Monday, April 30, 2007

praying for Heather

I trust you all have heard about Heather by now. Her story is all over the blog world. In case you somehow don't know, she is a young mom of 3 who was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. She's having really dangerous surgery to remove it on Thursday.

Pray for her, people. Pray hard.

Friday, April 27, 2007

etiquette 101

Thanks for the funny and kind comments about my playgroup anxiety. In response to some of your thoughts: this is a community ed thing through our school district, it is only 1 hour per week, and I am not as crazy as I made myself sound. I behaved perfectly normally, truly I did...I just felt like I needed to run about 5 miles when we left to blow off all the pent up nerves. I'm not good at being the new kid. Anyway, it was fine, really it was, and we are going back next week.

And now I have an etiquette question (unrelated to the playgroup).

Part of the reason I haven't blogged much is because the biggest thing going on around here has nothing to do with me. Back in March, my bro-in-law (Hubs' brother, who I will call "C") finally proposed to his looooooooooooooongtime girlfriend ("M"). Now, C and M have been living together in her house (not her parents' house, her actual house that she bought) while C tried to get his life figured out. He graduated with a degree in sociology in 2002, but has been knocking around trying to get a police job ever since. All he's had is security work, until finally he was accepted into the US Border Patrol, which we think is pretty awesome. So he's been away at their academy since January, while M remained here, working and whatnot. She went to visit him on her birthday and he proposed (awww), and plans immediately commenced.

Their engagement is to be only 6 months, which seems so short to me, but he will be stationed in California so they want to speed things up for M to move out there. So things are coming rather quickly. Hubs was asked to be a groomsman/usher, and Daughter was asked to be a flower girl (which we declined based on the fact that she will be less than 2.5 years old at that time, and also with Hubs being at the altar who would help me wrangle her?), but I was not asked to participate. That's fine with me, but my question is this: what role do I play in the preparations...specifically, her shower(s)?

Hubs has only the one bro, no sisters, so there are no women from "our" side of the family involved. The bridesmaids are to be M's only sister and I guess some friends (possibly cousins, I don't know). We are not very close to C and M, because they are 4 and 5 years younger than we are. Hubs was never tight with his bro due to that age gap. We see them once in a great while, mostly at my in-laws' house. Case in point - Hubs is NOT the best man. C chose a friend instead (as did Hubs for our wedding).

So I'm just not sure if I should hang around and wait for a shower invitation, or if I should offer to help somehow. If so, who would I even contact? My mother has told me that, typically, a girl's own mother/sister/grandmother do not hold a shower (though I realize people do it), so I don't know if I should speak with them or not. I've never even met those women. I guess I don't HAVE to do anything, but I'd feel awful if 5 or 10 years down the road it came out that they were aghast that I didn't offer any help.

Here is your chance to play Miss Manners. What would you do?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"playgroup" or "my social anxiety comes to a head"

A month or so ago we got a community ed booklet, and I thumbed through it hoping to find some sort of playgroup for Daughter. And what do you know, there was a Creative Playtime class just for 2 year-olds. I was a little perturbed about paying $32 so my kid can make some friends (I mean, can you imagine our parents paying actual money for us to have other kids to play with?!?), but there just aren't any toddlers within shouting distance of our house. My poor kid stands at our front fence and watches the 5 and 6 year-old girls across the street, trying to call out to them and interact, but of course they could care less about a toddler. And I wouldn't be real cool about having her play with kids that big anyway.

So we signed up for playgroup. It started this morning. It's a nice thing, this Creative Playtime. The 'teacher' is maybe in her mid-30s and has 4 kids of her own. It takes place in a preschool classroom so there are tons of toys, and there are several specific activities set out for the kids to play with (today it was painting, rubber stamps, and coloring). I guess 14 kids are signed up, though only 9 showed today. And 6 of them were boys. Poop. I wanted Daughter to start interacting with some little girls, so I hope more show up in the future.

I quickly discovered that most of the kids are older 2s, and several are actually turning 3 in a month or so. Daughter, you may recall, turned 2 last Thursday. So she was the smallest and youngest by far. I was also probably the youngest mom, and it seemed I was the only mom with only one child. Lots of kids were with their grandmas.Everyone else seemed to know each other because they've been participating in this Creative Playtime for 2 year-olds since their kids turned 2. Many have been through 2 sessions already.

I felt like the new kid in school. Didn't know where to put our coats. Didn't know the routine. I think I was the only one who had to leave the room to change a diaper. My child was the only one who couldn't drink from a dixie cup at snack time - thank goodness I thought to throw a sippy cup in the diaper bag (I was the only one with a big fat diaper bag, too). She was also the only one who didn't know exactly how to conduct herself during storytime. At first I was psyched because she ran right over and sat on the rug with the other kids, but that lasted about 30 seconds. She got up to play with toys, and when I tried to bring her back she started a hissy fit with the shrieking and the stiff body - you know. And the room was so, so quiet. Except for the shrieks. Luckily the teacher was freaking amazing and asked Daughter if she'd like to come sit next to her, which yes, she wanted to do.

The moms/grandmas were really nice. I don't mean to say that anyone made us (me) feel bad. They all kept commenting on how sweet and tiny and birdlike Daughter is, which is totally true - she is 36 inches tall but only 23 pounds, with these long, slender feet and hands. And I made it a point to mention that she is only just barely 2, so people would know why she wasn't going on the potty or drinking from an open cup. Which, I mean, why? I don't really know why I felt I had to do that. There is nothing wrong with my child. She is developing in a totally normal fashion and on a perfectly average timeline. I know I don't have to explain why she can't do all the things another child can do - especially a child who is one full year older than she is. And frankly, she can speak better than several of the children - the little girl sitting next to her asked for more juice and goldfish crackers and that girl's own mother couldn't even understand her. I couldn't either. Whereas Daughter can say many, many words perfectly. I'm sorry, re-reading that I guess I sound a bit braggy and snotty. I don't mean it that way. I'm just trying to process some thoughts and feelings here.

Anyway, Daughter seemed to have a blast. She talked about "playing with new friends" all morning. We're definitely going back. I just hope it isn't too much for her (me). Five kids were missing today and I am hoping some of those will be younger 2s also.

Our day to bring juice is May 23rd. Good heavens, I hope I bring the right kind.

Monday, April 16, 2007

the meaning of life...or something

Yeah, so I haven't been posting. I'm not sure where I want to go with the blogging thing just now. It has started to feel vaguely like a chore...think of something to write about. Take photos. Upload photos to PC. Edit photos. Upload photos to Blogger. Train for, run, and recover from a marathon while waiting for Blogger to upload 4 or 5 measly photos. Write stuff. Lose all "free time" (aka naptime) from my day.

In the past week and a half or so I have put the computer away. It has been quite liberating, really, to discover that I had a very serious internet addiction. After a loooooong, dark winter of living vicariously through others, I am enjoying not looking at this screen.

Interestingly, my house is clean. My chores are pretty much done (ok, except for the ironing because holy heck, I hate to iron). Generally speaking, I'm just doing more and sitting on my butt a lot less.

Each morning our Daughter wakes us with some seriously LOUD singing from her crib. She belts the Sesame Street theme song, Rubber Duckie, the Chiquita Banana song, and several others. When I go in to get her, she stands up and says, "HI mommy! What do today mommy? Issa booful day!"

It could be sleeting and freezing outside with no chance of sunshine, and yet my baby-who-is-no-longer-a-baby still tells me it's a beautiful day. To her, every day is beautiful, and I have to capture that and hold it close while I can. She turns 2 on Thursday. It won't be long before she stops asking me "what do today?" It won't be long before she stops looking at every day as a "booful" one.

I owe her my time, all that I can give. This is what we gave up extra money, nice cars, and a nicer house I can be with her completely. And that means putting down this dang computer unless I need to check the weather or something.

So I don't know what that means for blogging. I started blogging because quite frankly, I was lonely sitting in my house all day with a 6-month old infant and no one to talk to. Now I have a 2 year old toddler who does nothing but talk my ear off, and it's grand. I'm afraid talking to her and more importantly, listening to her rank higher than showing you my latest projects. I'm not sure if it's quittin' time, or just break time. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

grandma's stash

I've been waiting for Joann Fabrics to put Simplicity patterns on sale again...they often mark them either a buck apiece or $1.99. This weekend they are $1.99, so Daughter and I braved the whiteout conditions (which, what the - ? It is APRIL), and picked up a dress pattern I've been eyeing. I wanted to buy a bunch of patterns, actually, but I held back because I'm already juggling enough projects.

I just got this one:

Simplicity 3897, sizes 1/2-4. The one I want to make is the dress shown on the little girl. The reason being that it requires one yard of fabric, and I have many, many single yard hunks of calico piled up around here.

Which leads me to the title of this post. I had to pick up some zippers to make a couple of these dresses, but I neglected to bring the fabrics with me to the store. I guessed at the zipper colors, but I couldn't guess at ribbon for the trim. When I got home I started thinking about a box of stuff that's been buried in my sewing bins for years. It was stuff we cleaned out of my grandma's basement when she passed away, oh, I guess it's 18 years ago now. Wow. Anyway, I've never actually sorted through her sewing stuff...till today. I thought I might find some ribbons and trims. Egads. Here is what I dumped out:

Aparently this is where I got my instinct to hoard the craft supplies.

Let's take a tour!

Need to bind a seam? Face a hem? Holy moly, my grandma was prepared for anything. There are some fantastic colors here, people. Some of these packages predate my birth by many, many years. Remind me to never ever ever buy seam binding. Ever.

Bias tape. MILES OF IT. I should never have to buy this ever again, either, but no doubt I'll need a different color/size than I have here. That green one on the top is Majesty brand, and it says it's "lawn." On the back it advertises other products, like coif caps and corset ties (!), but there isn't any company info. Anyone know anything about Majesty brand?

Not much ric-rac, I was surprised to find. But those two sealed packages are awesome. The one on the left is silver and new-ish, compared to the red and gold one, which only cost 19 cents. I would hate to open this stuff, as the packages are in perfect condition.

Ummm, need any fasteners? We have zippers in a rainbow of 50s/60s/70s colors, some enormous buttons, lots of snaps, and enough hooks & eyes to fasten about eleventy-billion garments. I wonder if my grandma just bought stuff when it was a good price, like I tend to do. I currently have enough hand-sewing needles to outfit a dressmaking school...I don't know if I'm subconsciously afraid they'll stop manufacturing them or what.

These buttons are my favorite. Can you see the sparkles? There's only one missing. I wonder what she made with it.

Back in the day a mere 45 cents would buy you these "Loving Touch" strap holders. These are unused...I wonder why she bought them if not for a specific event? The directions on the back indicate that you wrap them around any lingerie straps you are wearing, and then use the tiny safety pin to attach the wrap to your dress lining. Then your bra and/or slip straps are hidden! Neat!

Polyweb, 59 cents. I wonder if this would still stick?

Bright flaming red iron-on mending tape. 25 cents. It has "a 1001 uses!" The date on this package is 1945.

This pretty lady can teach you how to make draperies with Kirsch Easypleat tape and hooks. Phew. I was wondering how I would learn that!

And look at all the neat stuff you can make with nylon elastic thread! In your bobbin! Which I would not try! I don't know about you all, but I've never had good luck putting anything other than regular sewing thread in my bobbin.

Ah, that was fun. So much neat stuff, and I love to look through it and sort it and think about my grandma.

I did a really quick bit of sewing today as well. For heaven's sake, have any of you tried to buy a slip for a little girl recently? Sheesh, when I was a kid we couldn't escape the dumb things, and now I can't find one anywhere. I guess I'd need to look online or something because the department stores in my mall didn't have any. Luckily I am resourceful! And maybe a little nuts! I decided to make know, 3 days before Easter. Yikes.

McCall's seems to be the only company that even makes a pattern for little girl undergarments, and their pattern starts at size 3. I thought I might buy it and try to cut it down, but when I went to buy it today at Joann Fabrics, I realized that the basic slip is just a tank-style dress with no facings.

Well, come on now, I don't need a new pattern for that!

This is the same old dress pattern I always make, in a size 1 (I want it to fit fairly close to the body because it's underwear). I had a big chunk of eyelet in my stash, so I used that to avoid making a hem. To finish the armholes and neckline, I serged lace (which I have a metric ton of, for some reason) around the raw edges, then folded the edge and topstitched on the right side.

Detail of the topstitching.

The McCall's pattern has straps that meet at the top of the shoulder, and these will button more to the front, but I don't think it's a problem. I'm going to make the buttonholes by hand tomorrow because this fabric is pretty lightweight and machine would probably make a mess of it.

This isn't a perfect solution, but considering I couldn't get a 'real' slip pattern in Daughter's size, it will do for now. That said, do any of you know of a commercial slip pattern (even one in a book that I could maybe get at the library) for toddlers?

I'm signing off for the holiday weekend. To those who celebrate, have a blessed Easter!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

still here

Is this thing on?

I've kind of slacked off with the blogging thing lately, I guess. Anyone still checking in here? I don't know, I've got a touch of the ol' blogging ennui, plus I have a child turning 2, and it's spring, sort of, so I've had change-of-season stuff to do. Haven't really felt like I had anything to write about.

Here are a few things I'm working on:

First up, Pam, you are a stinking genius.

When I completed this dress for myself last week, it didn't fit right at all, and looked shapeless and...well, just bad. Pam suggested I try ties (my idea, or rather my mom's idea, was to try darts). Ties sounded so much easier, so I gave it a try. I made 2 long ties out of extra fabric, then opened the side seams about 6.5 inches below the underarm. I inserted the ties and re-sewed the seams.

Voila! A dress with shape! You'll have to take my word for it when I say this looks pretty cute on. Disaster averted!

Sitcom chic, with the sleeves now joined to the body. This has been my sitting-in-front-of-the-TV knitting, and it's proving to be very relaxing after a day of chasing a 2 y.o. around. As it happens, there is a small error in the online pattern for this sweater, so I emailed Bonne Marie Burns, the designer, and she got back to me in, like, 15 minutes with the correction. She is AWESOME! Anyway, I'm looking forward to finishing this one up for springtime.

And here we have some not-so-relaxing knitting. Still enjoyable, but definitely not relaxing in any way. Sometimes you need a challenge, right? I find that being a stay-at-home-mom sometimes leaves me wanting a bit more mental stimulation than coloring/playing playdough/reading Goodnight Moon can give me, which is when a project like this comes into play. What is it?

It's the Feather and Fan shawl from A Gathering of Lace. This shawl is also featured on the cover of the latest Knitpicks catalog. I'm working it in Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud in the stream heather colorway. So far, so good, though it took me about an hour to do the first 3 rounds. A circular start in laceweight on size 5 dpns? CHALLENGING. I'm 20 rounds into the first chart, and enjoying it, though it can really only be worked on during the day - like during naptime - as I'd be much too tired at night to keep from screwing it up.

Incidentally, I left this on the kitchen table last night and this morning Daughter dragged it off and dumped it on the floor. By some miracle no stitches were lost, which I can't believe because whenever she finds a sock-in-progress she yanks out at least one needle. Lesson learned...this will be stashed away where she cannot reach it from now on.