a full conversation on the phone.

Normally, when we offer up the phone with a grandparent or cousin on the other end, Clio says brightly, "no thanks!" But yesterday we went to a toy store, and Clio came up with some things she might like for her birthday, so when it was suggested that she might share this information with Nonny she bit, and they proceeded to have quite a conversation.

When I think about the relationship that an older girl has to the telephone, I think I may one day look back on this moment with regret; but for now, I love the idea of Clio communicating so much more directly with her family.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Yesterday, after morning errands, we were all sitting around our living room kind of sizing each other up and trying to keep Eleri from consuming any more carpet fluff, when I heard the strains of hard-pumping music from down the street. I sat straight up and said, that's it, we're getting otu of the house. And off we went, down the block to the School Carnival.

We ran into Elsie there--her mom, Agnes, is a teacher at the school--as well as Titi Millie, and Dory and Amanda, the new women who work at Clio's day care. A regular family affair.

The play yard was filled with not one but FIVE of those huge blow-up bouncy
structures. Clio and Elsie took on the smallest- your standard castle.

I you look closely at the last picture, above, you can see that Dave managed to catch both girls' smiling faces in one little diamond of mesh. In fact, Clio loved it so much that when it was time to come out she started bawling as only Clio can- we didn't know if she was hurt or upset.

They also went, with their dads, into a bigger contraption that I unfortunately didn't photograph- it was like an obstacle course with ladders and slides and tunnels; Dave said it was about 150 degrees in the middle and they were barefoot. Clio kept screaming, but when they finished she said, Again!

Afterwards the girls cooled off in the pool at Elsie's house.
Let me just mention that Elsie's backyard is a kid's wonderland that puts our little deck to shame: Cars

Bikes (not that Clio shows any interest in riding her own tricycle)

And a slide-

into the pool!

As for me and Eleri? We headed home for a long nap (for her) and some cleaning and cooking (me.) It was a good day.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Summer Fun

It's hard to believe that it actually IS summer, what with this fickle weather and all, but on the nice weekend days here and there, Clio has made the most of it. Just in time to leave Brooklyn, we've really connected with some of the local kids (and parents), and we've been having great playdates. Outdoors. With lots of water.

Clio and Lydia (a friend from music class) fingerpainted some butterflies, the table, and themselves, then suited up to water the garden.

And Clio and Elsie (from day care) stripped down to their shirts and went from garden hose all the way to sprinkler. Clio had never seen such a thing, and when Martin turned it on, she spread her hands wide as if to behold the glory of the sprinkler, and said, "that's AMAZING!"

I think she had a good time. And for those of you who worry where Eleri is while Clio has all the fun (hi mom!), she had plenty to occupy her, too!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Outfit of the Week

Another fabulous outfit, another unhappy photo subject.

I love that the dresses-over-skirts phase is more like a permanent obsession. And that most of her skirts also have built in shorts. And that Clio finally took a shine to these winter boots- in June.

Oh daughter, my daughter.

Status Update

I'm sitting in a Starbucks near Clio's school eating oatmeal and waiting for my cold medication to kick in, hoping my chai will restore my voice which I inexplicably lost overnight, and staring down the pile of work that is due tomorrow. What better time to put a life update out into the world?

For the past month, our future plans have once again been on hold. I had applied for a great-sounding position in Minnesota before we made the Big Decision to move to Boulder; I had heard through a connection that the position was on hold until the next year's budget was approved, plus I didn't technically have some of the major requirements for the position, so I kind of put it out of my mind. So of course, no sooner had I posted details of our Boulder plan, than I got a call to come for an interview. I got the message during dinner one night--I was a little sick then too, and really tired--and I just started crying. I always find it interesting to get sort of sideswiped by something to see what your real gut reaction is; in this case, I was surprised to find myself so emotional about having Minnesota suddenly within reach. So we decided I would interview, and figure it all out from there. If nothing else, if I didn't just go see then it would always be "the one that got away," and I would always wonder (and possibly resent Boulder).

So off I went, and had a lovely, if very quick, visit with my family, and a very promising 2-hour interview at the Children's Museum. It was clear to me that they were grappling to define this position, and that they could take it in a couple of directions; for one direction, I would be great, but for the others I didn't make any sense. It was an education position and I have no formal education background, much less early-childhood education. It is an institution and I have no institutional experience. And it had a community partnership component, and I would be new to the community.

I loved the interview. I haven't really been on a job interview in almost 10 years, and it was empowering to have someone very interested in me despite the obvious lack of qualifications. And I really liked the woman I met with, the vibe of the Museum, everything. But at the same time, talk of systems and structure and institutional politics made my throat close up a little, begging the question: do I really want to go back up this road? Didn't I quit my job to pursue other avenues? (Of course, this is a shifting, on-going debate, and I'm sure there will be some zigzagging over the next several years as I seek the right balance.) I came back to NY and waited for the call. Dave held back on Boulder plans. I avoided the calls from the Montessori school there. And held my breath.

And she didn't call when she said she would.

And about two weeks after the interview, I said to Dave, maybe I don't want this after all. Maybe I am panicking (finally!) about the economy, about my prospects for a job I will love when we eventually land in the Twin Cities, about what I will do in Boulder, about a big gap in my resume. Maybe I am scrambling to get back on a road that I know, that I can navigate with skill, even if I'm not happy traveling its contours.

Well, he said, this guarantees you'll hear from them tomorrow.

And I did. And I didn't get the job. They need someone with early-childhood education experience. With institution experience. With community experience. She said she just kept looking at my resume, and I like to think she was hoping these things would materialize. But of course they didn't. From her perspective, this is not the time to take a big risk on a critical position, and as an administrator, I get that. But it's funny: I feel like I'm back at that place I thought I was in in December, when I first quit my job, or March, when I left it, and I wrote about risk taking and being brave. I'm so glad I decided about that job before it decided about me, because in the space of those two weeks--from interview to final call--I feel like I finally claimed Boulder for myself, as an opportunity to step so far outside of myself that I will, hopefully, not be tempted by the same old roads and will instead head into uncharted territory.

So I called he Montessori school back and made an appointment for June 23. I'm about to book our flights out there, and set up a time to look at some rentals with a broker, and contact the folks that friends and friends of friends have been kind enough to put us in touch with out there. Then I'll use the contacts another colleague gave me for people who might need books edited, see if they might want to work with me. And then I'll think about what I want to write.

What a long process this has been; and it's only just beginning.