I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew (I think our wedding might have been an example of that), and after talking to my dad this weekend, I realized I'd done it again.
My old dollhouse, in my mother's words, is a "sow's ear," and I was trying to make a silk purse out of it.
You see, when I was little I read a book called Midnight in the Dollhouse. The dollhouse in the book was a gorgeous house that was passed through generations, and I wanted my dollhouse to be as awesome as that one. I even had my (very accomodating) dad make extra rooms on the bottom because there was an addition on the dollhouse in the book, but...well, it just wasn't what I envisioned. At the beginning of this project, I think my emotions were still partially wrapped up in this imaginary dollhouse and wanting to give something that special to my daughter.
Happy Thursday everyone! Just a quick note to say
two three things:
1) The comments are now fixed. Quite a few of you let me know that you couldn't post comments because they were "identified as spam." How annoying! I've now switched to Disqus comments, which should solve the problem.
2) Today is the last day to get 10% off your holiday cards, and I only have two spots left if you'd like them delivered in early December! New Year cards are another story, so let me know if you're interested in cards delivered closer to or after Christmas. Interested in holiday or New Year cards? Contact me by clicking here.
3) Now is a great time to order if you'd like to give the gift of a family or pet portrait for the holidays! These make very special, thoughtful gifts for your loved ones - and just think - your shopping could be over! Contact me for more information.
At first I thought I was lucky to already have a dollhouse from when I was a kid. With electric lights and everything! But when I had my mom send me photos, I was...underwhelmed. To be honest, I think it’s fugly, and I am totally uninspired.
The problem is that the challenge ends in December, and I won’t have the dollhouse in my actual hands until Thanksgiving. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that I’ll make it on time. But I’m gonna do it anyway.
As I was saying, I’m thinking that I need to work on the outside in order to get inspired. Any ideas to make it less...blah? I’ve had a couple of ideas (see below).
Can I just say, “thank god for my father-in-law”? I called him in for reinforcements this morning because we woke up to an ant infestation in every single room of our house, maggots all over the strawberries from the farmer’s market, and someone is coming to clean our carpets in 20 minutes. Last night C woke up three times and then slept in so late that she will have to nap the minute the carpet cleaners get here, but she’s a light sleeper and won’t be able to. I knew today wouldn’t be fun, let’s just say that.
I started this post last week, and decided to let it marinate for a little while. I am conflicted about posting it for a couple of reasons:
- I don’t want to scare the crap out of people, but I want to be honest
- I want to be honest but I don’t want my daughter to grow up and be upset that I aired her dirty laundry to the entire internet
- I don’t want to air my daughter’s dirty laundry to the entire internet but it’s not just her story to tell - it’s mine too.
After a week of marinating, honesty won out. Sorry, C. Please don't be emotionally damaged by this post.
The last couple of weeks have sucked ass, to put it lightly. I am sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, and cranky. I feel bad saying that C is a difficult baby...
But OMFG C is a difficult baby.
C is what can only be described as a “spirited child.” Well, that’s not true. There are other words you could use to describe her, but that’s the technical term.
In the early days, the sleep books like No Cry Sleep Solution (for fans of attachment parenting) might as well have been written for an entirely different species, that’s how little they related to our situation. Books about the Happiest Baby on the Block might have made a teeny tiny dent in the horrors that comprise colic, but came nowhere NEAR to alleviating our problems.
And once the colic ended, the sleep problems began. We’re talking months of taking 30 minute naps and waking up every hour and a half, every. single. night. During the day, she and I were both tired and cranky all the time, and I was totally desperate. We slowly found a schedule that worked for us, using (in part) Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.
However, if we deviate from this schedule even a smidge, a hell rains down upon this house worse than the plagues, I swear. This schedule includes both sleep and feeding, and each activity must be attended to within a half hour (or we’re screwed).
I am not able to identify with people who have “easy” babies. Not even remotely. If I don’t make my kid go to sleep at the designated time and in the designated place, she simply will not go to sleep. I see photos of children asleep on the living room floor, and I think, “that must be a pod person. That is not my experience of what children are like.” I once overheard my cousin say, "my son just went to sleep when he was tired." I think C would stay awake forever if I let her.
On top of everyday difficulties, we deal with the teething - which is what we’ve been going through lately. The author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child very nearly got a psychotic phone call from me at 3am screaming "YOU'RE AN IDIOT IF YOU THINK TEETHING DOES NOT DISRUPT SLEEP, YOU PIECE OF CRAP!" Yes, the man actually said that. When I was more sane, I was glad I didn't call him. But I still have doubts about his credibility.
When C is teething, it doesn’t matter what I do - we’re just screwed no matter what. Every time she gets another tooth, it’s like someone is boring a hole in her head with an ice pick. She can’t take her naps, she can’t sleep, she throws tantrums over everything, and is totally miserable. Which, in turn, makes everyone around her completely miserable as well. This goes on for weeks for each tooth. She now has six. Out of twenty.
The only thing that keeps me from completely losing my patience is empathy. Because the only person who has it worse than me is this little child, who can’t communicate and is often overtired and in pain. But even though that often keeps me from losing my patience, it doesn’t make things any easier.
Weeks like this are absolutely awful. A friend of ours came over this weekend, and I burst into tears, saying, "I don't feel like it's gotten any easier. It's just a different type of hideous than it was when she had colic." This are my low-down moments. My moments when I am depressed, hopeless, and actually angry at an innocent child. When I forget how to keep it in perspective that my child isn't laying in a hospital bed somewhere. After a bit of sleep or even one hour of sweetness from her, I feel better and know that it has, actually, gotten easier. She can't communicate well, but at least she can tell me she's hungry or wants milk. She can walk. That's better than the colic. Also, she's cuter than she was then, which helps. ;)
When parents say, "it never gets any easier, just hard in a different way," I am praying to god that they have "easy" children, and that their "hard" is my easy or even sorta-hard. Because if it's this hard forever - OMG, I need some help. Friends with spirited children tell me that it does get easier, once they can communicate better. I am hoping they're right.
I know that I'm not alone in having hard times like these, and I am really thankful for that. I don't live in a world where everyone I know has an "easy" baby. Sometimes, though, I just wish it wasn't this hard.
I know there are a lot of people who are turned off by the “green revolution,” and really don’t appreciate snooty environmentalists acting all elitist. Well, sorry folks. Here’s another hippy post, but I promise not be elitist.
In my last installment of “being a hippy mama” I talked about cloth diapers. A lot of the things we’ve decided to do to “be green” are beneficial for us as well as the environment: we’re saving ourselves some serious green, which is a huge motivator. Choosing to be kind to the environment can sometimes be expensive (there’s a reason they call Whole Foods “Whole Paycheck”). However, one of the 3 R’s is reuse...which is what I’m going to talk about today.
Most of the larger ticket items I’ve talked about in my recommendations posts have been purchased secondhand, which has saved us a lot of money. We buy a lot of our stuff used, but baby stuff in particular is very easy to find for very little money - at some point every parent gets sick of having loads of plastic crap in their house, and they often just want it gone (which means they list it for cheap!).
In most cases we’ve recouped the money we spent by reselling the items after we’re finished with them; in some cases we’ve actually made money. Here are just a few of our purchases, all found on Craigslist:
Fisher-Price Papasan Baby Swing - Retail $159.99
Purchased $40, sold for $40
I had a hard time justifying the purchase of yet another large plastic baby thing that I wasn’t sure we’d actually use (as it turns out, this swing saved my sanity - to the point where we bought another one for the living room!). The swing was in great shape and looked clean, but I was still able to remove the padded part and wash it - good as new! We sold this sucker for exactly what we paid.
2007 Uppababy Vista Stroller - Retail $679.99
Purchased $275, sold for $350
I bought the Uppababy Vista when I was pregnant, thinking I would love it (after all, everyone raves about it!). As it turned out, I didn’t. As a bit of a tangent, Uppababy is a great company that really improves its products year after year. Thus, the 2007 Vista is not nearly as awesome as a new one, and I think that’s most of the reason I didn’t love it. But I digress. As I mentioned above, I purchased this stroller for $275, and sold it for $350. How did I make money on the Vista? It’s all about timing. When I was looking to buy on Craigslist, there were a ton for sale. I was able to negotiate with a motivated seller. When I decided to sell it, mine was one of two listed (the other was nearly brand new and twice the price), and I wasn’t in a hurry. I found a buyer who was very excited to take it off my hands. Win-win, as they say.
Fisher-Price Activity Table - Retail $50
This was a recommendation from a friend. At this point, we’d already realized that we shouldn’t buy any popular baby toys new. Charlie loves this even still, so we haven’t sold it.
2005 Bugaboo Frog (now Cameleon) - Retail $979
I’m a little bit of a stroller fiend. I thought I couldn’t be pleased, but this bugaboo has stolen my heart. It’s amazing to me that a 6 year old stroller could be far superior to brand new strollers. And with such a great deal, I am thrilled with my purchase.
These are just a few of the many, many things we've bought on Craigslit (including the office chair I'm sitting in right now!). A couple of items we haven’t purchased on Craigslist, and why:
- Car seat - did you know that car seats expire, and if they’ve been in even a small accident, you need a new one? We didn’t trust people on Craigslist to be honest - after all, you truly risk your child’s life if you put them in a faulty car seat.
- Stokke tripp trapp - we would have purchased this on Craigslist, if we had found it on Craigslist. But again, this is about the timing - right now there are a lot of tripp trapps on our local Craigslist, so I'm sure we could have gotten a better deal if we'd been willing to wait.
Tips for buying baby stuff used:
- Look for stuff used. I know this seems obvious, but I truly think most people don't even think to buy stuff used. They think whatever they find will be gross or that finding it will be too much work. Hopefully I've convinced you that buying used is not too much work.
- Be patient, if time allows. In an ideal world, you should start before you need the item, so you’re not desperate and can afford to negotiate. Sometimes (as with the Vista or the Tripp Trapp), timing is everything.
- If you're looking for something specific, set up an alert on Craigslist. Check out how to do that below.
- Don’t just check Craiglist: local baby swaps and yard sales are great resources.
- Resell it when you're done with it, so you don't have a ton of crap around your house (and you have more money to buy other, age-appropriate toys!).
How to set up a Craigslist Alert:
Craigslist alerts are a great way to find items that aren't posted very often. I have ongoing alerts set up for this Melissa and Doug shopping cart, and medium/large gCloth inserts. Neither of these items are easy to come by on my local Craigslist. Here's how to set up an alert yourself:
- Go to your city's Craigslist, and click on "baby+kids." Then enter your search term(s) and (if you want), what you're willing to pay. When you're done, click "Enter."
- Scroll to the bottom of the page. You'll see an orange button with the letters RSS. Click on that button. You'll see a whole page of code in your browser window.
- Copy that page's URL and paste it into your feed reader. Now you can be notified via your feed reader every time an item is posted on Craigslist that meets your search criteria.
I also recommend (if you're serious about Craigslist) the iPhone app "CraigsPro" which has the ability to set up alerts in the app, and also makes searching from your phone really easy.
That's about it for me! Got any other tips?
Got a burning question? Ask it here!