Monthly Archive for August, 2008


On Saturday, Claire turned 33-months old!

When she came out to the kitchen for breakfast, I told her I wanted to take her picture. She was feeling rather accommodating and shouted, “Cheese!” Of course, even with the faster camera, I wasn’t quite quick enough, and I caught her not only mid-expression, but mid-blink.

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Clicking a second time will show more detail.


Do you see the set of princess shoes? Well, this year, Claire’s costume is going to be an entire Cinderella outfit. One of my friends gave her a gorgeous Cinderella dress, and with a few minor alterations, it will be perfect to wear in October. (It’s still a little too big, but should fit just fine when I make some tweaks here and there.)

Claire and I were in SuperTarget the other day, and I decided to go down the “Princess Aisle” to see if I could find some glass slippers (or the plastic equivalent) for her costume. Imagine my surprise when I found a set of FOUR princess shoes, and one of them was a Cinderella version! It was on sale, and I could either buy FOUR princess shoes: the one I really wanted plus three extra, OR, for the same price, I could buy one pair of similar princess shoes that weren’t really Cinderella shoes anyway. Hmmm. The decision wasn’t that hard, and I got some really good behavior from the little girl sitting in the cart out of the whole deal, too.  😉

Needless to say, Claire was in top-form from there on out.  She was beside herself with joy the entire way up to the check-out and all the way home.

We tried them all on when we got home, but the Cinderella ones are locked in her closet. I don’t want to risk anything happening to them before the end of October, so that’s where they’ll stay. She has three other pairs to play with in the meantime.

(And, yes, technically they are too big, but that’s not really an issue…)

Anyway, in the above picture, she is modeling the pink Sleeping Beauty shoes. You can see the yellow Belle shoes and the red and blue Snow White shoes in the nifty carrying case. (The light blue Cinderella shoes are already hidden away, so they are not pictured…)


She then decided to get all decked out in her Snow White shoes and her crown and a bracelet (that she loves to wear as an arm band.)


“See my bracelet Momma? Take a picture of it!”


“Momma, take a picture of my other arm!” (Maybe you had to be there, but this was a funny request and made me laugh…but I obliged.) 🙂


Here she is posing for the camera again!

And so the countdown to three begins…three months ‘til the big three. It doesn’t seem possible!

Your Opinion Needed!

I interrupt your holiday weekend…

…to bring you a shameless plug for my blog! Back in December, I was nominated for a Blogger’s Choice Award, and it totally made my day.

Well, it’s come to my attention that the voting is nearing the end!!

So, if you like what you read, and you haven’t had a chance to vote yet, either click the badge in the sidebar or this version:

My site was nominated for Best Parenting Blog!

(Blogger’s Choice Awards – Best Parenting Blog)

And vote!

Or not.

I hate being pushy.

Okay, you can stop laughing now.

Seriously. Was that a snort?

I’m not pushy about blog stuff. Jeesh.

Now, sit up straight, and don’t look at me in that tone of voice.


And I lived to tell about it

It’s no secret that I teeter on the edge of arachnophobia.  I used to be deathly afraid of spiders, but I’ve since calmed down.  I can do what I need to do in their presence, but I don’t like them.  When they startle me, it may take me a while to stop shaking, but my fear is not debilitating.

That being said, I know it’s not a logical fear, hence the usage of the word ‘phobia.’  Most spiders really can’t kill you.  Most spiders do serve a beneficial purpose.  Most spiders aren’t out to get you.  Most would sooner go about their day than have to deal with you.  We don’t live in the jungle or rain forest.

But, I’m still not a big fan.  😉

As I mentioned in the Shadow Portrait post, we took Claire to a nature center that specializes in butterflies.  It is also home to different creepy crawlies, spiders in particular.  In the past, I’ve avoided the spider room.  That’s not altogether true…I’ve been in the room, but I’ve never lingered, and I have also never knocked anyone over as I’ve run from the room, just so you know.  😉

And, I’d never actually seen Rosie in person.

Who is Rosie?  Well, Rosie is the resident tarantula that is tame enough to be manhandled by people of all ages.  You can pet Rosie!  You can hold Rosie!  People actually do this!  On purpose!

Oh, goody!

In the past, I’ve not even looked at her, because the thought of watching a tarantula crawl around on a person made me sick to my stomach.

But, for some reason, this visit was different.  Claire was really into seeing all the creatures, so we went into the Creepy Crawlies Room.  I want Claire to have a fascination and respect for all kinds of creatures.  No, I don’t want her picking up dangerous or poisonous creatures and bringing them home as pets, but the odds of that happening here are slim to none.  (Plus, she’s so verbal that I doubt she’d do that without consulting me anyway…)

I don’t want Claire to have an irrational fear of something that can’t hurt her.

I’ve often heard the quote, “Be brave.  Even if you’re not, pretend to be, and no one can tell the difference.”  I can’t take credit for making it up, but it’s one I’ve quoted to myself many times before.

So, with that in mind, I pretended not to be afraid of Rosie.  I took Claire’s hand and together we walked over to where she and her handler were.  We sat right down on the stool right in front of her and took a look.

And, you know what?  Pretending to be brave worked.  Not only was Claire calm about the whole thing, but I petted Rosie.

Click to enlarge…if you dare!  😉
Clicking a second time will show more detail.

Petting Rosie

(Yes, I have a bruise on the back of my hand…that’s a story for another day.)

I touched her little leg.  All by myself.  On purpose.  There was no screaming (on the outside of my head), and there was no uncontrollable shaking or urge to run to the bathroom.  And, Rosie seemed to do okay, too.

And then…Claire petted Rosie!  She was nervous, but not terrified.  (Mission accomplished.)  Both of us petted her a few times before giving the next person in line a turn.

I had no idea that tarantulas feel like puppies.  Somehow, my brain latched onto that, and for a moment, she didn’t even look like a spider to me.  I couldn’t see any beady, evil eyes, calculating an attack.  There were no ulterior motives.  She actually appeared to be shy and quite sweet.

Granted, not sweet enough to actually hold in my hand.  I had to draw the line somewhere.

And the best part?  We got a sticker that said, “I petted Rosie!”

…which I wore proudly the rest of the day, thankyouverymuch.  Whoever says stickers are only for little kids has never petted a tarantula and lived to tell about it.


You know it’s been a challenging day when…

…you see that the kitchen timer on the microwave is flashing: “End.  End.  End.  End. …”

…and you wonder if you’ve forgotten that something was in there or if someone is sitting in time-out again.


The Little Yellow Car

My father-in-law, PaPa, has rebuilt a 1932 Ford that we all lovingly refer to as The Little Yellow Car. Over the years, they’ve driven it all over the country to car shows.  Last week, he and Daey (“Day” is how Claire pronounced “Granny” when she was super-little, and the nickname stuck!) were able to drive it across the Midwest out to a car show in California, and they stopped here on their way home.

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Clicking a second time will show more detail.

1932 Ford

(Yes, I blacked out the license plate…)

He is a true craftsman, and has a love of cars. And, it shows!

Claire loves The Little Yellow Car, and we were able to get some good pictures of her in it.


1932 Ford


1932 Ford

So, today is a sad day around here, because Daey and PaPa headed home. As we waved good-bye to The Little Yellow Car, the tears started to fall.

In order to get her mind off of all of this, we decided to look at pictures of The Little Yellow Car and other photos from our adventures with Daey & PaPa over the past week. As I type this, Claire is helping me with the photo-editing and writing of this post, and the sadness is starting to fade.

She’s being a little too helpful, so I have to pull out my bag of tricks, or this won’t get posted anytime soon.

I have a feeling we’re about to be one Ariel™ sticker closer to success. 😉

Sometimes I miss my old life

“Sometimes I miss my old life,” I said to myself, as I was sitting at my computer, looking at my calendar, phone in hand.

All of a sudden, Reality slaps me in the face.

“Which old life?” she spats at me.  “The one where you worked so hard to get into a private college, studied your heart out and graduated with honors?  The one where you were in search of a life in the social work field, only to come home every night and cry because you realized that you weren’t really helping people?  That you really couldn’t help people?  The life where you realized that to be a good counselor you had to care, but to continue to be a counselor you had to not care?  That life?”

I’m stunned.  I hadn’t even heard her come in. “N-n-no.  Not that part,” I stuttered, remembering how devastated I’d been when I’d come to the realization that what I was going to be when I grew up wasn’t making me happy.  And, the realization that I needed to be happy to function properly created mass confusion in my brain.

“But, I fixed that.  We moved away.  I got into another line of work, using the other part of my major.  Life was so free and uncomplicated then,” I said wistfully.

“HA!” she laughed in my face.  Her wicked eyes crinkling with her smile.  “You mean the job where you had the fancy title and were in charge of so many things, but had to get up at 4:30 in the morning to drive all the way up there?  To be there early because of your work load?  The job where they promised raise after raise but instead laid off those around you, giving you their duties?  Yes, you could leave that job at the door, but at what cost?  A horribly long commute and the stress of not knowing if your paycheck would really clear?  All the work you did for a man who literally told you ‘Thank you’ ONCE the entire time you were there?”

“True.  But, I got a free flat of hydroponic tomatoes every week,” I blurted out.

“And, even with the tomatoes, you weren’t happy…were you?  All of the wonderful tomatoes in the world couldn’t erase the stress of that job,” she reminded me.  Reality could be so cruel when she got on a roll.

“Oh, let’s not forget the job you went to from there!” she cackled.

This isn’t fair.  She’s not playing fair.

“You went to a major corporation!  You had all kinds of benefits and perks and promises.  They groomed you for a role that was perfect!  Project Management!  It was awesome for a person like you.  A perfectionist.  You did your job perfectly, and it was your downfall.  Your boss couldn’t find someone like you to replace you, so he was afraid to let you go.  Then, just to add insult to injury, the market crashed.  The dots bombed.  The promises made of nothing more than fairy dust floated away.  I told you it was ending, but you didn’t want to believe me.”  Reality could hardly contain herself at this point.

“Oh, but YOU forget what happened when I took your advice and left,” I said, mad that she’d brought this all up, but happy that I’d found a chink in her armor.  “YOU told me to get out.  YOU pointed me in the direction of the perfect job, the perfect answer to all my corporate problems.  YOU pushed me toward that sales position.  YOU gave me a taste of freedom and all the pieces fell into place.  And look what happened,” I said, hands on my hips.

“Eh…ya win some, ya lose some.  How was I supposed to know that going into the Travel Industry right before September 11th would end the way it did,” she said, ruffled, but not truly shaken.  “Plus, that job gave you the confidence to start your own business…remember?”

“Oh, that’s right,” I said, remembering the thrill of owning my own business and being the one to call the shots.  “I do miss those days sometimes,” I said. “I miss the freedom of working from home and being able to leave whenever I wanted or schedule appointments without hassle.”

“HA!  I’ve tricked you again!”  This time, her finger just inches from my face as she pointed at me accusingly.  “You miss working all the time?  You miss the stress?  You miss being tied to your job?  You miss having it infiltrate your entire being?  You miss not being able to easily walk away, because you built it?  You miss trying to manage people who have different priorities than you?”  She paused to laugh.  She hadn’t had this much fun in ages.

“And, what about the other home-business you did?” she asked, wasting no time in starting in again.  “You thought it was perfect for you, and you gave it your all…you did a great job of balancing the work load and a baby.  Things were going along fine until you had that little nervous breakdown…”

“Wait,” I said.  “That wasn’t really a nervous breakdown.  No medication was prescribed, and no one with an official title diagnosed me with a nervous breakdown.”

“Details, details…and don’t interrupt.  I’m trying to get you to realize that Your Old Life wasn’t always as rosy as you try to remember it being.  Yes, you met wonderful people.  Yes, you experienced wonderful things.  Yes, you gained some new skills.  But, it wasn’t all that. Parts of it were dark.  Parts of it were messy.  Parts of it were scary. But, none of that can be compared to what you do now.  I’m trying to get you to realize that you are so fortunate to be home with Claire.  This is the lowest paying, most unappreciated,  most incredible, and most important job you’ll ever have.”

“I know this.  I was just trying to schedule a hair appointment.”

“Oh,” she said.  “Good luck with that.”

Featured Elsewhere

Today, The Casual Perfectionist is being featured on! (On that website, if you scroll down, you’ll see the blog and the side of my head in the “widget” on the right-hand side under The buzz in the blogs: Mommy & Parenting.)

So, if you’re here from there, welcome!  Feel free to poke around.  The About Tab at the top has some info about us, and the categories on the side give you an idea of what goes on around here.


Thanks for stopping by!

Edited to add:  The featured writing piece can be found here.

New Shadow Portrait

Today, Claire, Momma and Daddy were able to go to a nearby nature center that specializes in butterflies. While there, we took some new shadow portraits!

New Shadow Portrait

And, here’s the one we chose for the blog header! (It’s cropped on the header, but you can click on the above photo to see more detail. Clicking a second time will enlarge it even more.)

You can see Claire (and her baby-doll, Daisy), Momma and Daddy. We were hoping one of the thousands of butterflies would grace our photo with her presence, but it wasn’t meant to be. (And, I’m not good enough in my skills to make it look like one did.)

Butterfly or not, I love it! I love the detail, and the different shadows created by the three of us, the plants below us and the plants above us. I love how it captures our personalities…and you can’t even see our faces.

And, we tried to get more glorious color in the frame, but the sun wasn’t at the right angle yet. We’re all about reality here…so what you see is what you get.

So, here is the new header…until the three of us find something else that strikes our fancy. 🙂



Click photo to enlarge.
Clicking a second time will show more detail.

Here is another picture I took at the playground. (And, I only took one of these. I love how it turned out!)

Can you tell how much fun we had?



Yesterday, Claire and I had the opportunity to go to a playground we’ve never gone to before. It was part of a miniature village in the mountains. We rode a train around the town and then walked the length of the park toward the playground, exploring each tiny, built-to-scale building on the way.

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Clicking a second time will show more detail.

Tiny Buildings and Playground

Here is part of the town from the train, and you can see the playground in the distance. Do you see the red curvy tunnel connecting parts of the play-structure?

She loved that part.

On one of her many trips through the tunnel, I snapped some photos. My intention was to find one out of the many that looked good. I turned the flash off, so as to capture the color inside the tunnel, and with a moving target, I wasn’t sure if any of them would turn out.








As you can see, I’ve captured her in every step of her journey inside the tunnel: up, over, and down again, and I couldn’t bring myself to delete any of them.

I love them all.