August 2008 Archives

There are a couple of projects that have been lingering.  One of them isn't really lingering so much as malingering.  It's finished, but I don't really like it, and, honestly, don't know quite what to do with it.

20080731_PhildarBabySweater.jpgOn the surface, this Phil'Onde baby pullover looks just fine.  It's complete, the collar is attached, it is ombred.  It's even big enough for the intended baby.  But it's really a failure.  Why?

  • It's shaped just like it looks -- like a big sack.  Even babies don't look all that good in big sacks.  
  • The armhole positions are more appropriate for a dog sweater than they are for a sweater for a human.  The sweater is flattened so that you see the front half.  There is an equal amount of back -- which means about 3/4 of the circumference of the sweater ends up between the baby's shoulders.   Way too much fabric in the wrong place.  So the sweater doesn't hang right.
  • This project was knit on smaller needles than the sweater I knit for myself out of the same yarn.  This created a very dense fabric.  Since the yarn is mostly acrylic, which is good for a baby garment, the dense fabric turns it into a very warm garment for a garment that is short sleeved and meant for warm weather. 
  • It's knit to gauge (yes, I checked several times) and it's knit for an 18 month old, and it's something like 34" around at the widest point.  Given that my bustline is around 34" this is clearly too much fabric for a child's garment.
  • I hate the way the kangaroo pocket sucked up all the dark pink part of the ombre ball.  It looks stark connected to the white fabric at the top.  I would have preferred the shading to be more gradual.
This garment is one of the rare total failures that I have found from Phildar.  I was completely sucked in by the cute baby wearing the garment in the picture that comes with the pattern.  But now I understand why the child was positioned the way she was, squatting down.  It makes the sweater appear much better fit than it really is. 

There's no picture of Ms. Z in this sweater.  I put it on her once, hated it instantly and could only think about getting her out of it and forgot to take a picture.  She's not all that excited about multiple wardrobe changes in short succession, so I'm not going to put it back on her for a photo shoot. It wouldn't make either of us happy.  And an ugly sweater is really not worth causing her distress.

So, instead, I'll close with a picture from last weekend when we took her to the Lincoln Park Zoo for the first time.

20080731_ZAtTheZoo.jpgShe's still around 20 lbs and is 30 inches tall now and is getting to be quite the accomplished walker (that little dark spot above her left eye is from a tumble she took while walking at the zoo -- so clearly she hasn't gotten everything worked out yet).  She is still a big flirt, but has gotten more reserved around people she doesn't know.  She's a lot more conscious of where John and I are and she makes a whole array of funny faces  on purpose -- she has one where she wrinkles up her nose that always makes us laugh.  She's also got clear words.  She knows who "Dada" is and is getting pretty good with using "Mama" in relation to the right person (she uses it for other things, too, like her bottle).   She has a word for bird "Caa" (which we think comes from the "quack quack" sound that we made when we showed her ducks) and "Ny ny" (the Polish word for "blankie").  She is beginning to understand "No!" and stern tones of voice -- and she gets very upset when you use them with her -- not entirely different from her mother, I fear.  She is still very much a "go go go" baby and while loving, is not very snuggly.  She has absolutely no interest in food that she cannot manipulate herself -- and John and I are beginning to wonder what the negative effects of an all pretzel diet could be for a toddler.

She really just continues to get more and more fun to be with all the time.  We just love her to pieces and can't imagine missing out on her happy smiles and new learning adventures.

The Couch Project


By the time you read this, I will be in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana on business.  If that, perhaps, seems like strange place to go for business travel, I can only say that I am lucky that my business takes me to a variety of nice places, western Montana included.  Nonetheless, business travel always makes knit blogging a little more difficult since I don't usually get a lot of time in front of my computer, so I'm putting this post up from the comfort of my home office.

This week I determined that I have introduced a very particular kind of project to my collection: the couch project.  In point of fact, I've had a whole history of projects that belong to this lineage, but it took me some time to identify the trend. The couch project is the project that I require myself to have if I am going to sit down and watch TV. 

Yes, I know, many knitters have "TV knitting" so that in and of itself is nothing new or special.  Knitters are multi-taskers and I think we hate the idea that we could be getting something accomplished on a project when we are doing something that doesn't really require the participation of our hands.   The twist that I realized is a part of my TV knitting and what gets it labelled "the couch project" is that the projects that I work on in front of the TV tend to be the kind of projects that had ended up in knitting purgatory.  Perfectly fine projects, but projects that I got bored with or distracted from or just found the knitting less desireable than the idea of wearing the finished garment.  They come out from where-ever they have been sadly lingering to sit on the couch.  When I sit on the couch, they get worked on.  When I get off the couch, they get put back in their containers.  The end result is that while they don't get a lot of attention, they do get some regular attention so some progress gets made and since my brain is otherwise occupied by mindless TV (I love Project Runway and Deadliest Catch, but, I must be honest, they are hardly TV that challenges me to think too much) I don't really mind whatever flaw committed them to limbo in the first place.

Habu Textiles Kushu Kushu Scarf, in progress

With the completion of my Morning Surf Scarf (thank you very much, by the way, for all your kind comments -- I hope to get to wear the scarf soon, but it's still a bit too warm at the moment for additional neck wear in Chicago) I started to think about all the various scarf projects or proto-scarf projects that I have going or planned.  It seems like of all the projects I get going on, scaves are the easiest projects for me to abandon, probably because after the first 10 inches or so, whatever pattern stitch that intrigued me has started to get boring.  In the case of the Habu Kushu Kushu scarf, it's "fatal flaw" was 200 rows of stockinette with two finer than laceweight strands (one merino, one silk stainless steel) that together can barely be considered laceweight worked on size 8 needles with tips blunter than I would like.  I got about 50 rows in right before I had Ms. Z and then just couldn't cope with it with a new baby in the house. 

But now, with fall coming, and the desire to have a few new accessories to lace my wardrobe with, this funky scarf has more appeal, even though the long expanse of stockinette still has to be dealt with.  So it's now on the couch, and progress has been made!  And while I can't say I  love  knitting with the stuff, I can say that I am looking forward to felting (yes, felting!) the thing and having this sculptural scarf whose yarn can actually be positioned in a particular way and will stay there without pins or blocking.


The average Chicago city lot is 25 feet by 150 feet, most houses are long and narrow and few that have been constructed recently lack a finished basement.  Space is at a premium so the basement as storage area (as it mostly was in the house I grew up in) doesn't really exist.  Our basement is part entertainment area (the "Den of Great Manliness"), part utility (home to our laundry area and a half bathroom) and part guest space.  Fortunately, it is also all contiguous, and as long as the door to the guest room is open, you can traverse the entire length of the house without much getting in your way.

When Ms. Z was tiny, she didn't much like the idea of staying put.  We used to think that she had some kind of altimeter combined with a motion sensor and if either of them dropped below some kind of pre-set threshold then it would cause some jolt to her nervous system that resulted in a very unhappy baby.  But John also discovered early on that we could use this to our advantage when trying to get her to sleep.  If you had the patience to walk with her long enough and you had her ny-ny (Polish for blankie) then she would eventually fall asleep.  The basement was the ideal location for this walking process.  The light levels were low, the temperatures cool, and the distractions few.  Even a very alert baby could be lulled into a calmer mindset when the time was right.

At first, impatient person that I am, it was all I could do to slowly pace the basement until she fell asleep. It made me crazy. I had to watch the clock to keep myself focused on the job.  Time seemed to slow down and just a few minutes would feel like ten, carrying a restless baby.  Eventually I worked out a deal with myself.  I learned to pace myself slowly enough so that one loop of the basement took me about a minute.  And I decided that I would walk for at least 10 minutes before changing my program.  If, after 10 minutes, she was still awake, then I could take her upstairs and wait a while until I tried again.  Amazingly enough, by 10 minutes, she was almost always asleep.  And I started to look forward to our little walks.

I think the slow pace helped the baby calm down since it created a gentle and predictable rhythm.  It also helped me slow down and enjoy the time with her.  I started to focus on the small things.  The way she positioned her body, how she relaxed as we made our way through our walk, her gentle breathing, the angelic baby face when she drifted off.  I felt as if I was creating a safe place for her, one where she could sleep in peace.  For me, it became a time to think and enjoy her.  Z is an active baby and not the sort of baby that wants to be held close and snuggled for very long.  This was a time when she wanted to be near. As she got bigger, it brought with it the realization that I would not be able to do this forever.  A time would come when she would be too big to carry.   And that made every one of these sleepy walks even more precious.

Even though she's past her first birthday now, we still take the walks.  In fact, she'll often tell me she's ready for a nap by bringing her ny-ny over to me and putting her head and the ny-ny into my lap.   But the walks are growing shorter.  Rarely does she need much more than 5 minutes to drift off.  As soon as we get our ritual started, she settles in.  It's still as sweet as it ever was, but a little bittersweet because it's clear that she needs our help less and less to do this.

I think one of the most amazing things about Z is how much the little things about her come to fill my heart with joy.  I think back to this time last year when I was struggling with all the newness of having a newborn, not sleeping enough, feeling constrained, and I realize that while I remember those things, most of the negative feelings have gone away, replaced by the many sweet moments that have been a part of growing into becoming her mother.  Listening to her figuring out words, watching her get more and more mobile, and sharing her sleepytime rituals.  When all else is going badly, I can take her on one of our basement walks, watch her slip into sleep, and know I've made her world a better place.  What could be better than that?

And Speaking of Lingering Projects...


20080810_StainedGlassScarf.jpgYep, here it is again, the Stained Glass Scarf that I started for John over two years ago.
This is far from the longest distance between start and end points for a project, but, at this proint, I can't even call this project half way finished!  However, since I have made notable progress since the last time I posted about it and it's finally beginning to look like something that could actually shield one's neck from the cold in winter, I thought I would provide the photographic evidence of that fact.

This project falls into the category of project where the results are beautiful, the yarn is fabulous to knit with but the knitting process gets intensely boring about one inch past the color switch and you hat the idea of giving it up when you've finally found a scarf that your husband actually indicates that he both likes and would be willing to wear.   I think when it's finished, it's going to be a wonderful scarf, but when I started it, I had no idea that the double knitting would take me so long to get through.  I get the whole knitting each row twice thing, but it still feels like I should be farther for all the time and knitting I've put into the darn thing. 

Once my Kushu Kushu scarf is complete, this scarf will probably become the couch project.  Lord knows, if any project in my current rotation is stuck in purgatory, it's definitely this one.

These Socks Were Meant for Walking

In late May I made a deal with myself:  if I could get rid of the extra baby weight I was carrying by September, I could keep the cute clothing in my closet that I had loved so much before I got pregnant with Ms. Z.  Otherwise, I needed to deal with reality and accept that I needed to send it on its way in order to make room for clothes that fit me.  May was the month when Z decided that she was no longer really interested in nursing and, thus, I lost all the excuses I had for not embarking on a project to lose the 15 lbs that had been lingering since Z was born. 

In June I jumped back onto the Weight Watchers bandwagon (the online version, no meetings required) to help me get focused on eating healthier and being more aware of portion sizes.  One of the other elements that the WW plan encourages (if only so you can give yourself an extra treat or two during the day) is adding some exercise into your daily routine.  At first I ignored that part of the plan, but as June turned into July and I wasn't making quite the progress I wanted to (I am impatient in all things) I decided that I would start working something simple into my day.  I updated my podcasts, got them loaded on my iPhone and spent half an hour at lunch to walk laps around my building while listening to NPR Science Friday (which seemed appropriate, given where I work). 

Most knitters would not have taken as long as I did to realize that I could extend this exercise and education event into something that also gave me more knitting time.  But finally it did occur to me that I could combine my walks with a simple knitting project.  Now, not only would I look forward to my walks as a break from the frigid temperatures in my building and a chance to catch up on some interesting science that wasn't a part of my regular reading, but I could also look forward to making progress towards adding more socks into my fall wardrobe.

The socks I chose have, like the Kusha Kusha scarf and the Stained Glass scarf, been lingering in my project basket.  No good reason, really.  I like the yarn (a nice blend of cotton and elastic hand-dyed by Greenwood Fiberworks), the socks are simple.  I guess I just got a little bored and the colors (it's the Rocket Pop colorway) aren't really my ideal colors so when Z was born, I focused on things that really inspired me since my crafting time was sparse.  But for walking and knitting, simple is a must, so these socks became a perfect project.  And, lo and behold, after not too long, I had completed the first member of the pair.

And while I won't be all the way to my final target weight exactly by September, I'm happy with what I've done so far (there's nothing like being able to get into some of my pre-maternity jeans to keep me motivated and it's a thrill to watch some of my tinier tops actually fit again) so I'm pretty sure that I will, ultimately reach my goal.  And between my sock project and my podcasts and the clothing options, I definitely have lots of good things to help me keep motivated and moving in the right direction.

Thank you to everyone who left positive comments about John's Stained Glass Scarf.  In spite of being time consuming, I do think it's lovely, and getting some positive feedback has motivated me to put it in my knitting bag when we head off to SW Michigan tomorrow for a little vacation and to take in the Michigan Fiber Festival. MFF is one of those small festivals that really draws a number of very nice vendors, and, if the weather is nice, is a lovely place to spend the afternoon.  I'll be there on Saturday trying to convince Ms Z that sheep are cool and John that a girl can never have to much hand-dyed wool and looking for the perfect fall sweater idea. 

When You See the Giant Chicken....

20080818_MFFChicken.jpg know you've arrived at the Allegan County Fairgrounds and Michigan Fiber Festival.  I like to make the trip to MFF every year because it's a big enough festival to draw a nice collection of vendors and animals, but a small enough festival that you can cover it in a couple of hours if you have a small person in tow.  This year, the weather was absolutely wonderful and we had a great, if somewhat abbreviated time at the festival.

Since I didn't know how much time I would have, I made sure that I got my shopping in early.  I didn't really have any intention to get too crazy with my credit card, but I did have one booth in particular that I wanted to spend some time in: Briar Rose Fibers.-- I keep hearing such great things about their stuff, I knew it was time to add a little something something from their products to my stash.

This is my entire haul.  Starting at 10 o'clock and going clockwise...  1) 1200 yards of "Grandma's Blessing" from Briar Rose (a sportweight superwash merino) in blues and purples (darker in real life than in the picture).  Probably destined to be a vest. 2) 450 yards of "Grace" from Briar Rose (a fingering weight superwash merino, bamboo and nylon blend) in rosy reds and varying depths of lavender.  Destined to become the Rivolo scarf.  3) 2500 yards of "Angel Face" from Briar Rose (a laceweight 100% alpaca yarn) in wonderful cherry reds.  Some lace shawl will clearly be lucky to be made out of this yarn! 4) Opal Hundertwasser that I just couldn't resist when I found the Uncommon Threads coffee house in downtown Allegan.  Coffee and a small yarn shop.  What more could I want?  5) Blue Moon Socks that Rock,  Heavyweight in "Thraven" a wonderful black yarn with dark teal undertones.  This will be a pair of socks for John this winter.6) Blue Moon Socks that Rock Mediumweight, no color name because it's a "mill end" -- shades of brown and taupe with greys and and lavender (mill ends rock. $14 a skein!).  I think it's beautiful and will make lovely socks.  And, last bit not least, 7) Blue Moon Silkie in Walking on the Wild Tide.  Yep, more socks.  Definitely for me.    All the STR came from The Fold -- even though Toni isn't that far away from me in Marengo, IL, it's always a pleasure to see her at MFF!  This time was especially nice since I hadn't seen her since last MFF.

After that, it was all about taking Ms. Z to see the animals.  Last year, she was really too young to be interested in anything but an afternoon nap.  This year I made sure she got introduced to the entire fiber animal bestiary.  Starting with the angora rabbits and some alpacas.

20080818_MFFBlueFace.jpgAs soon as we entered the sheep area, we heard all the "Baa baa" sounds of the sheep.  And Ms Z, joined right in with her own "ba ba ba!"  Clearly she is beginning to figure out her fiber bearing animals. This lovely Blue Faced Leicester was the first sheep she got to see up close.

20080818_MFFShetlandAndZ.jpgNot too far away were these adorable Shetland sheep.  Ms. Z must have felt like she had something in common with these little sheep, because she reached out to them all on her own. 

20080818_MFFLincolnAndZ.jpgAfter the Shetlands, Ms. Z decided that sheep were okay in her book, and these lovely sheep owners let her reach right in and touch their lovely Lincoln sheep.  I'd never touched a Lincoln before myself, and their curly locks really made you want to sink your hands right in.

20080818_MFFBrownAngoraGoat.jpgOur last stop was to goat area.  Angora goats are just about the cutest thing on hooves.  These two little guys were curled up for an afternoon nap.

Ms. Z didn't really take as much of a shine to the goats as she did to the sheep.  I thought that if she liked the Shetlands she'd like the goats, too, but she didn't really reach out to them too much. I think John got some lovely pictures of them, though.  This sweet little buck looked so serious.

We rounded up the festival with french fries (Ms. Z's favorite treat) and fresh squeezed lemonade and some time running around in the grass. 

20080818_MFFJohnAndZ.jpgI think the best part of the festival was being able to share my hobby, even in a small way, with my baby girl.  Lately she's been all about grabbing my yarn and running around with it -- I think she likes both the color and the softness of it. I hope as she gets older it's something we'll continue to share, even if we share it in different ways. 

It's A Good Thing I Have Two Couches


Because that way I can have two couch projects!  My Kusha Kusha scarf continues, but I'm finding that threadlike silk/stainless steel yarn with an increasing smaller progression of needles to be completely incompatible with watching Olympic Track and Field events.  So, since I have two TV's (if you count our home theatre projector) and two couches, I've decided that I can have two projects that I focus on when I'm dedicating myself to visual pursuits.

And almost nothing could be more perfect for this than the Zebra Striper Dress.

Around and around and around many stitches on small needles with only the occasional decrease row to look forward to over the course of about 15 inches.  And with a baby who isn't getting any smaller, I really need to get going if I want to be able to make the dress and the sweater in the same size! 

It's a good thing that there is a lot of Olympics to watch!

Socks of the Future


Last night I got so busy with an old project that I forgot to actually blog.  It's been a little while since I got really lost in my knitting, so I let myself go with the stitches and actually let myself dream of having a new fall sweater. 

Looking over my other projects, I can say they are all progressing.  I have finished the body of the skirt for Ms. Z's Zebra Striper jumper.  My Kusha Kusha scarf is increasing in size slowly.  My walking is resulting in the better part of a toe for my walking socks.  And I have another, more detailed sock project that I'm very happy with -- the first sock is almost finished.  I'll blog about it when I the first sock is complete.

Thus, I am left to talk about something that I have been indulging in a little more this summer than I did last summer: buying sock yarn.

20080826_Smooshy.jpgOne day a couple of weeks ago, Ms. Z and I were out for a walk and I popped into Nina's (one of two stores that I can consider my LYS) to see if I could find any books with good baby garments.  While I was there, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she is now carrying Dream in Color yarns.  After picking up some Smooshy, I was completely able to understand why so many people are raving about this sock yarn.  I let Ms. Z help me pick out a couple of colors to take home for inspiration.  The blue is Some Summer Sky and the red is Ruby River.  I think it's very likely that one of these skeins will become a pair of Francie socks once I finish up the patterned socks I'm working on. I've been in a bit of a sock knitting rut lately, and I think those socks look like something that would get me to think a little bit along with being fun to knit.  And since Z helped me pick them out, if there are any left overs, she's going to get some socks, too.  Baby Dragon socks, anyone?

20080826_SundaraSockLilac.jpgI have to show off this next skein because I don't think I've ever worked harder or clicked faster to purchase sock yarn.  I swear, getting this stuff is harder than getting tickets to a Hannah Montana concert.  It's Sundara Yarns Sock yarn in the Lilac colorway.  After getting hands on with some while visiting Claudia I got bitten by the need for some of this yarn.  The lilac wouldn't have been my first choice if I could have picked anything, but as it turns out, it's still a pretty nice colorway.

20080826_SundaraSockLilacCl.jpgThis skein was enough to convince me that I would like to have a little more in my stash.  However, I just don't have the time any more to arm wrestle several hundred other virtual knitters for the chance to whip out my PayPal account for a share of the goods when this stuff gets posted. So, I decided to take the plunge and splurge on being a part of the last half of her Seasons yarn club.  I'm looking forward to a couple more skeins of sock yarn as well as a couple of different weights of the silky merino.

While I know I am not knitting very quickly right now, I am really feeling inspired by my knitting lately and I am enjoying surrounding myself with new colors and textures that make me want to pick up my needles in any free moment that I have.  

Return of the Rogue


So what is this this great source of inspiration that I found amongst my unfinished projects?

20080828_RogueBody.jpgIt is none other than Rogue, whose sleeves I completed before I got pregnant with Zosia and who was then left to linger when it was clear that a fitted cardigan would be unlikely to be a part of my life for some time to come.

This turns out to be one of those times when having blog archives was a very good thing indeed.  Otherwise, I would have been baffled as to the gauge and needles for the project. As with the sleeves, my row gauge is pretty close, my stitch gauge is somewhat closer to 4 than the 4.5 stitches/inch required.  I've decided to go forward with that, working the smallest size because then I get the benefit of a somewhat shorter sweater that is somewhat wider (but not as wide as it would be if I had gotten stitch gauge and was knitting the next larger size up).

I'm using the instructions for cardiganizing Rogue beecause it is clear from my sweater wearing habits that if a sweater is not a cardigan and not made out of soft wool it gets almost no wear time.  This wool is solid stuff, but not soft enough for a pullover.  Rogue cardie here I come!

So far, it remains a very pleasant knit. The cables add just the amount of interest I need to keep it fun, but there are not so much of them that I feel like I can make no progress in an hour or two.   So far, the instructions are also quite excellent and easy to follow and I had no problem working out the changes needed for splitting the kangaroo pocket for the caridganization process.

Now the only thing that remains to be concerned about is the ever present issue of "having enough yarn".  So far it looks good and, in any event, it will be hard to tell until I get a good deal farther, so at this point, it's full steam ahead!

You Know You're A Grown Up When...


Today was a real milestone day.  When it started, I didn't know it would be, but I think that's true of a lot of milestones that I hit.  They sneak up on me and whack me in the back of the head with a rubber chicken and giggle as they pass me by.

When John and I got married, we had one lovely sports coupe (a Subaru SVX that on lovely summer days we still miss) and my functional but not as lovely Ford Escort.  After finishing up my PhD and getting started on my post-doc, I got obsessed with having a car that I really adored.  A sporty car that reflected the fact that I was a young professional with a personality.  The Escort ("Annie" -- from Harry Chapin's "Mail Order Annie"*) went off to my Dad and my Mercury Cougar ("Corey" -- from Harry Chapin's "Corey's Coming"**) filled her spot in the garage.  John and I now had two mostly impractical vehicles -- Corey being somewhat more practical because she was a hatchback -- but with no children in the picture, it wasn't a big deal.  We were happy even if other people thought a garage filled with sports coupes didn't make a lot of sense.

When the time came to replace the Subaru, John and I decided that if we were going to get a new car, it had to have 4 doors.  While the kid thing was in the back of our minds, the most prominent thought was just to be able to put 4 adults in a car comfortably.  John doesn't have too many expensive hobbies or too many things that he spends money on, but he does like to have a nice car.  We settled on a Jaguar X-type because not only did it have 4 doors, but it also came in AWD and had a stick -- practical and fun.  And since we got it, it's been a good car for us.  When Z arrived, it became the car with the baby seat since the Cougar, while it could, in fact, safely have a baby seat installed, with two doors, was not a whole lot of fun to put a baby seat in.

And that, combined with the fact that the Jag's backseat is not all that capacious given the ginormous size of the infant and toddler carseat system we chose, got us thinking about a more family friendly vehicle.  SUV's were out because neither of us liked the idea of parking a behemoth in the city, or the gas mileage that usually comes along with them.  John and I have what we refer to as a "Minivan Deathpact" (i.e. we will shoot each other before we get one)***, so those were out, too.  That left us with the station wagon or large sedans.  And we eliminated the sedans because we wanted a car with more of a hatch-back like carrying option.

Does this look like the nose of family vehicle?

Just like when we got the Jag, we wanted something sporty and fun to drive.  Add a manual transmission and a back seat that can accomodate our baby seat onto that and the field of options gets very narrow very quickly. We weren't in any hurry though, so John had time to find us the perfect car.  Last weekend we brought her home.  Enter Inga, my beautiful new Swedish girl -- a 2004 Volvo V70 R station wagon.  With a 6 speed transmission and 300 hp under the hood you pretty much forget you are driving a station wagon when you sit in her cockpit.  And the one we bought is in such good condition it feels like a new car.   John and I have actually been fighting over who gets to drive her! 

Most definitely!  But I'm Still In Love!

All of which meant that it was time to send our second coupe to a new home.  In a surprising stroke of good luck, we sold her this afternoon (we thought a 9 year old sports coupe with manual transmission might take a while to sell).

As she was driving away with her new owner.  Recently detailed 17" alloy rims shining in the late summer sunshine, I had that realization.  The rubber chicken to the back of the head.  John and I had a baby and now owned only eminently practical cars.  Not only that, but we both really like and are happy with our eminently practical cars.  And I have become a Volvo station wagon driving mom.

At this point, I looked around my house.  Noticed the the foam corners on my impractical glass coffee table.  Noticed that all my impractical interior decorations have been moved out of baby reach or moved out of circulation all together.  Thought about how we are now in the market for baby-proof door latches and baby gates for our stairs.  Remembered that I could no longer do simple things like leave my knitting or my laptop on the couch.  Was reminded that restaurant selection criteria now includes whether they have high chairs and serve French fries.  Realized that almost all of our outings are planned around naps.

And that's when it hit me.  John and I have become parents.  Completely unhip, completely practical grown ups.

And you know what?  I wouldn't trade it for anything.

* I became a Harry Chapin fan through my father.  "Mail Order Annie" tells the story of a mail order bride who comes to be the wife of a farmer in North Dakota from the point of view of the farmer who is waiting for her to get off the train.  When I got Annie, my dad, who worked for Ford, handled the process for me and drove her to Chicago for me so that I didn't lose any time in grad school, so she was my Mail Order Annie.

** The Cougar got her name from another Harry Chapin song "Corey's Coming" and it tells the story of an older main who worked in a train yard and befriends a younger man by telling him stories "of the glories of his past -- but he always saved his story of his Corey for the last".  When the old man passes on, the younger man is at the funeral when Corey arrives and becomes the young man's story and dream as well as he takes over the old man's job.  At the time, Corey was my dream car.  But I had to order her and wait for her to come in by train from the Flat Rock plant in Michigan. 

** I mean no offense to those of you who happily (or unhappily) drive minivans.  In fact, over our Florida vacation, we had one and it was a handy vehicle for 4  adults and a baby.  For John and I, it's just a symbol of Chicago suburbia and something we made a conscious decision to get away from when we bought our house in the city. It's one of those jokes we have between us.  Like all things, there's just different strokes for different folks.  We have no problems with minivans or the suburbs for people who are happy with them -- they just aren't things that make us happy