Sunday, February 27, 2011


Enzo attained the age of four on Thursday last.

There will be no pictures today as something lame is going on with my uploading situation and I'm just not going to deal with it right now.

So, you know what's crazy about Enz being four?
He still smells like a baby.
Mostly in the morning. When I get the chance to go find him still cozy in his bed I take the opportunity to suck in giant lung-fuls of the sweet sweet aroma that wafts off his cheeks. Also, sometimes when he comes and finds me still cozy in my bed I get to enjoy smelling him. Even his breath smells delightful which is quite remarkable, I think, for a boy of four.

I would have thought that he would be smelling decidedly like little boy by now. I'm pretty sure Ziz smelled more like little girl than like baby by the time she was four, but not Enzo.

Once when he was a bitty tiny baby I was rocking him in the pitch black of night and I kissed his minuscule cheek and despaired that soon enough he would grow and his cheeks wouldn't feel so perfectly perfect when I kissed them. Then I stayed there and held his tininess for a lot longer than I had intended to because I was sure that by morning he would be too big.

Last week I was hugging and sniffing that boy again and I smacked a big one on his cheek (as tends to happen under those circumstances) and remembered that night. It turns out that four year old Enzo's cheeks are just as perfect to kiss as their four week old, or four month old counterparts. Who would have guessed?

Between that and his sweet baby smell I'm feeling very fortunate that my boy didn't grow up quite as fast as I feared on that night not quite four years ago.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Big girl books

Zizza has just started her first solitary reading of a chapter book. Here she is working on the chapter one.

She's home from school today gathering strength. She's been almost sick all weekend. Yesterday she chose lying in bed over riding her bike. She's warm to the touch, warmer than the other kids, but the thermometer reports her temperature to be normal. She talks in a whisper but if I comment on her poor little sick voice she responds in a healthy tone that she feels fine.

These past mornings, when shes come down the stairs and I ask her "How are you feeling?" she's answered "Better." That was the only allowance she'd make for her health. Today when I suggested that she stay home and rest I was surprised at her easy concession. Missing school is not her cup of tea.

And so it was that we went to the library this morning instead of heading off to school. At parent teacher conference last week, her teacher suggested that she start reading chapter books on her own. I'd been thinking along those lines for a while but hadn't done anything about it yet. A suggestion from her teacher was just the the catalyst we needed. Both to get me off my tuckus in regards to providing reading material and to prove to her that it really is a good idea. She sometimes doesn't believe me when I tell her things like that.

After the first chapter I asked her, "Was it tricky?"
"Yeah," she said.
"Tricky good, or tricky not quite ready for that book yet?"
"Tricky good," and with that she put the book away for later.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A tutorial; Gum ball necklaces with kids.

It all started a few weeks before Valentines day. Zizza's kindergarten class party was on my mind as I was browsing around the interwebs.

In my browsing I came across a lovely "gum ball necklace" no part of this necklace was actually made of gum, but rather large plastic gum looking beads. This disappointed me. I decided that if I were disappointed, someone else must have been at some point as well, so surely somewhere I could find evidence of the gum jewelry trail having been blazed before me. I found it here.

Since I wanted to make necklaces with the kindergarten class rather than for the kindergarten class, I knew I'd have to resort to my own methods. Did I think 5-6 year olds capable of stringing punctured gum balls? Yes. Did I think them capable of stringing something as bulky as ribbon through the size hole that would result in puncturing a gum ball? No. So here's what I did.

For my method you'll need


A glue gun


A bead reamer (you sure could use a fatty needle but be prepared to bandage some stab wounds if you do)

and candy beads (I bought a few necklaces and snipped their strings to get my beads)

There are a few things I recommend doing in a child free zone before you introduce the project to the smalls. First, poke holes in the gum balls. I poked straight through one side just far enough to mark the spot directly across the gum ball from the first hole...

then I flipped the gum ball over and poked the second hole. I held the gum balls in a scrap of fabric both to add stability and to keep my fingers from getting sugar coated and ruining the shiny candy finish on the gum balls.

Here's what it looks like once a gum ball has been transformed from an average candy into a potentially wearable confection.

The next thing to attend to is affixing the string to the ribbon. I used 2 foot lengths of ribbon and 9-10 inch lengths of string. Before heading to the classroom I put a glob of hot glue on one end of the ribbon, laid the string through the glue and folded the ribbon back on its self. Like this

Then I tied the string in a double knot

and threaded the other end through a blunt nosed needle.

Now the necklace is ready to introduce to it's jeweler.

I found that most kids needed help finding the second hole in the gum ball at least part of the time. A few really determined tots refused guidance and poked their own when they had trouble guiding the needle through the ready made holes.

Sadly, their hard work was wasted as the eyes of the needles were too wide to fit through the holes made by their rounded points. I had to dislodge the needles from the kid-made holes and guide them through their more obliging counterparts before those few stubborn kiddos could continue their designs.

The Candy bead spacers are much easier to manage. Nobody needed help there.

Soon, all the beads will be strung and it will be time to glue and tie the second ends ribbon and string.

Then step back and admire the finished product.

In Zizza's class we were making the necklaces as gifts for loved ones, so after each kid got a good look at their handy work, I popped it into a paper bag (which they had previously labeled with "to" and"from") and stapled it shut before any tongues could be applied to the gifts.

For Zizza's class of 19 kids, we worked in groups of 4-5. Each group took about 15 minutes by the time they'd chosen either pink or red ribbon, I'd threaded the needles on the chosen ribbon/strings and all were beaded, handed back, glued and sealed in bags. The whole project went really smoothly and was a lot of fun.

I introduced the project as a gift for a few reasons. First, I didn't want to be in the room with 19 kids in possession of five gum balls apiece, and second, I thought the idea that it was for a mom or grandma or sister or someone would alleviate any complaints from boys about making a pink necklace.

I'm pleased to report that not even one boy complained about girlyness in the project. A few even addressed their creations to their dads. Also, if any body tasted their candy they did it on the super sly cause I didn't see or hear a word about it.

Finally, if you happen to have a birthday party or some kind of event coming up where you'd like to do this project could I please send you my extra gum balls? The holes are even already there. That's the most time consuming part of the project. The gum in the photo above is what I have left; about half of what I started with. I don't even like gum. I don't foresee another necklace making extravaganza until at least next Valentines day and by then that gum will be awful hard to chew. So seriously, if you want to make a bunch of necklaces or if you just really like bubble gum. Let me know. I'll hook you up.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Valentines day took a bit of a back seat this year. There were no cookies and thus no annual cookie contest. I think I have a photo of the valentine I made a few years back that was the inspiration for the contest in the first place. A little bit later I might find that picture and use it for a similar contest here in the next few days.

What I did for the holiday mostly happened a few weeks ago before Miss Moo came on home. These were things like decorating my hutch.

These are the flowers from my wedding dress. That's my bridal bouquet in the upper left hand corner. My mother's corsage from the wedding is under the cake dome and the Mr's boutonniere is in the vase on the bottom shelf. We used silk flowers so as to protect our floral budget from seasonal inflation. It's the price (one of them) you pay for having your wedding on February 15th.

I found this pattern for amigurumi hearts in mid January and managed a few before things got too crazy.

On this particular heart I found that I'd been working into the back side of the stitches for the entire round after I'd joined the two humps. Instead of correcting my mistake I pretended it was a textural detail I'd planned to add and carried on.

Yesterday for church, Enzo donned his red and white spotted bow tie in honor of St Valentine. I thought it was especially handsome with his blue shirt.

Oh, and guess what. At "meet your teacher" night at the beginning of the school year there was a list of holiday parties for mothers to sign up to help with. I asked Ziz which two parties she'd like me to contribute to and she picked Halloween and Valentines day. I'll be honest. I influenced that decision a bit. Those are, in my opinion, the 2 best classroom parties of any given year.

So anyway, months and months ago with Moo freshly gone and no inkling that she'd ever be back at any time, least of all the beginning of February I signed up to lead the charge on the Valentine party. Luckily the other mom who signed up didn't know I'd done so as well and was pretty well organized by the time we met up.

My main contribution was running a gum ball necklace making station. I came up with a method to simplify the process to a kindergarten level. I still have plenty of gum balls so I'll make a few more and show y'all how it rolled here in the next few days.

With Moo having been here just over a week I thought it was unwise to try and leave her with anybody so I planned to take her along. Normally younger siblings aren't supposed to come to school during class time but allowances are made on party days.

Zizza thought it was such a great idea she begged for Enz to come too. She wanted to show him all about how kindergarten works. She talked and talked about how he could sit with her at rug time and since the chair across from hers is normally vacant he could take that place at her table.

For the beginning of the day it went just like that. He sat with her at rug time. He responded along with the class, and then moved from the rug to the seat across from Zizz carefully following her instructions during the conversation heart organizing activity. He blended in so well anyone who didn't know would have thought he was a kindergartener himself. After that though, he got sort of bored and spent some time trying to get my attention while I was busy threading needles and hot gluing ribbon and showing kids how to use the holes I'd pre-punched in the gum balls rather than trying to punch their own with the dull pointed needles I'd given them. Then he went out to recess. Whew, he needed it.

Only it turns out that he was apparently not allowed to go to recess because after a few minutes an Aid brought him back in. The teacher (a sub today, she was fantastic) talked to him about what happened. "Did you get hurt? Was there sand in your eyes? Did you fall down?" No, no and no were his answers. "A girl just got me and brought me inside" he said, eyes running over as his voice began to crack. "Well," said the teacher "How about you come with me when I go out to get the kids in a minute? You can be the head of the line and lead all the kids back to class." He agreed to that and then I took Moo to the stinky stinky stinky kindergarten bathroom for the seventh time.

Girlfriend pees at least every twenty minutes. I am not even exaggerating. I took her to that stink hole no fewer than 10 times during the course of afternoon kindergarten. It's lucky I'm not suffering from the retching tendency I had during my last pregnancy. I would have been dry heaving from the moment I opened that door.

Happy Valentines Day.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I suppose I should say something...

I turned my phone off when we got on the plane Sunday morning at 5:45 eastern standard time. I didn't turn it back on when we landed in Chicago. Not really a big deal. Everybody I know was probably sleeping anyway. I left it off until all air travel was completed and we were leaving the airport. Even then I didn't return any phone calls, didn't respond to any text messages. I couldn't bring myself to break out of the bubble.

Saturday night I looked and looked at Moo trying to recognize the baby in the little girl. There were certainly things to identify. I used to use those little feet to press light switches as I left rooms with my arms full of baby. "How will it be not to have ten even little brown toes as part of my daily existence?" I wondered to myself over and over until eventually I found out. Then there they were on the hotel bed, stretching to enjoy their freedom from socks just like they did at half the size.

Sunday as we settled in for our long flight she sat in her big airplane seat turning page after page of the "sky mall" and I began to see how this girl had grown from the baby I knew. At nine months old she used to pass hours at church with a hymnal on her lap flipping pages from front to back and front again perfectly content.

"Mom," she calls me before even the first day is through. Because she remembers, or would she call any lady "mom" at this point? In the magazines she points to every woman and says it.

When she starts saying "mama" I'll feel more comfortable with things. I don't care to be called "mom." It's tolerable from a child a little older. Once they start playing with friends they inevitably pick it up and carry it home. I can take it from them as long as they slip back into mostly "mama's" when it's just us. Coming from a two year-old still feeling her way around spoken language though, "mom" is foreign. Still I'll take it over "mommy." Something about "mommy" doesn't sit with me. It sounds fake and sticky in my ears. Lucky she doesn't use that one much.

The other kids are keeping busy clamoring for her attention. I wonder how long it will take for the novelty to wear off so they'll start expending their energy in a more even distributive pattern. All morning they both channeled all of it into her. Somehow she managed to stay mellow.

And that's all I got.

Friday, February 4, 2011

we're off

We're leaving to fetch Moo tomorrow afternoon. I've got to pack a few things, decide just how many layers of clothes to wear considering the foretasted high of twenty eight degrees (especially amusing considering the kids at Zizza's school have been kept inside for recess all week as a result of our mid-forties temps) and my lack of a coat that will zip over the top of baby Duke and then go to sleep. Also, I think I need to plan a quick morning trip to the grocery store cause it's not likely that I'll be up to it come Monday.