Friday, July 3, 2015

Summer So Far

We've been in the backyard, and in the parks. We've been climbing, and swimming, and splashing. We've been dancing (!!! daddy danced with her) and gardening (basil and coriander went in), and trying not to complain of the weather that's been in the 90s for weeks. We've been with friends, and planning trips, and staying home. It's been a great summer so far, for sure.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Dancer

Penny had been asking me what the little building in our local park was for as long as I could remember. "It's a dance studio", I said, "for girls and boys to take different kinds of dance classes." "I can go?" she would ask over and over again, until I told her I would look on the internet to see if they had a preschool class. And they did, so I signed her up. Six weeks of half hour "pre-ballet".  She would ask me when it started and I would tell her, "Summertime". She told her grandparents every single week, "I'm taking a dance class in Summertime".  Everyone was excited. "Is it Summertime yet?" she would ask me every day on the way home from preschool. Finally, it was Summertime.

I made her an outfit, a knitted sweater (details HERE in a Ravelry link) and sewed a tutu to match. She couldn't wait to wear it. We got to the park early, saw our friends, and ran around after bubbles their daughter blew to mine. She looked at the dance studio. Finally, it was time to go in.

There wasn't any dancing. She didn't leave my side. There were new girls and a new teacher, and she just couldn't do it. At least, not yet. Tomorrow, we'll try it again. Or maybe we won't. I think she might just want to play outside, and that's ok, too. I just don't want her to not try again, with anything, just because it's new.

This is the story of Penny. Nervous about water on the hottest day, scared of new foods and new places and new people, she loves them all once they're not new. So I'll continue to encourage, sometimes with more gusto than other times. I know she reads the disappointment in my face. "You happy mama?" she'll ask me as we're getting our shoes on once the class is over and all we've done is some coloring with her little sister and the other younger siblings. Maybe we'll just continue to dance in the living room every night before bed - the four of us, her family. Last week, before I turned out the light at bedtime she said, "I went to dance class, but I didn't dance. I was a little bit scared". It broke my heart, but tomorrow is another day.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Matchy Matchy

I made Penny and Lulu their first matching dresses. I delayed this for a long time, having had lots of matching (monogrammed! because we had the same initials!) outfits growing up with my sister. We had wool sweaters and Halloween costumes and so many dresses my maternal grandmother sewed for us and my paternal grandmother bought for us. Being the little sister, I got the wear them twice, the bigger size passed down to me in future years. Now that I have two girls and they actually get excited by having the same dress (at least at the ages they are now), I just can't resist.

I made two dresses from Simplicity 1207. This pattern is a total win for me for 2 reasons: 1. It's vintage (though reproduction, so I don't have to worry about cutting/not cutting, and preserving the tissue like with my real vintage patterns). 2. It's cheap (as I go to the $1 pattern sale at Joann and buy 2 of them: one to use now, and one to preserve, if it works out and I might want to make it again, and I dooooo). The pattern has an adorable scalloped yolk that I wanted to sew perfectly, so I actually top stitched the linen yoke together with the pattern piece, then tore it away, once completed. So nice! The fabric is "Little Visitors" in Cloud 9's Cosmic Convoy Collection. The small alien fuzzballs reminded me of Penny and Lulu, cute and chatty and busy. That's exactly what they were one morning in Wallace Park.

When we got home for lunch, I attempted to take their dresses off, preserving them from strawberry juice and other inevitable lunchtime stains. Penny wouldn't do it, and when I told her she could put on something really comfy for nap time, she said the sweetest thing: "But Mama, I want to look at this dress before I fall asleep!!" Oh dear, that's just what I needed to hear to make you 10 more homemade dresses to match your sister, or not.

The dresses only really lasted one wear. They both have stains that I can't get out with soaking or hand washing or stain remover. But that's the crux of sewing for kids, right? There's a shelf life to the garments, and it's very, very short. Still, they'll wear them again to daycare, where they will get paint and marker and dirt on them. Penny and Lulu play together in the back yard there. I think it will make their teachers chuckle, to see their matchy matchy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

We Grew Food

Last year we were new to our house and excited to garden! I didn't want to lose momentum even though we had moderate success last year. I learned what "bolting" means, and to try to avoid it. This year we planted kale, and a broccoli/cauliflower hybrid, and both have been a bust so far (I'm thinking bugs, and cats and too much sun are to blame?). We did put in some Thumbelina Carrots, and were able to pull them a couple of weeks ago, to great success! We went with the shorter variety since our raised bed is quite shallow. The girls made quick work of pulling them up, after we had watched and watched them grow for the past 2 months, their little heads peaking out of the soil most recently. We washed them, tasted them, and they were great!

Penny took a few to preschool in her lunchbox, to show her friends and teachers the next day (Lulu was a bit more skeptical, as you can see, above). The rest were roasted and thrown into this yummy pasta dinner.

Even if we only grow one or two things a year, it's nice for the girls to see a tiny bit of where their food comes from. I'm also looking forward to some trips to U-Pick farms around Portland this Summer! Lord knows these girls like to collect things in a bucket. We also planted mint, which is doing really well, and found some raspberry bushes on the side of our house that give us dessert each evening! This holds special feelings for me as we used to have raspberry bushes in the yard of our childhood home and growing up, my dad would send us out with a bowl each evening to collect them. They were his absolute favorite.

It might not be too late to plant some other things this season, right? Maybe we'll go back to herbs, as I seem to use them constantly when they're available, and they're available as long as I can keep up with the watering. Maybe some girls in swimsuits will help me get that job done, too :).