When it Comes to Air Quality, Better is Not Good

Nov 3 UPDATE: Read the article in the Post-Gazette here: Western Pennsylvania native helped spur council conversation on air quality

 

In the last year, I’ve gotten more involved with working toward better air quality in Pittsburgh. Today, I joined Councilman Corey O’Connor at a post agenda specifically for this issue, one that affects every Pittsburgher. Here are the remarks I gave.

I’d like to thank Councilman O’Connor for calling this post agenda, and all of you for attending. I also want to thank the presenters who are providing us with so much context. I’m Jody Handley, and speaking as a private citizen because behind every number and statistic there’s a family like mine.

A bit about me: I grew up in Greene County. My dad went to Sto Rox High School, and my mom grew up on Corey Avenue in Braddock, the granddaughter of an Italian immigrant employed at Edgar Thompson Works. As a child, when she arrived at Braddock Elementary, she and her classmates washed the soot off their faces when they arrived at school. As a child, and when I worked at Kennywood for two summers, I didn’t question the summer sulfur smell—it was just the way cities smelled.

After graduating high school, I lived in New York City for three years, and then San Francisco for nearly 12 years. In early 2012, when our second daughter was about to turn one, my husband and I decided we’d had enough of paying out the ears for a one-bedroom apartment and flying back home twice a year to visit our families. Given the choice between several East Coast-cities: Baltimore, Washington DC, Pittsburgh—we knew Pittsburgh was the right choice. Aside from my personal history there, it has beautiful, affordable homes, a gorgeous landscape, culture and nightlife, and a growing software industry, which is my profession.

We knew we’d have to contend with losing our walkability, not to mention winter. What I didn’t know was that a week after moving in, I woke up in the middle of the night to a horrible sewage smell in our rental house on Shady Avenue; I called the landlord the next morning, but by then the smell had dissipated. It turns out the smell wasn’t coming from inside the house.

We still bought a house in Squirrel Hill South, on Landview near Minadeo. We love our yard, our house, our neighbors, but what we don’t love is the smell. During our first full summer, on cooler nights, when we’d leave the windows open for fresh air, I’d routinely wake up at 2:30 AM—always 2:30!—to close every window in the house.

After I got a new prescription for an Albuterol inhaler—something I hadn’t needed since high school—I looked deeper into the issue, and began reporting the bad air on the ACHD’s website. I reported frequently enough that someone actually called me. The problem, it turned out, was the weather… and the Clairton Coke Works. The river causes an inversion due to cooling night air, the wind blows it just right, and it settles right in Squirrel Hill, Homestead, Greenfield and Hazelwood.

It may go without saying, but the bad air is not the weather’s fault. It’s not my fault, either, or my neighbors’. When I get my 2:30 wakeup call, it’s not because the neighbors are burning wood, or using inefficient lawnmowers. It’s not rush hour at 2:30 in the morning. The only thing awake at 2:30 in the morning is US Steel. The coke works generates the bad air, and we all get to enjoy it—twelve miles away. Good god, I thought—if it’s this bad here, what’s it like in Clairton?

I got in touch with Jennifer Bails at the Breathe Project on Facebook, and it turns out she lived around the corner from me. Last spring, I attended a public hearing with the ACHD in Clairton, and it was just as I thought: US Steel is great at putting in playgrounds, but who would want to play in them?

When I ask my friends and neighbors about their experience with the bad air, and invariably got one of two responses. One: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” They literally can’t smell it. Just this Monday I had another 2:30 AM wakeup—this time with all the windows closed—and the moment we stepped outside to walk to school that morning, my older daughter said, “Ew, Mommy, it stinks today.” My five-year-old smells it, but people who have lived here for long enough? They just don’t even notice it. Or if they do, they think it’s just the way a city smells.

Second: “Well, I remember when it was actually bad.” I remember not being able to open my windows for all the soot, shaking soot off my laundry, seeing the black clouds of smog roiling over the hill, all infused with a sense of pride in Pittsburgh’s romantic blue-collar roots. This is usually followed up by a defensive posture of Pittsburgh: we’re getting so much better, the air pollution’s not from Pittsburgh, but from Clairton or New Castle—all with the underlying message that it’s better than it used to be, and if we hang our dirty underwear out on the line, no one will come visit us.

That is madness. I love Pittsburgh. I love living here, and I love seeing the physical and cultural changes it’s undergone since my childhood. I love that Braddock is coming back from the edge of ruin. I love that STEM companies have become a major industry here, and that so many of the young people who come here for college are staying. It’s why I wanted to come back.

But we have a long way to go, and if we’re not willing to acknowledge the problem, we’re never going to change anything. Clairton will keep getting new empty playgrounds, Shenango will continue getting slapped on the wrist, and our air will keep smelling like an outhouse.

Better is not good. It’s not even just not good enough—where we are right now, it is not good. I’ve read articles quoting that we’re no longer hell with the lid off, and I heard a caller on the radio tout that we’re better than Beijing! This is our basis for comparison: Beijing and Hell! We’re better than Hell. That’s an awfully low bar. And we can, and should, expect more from ourselves. And it sounds like we do. In press, we compare ourselves to Austin and Portland and even San Francisco. But in the next short breath we’re favorably comparing ourselves to Beijing and Hell.

So why am I talking to all of you? What can you do about it? I know that the city of Pittsburgh is not Allegheny County, but it is a pretty big part of it. I’m asking you to start talking about this. Just this conversation we’re having now is a great step. So many people seem afraid to say anything bad about the steel industry, because to denigrate the steel industry is to denigrate the Steelers, and Pittsburgh’s rich history. I also love the romance of it—my great-grandfather was a mill foreman at Edgar Thompson, and my grandfather captained a tugboat on the Mon. I hear the trains go through Homestead, and watch the barges pass from my yard. It’s part of me, too. I love how Pittsburgh is growing in new directions.

We’re on our way, but we haven’t arrived. And I believe the thing that’s standing in our way is air quality. You, City Council, can enforce our existing Clean Air standards. You can help us build a city infrastructure so that we don’t have so many cars on the road—speaking as someone from the East End, I would love a train downtown—and we can end smoking in bars. That’s at least two things to start giving private citizens better choices controlling air quality.

But that doesn’t hold Clairton, and Shenango, and Edgar Thompson accountable. They are the root of the problem. They are why, some days, I don’t want my daughters playing outside in the yard. They are why it’s healthier for my girls to sit inside an air-conditioned home with the windows closed, watching TV, than it is to play Frisbee.

I do get a third response from people when I talk to them about air quality, and joke about how I’m going to become known as Crazy Stink lady. I tell them how they should register complaints on the ACHD, write emails to you folks, and Mayor Peduto, and their state legislators. The response I get back? “Good luck with that.” I think part of that comes from a perception that you don’t read your emails and don’t care what anyone has to say. I’ve found firsthand that’s not true, so thank you! But the real root of that message is that you can’t fight the industries. They have too much money, they’re too powerful, and the politicians are beholden to them. That is the most discouraging message in all of this: that I shouldn’t even bother trying, because when I moved here three years ago, I gave up control of my family’s respiratory health and signed it over to US Steel.

[Note: I'm embarrassed to say at this point, I got so choked up I couldn't continue. So you can all enjoy my final, unsaid paragraph.]

I’m asking you to help us take that control back. We have to convince Pittsburghers that this IS a problem; that it’s worth fixing; and that we have to help fix it. Only then can we get the message to the people who can hold Clairton and Shenango accountable. Help Pittsburgh get mad! Help us take control of our own health. Help us aim higher than just better. Because better is not good.

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A Tree Lends a Hand… Branch?

Back in the 80s, Eat’n'Park, a local franchise akin to Denny’s, began airing this commercial. The holiday season is not official without the airing of this commercial during the Macy’s Parade, and thanks to YouTube, everyone can enjoy it, even if they no longer live in southwestern Pennsylvania.

I get goosebumps every time. And sometimes tears.

Have a wonderful holiday, fair readers!

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LowesHack: A Pretty Spinning Windmill

In early summer, I was obsessed with finding a pinwheel for the yard. Not a flimsy paper pinwheel, but a nice, sturdy steel one–but not one that looked overly old-timey country. Our aesthetic, after all, is more Mad Men than Little House. I drove myself crazy until I found the Kinetic Steel Wind Spinner at Lowe’s for $40, the result of a happenstance glance to the right when I usually would’ve glanced left. (The one in that link isn’t quite the same as ours, but I couldn’t find an exact match.)

It was just what I wanted: six feet tall, two spinning wheels, and a spinning pole that would allow the pinwheel to rotate as well as spin. Groovy! Only problem: it was all black matte steel, and virtually invisible against our wooded hillside.

Fortunately, I’d just been spray painting all of our patio furniture, and had a brainwave: I could paint the interior white, and the exterior glossy red, for a nice double-colored effect when the wind blows. It came out perfectly: a barber-shop-like spinning flower in our backyard, placed in full view of our living room. Our neighbor liked it so much, she went and bought her own, painted it blue and white, and put it just across the fence. (It’s barely visible in the video below.)

The best part? Now that the leaves have fallen and landscape has gone the brown of Pittsburgh winter, we can enjoy a wildly spinning riot of red and white flashing against the landscape every time the November wind gusts up from the river. And I can’t wait to see how it looks in a full snow.

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Prototyping the Kitchen, Part II

A few weeks ago, we cut a hole in the wall. We do that a lot. Last time we did it, it was to reopen a hole in our front hall–one that was in the original house. I’ll post about that some day. Then, of course, we cut a giant hole in our living room. And there was the time we cut about six inches from the dividing wall to our bar area, known as Kitchen Island, Prototype #1.

Usually it goes like this:

“So I was thinking… maybe we could cut the hole in the wall today.”

Then I call my dad, and say, “Dad, we’re going to cut a hole in the wall today.”

And then he brings power tools and old clothes, and my mom and I take the kids to a craft store, and my husband and dad make everything very, very dusty.

And we go from this:

Note how the recessed lighting actually bounces off the whole thing and makes it glow. Glow, I tell you!

To this:

Tarps are important when drywall's involved.

To this.

No, it's not load-bearing. They checked.

That was a few weeks ago. We’ve been making some trips to IKEA in the meantime, spec’ing out cabinets for underneath the island, talking about configurations. But I’m someone who actually has to see a design to understand it, so this weekend, with the help of a few wood planks, clamps, and tablecloths, we came up with a reasonable facsimile of what our new semi-wraparound island will look like.

It'll be shorter from wall to end, but wider. The shelf will be lit from underneath, and hide unattractive things like the iphone charger and butter dish.

Of course, the IKEA cabinets that will best match our gray steel cabinetry is the Akurum Abstrakt line in glossy white, which, for IKEA, is expensive. For anywhere else, I think it’s about right. Plus, with a butcher block top, David can cut out the compost hole (I love a compost hole, and ours uses a steam table container, set right into the countertop), and we can get a pull-out trash drawer.

Of course, we’ll have to cut the remainder of the dividing wall out, which will involve some rewiring and minor ductwork. They’ve promised me it’s easy. I hope so, because what we really want is to have a line of outlets on TOP of the counter, conference-room-style.

The opposite side is a different story. The cabinets will be part of the living area decor, so glossy white will look far too sterile. I’m hoping we can either get an accent door from IKEA in lime green or turquoise, to match the colors in our mural, or even get unpainted cabinets and go crazy with it ourselves–preferably with high-gloss, as well, to repeat the steel cabinetry look.

Look at that hole in the wall!

Ideally, the butcher block top would extend out past the hole into the dining area, which would allow room for a fourth barstool (we’d fit three along the side) and really complete the flow of the kitchen as the heart of the house. Of course, that means we’d be cutting out THAT wall, too, and also moving the HVAC.

And we’d like to have the bulk of it done by Thanksgiving, when we’ll be hosting my sister and her family. I think we’re gonna need some more dropcloths.

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DIY, Meet PIY.

Sometimes, you don’t want to do it yourself. And when it came to installing a second twelve-foot sliding glass door in our living room, we went with PIY, instead of DIY.

Here's the backyard before we moved in. Note the lack of toys, and also the lack of toys.

Our two main reasons were:

  1. Cutting a large hole in your house is inconvenient, and we wanted it done quickly.
  2. Cutting a large hole in your house is risky, and we wanted it done correctly.

My dad, of course, insists he could’ve done it, despite being in his late 60s. I’m sure he’d have done a reasonably good job, and for a lot cheaper than what we spent, but it would’ve taken six weeks and we would’ve had no legal recourse if, say, he totally bolloxed the job. So we went through all the steps of hiring a contractor: called around, had a few appointments, collected bids.

The Wall.

A few things: some contractors just don’t call back. I don’t know if it’s because the job was too small, or they weren’t interested, or were too busy, but being in the client service industry myself, I was surprised by how many people just didn’t bother with us. Of the three who provided bids, the first was an efficient man with a family business who talked fast and provided us the lowest bid. He also called back for updates a few times, corrected his bid when we asked for it, and kept in close contact.

Then some guy cut a hole in it.

 

 

The second bidder was a proper Irish gent, six feet tall, handsome in a gray-haired, fisherman’s sweater kind of way, and wore a proper tweed cap. To be honest, we were both rooting for him: David because he liked the cap and me because I wouldn’t have minded hearing the accent around the house for a week. But his bid was the highest.

The third contractor was nice, and very thorough–took pictures, more notes than the other two combined. He was also, in David’s words, “an uncontrollable farter.” I left the room to answer a phone call, and the moment I was out, apparently he lost control of his sphincter and peppered conversation with, “Oh, excuse me. Sorry about that. Excuse me.”

And then they made the hole REALLY big.

 

 

After wiping the tears of  hysterical laughter from my eyes, we agreed he probably wouldn’t work out. And he neglected to call back with a bid, anyway, so we went with Ricciuti Construction, the first bidder.

All in all, we were very pleased with the work they did. They had a crew of three men–they did demolition and installed the door all in one day, and thankfully, the weather cooperated. The next two days were detail work: trimming the door, building a step, wiring up light fixtures and a new outdoor outlet.

Thar be windows in that wall!

Of course, any time you’re paying a lot of money and doing something drastic, there’s an undercurrent of anxiety: what if I really, really hate it? But we don’t. We love it. The heretofore unused corner of our patio has immediately moved into an extension of our living room. We’re planning how to beautify that side of the yard because it’s now a part of our view. And the sunshine in our living room has quadrupled, literally overnight.

After!

 

We can’t wait until winter, when we’ll really be able to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor: the sun rises on that side of the house, so our living room will become a truly cozy sunroom.

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I May Be A Garden-Talent Fairy.

I once killed a pothos plant. You know the ones: the vining plants that they give to teenagers to use in science experiments, which is to say, they’re so unkillable that we give them to teenagers to use in science experiments. I was leaving town for two weeks, and left it outside so I wouldn’t have to worry about watering it. And it rained for two straight weeks, thus drowning the Rasputin of house plants.

So I stopped. Period. Never touched a plant. My husband has a knack for moving a plant a quarter-turn counterclockwise, and watching it bloom; when I would bring plants home, I’d tell them, “I’m giving you to him,” thus assuring them of a long, long life indoors.

Now I have a yard, and if you’ve been reading, you know that my obsession started small, and expands exponentially with each passing day, blossoming like so many delicate lobelia flowers cascading down the side of a cement planter. And it may–just may–be encroaching on the territory of insanity. Every new leaf brings me closer to a conviction that I am a master gardener. Every time I break up a hosta or lily, and replant it, and watch it thrive, I become more convinced of my supernatural powers.

What was once three clumps of plants have become ten!

Clearly, between the fairy house, and my newly grown hot pepper, I am a magical being in touch with the green things of the world. Maybe I’m a wood nymph; maybe I’m a wood wizard; maybe I’m just Rosetta. I don’t know. But clearly, something magical is happening, because there’s no other explanation for it.

Cast thine eyes upon the golden zucchini blossoms!

The thing is: it’s easy. I thought this would be impossibly difficult, but I find a plant that goes in the shade, and I plant it in the shade according to the directions on the tab, which usually involve “dig a hole twice as wide as the pot, stick it in, fill it in with some garden soil or compost, water it, and mulch it. And then water some more.” And then the thing grows. Even the coral bells that I planted outside the fence, the ones that our local bunny rabbit nibbled to stalks, have bounced back nicely with a replanting. I dug out a rain channel that works. My herb garden is bursting with flavor, my peas are climbing a wire, my zucchinis have blossoms, my tomatoes are budding out with little green globes. I am a green goddess.

The spicy, spicy fruits of very little labor!

I am willing to concede that maybe gardening’s just not that difficult. That it just takes a lot of nerve–hey, let’s stick that thing there and see what happens!–and a certain pleasure in beautifully mindless activity, like digging holes and deadheading flowers and the ineffable mind-erasing peace of watering plants in the morning sun. Even when you’re growing living things, after all, nothing is permanent, and if the rhododendron doesn’t like that spot, let’s dig it up and try it over there.

My entire life, I’ve been convinced gardeners, like my mother, are wizards and have some innate insight into the world of green things that is esoteric and insane, like baseball card savants. So it follows that I might have inherited her green gene, as it pertains to putting things in the ground, instead of in pots inside. After all, she comes from a long line of backyard tomato-and-basil growers. So maybe we’re Italian old country fairies.

But maybe… OK, probably… if it’s something you find pleasure in, you’ll find it’s actually not that difficult at all. Give it a shot. At worst, you’ll have a whole bunch of new tools, new magazines, new knowledge, new apps, and a new way to bore your family, friends, and blog readers. Isn’t that worth the time?

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The Rocket Home for Wayward Fairies

Whilst browsing online for garden ornaments, I found a site entirely devoted to creating “faerie” kingdoms in one’s own backyard. Its name? efairies.com, of course.

Efairies: for all your online fairy needs.

Being that I am the parent of two little girls, and I am recently obsessed with gardening, I perused their online catalog, which is astonishing in the breadth and depth of fairy products. I imagine some little old cat lady out there, dodging hanging crystals in her one-room cottage, doddering out to her full fairy village, complete with cottages, churches (I didn’t know Pan had a church!),  outdoor stairs, fences, bridges, and, oh, hell, why not the 50-Piece Fairy Garden Set for only $1580?

And don’t get me started on the accessories, which run the gamut of post office boxes to teeny weeny galoshes for placing outside the fairy door. It’s like a feminine version of an HO train set, only the conductors have wings and the streetlamps are shaped like mushrooms.

I began to give up hope that I’d find anything at which my husband would not roll his eyes, when I landed upon this guy, the Old Cave Fairy Home (fairy not included).

It’s sweet, small, simple, and would fit in well with the hillside in our yard; in fact, it would fit perfectly into our newly built faux retaining wall. I could add some shade-loving ground cover, and presto! We have a sweet surprise for our more observant guests. With shipping, it cost about $35–not too bad for something that would surely bring the girls great delight.

It arrived last Friday, when we were in the backyard, and languished on our porch for hours, until I checked my email and read that it had been delivered. And yes, I, adult parent of two, got out of bed at midnight to run to the front door and tear open my package of fairy magic.

The next morning, before the girls got up, I removed one of the stones from the wall, replaced it with the fairy cave, and planted a little flowering ground cover over it.

Everyone say it with me: AWW.

I decided to let the girls discover it for themselves, but then after eight hours, couldn’t wait anymore, and pointed it out to Eliza.

“Look! What’s that?”

“A fairy house! How did that get there?”

“Maybe the fairies built it.”

“I think you builded it.”

“Maybe. Do you like it?”

“No. It’s weird.”

“Why do you say it’s weird?”

“Because I don’t love you anymore.”

She followed up that last bit with a big grin to show me she was just teasing, and I found the whole conversation far too adult for an almost four-year-old. How is it that I plant a damned fairy house for a kid, and I’m so transparent that she guesses that 1) I built it, not fairies; and 2) my feelings could be hurt if she didn’t like it; and 3) she could tease me about my feelings being hurt?

Yes, folks: since I planted the fairy house, there’s a little less magic in my world. Well, to hell with her. I think it’s super-cute and kind of magical. I’m tempted to make a little blue worm to put out front. At least he’ll invite me in for some tea and not poke fun at my craving for gratitude.

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A filthy, filthy Mother’s Day weekend

A few weeks back, after the long slog of winter, spring burst upon us like she’d been waiting months to say hello. Which she had. This is the first spring in our new home, and surprises have abounded like bunnies hopping on our patio. Which they do.

You may remember how, last year, I spent some time cutting down ivy (both nontoxic and poison) from our fence and trees. I continued my search-and-destroy mission during the one nice day we had in February, cutting the vines from our few remaining ivy-ed trees, and after the requisite shower of leaves cleared, we’ve been rewarded with a much clearer river view than we had last year. As a bonus, the trees themselves seem to be gasping in gratitude: one has leaves growing up its trunk, something I’ve never seen before, and must be the result of its release.

There's a river down there, in the sun's glare.

 

As the days grow longer, I spend my evenings engaging in various lawn projects: clearing leaves from our “back nine” (the other side of the fence); killing poison ivy in its tracks; planting new flowers and stopping new ivy from growing up trees. Weekends, though: that’s where it’s at. Last weekend I spray-painted my index finger into numbness (I’m serious; it barely has feeling back now) and freshened our craigslist-purchased 9-piece patio set from rusted, tan dinginess into white, glossy glory.

Even the old cushions look happier.

 

But the real fun came yesterday, when I decided to clean up a mess leftover since we cut off some very leggy forsythia last year. Over the years, the shrubs had grown gangly, shading the soil beneath and keeping anything from growing, and over the time the dirt from the hillside made its way, inexorably, onto our patio. Plus, big bare dirt patch didn’t look very nice.

The forsythias lived under the juniper tree, and were very, very big.

 

During last year’s Chainsaw Day, my dad took out the shrubs, and cut them back to more manageable stumps. But the dirt was not growing any grass–it was too dry and dead, and the shade didn’t help–so I figured I’d get some mulch and ground cover and maybe dig out some of the dirt.

Following three days of rain, yesterday was the perfect digging day: 60 degrees, and damp. So I started digging. Inside of twenty minutes, I found eight stepping stones that once led a path out the side gate; the deepest one was buried about two inches. So I dug more into the hillside. And more. And found a sprinkler head–six inches underground. The hillside’s slip into our patio had apparently been happening a very long time; makes me wonder what else is in there. Bodies? A pirate ship?

Being my father’s daughter, I rummaged around behind our shed until I found a long, discarded 2×12 board, and several large slate-like stones. I’d bought river rock and mulch at Lowe’s already, so I set about building a mini-retaining wall.

I’d also bought topsoil, thinking I’d need it to fill in the dead spots, but it turns out I had all the topsoil I needed; it just happened to be five feet out of place. I laid down the river rock, propped the board and the stones, filled in the soil, and five hours after I started, I had this. Like our kitchen island, this is a prototype: some day, maybe we’ll have a real retaining wall, built with stuff that’s not from our junk pile.

Here’s another view.

The paving stones are still dirty, but what do you want after being buried for 15 years?

Turns out, on this Mother’s Day, I don’t need Calgon to take me away. Just a shovel and some dirt.

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Changing the Conversation

I’ve been busy blogging over at SlumberPartyMovies.com, and I’d kindly ask you to shoot on over there to read not one, but TWO posts about rape in our favorite movies. Sometimes wacky hijinks are just wack.

Post #1: Changing the Conversation: The Rape of Betty Childs , in which Revenge of the Nerds isn’t all fun and montages.

Post #2: Don’t Listen to the Devil On Your Shoulder, in which Animal House, of all movies, offers an excellent example of how NOT to take advantage of a girl.

 

Donate to Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.

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Product Review: BabyLegs Legwarmers!

Waaaaayyyyy back in the summertime, I got an email from BabyLegs inviting me to review their product. Ha, I thought! Fools! I already love BabyLegs, so this’ll be easy. No problem.

Except that it was summertime, and while summer in San Francisco is pretty much the ideal time for a kid to don some BabyLegs, summer in Pittsburgh is an ideal time for a kid to don their birthday suit. Fast forward through moving, distractions and general not-getting-to-around-to-itness on my part, and I’m looking out the window at the cruel joke that has become Winter, 2013: It’s March 25, and the snow is pouring in.

Given that it seems we’re still in the clutches of a Seven Kingdoms-worthy winter, I think it’s the perfect time to (finally!) make good on my promise and review BabyLegs. Springtime is great BabyLegs weather!

What are BabyLegs?

Legwarmers. For your baby. It’s so simple. And they’re so adorable you’ll want a pair for yourself.

Why BabyLegs?

Because they’re cute. And also, they’re brilliant. Ready for why? Hmm? Wait for it… you don’t have to take off the pants to change the diapers. This may not seem like a great concept, but trust me: when you’ve got the squirming two-year-old pinned to the pizza place’s bathroom floor, one elbow in the stomach and the other fighting against the weave-and-bob of the eternally kicking legs, you will be so glad you won’t have to pull down the pants that you’ll send me a thank-you note.

Baby legwarmers are my favorite gift for parents of newborns. After Eliza, we’ve got a good… oh…. 25 pairs? Maybe more? And Gillian’s so little that she’s still going strong. I’ve made them from knee socks, bought them from Etsy, and worn them all over and over, and I can say that there’s a reason BabyLegs are a bit pricier than other brands: they’re better-quality. They haven’t pilled, they haven’t stretched or begun unraveling; they’re strong and can stand up to many trips through the washing machine.

Plus, they’re really, really cute. They have a “neutral” collection that’s not gender-specific, but be sure to look at all three collections, because they pretty well cross gender lines in a lot of cases. Take the first two below–I love me some rockets! And they have a great assortment of varsity-style striped legwarmers… may I suggest red and gold, for the Gryffindors in your life? Or perhaps some silver-and-blue, for us Ravenclaws?

Exhibit A:

Rockets! Rocket City!

Exhibit B:

Say it with me: I am a robot.

And most important, Exhibit C:

Kitties on her dress and rainbows on her legs!

Rather than building outfits around a dress, I find myself building outfits around the BabyLegs. Which is probably why the rainbows are my favorite–they match it all! As Gillian grows (slow as she goes) we’re using them less often, as she’s inclined to pull them, and in fact, all of her clothes, off. But I can’t recommend these enough for newborns and infants. They protect the knees during crawling, keep the little chubs warm without overheating, and like I said: no pants to fight.

Like BabyLegs on Facebook here!

 

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