who she is

It's been 13 months since this Ruby character arrived onto the scene and I think I really like her.

She's loud like her sister. And she says what's on her mind. Mostly that's Dada or, when she gets a glimpse of Phil from across the room, Hi Dada. She says Ara for Iris, Ny-ny for Mimi (my mom) and as far as I can tell she doesn't have a word yet for Ocean. She says my name, "Bwwwwwaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" As in, she whines and screams when she sees me. Seriously, she still doesn't say mama or mom or mommy or anything. BUT when you drop something on the floor she will put her hands on the side of her face, gasp and say, "Ah-deh" (Oh, dear).

She has six teeth. Four on the top and two on the bottom. They are perfectly white and perfectly gappy.

She is extroverted. She waves and says hi and buh-buh to everyone who passes, cars included. She smiles the brightest, loveliest smile anyone has ever seen and makes you feel like you're the greatest person who ever lived.

She is just now learning to drink out of a cup and isn't all that into food yet, although she will eat pretty much anything off of the floor. Sequins, rocks, Legos... We went for a little stroll yesterday and had been outside for a good 10 minutes when she opened her mouth and spit out a pistachio shell that I had no idea she'd been sucking on.

She hates to swing or slide. She actually is terrified to swing. Which is strange given her affinity for stunts.

By that I mean, she climbs. Anything that looks like it might be climbable. One morning last week I left the room for a moment and Iris started yelling, "Ruby's on the chair!" I thought she was on a little child's Ikea chair. I came into the kitchen and she was standing on a bar stool just looking positively smug. A few days later I left her in her highchair to run upstairs. Two minutes later I heard her yelling and hustled downstairs to find her standing on the kitchen table. She wiggles out of grocery cart seatbelts and stands on the seat while I have my back turned reading labels, and she likes to stand facing backward on the seat of her rocking chair and rock violently, presumably trying to tip it over. Phil lovingly calls her Evil Knievel.

Her favorite book is "Hand Hand Fingers Thumb" and she whips through it almost faster than you can read it just so you will start it all over again. I think she likes it so much because of the drumming. She loves to pick up a stick or a spoon and bang on the nearest object she can find. Intently. And with purpose. She seems to really enjoy making rhythms.

She loves to dance.

She also loves to sing and knows how to use a microphone. Her favorite song, I think, is the song we sing to bless the food before our meals. She lights up when we hold hands and start singing, "Lord we thank you..."

She likes to climb onto the couch, grab the remote control and point it at the television, over and over. Yet she is the only one of the three kids who doesn't like to watch TV.

I think she would really like dolls. We've had to become a doll-free zone because Iris is terrified of them. Ruby is often found walking around the house, clutching one of Ocean's super heroes under her arm, giving Iron Man kisses or rocking The Incredible Hulk.

She has dark blond ringlets that stick to the back of her chubby neck when she's all sweaty from running around with Her Big Kids. She likes to play with her hair when I'm nursing her before bed. Her bright blue eyes get heavier and heavier while she drinks her milk and mindlessly twirls the hair on top of her head.

She has a wonky toe on each foot. The middle ones. They hide underneath the toes on either side.

She can sign "All done", "Please", "Hat" and "More".

She smells like summertime.

Photos by Isaac Smith


it's the rainy season. must do projects.

It's been raining here for roughly 539 days. Instead of my slippers I just get out of bed and put on my rain boots. When it rains, my children cry all day and I do projects. It's how we pass the time.

Remember when I was organizing paperwork? And I mentioned that I wanted to paint my china cabinet?

Just to recap, we bought it from a guy on Craig's List a few years ago, intending to paint it. I'm a huge fan of pretty wood and would never paint something unless it was ugly. This was ugly. There were parts that had been stripped and then, presumably when the owner realized what a tedious job it would be and changed his mind mid-project, painted over with a not-quite-matching shade of brownish paint. Classy.

So about a month or so ago I got the gumption to tackle it. I got a buttload of sandpaper and went to work on a Wednesday night. I made it through The Middle, Better With You and Modern Family when I accidentally knocked over that huge roll of paper to the right. It may not look like it but it weighs about a million pounds. It teetered around for a while and I did this awkward little avoidance maneuver where I jumped back-no-sideways-wait-it's-going-to-fall-on-my-big-tooooooooooooooooooe. And much cussing, and later bruising, ensued. The mission was aborted and I avoided eye contact with the china cabinet for about a week after that.

It took me a couple of weeks and several glasses of wine to sand, prime and paint this bad boy. Last week I finally finished up, switched out the knobs and filled it back up with my precious things.

Much better and worth the effort, I think. I probably wouldn't do it again, though. My toe is still recovering and it was a super tedious task.

With that project done I've been looking for the next thing to do. Phil and I were driving through a random neighborhood the other day and found this black faux leather ottoman just sitting on the curb. The only thing wrong with it, other than the fact that it was black faux leather, was a wonky button. We stopped and I threw it in the car, figuring I could slipcover it pretty easily.

I got some awesome brown and white zebra upholstery fabric on sale and used this tutorial to make my slipcover. It was a two-evening project but I'm pleased with how it turned out.

For my next project I'm going to figure out how to use my camera. White Balance is my nemesis.

What about you? Got any good projects going on?


the end is... here?

I hate to be the one to break it to you guys but Judgment Day is today. Well, only if you're in America. I guess if you're not in America it doesn't count or something? Because CNN hasn't been reporting any apocalyptic type situations in Asia or Australia. And I've heard nary a trumpet blast in my neck of the woods so either someone's lying or I'm completely screwed.

My friend Lindsay emailed me the above link yesterday. Yesterday. I would have liked a little more notice but what can you do. She then stated that I should be on the lookout for a pair of shoes and half-eaten burritos at her house. I think I'm going to get one of those bumper stickers that says "In case of rapture this car will be unmanned", put it on my car and then leave my car parked in the middle of Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor.

I'm thinking that if Amy's still around the date was probably miscalculated. Amy? You there?


the question we should be asking is who exactly "they" are.

Iris: I would be sad if my bottom came off.

Me: Yeah. That would be... weird.

Iris: Yeah, I don't want a big hole there!

Me: Good thing it won't come off. It's on there pretty good.

Iris: Why? Did they use a special kind of glue? Bottom glue?


getting stuff done.

We've had some ridiculous fluctuations in temperature here in southeast Michigan and within any given week (and sometimes any given day) we experience everything from 40 degrees and rainy to 75 degrees and sunny. This is nothing new for springtime in Michigan but it's just been a little more extreme this year. It's nothing to complain about given the severity of weather in other places. So all things considered I'm grateful that the only 'problem' this produces is an abundance of laundry, but it is a bit of an inconvenience nonetheless.

I haven't been able to put away any winter clothes, yet I've had to tap into the summer stash as well. Some days we have to change outfits in the middle of the day because the weather changes so drastically. Double the clothes to wash = laundry paralysis. There's so much to do that I'm not sure where to begin and we end up with a DEFCON 1 laundry situation, like the one brewing in my bedroom right now:

(Sidebar: I once saw an organizational show where the decorator walked a mother through her messy house and there was a pile of laundry in the hallway. He stopped and asked the mother, "Do you consider yourself a good mother?" She tearfully answered Yes and, gesturing to the laundry on the floor, this wifeless, childless buttmunch decorator had the nerve to say, "What about this situation indicates that you are a good mother?" My desire to kick him in the junk was overwhelming.)

You're probably thinking something along the lines of, "Maybe you should quit blogging about it and git yer butt to folding, woman." And I will. But first, in the spirit of procrastination, I wanted to compile a short list of things that, while important in and of themselves, give me a false sense of productivity in that they don't truly address the daily housekeeping tasks that I should be doing to ensure that we don't end up living in filth.

1. Changing the dead batteries in a toy or electronic device.

2. Making lists.

3. Going to Target.

4. Putting away the 3 largest objects in any given room so it looks cleaner.

5. Rearranging and/or changing out artwork and photos on the walls.

6. Trapping the mess inside of closets by closing the doors.

Okay, I'm really going to start folding now. Are there little things you do around the house or at work that make you feel more productive?


discipline fail.

Ocean and Iris are at a strange discipline-transitional phase where time outs are no longer effective. Ocean just pretends he's in a rocket ship and Iris lays on her back and belts out show tunes until the timer beeps. When I ask why they're in time out they make something up just to get out of it. It's like a police interrogation gone horribly awry. Yeah yeah yeah I tripped someone or threw my food or kicked the dog we don't have just get me the crap out of this cold, dark foyer so I can get back to the very important business of ripping up three rolls of toilet paper like a hamster and stuffing microscopic pieces of it into every nook and cranny in the entire house, thankyouverymuch.

At the suggestion of several friends I've now employed the rather effective technique of taking away something of importance for a certain amount of time, based on the offense. You grab something out of her hand? Oops, there goes your Spiderman. You scream in his face? Sorry, Ducky goes bye bye for a few hours. Toy is removed. Behavior is corrected with a conversation. Toy is returned within 24 hours. It works beautifully for my kids.

Normally all three kids are quite well-behaved in public. I always like to anticipate potential blow-ups before they happen-- I know their limits and eating/sleeping patterns and stressors and hot buttons and reactions to changes in barometric pressure. Like if it's 3:08pm on the first Monday of the month, we had cheese for a snack and it's rained for the last three days, we can stay at the mall for approximately 1.5 hours before Iris loses her mind and goes crawling on all fours like a "syterapots" (triceratops) through Macy's with her underwear on her head. This is the kind of deductive reasoning we do here.

The other day, though, I found myself out with three rather unruly children and not one beloved object between them to use as a disciplinary tactic. Ocean and Iris both had more than one stern talkin'-to about running away from me so close to the street and then they started that awesome I'm in your face but I'm not touching yoooooouuuuuuuuu nonsense that's been infuriating parents since the beginning of time. Flustered by Ruby's screaming and the older kids' racing around in circles while simultaneously whining and poking at each other I did what we, as mothers, try to never do. I spoke before I knew what I was going to say.

What I meant to do was communicate a concise, "If X, then Y" scenario in which the kids would get the message that there would be an immediate consequence for any further disobedience. What happened instead (and I blame, once again, the stress hormones released by the screams of the baby and the low blood sugar from not having had a snack and what the heck let's go ahead and blame the barometer as well) was that I said this:

"Ocean! You-- stop it. Stop it now. In fact, you have lost... uh, standing.... privileges. You no longer have the... privilege... of standing. You must sit down. Now. Sit."

And Ocean and Iris both looked at me like I'd lost my damn mind. Because I had. But Ocean sat down with kind of a little smile like he was going to humor me even though I clearly had no earthly idea what just came out of my mouth and I took my own time out before packing all of us up and heading home.

Where we had a nice snack and then a nap.