My Christmas Elves.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Okay, so Christmas wasn't just an enormous pile of cardboard.  We actually had quite a bit more Christmas spirit than that post suggested.  See?

Our cute little elves, Sparkle and Nicky, visited again this year.  One morning they left some Christmas clothes, which the kids wore when we went to choose a Christmas tree.  They brought great hats too, made by Elf Hanna, another day.

Big Sister's dress resembled one she had, and deeply loved, a couple of years ago.  She wore it year-round, until it was much too small.  Sparkle and Nicky enlisted the help of Elf Meli of JAM Clothing Co. (Jolly And Merry?), who made this new dress with her one remaining screen-printed deer.

Our own elves, Sparkle and Nicky, made Little Brother's Christmas shirt.  It appears they used an Ottobre t-shirt pattern, not sure which, and chopped it up to add shoulder pieces.  They might have been inspired by this Indietutes pieced t-shirt tutorial.  Maybe.

Maybe next year Sparkle and Nicky should bring Mr. Great something red and green?

Cardboard for Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

In my last post, I showed you what Good looks like.  I should have included a photo of the UPS delivery men and women who frequent my house.  Because this is what Christmas looks like at my house:

Yes, that's how we deck the halls.  With cardboard.  Loads and loads of cardboard.  We even decorate the porch:

Festive, right?


Finding My Wonder Woman.

Monday, December 17, 2012

This morning, mothers sent their children off to school with lumps in their throats, squeezing their babies extra tightly as they wished them well.  This weekend, countless parents had conversations with young children about things that should never have to be discussed.  This week, mothers and fathers, brothers and sister, grandparents, neighbors, friends, and a nation in mourning will say goodbye to lives ended much too soon.  In the weeks and months ahead, citizens and lawmakers will wrestle with issues of gun control and helping families deal with mental illness, schools will review safety procedures, and the 24-hour news outlets will talk endlessly about what should be done to protect children.

How are we, as parents, to get through this?  How do we model healthy processing and grieving, and the delicate balance of fear and faith for our children?  I'm no psychologist, and although I've read several articles written by such experts about how to talk with children about this event, I'm certainly not qualified to give advice.  But I can tell you what I'm doing.

I'd digging deep to find my Wonder Woman.

Why Wonder Woman? 

She lives in a world where there's evil.  Undeniably so.  It exists, it threatens, it's destructive.  In the face of evil, whatever form it takes, Wonder Woman's strength and courage give her the power to overcome.  And in Wonder Woman's world, Good wins.

Sure, it's a comic book, a hokey 1970s TV show.  So dismiss it if you want.  Tell yourself that Good doesn't always win in the real world and move on.  You won't hurt my feelings.

But I'm here to tell you that Good does win, in Wonder Woman's world and mine.  There's Good all around us, and I'm working hard to tune into that right now.  It's not easy, but to overcome in the face of Friday's evil, I think it's necessary.
There's immense power in Good.  Some days we have to look harder than others to see it.  But every day it is there.  And we can draw from it the strength and courage we need in these difficult days.
Last month, a firefighter come to talk with our Daisy Scouts about being courageous and strong.  She's a 31-year firefighter, the seventh woman in our city's fire department.  She explained being a first responder and what that requires.  She talked about how we must find strength in ourselves to help when others are having a really, really bad day.  About how we must find courage in ourselves to do what scares us.  We all have that strength and that courage.  We just have to dig deep and find it.  This is the face of Good, the face of a hero. 
Last week, I intercepted my friend the ATX Lunch Lady, as she was delivering a brown bag of delicious goodies to my building.  We quickly found ourselves surrounded by cowboy hats and guns, as almost a dozen DPS troopers stood guard and an intense trooper interrogated us about our activities.  At the time, it was amusing and annoying, as these two forty-year-old moms don't look a bit threatening.  Today I'm thankful for a DPS trooper who takes his job seriously and will do whatever it takes to keep my building safe.  On any given day, that trooper could be the reason that I'm able to kiss my children goodnight.  In that, I find Good.
At our children's schools, administrators and teachers are practicing lockdown procedures and going through intruder drills.  They are reassuring our children about school safety, and I can only imagine the questions they are answering today, carefully navigating the enough-but-not-too-much line that we're all struggling with right now.  All of this while they're trying to keep little minds focused on the business of learning, trying to prepare our children for this world that today we'd like nothing more than to protect them from.  Look at any school and there you find Good.
This is my mother, who dedicated her careeer to education and who now, in retirement, spends her days volunteering, furthering education of the natural world, preventing child abuse and family violence, and doing plant and bird surveys.  This is the face of Good.

And this is my daughter, same age as many of the victims of Friday's shooting.  This fragile little person is struggling to make sense of such evil, trying to understand a world in which something so horrific could happen.  In her, I see a responsibility -- to show by my actions that for every bit of evil in this world, there is far more Good, that there are real heroes nearby who are using their own strength and power for Good, that each of us has the strength and courage to overcome, that families pull together in difficult times and help each other through life's challenges.  I see the responsibility to raise a Wonder Woman.

I am trying be Wonder Woman.  I don't mean Linda Carter's Wonder Woman (though I suppose it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if my husband saw me that way).  But in this world where evil exists and causes such pain, I want to be the sort of woman who shows my children that Good wins.  I want to be a Wonder Woman who faces life's challenges and upsets with grace and strength, who counters the undeniable evil in the world with goodness and love, who recognizes and draws strength from this world's true heroes, and who helps her children to find their own strength and courage to confront this far-from-perfect world. 
 Photo courtesy of Amy Kate Photography.
Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman
All the world's waiting for you,
and the power you possess...

Hook 'em Horns!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tonight is the last Texas Longhorn game of the season, and there's no denying that my team needs all the help it can get.  So, in the spirit of team support, I'm sharing a simple refashion I pulled off a couple of months ago.

Cute skirt, right?  It began as a very strange top that I picked up for next to nothing at the University Coop.  It was labelled as an XXL sleeveless top, but I can't imagine whose body this thing would fit as as a sleeveless top, much less an XXL body.

Normally, I would never share ridiculousness like this for all the world to see, at least not without a comprehensive Photoshop course.  But I think you have to see how this thing started -- pretty much like a sausage casing.

It's much better now, as a girl's skirt.  I basically just chopped the top off and added a ribbing waistband.  So easy, and such an improvement.

Hook 'em Horns!  Don't know what's up with this sassy cheerleader's pose.

Go, horns, go!

Make this cute fan proud tonight, okay team?

In the midst of merry madness.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I've wanted to post about some really fun things we've been doing -- a Father's Day hike, a sixth (bunny!) birthday party, a superhero run, a sewing workshop in New York City, Thanksgiving ziplining and scooting, playing with cousins.  But, as you've probably guessed, it's too much.  I can't seem to find the time to get photos from camera to computer to blog.  I'm too busy having fun with my little family and our extended family, squeezing in some sewing when I can, volunteering a bit here and there, and just keeping it all going.  And now the Month of Madness is upon us, when my to-do list grows exponentially and every moment seems to lead to December 25, which is both Christmas and Little Brother's birthday.  It's a fun time, but good golly is it busy.
This weekend, for example, will begin with a Daisy Scout sleepover in the school cafeteria, followed by a children-giving-to-children holiday parade, a garden maintenance volunteer event, a birthday party, some gift-making, and some angel tree shopping.  See?  Busy.
If you find yourself wondering what I've been up to and why my blog seems a bit stagnant, you'll know why.  Madness.  Merry Madness.

Think Purple.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

In this month of Thanksgiving, my family spends time each night talking about Thankful Things and filling our Bowl of Blessings.  As the election dust is beginning to settle, I return to this:

I am thankful for our right to vote, which so many fought tirelessly for, and which our nation protects fiercely today.  In my city, there were very long lines.  People waited hours to cast their ballots, in a state where everyone knew where our electoral votes would go.  By 4:00, more ballots had been cast than in the entire 2008 election.  So I am thankful not only for the right to vote, but that so many value it so highly and exercise that important right.

I am thankful also for our right to express our political beliefs freely and openly, without persecution or retribution.  People of deeply held and varied political beliefs are friends, neighbors, colleagues.  Despite different beliefs, we manage to get along, mostly, and see past those things that divide us.
Yesterday, we were a nation of reds and blues.  Today, I'm thinking Purple.


I choose to think today about what unites us as Americans.  The right to vote and advocate for our political beliefs, the freedoms we share, our strength as a nation -- these are things we can all agree on.  These are the things that we want to preserve for our children and model for other nations.

It's easy to think about the red and blue divide, to get sucked into the pundits' talk about mandates and political turmoil and impossible challenges ahead.  It's harder to focus on common ground and shared values.  In this time of post-election analysis, I challenge you:  Think Purple.

In the end, we are so much more than red and blue.  We are friends, neighbors, colleagues.  We are people who work hard and want to leave this country better than we found it.  We are Americans.  We are Purple.
America has always been a country of red, white, and blue.  But today, my America is Purple.  If you see me today, you will see that I am wearing purple and you will know why.  I am thankful for all that unites us as Americans.

Halloween Addendum, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Okay, confession time.  I left out something big in my Halloween 2012 post.  Despite having chosen their costumes, the kids did not love them.  How can that be?  I don't know.  But it was so.

Never fear -- with some last-minute improvising and modifications, we made it work.  Tim Gunn would be proud.

Big Sister's cape was simply too long.  And, with long sleeves and warm weather, it was too hot.  Trust me, I know.  I ended up wearing it trick-or-treating.

We switched out the cape for one that I bought originally, but Big Sister instantly rejected.  On Halloween Day, suddenly she loved it (thankfully).  She wore it to school, and then she insisted on wearing it trick-or-treating.  This replacement cape, which was silk-screen printed by hand (!!), was made by Baking with Medusa.

I do not know what that shining light on her chest is.  Spooky!

After wearing his Spiderman costume once, Little Brother informed me that Spiderman is not as tough as Batman, so he did not want to wear that costume again.  Not one to argue about toughness, I switched to speed.  Thanks to cheap and easy-to-procure Target pieces, I was able to put together a Flash trick-or-treating costume almost as quickly as Flash can run around the Earth.  Lucky for me, Spiderman boots look an awful lot like Flash boots.

I take no credit for that awesome hat.  That's all Ramona, of Etsy shop Soil (which seems to be down at the moment and won't let me link to it), who did an amazing job with this custom order (I suspected that the thrill of Spiderman would not last, so I did plan ahead a bit with the hat).

I even threw together a Flash trick-or-treat bag before work that morning. Now you know the full extent of my ridiculousness. But, hey, these fun superhero days won't last forever, will they?  And who could resist this fast Flash?

Oh, and we were joined by Batman, who was quite a trooper with his first trick-or-treating experience.  So glad little nephew/cousin could come along!

Happy Halloween, 2012!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spiderman and this not-so-wicked witch wish you a very happy Halloween!  May your day be filled with treats, not tricks.  Or if you do get tricked, may they be the sorts of tricks that make you laugh and smile.
So, this year's costumes.  Little Brother chose Spiderman.  Because I'm obsessed with the idea that costumes should be as well-made as everyday clothing (after all, this little guy has worn his Batman costume at least twice a week for the past year), and made with the sorts of materials that can be worn every day, I started with Disney pajamas.  I bought a second pair off Ebay and made a hat (I'm crazy like that).  I put together a mask out of some fleece scraps.  But the best part of the costume has to be the shoes.  The kid loves his Spiderman boots.  (Note that this is not the first time the shoes have been the best part of a costume -- remember the viking princess?)

Big Sister, who wanted a traditional Halloween costume this year, chose to be a witch.  She doesn't remember, but she was a witch once before.  A witch princess, to be precise.  She's grown a bit since then.
I'm a bit sad to say that I didn't make any part of Big Sister's costume this year, unless you count her trick-or-treat bag, which didn't even make it into the photos.  But I did assemble a cool costume, thanks (as always) to Etsy. The fabulous patchwork hat was made by Penelope's Costumes. I wish you could see it in person. It's beautifully made, and the fabrics are gorgeous. Bioethnyx Arts made the purple felted spider dangling from the end of the hat. Sew Jewell made the cape.

Watch out for this spooky crew tonight. If you see them, say BOO!