March 31, 2008

Stencil Portrait

Stencil Portrait - Jessica's daughter

A beautiful one of Jessica's daughter. I really love this yellow and brown color combo. I made two for her, but since she wanted the colors of the other one to be a suprise I won't post a picture.

March 27, 2008

What Lara Thinks Things Are

I just came home from meeting with my dissertation advisers about the chapter I just finished (a great meeting, by the way - they are very happy with me). Professionally, as a specialist in 19th century literature, what I basically do is find patterns. The works I study have already been created, and since I am not a historian, I am unlikely to unearth new primary information about them; so in order to have original ideas, I have to look at unlike objects/ideas/styles/aesthetics and find some kind of novel connection. "It has not occurred to anyone until now," each of my essays says, "but when you look at these three disparate books, they exhibit a curious similarity - one which I will now demonstrate and explain." The most difficult part of this work is to break through the standard associations that have been burned into my brain's pathways by habit, custom, common knowledge, and other dulling and unquestioned routines.

I have been thinking a lot about this kind of intentional search for connections, because it is exactly what Lara does when trying to understand new things in her world. It is so fascinating to watch her quickly try to categorize the new and place it into her ever-expanding, but still fairly small knowledge inventory. I love seeing this process, and I am proud of how confidently, how bravely she sets out to explain what she sees to herself. She is undaunted by any suggestions from us that differ from her own perception, arguing with conviction that, for instance, Mickey Mouse is a bear, or that unlike the rest of the dogs, Tramp is actually a kangaroo:

Often, there is an element of fun puzzle-solving in figuring out Lara's leaps of analogy. We passed a guy dressed like this in the street:

Yorkshire Men
Originally uploaded by Lesley A Jones

and she called out, "That's a fahmer! That man's a fahmer!" Why a farmer? Oh, of course - because her only knowledge of farmers comes from Babe, where the farmer looks like this:

We no longer correct her. There will be plenty of time for her to be conditioned into conformity. For now it is far more interesting for us to be shown the world anew, to gasp with delight at the connections only someone without the burden of mental habits can see. How else would we realize that the way the storks drop the baby animals in Dumbo looks exactly like jellyfish swimming, if not for Lara pointing at the parachutes and yelling, "the dellfish are coming! the dellfish are coming!" See for yourselves:

There are many more examples of course, and there is nothing quite like watching her mind at work. I marvel daily, hourly, minute by minute.

March 26, 2008

Some doings

So this is what Lara's hair looks like when she wakes up from her nap. Isn't this the wedding hair that everyone tries to create? She's like a Disney princess or something, with magical birds coiffing her before we get her out of the crib.

Anyway, we went to the playground today to do a fashion photo shoot. A few days ago I sewed Lara a little skirt, and today it finally warmed up enough to wear one. It's reconned from a pair of herringbone pants (Lex, remember these?), with a band of green cotton, fully lined with an old tshirt to prevent itchiness.

Reconned toddler skirt

I also made Lara some leggings to go with the skirt. I just used a pair she already had to make some out of the sleeves of an old knit shirt.

Also, a little fashion show from me. I was really excited about my outfit today too!

And finally - how cute are these two? Love 'em!

March 25, 2008

Playing Doctor

Lara loves her new doctor kit. Well, it's new for her - but actually it was Misha's when he was a wee tot. His mom saved everything! Seriously, she had his eighth grade math homework stashed in the attic of their old house.

Robot girl is getting some medicine, though you can't see it from this angle.

"Daddy is a doctoh in the hopita. He wuhks in the hopita. Nuhse heps him! Daddy come home fast as he can."

March 24, 2008

Longwood Gardens

We went there a couple of weeks ago, and I never posted the pictures. We mainly hung out in the indoor garden, which was beautiful but too small to warrant the long drive. I think it'll be better if we go back when it's warmer outside, and we can run around their huge outdoor areas. The light was just perfect for pictures, though. Love all these colors.

March 23, 2008

Another cute kitchen

How adorable is little Neva's kitchen? I really love those multi-colored circles on the oven door, and using aligator clips to hold up the curtain is a great idea also.

March 21, 2008

Loose and flowy

I am inordinately and unreasonably obsessed with this Japanese website. Scroll down the "Pickups" - there are many pages of them. (Hmm... site seems to be down... but there are some pictures of their clothes in this post from abbytryagain.) The aesthetic of loose, piled on layers really appeals to me, even though it really seems as though the weather would be have to be set on 70 permanently for this style. In any case, I think these clothes are permeating my mind because I have just reconned these:

Lavender tank recon

This used to be a pretty boobtastic belly shirt, shirred under the bust, and way too revealing. But the material is the softest jersey of this lovely lavender color, so I couldn't let it go. Instead, I used the drawstring casing that used to be the shirring to add length to the straps. I put the serged inside on the outside on purpose, to add some detail.

White smock

This is made from a men's button-down shirt and two men's tees. I totally love it, even though it shows multiple signs of being handmade. Can't wait for it to warm up a little bit around here.

March 20, 2008

New Bed

Or at least that's what it feels like since we've been sleeping under the finished quilt for the last couple of days!

Blue squares quilt is done

I finally finished quilting, and then hand-sewed the binding (actually it's just fabric from the back folded over. The finished thing is about 84" x 96", big enough to cover our queen-size bed. I still would like to wash it so that it can get that lovely wrinkly quilty look, but it's so huge I'm not sure how to do it. (Any tips?) Here is a shot of what the back looks like. I'm thinking sometimes we'll just flip it over since this batik is so pretty.

Blue squares quilt with back fabric

Also, unrelatedly, I made this super-delicious frittata the other day for dinner (and then lunch, and then more dinner the next day - it was huge!). Very easy and seems quite customizable - always a plus in my kitchen where I just want to cook whatever I have on hand.

dinner - frittata

- 5-6 eggs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup grated mozzarella (honestly, I think you can use any cheese you like. I'm going to try it with goat cheese next time)
- diced veggies and/or meats (here I used onion, bell pepper, broccoli, chicken sausage, potato, and tomato)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Saute the veggies in a frying pan. I sauteed everything that needed to be cooked - all the veggies except the tomatoes.
Whisk eggs and cheese together.
Put all veggies (including ones you didn't saute) into deep, oven-safe pan, put on medium-low heat, and pour egg and cheese mixture over them. Let cook undisturbed on the stove top for 10 minutes or so (the top will still be runny, but the bottom will be cooked).
Move to the oven and bake until the top is no longer runny, another 10 minutes or so.
Dig in!

March 17, 2008

Hippo Birthday to You!

Yesterday was the birthday of Buttons, one of the hippos at the aquarium.

We celebrated with hippo-shaped pancakes, an explorer hat that was promptly found to pull Lara's hair and thus had to be retired, and a peek at the hippos waking up in the morning (the staff had transformed their usual morning veggies into a cake!).

Truth be told, the organization of this event was a few wires short of a circuit, but the kids didn't seem to mind too much. Lara liked it just fine... but she did make it fairly clear that the aquarium is better with daddy than with mommy. I guess I can't fake my way into being interested in fish.

March 16, 2008

I've been tagged!

I got tagged by Julie at Red Hen Studios! How super fun!

The rules for this are easy:
1. Link to the person that tagged you. (done above)
2. Post the rules on your blog. (done here)
3. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself. (will do below)
4. The rest of the rules call for tagging other people... but I'm not going to. If you feel like being tagged by this meme, consider yourself tagged!

Okee doke, here are six random things about me.

1. Have I ever mentioned why this thingie is called forty-two roads? I'm hoping some of the geekier readers have already gotten the allusion, but for everyone else, it's a reference to the Hitchhiker's Guide series. One of the plot lines of the first book follows a pair of alien scientists who build a computer to answer the question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Eventually, the computer arrives at the answer - "42" - and the scientists realize that they don't know the question. So they build an even bigger computer to figure out the question, but just as this computer is about to yield the answer, it is mistaken for a planet (the computer is actually Earth) and destroyed to make way for an intergalactic superhighway. The two scientists, scrambling for grants and tenure, decide to make up a question, eventually settling on "How many roads must a man walk down?" I have always found these books, and this plot line in particular, to be totally hilarious.

2. If I could, I would cover the walls of our apartment floor to ceiling with original artwork, Barnes Foundation-style, with almost no spaces in between. Too bad we're not swimming in money.

3. I can't whistle, fold my tongue, raise one eyebrow, wiggle my ears, bend my thumb to my wrist, or do a single other one of those small genetically-determined tricks (I've decided that whistling is one of these since no one has ever been able to teach me how to do it). The only thing I can do is unfocus my eyes and instantly see those three-dimensional "Magic Eye" puzzles.

4. My favorite dream ever was a recurring dream I used to have when I was around 12 years old. The dream was basically of me falling softly asleep with my head on my desk on top of my hands. The image was just the close-up of my hands and the desk - exactly what I would see if I were actually lying on a desk at school. That I was having this dream meant I was having the best, most relaxing, least worried sleep possible. My least favorite dream was a recurring nightmare from when I was around 5 or 6. It involved trying to get away from a dragon that was flying around the infinitely high ceiling of my grandparents' apartment. At the end of the dream, my grandmother would realize that I could escape by holding a white handkerchief above my head (camouflaging me into the floor from the dragon's perspective), and so I would manage to escape but my grandparents would still be trapped inside.

5. My favorite going-out activity is to eat at a quiet - really preferably almost empty - restaurant. Really just that simple. I just want to sit somewhere, chatting with friends and loved ones, while someone else brings me food.

6. I wish I had a huge woodworking shop and could learn to build furniture. Even more secretly, I wish I could build us a house from scratch.

Organizing Art Supplies

Many thanks to Mr. Forty-two Roads for keeping things going while I was a huge sickie! Yay, you make me happy.

I'm pretty much recovered and I finally got to deal with the growing insanity of art supplies on Lara's little table. I would love to attach some kind of huge paper roll that she can just keep pulling new paper out, but this is one of the little plastic IKEA tables, so no can do. But still:

Art supplies organizer for Lara

Recycled cardboard from a box and a mailing tube, covered in fabric from the stash (I just used Gem-Tac to glue the fabric down. I love that stuff.), and then hot-glued it all together to form one art-supply-organizing unit. This way, you can just lift the whole thing up and bring it from room to room, depending on where the art is happening. I'm anticipating adding more mailing tube thingies as these run out of space, or as Lara acquires new media - I'm guessing eventually the middle paper box will be entirely surrounded.

March 14, 2008


So, swings are quite literally Lara's favorite things in the world. Every time we go to the park, she darts right for the swings; if they are occupied, she stands there confused, wondering how long she may have to wait for her turn. Swings have become the incentive to get her to try new things ("Lara, why don't you go down the big slide, then we can go back on the swings!"), but once she gets on, it's nearly impossible to get her to come off. Every time you ask Lara what she did at school, she says "I went on the fings [swings... it's not a true 'f,' but sort of a whistled mush-consonant]!"

So today, upon being greeted by this post-nap grimace, we high-tailed it for the playground.

Once there, she spent 24 minutes on the swing. Without a break, and regardless of how many impatient looks (glares) I got from other parents.

Finally convincing her to hop off, we meandered through town to another park, where Lara had a blast with some other kids in an empty fountain.

(By the way, Anna has now shown me how easy it is to upload pictures... thus the 4 blog posts in a row... I'll not derail her crafting, I promise)


Here's a short silly video of Lara exhausted before bed.


Well, Anna (and Lara) have been sick, and so you get the rarity of a back-to-back Mr. Fortytworoads post.

I walked Lara to school today; here are some conversational excerpts (note: it's a 12 minute walk for me; it took us 49 minutes).

As we left the building, on seeing two dogs:
"No no doggies, not eat me!" (Lara promptly fled the scene)

While I tried to get her to walk on the sidewalk, out of the mud:
"No no daddy, I walk on gass [grass]; I walk on wocks! [rocks]"

We walk right by the river on the way to day care; it was high tide and there was a little pool of water with two geese.
"Hi geese, nice to meet you!"

As we walked up to the bridge over the river, we criss-crossed over the same two geese multiple times.
"Bye bye geese, nice seeing you!" (she repeated this every time she saw the geese)

She stumbled upon a tiny brown rock, picked it up, held it out to me and said:
"This is a wittoh wock [little rock]. This is a wittoh bown [brown] wock. This is a wittoh Wawa wock [Lara rock]. Iwannakeepit!" (She always says 'I want to keep it' rapidly strung-together, as if it's one word... she's adorable!)

She also had a comment about each and every parked car. I can't remember them all, but they were amusing observations. The best, though, was as we were walking in towards school, through the parking lot, a car pulled up, so that it's hood/front bumper extended out from the lot onto the sidewalk pavement near where we were walking. Lara shouted:
"Oh no, not eat me car-tiger!"

March 9, 2008

Zoo fun

Hi world - Lara and I excursed (note: I figure if I use made up words, you'll know it's me, not Anna) to the zoo again; she exhausted me, so here are some pictures:

Her right next to the tigers (which prompted her now near-constant refrain, "I'm like a tiger!" which she triumphantly sing-songs as she runs around):

Here she is up on a super-sized awesome tractor. During her stay up-top, she played king of the hill, screaming hysterically if any other children tried to climb the ladder and join her at the wheel... ahh, to be two. When other people annoy me, I am bound by cultural mores.

The tractor controls... super-awesome.

Back home, Lara triumphant.

March 8, 2008

What We Did Today

First thing in the morning, we cooked in the kitchen. I made some soup, and Lara made some crackers to go with it. Her crackers seemed mostly to consist of H2O, but who am I to argue with culinary genius? Every now and then she would offer me a spoonful of her crackers, and they were indeed thirst-quenchingly delicious.

Then we retired to the private residence for a coronation ceremony. Misha has been mocking me "children of the shoemaker have no shoes"-style, and I finally whipped up a crown for Lara. She is a fan. This is her new "cheese" face for picture-taking... I'm guessing it's something from school? Do they take a lot of pictures there? Don't know, but either way, every time the camera comes out she now mugs and says "Cheese!"

The coronation ceremony was quite intense, and was immediately followed by some raucous partying.

The princess approves of herself. This picture is like the moment when Julius Caesar finally sets up the throne for himself in the Senate. I mean, they've all known he was the emperor for a long time already - this is just an ornamental formality. Same here, with our tiny tyrant.

Maybe the post-coronation celebrations were a bit too wild?

Well, time to get this royal show on the road. Lara dressed herself entirely by herself today.

Perfect outfit for going to the Please Touch museum, aka the best place ever. First she set up some trains....

And then gassed up the truck for the next adventure.

March 5, 2008

Dinner Conversation

No pics with this one, but I just had to write it down. We're trying as much as possible to have family dinner, and we usually try to model some kind of "talk about your day conversation." Today it went like this:

A: Let's talk about our days. Daddy, what did you do today?

M: Well, I worked in the hospital, then I came home and took a nap, went to the playground with Lara and had a great time.

A: That's fun! Lara, what did you do today?

L: I went to the mall and saw fishies, all the fishies at the mall. [Lara's day actually consisted of daycare, nap, and playground].

A: Wow, that sounds exciting! What kind of fishies did you see at the mall?

L: Red fishies.

A: Any other kinds? Did you clown fishies?

L: Yeah, clown fishies at the mall aquarium.

A: What did the clown fishies do? Did they talk to you?

L: No, they swam from to me. I was sad.

M: Oh, that is sad.

A: Maybe they were scared of you? Is that why they swam away?

L: Yeah.

Blue smock refashion

Made from one of Misha's old button-down shirts in response to my deep jealousy of all thing smocky.

Smock from blue men's shirt (w/o pocket)

I can't decide - with the pocket or without?

Smock from blue men's shirt (w/ pocket)

Also, does it need more in the way of decals, appliques, buttons, etc.? Or is it better as is without embellishment? I'm so wishy-washy about it for some reason. But I do love how it fits on me.

March 4, 2008


Wow, long time no blog. I guess that's the first thing that goes around here when havoc is wreaked... in this case by a crazy ear infection that left all three of us without sleep for the last week. Zombie Anna is not a blogging Anna. Now all better thank goodness, with a full night of sleep yesterday for all.

On the plus side, Lara did start eating "baby apple bits" last week. She just announced one day that "Duke likes apples and I like apples too. Baby apple bits pweeze!"

Now I have to spy out what the other kids in her class eat to keep up with the "Duke gambit" - "Doesn't Olivia like carrots?" Hmm... we'll see.

Also, I did an easy but totally useful redo on a sweater I inherited from my lovely sister-in-law. Check it out, Lex - no turtleneck! I've been wearing it around and loving it. I might put a little pocket or some buttons on it to liven it up some more.

Reconned sweater - green boat neck

Oh, and yes, I yet again cut my hair even shorter. I really don't know how/when to stop. It keeps looking almost right, but not quite. My hair is just curly enough to not quite ever do what I want it to do (and of course, I want it to do what I want it to do without effort. I'm not quitting being a wash-and-go gal now!) But then on the other hand, I worry about the androgyny aspect since I don't wear earrings or makeup or other gender markers. Any tips?

Anyway, yay, I'm happy to be back in blogville. A demain!