29 April 2014

royal hoopla

My girl and I went to the coolest birthday party last weekend.  One with a real live princess. And games and music and sparkly prizes.  It's pretty important when you are the only girl, growing up with two brothers, and a hermit introvert mom, in a town that has polar vortex winters keeping you inside for months... where was I going with this?  Oh yeah, it's important when you're a girl like that, to have some shared girl bonding experiences.  And she got them at this party.  Plenty of pink and purple and ruffles and glitter.  It was awesome. Although, PS- she STILL would not let me "do her hair." It was ugly- both the battle over the hair, and the final result.

Anyway, at the party I tried to take pictures for my friend, and since she was using her point-and-shoot camera (with the flash) I decided to use my camera on manual and NOT use my flash.  I hate how washed-out and one dimensional pictures can be using my big ole' on-camera flash.  And I wanted to take amazing pictures for her, of the sweet and precious party she threw for her little girl.

Did I mention that the party was in a closed garage? With two single lightbulb fixtures with low watt bulbs?  It was a clean, beautifully decorated garage, but the light was so low for my camera.  I cranked up the ISO and dialed the aperture to wide open, but even then the shutter speed was not close to being able to handle the motion of the girls. Most of my pictures were grainy AND blurry.  Bummer.  For a few I finally relented and used the flash.  Anyways, all that to say- there are still two pictures I treasure, in their grainy- or flat- glory. Even as an aspiring photographer, I am learning that a photo can be prized not for its technical perfection or even artistic beauty- but for the memory it captures.

This picture is of my princess, posing with Princess Rapunzel.  I asked my girl later what she was feeling when this picture was taken.  "Sad?" I'd suggested. "Mad? Nervous? Okay?" I tried to give her the right emotional vocabulary to explain to me why, in the party of her dreams, she was so blank faced most of the time.  She can be such a mystery to me!  Her answer to what she was feeling?  "Kinda happy, Mom."  Sheesh.  A mystery she shall remain.

This other picture was taken after the girls had been handed these chocolate princess crown pops.  They were told that the chocolate had been baked with fairy dust in it, and that when baked, fairy dust gives you the power to make one wish. They were instructed to hold it to their heart, close their eyes, and make a wish.  All the girls obediently followed through and made their wishes.  Only my girl has still wishing, five minutes later.  I thought she'd never open her eyes, never stop muttering to herself!  After the party, I asked her what she had been wishing for so forcefully.  She said, "I was wishing that you could have a birthday party too, Mom." Cue me tearing up.  We'd talked a lot recently about the party coming up, and about her own (very) future birthday party plans.  She's been fascinated with the way that kids get elaborate decoration and treat filled parties, and adults typically do not.  So that's what she wished, for me, with her one wish.  That girl is not just a mystery, she is a beautiful one. Despite the hair.

My princess with the birthday girl.  That's a lot of royal bling!

06 April 2014

walmart v. target :: my messy beautiful

It's been a long while now since I've been old enough to understand that Target is cool, and Walmart is not. And I'm not talking about labor practices or international trade balance or other concepts that make me want to pretend to be the air-headed Barbie doll they used to make, the one before the "I like math!" Barbie.  The one that carried pink shopping bags. Ignorance can be so blissful.

No, I'm talking about the fundamental difference in shopping experiences between the two stores.  For so long my shopping beliefs were clear and simple: Target is worthy of praise, and Walmart is a place to shop when you have no other options.  The end.  And my credit card statements bore testimony: Walmart receipts were my grocery bills.  And Target receipts reflected my age.  In college, I couldn't get out of that store for less than $20, ever.  After college, it was $50.  Then I had kids, and a Target run that comes in under $100 is like a Bigfoot sighting.

I tagged along on a sanity shopping run to our closest Target with a friend the other day.  It's a pretty serious need to get out of the house when you haul 4 littles in their car seats, with snacks and sippy cups and diaper bags, to the nearest Target, 45 minutes away.  But we walked in, and it was like a cloud lifted.  Boy those retail people know what they are doing.  It was peaceful and happy and everything was beautiful, despite so many little price tags dangling. When it was time to go, my friend's little girl started crying, wailing "not want to leave the store!" And it was like she was singing the lyrics to the song in my heart. Oh, if only I could stay forever, far from my dishes and laundry, surrounded by color-sorted piles of style!  Although I could have done without my toddler's antics trying to escape the cart- and my presence.  Let's be fair, that was not Target's fault.

However, I recently realized with no small shock this week that I prefer Walmart now.  I KNOW, right?!  How can that be!?  There is nothing about my Pinterest-fueled mind that thinks Walmart is cooler. It has far too little chevron, for starters.  But therein lies the problem.  When I shop at Taget, I don't have the budget to buy All The Things.  At best I can get a small fun thing on a clearance endcap to keep the toilet paper and cereal in the shopping cart company. And those clearance things are never what I really want or need.  So my closets, not my walls, are full of junk from Target- right next to the random things I bought whilst thrifting that I'll get around to covering in chalk paint-someday.

My decorating style is fridge magnets and kids' art. Is that a thing?
On that note, can I just say that all my favorite blogs showcase homes that either seem to be, or literally are, featured on the pages of magazines?  White walls and bursts of color and vintage juxtaposed with modern.  And in the blog post the person modestly gushes, "I buy everything from Target and thrift stores or pick them up roadside! We completely remodeled this home for $174!"

That is the newest item on my "Things I Don't Do" list.  I don't spend my free time working magic to take rubbish and paint and a few cleverly curated pieces from Target to make my home look like... that.  And I may sound like I'm mocking people who do.  BUT I'M NOT.  I'm just new at being okay with myself the way I am, about this.  About my home's uncoolness.  Because I don't think my kids are going to suddenly care.  My husband just wants it clean. So it's my expectations I'm talking about here.  And today my irons are busy in other fires.  Like, ironing.

So I'm sticking with Walmart for a while, mostly*.  When I walk into that store I am not struck with a strong and wistful desire to buy a better identity.  I just grab the milk and meat and get out, easy peasy. And hey, rollback is cool, right?


The only picture of any part of my house "worthy of Pinterest".  As you can see, it was taken a long time ago.  Outside.
 I did get the chair at a garage sale.  It's kinda broken now.

Y'all know I like to keep it real here at Whistle & Bloom.  You've seen me fill my home with grey smoke from burned broccoli during a dinner party, reveal the depths of my charming cynicism, and turn around to see my one year old on top of the kitchen table, waving a serrated knife.  Well, when it comes to keeping it real, I've learned a lot from Glennon Melton.  Her blog Momastery, and her book Carry On Warrior, have given me a lot to think about.  Need a copy of her book?  Well get your own, sister.  Seriously- it's in paperback now.  No excuse!

  1. This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

*I do shop at other, local stores.  More often than Walmart, even. Just thought it would help some of y'all's blood pressure to be reassured about that. In case where I shop is important to you.