29 September 2010

and the last september girlie...

i've officially had an esmé for five years today.

i spent all of yesterday stealing kisses and hugs from my littlest because, as i told her repeatedly, this would be my last day with a four-year old esmé.

i didn't realize how this would break her little heart. she actually teared up right before she fell asleep and promised me she'd be just as esmé in the morning.


on a lighter note. have i ever told you what a petite gourmande our grae-rose is? her palate is quite exceptional. she seasons and experiments with gusto. watching her in the kitchen is like watching an episode of chopped champions. someday, you'll have to come to a taping of her weekend cooking show with uncle sugar. it's called COOKING! IN! THE! MORNING! with your hosts, gracie and mike.

uncle sugar thinks mike is a good host name.

anyway. she's beyond annoyed that her school lunchroom no longer offers salt. she was storming on and on about this to lill, who couldn't care less about salt but who might be persuaded to start a rally to bring back paprika.

not because she uses it. just because a rally could potentially get her out of P.E.

do you still have salt at your school? grae asked.

yeah, lill answered in a no, duh! sort of a tone. it's at the condoms table.

awesome. and here i just broke them of using the british term for erasers.

not the most appropriate photo for a fifth birthday, but there seems to be very little appropriate in my life this morning! and i do enjoy a deliciously inappropriate kiss, don't you? i knew it. xoxo. {wait! forgot to add the link to this genius blog first found by toby's mom. it's called kissssing. give or take an s. enjoy it!}

27 September 2010


i'm pleased to report that my previous post was a smidge incorrect.

i was not in a mood. i was sickish. dizzyish. feverish. all of which combined to make me crabbyish.

phrew. because there's nothing i dislike more than a girl in a mood.

on another note altogether, i made a grocery list for, like, the first time ever. {i told you i was ill!} i just looked at that list of nonsense and saw that my esmé had added the word LOVE to it.

i believe i will find it near the jell-o.

not feeling nearly as lucky about the EOM and FOAF she also apparently wants me to buy.

do you read heist? i can't get enough of that darn site. found this brilliant rainbow by helmut smits there. i've seen it before, but it's still so awesome.

24 September 2010


i am in a mood, i'm afraid.

i think i just bought a very bad hairchop. i can't be sure of this until i find some brave to look in the mirror. but i do know that i whimpered at the salon. admittedly this petite sob escaped while my stylist was using a round brush, but still. and p.s. who. still. uses. a. round. brush.

my espressos aren't working. all eight of them. and i ate two strawberry chobanis lickety-split too-fast to enjoy either one of them.

i just got off the phone with uncle sugar. i imitated an individual we saw on an episode of hoarders so well that it made him guffaw. i like making that boy laugh when he least expects it, so that's a good.

but i'm going to have to leave the house again in a few minutes. and there are about thirty-four stinkbugs poised to attack as soon as i open the door. i am not a fan of bugs that crunch when you kill them.

when the stinkbugs came out last year? i vacuumed them all up. no crunching involved at all. but then a few days and many unnecessary girlie baths later, i learned why they are called stinkbugs in the first place.

would you believe me if i offered you a wobbly smile and a half-hearted singsong have a sweet weekend, you! yeah. i wouldn't, either. i am being small, aren't i?

ahh well. i'm off to have a moment. and another espresso. catch you later, friends. xoxo.

loving artpixie.

22 September 2010

stick 'em up...

birthdays are a complete mess around here.

the girlies three were all born in september. somewhere along the way, i thought it'd be genius to celebrate three times for everyone. like, sharing.

we went on a little adventure for lill's twelfth. i'm not sure what we'll be doing for esmé's fifth, but i'm sort of sure it'll include loads of plastic and sobbing. and for the grae ghost's yesterday, i bought them babies.

this one for lill. this one for grae. and this one for esmé. {yes. that is a baby monkey. and I KNOW. insane.}

uncle sugar was beyond creeped out. he cringed and wrinkled up his face like he'd smelled bad perfume {that guy HATES bad perfume.} and said don't you think you're a little old for babies?

i pulled him aside and hisspered would you like them to act older, patrick?

he knew he shouldn't have said that. so he told them a story of when he was about thirteen. he was playing guns outside with his little brother, who is about eight years younger. {not to worry! they weren't real guns! my boy is not that much of a thug.}

so there they were, ripping 'round the yard, pointing their fingers at each other and hiding behind trees, making their boy bullet sounds...and their dad came home from work.

what are you doing, patrick?

playing guns.

don't you think you're a little old to be playing guns?

uncle sugar still remembers thinking ummm. am i? crap. and his dad must've seen him all-of-a-sudden deflate.

eh. i was just kidding. when i was your age, i played guns, too. and then i went out and robbed a bank.

all images from monkeysalwayslook. i love that blog name. and while she's way more earthy than my usual taste, i'm digging how chill her site is, aren't you?

21 September 2010

another reprint for my grae-girl...

it's grae-rose's eleventh. this was written on her ninth. i could read it over and over and over plus once more after that...

when lillie was three months old, i took a home pregnancy test.

thirty seconds later, i blocked uncle sugar's view of the telly, waving my blazing fuchsia results in a grand panic.

what? is? this? i sobbed. WHAT? IS? THIS?

i'll not ever forget his reaction. he was holding lill's hands as she napped on his lap, and he calmly looked at me and back at her and back at me and back at her. and smiled. the loveliest smile i've ever seen that man smile, i think.

and he said, this is great...a new best friend for lillie.

and that was that. because grae? at least in uncle sugar's mind, you were made for lillie.

from the very minute you could, you've been her laugh track. and from the very minute you could, you've protected her. whether she needs it or not. and if she gets hurt - even just a little - you scream at everyone near until they fix her. and then you scream at lillie for being in a fix in the first place. and then, when all is well and only when all is well, you finally crumple and have a bit of a cry. because all is well when your lillie is well.

lill was sick last term and stayed home from school for four days. school tomorrow, lill! i announced as i passed through the living room and found her bouncing from couch to couch. but grae followed me to the kitchen.

one more day, mom. she pleaded. just give me one more day.

give you...what?

just give me one more day at school by myself. one more day that i don't have to follow her around and make sure she's safe and no one's hurting her...

grae! that's not your responsibility! you don't need to take care of lill, honey.

oh, mom. she's a fool.

i kept lill home. because even guardian angels need a holiday.

when your aunt lin was living her last summer, you spent july, august, and september just staring at her. you soaked her in until you were nearly overflowing. this was the summer you learned the greatest lessons about love and life. this was also the summer you found your temper. to this day, when you lose it, my heart races right back to that time. and i almost completely always understand.

lin was never without her plastic thermos of water. this water needed to be just right: the perfect temperature and the perfect amount of ice cubes. her nearly-destroyed taste buds could still discern the correct ratio.

only her husband and her mom could make that water for lin. until one day, lin reached for the thermos, and it wasn't there. neither was her husband. nor her mom. but grae-girl was there, and she'd been watching. without saying one word or asking one question, she made lin's water. perfectly, of course.

and lin would tell me, over and over and over. this one...my gracie-rose...she was made for me.

mmmm. maybe.

grae is our protector. our caretaker. she once stood up to a teenaged boy on her school bus when he called a little kid a jew. a few months later, she stood up for the same teenaged boy when someone else called him fat.

she lives wherever we choose to live, but if she had her choice, i know exactly where i'd find her. grae's home is where her grammy lives. a house full of her favorite memories and happiest times.

two years ago, santa surprised us on our flight from amman to chicago. one of his reindeer delivered a letter to the pilot, who then gave it to one of the flight attendants, who then delivered it to us. santa was sending us on one more flight...to disney world! can you imagine the girlies' reactions?

they sobbed. and grae became veryveryvery angry. i don't think she's ever forgiven santa for taking four days away from her time at her grammy's.

when a brand-new esmé would cry for her bottle, i'd let grae hold her while i got everything together. in less than a minute, that baby would be asleep. grae, giggling apologetically at my shock, would whisper, i think esmé thought i was her mommy! and i would whisper back, she wishes she was so lucky! both grae and i knew i was mostly telling the truth.

she saves every penny she earns or finds, dreaming of the fancy toy she'll buy on our next trip to the toy store. but then she sees the homeless palestinian kids on the corner. and that is the end of that.

she will love you until the day after the end, but she is a package deal, i'm afraid. for grae to love you, you must love and protect everyone she loves and protects. and this is not as easy as my grae-girl makes it seem.

so i'm thinking it's just not true. grae was not made for lill. she was not made for my sister. not for esmé or even uncle sugar. and it crushes my heart to write this, but she was not made for me, either.

no, grae. i think you were made for the world.

a few t.ruffles for you. that little girlie skipping is melissa's little chooch, and it's seriously one of my forever favorites. i think it should be a mural.

20 September 2010

a reprint sort of a week...

i feel a mute button coming on. nothing personal. i promise.

here's something i posted when esmé was nearly three. she's now nearly five, but not-so-much has changed. she strolled into the kitchen a few days ago, waved to all of us, and exclaimed HIYA, CANCER!

she is not an oncologist. she just plays one at recess.

anyhoo. here goes...

esmé's learned a new parlor trick.

let's be honest. developmentally, esmé isn't exactly setting the world on fire.

she's not yet potty-trained. she doesn't wholeheartedly embrace basic societal expectations. like sharing. it certainly wouldn't hurt if she stopped using naughty compound words, either. every number in esmé's world seems to be three, she may be a wee bit color-blind, and her short-term memory is crap.

but this new skill o' hers? i don't mean to brag, but it's fabulously embarrassing.

our story begins like every classic fairy tale. once upon a last week...blahblahblah...swimsuit search...blahblahblah...why is my bum so plump...blahblahblah...transvestite...blahblahblah...and they lived awkwardly ever after.

allow me to fill in the blahs.

so i'm next-door dressing room neighbors with the loveliest transvestite ever. he and i had a mini-conversation that included the words serendipity, karma, my bum, and michael kors. swimsuit after swimsuit. my mom and my girlies three oohing and ahhing at all the wrong moments.

boobies pop out? ooh! bikini bottoms wedgie my bum? ahh!

but the guy in the next room was having much better luck, judging from the squeals. {his.} plus, the saleswoman was beyond attentive to his unique needs.

truthfully, he was a sweetheart. appreciative. effusive. a tad unsure.

which is exactly when my sweetheart of a mom jumped in.

that one looks great! ever-so-encouragingly.

you think? one finger twirling a synthetic strand of his sandy-colored hair, one hand high on his hip. toned legs apart, body angled, head tilted. the perfect supermodel swimsuit pose.

well played, mister lady.

definitely! i'd buy it, if i were you! i looked at her and thought she was insane...albeit refreshingly open-minded and ever-so-oblivious to ever-so-obvious bulges. just lose those heels!

oh, yes! he agreed, with a giggle. the heels are for the dress. flip-flops for the beach!

all this time, esmé was watching. listening. back and forth. just waiting for the completely inappropriate appropriate moment.

what's him's name, grammy?

uncomfortable glances all around, which mémé ignored. and no answer. which mémé did not ignore.


my mom just shook her head at esmé. confused and wondering why in the world her granddaughter thought this lovely woman was a man.

the poor dude-looks-like-a-lady sort of moonwalked out of esmé's scrutiny. sadly, he did not buy the suit.

grae, mortified, walked away and pretended to be not-a-part-of-this-family.

and lill plugged her nose and clamped her mouth closed to keep her giggles from escaping. which resulted in some ill-timed wind.

and esmé realized she'd just told - unbeknown to her - a killer effective joke. one that cleared the room, even.

WHO'S THAT MAN?! she yelled joyfully to no one. over. and. over. and. over.

we usually try to ignore such naughtiness. it's a phase, don't you think? but our girlie is tenacious and observant and loveslovesloves a good joke. at someone else's expense. {insert glare at uncle sugar for this genetic flaw. while you're at it, also insert pleased smirk on uncle sugar's face.}

even-especially when she spies a manly-looking lady, points with her middle finger, and asks, him's a man?

it may soon become necessary to address this situation. perhaps an occasional we don't call out transvestites in this family! will do. fingers crossed.

mémé. our wild little girlie. not-so-much interested in setting the world on fire. but, man, is she lighting up ours.

linzie hunter prints, as introduced by simple lovely...quite simply, the loveliest blog in my little world. {see jos! i adored you even two years ago!}

16 September 2010


my boots are coming.

awesome timing, since all the leaves in my view are yellowing. and that means that the chill is coming. i'm way more excited about my boots.

a really lovely fellow wanderer once told me that it takes a year - a full year of holidays and anniversaries and brand new firsts and distance from memories - to feel like you're home. no matter where you've landed. no matter how remote or how urban or how maddeningly in-between. even if you're in a place that was supposed to be your home in the first place. it takes a year.

she was right. it's been about a year since we moved back. a year of complete and utter angst for no reason whatsoever. i lost count of truly miserable moments at, like, seventy eleventy. but somehow? at that one year mark? i magically forgot all the transitional aches and sprains and full-on fractures. all the whining and crybaby weepies. {from me...not the girlies three. sad, i know.} a year of honestly feeling cold, no matter the weather outside.

anyway. i think i'm telling you this just in case you're having a spell. a change that's making you non-stop chilly. some sort of anything that's tripping you up. give it a year. you'll find your balance again.

full disclosure? i still miss my maid. i don't think any amount of time is going to heal that wound.

ok. i've seen this babe on a bunch of tumblrs. tracked it down on flickr. i hope she doesn't mind. her stream is killer kickass haunting.

15 September 2010


i think i'm just beginning to realize that i've got my girlies three at schools three.

each school seems to have a lot of rules and timings and forms and events. and, of the lot, i'm only really good with events. it's just the timings of said events that bring me down.

there's so much to this making people business that no one told me at orientation. like all these darn details. and that there'd be loads of other children. i am not a fan of details. i am also not a fan of loads of other children. especially thoughtless ones.

this morning, as we were walking one of the three into one of the three, we spotted this shy little thing in a super-cute plaid outfit. she was tugging on it, which was a solid sign to me that it was fresh new. a few of us complimented the plaid effusively. one of us glared.

ya know, suggested esmé, ya really don't know huh.

she is so new york these days, it's killing me.

but i explained that i still remember every compliment ever thrown at me. and how it's nice to have a bunch of those in your pocket when you get the opposite of compliments.

which lillie caught a little while later.

i'll spare all of us the details. but an otherwise sweetheart of a girl told lillie she looked dull. trust me on this one: dull bounces off lillie. even if you threw a big sticky ball of dull at that girl, there's no way she could ever catch it.

we all have limitations. an inability to be dull is not a bad one with which to be cursed, i think.

anyway. i felt like growling. i can't explain it any better than that. growling, karey? ugh. but, i mean, i did not want lillie to begin her day thinking she looked at all dull. it just felt like this would be one of those opposite of compliments she'd remember.

i know her pockets are overflowing. i do. i'm just...annoyed. does this ever happen to you?

in other news, esmé was so pleased this morning by her outfit sent from her nona in illinois. mommy! she squealed. my pants rhyme with my dress!

clothes should rhyme, yes?

my friend raved about her pins. consider me raving, too. i can't say that i entirely understand how to pinterest, but it is mad addictive to eat up everyone's boards. inspiration overload with every pin. plus? the guys behind it are really nice. i'm pretty sure i met one of them called ben at alt design summit. that's all i need to tell you today, isn't it? i'm thinking it is. and thank you. i feel better about lill already. that's the sweet thing about having you all listen to my silliness. xoxo.

14 September 2010


yesterday, esmé and i fed goldfish to our neighborhood fish. the turtles are partial to cheetos, if you're at all interested. i'm thinking you are not.

barbaric cannibal concerns aside, it's always a really relaxing chatty time for the two of us. until. all of a crazy sudden, this wacko-awkward silvery-gray giant of a stick-legged pointy-beaked bird thing swooped in. it was scowling.

i think i'm not a nature girl. i know, i know...but, karey! you grew up on a farm! yes. but i had allergies. i never went outside.

that's not really my point here, if we're optimistically hoping to reach one anytime soon. my point is that down and dirty back-to-my-roots is not my bag. i prefer high-end outdoor experiences. think four seasons forest.

and that disappoints me a little.

also. i'd like not to be the only one in my family who didn't know that mad bird was a heron. or a harry, as mémé calls 'em. as uninterested as i am in those sorts of details, a part of me would like to be that girl in fall fryes and an offhanded burberry, pointing upwards and saying something like look! a ruby-throated hummingbird in that red osier dogwood! oh, where's my camera?!

as it stands now, though, i'm the one traipsing through our woods counting crows and asking my almost-five esmé does this look like poison ivy?

ask me anything about resin bangles. i've got that down. you should remind me to show you the one uncle sugar bought me. i wear it every weekend, whether appropriate or not. cara croninger is cool, isn't she? xo.

13 September 2010


lillie woke up an impossibly sleepy esmé surprisingly swift. she simply told her it was her fifth birthday.

it is not her fifth birthday.

uncle sugar called on his way in to work and asked does the coffee taste funny to you? like, sudsy?

why, no. not to me. in related news, it is apparently flawed science that strong coffee will overpower and magically negate all else. like, say...two squirts of soap and a half-arsed rinse. by me.

i've been giggling all morning. this is life, isn't it? these goofy little moments? nonsense, really, if you think about it. but today they've felt like little kisses.

ok, you. have a sweet monday. i'm off to bake a fake birthday cake for the mémé.

check that. no cake for her. because i just followed a fresh trail of shaving cream from the bath to the linen closet. where at least eight fat white towels are covered in blue gel. esmé claims to know nothing about this. in a strange twist, she now smells like tough beard mint.

not a fan of overalls or necklaces. imogene + willie makes me rethink that statement, yes? scroll through their lookbook to that willie's motorcycle white thermal tee. love? me, too. i'd like to snag it for a fall layer.

09 September 2010

black eyes and butch...

uncle sugar and i were chatting last night about the sort of restaurant he'd love to open. one seating a night with the menu based on his groceries and garden yield every morning.

i love it when solid people have sky-scraper dreams.

for two days in a row, i've seen littles head out of school, take one look at the never-ending line of buses, and burst into tears. a sweet blondie all in red plopped down near me yesterday while we waited for lill. her cheeks matched her outfit and she was breathing so damn hard, trying to keep it together even though she knew she'd already lost it.

let me help you, i said.

no. no. no. no. she was full-on panic. i'm done. i'm done. i'm done. i'm done.

exactly. i mean, how many times have you found yourself somewhere you did not want to be, forced to do something you do not want to do.

but there you are.

so anyway. pat was telling me about all these women at work with black eyes. what is the deal? he asked me. have you ever seen more than one person with a black eye? because yesterday, i saw three! and they were all old ladies!

i suggested they might all be in fight club.

i'm way late with butch bakery, but mad in love with the concept. here's the badass manifesto: our objective is simple. we're men. men who like cupcakes. not the frilly pink-frosted sprinkles-and-unicorns kind of cupcakes. we make manly cupcakes. for manly men.

07 September 2010

that mom...

my sweetheart shorties are off to school for their first days.

lillie looked so small, drowning in all her grade six accoutrement. my grae-girl, on the other hand, looked so strong and ready for fifth.

her stride is smack exact like uncle sugar's. they both lean into it. i remember when i used to pick up pat from the airport, ages ago and long before he hired cars. i could see him coming a mile away. everyone else seemed...unhurried. straight up. approachable, even.

but my uncle sugar? always looks like he has somewhere he needs to be and it. is. not. here. it. is. there. grae looked just like that this morning.

i filled out her get-to-know-you form for her teacher. i'm sure it will also allow her teacher to get-to-know-me. read, insane.

the word i used to best describe my grae? sunshine. what does my grae like to do best? win and laugh. but mostly win.

but here's the real kick in the pants. her new teacher asked how she could best help my child this year. i replied that - and i embarrassingly quote - i would very much like it if grae left her classroom every day feeling remarkable.

i am officially that mom. ugh.

on a few deadlines this week, but i'll definitely be over at the sweeterie. have you been gobbling up all of our guest photographers? me, too. and will you keep sending in photos? say yes. it's a lot of fun. for me, at least! xoxo and have a sweet day, you. oh! and these cakes looked nothing like the two we devoured on lill's birthday. not even close. but i'd bet you a hundred anythings that lillie would disagree. maggie austin cake spotted on designer's block, my always and forever fave sight.

02 September 2010

the first september girlie...

today my lillie katie is twelve.

you should see her chandelier smile. her gratitude and joy are just slicing my heart to bits. maybe even more painful is the number of years she's been ours. ugh. i've been all weepy since last night when she opened just one present, mom? please? please? please? just one?

i always tell her how i remember every moment of her life. every single moment. i mean, she's my first. and grae came when lillie was just one year fresh, so grae's beginning was a little fuzzier. i was preoccupied with my lillie, you see.

and that's never ceased. not really.

the other day, we were all on a family hike. lillie was up ahead juggling coco and an itouch and she turned around and smiled and i swear that smile made uncle sugar and me both feel taller. i thought he was thinking what a little brown bear she is - just like him - and how her smile lights up the sky, day or night, just like i tell him that his does.

she has your cute walk, he said.

{gasp!} i have her cute walk!

i wish i could write something really profound. the kind of words that make you understand that this girl is not just supposed to be important to me. that she's supposed to mean the world...to the world.

no such luck. i just keep coming back to what i tell her whenever i remember to tell her...

lillie? i'm so glad we made you.

photos that make me smile every time i see them by amie adams.