Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A tooth!

I don't think they'd be good in a mixed drink, but these icy cubes of mushy squash are making a small member of my family very happy. He's been gumming at crunchy breadsticks, sucking down water through a straw, shoving handfuls of banana in his face, and enjoying these nasty-looking cubes of squash (straight out of the freezer) in his mesh baby feeder.

We made our bi-monthly pilgrimage to Costco today and had kind of miserable time. Usually it's fun to go to Costco; we buy $1.99 pizza slices for lunch, taste the samples, browse through the seasonal items and feel all mid-size-city-middle-class-suburbany, in a good way. Today was a different story. The baby started fussing before Dorothy and I were even done with our pizza, was grumping and lunging for his mama from the front of the cart before we left the paper products, and was full-on crying by the time we reached the massive vats of baking flour. The section with the granola bars--the last area we shop--saw me trying to bounce an unhappy 20 pound baby on my shoulder, maneuver a very full cart through the aisles, and herd a sample-stuffed 4-year-old to the checkout line. Both kids went home and slept all afternoon, and I figured our unusual Costco meltdown must of been related to the baby's lack of a good morning nap, even though he's usually pretty easy going about his sleep schedule. Then this evening I had the baby on my knee and was wiping remnants of (my) sweet potato fries off his chin and "recycling" them by poking them in his mouth when I felt--OMG!--a sharp protrusion on his bottom gum. The baby has his first tooth! I held him down and pried his mouth open like any good mother and took a nice look, and there it was. A tooth. Dorothy was 11 months before she popped out her first little chomper, so I would never have connected the poor babe's miserable scene at Costco (or the subsequent extra-long nap) with teething pain, but obviously it was related. Poor kid. But wow! We have a tooth. It feels momentous.
And this is my pretty thrift-store find of the week. I have a goal of replacing my standard-issue, available-at-Target serving ware with slightly more unique finds over time. I'd been looking for a milk glass lidded bowl/casserole dish that was big enough to carry a pasta salad to a pitch-in, and Monday I found it at Unique. It's hard to find such a large vessel that has both dish and lid intact, so I was pleased. The price as right too! And now, to keep things balanced, a later-model casserole is going into my own "donate" pile. Out with the new and in with the old! Or something. :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

A soccer bag

Dorothy starts soccer tomorrow! We keep her ballet gear in a special tote bag hung on a hook in her closet so she always knows where to look for little slippers, tutus and tights. I decided a similar approach would probably work well for soccer, but this time the tote needed to be big enough to hold a ball and shin guards. I let Dorothy choose fabric from our stash, and although I was encouraging her toward a sporty bold-colored stripe, she selected this really feminine vintagey floral. But hey, it's her bag. I used Photoshop to change the colors of a clipart soccer ball to match the fabric, then printed it onto transfer paper intended for dark items (so it would cover the pattern).

If your peanut also needs a soccer tote, cut a 30 inch by 17 inch rectangle from an old sheet, with the 30 inch length going along the finished edge. Fold in half (to make a rectangle 15 by 17 inches, with the finished edge at the top) and stitch up the side and bottom. If desired, square off the bottom by making gussets in the bottom corners. Cut another rectangle 15 by 6 inches. Press the rectangle in half lengthwise, open, then press each edge in toward the middle fold, then re-fold the middle to make a strap 2 inches by 15 inches. Stitch closed and sew to the bag. Iron-on clipart optional.
I have no idea what is going on in this picture, but I just think it's cute. I love kids in footie pajamas and it was finally chilly enough last night for mine to wear some. Dorothy often wears weather-inappropriate jammies, since she picks out her own, but that doesn't count. I'd bought these sweet guitar jammies for Worth in size 12 month and he's almost outgrown them already! I'm not sure how I was planning to wrap up this post, but will now share that Worth is in my lap as I type and just saw the photograph and is now holding his arms up again, in imitation of the kids on the screen. Cute! Must be some new baby trick. :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pre-Preschool

Dorothy seems to have inherited her father's enjoyment of running, as opposed to her mother's enjoyment of NOT running, which is probably a good thing. We entered her in a 5-and-under road race this past weekend and she had a blast. The event was close to our home so we just walked over with her spectating grandparents. She is incredibly proud of her participation medal, which she won't let me put in a shadow-box frame because "it might not be safe enough," (which I think means "because I wouldn't have constant access to it") and we've watched the video I took of her running approximately 1000 times.
And I'm feeling just a bit nostalgic about these last sweet days before my girl starts preschool. Although she'll probably be coming back home when it's over (we're intending to homeschool), this year will still mark a major change in her life, and loss of innocence. I'm excited about the preschool she is attending and I know it's going to be a great experience, but her wild and free time of babyhood and unselfconscious exploration at my side is coming to an end. Here is a photo of her doing her own thing, in one of these final days with nowhere to be: her teddy bear hooked to her back, her Halloween socks and ruby slippers, her hair finally growing out of the self-inflicted short cut, her hands full of one of her many independent sewing "projects," which involve snippets and scraps sewn together haphazardly but with grand intention (a backpack, a shirt for Maggie, a quilt, etc.).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sibling bonding, again

Adventures in food continue. After his initial hesitation, Worth has decided that solid food is pretty wonderful after all, especially if it comes from his sister. I think my commitment to self-feeding is definitely not as important as the sibling bonding going on here. So cute I had to share!

video

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sweet potato mess

Solid food has arrived in Worth's life! I was planning to wait until his six month birthday, next week, but after two days of listening to him emit annoyed pterodactyl noises and pound his chubby fists against the metal table as a soundtrack to every bite we ate I decided to introduce a few days early. He can sit unassisted, has more than doubled his birth weight, and whoa--he was eager. I've been letting him gnaw on a spoon while sitting in his high chair for a few weeks, and he's pretty much got the spoon-to-mouth thing down. (We do baby self-feeding.) So now the experiments truly begin! He actually seemed to hate last night's experience with mushy sweet potato--I don't know if he didn't like the feeling of it on his hands or what. But we gave him another chance today at lunch and it was much better. He may have just been tired last night. So the bibs I made months ago came out, and we're on to a whole new phase of baby life.Speaking of messes, the advent of baby meals in my house again has made me remember just how glad I am that we don't use paper towels. We made a switch away from them about three years ago, and it makes me wonder how they ever caught on in the first place--they are horrifyingly expensive and they simply don't wipe up messes as well. I keep a little stack of clean rags in the same spot we used to keep paper towels and we just reach for a clean one any time we need one. I keep a little re-purposed trash can next to our real trash can to hold the dirty laundry. If I get a rag totally wet (like rinsing off chunks of sweet potato and then wiping up the floor) I hang it over the edge of the laundry can to dry so we don't get mildew in between washings. Since we're already washing cloth diapers every couple days I just throw our rags in with them, but when we weren't washing dipes I put rags in with towels or just ran a separate load as needed--it never seems burdensome. We have several dozen rags, which are actually inexpensive white washcloths, so we can grab a fresh one as often as wish, and I have only white so I can use bleach on them occasionally. It seemed a little wasteful in the beginning to buy so many washcloths, since I could have found things to cut up into rags, but for me to actually sit them out in the open in the kitchen (key to actually using them), they needed to look nice too. Seems like a fair trade-off given how many paper towels we would have used in the last three years!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

For Layla too


Wouldn't want the baby doll to get cold this winter either. Today I made Layla (the doll) a hat and scarf to match Dorothy's. I hate sewing for the doll because doll clothes are just as complicated as bigger clothes, but painfully small; crocheting things for the doll is great because the stitches can still be big, but the item requires fewer of them!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sandwiches, pants, babies...

A sort of rambly blog post tonight. The rest of the family is asleep but I'm up, kind of on edge, watching over this huge pile of boxes ready to be put in storage tomorrow. I'm glad our realtor is having us put all this stuff away, actually, because it is a good reminder that we probably don't need to own much of anyway. I'm not an anti-stuff purist (if vintage glass dishes put a smile on my face, is their existence in my home really something to be ashamed of, even though I already own other dishes?), but I don't want needless clutter in my space, or to be caught up in its acquisition or preservation just for the sake of it. It's a small leap from "can I store this for 3-6 months" to "can I live without this altogether?" So maybe after this move I'll shed some of these things for good and feel lighter for it.
In the meantime, it's prime time to enjoy my favorite sandwich. I didn't grow a garden this year because of our housing situation, but we've still been able to get our hands on enough fresh, local tomatoes to make my very favorite grilled cheese sandwich. It's mutli-grain bread brushed in olive oil, the inside smeared with pesto, then melty cheese and slices of juicy ripe tomato. Yum, yum, yum. So tasty that eating it just wasn't enough--I had to be a dork and photograph it for my blog. :)
And pants. I said this post was random, right? I made these pants for Worth last week during the sewing frenzy, but never got around to photographing them.

Same funky print as the hat. I don't have a pattern that has this contrasting back panel so I just cut up the pattern and left a seam allowance around the area I cut. Next time I do something similar I think I'll start the panel down a bit lower. But I like the way they turned out.

And here's my boy. He's not really waving, though it looks like he is. He'll be six months in 12 more days and is on the eve of getting his first taste of solid food. I took a bunch of pictures of him today to record all his gorgeous fat rolls and chubby deliciousness so I can look back and be proud of this boy I fed. Not that he's going to stop nursing now, but soon I won't know which little dimples I can fully take credit for. He's sitting unassisted now and is getting all this fuzzy new hair. It's trite but true--they change so fast! I'm totally silly over him, my beautiful boy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bonding and packing

Dorothy told me the other day that "it is hard to have a brother who is always here. I liked it better when he was inside your belly. I liked feeling him kick. I liked that better than seeing him kick." I managed not to laugh out loud. In spite of the fact that it truly is "hard" sometimes for Dorothy to make the adjustment to being one of two, she also in reality totally loves her brother. I'm confident she'll realize it later. She is almost losing the ability to play contentedly on her own--she spends the majority of her free time singing to him, playing with him, loving on him, abusing him, putting him in mortal peril. He rewards all of the above by thinking she's the greatest thing on earth. If she walks away he sobs. I caught this picture of them today, and I love the way they are enjoying each other.

No crafting for us today. The new realtor has ushered in an era of Major Change that is starting with us rearranging our lives so the house will show better and will hopefully end with us unpacking joyfully in a new space. "It is hard," to quote my daughter, to pack up useful items from our overcrowded kitchen without knowing when we will see them again (my Cuisinart!), but fortunately my experience volunteering with refugees has taught me that I'd basically be a complete asshole spoiled brat to feel too sorry for myself over a relatively minor inconvenience, knowing it is is ultimately part of the privilege of being able to move to a more comfortable home. Hopefully sooner rather than later. So today was spent packing. Appliances, gadgets, mixing bowls and the play kitchen are all destined for storage in an attempt to make our kitchen look larger. And guess what? It totally does. I'd almost buy it myself.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Art history

First, good news: we picked a new realtor! Although we were very fond of our last one, we thought for various reasons that it was a good strategy to relist with a new person. So we are. And it was great to have the break from the house-selling, and now it's great to feel like we're going at it fresh again! When the for-sale sign first went into my frozen lawn last January it made me feel nervous, but eight months later we have a lot more clarity on the issue (as well as an additional human living here) and I'm going to celebrate when the new sign goes up!

In preparation for the (hopeful) showings we'll be having, I've been clearing out the spaces where Stuff collects around our house. A bag of toys is ready to go to Goodwill, and a great number of priceless works of art by the resident 4-year-old are being recycled. I can't feel bad about this, because if I kept all of her artwork we wouldn't have any room to live. She's very prolific, and her grandparents, father and I are supportive patrons. But we can't keep it all. No way. So I have a cubby where I stash art once she gives it to me, then periodically while she's out I go through it. The pieces that are really memorable--ones she worked on for a long time, are particularly original, or are representative of a stage of her art--I date and file in a large plastic paper organizer (marketed to scrapbookers for organizing their supplies) that I bought when she was a small baby. I have one for her and I recently bought another for Worth. Then I take those and several particularly nice other ones, scan them, and include those images in our family photo albums, ordered from Blurb.com. On the most recent album I ordered I devoted the first section just to her artwork and the text of my family-related status updates from Facebook. Since I'm one of those obnoxious people (sorry!) who thinks all my "friends" must surely be interested in the charming things my children do and say, I often use household episodes as status updates. To be sure that I don't share them with several hundred of my closest friends and then forget them altogether, I comb through my Facebook profile every few months and copy and paste the text of the updates into my photo album in progress. This seems to be working pretty well, and I don't have to be particularly organized about it but can catch up on it in a hurry as I have the chance.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thinking ahead

Yes, it reached 102 degrees around here this week, but inside the air-conditioning I was working on a new hat and scarf set for Dorothy. When I went to Joann last weekend I knew I better come home with more than just fabric for Worth, so I also picked up some inexpensive yarn for Dorothy. It's just acrylic, but it's soft and should wash well, and with her fickle tastes there is always the possibility she will never wear it--I've wasted good wool on her before. I paid all of $4.50 for the yarn (at half off) and there's enough left for another project, so I feel good about not making any particular investment in it. It's a simple bulb-shaped hat that I fitted to her head as I went, and the scarf is just five rows of double-crochets with a little scalloped edge. I love how quickly bulky yarn works up! I used double-strands on the hat so it would be extra warm. The flower is an oversized version of the flower from this pattern. It seems a little overstated for the cap of a four-year-old, but, well, that's what four-year-olds like. It's adorable on, and I told her I will now always be able to spot her in her rainbow hat playing on the school playground once cool weather comes.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Some projects and a nap strategy

This tank was an embellishment from earlier in the summer. I thought I'd photograph it on me to show how the sun design wraps around, but I never remember to. I love how it turned out and I've worn it over and over. It was another $5 tank top from Target, and I used a compass to make pencil circles on fabric for the sun design, cut them out and attached them to the shirt with double-sided fusible web (Wonder Under), then zig-zagged around them on the machine. It was inspired by a beautiful shirt I saw on someone at an art fair last year.
And after all my fussing over kids' sunhats earlier in the summer, Baby Worth went and outgrew his and I had to go at it again. At least by now I think I've been able to establish a good work flow for hats and this one came together quickly. I used Simplicity 5695. It looks very New Orleansish to me, in a good way. Definitely not a sweet teddy bears and bunnies kind of hat, but I think he likes it.
And speaking of that baby, he's taken a high-maintenance turn the last few days. He's waking up screaming at night, is spending less time contentedly playing with measuring cups on the floor, and is refusing to nap for more than fifteen minutes at a time. I'm not sure if the source of his discontent is teething or a new develpmental milestone (he's creeping backwards--watch out world!), but I'm trying to strategize how to keep us all sane and happy and I seem to have worked out a good nap plan, at least. He seems to be sleeping lightly and will wake up fully after just a few minutes if he doesn't see me there with pats and reassurance, so today I put him down for his nap on the sofa next to me and I sat there with my crochet and coffee for an hour while he slept. It ended up being a sweet hour where I got to admire his perfect little sleeping body, take a quiet and restful hour myself, and make some progress on a crochet project too. Now I might be disappointed after this stage passes and I can tuck him in upstairs by himself again!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Two kitchen experiments

The kids and I spent a lot of quality time in the kitchen today, partly because I figured that way we'd only mess up one room of the house we'd just cleaned for last night's realtor interview (it went well, one more to go). I dearly love mixing up sweet concoctions and then running the through our ice cream maker, which is the easy-to-use electric kind with the bowl you just freeze in the freezer--no ice or salt required. You can dump just about anything liquid in the ice cream maker and make a nice slush--margaritas, ice creams, even instant pudding (before it sets up!). When Dorothy was a baby I used to puree fruit and plain yogurt together and turn that into "ice cream" in tiny little individual jars for her. She loved it! Today we made purple ice cream, and it's been a hit. I blended a cup of blackberries with 3 cups of milk (skim is what we had on hand) and 1 cup of sugar, then poured it into the ice cream freezer with 1 cup of half and half for a little richness. I could have strained out the seeds but didn't bother--we don't mind the seeds. It's light, not super creamy (what with the skim milk and no heavy cream), but it's still delicious and we don't feel too bad eating a lot of it! And it's purple, which is the current favorite color of Dorothy.
Today's other kitchen experiment was sweet potato chips. I'd read somewhere online recently about making really healthy sweet potato chips in a food dehydrator (our model: thrift store, $2), so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm not a big salty snacker myself, I'm more of a sweets girl (see above) but Dorothy is quite fond of chips and I thought this might be a good snack for her. So I dragged out the mandoline, which is kind of a neat kitchen toy but not one I get out often, given how it is a fun-looking gadget that involves super-sharp blades, and my assistant chef is four. Anyway, I used the mandoline to slice up a sweet potato into reaaaaally thin little slices, then Dorothy and I loaded up the dehydrator trays with them and salted them (you can't use oil in a dehydrator because it doesn't dehydrate) and waited eagerly for the results. An hour and a half later the chips looked beautiful. I took one out and broke it to see if it was done--lovely, crunchy brittleness! We each bit into one. Wow. They were totally nasty. Ick. Like orange cardboard with a whiff of sweet potato. More salt didn't even help. Don't they look pretty, though? You can't win 'em all...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Intruder


Ok, I must interrupt my usual flow of blogging about my crafty projects and my children to bring you: WTF is floating in my iron??!

A sewing frenzy

We're interviewing a couple new realtors before we decide what our next house-selling steps are, and the first one comes tomorrow. That effectively means that my time to mess up the house with thread and fabric snippets is coming to a close, so I'm in a frenzy of stitch-witchery over here, getting things really good and messy. (Until tomorrow.) Last night I made Worth this little puppy dog romper, based on the same pattern and the 4th of July one, but this one actually fits. It's cute on and comes together quickly, but I do think the rounded straps look slightly feminine. If I get a chance to make another one I'll probably square off the straps.

Then I made these sweet little shorts, which are deliciously soft and comfy, with more useless cute buttons. They also fit him nicely, but I'm a little worried the fabric won't wash well. There is no way I'm ironing shorts for my 5-month-old.

And I finally finished this shirt for myself. It's based on Butterick B4549, and it matches the brown skirt I made earlier in the summer. I shirred the tops of the sleeves to make it more flattering, and I finished all the edges in bias tape that I made from the scraps of the skirt, so it's all matchy. I'd actually sewn the shirt a while back, but when I put it on there was a wicked sharp little edge jutting up from the zipper, which is under the arm, and it hurt. The shirt then lay on my sewing pile for a month or two, and now I finally sewed a little tab on that snaps over the sharp zipper so I can wear it.

On a completely different subject, I was reflecting on how quickly the last five months have gone, and how painfully slow were the nine before that. I just don't love pregnancy. I'm so happy to be unpregnant now, yet in some ways the pains of pregnancy are still dogging me. All those magazines say it's "perfectly normal" to get horrid brown spots all over your face while you're pregnant, called "mask of pregnancy." What they don't tell you is that it's also "perfectly normal" to spend a bunch of money on creams once your pregnancy is long over, trying to get rid of those same "normal" spots. And that breastfeeding helps you lose the baby weight--so long as you eat fewer calories than it takes to sustain your baby and maintain your current weight. Sigh...

But I love my baby!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

A big deal


I had a birthday a couple days ago, and although I truly feel fine about being 34, for some reason the song stuck in my head all day Friday was Thunder Road--not the whole song, just the bit about "so you're scared and you're thinkin' that maybe we ain't that young anymore." But truly, I feel fine about where I am in life and that I'm 34. Show a little faith! (Thank you Bruce.) I had a great day with my family.

Today I'm at the sewing machine with Baby Boy in mind. He's grown so fast almost nothing weather-appropriate fits him anymore, and I continue to be pretty unhappy with store-bought boy clothes (football, anyone?). I also can't just head off to the thrift store and find good sewing fabric for him like I can for Dorothy. But luckily it doesn't take much fabric to make baby clothes, even for babies the size of this one, so I journeyed to Joann last night and came home with a nice little selection to keep me busy for a few days. Today I made him a pair of shorts and a matching t-shirt. I don't think the picture shows the detail on the shorts, but they turned out pretty cute. They are long, like surfer shorts, and I sewed faux pockets on the front and a useless but cute little front button for decoration. They fit nicely over his cloth diaper. The tee is an old onesie from Dorothy's babyhood that I cropped to make a regular shirt (because I wouldn't Worth to look dorky with a onesie tucked into his casual shorts) and then ironed on printer transfer paper. I created the transfer by scanning the shorts fabric and using it as a border for my text. It ain't a beauty, but hey, it's all right.