Friday, June 20, 2014

Fairy Houses

We went to Brookside Gardens today. Our buddy Ethan climbed a flagpole. All the way to the top. It was an amazing feat of strength for a 4 year old (for anyone, actually!). Lucy decided she, too, needed to be able to do this, discovered she couldn't and promptly flew off the deep end. Seriously. Crying, screaming, stomping, yelling, trying again, weeping in despair that she'd NEVER EVER be able to do it, telling me never to talk to her again when I tried to encourage her, more crying, more weeping and knashing of teeth. Then she hid in the little school house and wept some more. Just then, the Faires and Gnomes Camp kids came by. They were dressed as fairies, wielding bags of "fairy dust" (chamomile and glitter) and wands and granting wishes. I told them Lucy was very sad and might need some fairy dust to cheer her up. She told them to go away. Then they went away and she started crying anew that she "had missed all the fun forever". I told her we should go find them and I surreptitiously led them back to th car while ostensibly searching for the fairies (who had gone back inside by this point). I then (ahem) got a phone call from the fairy queen who apologized for missing Lucy and instructed us to build a fairy garden when we got home, and make some pixie dust. This calmed her down enough to take a freaking nap.

She woke up from a dead sleep, talking about how she miss the fun and wanted to find the fairies. So we set to work following the fairy queen's instructions.

First the pixie dust:

It is much sparklier in person.

Then the costume. She couldn't find her wings and was very upset:

Happier girl!
Malcolm took a picture of Lucy's fairy beach (which he subsequently destroyed):
This is the Lifeguard's chair (destroyed by Lucy after Malcolm destroyed the beach):
Here are some more of our creations:

Fairy castle

New, improved beach and lifeguard chair:


Fairy Throne:

Fairy houses with a table out front:

Happy "Fairy Maria":
Throwing Pixie Dust:



Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Poop on the Big Poop

Malcolm pooped on the potty today, of his own accord!

As per usual, that is not the whole story.

Malcolm has been showing a lot of interest in the potty lately. Reading "Potty" by Leslie Patricelli (author of such riveting fare as "No No, Yes, Yes" and "Big Little"), reading "Elmo's Potty Book" and "cleaning" the toilet at every opportunity. Fortunately, he has started using a toilet brush instead of my toothbrush for that particular task.

It usually goes like this: I mention the bathroom in passing ("Daddy's in the bathroom.") and Malcolm says "Pwease, Mama, use potty!" Then he strips completely naked, including shedding his socks, sits on the potty, releases a little stream of pee, throws vast amounts of toilet paper into the potty for no reason other than he knows Lucy always puts toilet paper in after she pees, flushes and prances away happily, naked cheeks a-jiggling. Every time he poops, he tells me after he poops. When I am changing his diaper - which he fights like a rabid bear - I say "If you don't want me to change your diaper, then you have to tell me before you poop and you can poop in the potty!" Every time, every poop, for weeks I have been saying this.

Today, he lays on the floor and says "Mama, have poop!" So we tromp up the stairs, I get him on the changing table only to find there is no poop.

"Did you mean you need to poop?"

"Yes, Mama. Have POOP!"

"Oh! Okay! Let's go!"

We go to th bathroom. He strips naked and sits on the potty. He pees. "All done!"

"That wasn't poop, buddy, that's pee."

"Oh. Awight, Mama, awight. Bye."

"You want me to go?"


I leave. He locks the door. I go to his room and start folding laundry. He runs out three minutes later.


"Did you poop on the potty!"


I run into the bathroom and there is a perfect littl turd...on the floor in front of the toilet. I burst out laughing.

"Close, boy-o! So close! Next time sit on the potty to poop so it goes in the toilet!"

"Oh, okay, Mama, okay, awight, okay."

I clean up the poop, and take him to get wiped up and into a new diaper. As I clean him up, he says he has to poop. Okay, off to the potty again. He pees.

"That's pee, buddy. Pee comes out of your penis, poop comes out of your anus. It is different hole in in your bottom."

"Why hole in bottom?"

"So the poop can get out."

"Oh, okay, Mama. GO AWAY!"

"Uhhh...okay..." I leave, return to clothes folding. Fifteen second later, Malcolm comes running out of the bathroom again, looking slightly panic stricken.

"MAMA! POOOOOP! Put it back in!"

I look out in the hallway and he is running towards me, little chunks of poop falling out of his butt as he runs. Oh Lordy. I pick him up and put him on the potty so I can wipe him up.

"More poop. Go AWAY!"

Good lord, how much more can he produce? I leave him there with the suggestion that he sit on the potty while he poops, so the poop can go into the potty, then he can watch it flush down if he wants to. Good fun! He giggles a little, as if the suggestion is absurd.

"Ha! Okay Mama!"

I talk with Kevin for a bit, then go back up to get him dressed so we can go to the grocery store and then pick up Lucy from school.

The bathroom has a distinctly aromatic air. Malcolm is still sitting on the potty. There is a very big poop. IN the potty. Kevin and I clap and whoop like idiots. Malcolm smiles a sheepish, but clearly very proud, smile.

"Okay, awight, okay, Mama. Poop!"

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

On Our 7th Anniversary

In March of 2007, about two weeks before my wedding, I went to a yoga training. There, I met a kind man named Ranjit. Ranjit was something of an intuitive (though, as his wife said, "a somewhat drunken intuitive"). He came up to me on the last day of the training, after we were all flush from a no-holds-barred, crazy joyful dancing session, and said to me "Are you sure you are going to marry this man? He is a very difficult man. I can see it being very hard for both of you." Just what a girl two weeks from her wedding wants to hear, right? I said "I love him. I've never been sure about anything before, but I am sure about this." Ranjit smiled and hugged me, and that was the end of it. I went home, got married and now today is Kevin and I's seventh anniversary.

I haven't thought about Ranjit for some time, and for some reason it all came back to me yesterday. And you know, he was right. Kevin is a difficult man, and it has been difficult. We have had money issues, communication issues, parenting issues, issue issues. But what Ranjit failed to mention was that I am also a difficult woman, and marriage is a two way street. It is easy to be negative about someone when the chips are down. But I have noticed some important things. My husband is difficult because he feels. He feels deeply and fully and thinks long and hard about how his actions affect the people around him. He is difficult because he genuinely wants to grow and learn and be a better man. He is difficult because he wants to protect his family from the evils of the world and sometime he just can't see how he can possibly do it the way things stand.

And though Ranjit may have been right about some of the struggles we would face together, he apparently missed all the ways my husband is awesome.

Kevin cares so much about the little guy, the underdog, the bullied, the forgotten. He would move heaven and earth to give a hand to someone who needed it, and feels their pain like it is his own.

Kevin is deeply loyal. I know he has my back, my front and all the other sides. I know I can count on him for anything (unless it involves my dirty feet. Then I'm on my own).

Kevin is really freaking funny. No one else makes me laugh the way he does. No one else has EVER made me laugh the way he does. No one makes anyone laugh the way Kevin does. People literally pay him to make them laugh, and I get it for free, all the time.

Kevin is gentle and kind. Don't let the gruff exterior and perma-scowl fool you. He does kind things, he says kind things, he gives warm hugs that stop the world and make it all better.

Kevin is an amazing dad. He makes so much fun for our children. He kisses boo-boos, paints tiny fingernails, plays dress-up, has tea parties, makes movies, runs, throws rocks, builds forts, laughs at inane jokes, makes Mac 'n' cheese like a pro, tucks in, sings, distracts, teaches, protects, provides for, loves loves loves loves loves. Watching Kevin with our kids is one of my greatest joys. Hearing the three of them laugh and play together makes my heart soar. He is an amazing dad.

Kevin is silly. He makes up silly love songs about me. He does goofy voices. He makes up stories. He tells tall tales. He pulls pranks. He dances like a dork. He knows everything about every movie and actor ever made.

Kevin cares so much about the world. He really does. He says he hates it. He says he hates everybody in it. But that's because he wants so much to make the world a better place for his children, and can't quite find the way to get a handle on how. He cares so much about the world we are leaving our children.

Kevin loves me. He loves me. As I noted earlier, Ranjit failed to mention how difficult I am. I am picky. I want things my way. I nag, I nitpick, I grumble, I change my mind, I forget to put things on the calendar, my schedule is crazy and totally unpredictable, I leave my damn shoes everywhere, I forget to push in my chair. He more than tolerates me. He loves me and shows it every day.

So Ranjit was right. And while our life certainly hasn't been rife with tragedy by any stretch of the imagination, there have been some steeper ups and downs than I would have liked. But I'm not sure he wasn't just The fact remains. I love him. I have never been sure of anything, but I am still sure of this.

Happy anniversary, Kevin.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Looking for an Elsa Dress?

So is every other parent in America. Apparently the producers of FROZEN didn't think Elsa would be the popular sister (between Elsa's gorgeous dress and her magic ice powers, poor Anna didn't stand a chance), so there is a huge Elsa dress shortage. I found a gorgeous one on for $295. Haha. Not happening. However, I had a deep and unexplained desired to put Lucy in an Elsa dress, so I searched everywhere for a pattern or a tutorial on how to do it. I found two. Two sad lonely little pages on how someone's mom made a sub-par Elsa dress. Seriously, people?? There were 194,038 hits for how to make a rubber band banjo and TWO for the most popular Disney princess since, I don't know, Cinderella. And they weren't the loveliest renditions. So I did a little brainstorming and a lot of thinking-while-driving and this is what I came up.

Here are the raw materials:

2 yards (54") of teal glitter costume satin for the skirt and bodice backing

1/2 yard (36") of some sort of sequin-y, sparkly fabric for the outer bodice (sequins are hard to sew, glitter sheds, lace snags. Choose that which you find the least irritating).

2 yards (54") of lacy sparkly fabric for the cape
1-3 yards narrow trim of choice
Sew-on jewels (NOT glue-on or bedazzler type jewels-make sure they have holes in them).
White or light blue leotard. I got mine here.

Before I start, I must highly, HIGHLY recommend using a serger with this fabric. Borrow one, buy one, steal one, just serge the crap out of this stuff. It frays like a sombitch.

Get a few measurements. And I do mean a few. Basically all you need is the hip measurement since little girls are pretty much the same size top to bottom, but just for giggles, get the waist, chest, and length from armpit to waist, too. Now, add 3" to the hip measurement, and you have th basis for th whole dress. You want her to be able to step into the dress from the top.

Trim the leotard with a sparkly silver or white sequin braid. I had to do this by hand. Well...I had to do it by hand if I wanted to work on the dress AND watch Brooklyn 99 at the same time.

Cut the leotard off at the waist (or slightly below the waist).

The costume satin should measure 74" long and 54" wide. Cut about 10" off of the BOTTOM of the glitter satin (so now it should measure roughly 44" wide, still 74" long), and set the smaller piece aside for the bodice. Sew the skirt together, stopping about 10" down (to create the slit in the skirt; sew all the way own if you don't want a slit). Finish the edges of the slit by rolling the edges under and making a narrow hem.
Hide the seam in a few deep pleats (which for some reason I didn't take a picture of) and gather the rest of the skirt.
Cut a ribbon to the hip measurement plus ~3" and sew it into a circle. Make sure your Elsa can step into this ribbon and get it comfortably up around her waist before proceeding. Sew the skirt to the ribbon. It did this because I hate measuring. I want to do it one time. I knew I was sewing this skirt to a stretchy leotard and I didn't want to have to measure a million times to make sure it was still the right circumference. I actually sewed it on wrong, but it worked out fine, and frankly doesn't really matter since it is going to be hidden under the bodice.
Pin the skirt to the bottom of the leotard (use a lot of pins to make sure it is even). Sew it together, hem the bottom edge at the appropriate length and the skirt is done. This is what the inside looked like. May I take this moment to again encourage you to serge the living crap out of this?
Malcolm got ahold of my phone at this point and took some pictures for me:
Using the chest and torso measurements you took earlier, cut a long rectangle from the extra satin you cut off the skirt. Add a few inches for seam allowance, closures and shaping. Lucy's chest measured 23.25", and the torso length was 6.5" so I cut a rectangle measuring 27" x 10". Then I shaped the point in the front by cutting at an angle from the sides down to the middle. Cut a matching piece out of the sparkly bodice fabric. Pin them together, right sides together. Sew around the edge, leaving a hole to turn it right side out. CIip the corners and turn it right side out. Press the seams flat (be aware, this satin will melt/scorch if you aren't extremely careful with the temperature!).

I cut mine a little short, so I just added a few inches after the fact and now it is adjustable to a bigger sizzle. Which is so cool...and I totally did it on purpose...

Add your closures (I used snaps, Velcro will work just fine, though it will snag the cape, so just be aware).

The bodice is not quite done, but set it aside for a moment and go to the cape.


Hem the or serge the cape fabric. Gather the top edge so it is 6-7" wide. Sew this across the back of the leotard.


I had some real questions about how to attach the bodice to the leotard. I decided that I wanted to preserve as much stretch in the leotard as possible (since I want her to be able to step into it, and wear it as she gets bigger), so sewing it all the way around would pretty much destroy the awesome adjustability I built into the bodice (again, totally my plan...). So instead, I used the sew-on jewels to attach the bodice across the front of the leotard for a few inches. Pin the bodice to the appropriate place on the leotard and sew all the way through all layers as you attached th jewels to the front of the dress.










There you have it! Finished dress, happy girl! And I don't take Pinterest-worthy photos, I'm afraid.




Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Reusable Painting Surface

Lucy loves to paint. I love her paintings. Until the the time comes to purge and she freaks out and doesn't let me recycle even one of her roughly 30 million masterpieces. Malcolm loves to make messes, play with soap and splash in water. This activity let each kid do their favorite thing, and spared me even one single painting to hang to dry.

I laminated several pieces of construction paper, set up a bin of soap and water and let them loose with paints. Lucy could paint and then wash the pictures off in the bin (her reaction? "THIS IS AWESOME, MAMA!"). Lucy was surprisingly willing to wash her work away. Malcolm made and washed one picture. Then he learned about cause and effect as he put his head in the water over and over. He is the living example of the definition of insanity...


We did 23 pictures. And now there are none. Perfect.