Sunday, July 27, 2014


I spent the weekend purging small things sprinkled about the house.  As a result, no one can tell I've purged anything, except the outside garbage can, which is now full.

Bid season is approaching, with the list potentially released as early as this Friday.  So my stress level is slowly (rapidly?) mounting inside.  We'd like to head overseas, ideally after a year of language training.  This would enable us to enjoy another year in the U.S. while also knowing we have an overseas assignment on the horizon.  And language training extends the time period for not bidding for another year.  Yay.  But, realistically, we'll take anywhere with two jobs available and good schools.  Which also could mean staying in DC another two years.  Or, whatever.  Could mean anything.  We'll find out what it means in November.

I digress.  Thinking about bidding means thinking about moving.  Thinking about moving means thinking about packing up our house.  Thinking about packing up means thinking about unpacking again - and my goal is always to unpack within two weeks.  Which means we have to be lean and light on the packing, so it's easier on the other end.  I feel like I'm talking about bidding and moving as if I were in a "Give a Mouse a Cookie" book.

Thus, the tension in anticipation of the bid list has found an outlet in purging.  I tackled some toys and baby things this weekend.  I consolidated two books of cut out recipes into one, in the process getting rid of many recipes cut out pre-2007 ... i.e., ones I know I'll never try until Ian is about 15 and I have time to think about cooking and people who will sit down for longer than 20 minutes to eat.

We've lugged around a bread machine around the world which never seemed to work properly.  A friend of Beth's who is moving unloaded some bread flour.  I bought some fresh yeast to give it a try.  Must to Greg's chagrin, the bread machine appears to work, when plugged into reliable electricity with fresh bread flour and yeast.  As much as I know he wanted to purge that, I think I'll keep it.  At least he can enjoy some fresh bread, right?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

On Curtains and Constantly Moving

This weekend I finally finished sewing dark-out liners in our bedroom curtains.  We've been in the house for over a year, and I have been slightly frustrated I haven't managed to get around to this task, rated as "medium" difficulty on my chore list.  Even though the actual act of sewing is not too difficult (after I finally sat down, only took just over two hours for three panels), I had to jump through a number of mental hurdles before sewing.

1 - I had to decide if I wanted to use our super nice think lining material I had stitched into 84" panels in India.  In HYD, we had two curtain rods per window, so it was easy to hang.  In Manila, I recut (but never hemmed the edges) and safety pinned the lining to the existing curtains hung on one track. So, should I just keep the material to rig up in our next city (whenever or wherever that may be?), buying new liner here?  Or should I use it?

2 - I don't really like our curtain color with our wall color.  Should I even keep these curtains (which I actually do like) or just get new ones that coordinate better with the wall color?  Will I have time to paint the room before we move (Greg doubts it)?  Should I "upgrade" the curtains even if I decide to get new ones?  If I "upgrade" them, will I get new ones?  Will it force me to prioritize painting our room to a more neutral off-white rather than the brown?

After I finally decided to just use the lining I had (finally hemming the edges I quickly cut in Manila), with existing curtains, I then had more decisions.

3a - Do I properly measure and cut and tack the lining, so it fits and hangs well?  I have four panels of lining, but only three curtains.  The lining panels are about six inches too narrow.  But I have only three curtains.  So, I could easily cut some strips from the fourth panel, sew into each of the other panels, and then properly fit the lining to the curtains.  The curtains are only 72", but the lining is 84", so I'd also have to cut and hem length


3b - Do I just fit one lining per curtain as best I can, and then not worry about the fact that there's about 2-3" on either side of the curtain that is unlined?  And, if I'm cutting that corner, do I just leave 6" at the top of the lining, or do I still properly measure and sew the seam?

In the end, I decided to just bootleg it, sewing a straight line across the top of the curtain, with six inches inside at the top.  And I used safety pins at the bottom rather than tacking it down the side.  My reasoning?

I really like the liners - we haven't found as thick or dar a lining (for as reasonable a price) since HYD.  So, I didn't want to cut up the fourth panel.  And I did want to keep the full 84" length in case we need that much in the next city (whenever or wherever that may be).  And, not being sold on the curtains (since I might not get around to painting, let's be honest), I didn't want to invest in new lining.  This way, all I need to do when we move is take out one straight seam, and I will once again have liners to tack or safety pin to whatever window treatments I might have in the future (whenever or wherever that may be).  And with safety pins, I could finish the project quickly, before I got too tired or any boys distracted me.

Decisions made, five straight seams sewn, curtains hung, dark room this morning.  Great.

Except, I know my grandmother is probably rolling in her grave, since cutting corners was not how she taught me to sew.  Were she alive, I'd appeal to her Depression-Child side, pointing out how I'm saving and reusing material, again and again.  Surely that must count for something in her book, right?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pink Legos

Wm just finished up two weeks of at STEM camp at his school.  He had a great time learning about basic electricity, Lego robotics, computer programming through Scratch, "non-Newtonian" substances, etc.  Really his only suggestion was that they needed more time to play sports (can't get that kid to sit still for too long!).  My complaint was that the first week, his camp at 16 boys and 2 girls.  The second week was 17 boys and 1 girl.  As an almost-math-major and from a family with women who "do math," I found this really disappointing.

The same week, I received Pottery Barn Kids back-to-school catalog.  Wm needed a new backpack, and his $15 Target Planes backpack from last year (which he loved despite never having seen the movie?) was totally dead, so I thought I'd splurge on a more expensive one to see if it would last longer.  I opened the catalog to find 21 different backpacks with pink and purple and only 9 for boys, all blue.

Between these two things, I've been fired up all week about gender differentiation.  Some friends posted on my FB rant that the camp should offer a girls-only camp -- which, by the way, it does.  BUT, as a mother of three boys, this doesn't satisfy me.  All it does is show my boys that girls can only "do science" if they're in a special program.  Same at Target where, apparently, girls can only "do Legos" if they are pink and purple and involve ponies.

And what would happen if a girl wanted a red backpack?  Or of my son wanted an orange one?  Not a single gender neutral option available!  (in fairness, I did just check the PBKids website and, under the "Boys Fairfax" collection, they do offer navy/red/green solids and stripes ... but apparently a solid red backpack is only ok for boys?  Girls colors are powder pink, lavender and baby blue)

I brought these concerns up with a neighbor (who has one boy and one girl) to see if I was over reacting.  She shares a dislike of pink Legos.  She also said that after Google's diversity report, she's relaxed restrictions on her daughter's "productive" screen time and asked her husband (who is a programmer) to spend extra time on the computer with their daughter, to make sure their daughter has a basic working knowledge.

Kudos out there to parents of girls who are trying to bring up women with confidence that they can "do science" without having a "special" set aside from them.  And I'm on the hunt for more gender balanced science camps, so my sons can passively understand that gender doesn't play into STEM ability.