Friday, December 30, 2011

A Buddy

Guess what this little lady got for Christmas. She wrote a letter to Santa Clause in September asking for her own sewing machine. It was the one and only thing she asked for (over and over again) for four months. How can a parent (er, I mean Santa) refuse? So I worked out a little exchange with my sister and viola: Anna is a beginning seamstress at age five.

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I sure love the company.  Right now she is still just getting used to the machine while I work on sheets for her doll bed, but her plans are big.  Already her sewing list includes an apron and a fancy dress for her doll, and a dress, shirt and endless skirts for herself.  She sounds a little too much like her mama whose to-do list includes marble bags for an upcoming birthday party, satin Sunday dresses, a birthday dress for Lu and a quiet book with “paper” dolls

Sometimes I worry about the time and money that is spent in that studio.  Sometimes I feel like I am being selfish by working in there, even when I’m making things for my family.  The housework lags, dinner is late, laundry piles up, bathrooms remain unsanitary.  It is a hard balance for me.  I try to sew during nap times or with children crawling around me, sometimes working on their own projects, sometimes just talking about their day.  But when the kids are in the studio it seems virtually impossible to make progress on any of my own projects; they need help, they need attention, they need Mom.  Often I become frustrated. 

So I have to focus on the good that happens in that room.  Sometimes it is the happiest and most crowded room in the house.  The memories made, the skills honed, the experiences shared.  It is a good place to be, most of the time.  And I’m grateful for my new little sewing buddy even though I feel pretty sure it means, at least for a while, I won’t be getting much crossed off my to-do list.  I feel so blessed to have this amazing little girl in my life and to share a little bit of who I am with her, while soaking up every sweet bit of her I can.  I love that we can share this.  I can’t help but smile when I think of all the wonderful fabric-filled projects in our future.  Love that girl.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011

If you have read my Christmas posts in the past you know that we celebrate Christmas three times each year.  We have a big party at my brother’s house on Christmas Eve, presents around the tree on Christmas morning with just our little family, and then one more party at my in-law’s on Christmas day.  As you can imagine that generates a lot of photographs.  In order to get the gist of it all I employ collages.  Here is a little piece of our world just for you.

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Christmas Eve Favorites

everyone showing up early so we had extra time to talk and talk and talk

peppermint-Oreo Cold Stone ‘scream

a new baby to hold (bliss)

all those cutie-patootie kids – I love them all so much!

the Emperor and Darth Vader for innkeepers

Shonee, the sheep, carrying all the shepherds

laughing and talking and laughing some more

seeing our family get better with age


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Christmas Morning Gifts

We all made presents for each other this year.  The kids spent hours and hours on each other.  It was amazing to see the energy and focus.  Man, I love these kids.  Although not every gift is pictured above, I have included a list of what they made.  It’s a little treasure hunt: see how many you can find in the collage.

Djeryd: for Daddy – a guys-night-at-the-movies kit complete with A&W, lots of candy and popcorn; for Erik – a wooden Roman sword, shield and sheath; for Anna – a doll bed; for Alyx – a little pink purse

Erik: for Daddy – a library card (I realize this one was not made, but Sean had been complaining about his worn out library card so Erik secretly bought him a new one with his own money – I thought it was very thoughtful); for Djeryd – a wooden rifle; for Anna – a quilt for the doll bed Djeryd and Sean made; for Alyx – a quilt for her dolls

Anna: for Daddy – a “Hawk-n-Daughts” shirt (think Haagen-Daaz – if you remember for Father’s Day the boys gave Sean a “Hawk-n-Sons” t-shirt, and Anna thought it was high time for Daddy to have a shirt about his girls); Djeryd and Erik - “checkmarks” (i.e. bookmarks); for Alyx – “a strawberry skirt like mine so we can be twinners”

I made all the kids jammies and gave Sean a picture of the temple I took last summer and had blown-up and put on canvas, and a new family portrait I blew-up and framed.

Sean got me, well, let’s just say it wasn’t homemade and you can see its bright light being held in my hands.  He made Anna’s bed with Djeryd and a portable soccer net for Erik.  For Djeryd he built and painted a green screen.  Huh?  You know, when you see the “making of” segment of CGI movies where all the actors are in costume prancing around in front of green screen pretending there’s something there, when there really isn’t, but when you see it in the actual movies they are trotting around in a spaceship and being attacked by aliens – you know that?  That’s what a green screen is.  It makes it possible to add virtually any background or surrounding into your film.  Djeryd really likes to make movies (mostly about Legos).  Can you tell?  My goodness, Sean was busy this year!


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Christmas Day Highlights

Erik donning his sword and shield before church

Sean and the boys fighting to see what new wii game Aunt Heather gave them

my nephew proving that it is not only babies who enjoy playing in boxes

Lilly loving that Minnie Mouse purse

James jamming out Christmas-style on his groovy strings

missing Heather and Rachel – oh, how I wanted to see their faces when presents were opened

watching everybody visit and enjoy each other

observing the sweet relationships among us, like Erik loving his great-grandma the way he does

Alyx’s pink sparkle slippers

swapping crafty plans with my brother-in-law – the guy made everyone soap this year – like really cool soap

feeling like I could soak it all in this year – no stress, no anxiety, just beloved calm

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Two New Skirts

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I made these two skirts in September while my camera was still out of commission. I finally got around to photographing them so you all can see (how nice of me, I know).

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I came across this wonderful tutorial on Simple Simon & Co.  The only reason I did not whip out a few more was because cold, icky weather was already setting in and it was time to put skirt-making on the back burner for a while.

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I made the gingham one first.  In an effort to avoid the somewhat tedious rolled hem (especially on a circle skirt), I lined the blue flowered one with some yellow satin.

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Next time I am going to use bias tape for the hem.  I think it will add some body and a nice design element.

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I love the contrasting turquoise ribbon and topstitching.  Sometimes I worry about adding a strong color like that because I feel it might limit what the garment can be paired with.  But my experience tells me to relax and just trust my gut.

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Incidentally, the pattern allows you to completely customize your pattern.  I have made this same skirt, perfectly sized, for my niece and an American Girl doll.  Now I just need to make one for moi.  Oh, I can’t wait for skirt weather to return. 

P.S.  I tried to get some pictures of Anna wearing her swirly threads, but the lighting in this cold, gray yuckiness is lousy.  I’ll try again when it warms up and sun comes out.  We usually get one or two nice days in February, and then again in May. ;>

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One Thing I Am Loathe to Part With

I love making things for all of the darling little loves in my life.  Christmas is especially fun because I get to create for nieces and nephews.  This year I made one particular gift that I really, really do not want to wrap up and send on its way.Purses and skirts 025

When my shiny new copy of Girl’s World showed up on the doorstep, not only did I drool over the sumptuous photography, I immediately fell in love with the Penelope Purse.  It looked sturdy and adorable and generously sized (for a child, which mean perfectly little-sized for me).  I whipped this baby up for my beautiful niece, Brooklyn, who wanted an art kit.  I found some quarter-sheet-sized art paper pads for different artistic mediums, and the usual complement of crayons, watercolors, markers and pencils.  Don’t you think it will make the most adorable carry-all for her art supplies?

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(Special thanks to Lu for being my model so you could see it “in action”.) 

I knew before I cut into my fabric that I should just construct two of them at the same time, one for my niece, and one for me.  But, with the Christmas rush I thought it best to postpone the construction of my own bag until after the holidays.  So instead I refuse to wrap it and find myself strategically placing Penelope so that I can catch little glimpses of her throughout the day.  I LOVE the lining, but I do not have enough of that perfect lime polka-dot to make an exact replica for me.  Whatever shall I do? (And man, oh, man, am I going to be sad when I finally run out of that pink paisley.) All I can say is: Brooklyn, if you ever get tired of this bag, I will be happy to take it off your hands.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Garden in the Making

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We got these beauties in the ground right before Thanksgiving and I am dancing with giddy glee.  These are all perennials we started from seed last winter.  Yea!!!  They moved out of their milk carton pots in early summer and into the raised beds to get nice and bulky before being planted out in the yard.  My horticulture instructor taught me to get my perennials in the ground in the fall so they can settle in before winter (I’m not sure if I met that mark) and be all ready for blooming in the spring.  Sean spent all last summer shaping the yard and this year we get to plant it!!!  Yea!  Oh, how I miss my roses.  But, man, am I ever excited to start pouring over seed catalogs and graph paper come January, coloring in rectangles for cosmos and snapdragons, tomatoes and apple trees.  Happy future spring!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Devotional

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One of our favorite Christmas traditions is sitting down together as a family on the first Sunday of December to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional.  We don’t have a television, so this is how we watch movies, etc. at our house – yippee for the internet and a projector.  Annaliese and I made snowball cookies (my very favorite – and because of the fat content and the amount in which I consume them, they are only made once a year).  My favorite part this year was the video of the Nativity.  I was deeply touched by Mary when the shepherds came to see the Christ-child that first Christmas night.  This amazing woman had just given birth, in a stable, no less, and within hours these sweet, humble people came to worship their God.  And Mary shared Him in those sacred, precious hours.  

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It was such a nice way to not only get into the spirit of Christmas, but to come together at the end of our trip as a last little “hurrah”. And those cookies were so yummy!  Don’t you just love Christmas?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

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It is hard to believe that just two short weeks ago we were basking in seventy-two degree weather and staring up at warm, sunny skies.  The shock of arctic cold we experienced stepping out of PDX and into our car was unnerving, to say the least.  I snagged a picture of our maple tree a day or two after we got home.  The lovely filigree of ice has laced the yard ever since we got back.  I really, really, really do not like being cold.  And I really, really, really do not like gray skies.  (And I will not complain about the rain right now because the sun is actually shining today and I don’t want to think about the Northwest alternative to sunshine.)  I am trying so hard to be thankful for our weather.  The east coast seems to get slammed with snow, and the southern states have been cooking themselves right up for months. 

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So while I drool over blogs where people can still celebrate their children’s birthdays outside (in cute little dresses, no less), and others where gardens are verdantly resplendent, I am counting my blessings to be able to experience a Christmas that feels like Christmas. Hot spiced cider or yummy cocoa lose much of their appeal in warm weather. I like that the Christmas lights start illuminating the night by 4:30 or 5:00 in the evening.  I am thankful that the shortest day of the year is just around the corner, because that means longer days (and hopefully warmer ones, too) are in sight.  And it does seem much easier to work on all those Christmas presents when it feels so very cold and Christmas-y outside.

Kids Photo Shoot 013I spent a good portion of my childhood in Southern California where my dad would sometimes bring a bagful of snow down from the mountains for us to play in.  To me that was the best of both worlds – snow and seventy-five degrees.  I never felt deprived of that magical Christmas snow.  Thank you, Daddy.  But this is my situation right now, so I will bundle up and snuggle up and celebrate living in a place where winter, spring, summer and fall are each given plenty of time to be experienced.

Friday, December 9, 2011


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We went to Disneyland last week with my brother’s family.  We spent a day at Sea World, which warrants its own post.  I struggle with a social anxiety disorder from time to time which caused me to express some serious reservations about going.  In the end the miracle of modern medicine came to my aid and helped make most of the trip a joy.

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My favorite part is just being with my kids and my brother’s kids.  I love them all so much.  They get along famously and we did not have any problems at all.  It was wonderful.  In fact, after we all piled off the plane Saturday night, and after spending 6 solid days together, they asked if we could please, please have a sleepover that night.

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Favorite attractions for the kids were all the roller coasters.  After almost every coaster, Anna would jump up and down and say, “Let’s go again!”

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I loved the Wilderness Challenge in California Adventure.  They had five or six challenges for the kids to complete, including rock climbing and a mini zip line.  It was a nice way to just move around and play and explore a little.

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We met a few celebrities.  These guys were nice enough to slap hands and hang out with us for a minute or two.

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This is my favorite picture of my nephew.  His ice cream had turned to soup.  In an effort to maximize a return on his efforts, four spoons were used simultaneously to shovel in what was left.  Love that kid!  (And I wish I could figure out how to steal that little boy’s heart; at this point in his little life he sees no need for his Auntie My.  I think I will put “Win Karsten’s Heart” on my Christmas Wish list.)

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Tom Sawyer’s Island holds a special place in my heart, for some strange reason.  Again, I think it is the running and playing and exploring that calls to me.  Unfortunately, I did not get over there.  Alyx was asleep and no strollers are allowed, so I stayed on shore while Sean braved the waters and island with the boys.

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My two favorite things about Disneyland were all the magical Christmas lights, decorations and actual snow falling on Main Street (I know it was fabricated, but it was still incredibly magical); and I loved the Disney Museum.  It is housed in the same building as the Mr. Lincoln exhibit.  It was calm and peaceful.  Barely anyone was there, even on the most crowded day we were at the park.  We watched Moments With Mister Lincoln first, which was stirring and a little emotional at times.  Then we walked into the area that houses Walt’s original plans for Disneyland.  There was a soul to that place.  Two men’s hopes and dreams and sweat and prayers were enshrined in that building.  And I felt honored to have been able to spend a little time with them on a Saturday morning.

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It will be a very long time before we go back (we were there three years ago, and this time just felt like more of the same), but I’m glad we went.  Did you know that the original Disneyland had a replica of the Grand Canyon and you could take a little riding tour on your very own Alpaca?  I’m thinking the real-life version of that may be something worth doing.  And maybe seeing the real marble statue of our fearless 16th president, instead of a brilliant image of it flashed on a screen, would be worth seeing in real life, too.  And maybe finding a real piece of wilderness to explore on one of our Pacific Northwest mountains would prove to be its own real-life adventure (although I may close my eyes during the scary parts, and even scream if it’s really scary – like a spider).  If nothing more, I feel inspired to find the magic and adventure in my everyday life, to dream big and to live big and to put some soul into every single day. 

Monday, December 5, 2011


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I probably tried to cram way too many pictures into this little collage.  And right now my head is so full of all the millions of things I have to get done in less than three weeks (oh, how Christmas is suddenly looming), that I am just going to roll with it.  My favorite parts about Thanksgiving and Thanksgivagain were being with my family.  To me that is what makes Thanksgiving so wonderful – it is just about enjoying good food with the people we love most in the world (and of course being thankful for all that yummy food and all those wonderful people).  Djeryd prayed us a sunny day on Friday so the boys played football and the girls played at the park.  The maple hung onto its leaves through the weekend, providing some lovely fall pictures.  Djeryd is almost as tall as my sister now and I’m sure he will be soaring above her by this time next year.  How does time fly by so fast?  I seriously have a million things to do, so this is the best I have for this post today.  ;>

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Weekend With Lenny

Annaliese got to bring home Lenny, the Lion from school a few weeks ago. We played and partied and reveled in his stuffed company. We took pictures of our adventures and wrote up a little diary page from Lenny’s perspective to share with her class the following Monday. I should have copied down the entry for the blog, but it was late and I was tired and I forgot all about it until I ran across this picture today.


Anna read to him and slept with him and insisted that Lenny and her stuffed bear, Pinky Sweets, were going to get married.  We had a tea party with real tea cups and watched our one and only BYU football game of the season.  Incidentally, Sean picked up a stuffed lion for Anna when he was in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago.  Anna calls him “Lenny’s Little Brother”.  She refuses to give him a name of his own.  It cracks me up (her Kindergarten teacher was pretty tickled with that one, too).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wilcox Family Beach Trip – August 2011

This post is so incredibly overdue.  Between my camera dying in the middle of the trip and none of my family portraits turning out the way I wanted, this was simply a folder of pictures with a lot of emotional baggage attached.  But tonight, as I looked at it, it filled me with so many wonderful memories and tons of love for these amazing people that I am lucky enough to call family, that I decided it was high time I got this down in a digital record.  We were at Pacific City for four days, but my camera died (and was revived - but only once), so I missed capturing many memories, like my sister’s family singing their talent show song (it was very upsetting), having nightly family scriptures around the pool table, piling little sandy people into the bathtub, and all those girls beading during every spare moment.  I am especially sad to not have photographic evidence of Erik’s eighth birthday party which was a gorgeous sunset bonfire dinner on the beach.  Alas, some things will just have to live in my heart.  Here are three collages of three separate days with a bit of narration.

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Day 1 – We arrived at a very large beach house (it is extremely hard to find a house that will hold 25 people) and immediately dived into a surprise present for my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary.  They live in a teeny house so we chose to get them something small, practical and personal: aprons.  The kids put their handprints or feet-prints on the aprons and then decorated them with their names and sweet messages for Grandma and Grandpa.  The view of Haystack Rock was from our back deck.  Gorgeous!  All of us adults kept the kids up far too late by making a terrible racket playing spoons late into the night.  One of my brothers was not there because his wife was delivering a baby that very day.  We were fortunate enough to have their other three kids for the weekend (the newborn baby was obviously not in attendance).

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Day 2 – We spent a good chunk of the day on the beach.  The weather was really beautiful the whole time we were there, which is always a gamble on the Oregon Coast.  I took way too many picture of grains of sand stuck all over these little bodies, ears and hands, and toes and foreheads and mouths.  This was the day I climbed the dune.  It took me forever because I am in terrible shape, but I was so dang proud of myself and my little climbing partner, Brooklyn. (My camera died for the first time shortly after this expedition, hence no pictures of the afternoon or evening.)

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Day 3 – Sean fixed my camera and we headed out at 10:00AM for a our family photo shoot.  I think I would be dramatic to call it a disaster, but I really was not pleased with any of the shots (except the candid ones, like my darling nephew in his mommy’s sunglasses, and my family scattered around on the beach waiting for their turn at the little group shots).  I learned a lot about things I would do differently like having assistant with something eye-catching to capture all those little roving eyeballs.  I would also be more careful about posing everyone, checking lighting, etc., and then get everyone’s attention, take ten or twenty shots, then move on to setting up the next pose.  I think I will also consider some serious bribery to encourage full cooperation.  I think it is just something that takes practice. 

I thought about putting up the big, black, ugly frame that filled my digital screen right after these shots were taken.  (Sigh.)  But I didn’t want to re-depress myself.  ;>  I am so glad for the memories that were captured.  And as much as I complain about the family pictures, they’re not terrible, they’re fine.  Besides, it’s nice to know there is always room for learning something new.  Onward and upward, next year will be even better (at least I will have had more practice).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Photo Shoot

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My in-laws kindly reminded me the other day that the pictures of my children on their walls are extremely outdated (my walls, too, for that matter).  Time for a photo shoot.  Oh, darn.    

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I recently acquired a backdrop (i.e. a plain black sheet) for this very purpose.

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Everything was coming together for me: working camera, cool backdrop, new clothes and two adorable daughters.

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The problem I did not realize until after the shoot and I was going through the pictures was, holy cow, those two blouses are screaming at each other!

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Consequently, the partner shots are all in black and white so that you can look at them without sunglasses.

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I am choosing to think of this as a practice run.

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After all, I need to get the boys in some pictures, too.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

From our family tree . . .

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. . . to yours.

Friday, November 25, 2011


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Prior to the first Monday of daylight savings, you could find my boys doing this for an hour everyday after school.  We are not the most athletic or outdoorsy family, so this is a big deal (especially since Djeryd initiated it – Mister I-hate-all-forms-of-exercise).  They come in the house with bright, cheery cheeks, smiles on their faces, and smelling like fall.  Of all my babies, Alyx has been the most drawn to the outdoors.  if anyone is outside, she is clamoring at the sliding glass door.  She doesn’t care about shoes or coats.  She just wants to be outside.  Oops, I’m not supposed to be talking about girls in the post – the title says “Boys”.

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Erik has had a major breakthrough this month.  Reading finally crossed over from being a chore to being a joy.  This little guy can be found in bed, on the couch, in the kitchen, at the dining room table, in the car, virtually anywhere, with his nose in a book.  Hallelujah!  He used to try to tell me that he read forty pages of a chapter book in twenty minutes.  Everyday.  So annoying.  We had to move to him reading aloud to me in order to get his reading time in for the day.  That was the first month-and-a-half of school.  But no more!  He’s actually reading!  And he’s devouring books.  I love it!  And I am so grateful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Current Sewing Projects

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None of these are great photos, but they are the best pictures I have of my latest sewing projects.  Alyx’s top is a little wrap shirt that I modified from a dress pattern that originally had a zipper in the back.  I reworked the pieces, lined the whole thing and shortened the skirt to make it a blouse.  I love how it turned out and want to make a few more before she grows out of the pattern.

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Annaliese’s dress/top is straight from the pattern, no alterations.  I love the fabric that Anna chose.  It is so vibrant and lends itself beautifully to the simple design of the garment.  The next time I make this I want to use a variety of simple fabrics to showcase the different design elements.  I also think it would be cool to piece together the skirt in several different tie-shaped wedges to further accentuate the handkerchief hem (and use up some of my endless supply of scraps).

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I wish I had a better picture of Anna spinning because, wow, when she gets going that hem starts fluttering like a butterfly.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Balloons and Paper Hats

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Several weeks ago Sean came home on a Friday night to a bit of a mess.  Friday night is family movie night at our house so we try to have things cleaned up and ready to go when Sean walks through the door.  This time, however, he was greeted by the dining room table covered in trash bags, kids in paint shirts, shredded newspaper piled high, and gooey sticky paste covering hands, the table, and three balloons.  Twenty minutes earlier Djeryd decided he wanted to construct a World War I army helmet.  Paper mache` seemed to be the best medium, so we went to town.

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All of the kids got in on the action.  For some reason I was unavailable when the paste ran out.  The kids took matters into their own hands, which was great.  The funny part was they used whole wheat four instead of the plain white all-purpose kind.  Their glue became very gritty and not so easy to spread.  They were pleased as punch with themselves, though, so I didn’t say a word.  Nothing ever came of this little project, but we loved diving into something new and just trying it out. 

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

What’s Blooming

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My camera is finally home again.  Wahoo!  After taking some random pictures of the refrigerator (weird, I know), I captured a bit of life outside.  I have always had a roses in November, but this one seems to be the prettiest.

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I hate the cold and the wet.  (And I would be happy to work out a little house exchange for the next six months with anyone from a warmer climate interested in drowning to death in the Oregon rain – leave me a note and we’ll talk).  It’s crazy that even in the cold and wet flowers are blooming and a wasp or two is still buzzing.

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Of course, more interesting things than flowers are blooming around here.  Like my two brown eyed girls that simply adore each other.

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Do not be fooled by the short sleeves outside.  It was plenty cold and wet and Lu had to change clothes once we got inside because she was crazy enough to actually sit down on the grass.  Kids these days!

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This is the smile that greets me everyday when I pick up this sweet little girl from Kindergarten.  Talk about blooming . . . she’s amazing.

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