Archive for the ‘Wedding’ Category

External Heart

There’s a saying that parenting is like wearing your heart on the outside. I feel the truth of this statement every day.

Last week, Miles was glum when I picked him up from school. I had to press him for a long time, but finally convinced him to tell me that he’d asked some kids to play with him at recess and they’d said no. And that he’d cried about it.

I mean, I haven’t felt myself shatter like that in a long time. I just scooped him into my arms and wanted to rock and cuddle him, except he’s nearly 8 years old and just wanted to go play Minecraft. I made sure to remind him that he has a group of really nice friends who care about him. I wasn’t sure why he’d reached out to another group…I’m sure there are things he wasn’t telling me.

But all I could remember was all the times I wanted someone to hang out with me and got turned down and there I was, reliving all the hard parts of being a kid. I want to spare him this pain! But I don’t know how and I don’t know if it’s possible to do that. All I can do is reassure him that he’s loved.

Thankfully he had some cup-filling opportunities to play with other kids since then and doesn’t seem to be upset about it anymore.

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Posted by on November 13th, 2017 No Comments

Getting Acts Together!

This week was the April Get Your Act Together notary event at the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library. What a great turnout! I’ve been so excited that several local blog and news outlets picked up the story about the events, and word spread fast–April sold out within minutes of one story’s publication and the May event just sold out this morning.

It’s such a joy for me to see these families breathe deeply as they sign the last document, the weight of the world lifted from their shoulders (at least for a few minutes). One of the notaries shared that it’s so important for young people to think about these documents–she told a story of being called into pre-op at Presby hospital as the anesthesiologist waited at the foot of a patient’s bed. The patient hadn’t finalized documents and was about to enter a very complicated surgery. Everyone had to wait until he could sign and notarize his wishes.

None of the folks attending these mobile notary signing events have to worry about this.

So I’m looking forward to the May event at Shining Light Prenatal Education, where 20 more people will sign their way to peace of mind. What an honor to help facilitate!

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Posted by on November 30th, 2014 No Comments

What to Do with my Wedding Dress?

We’re getting ready to pack up some of our extraneous stuff to move to a storage space, both in anticipation of staging our house to sell and making room for the baby, who will now surely be born before we have secured new premises for Team Lev Headquarters. I’m pregnant enough that I can’t participate too much in the process, but I can make lists and purge like it’s my job. 

As I angrily insist my husband needs to get rid of his Bar Mitzvah kaleidoscope and loafers from high school, it seems unfair of me to not give some thought to the huge-ass box containing my preserved wedding dress. Is it fair for us to move with it to a new house? To have it occupy some of the paid space in our storage unit? Why have I been letting it hog space in our tiny house for 7 years, anyway?

Corey rented his wedding clothes. Men do this all the time. It doesn’t make him less married to me. I’m not even overly sentimental about physical things. But each time I drag down the box, I can’t make myself donate it or otherwise move it out of our house. It was the first dress I tried on, the first one I wanted to wear as a bride. But so what? Why am I attached to it? I had no issues getting rid of prom and homecoming gowns…

In some ways, I see this hesitation as related to my not having a daughter. My kids will never play dress-up in my wedding gown. My daughter will never wear it for her own wedding. It seems unlikely that any future partner of my boys’ would want to wear my ratty, aging wedding dress. Most of the time, I feel so fine about mothering 3 boys. But sometimes I pull down my wedding dress and know my sons will never, ever give a shit hearing me talk about it. So I slide it back up onto the shelf and wait another few years to think about it again.

Right now, we need the shelf space to set out clothes for this baby, who will make his appearance so soon. I took to the Internet to see what my options were in giving the wedding dress a new life.

Most charities that resell wedding dresses for various causes only take dresses from 2009 on up. I’ve dilly-dallied two years too long to have my dress resold to grant a wish to a woman with stage IV breast cancer. There are some places who will still take the dress, but I’m not yet sure how I feel about the mission of their organization.

Someone recently suggested I could have part of the dress made into pocket squares for my boys to wear in jacket pockets for special occasions. Which gave me the idea that I could have some kippah made for them to wear again and again. Maybe even in time for the new baby’s bris shalom if I get off my horse.

And still, I can’t bring myself to slide the box down, to open the (I imagine) air-tight seal and lift out the silky, beaded, tiered dress my 26-year-old self wore one fine spring day to promise a life lived together with Corey.

I’ve given him a deadline of Friday to get our storage unit situated. As I gather boxes this week to pack up our books and the kids’ toys, I’ll need to give the dress more careful thought.

What did you do with your wedding dress?

Posted by on June 25th, 2014 4 Comments

Knit the Bridge

This month, Pittsburghers did something extraordinary. We–thousands of us!–knit a bridge. A fiber artist decided several years ago she wanted to yarn bomb the Andy Warhol Bridge and set about doing it, not just knitting the thousands upon millions of yards of yarn herself but inspiring an entire region to work together for this eclectic public art project.

View of the bridge from the bike path headed toward the Point

The result is stunning, and I think Andy Warhol would have loved it.

I did not find out about the project early enough to contribute an entire knitted panel. Or, rather, I found out about it but had a newborn baby and a sleepless preschooler and couldn’t imagine knitting the work required.

But! I did find out they needed knitters to knit great, long tubes of black yarn meant to go in between the colorful panels and accentuate the art, create a border to make it pop. Heck, I could knit a big tube in garter stitch! So I did.

The knitting went fast at first, but I ended up being glad I had the entire month of July to finish just my one long tube. I loved going to the studio to turn in my work, to see the heaps of yarn all ready to go up on the bridge, zip tied in little bundles and labeled.

One of my favorite panels

My BIL was in town the weekend it went up and so we planned bike rides and Duck-boat tours ostensibly to see downtown, but actually to see the Knit the Bridge project going up. I sneaked away from my family a few weeks later to attend the celebration alone. I was too hot and tired to stay in the blazing sun to do yoga on the bridge, but I bought some juice and walked along it a few times, checking it out from all angles.

When I left the party, I asked a stranger if she’d take my picture with the bridge in the background. “I knit a railing,” I gushed to her.

“Hey! Me, too!” she said. She’d been able to make it to the training and, thus, the installation of the project. She was just sitting on a bench along the bike path admiring and feeling proud.I got to add the yarn pin for my neighborhood! Morningside, represent!

The project has gotten a ton of publicity, which is great. Even my little old grandmother heard about it on television, though she hadn’t realized I knitted part of it.

Interested persons can check the database to search for favorite panels or look up their favorite knitter…maybe you’ll even find me!

The work comes down this weekend. I’m sad to see it go, but I’m so very excited I was a part of this project. How wonderful to join needles together with so many people!

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Posted by on November 3rd, 2013 3 Comments

Bitter, Bitter, Bitter

A conversation with Corey:

C: Hey Miles, I’m so proud of you for sleeping through the night! That was pretty great.

Me: What are you talking about?

C: Didn’t he sleep through the night?

Me: Of course not! Didn’t you hear me get up with him?

C: No…

Me: You didn’t hear me changing the wet sheets, arguing with Miles about which clean pajamas were acceptable?


Me: You slept through our argument about whether he wanted Peter, Paul, & Mary?

C: I guess?

Me: You missed the part where I tossed a screaming toddler into bed with you and left to sleep in the guest room?

C: Miles slept in bed with me? Last night? Huh. I must have told my subconscious that it was ok to sleep, that you had it covered.

Later this evening, I received a text from him informing me that he was super tired, would be going to be at 7:30 in the guest room with Miles, and that he can’t set an alarm clock or risk waking our toddler, too. Forgive the 30-week-pregnant person if she’s a little salty about all the sleep everyone else is getting around Team Lev Headquarters.

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Posted by on November 28th, 2012 3 Comments

Toys These Days…

I mentioned to Corey’s parents that I was excited about the new Disney movie Wreck It Ralph because it had a character named Felix, and because they are grandparents, they got us a Disney gift card to buy the boys some stuff.

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I ordered a Fix-It Felix doll for my Felix, which he loves.

He already loves bashing the doll against the floor.

And then for Miles, I ordered a Partysaurus Rex, which is really the T-rex from Toy Story. Miles had been *so* into the animated short flick Partysaurus Rex that it really saddened our lives when Disney made it unavailable to view online anymore. So he was pretty snazzed to see this dino arrive in the mail.

I was a bit befuddled to see it packaged with what I can only logically describe as a turd. Look closely at this photo. What does the brown bit look like to you?

Partysaurus…and a pile of???

We’ve been calling it Partysaurus’s poop. I learned, when I scrounged up the shreds of packaging he scattered in his excited opening of the package, that it’s the leg of some other critter. Evidently, if you buy enough Toy Story dolls, you can acquire all the body parts for this critter, whose leg looks so much like a log of dung.

What I find most amusing about the whole thing is how Miles took it in stride that his toy would come with plastic poop. I mean, we talk about poop all the time at home. He’s working on using the potty. We’ve already incorporated the poop into our play.

“Where will Partysaurus put his poop? Does he use a Pull-up, Miles?”

“No. He poops in the dirty, silly!”

When I showed Miles the two photo options, he asked me to put them both on the website. Boy, dino, dung.

Posted by on November 9th, 2012 No Comments

Kraut Update

I get so excited to go in the basement and press down on the weights in my kraut crock! According to fermenting lore, I’m supposed to visit the contraption twice a day to press down on the weights. I’ve been going down every few minutes to press and smell and make sure the brine is properly covering the vegetables, just in case botulism gets in there or something.

I was incredibly worried (I know! Big shock!) that the brine wouldn’t develop or that I had done something wrong, but my friend and the internet assured me I just needed to give my kraut a few hours. Sure enough, an orange liquid gradually began to rise until now, the whole mass of vegetables is firmly packed and under liquid. All there is to do now is wait for foam to develop, skim it off, and decide how soon I want to dip into my fermented delights.

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You can see the baby bathtub in the photograph, with an entire 4-pound head of cabbage plus two carrots packed into the bottom portion. I found a smaller ceramic plate to use as a weight and topped that with two glass jars of water. Then, I’ve been putting some of our weight plates on top of that–the whole thing is under about 25# of weight at all times. The juice just sort of rises above the weights and I cover the whole thing with a towel to keep out stink bugs. Voila! (Or so I hope…)

Posted by on October 18th, 2011 3 Comments

Here We Go Again!

It seems I picked just the right time to move to Pittsburgh–the Steelers have been to three Super Bowls since we landed in the Iron City. I am so interested in the ways that my life has changed, and my experience of Steeler Nation, since that epic win of 2006. That year, I arrived to this place not really caring about football (I was, after all, a graduate student in the English department at Pitt). I was initially shocked and then enamored by the fact that college professors discussed football games at staff meetings, that Whole Foods broadcast the games over the muzak in the store, and that Penn Ave became a bacchanalia of New Orleans proportions. I started to love football, this city, and the people who loved both so much they became inextricable.

I went “out” to watch each playoff game, fully experiencing the celebration in public, driving through the joyful riots after each road win. Corey and I basically walked from our apartment to the South Side for the big game, since many roads were closed and buses were few. We thought we were so hip walking across the Birmingham Bridge in the snow, waiting with drunken multitudes for a bus home that never arrived.

The next Super Bowl, I was pregnant and too tired/cigarette-smoke-averse to go watch the games in public. We had gotten rid of television at our house by then, so I was listening to a lot of the games on the radio. In comparison, the experience lacked luster. We did go to a Super Bowl party with Corey’s friend and watched the game on the projector, got to celebrate with friends and periodically run into the streets to high five strangers…the works. The obvious DD for the night, I got to drive through the rioting Burghers honking my horn like crazy and swerving.

And here we are a third time, with a kid who doesn’t sleep too much, limited funds based on our decision for only one of us to work full-time, and no television at home. We got to watch one of the playoff games with friends in a kid-friendly house, but since bedtime routine has taken precedence above all else, late kickoffs meant only one of us could leave the house to watch the game with others. That meant leaving the other behind to listen to a radio broadcast–which interferes with the baby monitor!

So Corey went out and bought a converter box and an antenna. I made soup and set up tray tables. We made use of our 35% “effective” reception and watched some of the game from the comfort of our living room, taking it in shifts to coerce a crying toddler to go to sleep. I miss the public, shared joy of watching this football team play in this city. I suppose I could crack the windows to hear the collective gasps and cheers all down our street…

I miss the drive home afterwards, when the streets teem with weeping, proud Yinzers. I do not miss living in an apartment building above a busy intersection, where a weeping, joyful man stood out in the cold singing the “Here we go, Steelers, here we go!” song until dawn after the AFC championship in 2006. I don’t miss the disrupted sleep when celebrations get rowdy and draw police sirens.

But I was so, so happy this morning to pass a man in black and gold striped trousers, staggering hom from last night’s bar celebration. He clutched a PBR pounder in one hand, had his other fist raised in the air, and seemed not to notice that he was wandering down the highway during morning rush hour. I can only hope a similar joyful resident helps me appreciate the atmosphere on February 7.

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Posted by on August 24th, 2011 No Comments

Dear Melissa And/Or Doug

Dear Melissa &/Or Doug:

First, I’d like to tell you what huge fans we all are here at Team Lev Headquarters. We just love everything you make–the watercolor sets, the shopping cart, alphabet puzzles…I mean, you make tiny wooden sushi sets! You guys are so creative.

We also have a wide selection of Melissa & Doug instruments, which we love and use daily around here. My question to you, then: are your harmonicas dishwasher safe?

You see, my son was playing the blues the other day waiting for his lunch. Once I served it to him (mac n’ cheese!), I went off to prepare my own food and did not notice him using his harmonica as a spoon. I guess it makes sense, sort of. Both the noodles and the harmonic go into his mouth in some capacity, right?

Only now, his harmonica is filled with noodle parts and chunky cheese sauce. How do I get that out of there? I feel worried about submerging the harmonic to soak it. Do we have the first toddler to use your harmonica product as a spoon? I noticed the instructions for the instrument did not mention dishwasher compatibility. Thought I’d write to you and double check!

Certainly hoping our mouth organ isn’t a goner–


Team Lev

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Posted by on August 8th, 2011 1 Comment

Shit storm

Today  I finally wondered what the hell is wrong with me in regards to elimination communication. Why do I do this to myself? What am I thinking will improve?

Picture this: Miles walks away from me and gets very, very quiet. This either means he is doing something terribly naughty (eating a shoe, unwinding toilet paper, digging in garbage…) or taking a crap. His “poop” behavior has changed from grunty squatting to total silence in a private space.

So I locate him, determine that he is indeed about to poop, and whip off his diaper to stick him on the potty. By now, he knows the drill. Even though he is mid-poop at this point, he gets really excited and starts mimicking the “pssssss” noise I make when I sit him on the potty. He looks up at me, all eager for me to be excited about his recognition of the sound you’re supposed to make on the potty. I just keep telling him he’s supposed to actually make the pee-pee to go with the sound effect, or even maybe finish his poop into the toilet.

But he just sits there for about 13 seconds, going “pssssss psssssss” until he is tired of doing that. At which point, he springs into the air and manages to eliminate his bones. He becomes a total heap of mush, flopping all over the place like a pizza box in the breeze. Meanwhile, the poopy diaper on the floor is not clear from harm’s way, nor is his bottom clean of poop.

Without going into detail, that boy unleashed a shit-i-cane on Team Lev Headquarters, the aftermath of which was only slightly less devastating than Hurricane Andrew. So what the hell do you do? How the hell do you clean something like that up while your kid is simultaneously determined to touch the mess and “help” you?

My son has taught himself to climb up and over the baby gates, so there is no longer a safe place for him in our home. I had nowhere safe to lock him up while I cleaned up the mess that was mostly my fault, so, with one arm, I held him upside-down by his ankles and disinfected the bathtub. Once he was in there with his ducks, I could scrub the rest of the bathroom and eventually his skin (and then, of course, re-scrub the bathtub after I removed him from it).

Did I mention this happened as we were supposed to head out the door for a play-date? I think this might be the day where I realize that early toilet training is not meant to be for this baby. What on earth made me think that removing a diaper mid-poop would be anything but catastrophically stupid?

Far better for him to crap in his diaper until he is 19 years old than for me to spend another morning like this one, terrified that I missed a spot on the walls or in one of his thigh-folds.

I walked away from the morning with several convictions. First, the homemade all-purpose spray and toilet bowl cleaner seem to work just fine on even the nastiest of disasters. Score! Second, Team Lev is not meant to use elimination communication. Third, it is possible to triage a shit storm without paper towels! And finally, people who put their children on a leash are much smarter than I am.

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Posted by on November 17th, 2010 2 Comments