Blog a la Cart

Month: April, 2010

Silk Scarf Pillow Case

I can’t help but drool over a silky smooth Hermés scarf – but honestly, given my slobbery tendencies and my lack of extra dollars (LOTS of extra dollars), ownership of one just isn’t in the cards. It’s probably for the best given that silk and drool don’t mix under any circumstances. And for this reason, I bring you the Upcycled Silk Scarf Pillow. This beauty isn’t for sleeping, but for accenting rooms with elegance and style. If you’ve got a stack of old scarves shoved in a drawer, especially if they’re stained and never see the light of day, it’s time to reinvent their loveliness. Or if you don’t have such a stash, head on over to a local thrift store and pick one up on the cheap! Throw pillows never looked better!

Materials:
Silk scarf
Fusible interfacing to strengthen scarf
Fabric scrap for backing
Scissors
Sewing machine
Thread
Iron
Pillow insert

Directions:
1. To strengthen your scarf, fuse it to a piece of fabric with double-sided fusible interfacing and an iron.


2. For the envelope style backing, cut out two squares of your backing fabric that are 1 inch wider than your pillow. Make sure to cut enough so that they overlap by 2 to 3 inches after you’ve sewn a 1 inch hem on the side.
3. Overlap the two pieces and pin together so they create a square that is 1 inch larger than your pillow all the way around.
4. With right sides together, sew the top scarf piece to the envelope pillow backing all the way around.
5. Turn right side out and insert your pillow.

Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Weeks Cart

Pillow Talk

Real conversation with James yesterday evening as we lay in bed contemplating the meaning of the term “Taintwich” – a phrase introduced to us this week by little sister, Kimmy.

It all started because I threatened to fart in James’ mouth if he didn’t play with my hair.

I am so damn lady like.

Me: I’ll fart in your MOUTH!

James: That’s probably the foulest thing I’ve ever heard. Seriously.

Me: You have taught me well, Master Yoda.

James: You know what you are? A TAINTWICH!

*Pause of illustrious, contemplative silence*

Me: What does that even mean?

James: What goes in this alleged sandwich?

Me: Dude, it’s TaintWITCH, like BROUHAHA!

James: What, is that like the international sign for Witch? BROUHAHA?

Me: Um, obviously.

James: I think we’re talking about a sandwich of taint.

*Call Kimmy to confirm*

Kimmy: Yes, asshat, it’s taintWICH – like an Ash and Kimmy sandwich but with taint in the middle.

James: Glad we cleared that up. I can rest easy tonight having visions of my wife and sister-in-law kissing taint…

Me: … with the echoes of brouhaha!

God, my family is awesome. And yes, yes I am a parent.

happy bEARTHday!

Today I officially become “late 20s.” UGH! And Mama Earth celebrates the 40th year of Earth Day! (That’s right, Earth Day is my birthday. Appropriate, no?)

While I wrestle with this disturbing thought – the OH MY GOD I’M ALMOST THIRTY! thought – enjoy this video of an adorable, well-trained pug “going green.”

I hope you’re taking notes, URSA.

happy bEARThday, y’all!

11 Months.

Precious Sunny girl,

This weekend I went home to Cohasset to say my final good-byes to my childhood home. I did it alone because I needed to make peace with the situation in some solitude, and, quiet frankly, your boisterous exultations, while highly adorable, are also highly distracting.

I feel fortunate that I was able to share that magical home with you on more than one occasion during your 11 months of life (despite living across the country from it for most of that period) and that there are pictures of us together in front of that tall grassy hill where I once posed as a child, and on our harbor where I spent so many happy summers in my little sailboat. Having you in my life has made this farewell and transition a tad easier, because as I look at you I am reminded of the future and the home that we will build together as a family. You have helped turn my head forward when I am steeped in nostalgia and sadness. For this, I am eternally grateful.

While I was out east, Daddy took you and Ursa westward to Blooming Grove, another very important and magical place. You will be the fifth generation of the Cart family to walk those fields and play in those streams, to swim in that clear lake and to throw tomatoes bedecked in red each Labor Day. That kind of family history is a rare and beautiful gift, and to be able to share it with not only your father and grandparents, but also your GREAT grandparents is incredible. It gives me the chills just thinking about it.

You turned 11 months on Sunday, and when we reunited back home on Monday morning I was blown away by how changed and grown you had become in just three days time. It’s as if you knew you were approaching the final period where your age is tallied by the months and you had to show mama just how big you are. To think that in just a month’s time you will be defined in terms of years is mind-blowing.

Your hair is long and hangs in your face but I refuse to get it cut thanks to a less-than-positive experience when you were wee. You now pull all bows out of your hair so we have to put them in ridiculous pig tails in order to keep you from resembling cousin IT. I’m clinging to that hair because I know that a haircut will only exacerbate your transition from babyhood to toddlerdom. And I’m not ready to loose my baby just yet.

With that being said, you are so active and full of life that the only time I’m allowed to cradle you like a baby  is when I feed you the bottle (a grown baby bottle now filled with organic cow’s milk we’re having delivered from a local farm. Bye bye formula!) and lay you down to sleep.

This month you learned to play so many new games, and Daddy and I just can’t get enough of how very interactive you are. Fairy godfather Jeremy taught you how to share blocks and clap them together. And both your fairy godparents bore witness to your love of knocking down any attempt at building a block tower. You love to empty all bins, bowls, or barrels, and then very proudly put each item back in its place.You pull magnets on and off the fridge and clap with delight each time they successfully stick back onto the appliance.

You learned to walk around the house using your wooden push cart for support and I fear you may be independently walking by your 1st birthday party. You flail your arms and bounce whenever your favorite songs come on the stereo – the African lullabies CD from Courtney is your all time favorite, particularly the  South African folk song Shosholoza which we all know by heart. You’ve joined a music play group with Daddy, and I was a proud mama bear when one of the parents in the playgroup emailed me to tell me just how wonderfully you are adjusting to playing with all the big kids. You are fearless, and love to explore and bang on the drums or your wooden xylophone. You learned the joys of egg hunting and discovering the goodies tucked inside. You hug your blankies and baby dolls when you get sleepy at night, and there is nothing that brings you greater joy than your puppy (and all dogs) and flipping through the pages in your many board books. We have a budding literary nerd on our hands.

Your palette expands daily, and Daddy has turned you into a little hummus monster. He makes fresh hummus by the tubs, and your favorite is the curried which you smear all over your face and lovingly offer to Ursa. A trip to India is in our future.

You are incredibly opinionated and demanding. You know what you want, when you want it, and have taken to throwing mini-tantrums when not allowed access to outlets, sharp objects, Ursa’s water bowl, etc. You are easily distracted, so these never last for more than a minute, but Daddy and I can’t help but laugh when we see you filled with such frustration. In our eyes, everything you do is adorable. Even when you’re turning bright red in anger and hurling your tomato sauce covered lasagna all over the floor. Still presh.

My favorite moment from this past month happened last week when you were having a fitful, restless night thanks to those evil-gum-piercing buggers called teeth. It was 2:30 in the morning and your Daddy had been tending to you earlier in the night, so I headed into the nursery to try and comfort you. You were still making quite the ruckus, so I carried you into the guest room located on the opposite side of the house to muffle your cries for Daddy. We curled up in the bed which is the four-poster princess bed that I grew up sleeping in. You nestled up on my chest with your blankie shoved in your mouth to help relieve the teething pains. You then drifted off to sleep and I lay there listening to you and your baby snore and thinking about all the stories that that bed could tell if only she could speak.

Doda has always said that he felt like Alistair Cooke from Masterpiece Theater sharing that very same bed with Momar when they were first married. She (the bed)  is the matriarch of the family, and certainly has that air of history and grace.

The bed came over to America in 1860 via boat (obviously) when your great-great-great-great-great grandparents immigrated here from Germany. In fact, your great-great-great-great grandfather was born in that bed. It has been passed down generation after generation, from first born woman in the family to first born woman. I lay there thinking of each of our grandmothers – Munner, Momo, Grammy and now Momar – and the six generations of first born women who shared that very frame. While you won’t ever have the pleasure of meeting your Momo or Grammy, we are all connected through that hand-turned, antique wood piece of furniture. A bed where we dreamed, giggled with girlfriends, cried when heartbroken, read into the late hours of the evening, and grew from girl to woman. And now it is yours and you will carry on the tradition, building forts, hiding under her frame, snuggling up with your puppy dog, whispering on the phone with your first boyfriend who at the time you’ll consider your first love in the middle of the night, and one day sleeping with your ACTUAL love under the history of many generations before you.

Doda told me that there is a French movie where a bed is the narrator and main character of the film. The bed tells the story of an entire family’s history, slowly turning back time to its origin.

The four-poster could map a very similar tale for our family. And you, darling girl, became a part of its history this month as you nestled into her covers for the very first time, launching your own story.

And so, for the final time before months are converted to years…

Happy 11 Months, baby girl.

143 Mama

I think that this is one of those times when the term “epic fail” is appropriate

I keep thinking about the first time I got my period.

I was like eighteen years old.

And by like 18 years old, I mean, was.

The term we’re looking for here is “late bloomer.”

Needless to say, I was convinced that I was a hermaphrodite. What else could account for the lack of monthly hemorrhaging that all of my fellow girlfriends experienced.

Those lucky bitches.

I can’t believe that that thought even crossed my mind. What I would have given for my college years to be free from the threat of pregnancy and “is it cool if we have sex while Aunt Flow’s in town?” conversations.

Being a hermaphrodite would have been gravy.

And allowed for a lot less awkwardness.

That logic totally makes sense.

To think I pretended to have my period, to be, ya know, all “hip and now.” Because not bleeding all over my underwear like my friends? So. Not. Cool. To help keep up appearances, I even toted around pads and tampons from my BABY sister who had the gift of womanhood bestowed upon her at the ripe ol’ age of 13. Like a normal girl. A girl who was not only gifted with bleeding lady parts, but also boobs and hips.

I, however, was like Tim Burton’s Jack the Pumpkin King  – skinny skinny bitch with a head the size of the Sputnik.* Like one of those Olympic gymnasts that doesn’t ever get her period because she weighs negative pounds – except with zero athletic skill, ability, or grace.

So it was a lot of limbs, and flailing, and gumby-like nonsense. All the while looking as though my cranium might just roll on off my shoulders due to the sheer magnitude of its size.

So I was period-free and flat-as-a-board for eighteen awkward years.

I might add that I’d give anything to go BACK to that time in my life. A time free from nipples that resemble deflated basketballs and boobs comparable to moist, uncooked bread dough.

Let that metaphor marinate for a moment.

Yes, nipples deflate.

Thanks, ADDISON.

A time before I had to stomach that iron-y (not like Alanis Morris style, like the smell, of iron) that accompanies my monthly vaginal excretions and brings every canine within a 100 miles radius straight to my crotch.

James likes to ask if I’m “attracting sharks.”

I’d say I’m attracting sharks and the entirety of every regional ASPCA.

That howling? Dogs in desperate search of my bloody vagina.

REGARDLESS!

I grew up in a very “European” style home where we ate dinner at ass-o’clock, i.e. 9pm, and my mother preferred to use O.B. tampons. Yeah, the ones sans insert. The stick-shift tampons of the period world.

We get down with our biology in the Ulmer abode.

So when I finally did blossom into a ripe young flower (wow, the writing in this post is priceless), my mother handed me a box of O.B.s and told me to get down with my bad self.

After much fumbling, and starring at my vagina with a hand mirror, and feeling as though I was stabbing my inner gut with a blunt object, I mastered the self-insertion of a tampon.

I tell you all this to preface my experience with the Diva Cup. I, of all people, should have been a master of this self-inserting device. It should have been a piece-o-cake. Like riding a bike, just one with massive off-roading tires for extra safety and protection.

Alas, after days of having my hand wedged up my vagina and birthing and re-inserting a large piece of silicone, I GAVE UP!

The cup was simple enough to get on up inside, it was the positioning of this contraption that I found maddening. They say to “twist” once inside to “expand” the cup. Um, if you haven’t noticed, vaginas are slimy and lubricated and not at all conducive to a firm grip and twist. So I mostly got covered in my own vagina mucous and blood.

Awesome.

When menstrual blood started getting caked under my finger nails, that, my friends, was a breaking point. It was bad enough to have the lingering smell of vag and iron on my fingers (despite vigorous hand-washing) and to feel like a sixteen year old boy that’s just hit third base, but to see dried, crusty period blood UNDER MY NAIL?

Um, gross. Even for I who has a very high threshhold for biological functions and fluids.

Also, because I never mastered the positioning, I felt like an incontinent granny running to the bathroom every hour to check for spotting (which happened frequently) and only made the stench of blood stronger and Ursa’s yearning for my crotch deeper.

Four days into my cycle, I tucked the Diva Cup away into is flowery, fabric colored pouch. (Yes, provided by the Diva Cup team).

Removed my Scarlett Letter.

And resorted to regular tampon use.

I’m now dead to Mama Earth. Dead. To. Her.

I may try again next month – because practice makes perfect, right?

Or maybe I just really enjoy hours spent coated in vagina gunk.

Or honestly, I just want to get my damn money’s worth.

So we shall see. But for now, I’ve purchased recycled wool sweater diaper covers to compensate for the lack of crunchiness when it comes to my own vagina.

At least Addison’s parts can be crunchy.

I know, JAMES, it sounds like our daughter has a crunchy vagina.

God how I do love me some calcified vaginas. True story.

*It had it’s own weather system!

::We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog::

I’m working on my Diva Cup post, which, as my dear Twitter friends know, was less than a success.

EPIC. BLOODY. FAIL!

But we must leave that for another day. Right now I would like to relate a story that is yet another example of one of the many joys of parenthood, and that, my friends, is the constant saturation in your beloved baby’s bodily fluids.

I know, that’s all I talk about here.

If you have an ish, go find yourself another blog.

Or just relish in my lack of dignity and general state of smelliness.

So, this evening. I did my usual prep of the little one for bathtime. This generally involves me stripping her down naked and carrying her around with an animal head towel on her body like a little, caped, sheepie crusader. ASS NAKED. Literally.

Some may say I’ve been playing with fire on this one. Urine fire. And yes, yes I have. But there is something about the joy that she experiences when that diaper comes off her bare baby bum that I just can’t NOT let her be naked-baby-bummie-pants for that two minute walk from bedroom to bathroom.

I take it real slow – that whole ten feet.

Anyway, point being, she experiences such glee when naked.

So much so that she truly takes after her own mother’s heart. In time I shall fill you in on some of my own epic streaking fests which include a seminary in New York City and Lombard Street in San Francisco. Yes, that would be the really windy famous one. Had it not been for 9/11, I would have totally gone for the Golden Gate Bridge. Those military tankers on either end of the bridge were a wee bit of a deterrent.

Oh yeah, and seminary being a house of God.

IF HE EXISTS HE’D LOVE ME AS I AM…

Naked.

And drunk.

Stories for another time.

SO! She’s gleeful when naked, and kicks and pumps her legs while giggling in nudie delight. I was getting such a kick out of it this evening that in a fit of motherly love, I snuggled her up close to my chest – pressing mommy body against baby body in tender naked embrace – when I felt a warm wet trickling down my person thanks to the little one relieving her bladder. All over mommy.

Naked baby: 1, Stupid mommy: 0.

Actually, those numbers should be like 1,284 to 0.

While James executed bathtime, I threw my urine soaked clothes in the washer, and began this blog post, because, OBVIOUSLY! This shit writes itself.

After bath, James and I wanted to capture the joyful fist pumps – for this very post – and my god, Addison, you are a comedic genius.

May I reiterate, this shit literally writes itself.

Warning: There is lots of naked baby vagina. And we all know how traumatizing that can be. There is also lots of me and James awkwardly waiting for Addison to do something and her just hanging around naked.

Also, me in a night gown. Sans culottes. Because I am my fucking mother.

SIN PANTIES!

Oh, and James getting peed on.

Sunny, your sense of comedic timing is magnificent. Thank you, pee pee machine, thank YOU.

::Now back to your regularly scheduled blog::

Button Necklace

Looking to entertain your wardrobe with some new accessories? What better way to play with your style than to create your own upcycled button necklace? Children and adults alike will approve!

Materials:
An assortment of buttons – big, small, colorful, decorated, etc.
Embroidery thread
Thin needle
Clasps
Scissors to trim thread

Directions:
1. Using your pile of buttons, pick a mixed group, pairing little and small, and colors of your choosing.
2. Lay out the buttons in the order you’d like to see them on the necklace.
3. Thread a long strand of thread in the color of your choice.
4. Attach one part of clasp to end of thread.
5. Use the needle to thread the strand through two holes of each button; make sure to move each button to end of strand so as to stack them one on top of the other.
6. Once all the buttons are threaded and the necklace is at your length of preference, attach second piece of clasp.

Now everyone will know who’s got the button(s)! YOU!

Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Weeks Cart

A final celebration

Today marked our final celebration as a family in my childhood home.

23 years.

30 Margin, you’ve been a delight. I can only hope to provide Sunny with a home half as beautiful and filled with history and love. This place will be etched forever in my heart and mapped in my memories.

And to think I got to share it with my daughter.

You done good, Mom and Dad.

143

Karma is a MotherF@#$

So when I wrote about my purchase of the Diva Cup, apparently that tuned my vagina into the Universe.

Hey, Aunt Flow! Thanks for visiting a week early! It’s so lovely to have you along for the ride as I meet and visit with all these very important people that are in town FOR ONE WEEKEND ONLY, and it’s my job to ya know, meet with them. Thank YOU for that!

Karma is a Motherfuck.

Anyway, I’m 24 hours into my use with the Diva Cup and I will say this:

One must be able to get down with her lady parts. Her feminine flower. Her inner power… oh hell, her Va-jay-jay, in order to get down with the Diva Cup.

Period. End of sentence.

I will dive into more details later – I want to give this baby the full test of the flow before a more thorough report – but it shall be detailed. Oh it shall. And pssssst, I’ll be giving away one Diva Cup to you interested ladies thanks to the Diva Cup team. WOO!

I will say that the Diva Cup is having an interesting impact on my relationship with James:

Me: WHOA! JAMES! Check it out!

<Come out of bathroom and flash James Diva Cup filled with blood>

This shit really works!

James: Are you honestly showing me that right now? HONESTLY?!

Me: WHAT?! You sit to pee sometimes.

James: That is not at ALL the same thing.

Me: WOMAN!

James: I’m not even going to get into how NOT feminist that statement just was. Also, I sit to pee to be more MODEST when you INSIST on barging in the bathroom and brushing your teeth when I’m already in there.

Me: You have urine stage fright. You’re an anxious pee-er.

James: Yes, yes I am. And you know this, yet that does not deter you from invading my privacy. ALL. THE. TIME.

Me: Whatever. You’re so unsupportive.

James: Of your menstrual blood?

Me: Next thing I know you’re going to build a Red Tent in the backyard and force me to live there for one week every month. WHAT KIND OF MONSTER ARE YOU?!

<Storm back into bathroom to dump and reinsert Diva Cup>

So basically, I’m trying to save Mama Earth and some dollars, and James is reliving the book of Genesis.

Fucking men.

Round of applause for Mama and her vagina!

The Berkshires have turned me into even more of a hippie, as if that were possible.

I didn’t think that I could get any crunchier.

I know, I know. Lily-Pulitzer, pearl-wearing, yacht-club-membering, New-England born me. Crunchy.

California does strange things to people.

I’ve been making my own baby food, using a cloth diaper service, and engaging in a little bit of hell otherwise known as natural childbirth with a doula and birth photographer by my side. All thanks to California.

Then, I moved back to Massachusetts. This time, to the Berkshires.

And all of a sudden I’m cloth diapering, AT HOME, because no diaper service will come to our town in the boonies.

(Reason #837 why I want to make sweet sweet love to our sexy new washer and dryer).

And I’m Neti potting up a storm as a way to cleanse my sinuses and exhume the phlegm due to this cold I’ve had going on two weeks.

For those of you that don’t know what a Neti pot is – it’s kind of like voluntary waterboarding. You shove a pot, filled with warm salty water, up one side of your nose, tip your head, and let the fluid and snot pour out the other nostril. At first, it feels like you’ve inhaled the entirety of the Atlantic, but after a while, that shit feels like heaven. You’re like a snotty Lil Teapot – tip you over, and pour you out.

I convinced James to get down with “The Pot” (as I’ve taken to calling it) because he’s been suffering from the same gnarly cold. In fact, the other day he was so damn congested that all that snot literally came out his eyeball – his I-B-O-L, y’all – due to the force of the Neti pot.

Now if that ain’t a detox, I don’t know what is.

Nothing spells rehab better than boogers coming out the  ol’ eyeballs.

I’ve also chosen a primary care physician who works in a practice titled “Berkshire Healing Arts.” That’s where they practice medicine and voodoo. Basically.

I’m just waiting for the “quack” from Private Practice to walk in the door at my next holistic-Shamanic-Reiki-acupuncture-yoga appointment. Because that kind of appointment totally exists.

I may even be thinking about popping out the next babe, in water, at home, with a midwife.

Obviously.

Shall I take you on a tangent for a moment? Okay, great!

When I was approximately one month away from Addison’s due date, my doula came on over for our final prep sesh, and screened a series of natural childbirth home movies to, ya know, pep me up for the big day.

Like a football huddle, but with vaginas spewing out babies.

We watched a bunch.

N.B.D.

After all, I’d attended 9th grade biology.

But the final video… no amount of scare-me-straight birth videos from high school could have prepared me for this gem.

Imagine a very large, very naked woman. In labor. With twins. In her personal home bathroom. With absolutely no medical supervision or support of any kind. Her husband watches on with a video camera. All the while her two-year old runs in and out of the frame, occasionally stopping to breastfeed while the woman is MID CONTRACTION!

How she didn’t strangle the bugger, I’ll never know.

It’s traumatizing already, isn’t it?

Well, the woman squats and out comes baby number one (who we later find out weighed in at OVER NINE POUNDS). She then just cuts that umbilical cord with a pair of sterile kitchen scissors, ties that bad boy off with some shoe laces, and swaddles the babe in a bathroom towel and lays him next to his two-year old brother in the other room.

The kid’s gotta take on older sibling responsibilities some time, right?

She then goes back in the bathroom to birth baby #2 (WHO ALSO WEIGHS IN AT OVER NINE POUNDS).

She squats. And out comes a foot. A MOTHERFUCKING FOOT!

Holy shit. BITCH IS GONNA DIE!

At this moment, I am filled with rage that my doula is screening a video in which I witness the death of a natural-child birthing woman. I thought she was supposed to ADVOCATE for this kind of stupidity.

But then, the woman fearlessly births that breach baby with barely a scream, without any help or support, while a camera captures the action.

I KNOW! RIGHT?

Now if that ain’t Woman Power and the stuff of horror movies, I don’t know what is!

Point being, if she can birth TWO nine pound babies, in a bathroom, by herself, with a breastfeeding little one, and a foot coming out the lady parts, I think I can TOTALLY handle some labor in a bathtub.

Ah the Berkshires, how you too have done strange things to me.

Back to what motivated this post.

Have y’all heard of a Diva Cup?

It totes sounds like something Britney or Miley would be rocking. And maybe they are – although I don’t know if Cyrus is old enough to have her period yet.

Yes, the Diva Cup is a silicone cone that one uses while menstruating. Which means, yes, I intend to shove a reusable cup up my vag the next time Aunt Flow makes a visit – IN THE NAME OF MOTHER EARTH!

Told you I’m all crunchy. (James said that this makes it sound like I have a crunchy vagina. That doesn’t even make sense, JAMES.)

I have a wise and dear friend who swears by this form of period blood protection – so while shopping at my local Food Co-op, shortly after purchasing a guide to vegetable-gardening and a composting bin for waste from said garden (I KID YOU NOT), I decided to give the Diva Cup a spin. A whirl? A go? I’m not sure how to describe my relationship with a device that will cradle my bodily fluid.

Regardless, there are two sizes of Diva Cup – one for the pre-partum crowd and one for the post-partum crowd. As in the women with vaginas that could house a small country, or Blue Whales. A family of ’em.

I felt like screaming at the cashier, I can’t help it if I have a heavy flow and wide-set vagina!*

Best part, the Diva Cup comes complete with a sparkly Diva Pin.

Nothing makes me channel my inner-Paris Hilton more than publicly declaring that I am carrying around a cup filled with menstrual blood in the Hooha

I’ll be sure to let you all know how it goes in two weeks time. I can’t wait to be the person washing out her vagina blood in a public restroom. CAN’T WAIT!

You’re all thrilled, I’m sure.

And hey, the fact that I haven’t shaved in going on 10 days is in no way a sign of laziness but rather, again, a residual effect of living in the Berkshires.

But ya know what causes wide-set vaginas? THIS!

Totes worth it.

*If you caught the Mean Girls reference, I love you.