Friday, February 26, 2010

King Me: A craftacular tutorial

When I was on maternity leave the first time I relearned to knit. NOT purl or increase or decrease stitches (intentionally) just knit. And so I made scarves. Lots and lots of scarves.

That was the start of wanting to be more connected to craft.

I'm sure you know by now I'm not really crafty.

You may admire my photographs. You may think I'm mildly skilled with the written word. But when it comes to following patterns, or plans, or directions, or recipes ... I'm about as sharp as a wet mouse.

I was once proud of this.

Sad, huh?

I blame Etsy for making me want to improve.

Etsy made me appreciate handcraft. And made me realize how hard it is to make anything that LOOKS simple.

Etsy also made me beg and plead with Santa to put a sewing machine under the tree for me Ittybit to find on Christmas morning.

So ... I'm we're learning. And I thought maybe I'd take you alone with me when I actually figure out how to do something that even remotely looks like the thing I set out to make.

So ... here it is, my first "IF-I-CAN-DO-THIS-IT-CAN'T-BE-THAT-DIFFICULT" tutorial:


Stuff you need:
Two pieces of craft felt
Matching or coordinating thread
About a 1/4 yard or so of fusable interfacing
Some cotton fabric

Things you don't necessarily need but are helpful:
A sewing machine
About 45 minutes
A tasty beverage


The first thing I did was measure the kids' heads to get a general size of their cabasas. And then I pretty much ignored the measurements.

Then I made a template on tissue paper. I drew it free-hand, cut the pattern in half and pinned the halves to a piece of craft felt. Cut out the felt pieces, and repete the process on another piece of felt. I used two colors. **You want to be careful to make sure that the edges of the halves that well be seemed together are straight and fit exactly. The rest of the edges can be trimmed later. (You'll notice that for whatever reason - probably insanity - I added about an inch to make a taller crown).

Using a zigzag stich, sew the seems together on the felt pieces. Be careful to evenly span the stitch over the two pieces. I kept going over it and over it to make sure it wasn't going anywhere. I also put a "faux" seem to make the crown's peaks look balanced.

Using the same template, I cut out another crown form of sturdy interfacing. ... And then I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how to get the interfacing to adhere to to the fabric. I used an iron on the wool setting as the directions instructed. But it didn't work. ... So I pinned the whole thing together and sewed it ...

Around all the edges except for the ends.

Then I measured the difference between the crown and the kids' cabasas, and I cut a length of elastic that seemed appropriate. I then cut a section of fabric twice that length, and sewed a lengthwise seem with the fabric folded inside out. I right-sided the fabric and slipped in the elastic, pinning it at one end and squelching the fabric down to find the other end, than pinned the other end.

Next, I stuffed one end of the homemade scrunchy into the open end of the crown between the one side of the felt and the interfacing and top sewed it closed. Then I did the same thing with the other side.

I cut out some fancy stuff in felt ... you could use a printout of a letter in your favorite font ... and glued it to the finished crown. (If you want to decorate the crown with things like buttons or other decorations that require sewing, you should do this BEFORE you attach the felt to the interfacing).

Did I mention the crown is reversible?

Which side is this? Front? Back? I dunno.


The kids can decide when they dress it up with do-dads and whatsits of their own.


Crowns are fun ...

wears his crown backward

no matter how you wear one ...

how he styles it

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Random Question Thursday

You're having a dinner party. You can invite anyone in the world, living or dead (or fictional ... because it probably won't ever happen anyway), who's coming and what will you serve?

Bennedict Arnold (want to ask him what he did in the house down the street from us, when "he was entertained there as a prisoner of war"), Bill Murray (hoping he'll just hang around for a few months) Kate Winslet (because the MAN already had breakfast with her) and Cher (who wouldn't want CHER at their house?)

And we're having pizza delivered. I don't want to miss any of the conversation.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Evidently NOT a Mother of Prevention

We made snow cones this morning. The REAL kind ... with precipitation gathered from the most prestine spot in the center of the front lawn.

And then we added drink mix.

HER: "I don't want the lemonade-flavored kind ... "

"Aw ... come on! You can eat the snow, it's only Yellow No. 5!"


And she said, with a tear in her eye
Watch out where the huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow
Watch out where the huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

One cool customer

Now, you might be wondering about what happened the day after I lost my mind, shut some doors and then held a pillow over my head until one of us finally slept.

Well, nothing really. Nothing I expected would happen, anyway.

Bedtime came as it usually does at 8:30 p.m., a minute or so before I got home from work and slogged up the stairs to the sound of happy voices.

"Mommy's HOME!"

"She made it for bed time."

I walked into Ittybit's room, where the man was looking tired and relieved, under a pile of bedtime reading.

"The Champ was already pulling me into the hall and toward his room. He was ready to pick out books. He was ready, more or less, for bed.

We read about Lucy Lobster's clacky claws. We read about Al Oft's special job of surveling errant tractors amid the bluffs of Radiator Springs. We even read all about the Dragons that were Not My Dragons.

And it was time to turn out the lights.

"I want to sleep in your bed," said the lad in the dark.

"I know, kiddo. But big boys like you have to sleep through the night in their own bedrooms."

I shut the door with a snap instead of a slam.

He cried. Slightly and for only a few seconds, and then the room was silent.

I woke up after midnight to the same silence. And again at 3 a.m. Quiet.

In the morning the man opened the boy's door on his way downstairs to exercise. He was curled up in bed, still sleeping.

I know this could be a fluke. It could be like that one time, way back in his infancy, when he slept through the night. Or it could be the start of a new development. And the official end of the baby days.

My brain tells me to celebrate his ascention into boyhood. My heart looks on with tears in its eyes. Both tell me to take him to the Surley Drip for a breakfast cookie.

My desire for coffee obliges.

As sit in the seat next to him, sipping coffee and watching him eat the bagel he chose instead of the cookie, I do that thing mother's tend to do: marvel.

He's sitting with my sun glasses, watching the counter girls busily taking orders.

Dusting his hands, he licks his lips and sets down the outer edges of bagel crust. He asks to go to the washroom. After washing the butter from his hands, he's ready to leave. He turns to the girls and bids them farewell:

"We've got to scram," he says. "See ya later."

It dawns on me that while it's been one giant leap from baby to boy, it will only be as series of small steps from boy to man.

And this cat is one cool customer.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Scream therapy

Dear Son,

I love you.

I LOVE you.

I think you are bright and funny and silly and sweet.

I love you.

I wanted to get that out there, because lately I've been so frazzled that it may seem as if I don't really like you.

Last night, after you woke up at 11 p.m. and didn't settle down, I let you scream it out behind two closed doors: yours and mine. I couldn't go into your room to console you so afraid I was of my own rage.

I have a ton of excuses: I am working long hours without a clear schedule. I'm not sure what direction my formerly beloved industry is heading but I'm not so keen on the road map I've been given. I tell myself it's the uncertainty that is stressful but I'm not so sure I believe me.

My thyroid condition isn't under control at the moment, and quite possibly pressing a thumb to a scale already weighted toward depression. I hope new medication will help me put my head above water.

But those are just theories.

The fact that you woke up this morning happy to see me, as if the night before came wholesale from my imagination, was a gift I am likely to squander in the future when I am again at my weakest.

I don't expect you to judge me favorably for this trait, or the fact that I'm telling you I am likely to repeat it. I am human and fallible.

All I know is that I love you and your sister more than life itself, and the emotion in that is greater and scarier than anything I've ever felt in my years on this earth. It's something that I could only see as a cliche during the salad days, and so I know it won't mean much to you until you experience it for yourself.

Forever and until then ... I just wanted to tell you that I love you.



Friday, February 19, 2010

I really would have liked to have been at the development meeting for this ...

No, seriously. I wish I was at the development meeting for this

This little "curio toy" was made by the Fleet people who are not bankers.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Random Question Thursday

tangled and toothless 48/365

What's your jewelry box?

I swear, I'm not asking because I plan to track you down from your IP address and break into your house when you're away at church ... or anything.

I'm just curious because I think there's a lot of meaning in our jewelry cases. Even those of us who don't think of ourselves as coveters of extravagant gems are still really attached to some piece of adornment in our possession, be it manufactured or mined. It might also be something that's not jewelry but tucked in there for safe keeping. Or, it could be something that might belong in a jewelry box but is hanging out in some other location ... like the dashboard ledge of your car ... *ahem.*

I have a bunch of rings - mostly plastic but some glass - that mean more to me than my engagement ring. (And I swear, there is a jeweler out there worth her weight in gold for having to size a surprise engagement ring using a half-dozen adjustable toys dumped out onto her display case by a clueless, but hopeful, groom-to-be ... but that's another story).

See, I'm a sucker for the kind of gaudy, toy rings one might purchase in chintzy gifts shops and tourist spots if one were, say, eight years old. In my collection I have about a dozen holiday rings with witches and bats and snowmen and snow globes. I have a ring that's a working level. I even have a slew of colorfully painted plastic rings shaped like hearts, circles, ovals and squares. I get one each summer when we visit my mother-in-law in Maine.

I even have two tempered glass equivalents, that were still a bargain at more than three-times the price of a toy. I bought one in orange and one in blue to match slings I wore when toting The Champ around when he was an infant. One has since been retired after it chipped at a stress point. The other remains perfectly unblemished despite having never left my finger.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Can't argue with logic

HER: "Why isn't it printing?"

ME: "I don't know. Maybe the new Internet dad set up has some knots in it."

HER: "But look. This button says 'Print.' If I push it shouldn't it just print."

ME: "That's what I would guess. ... But then again, I don't even really know how the fax machine works other than 'magic isn't involved'."

HER: "What's a fax machine?"

ME: "A relative dinosaur of technology."

HER: "Maybe the fax could talk to the printer and make it work ... you know ... since they're related."

ME: "Now that really would be magic."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sounds like somebody has a case of 'The Mondays'

.75 $ Daily

I am not depressed.

I am tired.

I am overwhelmed by inertia.

I think if I got regular exercise I would have more energy.

I do not get regular exercise.

I tried to exercise this past weekend and was thwarted by the awakening of my son

... who won’t allow me to do anything in his presence that doesn’t include him in some appendage-like way.

My husband probably thinks the situation is well deserved.

He's probably right.

The boy, after all, is still nursing. Still sleeping in our bed.

He is why we are tired.

Or more accurately ... My inertia is why he is causing me to be the way I am ...

I don't blame you if you can't follow that.

It doesn't make sense.

Exercising makes sense.

My husband gets up at the crack of dawn. I hear him downstairs gliding in place in the living room. The ski machine is now wedged between the couch and the toys. In front of the television. Like everything else we own.



The scraping of wooden ski against the metal rollers is rhythmic to itself alone. The sound of talking - a morning news broadcast - is just a backdrop of babble on war, and destruction and apathy. All of it floating up through the floor, filtered.


We have settled in here.

Few boxes are left to be unpacked.

Things that finally have a place are being encroached upon by the things of new desires.

Get healthy. Need the fitness machine. Bring it in.

Need to fill time. Make stuff. More and more stuff.

Some things that were waiting for a place, wait no longer.

A counter is made especially for the under-the-counter television.

Move. Perch. Pile.

The landscape changes daily. I don't seem to change with it. Nothing is as I thought it would be.

Most days I can accept that.

Most days I can just keep plodding forward. I can keep believing there is a purpose. For me. For this, whatever it is.

I can remember all the times I listened to people say they could have been just like …

And all the times I thought: 'Nope. You couldn’t have been just like ...

'You are not ...

'You are nowhere near ...

... Of course, neither am I.

We are all jealous of Dot-dot-dot's success.

We all think it could have been us.

But it couldn’t have been us.

When did I stop moving forward?

...I am not depressed.

I am overwhelmed by inertia.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nothing says 'I love you,' quite like a robot ...

If I only had a heart

that has glitter-glue buttons and is popping out of a card bearing hearts.

Of course, the robot would likely have a mechanical voice that lacks feeling ...

but that's just being nit-picky.

Happy Valentine's Day - XOXO

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Random Question Thursday


In a movie theater which armrest is yours?

I'm the sort who starts out with my feet on the seat and my elbows on my knees. I like to think I'm compact and mildly considerate. Of course those are two illusions dashed to smithereens as soon as one or both kids winds up in my lap ... then I am tenticle mom. I practically take up the entire theater. "ALL ARMRESTS BELONG TO ME!!!" mwa-ah-ah-ah.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Should have known

nap 38/365

One might think by now I'd have the sick child thing down.

One might think alarm bells would sound when I'm scurrying to leave the house and find him in his room, at 10 a.m., tucked into bed with his knees folded beneath his bum. Trying, he says, "to sweep."

But it doesn't trigger anything more than momentary surprise.

Maybe this is a new phase?

OR maybe he is just cranky and didn't want to head out into the cold. He's like me, this child, stubborn.

I thought he might also be just a smidgeon put out by the door his sister closed in his face so she could have some "private time" to play on this, the second snow day of her kindergarten year.

He didn't feel warm. He didn't seem sick. He had eaten breakfast at the crack of dawn and then tore through his toys, scattering them with the toddler equivilent of gale-force winds, until it was nearly time to pack up and head to the sitter's house.

That's what I thought at least as my thoughts raced past the moments at hand.

I had things to do, places to go before I got to my final destination: work.

I didn't get the call to come and get him. Our babysitter called his father.

She knew I was working late and wanted to spare me the fruitless anticipation, knowing that it would be hours before I could go and snuggle with my feverish boy.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Poking 'well enough' in the eye with a surperlative


ITTYBIT: "Here, mom. Open it."

MOM: "You want me to open it now? ... Before Valentine's Day?"

ITTYBIT: "Yes. Open it now."

MOM: "That's fantastic, honey. You wrote this all by yourself: 'You are a good mom.'

... Not a great one but a good one."

ITTYBIT: *Laughing* "I wanted to say 'you are a great mom' but I couldn't sound spell it."

MOM: *Also laughing* Well ... the way you spelled good really made me a god."

Monday, February 8, 2010

He comes in peace

and the Evil Emperor Zurg

"I am Buzz Lightyur."

"I protect the gawaxy fom invasers."

"And the Evil Emperor Zorg."

"Zorg is my DAD?!"

**Aside from the scene (above) being staged over and over again on Super Bowl weekend, this was probably my favorite part of the Super Bowl coverage.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I 'heart' weekends

We may not get to do any of this stuff. ... But I "heart" that it is swimming around out there.

I 'Heart' Freaks and Geeks

The first 50 freaks folks to pre-register will get to participate in the third annual Polar Plunge at 1 p.m. Saturday in Long Pond at Grafton Lakes State Park. The event is part of the 25th annual Winter Fest, and proceeds will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The fee is $20 and includes a t–shirt and hot beverage for those who brave the icy waters. For more information on the Polar Plunge, call Margaret Phillips of the East Greenbush Master Swimmers’ Club at 479-3739 evenings, 577-5434 days.

Grafton's Winter Fest starts at 5 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m. and features a host of outdoor activities including cross country skiing, snow sculpture contest, art exhibit, food, children's activities and more. $2 per person, $5 per family. For more information on Winter Fest, call 279-1155.

I 'Heart' Ye Old Target

Back in the 1700s school kids couldn’t just walk into their neighborhood Target store and purchase 3-D glow-in-the-dark Hannah Montana Valentine’s Day cards … Ya know? No, back in The Day sprogs would show their love and affection with gifts they made by hand.

So in keeping with traditions of yor, the folks at the Columbia County Historical Society will host a timely valentines’ themed workshop for children ages 6 to 10 at the James Vanderpool House, 16 Broad Street, Kinderhook. Children will make valentines and small bouquets called “tussy mussies.” That name alone is reason enough to show up and pay the $5 fee for a single child, $10 for families. Historical society members can titter away for free.

Reservations are recommended. Contact Ashley-Hopkins Benton at 758-9265 or e-mail

I 'Heart' Community Radio

Sorted, a fully solar-powered graphic design studio at 357 Warren Street in Hudson, will be the location of a special artisan fair from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, to benefit WGXC, a 3,000-watt community radio station hoping to launch its signal on 90.7 FM.

Goods made by local artisans will include ceramics, photography, books, jewelry, beeswax candles, leather accessories, knitted wear, tabletop design and other multiples and one-of-a-kind objects. Proceeds from the sale will help the radio station buy necessary equipment for the endeavor. The day-long event also features organic coffee, and sound performances by Hans Tammen.

Admission is free. For more information, call 622-2598 or e-mail … visit online at WGXC

I 'Heart' Peeking in Candy Houses

What better way to celebrate the love of a good family than to sit in the dark and watch the horrifyingly dysfunctional exploits of another? It's good, wholesome family fun, I tell you. So, just after Valentine's Day, Berkshire Theatre Festival PLAYS! presents "Hansel and Gretel" at the Berkshire Museum 11 a.m. February 15 through 20. $15 for adults ($7 members) $8 for children, ages 3-18, ($5 for members). Ticket price includes museum admission.

I 'Heart' Kids with Cameras

Get bigger kids out from in front of the television during February break and put them behind a video camera. Berkshire Museum is hosting a week-long Movie Camp for aspiring young filmmakers Feb. 15 through 20. The day-long camp (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) will have them doing everything from penciling the plot to popping the popcorn. Geared for grades three through six, participants write scripts, make costumes, operate camera as well as act the parts. The session culminates with a movie premiere of the finished film for family and friends. Fee is $225 ($195 members) and each camper gets a DVD of the film to watch again and again. For more information call the Berkshire Museum at 413-443-7171.

I 'Heart' Careening Down a Mountain at Night for the Price of Gliding Across a Field During the Day

Jiminy Peak in Hancock, Mass. is offering $15 twiglight skiing with an e-coupon from 3 to 10 p.m. Feb. 8, 9 and 10. The regular price is $40. To print a coupon and see other deals, visit Jiminy Peak

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Random Question Thursday

How long would it take you to complete this puzzle?

Seeing as how the project was started by a puzzle master kindergartener ... and she was given some help with the outer borders from a puzzle-obsessed friend ... you might think we could knock this out in fewer than 20 minutes.

Of course, you'd have to figure on my inability to fit together anything that isn't clearly labeled: "Insert this piece here into that piece there."

You'd also have to factor in the removal of all progress when an unattended toddler redistributes puzzle pieces throughout the family room.

And add to that a night in which to "sleep on it" after the dramatic outburst of aforementioned kindergartener to the sight of her dashed work coupled with her mother's inability to even begin to figure out the different pieces of blue. (Puzzle-obsessed friend didn't see her work destroyed, but I'm sure it would be cause for some consternation if not heartache when she reads this.)

Don't forget school. That's another six hours lost right there.

Where do the days go?

All told I'd say it took about three days (give or take 20 minutes for Champ wrangling and deflection) to finally see a kitten torture a goldfish.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We can fix it

There will come a day, probably sooner than I'd like, when I will remind Ittybit of the love she once had for hand-me-downs.

Whenever we receive a bag of new-to-her things, it musters the same excitement as Christmas morning. She combs through the piles, sniffing the duds and commenting about the scent of another family's detergent. "Oh ... It even smells like her," she’ll swoon with a soft sweater pressed next to her face.

Having togs worn previously by some of our friends’ daughters - girls she would have loved to have as big sisters – is, to her, akin to wearing the sweat-stained, cast-away t-shirt of a rock star.

Major. Rock Star.

Sometimes I can’t believe she allows me to wash them.

The only problem comes when an item meets the end of its useful life before she's ready to let it go.

She slipped her foot in the pretty pink boots, and she spoke in warm tones about the cozy faux fur. They were the perfect size for her to fit her already-ballet-slippered feet, thus she could be the first one ready for dance class. I noticed the broken bit on the boot's toe as she was shuffle-ball-changing around the dance studio in taps.

For some reason the evil spirit that is alive and well in the promise of shopping forced me to mention her need for new boots aloud.

Big mistake.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! You. Have. To. Fix. It. You. Have. To. Fix. It. ThesearethebestbootsI'veeverhad. These were Anna's Boots! You. Have. To. Fix. It.

I frown and look back down at the boots.

She doesn't understand that we don't live in an age where cobblers or tinkers hang out shingles. Things aren't made to last. They're made to be replaced ... usually long before the ink on their warrantee has dried. We generally don't even bother to force manufacturers to abide by their promises because replacement items are so cheap it's not worth the effort or the return shipping fees.

She doesn’t care. She wants THOSE boots and not NEW boots, not even if they looked like THOSE boots.

Snow is coming and we are at an impasse.

"Maybe we can put a patch in there ..." my mother suggests.

"Maybe we can coat it in some kind of adhesive ..." my husband ponders.

"Yes! YES! A patch. A hesive. Anything so that I can still wear my boots," trumpets my daughter.

I leave it for tomorrow. It's late and I still have hope I can get to the store before snow hits the ground. Perhaps she'll see the beauty in a brand new pair if I can find a similar style or something with razzmatazz, as my dad would say.

But in the morning there is snow on the ground and her boots are still waiting for the elves of yesteryear to mend them.

My husband plugs in his hot melt glue gun and gets to work.

"Oh ... thank-you-thank-you-thank-you," she gushes as he helps her on with the boots.

"The fix is not going to last," he warns her. "You will have to get new boots before long."

“Are you trying to break my heart?” she asks playfully?

“No. But you are going to break mine,” he replies, and then tousles her hair as she runs for the bus.

“Good thing we have hot glue, dad. We can always fix it.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kaopectate doesn't work as quickly as Kharma

Monday I was feeling kind of off - OK, but not great - until I tried to leave the house, at which point some strange stomach ailment made it perfectly clear I wouldn't be going anywhere without a bathroom in my pocket. Needless to say, I stayed home hoping it would pass and not be the opening act of the family curse (also known as IBD).

Speaking of curses ...

What do you think should happen to a person who bragged over the weekend about how thus far their child had yet to miss the school bus?

What do you think happened this morning?

33/365 kharma works quickly

That would be me behind the camera, dropping off Ittybit at school.

Kharma works faster than Kaopectate.