The Very Day Itself

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 9:51 PM


'Tis Halloween, at long last!

I thought, for the holiday, I would dress up as A Nice, Fun Mom Who Does Nice, Fun Kid Things For Her Kids.

You know, just the once. To try it out.

I made a special Halloween dinner complete with mummy dogs, "apple grins", "witches brew", and a hummus graveyard.

And of course, we used our new (old) green goblets. Despite all the kids' enthusiastic toasting of this, that, and the other, none were broken. I think that's a pretty ringing endorsement.

The graveyard was a particular favorite, although we couldn't eat the marked gravestones due to the fact that I wrote on them in Sharpie. (I may have been dressed up as a Nice Mom, but on no holiday ever am I Nice enough to make a special trip to Michael's for an edible marker, although I hear tell of such wonders from other people).

So we ate our dinner, during which I was proclaimed The Best Mom Ever more than once. Then we trick-or-treated, which took literally half the time it did last year (Iris is a year older and evidently much faster). The kids (mostly) had good manners, saying "thank you" and "happy Halloween!"

Iris took it a step farther and bowed low and graciously after receiving candy at every house.

Oh, and special bonus photo of my van decorated for the ward trunk-or-treat, which was Saturday night. This picture in NO WAY accurately depicts how insanely awesome my car looked. I stole the idea from some genius lady on Pinterest:

Today's joy: getting a nice early start, and finishing trick-or-treating in time to get the girls in bed by 7:30. Now that is magical!

Run For Your Life

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 8:21 PM


Yesterday was my very first race since I started running 6 months ago. I ran a 5K, which is 3.1 miles. It's about the shortest race there is, and it probably doesn't seem like a big deal to some people, but it was a big deal for me.

I ran it in 32:59, so well under my goal of 35:00. I was delighted, but I expected to meet my goal.

What I didn't expect was the overwhelming emotions that I would experience as I ran. That's because I didn't know that 12 hours before the race began, I would receive the news that a friend in my ward - a wife, a mother of 4 children, and only 5 years older than I am - who has been fighting cancer for a year and a half, was placed in hospice care and was not expected to survive the weekend.

I didn't know Leah very well. She was already sick when we moved into this house, so I never knew her as a well person. She was often hospitalized, and when she was home she was immunocompromised and so was not able to have visitors or attend social activities. But she lived around the corner from me, and her youngest child is the same age as my oldest.

I wanted to know her.

But there is only so much you can do.

I brought meals, I prayed and fasted for her, I checked in on Facebook. I gave her a big hug when she came to church one week, even though I'm sure I wasn't supposed to because of the risk of infection. She didn't seem to mind.

She has been declining steadily for a few weeks, so it wasn't really a surprise when I found out that her time was so short. But I was angry. Cancer has taken a lot of people from my life, and the lives of people that I love.

My grandfather died of cancer, leaving my grandmother with eight children to raise, including my mom. She was 14.

Then my mom lost her brother to the same disease. It was Easter Sunday. He was 45 years old.

I would say "it's not fair", but I need something much stronger. And I don't have those words.

So I took that fire, and I ran instead.

I ran this race for Leah, who was dying while I was running.

While I saw the brilliant rays of sunlight break over the orange trees as I ran to the east, she was seeing her light, and trying to find the strength to let go and walk toward it.

While I felt my adrenaline rise and my heart pound, her breath was slowing and her heart was going quiet.

While I felt the wind rush over my face, and heard beautiful music in my ears, and saw my husband and my children waiting for me at the finish line, her family was trying to prepare to live the rest of their lives without her.

It's not fair.

But life isn't fair.

What it is, is beautiful. It's beautiful, and it's a gift, and you just never know how much you have left.

I ran with my face to the sky, and a song in my heart. And when I was done, I took that song to Leah. I sang for her and her family, and I held her hand, and I hugged her kids.

An hour later, she was gone.

* * * * *

Devlin wants to become a scientist now, so that he can cure cancer.

I'll keep running, and I'll keep living.

And maybe together, we'll figure it out.

* * * * *

Yesterday's joy: timing the music on my iPod so that I finished the race to the song I have always thought would be perfect for that moment. It was just like a movie!

Today's joy: Senior Primary actually liked the Singing Time activity I prepared! Those big kids are a tough crowd.

Pre-pre-pre Halloween and pre-pre Halloween

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 8:33 PM


You already saw pre-pre-pre-pre Halloween (the Palmer Family costume carnival). Now I may I present the next two installments:

Iris's ballet class dressed up yesterday, and everyone was encouraged/ordered to bring treats. You know, because a dance class full of three-year-olds isn't insane enough without introducing costumes. And candy. That poor teacher.

And then today was the Dixon Family Pumpkin Carving Party. I hate carving pumpkins, so I was very grateful to be able to do it in the company of lots of friends and family! Everything is more fun when you have fun people to do it with. And I think I really, really would have enjoyed it a lot more if it hadn't been at the end of Today.

Today was, for your reference, the kind of day where I buy my kids a medium Icee at Target, and they complain because they wanted a *small*. I have no words.

But regardless, the pumpkins are carved, and I even did two of them and I think they turned out all right. Iris's is the small one, and we carved it with a tooth missing just like hers. And I accidentally gave it a cleft lip, but that's because I am not good at carving pumpkins.

Chloe had the genius idea to give prizes for the most superlative pumpkins, and Granny had the even more genius idea to make sure everyone got a prize. Eve got the prize for "biggest jack-o-lantern" (guess which one is hers), and she was as proud as any Pumpkin Mama you ever saw.

Tomorrow I am running a 5K with David. I will do a very special post on it so you'll want to make a special stop in tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Today's joy: I am so, so grateful for my family. Death and loss have been close by today, and I treasure every second with these people I am so privileged to live with and love. Even when they drive me crazy.

I love them.

I love them.

I love them.

Simple pleasures

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:52 PM


Today's joys:

- the beautiful, glorious, amazing weather (boots, people! boots!)

- Iris at dance class

- sweeping off the back patio

- pleasant soreness from a great yoga class last night

- making a dinner that everybody liked (frozen meatballs are my friends)

- my pretty new skirt

- kids sharing their pre-pre-Halloween candy

- Devlin watching Game 6 go to extra innings with his Daddy

- a clean kitchen

- singing beautiful music

- cookies

Crisp, cool, and pajama clad

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 8:58 PM


I just went in to say goodnight to Devlin after I got home from yoga, and found him all ready for Wear Your Pajamas To School Day tomorrow - as in, sound asleep in his PJs of choice, his glasses, his watch, and his shoes.

Bless his silly heart.

Today's joy: the very first time this season that I haven't had a sweater, but wished I did!

Playin' Hooky

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 11:01 PM


(How do you spell "hooky" anyway? Nothing I try looks right.)

Today's joy: Not blogging - because I had a DATE! An out-of-the-house, go-somewhere-together-but-not-with-kids date. And it was free, except for the babysitter. That's a good deal right there.

Kicking off Halloween Week

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Monday, October 24, 2011 at 8:41 PM


As of last year, I started getting pretty Scrooge-y about Halloween.

I used to love dressing up, and eating candy, and all the wild Halloween behavior. It was one night of mayhem and costume and excess. It was awesome.

Now, I have 3 kids to dress, and Halloween has ballooned to an entire week of festivities: at home, at church, at school. Every person and organization I know, it seems, is throwing a Halloween party. So now, I have to keep the kids' costumes in wearable condition for 5 or 6 different occasions, all of which involve eating and playing outside. I have to have Eve's Hermione frizz-hair properly frizzed for all of these events. Devlin's wand has to be charged and at the ready. And while I can let them go hog-wild on the treats for one night, I somehow feel if it's going to be a week's worth of gluttony, I have to hold them off a little bit.

And that is not an easy task.

I am going to try to view it in a more positive light this year, as my cousin pointed out to me tonight: at least we get our money's worth out of their costumes!

The clear highlight of tonight's Palmer Family Costume Carnival?

My brother and his girlfriend Audrey, dressed as some kind of 80's rock star fabulosity.

Today's joy: I took three children to a Halloween party, alone, AND I brought soup and bread. And I did it all with a smile on my face! This is a Huge Victory.

And now, all I have to look forward to is my very own little loaf of blueberry streusel bread (thanks Kim!) and the sound of Tim Gunn's melodious voice serenading me from my laptop. Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

Mr. Fix-It

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 9:30 PM


Today's joy: David.

He did everything I just couldn't face doing. Which was pretty much everything.

It was just one of those days when I felt like, no matter how much I cook and clean and tidy and shepherd and remind, the best I can say about my productivity is that we haven't starved to death, and no one has fleas.

(At least, I think no one has fleas. I haven't had time to really check properly.)

David put away laundry, did dishes, made dinner, ran errands, dressed children, and insisted that I take a nap.

Which I did, literally hiding under the covers.

Better luck tomorrow!

Burning calories, then undoing it all

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 6:31 PM


Today's joys: I ran a practice 5K this morning in preparation for real thing next weekend. It looks like my goal time is realistic (barely) and I am almost certain to survive.

And for an equal and opposite caloric reaction, the inaugural Phoenix Food Truck Festival was officially a success.

Jackrabbit Pride

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 10:19 PM


Homecoming weekend at Mesa High. Good old Mesa High!

David's youngest sister Holly is student body president, so I officially have more connections and appearance of popularity now, 12 years out of high school, than I ever did while I was actually there! She asked if I would be one of the alumni speakers at the annual Traditions Assembly, so this morning I brought Iris on stage with me (which was mostly pretty smooth, and very entertaining). I spoke a little bit about the lessons I took away from Mesa High, where my grandparents, parents, myself, and my high-school sweetheart/now my husband all went.

I did leave out the part about how my kids will go to Mountain View, the sworn rival of Mesa High. That seemed prudent.

The big football game was tonight:

Eve was chosen to be a crown bearer for the homecoming royalty, along with her cousin Chloe:

She has been wearing that Mona Lisa smile ever since. I would give a million dollars to be able to spend a few minutes in her head and see all the floridly spectacular imaginings that must be swirling around in there. I imagine that carrying that velvet pillow with a crown resting atop, and handing it off to a Real Life King, has kicked off a good week's worth of fantasy.

One enigmatic dreamer, one toothless social butterfly. I love it:

Today's joy: At my children's elementary school, the students and teachers can send "Hale mail" to each other each week. Today, Eve brought home a little blue slip of Hale mail, from her brother. It read: "Dear Eve, Hi! Hopeing you the best! Have fun!"

Then he drew of picture of himself and Eve holding hands.

Then I died of happiness.

Joy joy joy

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 10:20 PM


Since I don't have an actual post today (I sang in a concert instead!), how about a few extra joys?

(How about you take what I give you and like it, since it's my blog and you have no say in it anyway? Okay!)

Today's joys: Iris finally had dance class. She had last week off for fall break and was bitterly disappointed. Three-year-olds also have no frame of reference for "Thursday" so she's been asking 30 or 40 times every day, just in case. Glad that's over.

My mom and my sister watched my kids while I sang, and they Cleaned My Kitchen. Like, I think they swept the floor too. SO awesome.

Five words: Lunch. Shrimp taco. Crab taco.

Treasure Hunting

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 7:59 PM


So, yesterday, when I mentioned that I was at a truly wretched outlet mall, I neglected to say that something very lovely did come out of it.

A couple of somethings.

One of them I can't tell you, because it's a gift for a friend and I don't like to spoil surprises.

But the other one I can, and will, share!

I took all three children into... antique store.


Just let that sink in for a moment.

* * * * *

If your heart has resumed beating, I'll tell you it was actually okay. I wouldn't do it on purpose again, but it was okay. The older two did actually manage to internalize the "look with your EYES" message, with reminders every 20 seconds or so, and the small one could be physically restrained.

And the shop was great. Lots of nice things, not too huge but big enough to be interesting, and really good prices. Hardly more expensive than a thrift store.

Because I am always breaking my glassware, and I am a sucker for anything green, I had to come home with these:

I think, when David said "you should replace our everyday glasses" (of which we only have 2 left), he probably didn't mean "with antique green hobnail goblets".

But I'm sure he'll learn to love them.

The set of 12 was only $16, and they are nice and heavy. So if you're ever up for a treasure hunt, let me know and I would love to go again!

(After I get a babysitter.)

Today's joy: David is home, my sister is in town, and kids eat free at Waldo's BBQ. What's not to like?


Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 8:36 PM


Honestly, what am I supposed to do with such a beautiful child?

Her hair is long enough for legit pigtails now, and it looks darling.

But it also kind of freaks me out, because it makes her look so grown up.

At least Devlin is still little boy enough to sit down on the floor and push tractors around.

Today's Joy: Besides the pigtails? I unexpectedly ran into my mother-in-law this afternoon (this is a joy for me, yes - sorry about your mother-in-law if you're scratching your head right now!) at an absolutely Godforsaken outlet mall that is not very close to either one of our houses, and which neither one of us frequents with any regularity. What are the odds? It was so fun!

Roasted Pumpkin Patch

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Monday, October 17, 2011 at 9:01 PM


David works for a great company. Every year, they host a family-friendly activity for everyone to bring their little peeps and come and really enjoy. They have done it at the Phoenix Zoo in the past, but this year they took us to Schnepf Farms for the Pumpkin Patch festival!

They do it up right too - we got VIP wristbands and there was no haggling about the price of a roller coaster vs. a caramel apple. Huge weight off my mind - times 5.

I traditionally kind of hate pumpkin patches, actually. That is because, in Arizona, we have beautiful weather in October about half the time. You would think, then, that statistically at least some of the time I would get a nice day when I go to pick a pumpkin.

You would be wrong. So very wrong.

It never fails to be in the upper 90's, no matter how late I push the adventure into the month. Tragically, this day was no exception and the mercury just kept going up, and up, and up. And this little English rose does not do well in the heat.

It took me until the next day to fully recover, actually. But it was worth it. The kids had a fabulous time, and despite the brutal sun it was the best time I have ever had at a pumpkin patch here in The Land That Fall Forgot.

The first thing everyone chose to do was ride the train. Iris was all bravada:

Until we took off and the conductor blew the horn. Apparently, some children like that kind of thing. Iris did not scream in terror, but she did opt out of that experience to the best of her ability:

(Side note: does anyone else feel like their arms look always freakishly HUGE in photos? They catch me off guard every stinking time. ARM! Aaaaaahhhhh!)

Devlin rode with his Daddy, and I don't think I have ever seen a more contented little face:

We did some other awesomely fun things, including watching dogs catch Frisbees, riding a giant slide, attending a BMX demonstration, and, you know, choosing pumpkins. In my heat-induced haze, I didn't take many photos - but I kept my metaphorical cool, which is a much greater victory for me.

Face painting was the only activity we paid for, and it was well worth it as always:

P.S. Want to see something hilarious? Try to get three children to remember what side their face is painted on, then all show that cheek to the camera, then smile. So not happening.

Saturday's joy: All three children chose their own pumpkins, and no one argued about whose was biggest, orangest, or superlative in any other aspect. I cannot overstate how surprising and wonderful this was!

Sunday's joy: When I sent an email from my dearly beloved new mobile phone this weekend, I saw that David had set my signature to read "Sent from the iPhone my wonderful husband bought me". I am leaving it because it made me laugh so hard!

Today's joy: Guess how many toilet boxes I have in my house right now? Zero! ZERO TOILET BOXES! Wahoooooooo!

Pulled This Way and That

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Friday, October 14, 2011 at 11:01 PM


I think I might be crazy.

But I didn't used to be crazy. I used to be very nice, and fun, and funny, and I didn't wonder aloud if I was losing my mind on a daily basis.

I didn't grind my teeth.

I didn't eat whole packages of Oreos in one sitting for stress relief.

I didn't view "going to the dentist" or "working nights" as priceless opportunities for alone time.

Then I had children. And they are alternately, and simultaneously, the most gut-achingly wonderful and completely infuriating children in the Universe.

They don't actually hear me talk at all, and hear everything I say as "Carry on, dear children, do whatever you please with no regard for situation appropriateness or my mental state".

Until I finally get to "SHUT UP or I am most likely going to hurt someone." Then they do, in fact, shut up for a while.

For which I am extremely grateful.

I just wish we didn't have to get there.

But seriously, aren't they just beautiful?

Today's joy: The chicken tikka masala I started marinating tonight smells awesome. And I remembered to start marinating it tonight. And I think I imbued it with a certain extra Polish-Parisian flair because I was listening to Chopin while I made it.

Tiny Dancer

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 11:01 PM


Today's joy: We always go to check in on the kids after they are asleep, before we go to bed. Mostly, they are stone cold passed out and we can't even get a smile out of them. Tonight, Iris seemed a little coherent, so we asked her if she was dreaming about something nice.

She smiled and nodded.

I asked her if she was dreaming about being a ballerina.

She nodded vigorously.

I asked her if she would bow for me, like she does when she imitates the dancers on her "Nutcracker Show" that she loves so much.

She pressed her hands together in front of her chest, sat up in bed, and bowed deeply and graciously.

Then she laid back down and went right back to sleep.

Beautiful Randomness

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 9:08 PM


This was a beautiful day.

This whole week off school has actually been just lovely, really. (Perhaps I have just jinxed tomorrow and Friday.)

Today, we:

went to the dentist - for the third consecutive day - so that Devlin could get "ninjas" (sealants) put on his back teeth to fight off cavities

danced in a surprisingly-terrifying-yet-super-awesome babywearing flash mob (I run into the frame on the right side at about 0:25 - the one wearing a "baby" who is bigger than me)

had pretzels for lunch

took a nice long nap

peeled hundred of crayon fragments for this project

learned all about Norway (Devlin's current favorite author is of Norwegian parentage)

Iris watched the entire Royal Ballet production of The Nutcracker and danced along in costume (she does this every day)

And, perhaps my favorite of all: Eve colored picture after picture so she could have a "gallery" like Rapunzel in Tangled. (Only she kept saying "galaxy").

They all appear to be signed and numbered, but I don't think she's interested in selling yet.

Today's joy: David is going to train with me for the races I mentioned yesterday. How fun is that?

Run Away!

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 7:20 PM


I am now *officially* in training for a 10K run in December.

I will run a 5K the last weekend of this month.

This is as surprising to me as anyone else, I am sure!

I can do it I can do it I can do it.

Today's joy: all children declared cavity-free.

Round peg in a skinny hole

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Monday, October 10, 2011 at 8:51 PM


A couple of weeks ago, it came to my attention that no jeans in Iris's size had survived the hand-me-down process. I thought she should probably have a pair, so today when I found myself driving by Once Upon A Child, I thought we'd pop in and pick some out.

She's a girl, after all: there were sure to be racks and racks to choose from!

And there were. Skinny jeans, bootcut jeans, jeans with pink polka dots, sparkly purple corduroys...

...but not a one of them would go over her luscious, athletic thighs.

Well, one pair went over, but her eyes got big and she looked down and said "Mom, those pants hurt me". Then I couldn't button them. And then I very nearly couldn't get them off. That was awesome.

I was mystified. Eve was always more willowy, so we never ran into this. Devlin may be a sack of bones now, but when he was younger, he was quite fleshy - and yet I NEVER had any trouble getting jeans on him. Boy's clothes are cut so roomy that it would take a very strapping specimen indeed to exceed the proportions allowed by the pattern.

But girl's clothes are a different story.

Right from toddlerhood, it seems, they are cut slim and trim and restrictive. Does my barely-three-year-old really need to be learning this particular life lesson right now? Is it already time for her to see that she, literally, doesn't fit in?

We joke that Iris could pull a plow.

She has some serious back end.

But I think that the makers of size 4T pants could cut her a little slack. (Slack, get it?)

After huffing and puffing her way out of yet another rejected pair, she surveyed the rack and her pudgy little hand lit upon a nice, soft dark blue item hidden amongst the denim.

I could hardly believe my eyes, but they were definitely tiny Pajama Jeans. Thick, soft knit pants - felt like sweats, looked like jeans! You know, almost like jeans.

We grabbed those suckers and before you could say Jack Robinson, Iris was preening down the aisle, with her pride and her belly fat intact.

"Hey! Mom! These pants fit me!"

They did. So we bought two pairs.

People, it's not about making yourself fit into whatever is out there. You've got to find what fits you - even if it is Pajama Jeans - and rock it just as hard as you can.

Today's joy: David will be home in about 2 hours!!!

International Babywearing Week

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Sunday, October 9, 2011 at 8:36 PM


You guys know that I love carrying my babies.

A good carrier, and the knowledge to use it safely, is a tool that I think no parent should be without. Not everyone finds it as integral to their parenting as I do, and that's cool.

But for me?

Devlin, 2004

It has been my favorite thing about babies.

Eve, 2006

And now that we're mostly moved on from this stage, I look back on it so fondly, and treasure every chance I get to hold my "babies" close.

("I not a BABY, Mom!" "I know you're not, Iris. Believe me, I know.")

Iris, 2008

So, in the interest of spreading the love once again, I invite anyone local to me to participate in any or all of the festivities for International Babywearing Week, which begins tomorrow. I'll definitely be making an appearance at some of them. I'm hoping, in particular, to have some nice photos taken on Friday with my last little sling baby.

Today's joy: After I put the girls to bed, I told Devlin I would play one game of Uno with him and then I needed to get him to bed so I could fold laundry. He begged to be allowed to stay up and help, and then offered me one of his marvelous hugs: free of charge, available from midnight to midnight, every day, forever.

The Giveaway Revealed!

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 7:54 PM


Cristina, don't take this the wrong way - but when I saw who won my giveaway, I just knew it had to be food.

(Some people eat because they'll die if they don't. And some people love food. I am one of those people, and so is Cristina.)

She's a kind, loving, busy mom of three little ones just like me, and I know how it is to be running here and there, taking care of everyone else. So I made a little prize full of simple, divine things just for her to enjoy, after everyone else is in bed, or first thing in the morning with the cool crisp autumn air coming in through the open window.

It took me a little longer than I anticipated to get everything together, because I wanted it to be Just So. And it was.

2 oz. of Sel Gris from Go lb. Salt - seriously, this stuff makes literally anything taste like an angelic morsel

One pound of Spring Clover honey from Made By Bees - I could eat this stuff by the spoon! Oh, wait. I already do that.

One package of insanely delicious salted caramels from Nuts 4 Brittle - and you bet your last shiny nickel I got a package of these for myself too!

And a loaf of my homemade bread - because a little bird told me that if you put butter, honey and a little sprinkle of salt on good quality toast, it's like 1+1+1=thisonegoesto11. Which I will absolutely be personally researching tomorrow morning. Or possibly in about 2 hours.

All purchased at the Gilbert Farmer's Market this very morning, although all these vendors can also be found at the SuperFarm Market.

So congratulations Cristina, and thanks for letting us come play with your chickens this afternoon!

(Ah, the perks of living local to your blogger-who-is-small-enough-to-pay-house-calls.)

Today's joy: Eve caught in rare in-the-wild footage, singing a tasty little bit from Sweeney Todd. It's only one line, and maybe only I can even tell what it is, but I think any recorded history of one's 5-year-old singing in her tiny Minnie Mouse voice about a deranged barber who decapitates people and then bakes them into meat pies is worth watching, don't you?

(P.S. Translation: "I would hear the city bells ring, whatever I would do - no, there's no place like London! I feel home again!")

How to Shop

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Friday, October 7, 2011 at 8:48 PM


I've been doing a lot of shopping this week.

(Probably because as of tonight, my husband, parents, and in-laws are all out of town. And my kids have school off next week. Some people eat, I shop. It's not good, but it could be worse, I guess. If I ate, I would still have to buy the food, and then eat it.)


So I found this great blouse (pictured!) at Goodwill, and took this photo to send to my sister, who is also genetically predisposed to shop. As I was telling her about my find, I thought of all the reasons it was a great one, and I thought I might just write out all the things I think about when I'm bringing something new into my closet.

I have expensive taste. I like nice things. And sometimes, if I have birthday money, or a treat coming, I splurge: buy things at full-service shops or at full price. But more often, I have to get creative to satisfy my wardrobe deficiencies. A large portion of my closet is from thrift stores or Last Chance.

But the truth is, I shop exactly the same way at Barney's and Goodwill. I'm really, really, really picky. So I think it makes a lot more sense to buy items that can last you a long time, because otherwise they're not worth the time and effort you put into choosing them in the first place.

Now, I'm not touching on how to dress for your figure, or how to find your own personal style, or how to mix patterns, or anything like that. This is just knowing what you like, and what looks good on you, and just how to shop with a critical eye - no matter what your budget!

So, how do I do it?

1. Do I like this? Duh. First step, always.

2. Do I need it? This is subjective, of course. Did I need another pair of boots today? No. But did the pair I bought fill a hole in my wardrobe? Absolutely. Keep a rough mental (or physical!) list of items that would help fill out your closet and give you more options. Then you'll be on the lookout for them, and be less likely to buy the same things over and over.

3. Is the fabric good quality? As soon as you pick something up, you can tell if it feels nice or not. The fabric should feel beautiful, drape well, not be pilly or faded, and not crackle or itch. If I like the way it feels to my hand, I check the label. Silk, wool, cotton - good. Polyester, acrylic, nylon - bad.

4. Does it fit into my wardrobe? I don't want a whole closet full of one color, but if I can't think of at least 2 outfits that could be made with a given item, I don't even try it on.

5. Does it fit me? This doesn't mean "it doesn't fall off". It means it makes you look awesome. Don't be lazy! There are clothes out there that will show you to your best advantage, and if you try enough on, you will figure out what they are. Then don't settle for anything less!

6. Can it be made to fit? If you have a particular figure quirk, like short legs, or a large chest, or a big round backside, you will get used to having things tailored. Always buy to fit your largest feature. For example: when I buy pants, I count on having the waist taken in to allow room for my curvy hips and, um, athletic thighs and rear end. When I buy a dress, I assume I will need the shoulders taken up because my upper half is significantly more dainty than my lower. If I find an item, or better yet a whole brand, that I can wear "as is" in these areas, then I keep a special eye out for it. Buying quality items in the first place makes having them tailored worth the investment, and I promise you will like the results!

7. What is the care of the item going to be? I don't mind having to have an item dry-cleaned, but because of the nature of my life, these need to be the exception and not the rule. Even if an item can be cleaned at home, does it have a lot of fiddly pleats and ruffles that will make it impossible for me to press? If an item needs dry-cleaning, a darker color or especially a print will help me squeak out a couple of extra wearings in between.

8. Think value, not just price. Of course, everyone has a budget. But there is more to consider than simply the number on the tag. Think of it in terms of "cost per wear". Buy the best quality you can, and buy wisely for your own life. I tried on a gorgeous black blazer this morning - perfect fit, high quality, amazing price. But how often would I wear a suit jacket? Even though it was a great bargain, it wasn't a good buy for me personally at that moment, so I left it behind. On the other hand, I will pay a lot of money for a great printed jersey dress, or a pair of jeans, that will hide dirty fingerprints, take me to lunches out and the playground with equal aplomb, and last me for years.

Today's joy: Talking to my sister. A lot. She's just great.

Good, Better, Best

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 9:20 PM


My homemade bread is delicious.

It is even better as buttered toast.

But sliced and fried in butter is far and away the best of all.

Today's joy: the amazing, beautiful, glorious weather. That's all I've got. That, and bread fried in butter.

Try again tomorrow.

It's Fall, Ya'll!

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 1:21 PM


Oh, what a beautiful day! It's the first day of the season when you think to yourself "we're gonna pull through after all."

Do I need boots? No.

But can I get away with them?

Today I can. So I did.

Today's joy: The children's librarian believed me when I said that the book binding just broke of its own accord. (Sometimes it's our fault. But not this time.) We can keep our "frequant flier" status. Whew!


Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 7:05 PM


My kids make a lot of noise.

Sure, they yell, and squeal, and shriek - just like every kid. And that kind of noise is fine. I just tell them to take it outside. Mother Nature can handle a little shrieking.

The noise that I have bigger problems with is when all three of them are taking it in turns (or worse, all over top of each other!) to tell me - in their most fervent stage voices - about every sand in their proverbial hourglass of time, and every precious thought that goes through their heads.

These kids need an editor. And it needs to not be me.

Eve will be singing at a nice mezzo-forte in a range somewhere on the upper third of the piano keyboard, Devlin is explaining in excrutiating detail about "capturing in passing", which is apparently a chess move, but I still don't understand it because Iris is also shouting (you know, to be heard over everyone else - because that is clearly superior to waiting your dang turn) about how she is going to be Dobby for Halloween.

Which, of course, I already know, because I made her costume. In July. That, and she told me 572 times today already.

They all have a viewpoint on everything. And that viewpoint is enthusiastic, and LOUD, and lengthy, and it absolutely cannot wait one blessed moment to be aired before the court of public opinion.

One time, a couple of weeks ago, I had to run some paperwork by Devlin's ELP classroom after school with all three children in tow. This would not be something I would look forward to in any case, and the unpleasantness was magnified because it was the ELP teacher. Devlin wanted to show off his rarified surroundings to his younger, less-worldly sisters, and the girls were desperate to demonstrate their powers of deductive reasoning, their ample vocabularies, and their general knowledge of all things great and small.

After listening intently to about 5 minutes of unceasing, three-deep, full-throttle chatter, Mrs. Knappenberger looked over their heads at me with a knowing smile and said:

"Does it make you tired to have three such smart kids?"

I had never thought about it like that.

(Probably because my ears and my brain are full of lively treble discussion regarding the air speed velocity of an unladen European swallow.)

But ever since, when I start reaching my limit, I remember Mrs. Knappenberger's insightful take on their eager, overflowing minds...

...and it buys me about 10 more seconds before I start the next round of The Quiet Game.

Today's joy: Tonight at dinner, while I was trying to ignore the benign-but-infuriating noise level, Iris managed to make herself heard over her siblings so that she could ask me if Sirius Black had ears. That pushed things right over the hump from annoying to hilarious, which is a leap that is often hard for me to make. I laughed and laughed and laughed, and the home stretch to bedtime became much more enjoyable.

Simple Gifts

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Monday, October 3, 2011 at 9:33 PM


Honestly. Could he be any more wonderful? I have entitled this picture "Devlin's Many Bookmarks". I think there are probably a couple more hiding in there that are not visible from this angle.

At least none of the bookmarks are Legos or toy soldiers. (This time.)

P.S. See my new button, over on the right there? 31 days of joy in the journey? All month, I am going to be posting a little joy every day. I'm real keen on little joys anyway, seeing as it gets awfully boring waiting for the "big" ones!

I saw the idea first here, and she in turn found it here, from whence it originated. If you want to join in, grab the button or just start posting! Finding something beautiful in every day doesn't make all the other stuff go away, and it's not self-delusion or gloating. Just a conscious effort to find, and share, a little piece of happiness.

The world can use a lot, lot more finding and sharing of the happiness, if you ask me.

My joy for today? There were *exactly* three huge sheets of bubble wrap in my Pampered Chef order. I have *exactly* three children. Fate is, indeed, kind!