Blog a la Cart

Month: June, 2011

They Draw and Travel

Obsessed with this brother/sister design duo. Conveniently, the brother lives nearby, and he’s created these gloriously fun maps of two local towns for the site, They Draw & Travel.

The CARTographer side of me (ya know, because I’ve now adopted the last name Cart due to le marriage) is swooning. And, of course, my Pop-Pop, lover of whales, would definitely be down with the Pittsfield design. Also, the fact that James’ middle name and The Sesame Seed’s soon-to-be-middle name is WHALEY makes it all the more endearing.

Designs: Courtesy of Nate Padavick


Not bad, huh? We obviously think she is a genius.


In my mind, James and I are this cool.

In reality, well, let’s just say that we had a lengthy debate last night that went as follows:

Me: You didn’t even notice that I styled my hair differently today.

Him: I did! And I liked it. But I didn’t want to say anything.

Me: Why not?

Him: Because, I thought it looked that way because you didn’t have time to brush it after swimming at the pool.

Me: Wait? So you’re saying that I looked a hot mess? Like a tangled, disheveled, comb-less Cousin It? And you didn’t think it important to point this out before I went back to the office where I am supposed to present a professional front?

Him: See? This is why I didn’t say anything. Because I liked it. But it was just like, “WHOA! The chlorine really does some crazy ass shit to Ashley’s hair.”

Me: Well, I was going for the whole care-free, wavy, beach hair look.

Him: But we live no where near the beach.


Alas, our life and our biographies may never be as cool as Rodney Smith.

Photo: Courtesy of Rodney Smith


Hemp String Gardening Pot

Below is one of the very easy crafts that we tackled while at The Clark Art Institute’s family day festivities. I call it: DIY Hemp String Gardening Pot. Clever, I know.

Gardening pot
Hemp string
Elmer’s Glue

Directions: This is as straight forward as it looks, which is why it’s a perfect craft for kids. Simply paint a pattern on the pot using a Q-Tip covered in some Elmer’s glue. Then lay the hemp string along the glue markings. Cut the string as needed. Allow glue to dry. Throw in some potting soil and a plant, and voila! You’ve spruced up just a boring ol’ gardening pot.

Sunny and I kept her pot’s design simple as a toddler’s attention span is brief. We wrote her name along the top edge, and then added a heart and simply wrapped some hemp around the center.


My bellybutton has officially become an outie.

Chicken’s done.

Game over.

Sesame Seed, did you hear that? You can stop doing a headstand on my bladder and dislodge your feet from my ribcage anytime now.

Primarily to spare me from life with a protruding naval. Please. Oh pretty please.

Good mornin’!

Sunny no longer likes going to bed.

Strike that.

Sunny no longer likes sleeping. Period. As demonstrated by her refusal to nap yesterday, followed by a sleep-protest until 10pm and then a wake-up of 5am.

She’s on her way to a vampire-like existence. Doesn’t she know that that card has been way overplayed? It’s so 2009.

As soon as we begin the dinner routine, it starts:

No dinner. No bath. NO NIGHT NIGHT!

She’s aware of our pattern, our dubious plot to provide food, cleanliness and rest. And she is having none of it.

This has caused her to hate Tomorrow.

Yes, Tomorrow.

Evil evil Tomorrow that is the cause of this need to go to bed. If it weren’t for Tomorrow, we wouldn’t be proposing such a horrid thing as sleep.

She persistently wails, NO TOMORROW! NOOoOOoO TOOoOoo-MOoOooOO-RoOOOoOOW.

It is pitiful. And also highly adorable.

Like when we lie down in bed with her and list off all the positive and important benefits of a good night’s sleep, because it is totally reasonable to reason with a 2-year old, and she’ll say, “No night night…. GOOD MORNIN’ MOMMY DADDY!”

Yes, this is her attempt at convincing us, silly parents, that it is not in fact night time, it’s the morning. Didn’t we realize? And boy, she says it with such gusto and enthusiasm and hope. That precious kernel of hope that pretending that it is in fact the morning might actually convince us that she does not need to sleep.

I cannot tell you how much delight this response brings me, but in the moment, I have to keep on my stern Mommy-face and reiterate, “No, Sunny. It’s night time. We’re going to sleep now, and then tomorrow we’ll see the morning.”

Which only provokes the rails against Tomorrow.

15 years from now she’ll realize how preposterous it was of her to ever resist an opportunity to sleep. But for now, “GOOD MORNIN’ EVERYONE!”

Talking to Our Daughters.

This weekend, a friend forwarded me a link to an article by Lisa Bloom in the Huffington Post titled: How to Talk to Little Girls.

Go on, give it a read. I’ll wait.

You back? Okay, good.

It drove home something I’ve been aware of my entire life. Something my parents tried desperately to combat with me and my sister, and something that my husband and I are aware is already impacting our own daughter. The emphasis on appearance. On her looks and clothing over her personality.

Just yesterday we visited the hospital where I’ll be delivering The Sesame Seed and the encounter with the nurse’s station went as follows:

Nurse #1: Oh! Look who’s going to be a Big Sister. Are you not the most beautiful little girl?

Nurse #2: I love your pretty hair bow. It makes you look so pretty.

Nurse #3: Hello, princess. Do you want some juice?

Putting aside the fact that Nurse #3 offered to literally juice up my kid on sugary goodness right before the start of a tour when she would have otherwise happily fallen asleep in the backpack (instead she spent the tour tear-assing around the hospital like a whirling dervish. And then she crapped her pants), I was awed by how programmed the nurses were to comment on my daughter’s appearance instantly upon meeting her.

I don’t blame the nurses, it is a societal norm to address little girls in this manner. But it was nonetheless troubling. Sure, I want my child to feel and know that she is beautiful, but even more importantly, I want her to know that she is valued. That is a difficult message to grasp about oneself if everyone’s initial instinct is to comment and praise your external appearance.

When I asked James after the tour if he had noticed, he said that he was uncomfortable that one of the nurses repeatedly called Sunny a “princess,” but that he hadn’t taken note of Nurse #1’s and Nurse #2’s comments.

We are so accustomed to this kind of address of little girls that it goes unrecognized. Even by parents that are cognizant of such norms.

But we’ll keep trying to combat our own language and engagement, as proposed by Lisa Bloom, because it has a greater impact than any of us realize.

So, one tiny bit of opposition to a culture that sends all the wrong messages to our girls. One tiny nudge towards valuing female brains. One brief moment of intentional role modeling. Will my few minutes with Maya change our multibillion dollar beauty industry, reality shows that demean women, our celebrity-manic culture? No. But I did change Maya’s perspective for at least that evening.

– Lisa Bloom


The array of scarecrows at The Clark Art Institute’s Family Days was impressive.

I particularly adored the full-scale scarecrow cow and this eerily accurate scarecrow of Pissarro.

Sunny did not so much enjoy these straw wonders.



I was delighted to learn about a scarecrow making workshop in mid-July.

Sesame Seed, don’t go ruining this for me by rupturing any membranes that day.

James pointed out that we have no use for a scarecrow.

And I pointed out that it’s high time then to buy a farm.

Complete with chickens.

And their Eglus.

And sheep. Because I’ve decided that they’re an essential addition thanks to their endless supply of wool and my new fascination with knit bombing.

Is this not a brilliant rationale for farm-ownership?


Talk about beach combing! I love this simple, smart idea. Trash into something beautiful. My favorite kind of art.

Rubbish collected from the beach and turned into lovely rainbow explosions = RUBBISH RAINBOWS!

I think Sunny and I have a project for the next time we’re on the beach.

Photos: Courtesy of Betty Jo Designs

Black and Blue.

Yesterday, Sunny had an accident.

And it wasn’t the bodily fluid kind.

She leaned on the table of her high chair, launching it from its perch and sending it squarely on her right big toe.


It immediately turned a sickly shade of green. And proceeded to swell all day.

A kid who normally always wants to “See toes! See Sunny toes!” demanded the protection of her shoes all day. In fact, she requested that she wear them to bed.

She even has a pitiful little baby limp.

It was a long night, as she couldn’t stay comfortable because I’m sure the bugger was throbbing and aching. Any movement, or even the slightest bump, would send her into hysterics.

While situations like this are cause for much sleep deprivation and are rather trying on the parental figures, the upside of a hurt or sick child is how pitifully sweet and dependent s/he becomes. Sunny wanted to be held all night, pressed up against me, seeking comfort in our synchronized breathing and embrace. While James iced her toe in the middle of the night, she clung to my chest, and James got her giggling up a storm with a myriad of ridiculous facial expressions and silly songs.

She even requested that James make up a song about her toe to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Those are some of the happiest, most memorable moments of being together as a family. While we all knew we’d be zombies in the morning from the interrupted sleep, in the moment, it didn’t matter. It was the everyday stuff of life where love radiates most concretely.

Today, she has a fever of 103, and has been more helpless and needy than yesterday. All she has wanted to do is snuggle in our bed, reading books, watching videos on the iPhone or lying with her baby doll and monkeys while we sing to her.

To get her to nap, I had to lie with her for what felt like hours before she finally closed her eyes and relaxed.

While my To Do list is pages long, I don’t think that there is a more productive way I could have spent my afternoon.