Two Years

Only C. T. Hair would have packed a pocket knife in his checked luggage on the flight to see his first grandchild, and jokingly suggested taking this photo.  Only Yours Truly would have thought it was a great idea and actually taken it:

I’m well aware I promised to delete this pic, Dad.  And maybe if you’d thought of this incriminating evidence when TWO people told you to go to the emergency room because you didn’t look so good, things might have turned out differently.  But you didn't.  So I’m posting it on the internet instead - just to annoy you and your “won’t go to the doctor even if I’m dying” ways.  (Ditto about that bumper sticker I put on your car.)

How my Dad would have loved this blog.  And he would have called me, many times - still chuckling, to tell me so.  It’s the two-year anniversary of your death, Dad, and I miss you.  I still miss you.


Firstborn... Secondborn

Just another pleasant family dinner, chez Ashby:

I think Firstborn reacted quite well to the new house rule, "Eat what's on your plate or go hungry."  

I've only myself to blame.  The rule should have been enacted when he first showed signs of being a picky eater.  But he's my Firstborn, I couldn't let him go hungry, and I'm dearly paying the price for it.  Because I haven't backed down and neither has he.  Dinners at our house are a glorious contest of wills between two of the stubbornest people on the planet.  And I will win, because I am MOM, and he is HUNGRY.

You may have noticed Yours Truly in the intro shot, hunched over my historical romance novel, wearing fashionable fleece, completely oblivious to my screaming child or the fact that Bill got the camera out in the first place.  That’s just how I deal with screaming kids these days.  Firstborn… Secondborn.  If Secondborn doesn't like what's being served for dinner, she'll go to bed hungry... very hungry.

Tomboy Mommy

It took me 18 months, but I finally dressed my baby girl in a cute outfit for Easter.

To cushion the shock, here's a counter-point pic.

Welcome to my office.... my Lego office.

The kid loves Legos.  With just a little help here and there, he looks at the instructions and puts the kits together by himself, impressive for a just-turned-5-year-old.  When he’s not building or playing with them, he's studying the sets on the Lego website, and telling us which ones he wants to get (all of them - fanning of the flames of his inner consumerist).  Or he's watching other kids review Lego sets on YouTube and treating us to some rather long-winded reviews of his own: "As you can see, there's a lot of sticker detail on this fire truck here... I think it's a pretty cool set."

As you can see, he totally scored on Legos for his birthday last month (fanning the flames of his outer consumerist).  In one day, our kitchen table became Lego Headquarters and something had to be done.  So we set up this table for him in the living room, that he promptly began calling his “Lego Office.”   

Doesn’t do much for home décor, either.

Keeping Legos off the kitchen table has gone the way of so many other lofty goals, like cleaning the playroom every day.  The Lego Office was a godsend at first, and now simply helps demarcate little Legos from big Legos.  Welcome to the kitchen table… my other Lego Office.

 You can tell from the cuisine that Daddy made dinner.

Attempted Life

I'm posting this blurry picture of the happy couple doing something together that doesn't involve child-rearing, lest you think my life revolves around my children (actually, it does, but my new goal is to be like
Rebekah Vaisey, Rebekah Vaisey, and Rebekah Vaisey, who has four children, not just two).

Chicago.  Lake Street.  “Brass Inferno” at Bottom Lounge.  3-11-10.

The fashion crisis:

The look:

The Americana I drank before we left since 7th Kind started playing at 10pm, one hour past my bedtime:

My rock god:

DCFS - take me away!

I found this on the kitchen floor today:

which must have happened during the madness and mayhem that is getting Silas ready and out the door for preschool (“Si, please put your clothes on... if you don’t start getting dressed, I’m going to take away a sticker, 1… 2…......  You got your pants on – great!  You’re doing good, keep going!  Please stay focused…..... if you don’t put your shirt on, I’m going to take away a sticker, 1… 2…").* Meanwhile, Roo, not yet 18 months of age, is usually gathering all of our shoes, coats, hats, etc., and trying to put hers on.  But today, apparently, she had the time, inclination, and free reign to get this knife and apple down from the kitchen table and practice her stabbing skills. 

I am mentally preparing for the knock at the door that will be DCFS after one of you undoubtedly reports me.

*100 points if you can name all the parenting book methods I'm using here.

We got the Blues

Roo's favorite food:  frozen blueberries
My least favorite kid food:  frozen blueberries
Rest assured, blueberry juice is not just all over her face, but also her hands, her clothes, the table, the chair, the floor, and the wall, pretty much on a daily basis.

You may have noticed by now that Si is wearing pajamas in an inordinate number of pics on Ashby de la Hair.  "[GASP] No, it can't be," you say, "you can't be one of those moms who lets their kid wear PJ's all day."  "Oh yes I am," I reply, "yes, I am."

How to go ice skating in Gages Lake, IL

Walk out of our house and down the street…

turn left and walk down the street…

to the hockey rink that’s been magically plowed on the frozen lake inlet…

including a bench area where you can put your skates on (a boat dock in the summer). 

Pretty cool, huh?

After skating walk across the inlet and out onto the lake where you went swimming just last summer.

Top it off with some snowy swinging.  Survey says:  two out of two children prefer Daddy to be the swinger.  (Note the blueberry stains on Roo's mouth.)

These guys drove by while we were playing on the ice rink.  Bill said, “I wonder how much those things cost?” 
I said, “I don’t know but I bet when Si’s older we’re gonna find out.”  I just hope he’ll give me rides.

It's 40 degrees and sunny in Chicago today! Really!

Every year Yahoo publishes an article like this, where Chicago and Milwaukee make the top 5 list of Cities with the Worst Weather.  We live smack dab in-between Chicago and Milwaukee which inevitably leads to the same old discussion started by yours truly saying:  “Why, why must we choose to live here?”  I would move back to California in a heartbeat, whilst Bill claims he would die if he left his band behind (true) and if he moved away from Chicago (untrue – he said this about moving to the suburbs and now he loves it).  The thing about Chicago weather is not so much how cold it gets in the winter (cold), it’s the lack of temperate weather.  Contrary to popular belief, there’s only two seasons here:  Too Cold (three out of four seasons) and Too Hot (the leftover season).  Then there’s the case of the missing sun, with an average of only 84 sunny days a year.

But I should be singing praise songs instead of complaining.  Last week was the first time this year I had to break out the snow-blower and the baby carrier before preschool – THE FIRST TIME!  Last year I lost count.  I look like a total badass with the kids and my awesome snow-blower.  

Before and after pics of my bitchin’ snow-blowin' job:



How to Make a Pumpkin Pie in Eleven Easy Steps

It's best to make this recipe on a stressful, busy day, such as Christmas Eve when it was created.  It's compliant with my special diet (GAPS or SCD).

1. Make a pie crust out of almond flour.

2. Burn it (even though you were following the directions EXACTLY).
3. Lament.

4. Make another pie crust.

5. Cook for half the time the recipe says so it comes out perfect.

6.  Put the pumpkin pie filling in the perfect pie crust and put back in the oven (EXACTLY like the recipe says) until the pumpkin is cooked and the crust burns to a blackened crisp.
7.  Lament.

8.  Make yet ANOTHER pie crust.  (Refer to Step 5.)

9. When pie crust is cooled, spoon the pumpkin pie filling from the burned pie into the perfect crust. 
10.  Let your toddler play with the burned pie crusts while you trash them.  (Optional)

 11.  Eat the underwhelming results.

Gup, Gup

It's official.  Both my babies have babies of their own now.  Silas has Buttercup (see previous post), and Roo has a baby doll that my Mom insisted on getting her for Christmas.  I swear she didn’t sleep well until her granddaughter had a good and proper DOLL in her tiny little hands.  I insisted Roo was too young to even care about a doll (full disclosure:  I never really liked or played with dolls) and we should wait until she was at least two years old to see if she was even interested in them.  I was capital W - Wrong.  She loves the baby doll, and it even keeps her from crying most of the time now when we put her down to sleep, making me feel like a Heartless Mommy who didn’t realize her child needed a transitional object at bedtime.   

But Roo didn’t stop there.  Oh no.  She now has a menagerie of stuffed animals that must be in her bed to assist her with this transition:  a penguin, a dog, and a chick still half in the egg.  And I thought it was a pain just finding Si’s blankie every night.  In case you were wondering, according to Roo, a dog says, “Woof, Woof,”  a chick says, “Cheep, Cheep,” and a penguin says, “Gup, Gup.”


You Say It's Your Birthday?

In the midst of my REORGANIZE THE KITCHEN NOW project, Silas woke up, came downstairs, and announced it was Buttercup’s birthday.  Buttercup is the stuffed animal lamb he has been “taking care of.”  He also informed me that we were going to have a birthday party for her, replete with a treasure hunt, decorations, guests (luckily some other stuffed animals were deemed acceptable), and a cake – specifically the cake on the cover of the cookbook he got me for Christmas (see here).  Arguing with a child who inherited a strong will from both of his parents would have been pointless.  And so, a good half of my “adult project” day was co-opted by Buttercup and her birthday. 

First, we baked a cake, after which further instructions from Silas ensued, e.g. Buttercup did NOT want us to sing the cha-cha-cha’s in the Happy Birthday Song (as in “Happy Birthday to You, Cha-Cha-Cha,” which, coincidentally, Silas doesn’t like either).  Our resident poster-maker, Daddy, was put in charge of decorations as Silas seems to have inherited his fine art skills from me and is not interested in drawing or coloring (or anything, really, that involves sitting down).   Lastly, it was a surprise party so we tricked Buttercup by telling her that her birthday was actually not today but the next day before we yelled Surprise!, sang Happy Birthday (sans cha-cha-cha’s), and had cake. (She just turned 4, by the way, only because we didn't have a 5 candle.)

The Cake

The Party

And the Poster 


The Holidays, Ashby-style

Almost every New Year’s Day we find ourselves at Ikea.  There’s something about the New Year that makes the spirit of EVERYTHING IN THIS HOUSE NEEDS TO BE RE-ORGANIZED RIGHT NOW come upon me.  This year was even worse because our house is woefully unorganized; we moved in in June of 2008, the very day my dear father, C. T. Hair, decided to kick the bucket (great timing, Dad, but I'm seriously grateful I got the news after everything was moved in as opposed to before).  Then I continued to puke and gestate the rest of that year until the baby was born Oct. 1, and we skipped the 2009 Ikea trip due to the presence of our newborn.  So, armed with a Christmas check from the In-laws, and a frenetic, near-frantic need to RE-ORGANIZE EVERYTHING NOW, we set out for Ikea.  Ruby picked this one day, of all days, to sleep till 6am and totally throw our schedule off.  Her current wake-up time is 4:10am, just like an alarm clock.  I REALLY needed the extra two hours of sleep, but we left for IKEA after her first nap, which was two hours later than normal, getting us there just in time for the lunch rush and the most crowded hours of the shopping day.  I highly recommend our previous strategy, which is to get there when the cafeteria opens - ½ hour before the store opens, eat breakfast, then shop and get out of there right when it’s starting to get crowded.

When we got to IKEA it soon became clear it was opposite day again and the “bad” kid was our good kid while our “good” kid was our bad kid; Si was an absolute angel, while Rudy-Roo was a terror.  This is happening a lot lately. The poor girl is cutting four teeth, that’s right, FOUR, and was coming down with a cold to boot.  She screamed bloody murder when we put her in the cart, so one of us had to hold her the whole time, where she proceeded to squirm like the dickens because she wanted to get down and run away from us while laughing hysterically and weaving among the frighteningly crowded shoppers and carts.  Quite possibly our most hellish shopping experience ever.  We emerged victorious, however, with two pine desks for $50 each and two pine bookcases for $100 each (they were on closeout so they're not the super-cheap-and-crappy Ikea kind).  We spend a tad more, though, on all those Ikea items that are so inexpensive you just toss them into your cart and boy do they add up.

The next day was spent unsuccessfully trying to REORGANIZE EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW while the children got in our way as much as humanly possible.  Here’s a picture of Bill putting together a desk while being swarmed by kids.

In other news, my Mom was here for Christmas for two weeks and did all the dishes so that when she left we had completely, and I mean completely, forgotten how we ever fit doing dishes into our schedule, much less how to do them.  She also spoiled me with gifts and a trip to the salon for a (much-needed) haircut and massage.  AWESOME!

And there are some serious perks to having a Clothing Designer for an aunt.  Check out these quilts Cynthia made for the children:


Rudy-Roo spent the holidays wearing this stuffed snowman like a scarf.  She got some great toys for Christmas, but a discarded CD and case quickly became her most favorite possession.  She insisted on sleeping with it one night. (It was a computer game CD I got at the thrift - a "stocking stuffer" that didn’t work).  

Stay tuned for details about Si’s post-holiday, "Buttercup’s Birthday Celebration!"

Whatever I Get...

Here's a wonderful Christmas song that Si wrote:

(For a cuter, alternate version, go here ashby de la hair EXTRAS.)

Note my “haven’t-showered-in-three-days” hair.  You can’t see it, but in the drawer behind us is my pristine "To Do Before Christmas List", totally unmarred by cross-offs.  We just might see some actual Christmas cookies today, and a wrapped present or two under the tree (well-hidden, of course, so they won’t get destroyed by the baby or the 4 year old).

Also, Si made this Lego ornament all by himself.  It was his idea, too.

Important Holiday Musings From a Deep Thinker

I’m fully aware there are more pressing issues in the world and at large, but I have some serious Christmas tree ISSUES.  I would not describe myself as a home décor enthusiast and I’m definitely not a holiday-decorator type.  But I concede - a Christmas tree should have flair, and mine certainly lacks that SHAM-WOW! factor I intended it to have.

First up:  lighting.  A paltry attempt at best.  We used to have two strings of globe lights but they are made of glass and we break three of them a year, minimum.  They are a pain in the patuzi so they are going down.  Love the globes but they are frosted and don’t give off enough light to illuminate the delicate ornaments which are issue number two:


I love the musical instrument and carpentry tool ornaments, they represent Bill’s interest, but they are so delicate they don’t stand out.  Why you might ask, are there no ornaments representing yours truly?  That, gentle readers, is to be explained in another blog post, in an entirely separate blog I haven’t started yet.  The title of said post is something like, “Why, why is my life entirely consumed by children and housework and I have no hobbies or life outside of this house even though I have plenty of good ideas about things I would like to do ALL BY MYSELF – WHY?”  My current “project” is cooking and baking, but only by default, I don’t want to see an ornament reminding me about all the time I spend on that.  But I digress.  Ornaments – too delicate – not eye-catching – where are the sparkling shiny Christmas tree bulbs?  Which brings me to issue number three:

A serious case of “Toddler-tree.”  Most of our ornaments are breakable and therefore clustered at the top of the tree, far away from Toddler hands, leaving no room for those all-important, glittery, twinkly Christmas tree balls.  Only ornaments of sentimental value from my husband’s childhood are clustered around the bottom of the tree (I think they’re ugly so I don’t care if the kids wreck them.)

And that concludes our Christmas tree critique and therapy session.  You would think a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago could and should do sooooooo much better.  I see some after-Christmas décor sales in my future.  Meanwhile, get a life, Mom!