Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Conversations with Lucy

Lucy is not quite two and a half so her language skills are (still) a bit on the sketchy side. She understands much more than she can communicate to us and her world has a few unusual rules that we've yet been able to correct.

I met up with Erin and Lucy at the mall for a quick walk before heading to The Little Gym. As Erin was leaving and waving to us,

Lucy: Where mommy go?
Me: She's going home.
Lucy, 30 seconds later: Where mommy go?
Me: She's going home to work.
Lucy, quite firmly: Mommy no work. Daddy work.

A bit later, Lucy and I were driving this morning on the way to The Little Gym for our weekly class, and the sun was shining brightly (no doubt our last glimpse of it until April).

Lucy: Moon out.
Me: No, Lucy, that's the sun.
Lucy: No! Moon out.
Right now there is no room in Lucy's world for two large orbs in the sky so the sun and moon are both the moon.

As we were getting out of the car, I asked Lucy to stand still and wait for me to lock the car. She planted her little feet and stayed stock still.

Me: Thank you for listening to me so well and standing still, Lucy.
Lucy: You're welcome.
Me: I like it when you listen so nicely.
Lucy: You're welcome.
Me: Do you know I think you're a silly, goofy goober*?
Lucy: You're welcome.

*we have always used goofy goober as a teasing name for the girls and they know we don't really mean they're goofy or goobers.

She's at that age where everything that comes out of her mouth is precious. It's so cool to finally hear what thoughts have been rattling around in that little curly-topped head!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Two word boycott - won't you join me?

We live in Upstate New York, about 60 miles or so from Niagara Falls. While I'm sure there are some areas of the country that have well-behaved, evenly spaced out seasons, that is so not the case around here. Let's see: 12 months divided by four seasons = about three months per season. Unh uh, not here. We get spring for about six weeks, summer for about 12 weeks, fall for eight weeks and the remaining 26 weeks are given over to that bully of the calendar: winter. That's about six and a half months or more than half a year. Not fair.

So, while it probably won't help make the cold and gray season go any faster, I'm going to strike two words from my vocabulary until next spring. The words I do not plan to say for the next several months are winter and snow.

I don't have to give in to acknowledging either one of these and it will be interesting to see how long I can go without uttering either of these. Heck, there are lots of synonyms and ways to make myself understood without sinking to their level. I don't want to give them any more attention and perhaps they'll just slip way quietly in a more sensible time frame than we previously have experienced.

Before moving to this area 18 years ago, we lived in Minnesota for 11 years. While it was colder than anything I had ever experienced before, it was beautifully sunny most of the "W" season. All crisp, crunchy white stuff under foot and bright blue skies above. I was fine with that. Here we exist in a dull gray cocoon of unending clouds that stretch across the horizon. Ugh. Pretty soon the news reports will be filled with stories of Sun Affective Disorder and how getting sunshine is so important to people's well being and moods.

Anyway, I'd be happy to sign you up to help with the boycott. The more the merrier and maybe -- just maybe -- if enough of us don't use those two words for the next 6.5 months, we can survive the season with good humor and better cheer!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cinderella and the Monkey

As I said in my last post, my creative juices have been in high gear over the past month or so. And that isn't always the case. I can successfully stifle any creative urges I feel (besides writing which seems to be with me all the time) pretty easily by taking a nap. Besides working on my plant chair, I decided a few weeks ago that I'd make Halloween costumes for Emily and Lucy. Emily, at four years old, is obsessed with princesses and can name them all proudly. She is a very girly girl and wants to wear dresses every day. It's adorable and what's a grandma to do but feed that obsession? Certainly I don't want to be the one to discourage her interests at this tender age!

Lucy is two and has a floppy terry cloth monkey ("
mah nee" in Lucy-speak) who is her best friend and most favorite lovey. He's a generic monkey, not a Curious George sort that seem to be popular at the moment. We have rewarded her monkey obsession with a monkey backpack, monkey shirts, monkey underwear as motivation to go potty and a couple larger sized monkeys that she loves almost as much as original Mah nee. She knows all about princesses too because of Emily's addiction but the monkey thing is much much cuter.

So off I went to JoAn Fabrics, armed with coupons and a head full of steam. I spent a wonderful couple hours there, first finding patterns and then selecting the exactly right fabrics.

I am not an accomplished seamstress and my projects are restricted to things for little girls. I'm too critical to sew things for me to wear as they j
ust never turn out the way I have them pictured. And I'm too impatient to do everything exactly by the book so most projects for me just don't turn out well. When Erin was little, I made overalls and dresses for her as well as a clown costume that we still have and really enjoyed those projects. I've made blanket sleepers and sleep sacks for Emily and Lucy but otherwise my sewing machine sits in the basement, sometimes for months, between sewing sessions.

When Erin and I received our sewing machin
es several years ago*, we took some quilting lessons. I enjoyed the exercise but the patience thing gets me and I'm not interested in sewing little squares together all that much. Fun, yeah, but my need for quicker gratification kicks in and I'm a goner.

*it was a hallmark week for the little sewing shop in our town as Johnnie (who was still working at the time) bought three of the same Pfaff machines within days of each other, one for me, one for Erin and one for Holly. Erin has traded up her machine since then twice because of her interest in quilting. Holly and I are still working on our original models.

Anyway. I came marching home with the materials and patterns, excited to be working on these costumes and knowing how much the girls would love them. Surprisingly, the monkey costume was relatively complex and time consuming to sew.There was the whole fake fur issue with watching the nap and sewing through several layers of thick fabric. The fabric shed like crazy and my Pfaff and the surrounding area was covered with dark brown fuzz for weeks. My clothes were covered too.

I didn't start Emily's costume until this past Monday, shortly after finding out from Erin that the girls had a fall celebration with her MOMS club buddies yesterday (the 23rd). Um, OK. Guess I better get cracking. While her dress was less complex, the design itself was kinda fussy and the material was slippery and sometimes difficult to sew on but I just didn't focus on that and proceeded slowly lest I get overly impatient or discouraged. There are a couple oopses in it but most are things that no one would ever notice except me.

I intended for both costumes to be played with and used for dress up and make believe, not to be worn a couple times to parties and then stored away. While they fit, let the kids play with them to their hearts' content. I'm comfortable with the work and deliberately reinforced seams and tried to sew them sturdily so they won't fall apart. I'm sure they'll get dirty and banged up but that's the best part, I think. If they let the girls imagine and have fun, it's so worth it to me.

Anyway, here are pictures of the costumes -- scans of the pattern envelope (both are Simplicity patterns by the way, if anyone is thinking of tackling these themselves) and then pictures of the girls in their finery.

Organ grinder monkey costume above, Lucy's costume (and monkey friends) below.

Cinderella costume from the pattern envelope above. Emily below, striking a regal pose (with demonic red-eye), twirling* and showing off her sparkly shoes and Easter egg socks.

*any dress must have a great twirl factor, very important when you're four, and this one has been officially approved by Emily.

I didn't bother with things like elbow-length gloves or the headband and we ultimately purchased a Cinderella crown at Target on Friday morning that looks more appropriate than the pink feathery headband. Emily stayed overnight at our house on Thursday and spontaneously and repeatedly thanked me for making her dress and telling me how beautiful it was. While I was just thrilled that she liked it, having her pour heartfelt thanks on me without any prompting was pretty much over the top. You can be assured that I went to bed a very thrilled and satisfied grandma that night!

Because of its fake fur construction, Lucy's costume is too warm to wear for any length of time. The girls don't go trick-or-treating outside, in part because they live in the country and their nearest neighbors are adult Laotians and not all that into the Halloween thing. So she puts the costume on for a while but then it has to come off because she's perspiring like a two year old sumo wrestler.

However, Emily is wearing her costume just about non-stop. She wanted to nap in it yesterday after the party but I vetoed that idea (I had taken them home for naps while Erin and her buds cleaned up after the party). She took it off for her nap and then put it on immediately when she got up.

I've been so flushed with the success with these projects that I'm considering sewing some of the Christmas gifts that we exchange with the kids. We'll see; I hate to get carried way and then having to force myself to finish the projects after the inspiration has evaporated.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wow am I behind

So, here I am after MUCH too long a hiatus from posting here. My apologies. As you may remember (or maybe not, no matter) I was co-chairing a 5K race and that has taken up a huge portion of my time, along with playing with granddaughters and just living life.

The 5K was a great success, despite crappy drizzly cold weather the morning of the race. By the time the race actually started, the rain had stopped. By the time we were doing awards, the sun was peeking out.

We had a total of 453 runners, an increase of about 120 over last year's field and grossed about $16,000, also higher than last year. We had been hoping to get to $25,000 this year but "in this economy" (I really hate those words) and because we didn't brow beat prospective sponsors early enough or thoroughly enough (I really ***really*** hate the sponsor schmoozing and contacting stuff, which I was in charge of) we didn't make it. Better luck next year, especially since there must be one or two fundraising/sponsor armtwisting people out there somewhere who will hop on the task and do it up better than I did.

In among all the 5K details, my creative juices were inspired by the cool fallish weather and I returned to painting a chair I want to make into a planter. It's been in the works for several years. Progress was made and I'm hoping it will be ready by next spring to put outside.

I also decided in mid-S
eptember that I wanted to make Halloween costumes for Emily and Lucy this year. Lucy's monkey costume is finished and Emily's Cinderella dress just needs hemming and a hook & eye put in the back. The great unveiling of the costumes is tomorrow evening and I can't wait to see the little girls all dressed up in their costumes. (Their Halloween party is this Friday.) We showed the monkey costume to Lucy yesterday and she correctly identified it as "mah neee," her word for monkey. We'll take pictures and I'll post them here.

I'm also thinking that I might make some Christmas gifts but with our Christmas with our daughters, sons-in-law and granddaughters happening over Thanksgiving weekend rather than a month later like normal people, I may get too squeezed for time. Who knows. John's two brothers and their wives will be here for Christmas over the traditional dates in December so we don't slide completely -- just get to have two celebrations and house-fulls of company.

Along with all that, we (Johnnie and I) took Emily with us to Cleveland this past weekend so she could play with her four-year-old cousin Elizabeth. The little girls had a blast together and slept as little as possible. Next time we'll do the trip with Lucy and Emily since there is a comparably aged cousin for Lucy to play with too, Marley.

We also made a quick one day there and back trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts last week to pay our respects at my elderly cousin's (89) wake on Columbus Day. We weren't close but I just have so little family that I felt I would regret not going. So we drove on Sunday and back on Monday after spending a full 20 minutes at the funeral home. Lovely drive and fun to get away, even for that purpose.

And there have been a few sporadic writing assignments and I'm busily looking for others so that I don't feel so idle and make some money to pay for all my expensive habits.

We finally received the new microwave and the stove was fixed last Friday (not thanks to any real helpfulness from our friends at Sears -- we are not likely to EVER buy another appliance from Sears as their customer service on the stove problems sucked big time). So now I can cook again without boiling water for spaghetti on the side burner of the outdoor grill. Good times.

Annnnnywaaaaay...that's the news from here. I plan to re-emerge from my posting exile and get back to reading posts too (currently 988 in my reader, yeow). There have been days (gasp! seriously) when I never get upstairs to the computer at all. Hard to believe.