Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

Just a few photos from tonight.

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We tried Henry's costume on before visiting Granna, but he didn't love it. So we let him take it off.

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We misplaced and never found the ears that Anna Jane stitched for her doggy costume, so I had to make a set of emergency ears this afternoon. Other than that, the handiwork is all hers!

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I cut out a leg of a cheap pair of sweatpants and stuffed them with cotton batting to become Wilson's spiky dino tail. All of the dinosaur accessories were attached to the hooded sweatshirt so it could easily be removed with one un-zip.

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I bribed Henry with a piece of candy to put the lion costume on long enough for a photograph. With his cute little waddle, he looked more like an Ewok than the king of the jungle.

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Uncle Adam snapped some pics and we hit the streets! A great night!

By the way...yesterday was a teacher workday. I tackled a couple of ambitious projects around the house instead of working. I can't wait to show the before and afters...keep your eyes open for a couple of new posts in the next few days!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Minimum Halloween

I don't like decorating for Halloween. All of the flat surfaces in my house are cluttered with junk. Even if I put decorations out, you couldn't see them. The kids have costumes and we visit the pumpkin patch, but that's about it.

For Anna Jane's first Halloween, I felt pretty good about making her costume. I put her in bright pink long johns from Target and made her butterfly wings out of craft foam. The key for me was that she could still fit into her carseat, so I attached the wings with velcro. She had a little pink toboggan that I attached pipe cleaners and pom-poms to for antennae. Very cute. Can't find a photo.

For her second Halloween she was a ballerina. Not a lot to make there.

On her third Halloween she wanted very much to be The Lion King. I made these as well. This was around the time when the wild knitted scarves were all the rage, so I bought some fun yarn and made a mane and tail and other furry spots. And since the costume design took up all of my creative energy, I decided to make two so that Wilson could be a mini Lion King.

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Then, for Anna Jane's fourth Halloween....the dreaded costume choice....a princess. My first idea was to make something over-the-top-fancy. I thought that if she was going to be something as tacky and cliche as a princess, then we were going to make it as tacky and frilly and pinkalicious as we could.

And then I took her to Toys R Us and we bought a princess dress. I saw the excitement that she could barely contain. I saw myself paying cold, hard cash for a costume that many other girls would have on. I loved every minute of the experience. I realized that she didn't care if her costume was one-of-a-kind. I didn't particularly enjoy making costume-y clothes.

I decided I would never make their costumes again.

In the years to follow, these were the costumes chosen by the kids: princess (twice), Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, superman, batman. Henry wore the small Lion King costume his first year.


This year Anna Jane has chosen to be a brown spotted puppy dog. Wilson chose a spiky T Rex. Or a fiky T Rec if you ask him.

Since I'm not all gung-ho about Halloween, I don't look all over the place for the best costumes. The one place I did look had only one dog costume: Scooby Doo. And the only dinosaur costume I found cost $25. Nope. Not for us.

So I bought two sweatsuits and resigned myself to the fact that this year's costumes would have to be handmade. I won't reveal the final products, but I can tell you that Wilson has his spikes. And they look good.

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And Anna Jane wore her puppy dog costume to a birthday party this evening. And the spots were sewn on in a way that it looks like a five-year-old made it!

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Because she did!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Ok, so who really thought I would make all 5 skirts in 5 days for the sew-along? Of course not.

Days 1, 2, and 3 were great. Day 4 and 5, not so much.

I did sew skirt #4...let me tell you about it. I bought this dress for Anna Jane last summer:

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She wore it twice before too much of her long legs stuck out of the bottom of the skirt. The problem wasn't the length of the skirt, though. It was more like the bodice was too short. So off with the bodice!!

A little elastic and a sew-along, and here we are!

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No 5th skirt to speak of. There is a haunting voice in the back of my head telling me to make one for myself. But the voice at the front of my head (which happens to have a better view of my wallet and my reflection in the mirror) tells me that it would take more fabric than I would like to pay for (or need to cover these hips).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Last night...

...I took the following photographs:

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Anna Jane wearing a dress that I made for her when she was almost 3 years a top. No alterations needed.

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Wilson's toe after almost being chopped off with my dressmaking shears.


Henry using every tactic possible to keep me from finishing my third skirt.

And the one photo that I didn't take was Dave asleep on the hardwood floors outside of the kids' rooms where he promised Wilson he would stay until the kids fell asleep.

Rah, Rah, Rummage!

At last year's Rummage Sale, hosted by the Junior League of Winston-Salem, I bought two chairs. Here is one of them:


These chairs were beautiful...on the inside. Two chairs only a mother could love. As it turned out, I was meant to be their mother. I bought these chairs during preview party night. On that night prices are doubled, but you get first dibs on every bit of rummage packed into both the LJVM Coliseum and the Annex Building. If you are a League Member or a friend of one, keep preview party in mind next spring.

Each of these chairs had a price tag of $15. So the total was $30. Since it was preview party I paid double: $60. You might think that's a lot for these two chairs:

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But after a trip to Leisure Fabrics and a couple of rounds with a staple gun:

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Living up to their full potential! As their mother, I am nothing if not proud.

I always buy things from the rummage sale. I'll make a note to post some photos of other STEALS!!

(thanks katy fisher!)

Skirt Three

Today's skirt for the sew along is perfect for this fall weather...

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I received these three fabrics from April Barnum, who sent me a package filled with these fabulous things. We both participated in an exchange coordinated by My Mama Made It. If you look in the top left corner of this photo, you will also find the now famous giant ric-rac that I trimmed Anna Jane's first lazy days skirt in. April almost single-handedly supplied the stash for my week of skirts! Thank you, April!

And of course, Wilson had to climb on the furniture for a photo of his own...and this time he made his own fashion statement without knowing it.

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Yesterday's Skirt... late.


The skirt was made on time, but the photos weren't taken. But here is my second skirt for the sew along. Today's skirt will be posted tonight.

I promise.

Monday, October 12, 2009

5 skirts

I have joined One Crafty Mumma's sew-along this week. She chose to make the lazy days skirt, which is offered as a free pattern by oliver + s. I'm sure that the last thing I need is something else to do, but yeah...I signed up. Here is my first skirt:


I've had this fabric for quite a while now and nothing in mind to do with it. The giant ric-rac is really what makes the skirt so cute.


I'd like to trim my whole world with this ric-rac.

The pattern is very simple. I've actually got skirt 2 finished and skirt 3 almost finished. You'll have to check in each day this week to see more!
You can also check out the oliver + s flickr pool to see skirts made by other participants of the sew-along.

Wilson didn't want to be left out of the photoshoot, so here he is with a giant pancake.


I'll have to find another fun skirt-portrait location for tomorrow!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


We are all still for one brief moment. And someone other than mommy has the camera.

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One exhausted mommy, one patient daddy, two chocolate-covered big kids and one ever-laid back little one.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


When Anna Jane was in Miss Jennifer's class, she brought home evidence of a typical February preschool activity: the silhouette. I've done this with my students around groundhog day, and Miss Jennifer and Miss Paula didn't shy away from this challenge: the often difficult to capture likeness of a squirmy, sticky, giggly-three-year old.

I have a professionally-cut silhouette hanging in an oval frame of myself at about four-years-old hanging in my bedroom. They are such classic pieces of art, and have become quite trendy these days. They adorn the headers of many blogs out there and there is an artist every year at the Festival of Trees who will cut them while you wait. At $20 per kid it is totally worth it. But still not in the budget.

So when Anna Jane brought her larger-than-life black-construction-paper sillouhette home, I decided it was beautiful enough to serve as art in our house. So I matted it on scrapbook paper, put it in a frame, and hung it on the wall in her room. Then I started counting down the days until the February of Wilson's third year, and then the same point in Henry's life. Well, I got tired of counting, so I decided to tackle the challenge without the help of Miss Paula and Miss Jennifer.

And I chickened out. The thought of the boys holding still long enough while I traced their profiles, illuminated by a flashlight, made me laugh out loud. There was no way.

Wait...there was a way!

I found a photo of each of the boys...


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and used these profiles as stand-ins for the real thing.

I cut their faces out and traced them onto white paper.


My original plan was to enlarge the traced silhouettes until their size was comparable to Anna Jane's silhouette. But I didn't think the copier would make copies that big. So I moved on to Plan B....the overhead projector.

I cut out the cute little heads and projected them onto a piece of black construction paper taped to a door...


I cut them out and mounted them on scrapbooking paper that was a similar color green to the paper in the background behind Anna Jane.


The newest art collection in the household is hanging in the soon-to-be-fab-and-finally-transformed den. I haven't made the throw pillows for the couch yet, so if you're going to be judgy-judgy, keep it to yourself.


The kids were actually really excited about their likenesses on the wall. They could even tell who was who! These silhouettes might not be refined art, but at the hands of a couple of preschool teachers, they are as beautiful as the squirmy, sticky, giggly kids are!

Slow Down

The other night, as I was working on the upholstery of another chair, I noticed that my back was hurting. It wasn't from the upholstering. Or maybe it was. What was so striking about it was that it was the first time that my back had hurt in a couple of months. Before that, I had been living with an aching back for the better part of 5 years. It was always there, sometimes worse than others. It kept me from sleeping. There were no pairs of shoes that made the ache any better.

My backache was from 5 years of being pregnant, having a baby, nursing that baby, getting pregnant again, having a baby, nursing that baby, getting pregnant, having a baby and nursing that baby.

Here I am, 3 pregnancies in four years behind me and the backaches are gone. Great!


Before I noticed that my backache was back (just for that one night) I was a little down about something else that I had noticed...this is the first time that I have had a child who is 18 months old without being in my 2-3rd trimester with my next child. It's not a major undertaking to crawl around on the floor and chase around the park and reach into the crib without my big baby belly getting in the way. Great!


This is hitting me really hard as I watch all three of my kids make leaps and bounds in their little developmental lives.

Anna Jane is a full-blown kindergartner. Her interest in reading and writing has exploded. So has her sassy little attitude.


During one of the first few weeks of school, she had a turn as the Student of the Day. Each child gets a turn and has to stand in front of the class and tell about themselves. They include things like who is in their family, whether or not they have any pets, and what kinds of things they like to do for fun. After they "present themselves" to the class, the children draw a picture of that student and write a sentence about that child. When she gave me the stack of pictures each student had drawn of her, I noticed that most pictures had a picture of a little pink dog. That afternoon a parent stopped me in the carpool line and told me how excited her little boy was when he told her about the farm that Anna Jane lives on. In the following days, 6 more moms relayed their child's awe over Anna Jane and the life she leads with her dogs and cows and sheep and pigs. And each mom mentioned how fascinating it is to think of Anna Jane swimming in the mud with her pig (the small pink dog I thought I saw in each drawing).

We had a little discussion and I prayed to God that her little exaggerations at age 5 will not prove to be foreshadowing a life of criminal activity.

She sounded out her first word the other night as we read her bedtime story.

But she also still calls her bikini a zucchini, so I know she doesn't know more than I do yet.

Wilson has transitioned into an independant preschooler in a flash.


He's not shy to call out my name and blow me a kiss from across the cafeteria, but there's certainly no separation anxiety. I think he shocked us all. Last week he visited my grandmother, Bobbie Quack. He impressed her with his angelic interpretation of This Little Light of Mine. Then he broke into a mean breakdancing routine which might not have been as impressive as the song was to a 77 year old retirement home resident.

But again, as he held up a small seashell to his ear and announced that he was listening to his earpod, I realized that his childhood hadn't completely flashed before my eyes.

Sweet Henry is not a baby anymore.

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But he is more cuddly than the others and I think he knows that I need that from him. He is soaking up every moment of attention from his grandmothers who get him and him alone every day of the week. He is keeping up with the big kids and with Lucy, whom he refers to as Bubba.

Dave and I spent last Saturday night out of town.


This was the first time that we have left all three kids at home. They spent the day with their favorite-teacher-they've-never-had, Miss Jenny, and they spent the night with Nana and Papa.

Not one of them cried. And this time, I didn't cry either.

Emily is continuing our have-a-baby-every-two-year trend, so hopefully that will fill my hole. And I'm too busy putting in pigtails to be that sad about not being pregnant...

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Sam the Dot Man

Does this happen to you? There are days when you have all the time and the world and nothing really to blog about...and then there are days when you have so much to say and not enough time...I've been stricken with the second scenario.

To try and catch up, let me introduce you to Sam the Dot Man.


He is a local folk artist who's Smithsonian-hung art can be found in many homes and businesses around Winston-Salem. He's kind of a treasure. If Winston-Salem were a nation, he would be our national treasure. And he would have painted the flag. And the flag pole. And the cement that the flag pole is mounted in.


His house is unmistakeable and covered in his trademark dots.


This building is actually his studio and showroom. His house is next door. He says that everything in it is painted.


This is the ceiling:


Really. He paints everything.

My friend Linda is an artist and is close with Sam. Last year she had him paint a picture of Anna Jane, Wilson and Henry.


It was really exciting to have our name on a piece of his artwork. This piece was only a warmup, though. For years I have had a piece of furniture waiting for Sam. For as long as I have known about this cabinet, and for as long as I've known about Sam, I have been sure that they belonged together.

This small antique cabinet was used in Pud Davis' preschool that she ran on Meadowbrook Drive about 50 years ago. My grandmother painted it and cut the legs off of two chairs painted to match.

I gave Sam no directions. Linda dropped it off with him and a week later I took the kids to pick it up. As we scrambled out of the car and ran towards the dots, Wilson screamed "Awesome!"

His colors are bright and often his art is painted on unexpected canvases....



My favorite is the cash register...


Linda had 80 tote bags painted to use as favors for her daughter's wedding. Sam told me that the paint he uses is very expensive, but that the kids could stomp all over it and it would hold up. He had to strip the old paint off of the cabinet and replace the hinges. He also said that lots of visitors to his shop wanted to buy my cabinet. Lots of people have bar stools painted by Sam. I'm glad to have a one-of-a-kind piece.

Lots of pics of the cabinet follow...I wanted to show you each and every angle!


These next pics were taken after I took the cabinet home. It's outside only for the sake of good lighting. It will live inside with the fam.





I love how the door knobs are painted different colors:


My favorite part of the piece is the "T-Rec," as Wilson would say...


I also love that Sam painted the inside of the cabinet pink...


I love art.

And I love Sam.