Monday, May 31, 2010

Swim Suit Therapy

I haven't been much of a blogger this past month or so.
We got word that finally all of the arrangements have been made for our little Moo to leave us.
I've been numb for a long time, so when I heard it didn't feel like much. If anything, the numbness intensified in response to the news. Hence my lack of writing. I can't write what I don't feel.
I questioned my lack of feeling, and answered myself that it was because I'd already done a lot of my grieving. I guessed the numbness would persist until she was gone and then I could finish up with the grief at my leisure.
That was a good theory but it turns out it was false.
Making specific plans with dates and times of when exactly my stewardship of this child will end was a sharp rock breaking through the husk of numbness.
I spent a lot of time this week contemplating pain as I wandered around the house aware of all the lists of things that needed to be done but unable to fix on anything to do.
Thursday I realized that swimming lessons were to begin today and that nudged me to get to work on Zizza's new swim suit.
So far this pool season she's been making due with last year's suit which is decidedly small.
Thursday night I took a pattern from this leotard (which reminds me I've been too numb to mention her dance recital)

Friday afternoon I got to work and made the suit. (This picture cracks me up)

I started with the basic tank pattern from the leotard but I narrowed the straps, changed it up to a racer back and ruffled the heck out of it.
The first few times she put it on she honestly could not stop herself from shaking her ruffled little tush. She climbed on the bathroom counter and shook it in the mirror. She shook it at me. When The Mr came home she scurried up stairs and put on the bathing suit just so she could shake her ruffles at him.
I was flattered and happy that she liked it so well. I was also glad that she toned down the ruffle shaking before the day came to go out in her new suit. It was adorable, true, but not entirely appropriate public behavior.

You know what? Making something was just what I needed to patch up that breech in my husk. I'm feeling a lot better. Able to do the things I need and want to do during the next week and a half.

In a related story, I hung these hooks on the wall above the bathtub so the suits can drip dry after swim lessons. (yes they are un-even. Yes it bugs me. No, I haven't fixed it) In the past, my bathroom counter has collected swim suits all summer long. Not this year!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fragile-Handle with care

I was about ten, I think when the only boy cousin my age moved to our town.
We didn't know each other at all. Visits from across the country had been scarce.
The first family gathering I remember him attending was just before their move.
Two of my other cousins and I, who called ourselves "The Three Musketeers" and spent our time walking around like The Monkees, passed the afternoon wondering if we should try to make friends with him and giggling ourselves senseless every time we tried.
Then the other cousins went home and he stayed.
His family stayed with us for a week, or maybe two weeks, while they looked for a house.
Soon, he and I were great friends. We split our time between two thrilling activities. Being obnoxious to one another,which I our mothers might have called "playing happily together," and being obnoxious to everyone else.
When the move was complete we traded phone calls and spent weekends at each other's houses. He taught me the words "Destination" and "Gazebo"
I had a blank tape once and we spent hours recording and re-recording what we thought were the funniest jokes in the world.
Then we started growing up.
We didn't hang out as much.
One evening as a family gathering was winding down we were busy being obnoxious to one another. I guess I was especially proficient with my obnoxiousness that day because he got an odd look on his face, then he started toward me. I remember thinking "It looks like he's going to punch me" I put the thought aside, people don't actually punch one another. Especially not best-friend cousins! But he was still coming, and his fist was at the ready. I began to suspect that he might actually do it and I thought "You want to punch me? Fine. Do it!" and fixed him a saucy gaze.
Then he did it. He punched me.
I stared at him kind of shocked, puzzled really. My best friend cousin had honestly just punched me in the jaw. It hurt a little, not much. (He didn't really know how to punch and he hesitated at the last minute right before I delivered that saucy gaze.)
I didn't know how to proceed. Rules of conduct had been broken. What was I supposed to do now with the fragments?
He answered the question for me. "You're not going to cry are you?" he said obnoxiously (how else?) So I looked him in the face again, and I cried.
That was the end.
Oh, we poked fun at each other, debated pointless topics and generally carrying on when we found our selves seated under this or that tree celebrating this or that family event but we weren't bests anymore.
I haven't seen him in years, about ten.
He's fantastic.
I wish we were friends.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's really here

I've been waiting for it. The heat that really shuts you up inside. We've been skirting along on the nearly pleasant side of things for quite a while now but today it happened.
The kids went out. I stopped myself from cautioning about the heat. They can decide for themselves how hot is too hot I decided. The back yard is not big enough for them to run so far that they'll be in danger of dehydration before they make it back to the house for water.
There was crying outside, it didn't sound to me like one of mine crying, but it was.
The unfamiliarity in the voice I heard was the distinction between actual distress and it's more common brother; indulged part-acted distress.
Enz was on the trampoline jumping in quick little hops. "Hot, Mama," He said. "My feet"
"The trampoline is burning your feet?" I asked as I made my way to him.
And it was true.
His poor little feet were so tortured, all he could do was jump again as fast as possible each time they regained contact with the surface of their heat absorbing black tormentor, the trampoline mat.
His mistreated appendages seem to be fine now. We even went out and jumped, at his request, this evening after the sun went down.
He really is a good jumper. His attempt to stretch his legs out and touch his toes at the height of a bounce was quite a good one. But from now 'till September or so I'll be sure to limit his jumping to times when the full wrath of the sun is diverted from the face of the trampoline.

Monday, May 17, 2010

At least she's a pretty weed.

During this past year Zizza has been growing like a weed.

In the past her dresses have almost always lasted a season and a half to two seasons. Things she wore one summer would fit her for at least half of the following summer and then the replacement would fit for the other half of that summer and the whole of the following summer.

You get the idea.

Until this year.

This year she's out grown even the dresses from the winter we've only just got through.

So, for the first time ever, I made her a dress because she actually needed it. Without this new dress she would have nothing appropriate to wear to church. We've been getting by with her wearing play dresses and Sunday shoes or by turning a blind eye to the shortness of her winter dresses.

Thank goodness that won't be necessary anymore.

I used the same fabric combination as I did for this bag. I used every little scrap I had plus some white muslin for lining.

My original plan was to use elastic thread shirring below the yoke but I decided elastic thread wouldn't be strong enough to gather the weight and volume of the skirt so I made casings and threaded them with quarter inch elastic instead.

My favorite thing about this dress (besides the end result of having a child appropriately dressed for church) is how I told her I was making her a dress that was a surprise so she spent the hours while I was in the sewing room shielding her eyes as she skittered past the door because she didn't want to spoil it.

She also insisted on wearing a blindfold for fittings. I told her a simple closing of the eyes would suffice but she didn't want to take any chances and wouldn't come in without the blindfold.

In the end all the hype worked and she loves it even though I made it just how I wanted without even consulting her.

I wonder how long that trick will continue to work.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

That Wonderful Wizard

I read "The Wizard of Oz" for the first time during the year before I got married. I enjoyed it so much I read every other Oz book that could be found on the shelves of my parents library and wondered to myself all the while how I'd made it twenty years into my life without reading these lovely books.
My Zizza loves a good story. We graduated to chapter books nearly a year ago. For a long time it was nothing but Junie B Jones. Ziz and I were supremely happy with this arrangement for we love her dearly but the Mr found her a bit tiresome after a while so we've expanded our views.
This week we are reading about Dorothy, Toto and all their friends for the second time. I knew she enjoyed the story the first time through, but this time it is different. This time she is loving it.
In the second chapter or so, mention is made of Dorothy tying her pink sun bonnet under her chin and picking up the basket she'd packed with bread to set off on her journey.
Zizza has no pink sunbonnet (despite the many petitions she's put to me during the past days) but she does have a polka-dot cloth for her little table. This she drapes over her head while wrapping her apron around her neck from the back to tie beneath her chin. She has a little basket woven doll bassinet which she packs up with "bread" (only square red blocks will do for bread) and journey throughout the day with a little stuffed Toto.
A few nights ago we reached the part of the story where Dorothy's bread runs out and the Scarecrow kindly fills her basket with nuts while she is sleeping by the fire. The next day, not a block was found in her basket but her collection of zoob builders were there playing the role of nuts.
Last night we read of Dorothy's melting the Wicked Witch of the West, packing her basket afresh from the Witch's cupboard and setting out once more for the Emerald City with the enchanted golden cap upon her head and her sunbonnet tucked inside her basket.
Today, she was wearing baby Moo's sun hat, (the Golden Cap) her basket once again contained red blocks (It seems the witch had bread in her cupboard) and true to the story, her polka-dot table cloth sunbonnet was tucked safely in the basket.
Just now, The Mr read her the chapter in which The Great Oz is found out a fraud. I wonder how she will be playing tomorrow.

I adore to see her enjoying the story so much and I have to say it suits my nature perfectly that she identifies Dorothy with an image so different from the one portrayed in the film.
She talked briefly of dressing as Dorothy for Halloween. If she did so, she would not be obviously recognizable to the general population in her pink sunbonnet and silver shoes. She would certainly wear blue gingham which would help with recognizability but, for her, the gingham isn't the most important part of the ensemble.
I was thinking of showing her the film soon, but decided to wait. There will be plenty of time for Judy Garland later. Right now I want her to go on loving the pink sunboneted Dorothy of her dreams. I know only too well the sting of having one's own precious imaginings lost forever to the visual representation of another person's mental image. (Oh Laurie, I know you look nothing like Christian Bale but your true face is lost to me forever!)
When I am sure that Zizza's own Dorothy is safely and permanently stamped in her mind's eye, I'll be only too glad to watch the movie with her.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's day

I began yesterday begging favors in the name of "Mother's day eve" and Zizza took that and ran with it. She is very good at pampering when she takes a mind to do it.
The Mr let Ziz and Enz each chose a bouquet of flowers for me.
They both selected bunches of 2 dozen red roses. Neither could be persuaded to vary in his-her choice, and each insisted upon selecting their own bunch. Thus it came to be that four dozen red roses adorn my table.

Last night I prepared a little mother's day gift for myself. I bathed each and every child with the precious as gold Oatmeal scented Gerber Grins and Giggles baby wash I procured via e-bay after writing this post.( By the way, I ended up getting a much better deal than the $9.95 a bottle I mentioned there.)
Then after they were all clean I took it one step further and slathered the three of them with the even more precious than gold lotion. I've only got one remaining bottle of that so it's for special occasions only.
Oh, my my was it worth it! I sneaked into the bedrooms after they were all sleeping and sniffed and sniffed those heavenly smelling babies.
This morning I sniffed them each some more and then I sat down to a breakfast of Whole Grain Waffles . Yum

I made 2 requests for gifts. The first was to be given a copy of "Xenocide" (I've been reading Ender of late) and allowed to read it in peace. The second was asked of Zizza specifically. I asked her to let me do her hair however I liked and for her to hold still while I did it.
Both of my requests were granted. Lovely

At church the children in the congregation all stood and sang what I believe to be the worst and also most sung Mother's Day song in the church. It's so minor and dreary and when you add in the monotone droning of less enthusiastic children it becomes even more so.
I can't figure out why people keep singing it. I would much prefer "Mother Dear I love you so" or, even better, "I often Go Walking" which was alway my mama's favorite (right Mama?) and accordingly became mine as well. If I'm ever in charge of picking the song rest assured it will not be "Mother I love you"
Any who, primary songs aside, for the last hour of church there was a little social arranged for all of the women with cheesecake and every thing. It was utterly delightful. Especially since I'd been shot through with spasms of worry all day fearing that I'd missed a message somewhere and was going to be expected to stand up and teach the lesson even though today was the second Sunday of the month and I teach on the third. I will be ready to teach next week, today I was not.

Back at home The Mr. made a delicious Quiche while I sat and read.
It was a good good day.
How was yours?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I want to ride

Back in January there was a big event chez Uniquety that I failed to mention.
We took the training wheels off Zizza's bike. The plan was to take the pedals off too, but The Mr, it turned out, didn't have the right kind of tool for that. Thus we found ourselves with a five year old girl and a training wheel free bike.
I tried to coax her to just ignore the pedals while she worked on balance but she was having none of that. She worked and struggled trying to get her feet up to the pedals. At the end of the afternoon, she could step off the ground for half a rotation before stomping down to catch herself.
We went to ride bikes with her cousins a few days later. My sister in law and I were holding babies and chatting on the way-side while the big kids wheeled around on their various vehicles.
Zizza was out there, trying and trying. I wasn't paying much attention, just shouting the occasional word of encouragement.
And then she went riding past me.
It took a minute to register that it was her.
How could it be?
This was only the second day she'd tried riding and no one had even run along behind her holding the seat and promising through their lying teeth not to let go!
Her Uncle (Who was tossing a football with his boy in the midst of the vehicular glory of children) had simply offered her a push and away she went.
Not having realized what an important day that would turn out to be, I hadn't brought my camera along so she and I stole outside during nap time the next day to document her new skill.

She's wearing a cheap satin skirt from a disney dress-up assortment. It really wasn't cut generously enough for bike riding and accordingly now resides in the trash the fabric having completely unraveled at the the over taxed seam.

Soon we found that her little twelve inch bike, though ideal for learning, couldn't give her the speed she craved now that she was up and going. We tried going out for a family run, her on her bike, and the other two in the jogger but twelve inch wheels couldn't ride fast enough to keep ahead of me, and I am not a fast runner.
I found an ideal bike on craigslist. Sixteen inches, pink and purple polk-a-dot banana seat! But alas, It was the week before we set out for the wedding and I couldn't spare the time to go out and fetch it.
I held out hope that another such deal would come along. I scoured craigslist regularly. For months I didn't find anything smaller than 20 inches, or cheaper than a few hundred with the desired banana seat.
And then, there it was.
"Early sixties small (14 inches)banana seat bike. Make me an offer" the add said. No photo, just that.
After a steady flow of email over the next few hours, I made it to the house just in time to snatch up the bike before the owners had to leave for a birthday party.
It turned out to be a sixteen inch schwinn stingray. I couldn't be happier, and neither could she.
It sat sad and lonely in the garage for a few weeks,

until the new white wall tires came on special order.

There was some anxiety getting started. Going from a bike you're big for to a bike big for you is quite an adjustment.

But she knocked it out. (Now looking at the photos I question myself for sending her off to ride that big bike for the first time sans and kind of safety gear...or shoes)

She's decided she wants it painted light blue. I'll reupholster the seat and we'll see about a basket for the front. It will be awesome.

Meanwhile, the training wheels went back on the rocket bike.

He's pleased as punch over his "brand new" bike. Even if he does ride it with the handle bars turned around backward the majority of the time. (I've yet to get a photo of the oddity)
Now if only I had a bike, we'd all be set.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wa whoo, I'm a finalist!

Everybody go vote for me!

I just had a flash back to Jr high French class where we had to elect class officers. "Votez pour moi, s'il vous plait!"