Tuesday, December 11, 2007

not an advertisement for Palmolive

At 1:34pm today, I loaded my dishwasher for the first time in nearly 2 months. No, 60 days of dishes were not teetering precariously on every surface of my kitchen (there isn't that much surface and I don't have that many dishes). Rather, I've been hand-washing every plate, glass, spoon, dried-pancake-batter-covered mixing bowl, milk-encrusted sippy cup, caked-on lasagna pan and any other utensil that has been handled by my family of four for what feels like an eternity.

My conservative estimate (my husband is the exaggerator of this pair) is that for the last half-year, our dishes have had some level of soap residue left on them after a cycle through the dishwasher. I'd become so accustomed to this reality that it wasn't until John commented at dinner several nights in a row that his meal had the faint taste of fresh lemons that I recognized it was probably time to take action.

In typical fashion, the item "Get dishwasher fixed" fell down and down my to-do list. Crossing that task off the list eluded me long enough for our garbage disposal to stop working as well. Recognizing that we could be throwing down some serious cash for two new appliances, I decided a better option might be to renew our home warranty. Even with the yearly fee and the service charge for each claim, that option it would still be cheaper than two new appliances.

During the month it took for me to finally complete the task of calling about the home warranty, I had completed the first several of the Stages You Go Through When Washing Dishes By Hand:

Stage 1: Mild Annoyance -- "This is annoying to be washing all our dishes by hand, but it's only for a few days. I can handle this. Lots of people don't have dishwashers."

Stage 2: Finding Inner Peace -- "OK, so this is lasting longer than a few days. I'm just going to try to enjoy this time standing in front of the sink. It can be time for me. Time for thinking and reflecting and pondering the things of life."

Stage 3 (directly on the heels of Stage 2): Denial -- "Dishes? What dishes? I don't see any dishes."

Stage 4: Take Out -- "Honey, can you pick up something for dinner on the way home? And make sure they give you paper plates. And spoons. And cups."

So I get our home warranty renewed and can barely contain my excitement when Rosemary (my agent) tells me the warranty takes affect at midnight tonight, so I can make a claim the next day if I want to.


"So, is there anything wrong in your house right now?"

"Ummm, no. Not that I know of." (Worried that if I tell her my dishwasher and my disposal are not working she somehow will not be able to renew the warranty. I realize lying is wrong people, but cut me some slack.)

"Well, good. Just one last thing I need to tell you...there is a 30-day waiting period for rust and corrosion. So, if you do make a claim and it's determined that the problem is due to rust or corrosion, the maintenance will not be covered under the warranty."

"Oh. OK." (Crap.)

Figuring that with my luck, it would be determined that both my dishwasher and disposal were not working due to rust or corrosion, I decided to play it safe and wait the 30 days. This was not an easy decision, but I wanted to bypass the reality of Murphy's Law being played out in this situation.

During the second 30 days, I worked my way through more Stages than I would've ever thought possible.

Stage 5: Water Conservation -- "Think of all the water we're saving!"

Stage 6: Glass Conservation -- "How many glasses did you use today? You're gonna reuse that glass aren't you?"

Stage 7: Dish Acrobatics -- "Look at that pile of clean dishes!" (I amazed myself at my newly-developed ability to stack dishes for optimum drying time.)

Stage 8: Dishpan Hands -- "Where's my hand lotion? I can't find my hand lotion!" (Truthfully, my hands have aged 20 years in the past 8 weeks.)

Which brings us to today. The Appliance Doctor braved the treacherous (or not) 1/4 inch of ice to show up at my doorstep and save me from washing one more dish by hand. In less than 5 minutes, he showed me the reason for my dishwashing troubles -- an elastic ponytail holder and what looked to be a mangled plastic straw. I've been washing dishes by hand for 60 days because of an ELASTIC PONYTAIL HOLDER?!?

My frustration was short-lived because I was about knocked flat on my feet by the horrendous smell coming from the dishwasher. It smelled like a dead cat.

"What is that awful stench?"

(The 'Doctor' with a cheekful of chew) "Oh that's stagnant water. It's probably been sitting in there since the last time you ran your dishwasher. That's nothin'. I've seen stagnant water that's turned black. Do you have any white vinegar?"

"All I have is cider vinegar."

"That'll do."(He pours an entire bottle of cider vinegar into the dishwasher and starts it back up.)

My dishes now smell like they were licked clean by a dead cat that fell into a tub of vinegar...but at least I didn't have to wash them by hand.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

hand cramps

I just finished handwriting 22 letters to mail out to our best customers at the store. (We have more than 22 customers that are "best"...we're e-mailing the other 38 people because we didn't have postal addresses for them.) I thought a handwritten note might stand out better. John's position was that I should type them out, sign my name and be done with them. My response was, "How many handwritten notes have you received from a retail store? Zero. That's right. I want these to make an impression."

Hours later and now I can barely move my right hand. And I'm thankful we only had 22 postal addresses.

The things I do to sell shoes.

I realized this morning after rereading this post that it might sound like I wished I had gone with John's position. Not the case. I was just feeling sarcastic last night after all that. It is interesting to me how far away our society has moved from writing things with our own hand. I mean, people used to write with a quill and ink (I'm sure some still do) and I can't sit down for longer than 20 minutes and write a letter with pen and ink. It's just so much easier to type an email, or a document and make copies. I set a "goal" for myself early in 2007 that I would write a letter to someone every month. I have yet to do that. Maybe I'll revisit it in 2008. Or maybe I'll decide to handwrite all our Christmas letters. On second thought, maybe not.

I also realized after opening up this post again that some of you with less-than-clean minds might get a laugh at the title of this post. I was going to change it to prevent any derogatory comments, but I've decided to let it remain. Please keep any potty-mouth comments to yourself.

Monday, November 12, 2007

bang up job

I feel as if I've been waiting forever to grow my hair out, so I could get it cut and achieve the look I have wanted for awhile. Now, I realize forever may seem like a gross overstatement when my hair is still short after growing it out, but it's all relative here people. I love the girl who cuts my hair -- Amber has an amazing ability to do exactly what I want.

I spent at least 20 minutes attempting a self-portrait to no avail. I blame it on bad lighting inside my house. So then I stepped outside and Margot asked if she could take a picture of me. Her shot ended up being my favorite. I like the angle and off-centeredness. Should I be embarassed that at 3 she takes better photos than me?

new hair a la margot

And here's a closer-up shot -- a rare occurrence for me because I don't like being on this side of the camera.

new hair close up

Thursday, November 01, 2007

habitat turns 2

habitat poster with tetra shoes
(photo credit to Hannah. This photo was taken one month before Habitat opened. The shoes are the Farylrobin Tetra and to this day, they are one of my favorites.)

Two years ago today my husband and I opened this. It has been an unpredictable ride to say the least. There have been times I've wondered if we've gone completely insane. Saturdays I've wished my husband could just stay home and have a weekend with our family. Moments of asking myself if chasing your dreams is really worth so much work (and then some more work).

Yet, there have been many more times I've been in awe of the generosity and support of our friends and family. Saturdays I've met and interacted with customers who love our store and get what we're trying to do. And lots of moments of knowing that I'd rather have chased a dream -- no matter how difficult -- than to have never known what would be on the other side of the pursuit.

Here's to many more years of schlepping shoes.

Monday, October 29, 2007

picking out pumquinns

For the second night in a row, my husband has fallen asleep before my daughter. I didn't realize taking a vacation would be so tiring. I thought I'd take advantage of some time to myself (if Margot doesn't come downstairs 12 more times that is) to blog. Recently, I've been experiencing some serious mommy guilt about how few photos I've taken of my kids in the past year. I haven't allowed myself to look through family photo albums of Margot's first year (I've wanted to see how much Vance and Margot resemble one another as babies) because I know I would be so ashamed at how few photos I have taken of Vance's first year that I might not get out of bed for a week. So, last night I wrote out my to do list for today:

1. Call and reschedule Margot's dentist appointment
2. Confirm reservations for John's 30th birthday party

This morning we went out on the front porch to do some sidewalk chalk and I grabbed the camera. Honestly though I felt like I was forcing it. Trying to get some amazing photo of Vance while he was doing laps around my car to make up for the last 12 months. Fortunately, Nana called and asked if we wanted to meet her to pick out some pumpkins.

Vance picking out his:

come on Vance, pick it up

This picture cracks me up...it's like the pumpkin just told him a joke.

funny pumpkin

Margot kept asking me, "Mom, when are we going to pick out our pumquinns?

the "pum-quinn" girl

A good haul (Margot is pulling the wagon. I think she would've pulled Vance all the way back to our house if we would've let her.):

wagon ride

Friday, August 24, 2007

our little ballerina

beaming ballerina

Margot had her first dance class today. It's called "Creative Movement" -- a ballet class for 3-5-year-olds. It's pretty much all Margot has talked about for the past month. On a daily basis she has told us, and anyone who would listen, "I'm going to Miss Lilly's ballet class" (Miss Lilly is Angelina Ballerina's ballet teacher, so naturally Margot assumed her teacher's name would be Miss Lilly). In order to avoid last minute rushing around (which always seems to be the case for me when trying to get two small children loaded up in the car with all their paraphrenalia AND we're trying to get somewhere on time), I dressed Margot in her little outfit early...like 2 hours early. It was almost too much for Margot to take, she kept saying, "I'm ready to go to ballet," or "Mom, when are we going to ballet." Then, when we arrived at the studio, we found out the class actually started an hour later than I thought. This about killed Margot. She could not understand why we were leaving after all the build-up to it. A quick lunch across the street and then we returned to find 4 other girls her age waiting patiently to start.

ballet 1, wk 1

I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to watch her, but thankfully they allowed us to peek in through one of the windows to their room. It is probably one of the most adorable things I've ever seen (more photos on flickr, just click on photo above). Little girls dressed from head to toe in pink, dancing around with big smiles on their faces. Absolutely precious.

thirsty ballerina

Thursday, August 23, 2007

fly infestation

I can't stand flies. In fact, I loathe them. Anytime I see a fly around my house, I promptly find a magazine, roll it up and kill it. However, a few days ago I got lax in my job as Fly Patrol and chose to wait it out. I mean, flies only have a 24-hour life cycle, right? I was tired of chasing them, so I decided to let the one or two flies buzzing around live out the remainder of their short lives and die on their own. This was where I went wrong.

Tuesday afternoon while walking from our front living room to our kitchen, I noticed several flies sitting on the window in our dining room. I started to count them and when I got to 7, I thought, "What is going on?" I then glanced into the kitchen and saw 4 more flies on the window in there, and then turned back into the living room to see 5 more flies on one of the windows in there. By this point, my blood was boiling so much is was about to shoot out of my veins and through my skin.

I went on a rampage and spent the next 15 or so minutes killing 19 flies. I had mercy on 3 flies that I ended up shooing out the door and then killed 8 more later that evening. I was only mildly comforted by my success at elimination all the flies (I could see at least) because I knew the reality was that some fly had laid a nest of a zillion eggs and that this party was long from over. I came home from work the next evening to find John swatting at flies. He said he'd already killed at least 15 (which means maybe 5 because he tends to exaggerate...and even he admits he's not good at killing flies). I killed 8 more that night. One was still buzzing about, but I'd nearly thrown my elbow out going after his siblings, so I decided to get him in the morning.

Today, I've killed at least 10 more; I'm starting to lose count. I just googled "fly infestation" and believe that our house has been taken over by bottle flies (also called greenbottle, bluebottle or blow flies), which are noted for their "metallic blue or green coloration." The good news? -- "Blowflies are scavengers who deposit their eggs on decaying meat, fish, garbage, fecal matter and dead animals." Now all I have to do is find and eliminate this source of decay. Fantastic. The really good news? -- "Complete development (from egg to adult) can require as little as 10 days or as much as 3 weeks." So I only have to deal with this for 3 more weeks. Stupendous! Too bad my husband will have to commit me long before then.

Actually, one good thing that has come out of all this is I found one interesting piece of advice on how to keep flies from entering your home:

"Many people swear that a zip-lock bag filled half-way with water and attached over entry-ways will repel flies. No one yet knows how or why it works, but there is speculation that it has something to do with the way the moving water refracts light."

If anyone tries it, let me know if it works for you. In the meantime, pray for my sanity.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

vrm: one year

**Short rant -- Let me just say for the record that I actually put this post together earlier this week, only to find out after an hour of putting this "ode to Vance" together that blogger was down and I wouldn't be able to post it. And even though I just found out today that my husband has already posted these photos on his blog, I don't care. I'm posting this damn thing anyway. OK, done ranting. On to better things...

why is my cake on fire?

On Sunday, Master Vance turned 1! When I take a moment to stop and think about it, I get a little choked up to realize the first year of his life is already over. Even though I'm home with him and Margot most days, I still don't know where this past year has gone. I'm not sure if it's because I have two kids, or because I'm a small business owner. I'm sure it's some combination of the two.

You always hear about how things are different with the second child. "Oh, they're the second child...," then fill in the blank. With the first child you don't know what you're doing so you hem and haw over every little thing; with the second child you are more laid back and don't have time to hem and haw. With the first child you take advantage of every moment to talk with them, stimulate them with new toys, and observe every (small) thing they do; with the second child you do your best to keep the first one from making their life miserable, and you're lucky if you notice the first time they roll over, crawl, say "mama", or walk. With the first child you record every milestone (and, well just every day) in their baby book with notes AND photos; with the second child you can't find the baby book and even if you could you won't remember what day they actually did start crawling.

diggin' in

I'm sure a year ago I thought most of those things wouldn't be true for me, but the reality is they are. During Vance's first months, I would regularly catch myself wondering when was the last time I took a few moments to just look at him. Or, I'd feel bad that I didn't have any time with just him -- to play with him, talk to him, and just watch him -- like I did when Margot was a baby. As the months passed by, when he achieved some milestone, I kept saying to myself, "I need to write that down so I can record it in his baby book later." But somehow, I couldn't even find (make) the time to stop what I was doing, find a pen, and get it written on the calendar. (Truthfully, I never did with Margot either, so at least Vance isn't getting the short end of the stick there. Neither one of my kids will know when important milestones happened in their life.)

As the months rolled on, I began to adjust to life with two little ones, lightened up on myself a little bit, and just tried to take a step back every once and awhile and take it all in. There are many days I feel like I'm just trying to hold it all together while I try to get all the responsibilities of the day done. But there are also days when I don't feel buried by all the responsibilities and can enjoy Margot and Vance for who they are, and how our lives have been shaped by them.

Vance's personality is starting to come out and I'm really excited to see who he is going to be. How he's going to be different from (and similar to) his sister, and what characteristics of John and I he will have. One thing I know right now: he is SWEET. His face, his demeanor, his hugs. Complete sweetness. One thing I'm afraid of: he's going to use that sweetness (and those eyes...OH MY GOODNESS, those eyes) to his advantage the rest of his life to get into -- and out of -- trouble.

this is really good

Vance, you're dad was convinced when we found out Margot was a girl that we were destined to have all girls (however many that would be). I'm glad he was wrong because I can't imagine life without you. You cause my heart to melt when you flash that smile of yours. Your giggle makes life seem easy. Keep the smiles and giggles coming.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

in the nick of time

Two blog posts in one day? What is the catalyst for such an event?

I finally figured out how to post a photo to my blog header. See above for proof.

It doesn't matter that the title looks lame. It doesn't matter that I don't have any photoshop skills to speak of to make a better looking header. It doesn't even matter that I don't like this picture any more. All that matters is I finally figured out how to do it. Thank you to random blogger, Ryanne, for making a screencast that was easy to follow.

And it's just in the nick of time because yesterday I was discussing with my husband how I was considering moving over to wordpress.com, just so I could upload a photo to my header easily. I may still move, but I can put it off for a little longer now.

the pelvic educator

A friend called me up this afternoon and said she needed a "kid fix" and wanted to know if I'd like to go to a coffee shop and have some time to myself tonight. What? Are you kidding? Are you sure? Um...YES. So while John went for his weekly pummeling on the basketball court, I had the pleasure of sitting at a Barnes & Noble for ONE WHOLE HOUR. BY MYSELF. Just me and my chai from LatteLand (I like their chai better...and I like to support a locally-owned coffee shop. Yes, I support locally-owned bookstores too, but none of them are open this late on a weeknight). This happens so rarely in my life that I almost suffered from decision paralysis of how to spend my hour. Do I take the new book I recently started? Do I peruse the shelves for a new book that peaks my interest? Do I search out a comfy chair in which to take a nap? I finally decided to pick up a copy of my new favorite magazine and just enjoy reading from cover to cover. It was awesome.

While at B&N, I noticed two things that I thought were slightly ridiculous:
1. A magazine entitled Girlfriend Getaways. Now, I'm all for getaways with your girlfriends. In fact, one of my dearest friends and I have talked frequently about trying to get a trip planned for sometime this year for several of our close girlfriends. However, I am not convinced there needs to be an entire magazine devoted to this endeavor. My prediction: it folds after 3 issues.

2. 2008 planners and calendars are already for sale. In case the folks at B&N didn't notice, we haven't even reached the halfway point of 2007 yet. Seriously, who already needs to know what day June 12th falls on? I can barely get my act together to make plans for next week, much less next year. Although maybe if John and I actually put a vacation on the calendar that far in advance, we might actually take one.

On the way to and from the bookstore, I began listening to a book on tape. I'm pretty sure I've listened to a book on tape one other time in my life. I think it was on a road trip with John to Oklahoma and I'm pretty sure we turned it off after 15 minutes. Too much concentrating for me. However, when I saw Stiff the other day in the library, I quickly nabbed it. It's a book about cadavers, which I have been terribly fascinated with since my days on the cadaver team during my sophomore year in college. I saw this title in the Dusty Bookshelf (my favorite used bookshop) several years ago and immediately wanted to read it. I can't remember why I didn't purchase it that day, but I'm sure it had something to do with promising myself (or my husband) that I would not buy any more books until I read the pile of unread books that was growing taller than my nightstand. Anyway, it doesn't matter because I think I'm enjoying the book so much more listening to it.

For example, the author was talking about the history of physicians practicing surgical techniques and medical examinations on cadavers when she mentioned the pelvic educator. It used to be that residents had to practice pelvic examinations on patients that were under anesthesia for other reasons (i.e. surgery), but now they have women who volunteer to receive examinations and then provide feedback. The author comments that she thinks this qualifies them for sainthood. I trust that they are not volunteers, but get paid a damn fine wage.

Friday, June 08, 2007

two shoes for two minutes of your time

The super-fun and hip folks at farylrobin are giving away 5 pairs of shoes to five lucky women who complete their survey. So, stop what you're doing right now and go try to win yourself a new pair of shoes.

If you're wondering whether you want to take TWO WHOLE MINUTES to try and win a pair of shoes -- YOU DO. Who doesn't want to win a new pair of shoes? Any shoes for that matter, but DEFINITELY a pair of Farylrobins. They are easily my favorite brand of womens shoes we sell at Habitat Shoe Store, and that's saying a lot because I love all our brands. So if the opinion of a shoe store owner is not enough to convince you then check out their new spring/summer collection at the link above. I trust you will find several pairs of shoes you wouldn't mind receiving for free...or might even be willing to buy. If that's the case, I know where you can get a pair or two (or three, or four, or five or six).

Hurry though, you must respond by June 15th.

Monday, June 04, 2007

first attempt

how about this smile mom?

Here's Margot in my first attempt at sewing clothing with a pattern (or sewing clothing without a pattern). I was inspired by Amy; she's made two outfits and a skirt from this pattern. After finding out it was a Sewing Patterns for Dummies pattern, I decided it might be a good place to start since I would definitely fall into the sewing dummy category. The pattern is Simplicity 4206. It was fairly easy, but I did feel like the directions left out a few important details. Here are some things I learned or would suggest:

- Definitely make the shirt longer; probably 1-1.5 inches longer. Amy mentioned this too, but I didn't feel comfortable just making it longer since I'd never sewn from a pattern before. This would be a fairly simple change that I will make if I try this pattern again. I will probably also take an inch or two off each side of the shirt as it seems pretty wide to me. This might be a little more difficult as I'm not sure how taking in the shirt would affect attaching the sleeves.

- I thought the most difficult part was the pockets, which I would not have guessed when I began. Pockets seem easy enough -- it's just a square you sew on, right? Well, it's not that simple. With all that folding over of fabric to get the finished look, the fabric starts to get thick at the corners, which then makes it difficult to sew on without looking all wonky. After attaching the first one, I looked up how to attach pockets in this trusty companion (a book I picked up because so many different craft bloggers recommended it) and it talked about the need to miter corners to reduce bulk. Funny that the Sewing Patterns for Dummies directions didn't mention anything about the need to reduce bulk or mitering corners. I think they decided to conveniently skip that stuff because mitering doesn't sound like something that falls into the dummy category. They don't tell you though that by following their over-simplified directions, it will be close to impossible to make your finished pocket look good.

- My next least favorite part was the casings for the elastic for the neckline, sleeves and waistline. All that folding over, and ironing, and pinning (sometimes) of 1/4" of fabric. Man, that stuff is for the birds. I can't believe I don't have more burn marks on my fingers.

- Linen is harder to work with than cotton. It doesn't iron up as easily (which makes all those casings and hemming that much harder) and it's more stretchy (which can mean problems if you pull your fabric too taught b/c it gets all out-of-shape).

- Making this outfit gave me a much greater appreciation for clothes in general and how much work goes into sewing something together. I realize the folks that sew clothing in factories have amazing machinery and can sew a lot faster than I can, but I still couldn't help but wonder at the details on most of my clothing that is much more difficult than the casings for elastic that were giving me fits at times.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the finished product (especially at the fact that I finished this in 1 week!). I love the fabric -- an Amy Butler print from her newest line and some linen that I thought matched perfectly. I would definitely recommend this pattern to even the most novice sewer. Up next: the super-simple smock dress (says Hannah). We'll see.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

great "weekend"...finally

Let's just get it out of the way...it's been nearly 4 months since my last post. Not a surprise to anyone, least of all myself. Moving on...

Memorial Day weekend was most assuredly my favorite weekend in a long time. Why? Because John and I (and the kids of course) had an actual WEEKEND. For the past year-and-a-half, we haven't known what a weekend is. That's what happens when you own a small business that's open six days a week. So, while the rest of the country was lavishly enjoying their 3-day weekend, we were just excited for two days off. In a row. Together.

Sunday we decided to do something different and took the kids to Science City at Union Station. I'm not sure if Margot's favorite part was watching a turtle swim back and forth in a tank or getting her hand stamped when we entered. She was so excited to have a stamp ON HER HAND. I turned to John and said, "We could probably turn around and go home right now and she'd be good for the rest of the day."

We found out that Science City is really for older kids, but it was good to get out and do something different. That night we went back to Union Station to hear the KC Symphony play an outdoor concert and watch an amazing fireworks show. Margot wasn't a big fan of the fireworks, which could be a problem since her birthday is on the Fourth of July.

Monday evening we got to hang with some friends at the park. Two words: BUBBLE GUN. (More photos when flickr stops getting a massage.)

Thanks Huffmans. We got to get ourselves one of those. Maybe if we use it every night before bedtime, our daughter will actually fall asleep before 11pm.

Another highlight of the weekend: time in front of the sewing machine. I got inspired by Amy and decided to try my hand at an outfit for Margot. I've never followed a pattern for clothing before, so this was a big step for me. I finished the top tonight and hope to get the pants done in the next few days. Although honestly, that would be shocking.

And the main reason I celebrated this weekend: MARGOT WENT POTTY IN THE POTTY CHAIR. FOUR TIMES. BY HERSELF. HALLELUJAH. I got one word for ya...CHOCOLATE. Prior to Monday, there was much sitting and reading and singing and talking while Margot sat on the potty chair (and I sat next to her). There was very little peeing though. None to be exact. But the moment she heard that she could have a piece of chocolate if she went in the potty chair, she found a reason to make it happen.

All in all, not a bad weekend. A great one, actually. Now we just need to get someone hired so we can have weekends more often than the three or four times a year a national holiday falls on a Monday.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

vegas, part 1

So last week was the first of two trips to Vegas this month for John and I to shop for shoes for Fall/Winter 07. Although the current winter has really just gotten fully underway here in beautiful Kansas (let's be real - we're FREEZING OUR ARSES OFF here), it's already time to shop for shoes for next winter. The trip was challenging to say the least. It was our first time to have one of our children with us, which we knew would make things more difficult...and would make things take longer than usual...and would make us more tired than we usually are. All of that I was prepared for. What I wasn't prepared for was to be greeted by this on the 7th floor of the Venetian Hotel (the WSA trade show is in several locations, one of them being the Venetian):

"I'm sorry Ma'am. No kids allowed."

"We called before we came and got approval to bring him because he's a nursing infant under the age of one. They told us we just needed to sign a release of liability form."

"Can I see your form?"

"Well, I don't have one. When we checked in at registration no one said anything to us about needing a form."

"Then I'll need you to go to the 34th floor and get a signed form before I can admit you on this floor."

So Vance and I trekked up to the 34th floor while John went to an appointment with Camper. When I got there, I received some disturbing news from the woman in charge of this particular section of the show.

The long and short of it -- I was told that no children under 16 were allowed in the show and that the rule was printed on all the promotional material for the show. She didn't seem to care that I'd talked with someone at the 1-800 number who told me all I had to do was sign a release of liability form. She said there was no release of liability form, that whoever we talked with was mistaken and that she would lose her job if she allowed me to take my child into the show.

I asked her (nicely, of course) if she and the people in charge of the WSA show cared about small businesses. She responded, "Of course we do, small businesses are the backbone of this show." I proceeded to tell her that my husband and I owned a small shoe store, that we were the only buyers, and that we didn't travel all the way to Vegas with our 5-month-old son to be told that we weren't going to be able to attend the show. After about 10 minutes of going back-and-forth, I think she realized that I was not going to just quietly leave and that we were going to need to find a solution to our "problem." In the end, her staff found out that one of the exhibitors didn't show up, so they offered to give us a key to the room to use as a homebase: one of us could stay with our child while the other went to appointments with vendors and then we could switch off. It was far from ideal, but it appeared it was the only option they were going to give us. It pretty much defeated the entire purpose of our coming together -- to view the lines together, to get feedback from one another, to bounce ideas off one another and to be able to make decisions TOGETHER -- but we realized if we were going to get anything done on this trip we were going to have to make the best of it. The upside: Vance got to take naps on a bed instead of in a baby carrier on my back, which did make for a more peaceful trip under the circumstances.

Other things we learned from mishaps on this trip:
1. Waking up at 4:15am is not early enough for a 6:20am flight out of KCI. John and I have already flown twice recently with Vance and have thoroughly enjoyed the preboarding luxury given to parents of small children. Not this morning though as I think we were the last people on the plane. The upside: the flight was only half full, so even though we had to squeeze Vance and his car seat down the teeny-tiny aisle of the plane, we all got to sit together.

2. Going through airport security with young children -- specifically a baby -- is REALLY fun. I'm talking serious fun people. Not only do you get to perform all the typical exercises of airport security routine: making sure you remembered to remove the nail file from your purse, observing the 3-1-1 rule for liquids (for those of you who have not recently flown and are not up-to-speed on airline regulations all your liquids that are carried on board must now be 3 ounces or less in 1 bag that is 1 quart or less in size, and removing your shoes, but you also get the privilege of removing your adorable, sleeping (remember it's 6am) babe from it's car seat and sending both seat and stroller through the tiny X-ray machine while at the same time trying to perform the aforementioned rituals all in under 1 minute so as to KEEP THE LINE MOVING PLEASE. After getting Vance snuggled back in his car seat, I was feeling pretty good about how smoothly the airport screening had gone. While putting my shoes back on, I was jolted out of my smug reverie by a slight crash. I spun around to find that my son's car seat had fallen off the stroller WITH HIM IN IT. The upside: he wasn't hurt, only slightly disoriented. We hadn't even boarded the plane and this trip was already off to an exciting start.

3. Use caution when getting into an unfamiliar shower in a hotel or you could slip and fall on your arse. The upside: it made for some much-needed laughter after the day we'd had..."I'm sorry sir, you won't be able to bring that wheelchair into the show. No children under 16 are allowed and no adults under the age of 30 in a wheelchair."

4. When nursing your son, don't stand up too quickly to answer the door of the hotel room or you might pop a button off your dress that would make it difficult to walk around the rest of the day and people not to stare at parts of your body you don't want them staring at. The upside: suites in the Venetian Hotel come equipped with several amenities. My particular favorite this day: a sewing kit.

I'll share the trends for fall/winter 2007 in another post. Stay tuned for Vegas, Part 2 next week.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

local news

Does anyone agree with me that the local news is horrible? Tonight, after watching the Golden Globes and before I located the remote, I caught two small segments of "news" that pretty much sums up what the local stations think is newsworthy around here. I don't think I've ever watched a full half hour segment of the local news, so I'm certainly no expert, but from the few moments I've seen here and there I'm convinced that every news story comes from two main topics: crime and the weather.

The first several stories of tonight all had to do with some type of crime or tragedy, or a tragic crime -- two young boys who had been kidnapped, a teenage girl who had been hit by a truck, another young girl who was an accomplice to a murder. All these stories were shared in the first two minutes. I don't understand why the people who decide what stories get on the local news think that the people of Kansas City want to hear about this stuff. It seems to be all about sensationalism to me and I'm repulsed by it. Why can't they find some positive stories to talk about? There must be hundreds of people all over KC who do great things for other people every day. I want to hear those stories.

And then the pendulum swung to the other side of the coin of horrible journalism. Just before turning off the TV, we saw a clip about the ice and sleet that have been falling on KC the past few days. They actually showed a woman scraping ice off her car and flashed her name on the screen with the title "Ice Scraper" underneath it. WHAT?!? Is this for real? What idiot approved giving this unsuspecting woman the title of "Ice Scraper?" Is catching a woman on video scraping ice off her car seriously newsworthy? "Oh my goodnes John, will you look at that. That woman is scraping ice off of her car. That's fascinating. How does she do it?" C'mon people.

So is it just KC, or is the local news this bad in every city?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

the best week of 2007...already?

This was probably one of the best weeks I've had in a long time. Nothing mind-blowing happened, but just lots of little things that added up to a great week.

Monday, I worked all day at the store -- something I haven't done in a long time. But this guy had not had two days off in a row (except for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day) for a very long time. We're talking months. Fortunately, Vance is not eating as frequently, so I'm able to work a full day if John brings him to the store for one feeding. Now, most people might not think starting off the week with a full day of work would be a start to a great week. Well, it is for me because when I work on stuff for the store it's either during the kids naptime (when they nap at the same time), or at night after they've gone to bed. The weeks I have to work on stuff several nights in a row are the weeks I dislike owning our own business. It's not that I dislike working on stuff for the business, it's that I dislike mostly having to do it in the "free time" I have apart from the kids, which means I don't get to do other things I want to like read (books, magazines or blogs), knit, sew, and other stuff that's relaxing. So, having a full day at the store to work on all the things I have to do at home normally, is a GREAT start to the week for me. Plus, the added bonus is my husband gets a day to hang with the kids and enjoy their hugs, smiles and giggles. The only bummer part about Monday is what I missed. Right after we sat down to dinner, John said, "So, Vance rolled over today." Of course he did. I've been coaxing him for weeks to roll over, I should not be surprised that he chose the day I was out of the house to do this for the first time. Oh well, he did it again after dinner.

Wednesday, I went out for coffee with Hannah. Again, this may not sound like an event to boast of a stellar week, but I can't even remember the last time I went out for coffee with a friend...without my children in tow. It was wonderful. Hannah and I talked for three hours I think and it honestly felt like 45 minutes. We closed down LatteLand (they were very nice not to kick us out, but we got the hint when we noticed lights flickering out). We talked about our respective stints of living and travelling abroad and how we would both like to get back to Europe again some day whether to travel or to live for some time. I thoroughly enjoyed learning new things about Hannah. This may sound cheesy, but ideas were sparked in me from that conversation that had been dormant for some time. It was good for my soul.

And Friday. Oh Friday. Our amazing friends, Jeff and Sarah, offered to watch our kiddos so we could have a date night. A what? A date night? What's that? (Basically from this post you're learning that I don't get out much). On our way out the door, Jeff demanded he take a picture of us (see, even he knew what a momentous occasion this was):

and then said, "If you're home before midnight, I'll be disappointed." My response was, "Jeff, if we're not home by midnight, you need to call the police because something is very wrong." OK, I didn't really say that, but I figured he was going to be disappointed. So, we ate the most delectable meal at 1924 Main -- arguably the best restaurant in Kansas City. Their menu changes every week of the year and you an choose the prie fixe option for a 3-course meal of a starter, main course and dessert.

John chose:
Black mussels with chorizo, smoked fennel, orange segments and basil aioli
Grilled swordfish with brandade potatoes, oyster mushrooms and manila cream butter
Chocolate espresso pot de creme with biscotti and port soaked cherries

I chose:
Herbed goat cheese ravioli with braised lamb broth and crispy fennel
Grilled strip steak with blue cheese potatoes, balsamic marinated portabellas and cabernet sauce
the pot de creme as well.

Is your mouth watering yet? John and I kept saying, "It has to be wrong to be enjoying a meal this much." If I were to ever win the lottery (which I don't play so I'll probably never win), I think the thing that might change most about my life is that I would eat out at nice restaurant A LOT MORE. I love eating out at restaurants with chefs who know how to prepare food. Added bonus: the couple that owns the place are the nicest people AND they're our neighbors.

After dinner, we checked out the newly renovated President Hotel (to scout out the grounds for a stay sometime in the future?) and then went around the corner to JP's wine bar and coffeehouse because we couldn't go home yet. I was daring and tried an after dinner coffee drink which had Grey Goose vodka, Godiva chocolate and something else. Very disappointing. Too strong (the alcohol, not the coffee) and just all-around not what I was hoping. So, I asked our waiter if he could just bring me a Chai instead. I know...boring, but hey, it's what I wanted. And let me tell you, it was probably the best Chai I ever tasted. Not to mention, it was HUGE. The mug it came it was the size of a bucket. I drank the whole thing, so I definitely got my $3.50 worth.

But better than the delectable meal and fabulous Chai was the fact that I had nearly four, uninterrupted hours ALONE with my husband to talk about anything but the store. It was the perfect end to a great week. Now, if I can just take time to do things like this every week, 2007 will be a banner year.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

mkm 2.5

Dear Margot,
You turned two-and-a-half today. Thirty months old. I've wanted to write you a letter every month on your "birthdate" (an idea I got from another mommy-blogger), but for more reasons than I care to admit, I've never succeeded in accomplishing that goal. Well, it's 2007 and times are a changin' (hopefully).

This past month has been a super-fun one with you. Your new thing is dancing and you do it all the time. Sometime in November we watched Center Stage and ever since then, all you want to do is dance. Prior to seeing the movie, you loved music and would jump up-and-down when listening to Coldplay or Death Cab for Cutie or any number of the other bands your father has in rotation in our stereo. But this movie was a definite turning point. Now, it's all about being a ballerina. After the first viewing, you studied the photos on the back of the DVD case and then proceeded to imitate the poses you saw in the photos. During the second viewing, you spent most of the movie hopping around trying to mimic what they were doing on screen. For the next two weeks, immediately after you woke up (and every hour after that) you would say, "I wanna dance" and would ask us to turn on the music. You would dance around the living room like a ballerina, placing your arms carefully in position, up on your "tippy toes", alternating between a look of intense concentration and a beaming smile. Aside from our parental bias, I think others would agree that you look pretty darn good for a two-year-old...sorry, two-AND-A-HALF-year old. Your father and I had so much fun watching your dance routines that when I saw a pink tutu at our favorite children's clothing store, I knew that's what we would be giving you for Christmas. You also received a pink leotard and tights for Christmas and spent most of Christmas day dancing around the house in the complete get-up. I think you've worn it at least once every day since Christmas and whenever anyone asks you what you got for Christmas, you exclaim with a big grin on your face, "I got a tutu. It's pink."

Other than dancing, you are very into your little brother. You love to hug him and kiss him and very much wish you could pick him up and throw him over your shoulder to burp him and can't quite seem to understand why we won't let you. And although we tell you at least 10 times a day to not lean all your weight on Vance, you haven't quite grasped that concept yet. But honestly, I'd rather have to keep reminding you not to smother him than for you to ignore him and be totally uninterested in him. When you wake up in the morning, or from a nap, one of the first things you say is, "Where's Vance?" You're also very protective of him, and have burst into tears and protested several times this past month when you see someone you don't know saying "hi" to him or holding him. People have reacted quite strangely to this, but we know it's just your way of watching out for your little brother.

When you're not playing with Vance, you can usually be found playing in your room. This is a new development, just in the last week or so. I think it's because you've figured out how to turn on the CD player yourself and can now listen to your "Margot" CD over and over and over. You seem to be really enjoy having some time to yourself up there and I must admit it's been refreshing for me. But today when you were playing up there by yourself, I got a little sad because I realized this is just the beginning of what is sure to be many years of you wanting to differentiate yourself from me. My mind was flashing forward to your teenage years when you'll be listening to different music (that I also can't stand) in your room and wanting nothing to do with me. I know our job as parents is to raise you to become your own person and to pursue your own dreams and I certainly want you to do that, but today I got a small glimpse of how hard that is going to be at times. So for now, I'm going to enjoy the times you ask me to turn the music on so you can dance, and for the times that you turn it on yourself, don't be surprised if I sneak in your room to just watch you play.

I love you,

oh boy!...comments

I had no idea posting about a college football game would provoke more comments on my blog than any other post to date. Wow, maybe I need to change my focus...


Two days ago I turned thirty-and-a-half. Do you remember the days when half-birthdays were a big deal?

"How old are you?"

"I'm 7 and a half."

Somehow, 30 and a half just doesn't have the same ring to it. I think the main reason I still acknowledge my half-birthday is because it is also my stepdad's birthday. I'm sure some people might think it's silly to acknowledge half-birthdays and I can understand that. If you celebrate a half-birthday, why not a quarter-birthday? Or an eighth-birthday? It could get a little ridiculous. I do know a family who celebrates half-birthdays with their kids. They don't throw a party for them, but rather take the day as an opportunity for some special one-on-one time with their kids. I absolutely LOVE birthdays, and have felt for some time that everyone should get a birthWEEK to celebrate. I could get into this half-birthday celebration concept.

Speaking of half-birthdays...Margot turned 2 1/2 today, but more about that in another post.

Monday, January 01, 2007

oh boy-se state!

(that may be the cheesiest blog post title ever)
Did anyone else see the Fiesta Bowl tonight? WOW. Probably one of the best college football games I've ever seen. Seriously. Before tonight, I had never heard of Jared Zabransky, but if you'd seen me cheering for him in the final seconds of regulation when he completed a pass on fourth-and-18 for a touchdown to send the game into overtime, you might've mistaken me for his mother...or a Boise State fan at the very least.

I wanted to share my excitement with someone (my husband went to bed early to recover from the New Year's Eve party we attended), so I called my friend, Jeff. It ended up that he was asleep too (recovering from the same party). He sounded so confused that I would be calling him at 11:30pm to celebrate the outcome of a college football game, so I told him "goodnight" and decided to just share my joy with the anonymous blogworld instead. If you saw the game, you know what I'm talking about. If you didn't, you can read the story here.

So, Boise State is now 13-0. The only other undefeated team is Ohio State, but unfortunately these two teams won't have a chance to go head-to-head for the National Title because of the messed-up BCS bowl system. I won't go there though because I don't have an opinion about it.

Happy New Year!