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September 2012

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Steppin’ Out

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What I’m wearing:
Shirt: Capsule wardrobe (still getting mileage, Sara!)
Vest: Deletta/Anthropologie circa 2009ish I think (last seen here)
Headband: Thrifted
Little clip: Doodad that came with a pair of gifted shoes for Alexa (who says I can’t wear baby stuff?)
Cropped jeans: Ross
Sandals (not pictured): As always, Payless

What Alexa’s wearing:
Dress: Old Navy, gifted
Socks: Old Navy
Shoes: See Kai Run, gifted (here)

Pull up a chair, y’all. It’s story time.

Once upon a time, a woman asked her husband to snap a few photos of her and their daughter for a Steppin’ Out post. It had been awhile, she said.

“Sure,” he said, toying with the camera. “Is this thing on?”

She quickly changed the settings from manual to automatic and said yes.

The woman picked up her daughter and told her to “cheese” for the camera. About five clicks later, the man said, “Oh no. Look.” He held up the camera viewfinder to reveal a bluish tint on all of the photos. Apparently the white balance setting does not reset from manual to automatic. Curses, thought the woman (like FREXING and EFFING and GRRRR). She quickly changed the faulty setting and snapped a practice shot. Perfect.

“A few more?” she asked.

But the daughter was done. And when the woman picked her up and said “cheese” for the camera, wailing and kicking and screaming and cry face happened instead of smiles and rainbows and unicorn poop.

The moral of this story: Check your settings.
The second moral of this story: Toddlers are only good for one “cheese.”

Also, through some heavy photoshopping and about ten different kinds of miracle, I was able to salvage the first few shots, in which Alexa and I are both cheesing to our heart’s delight.

So the third moral of this story: Do not delete “bad” photos until you try to fix; you never know whether you’ll get lucky.

So hey, did you know this is the longest my hair has been in years? Maybe six or seven years, to be exact. I’m not completely loving it, and I miss my hairstylist friend, so hopefully there will be some shaping and tidying up in the near future.

Let’s talk about shoes briefly (before this post becomes a novel). Alexa is sporting some mighty fine kicks c/o Auntie Sara. My kicks (off-camera) suffered a loss this week. See, the silver ones I’m wearing have two siblings: black and pewter. I’ve been wearing this trio for years now, maybe a little too often, if too often is every day. These sandals have been my go-to through an entire pregnancy when other shoes hurt my feet. And yet, we must mourn the passing of the pewter sandals. Their time has come. They had a happening week, starting when we ran down 30 flights of stairs during a bomb scare at work. That might have been the beginning of the end, when a strap broke and I stapled them (do not judge) back together for the rest of the day. Later they were bid adieu. It’s so hard to say goodbye. That means the silver and black sandals have a little extra burden on them to NEVER DIE. Do you hear that? NEVER.

OK, continue with your lives. Nothing more to see here, folks.

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A Modern Dilemma

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I’m going to level with you. My daughter watches “Yo Gabba Gabba.” This really isn’t news because I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve noticed there is a lot of mom pressure out there to keep our children away from technology, and to be ashamed if we do not manage to do so.

I read it in various forms every day. A blog here, an article there of buying educational toys and banning TV or computer privileges. And I just have to wonder: Really? These same people who are preaching about organic wooden toys and reminiscing about yesteryear when children played outside, these same people are writing these words on an electronic device. A phone, a computer, a tablet. All three of which they ban their children from using! Double standards are rampant in this argument.

Don’t get me wrong; the sentiment isn’t lost on me. I understand the urge to cling to a simple youth, one that isn’t completely soaked in technology. I have great memories of swinging on the monkey bars until well after dusk because I was having such a good time with my friends. I remember making up dance moves in my room while playing dress-up. I distinctly remember riding my bike all day long in the summertime. I would curl up with books and read for hours. I played softball for several years.

But you know what? I also watched TV and movies. “Fraggle Rock,” “The Sound of Music,” “The Flintstones.” I listened to music on my little pink boom box all the time. I learned to type at a young age, and my family embraced the era of PCs and the Internet. I spent a good portion of my formative years talking to my friends and family on the phone.

And yet, somehow, I managed to become a well-adjusted adult.

So why are today’s parents so concerned with shielding their kids from technology? Why the complete backlash against allowing children near anything electronic? Is it because it’s everywhere? Well, welcome to life. Most of us don’t live off the grid in a cowhide tent and gather berries in the forest to eat.

I think the real problem is that most adults do not know how to limit their technology consumption. How hard is it for us to cut ourselves off from Instagram or Facebook or Twitter? How hooked are we on Netflix or “CSI” or “Breaking Bad” or “Mad Men”? Maybe the real problem is our own addiction to technology. An addict can’t teach anyone else moderation, can they?

Instead of banning our kids from computers, maybe we should take the opportunity to teach them how to use it wisely. Instead of banning TV, maybe we should limit TV time to a certain amount of time per day. And while we’re at it, we need to set limits for ourselves, too. Constantly updating our social media can be a sickness. We need to be our own cure.

In conclusion, letting our kids watch TV isn’t a crime. Letting them play on our iPads won’t stunt their growth. Learning technology is just as important in today’s society as taking the time to read a book or run outside or build a Lego castle. There’s no reason our kids can’t do it all, be well-rounded. And there’s no reason we can’t disconnect from our way-too-plugged-in existence more often. Blogging, tweeting, updating statuses need not be a 24-hour endeavor. Everything in moderation.

33 Projects: Two Bracelets and Painted Rocks

As I was getting down with my crafty self this weekend (more on that in an upcoming post), I realized I never shared what I accomplished at the Craft Cabinet back in August.

I basically channeled my inner Girl Scout with some bracelet-making and rock painting. Special thanks to April and Brenda for providing some of the materials to make these projects happen.

I was just a bonfire and fossil-plastering project away from being back at Camp Seikooc. That’s Cookies spelled backward, fyi.

In a way, going back to my Girl Scout days was a good way to jump-start the 33 Projects, considering that was the last time in my life that I was remotely crafty.

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The best part is that I used washi tape to hold down the ends of my bracelets instead of having to safety-pin them to my jeans. And no messy painting because, hello, paint pens exist! I’m sure they’ve existed for quite some time, but it was news to me and I’m still very excited by future possibilities.

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I made the “sunshine” for Alexa because that is one of her favorite words. I’m sure you can tell it’s a sun because of my mad skills, but just in case it’s unclear …

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Four projects down, 29 to go.

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The Past Few Days

It’s a rare Saturday when we decide to stay home. But this Saturday we did.

A blueberry pancake breakfast, a pizza lunch/dinner and pumpkin ice cream. “Battleship” on Amazon Video. Playing and dancing with Miss Alexa. Experimenting in manual mode with my DSLR. Working on some crafts. Reading “Rogue Wave” in its entirety. Hanging around in pajamas all day. Going to bed before midnight.

Sometimes it’s good to stay home.

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From top: Split attention // eeny, meeny, miny moe // these four are gold // flower power // behind every great Instagram image is a good iced coffee // safety first, Bunny // speed shopping with Miss Lexa // coloring, always // bookshelf in disarray, take 1 // bookshelf in disarray, take 2 //

What did you do this weekend?

Fashion Forward: Chambray

I’m kinda in love with the chambray fashion trend for the fall. I’m not advocating a Canadian tuxedo (unless that’s your thing, in which case keep on keeping on). Just a little lightweight denim in an unexpected way. Perhaps a shirt with colored denim on bottom, or a dress with tall boots for the fall, or a bright dress with chambray shoes.

There are a lot of possibilities, and here are a few of the items I love. I’ve mixed up price points, added a few options for little girls, and the skirt (No. 3 directly below) is a plus-size find I am loving (plus it’s on clearance, holler!).

Chambray Fashion Trend • Little Gold Pixel
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Would you wear chambray? If so, what would you pair it with?

Let Me Tell You About Your Daddy

Let Me Tell You About Your Daddy • Little Gold Pixel

Dear Alexa,

I don’t often write about your Daddy here. It occurs to me that this might be a mistake, me being the historian of the family and it being unlikely that your Daddy will tell you the extent of his love for you like I am about to.

He absolutely dotes on you. Everything you do is another feat of strength, show of genius or proof of courageousness. Even when you are stubborn, he says he likes that. He wants you to have a strong personality, to know what you want and stick to your guns. He still brags about the day you were born, and how the first thing you did was squeeze his index finger tightly.

Let Me Tell You About Your Daddy • Little Gold Pixel

Your voice is music to his ears. On the weekends he springs out of bed when you babble, eager to talk to you first thing in the morning. And on the weekdays, sometimes you will yell out for “Daddy” before you yell out for me, on the off-chance that it is the weekend and Daddy is home.

Your Daddy is determined to help you conquer any fears. He doesn’t like to see you scared or uncertain, so he makes it his job to introduce you to things that scare you, like the ocean. He picks you up, walks you into the water and holds on tight while you get used to the idea. And, before long, your tears turn to laughter.

Let Me Tell You About Your Daddy • Little Gold Pixel

When you are introduced to something new, Daddy makes sure you understand how it works. He tells you how to hold a fork and shows you how to put it in your mouth. He taught you to climb stairs safely. He encourages you to climb, to make it to the top of the jungle gym so you can go down the slide.

He is also extremely protective of you should you fall. “It’s these shoes,” he will say, looking for the culprit that hurt his baby. “My baby fell,” he will say, telling me about how you tripped and bit your lip. He feels your pain. A rash, a bruise, a scrape. The smallest ouchies worry him because he hates to see you in pain, and he will do anything to make it “better.”

He is your knight in shining armor, Miss Lexa. He will always be there for you, always.

Let Me Tell You About Your Daddy • Little Gold Pixel

He’s not afraid to be silly, to make funny noises or flop around on the ground and let you crawl all over him. He will play games with you. He will read books with you even though he doesn’t want you to affect his (nonexistent) accent. When you grab his hand, with the same strong grip as on your birth day, he will dance with you to the Yo Gabba Gabba breakdown.

I arrived home early recently and caught the two of you curled up in the chair, Daddy pointing out animals in one of your books while you rested your head contentedly on his shoulder. My little Daddy’s Girl. You already have him wrapped around your finger.

Xoxo,
Mommy

Let Me Tell You About Your Daddy • Little Gold Pixel

When She Needs Me

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H was awake, getting ready for work. I was groggy, half asleep and half awake because I could hear him making quiet moves that the early-morning hour somehow amplifies. “Shh!” I shush in my half-sleep. Then I hear the cough coming from Alexa’s room.

I try to tell myself it’s a one-off, just a little cough as she readjusts herself in her crib. But mamas know when our babies are sick, we just do. It’s one of those mama things, like having eyeballs in the back of our heads. I also knew it was the end of my sleep. A 5:30 call to tend to the little one. She needed me.

She was distraught, snotty and feverish. I rocked her for an hour, a sheet covering the two of us. H brought milk, water, cold compresses, coffee for me. We knew one of us would stay home with her. This time it was H’s turn to hold her all day long, to comfort her when her nose ran and her throat got scratchy, to ensure that she had blankets and binkies and Gabba episodes to distract her.

It was hard to walk out the door that day, even though I knew she was in excellent hands with her papa. Just knowing she needed me made my heart ache.

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She felt better within a few days, but I’ve still got the cough she passed along to me. Every time she gets sick I manage to catch it, too, and I know it’s because I am a softie. I can’t stop myself from kissing her cheeks and snuggling in close. Not when she needs me.

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How to Cut the Cable Cord and Never Look Back

Cut the Cable Cord • littlegoldpixel.com

At first I felt guilty. I mean, I work in the entertainment industry. I worried that it would be something I’d have to hide, like a secret so heinous that I would have to bury it in the closet under dirty laundry and that shoe I can never find and never, ever mention it around my colleagues.

But then we did it. We cut the cable cord.

Why?

Digital cable + box “fees” + “variety” tier (whatever the hell that meant; we didn’t have very many good channels, anyway) + Internet + two pay-per-view movies per month = $200+, that’s why.

That’s $2,400 a year we could put into savings instead.

It felt strange at first, I admit. I worked for a cable company when I was in college, so I still harbor some odd allegiance to the blood-sucking bastards, and I grew up watching MTV and HBO, so this is essentially the first time since the 1980s that I do not have access to Kurt Loder. There was a fair amount of cable addiction going on in our house (just ask H).

What I didn’t anticipate is that killing that addiction is not difficult. And it’s becoming a trend. If you’re on the fence, I can 100 percent, without-a-doubt, tell you it is worth it. Here are some of the ways we stay current and entertained without cable.

  • Netflix, $8.99 a month

This pays for itself in “Yo Gabba Gabba” streaming alone. We love Netflix for its TV archive, including “The X Files,” “Prison Break,” “Melrose Place” “The A Team,” “MacGyver,” “Quantum Leap,” “Top Gear,” “My So-Called Life” and, of course, “Jem.” She’s truly outrageous. Also, it made my 100 Movies project possible, and I’ll be forever grateful.

  • HDTV antenna, $30-$100

We bought this model, and we have access to loads of local channels we didn’t even know existed. For instance, did you know there’s a channel called This TV, and it airs all kinds of obscure and hilarious movies from the 1980s? Score!

  • Amazon Instant Videos, some titles free with Prime membership ($99 per year) + ability to pay per view for new movies/shows

When you have diapers shipped monthly to your place, it pays to have Prime membership. Also, free videos via Amazon’s video service. It’s where I found some of my favorite random midcentury movies.

  • YouTube app via Playstation 3, free

This might be perhaps the only way I have ever really enjoyed doing anything with YouTube (online I find it clunky and unsearchable a lot of the time). But high-res, on our bigscreen, this app allows us to easily watch alien conspiracy clips, music videos, viral novelties and full-length movies.

  • Watch TV shows online, free

I love this site for watching entire series, beginning to end (this has been particularly helpful for “Pretty Little Liars” and “Weeds”). Also, if you’re on top of it, you can just go to the network’s website and watch episodes of your favorite shows that have recently aired.

Anyone else cut the cable cord? Do you use any of the above to keep you abreast in entertainment? Are there any other sites/apps/services I should check out?

Getting My Story Straight aka Who Wants to Read My Novel?

There are characters in my head who need to come out. I realize that I’ve been carrying on conversations with them as I drive home from work. It’s a follow-up conversation, like this is what happens next. And before I know it, I’ve driven 30 miles. I’ve parked my car, turned off the engine, walked up the myriad steps of our Ewok village. And I’m home.

I need to write.

But I’m holding back because these characters, the ones who are fighting to tell me the rest of their story? They are the characters from the novel, the one I have been shopping for awhile. This process of trying to snag an agent, to do things the “proper” way, of sending query letters and waiting and submitting manuscripts and waiting some more and never hearing back … well, I’ve been hinging my next move on whether this novel ever gets published.

It feels like a waste of time to write a “sequel” with these characters if no one ever sees the first novel. Right?

The Novel, Viewed at 10%

So I wonder: Should I cut out the middle man and self-publish? Sometimes I think it might be best to just offer this book out there on the digital marketplace and hope for an audience. It sounds so simple. Publish it, and they will come. I’m not naive, though. Does this work for anyone other than the lucky “Fifty Shades” author?

Would you, my friends, join me in the trenches and help spread the word about my novel? I’m asking you genuinely because I know this course of action is not something I can do on my own. I would need help; I would need your word of mouth.

Like I said, these characters are knocking on the door to my brain. They want the next chapter of their story told. I should oblige them. I really should.

Six Albums that Changed My Life: High School Heartache Edition

I heard a song on my way home from work that sent me into a spiral to the mid-1990s, when angst was my middle name, according to my Uncle Terry, who apparently was worried about my mental health after reading some of my “dark” poetry.

Turns out I was just a teenage girl.

I will try hard to remember this in 15 years, this time period soaked in hopes and dreams for the future yet dampened by the invisible chains of my present age. The feelings of not belonging in the red state in which I was raised and the closed-mindedness of some of my peers. The suspicion that most boys my age were not adequate boyfriend material, yet being disappointed when I was right. The close circle of friends who were always there for me, and to this day are still my sisters, even if we go years without seeing one another. The agony and the elation and the melodrama. “You’re ruining my life!” was shouted at my parents more than once or twice.

I will try to remember this complex stage for Alexa’s sake.

We can mind-meld (or however you download music in 2026) via the music that spoke to me and I can share “selected” entries from my high school diaries. She will know I understand. I like to think that this femme-powered music will never seem too dated. I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure it will stand the test of time.

Six Albums that Changed My So-Called High School Life

Six Albums that Changed My Life • littlegoldpixel.com

The Cranberries
Everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we?

Play when you are feeling: Sad. The forlorn tone of Dolores O’Riordan’s voice will match your mood, but the beautiful music will help lift your spirits. And with lyrics like “Oh, my life is changing everyday/In every possible way” you will feel like someone totally gets you.


 

Six Albums that Changed My Life • littlegoldpixel.com

Hole
Live Through This

Play when you are feeling: Pissed. Honestly, there’s nothing like a little hard rock to justify your emotions. Screaming along with Courtney Love will feel so good, trust.


 

Six Albums that Changed My Life • littlegoldpixel.com

Garbage

Play when you are feeling: Depressed. Shirley Manson’s words are guaranteed to lift you out of your funk, even if you’re only happy when it rains.


 

Six Albums that Changed My Life • littlegoldpixel.com
Alanis Morissette
Jagged Little Pill

Play when you are feeling: Betrayed. The quintessential breakup album, you can go through all the emotions: love, discontentment, anger, sadness, acceptance. From the anthem of “You Oughta Know” to the wise resolution of “You Learn,” it’s all there. Grab some tissue and get ready to sing along through your tears.


 

Six Albums that Changed My Life • littlegoldpixel.com

No Doubt
Tragic Kingdom

Play when you are feeling: Small. No one can keep you down. You won’t have to abide by curfews forever. You can become president (if you want that awful job). The ska beats are uplifting, and the messages in songs like “The Climb” and “Just a Girl” are empowering.


 

Six Albums that Changed My Life • littlegoldpixel.com
Poe
Hello

Play when you are feeling: Misunderstood. I’m not even sure what this record is about. Sex? Anger? Dismay? General frustrations? All I know is that it was played on repeat a lot, and my friends and I related. The lyrics are largely open to interpretation. Which, hello, is perfect for your angsty poet heart.


 

Six Albums that Changed My Life • littlegoldpixel.com
And then there are the runners-up. The albums that definitely registered, and would be good companions to the others: The Cardigans/First Band on the Moon (for when you’re feeling numb); John Osborne/Relish (for when you’re feeling moody); Natalie Merchant/Tigerlily (for when you’re feeling lost); Tori Amos/Boys for Pele (for when you’re feeling obscure)

Am I missing any? What was your go-to angst album in high school?