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Delusional? Of Course!

My kids have been telling me for several weeks what they want to be for our church's Fall Fun Fest.  This is an event that can either take the place of Halloween trick-or-treating, or be a candy-filled prelude to the later evening candy-gorge-fest that inevitably takes place each 31st of October.

As a little sidenote, or undernote, or whatever you may want to call it, I don't particularly like Halloween.  I don't have any very well-defined arguments or concise thoughts and intelligent answers to the question that has been posed to me before,"Why don't you like it?"  It's probably a combination of several things.   One is the large quantities of sweets doled out to all the children (which I will then invade and eat half of, thank you for that, all you so-called nice people out bottom does not need your Snickers and bite-sized Hershey bars.  When you eat sixteen of them, they turn into a GIANT-sized Hershey bar which has more calories than a couple of Big Macs in the end.  And my end doesn't need all those calories, I say again.)  (I suppose I don't really have to eat half of their candy, especially all at once, but...well, I...oh, it's my fault, isn't it?  Shoot.)  Did I say this was going to be a little sidenote?  Sorry for misleading you.  I misled myself, if that helps.  I also don't care for all the spooky stuff:  the skeletons and the ghosts and the creepy goblins or zombies or whatever.  I know that it's become this funny sort of parody of scary in many ways, but I also think that it adds to that general sense of desensitization (is that even a word?  Should it be desensitizedness?) that we have in this country to things that we should be more sensitive to.  What a sentence.  Can you make sense of that?  The hardest thing for me to put into words has to do with the spiritual aspect...but, seriously, I feel like I'm going to shake to pieces if I even think about starting to talk about that.  I'm more the "I just feel that way" kind of don't ask me to explain it, please.

Now after I've said all that I'll tell you that our kids went trick-or-treating last year around the neighborhood (for the first time in their lives) with a group of friends that was also at the Fall Fun Fest; I really did not feel like I could say no.  It would have been very awkward.  And, my goodness, did they have a good time with their friends.  This going out afterward has now become a tradition that has been long-anticipated by my two older children.  And they have been thinking for quite a while about what they wanted to dress up as.

Which leads me to the reason I began writing this in the first place.  They told me they wanted to be a cowgirl and a Native American.  (Not both together...Michaela wants to be a cowgirl [I'm sure you never would have figured it out that she wanted to be a cowgirl], and Christian wants to be a Native American.  Which will be so easy to pull off since he has hair the color of the sun's rays.)  I thought to myself,"I can make their costumes!"  Sure, since I sew all the time (in my head) and I have nothing else to do (except thirteen loads of laundry, and clean all twelve rooms in my house thoroughly, and actually make dinner one of these nights). 

(See title of post now.)

We went to the Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft store and I found the perfect fabric and craft supplies (imagine that!) for our venture into this great unknown.  I got out my sewing machine, and started cutting and sewing the next day, which was Thursday-two whole days before the 31st.  This is actually a major deal, since I am quite famous for waiting until later than the last minute to do anything.  Especially time-consuming things.  Things started out well, though.  The girls were home with me, and Michaela was sweet to keep Eliana occupied with The Little Einsteins.  I stitched a "fine seam"...

But if I tell the truth then I'll say the seam was really a hem and actually looked like a drunk bear had gotten a hold of my sewing.  Why a bear?  I don't know.  Why not?  It was the crookedest, wacked out hemline I've ever seen. 

Undaunted, I forged on. 

Then my sewing machine went haywire.  One of the most important parts for threading the needle was nowhere to be seen (I mean it, it's like it fell down into this slot that you are suppoed to slip your thread in and I couldn't figure out how to get it out, or if it ever was out, or if it was broken, or if I had a machine that was different than the one in the picture so no wonder I couldn't follow the directions.  I thought I was in the twilight zone when I was telling Mike my troubles and I turned around and there it was popped up out of the slot!  Talk about creepy.) and the bobbin thread managed to get wrapped around the small metal rod that the bobbin slips on earth did that happen?  It doesn't even seem possible, yet these are the kinds of things that do indeed happen to me when I attempt a project like this.  It wrapped around that metal rod about sixteen times and then also got mangled, tangled, and stuck in the space in between the bobbin cavity and where the needle goes in and out of that cavity.  It was crazy.  I thought I would cry.  I may have actually shed a tear.

I just wanted to sew a straight line. 

I decided that although theoretically a sewing machine would get the job done faster, in my reality hand-stitching would mean that this job would get done before October, 2015.  So, I set to stitching by hand. 

Talk about a straight line!  What talent (I don't have).  But at least now I was getting somewhere.

Somewhere called the Loony Bin.  But somewhere.

Michaela said to me,"Why are you stiching like that, Mommy?"  I told her it would be faster (I was just taking the needle and thread straight [sort of] across the material).  Later, I began using a backstitch, which is what the kids in Christian's class are using for their quilt squares, and she said,"Now are you going to use a real stitch?"

The first thing I worked on was a vest for Michaela...I hadn't seen any while out and about, and I think that even if I had I wouldn't have wanted to buy the plastic ones, or the ones that were fake leather and cost $30.  I didn't have a pattern, but just made it up as I went along (this might go a long way to explain my crooked sewing...).  I think it turned out all right when it was done, and she was very happy with it. 

I'm glad she is so easy to please.  I would like to do something to the shoulders, but I'm not sure what.  I'll look at it again later, since she had it on all day today.  Notice that I covered up my crazy stitching with red ribbon (which, by the way, I should let you know ribbon is very hard to put on a curve when the ribbon is straight, since the curve is, well, curved).  It's cute, and she likes it.  I also got smart and started using the Heat'N'Bond, which you iron into your hems and whatnot.  Sew much easier!  Ha, ha.  I do make myself laugh. 

Next I got to work on Christian's outfit.  I had looked up some stuff online and gotten a general idea of what I wanted to do, but then I just started messing with the fabric and laying it out to see what would happen.  I knew I wanted to double the fabric and cut out a neck hole which seemed easy enough.  I cut off one end of the large piece of fabric; I thought it would be wide enough to use as a tunic.  My plan was to cut slanted lines a little below the top, for his sleeves, and then below that stitch straight down, leaving some unstitched at the bottom.  I did all of that, and it looked pretty good; I flipped it right side out and burst out laughing. 

I wish that you could have seen it for real; it looked like a great tunic for a Native American broomstick.  And Christian is pretty skinny, but...I needed to go back to the drawing board. 

I did save that first attempt, thinking Eliana could wear it.  We convinced her to try it on (and believe me, the child is so opinionated that that was no small feat), and at first she thought it was pretty funny...

When it's just our family around, the child loves to be the center of attention...

"Me?  Why, yes...of course the world is revolving around me?!  Did you not know that?"

Then she realized that this tunic, or dress?, was starting to feel a little like a boa constrictor that had wrapped itself around her squishy little belly...

And she wondered how on earth she was going to unpeel this article of clothing from her body.

She hung out in there for a couple more minutes...

but then she was ready to get it off!  Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of that effort; it was equal parts funny and sad since she like to do things all by herself and got into a really tight spot trying to get it off of her arms.  I saved her from her misery, though.  I'm a good mom like that.

I went back to work on Christian's tunic; I cut a new piece and left more room this time.  The sleeves turned out longer, which I liked better anyway.  I stitched the sides again, and this time it looked like it would be roomy enough for the little man.

I cut the extra material off of each side and realized that there was a bonus (or extra bonus, as I always like to say!)...what was left looked just like the breeches that I had seen pictures of, which Native Americans had worn during the cold winter months.  I tried to use the iron-together hemming stuff down one side with the intention of leaving the other side open.  I ironed and ironed and nothing happened; I left it sitting for thirty seconds or more.  I flipped the iron upright and then set it back down just in case it had automatically shut off...nothing was working.  I could feel that the material was warm, but it wasn't hot.  I started to think that all the machines in the world were conspiring to make me lose my mind.  Didn't they know that it was already gone?!  I finally noticed that, no, it had not automatically shut off, but that I had actually turned it off myself.  That helped explain why it wasn't working! 

I started thinking that maybe 2015 wasn't that bad of a guess for finishing, with or without the sewing machine.

Once I had the one side ironed together on each pant leg, I cut holes all the way down the other side in order to be able to wrap the thing around Christian's leg and then use strips of (fake) leather to tie it together.  I thought it would be very cool. 

I finished the tunic and the pants by ironing on a bright strip of woven looking cloth-across the chest, and down the sides of the respective garments. 

I was very pleased with how it ended up looking, and when Christian saw it all and said,"Whoa!" with a huge grin on his face I was even happier.  There is nothing like doing something that your kids actually like.  It was a great moment.  The picture shows the stripes on the pant legs going down the front, but that's just so you could see them.  They will actually go on the outside of them.

Since I was on a roll, I decided to make moccasins.  I had looked around a little in stores, but hadn't found anything in his size.  So, I took his sneakers and covered them all up with this same fake leathery suede material...

After some folding, cutting, and the addition of leather strips, they turned out okay...

The one thing I'm going to have to figure out is how to make them not slippery...the sneaker is literally wrapped up in this fabric and he put them on and went skating through the house.  You know, I could put some of my microfiber cleaning cloths on the bottom of these things and let him go crazy dusting the floors...

I did adjust the tight tunic so that it fit Eliana in a more normal way, and I added a strip of that bright cloth to the bottom of it.  Pretty cute.  I don't know how authentic any of it is, and I don't want to offend anyone.  I tried to make the outfits so that they were more like replicas than the silly costumes you might find in some places.  I need to make the headpiece for Christian and a small quiver for some arrows, but then I'll be done.  I had a good time with this project, but the best part was hearing them say how much they liked the things that I had made.  It was totally worth the time and the needle pokes in my fingers.

And on a final note, I wanted to say that Michaela was so sweet while I was working.  She wanted to sew too, but she watched Eliana when I really needed her to.  She had ideas (I can't tell you how many times she said,"If I were you, I'd do...) and started her own little project with a scrap of the fabric.  She also made a belt for herself and was pleased beyond measure with it when she was done.  I love that girl.

Can you believe her eyes?  I know that it is a bright picture, but I just love the color of her eyes captured here.  That brightness and lovliness are reflected by her inside and out.

And now, since I reminded myself that I have a quiver to make, I am off to make a quiver!


See It, Say It, Do It

You know how you can start not to see things the way they really are?  Oh, you see them with your bodily eyes, but after looking at something for long enough without taking any action you begin not to see it. 

I have been looking at, complaining about, and ignoring the mess the disorder the chaos in our home for quite a while now.  I would love to say that it's just since we moved, but that wouldn't be true.  The fact is that it's been that way for a long time.  I also would love to say that this chaos just happened to me.  I am an innocent bystander!  I was waylaid!  I'm a victim!

A victim of what?!  Has some thug come along and tied my hands and feet together and put me in front of a speeding train?  Am I powerless to do anything around here?  Honestly, sometimes it feels like that.  I can feel so overwhelmed by all that needs to be done that I give up before I start doing anything. 

Having my friends here recently and having my parents here right now have been enlightening experiences...I have been looking around at our house through different eyes, someone else's eyes.  What do people see when they come in the front door?  Clean laundry waiting to be put away. (Not your normal amount, but more like a criminal amount.  I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds serious, doesn't it?)  Toys scattered all over the floor.  Books in piles EVERYWHERE.  Socks at the bottom of the stairs.  Mail piled up on the bookshelf.  An ironing board, for crying out loud.  It's getting worse by the day!

I feel like I'm this pot of water that won't boil, but someone has just turned up the flame.  Now there's some major heat coming by way of total humiliation at (just the thought of) someone, say from church, stopping by.  I don't want to feel that way!  I want a home that I can be happy and content to invite someone into.  (I tried really hard to make that sentence more grammatically correct...but dangit, what I ended up writing is what I want to say.  So there.)  I've written about this before, and I always come to the same conclusion-this time, I'll do better!  I'll wake up tomorrow and there'll be a fresh start waiting for me!  In many ways I think that can be true.  School is getting ready to start.  I can use the time up until then, while my parents are here, at least to begin to get a handle on things.  It would be so much better for the kids to have an orderly home, to grow up in a home where things have a place and they get put there.  We all need to work together.  Oh, these habits are so hard to start when things have been so crazy for so long. 

What got me thinking about all this tonight goes back to my longing to declare,"This is not my fault!  It is out of my control!"  I know that's just not true.  I do have some control.  I have choices to make.  They are just not easy or fun.  I suppose I have to grow up.  (Imagine me stomping my foot right about now and whining,"But I don't want to!")  My kids need a grown-up parent.  My husband needs a grown-up wife. 


I have to get it out of my system, all right?

So, I have a mini-plan for tomorrow (you know how much I love a plan, yes?)...I will put the ironing board away.  I will put the clean laundry away.  I will ask the kids to help me put away the toys and books (and pray that Eliana doesn't come following behind us undoing all that we just did), arrange the furniture in its proper place, and throw away all the trash that is in the living room.  That will be a start. 

Now, my eyes hurt from all this seeing, and my brain hurts from all this thinking and planning, so I've got to go to bed.  Plus I need to rest up for all the hard work we're going to do in the morning...starting with getting my feet on the floor and getting breakfast for the kids.


An Update: This Just In-Please Don't Gag

It's been a while since we spoke of my toe...well, I got my stitches out today.  The nurse said it wouldn't hurt, not a bit.  He is a fibber.   And the doctor said that it was all healed and looked really good.  The eye of the beholder, right?   So here is my scarred toe-you can even see the holes where the stitches were.  I don't think this appendage will ever be the same.

It's still sore.

If you haven't gagged yet, you might do it now, because I'm going to show you yet another picture of what I have done here in the unpacking category.  The reason I know you might want to gag is because I do.  I am thoroughly sick of the subject...however, since misery loves company I invite you to share in this my ridiculously long experience of getting settled in our (no longer) new home.

Here is an area that earlier today was ENTIRELY covered with stuff.  One box had lost its bottom (hey, I wish I could lose my bottom) and the contents lay scattered on top of and amidst other boxes and super random weirdo junk.  I started by making eye contact with one thing, picking it up, and finding a new spot for it.  Not everything ended up in a proper location, but things are at least in more reasonable locations...closets or shelves.  Here is the result... (I would have done more, but Eliana woke up from her nap-after only 50 minutes!)

It's likely that only my mom can really appreciate the magnitude of this moment.  This was truly one of the worst areas in the house.  It's such a small space.  Yet, it was such an immense disaster. A few more boxes unpacked...a little at a time.  I feel like I am cutting down a California Redwood with a toothpick.  But even if it is 2013 by the time we're settled, at least we will have made it.

Just for fun, what is the kookiest accident that you have had?  I have talked ad nauseum about my toe...I'd love to hear some of your stories!  I need a distraction (like I need another needle in my toe!  But it would be fun to hear!).


At the End of the Lane

After my trip down memory lane last night I ended up in a bright and cheerful little cafe rather than a gloomy and melancholy hole in the wall.  Figuratively speaking.

Just this morning my living room looked like this...

I wish I also had a picture of the rest of the room-imagine a train had crashed through our house, or a tornado had spun through the room...that will give you some idea of what it looked like.  There were a lot of books, magazines, and papers on the coffee table, balls of various sizes rolling around, a few Tinker Toys scattered here and there, some stray Legos looking for a place to call home.  Before I turned my attention to these lovely details that amounted to such classy decor in my living room I gave my all to the bookshelves.

You see, they are the first thing you take in when you walk through the front door.   And they were covered with such a random and ugly assortment of items that I could no longer stand it.  (Mike, I don't really think your hat is ugly; I just think it's ugly sitting on a bookshelf across from the box for our new mega-ladder.) I thought about trying to pass myself off as being eclectic, but in the end a desire for order won out.  I did some rearranging...

You can see that our green arm chair sat on the close side of the doorway that leads into our dungeon that happens to be upstairs computer room.   Another arm chair had been caddy corner in the right hand corner of the above photo.  The couch faced those two chairs, and sat floating in the living room so that it came out from our fireplace, perpendicularly, and ran across (but not against) the front wall.   I have no idea if that makes any sense in your imagination, but I'm tryin' my best to explain so that you can see the difference, for I have no before picture!  I moved the couch so that it was facing the fireplace instead and then repositioned the chairs so that they faced the sofa, at an angle on opposite sides of the fireplace.  This I have pictures of...

Later in the day I was also able to get rid of that random bookshelf by the window-to my great relief.  I really didn't like it over there, and it had taunted me for weeks and weeks. Now, I like this arrangement better for a couple of reasons, even though it cuts off the living room just a little from the entryway.  (We have an enormous doorway leading from our entry into this front room.  The couch now sticks out about halfway into that doorway but a few steps into the living room.  You can still walk behind it easily, say to go over to the keyboard.)  The coffee table cried out for a sofa to be on the other side opposite from the fireplace.  It would cry so loudly after all had gone to bed that I would have to come in the middle of the night and tell it to shush before it woke everyone up.  Now, though, it seems right.  Balanced.  I know this is in part because when we first bought this furniture it was for a house with a similar setup and almost from the beginning it was arranged in this way.  (Actually the chairs were switched as far as the sides they're on, but because of the door leading into the other room-where the black bookshelves are-I thought the open arm chair would make it, well, more open.)

I have to tell you I feel very good about this room today.  I also cleared off our dining room table, which had gotten to the point where the five of us could eat but we had elbow battles with the wrapping paper, library books, old Mother's Day flowers, and book bag at the other end of the table.  I feel good about that, too.  And having these two front rooms looking so much better is motivating as far as getting the rest of the house to fall in line.  Peer pressure, you know?


A Load off of My Mind

Out with the old... in with the new... beautiful, functioning dishwasher! See those dishes in the sink?  They have been there a while...they are rinsed off, but with my toe I never quite finished all the dishes each night.  I tried to make sure there were bowls for in the morning (and then we ran out of milk!) and Eliana's cups got washed.  The first load is running now, though! Look at those green lights! It's a go! It doesn't sing Broadway show tunes, but I'm not handing out Tonys (Tonies?) here.  What's important is that I don't have to get all sweaty doing the dishes at night anymore.   And I can still have time for ice cream and a quick run through the house (because it looks like a bomb went off in here-namely two: "Little Man" and "Big Blue") and pick up trash and sleeping bags and dirty clothes (oh, I already did that one!) and more trash. There is a lot of paper strewn about...magazines, 3 x 5 cards (Hey, here's something really funny that is totally unrelated but because I am the kind of person who enjoys letting everyone know what an idiot I am I will share this.   I was looking on the keyboard for the symbol for "times" or "by" and of course it doesn't exist.   I was getting irritated...there is a plus sign, a minus sign, an equals sign, but no times.  I suddenly realized, however, that I could use the lower case x.  I am so smart.), torn up pieces of computer paper. Maybe it wasn't a bomb; maybe the paper aisle at Office Depot threw up in my living room. What does that have to do with a dishwasher?  Oh, yes, I have a little extra time tonight.  And speaking of time, aren't you glad you are spending your precious time reading such interesting stuff? Here is one more thing that has nothing to do with dishwashers but is actually interesting and fun.   Christian called out to me tonight that his tooth was hurting.   I told him to come here and asked him which one.   He showed me and I said,"Maybe it's loose. Wiggle it."  Sure enough, there was a little wiggle! I said,"Tell me how you feel about your loose tooth." He said,"GREAT!" I can't believe he's starting to lose his teeth.  My children are growing up, people!   They tell you that this is going to happen, but they can't really prepare you for the reality of it. I have a dishwasher again! Yay!