Sunday, November 18, 2012

Confession and Thanksgiving craftiness

I have a confession to make.  I'm just paranoid enough that I don't use my nieces' real names on this blog.  Ever since my brother's best friend's little boy (he's Grace's age) got his identity stolen, I've been being a bit more careful about things like the kids' names.  So I've replaced the names I originally wrote on the following picture with blog names.

Does anybody remember doing this?  It is a little old for Nikki, but I'm sure she'll have a grand time making a mess with the glue.  Originally, I'd thought to leave this for a few years with her, but when I started tracing Gracie's hand, she insisted on joining in. So the new plan is that she doesn't get glitter and sparklies since at 18 months, she'd just try and eat them, and we'll do hers first and then Grace will get a chance while Nikki naps.  I have no idea where I got the shellack from.  It's been in my sewing/craft closet for years, and since I can hear things sloshing around, I'm hopeful that it will still work.  I suppose this could be called, "keep the kids out of the kitchen" crafts! 

Really though, Thanksgiving will be interesting as our oven broke this week.  We're pretty sure we know what's wrong, and we're also pretty sure that getting it fixed this week isn't going to happen!  Tomorrow, we'll have glitter covered kids, so stay tuned!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day

With all the illness that's been going around, I completely lost track of the fact that it was Veteran's Day today.  For the first time in years, we didn't go over to the cemetery to make sure that Grandpa got a flag... because for some reason, people seem to think it's funny to steal his.  He was what you might call a late casualty--he died in 1985 from stomach cancer that was a direct result of being ordered over Einwetok during the nuclear testing there in the 50s.  Let me introduce you.  :)

I think this is actually a picture of him as an Ensign.  And yeah, it's signed to my Grandma, who was his sweetheart and a war bride.  Lieutenant Commander Marvin Davies.  He served as a Naval Aviator through WWII and Korea, taught other people how to fly, and flew everything from bombers to fighters and even the first jet. He hit the up or out clause sometime after Korea due to a CO that gave everybody crappy fit reps.  He flew commercial later on, and even spent a short stint flying for the CIA. He used to joke that for a few months, he was a short, fat, tall, thin, bald-headed man with curly hair.

He never really told war stories.  He told stories of funny things that happened, one answered prayer, and how great it was to fly.  The closest he ever came to telling war stories was when I was six and asked why one of the soles of the boots he always wore was fatter than the other.  He told me that he'd been shot down during WWII and a piece of shrapnel had torn through his thigh.  And that he had been lucky in where it had hit because any higher and Dad wouldn't exist and neither would I, and he would have missed me without knowing what he was missing.

He loved flying and he loved the time he spent in uniform.  Sometimes, though, you could see it in his eyes that he was remembering something bad.  But he said once that he wouldn't change anything.  My Dad was the same--he was a late casualty, too.  He joined the Army during Vietnam, even though as an only child he could have avoided it.  He said that the absolute pride on Grandpa's face made it worth it, even though injuries received while in the service crippled him and were the eventual cause of his death in 2007.

So Grandpa and Dad, take care of each other.  We miss you.  And thanks.  Our world isn't perfect, but it's safer because of you and other vets like you. 

New words

Nikki learned a new word this past week--Puke.  Yeah, that's right!  She talks a lot more than most 18-month-olds do and has a bigger-than-average vocabulary. (It's the second child thing, I think.)  But this was a new one... and she learned it because of first-hand-experience.  Last week at this time, she was throwing up, and so was Grace.  They spent most of the week recovering, 'cause this was a particularly nasty strain of stomach flu.  And then I spent Friday and yesterday doing the same thing.  Needless to say, there wasn't much else going on here.  Fever and chills follow the throwing up, which is the stage I'm at now.  Joanna offered to keep them at home last week, but 1) we'd already been exposed at the contagious stage and 2) she really couldn't afford to miss work.  Chances were that I'd already caught it anyway, so we told her to send them over.  The entredeux I ordered early last month finally arrived so I can finish the pinafores for the Psycho Billy Cadillac Christmas Dresses... which I'll do as soon as I get over the hot and cold stage.  Here's to hoping that everybody else is well!  :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

An open letter to my sister

To my readers... few though y'all are...  sorry for this interlude, but this is driving me crazy and has to be said. (And since Sarah doesn't even know this blog exists, it's a safe place to do it.)  This was last week, and I'm recovered enough to actually say something now.  I know she'll never see it, but it'll make me feel better.  They were dumped here early Friday morning and snatched back late Sunday afternoon.

Dear Sarah:

Once again, I survived your kids.  I survived you dumping them on us at the last minute with me having two others to take care of.  Geoffrey and Jared were both gone Saturday at the Georgia Tech Football game and Joanna was working so Saturday, I had all four.  Mom has some nerve damage in her leg from the chemo that's just shown up five years after she finished treatment and is on meds for that which knock her out, so I had to manage on my own.  Spending time with them was... interesting.  Are you aware that Ricky, at four, is still sticking random things in his mouth?  He happily chewed on some of Nikki's teethers and a good many of the other toys.  I must have missed washing one, because she's sick now.  And that's another thing.  What part of immune compromised do you not understand?  Because you dumped two sick kids on your elderly mother and handicapped, immune compromised sister for three days with less than 24 hours warning.  And you could have said thank you.  You didn't.  You snatched them and their new stuff (which you also didn't thank us for) and left.  Thanks to us, who are barely making ends meet, your kids have new clothes and shoes.  I find it sad that the only reason they have fairly nice clothes is because your retired mother and handicapped sister spent their savings on buying them.  That money was earmarked for covered gutters on the front of the house and your kids are now wearing my covered gutters.

And don't poormouth me.  You and Shane are upper middle class.  At the very least, you could buy them decent clothing that fits instead of the ill-fitting cast-offs I see them in.  You could take them to a real shoe store and buy shoes that fit instead leaving it to me and mom to do it.  Payless' measuring system is crap, and the quality of their merchandise is poor.  There's a reason why I haunt ebay to buy the good stuff.  You two have screwed up priorities from my view.  The kids should come first, not the poor third or fourth they seem to come now.  I know they don't meet the legal definition of neglect, but I also know that you could do better.  I know that you only left them here because Shane's parents went to this conference you two attended.  I also don't understand why you've taken all of Shane's ideas and opinions as gospel truth.  We were raised by the same parents and they taught us to think for ourselves, yet you seem content to let him do all your thinking for you and treat you like a 50s housewife.  I hate that you only call when you want something or come visit to get something out of us.  I hate that you seem to think that we owe it to you.

I'm aware that your husband doesn't like us.  I know that he was afraid of having children because they could be Autistic like the older two siblings (they have Aspergers) or overweight like I am or have lymphedema like me.  I know he hates us because in his view not only are we different, but in his mind we're a drain on society.  I wish you'd kicked him to the curb the first time he insulted your family.  It may be clannish of me, but my family is the most important thing in the world to me and I don't get why yours isn't.  We were raised by the same parents, taught the same things, and even shared a room growing up.  But I don't recognize you anymore.  You seem to have forgotten almost everything our parents taught us.   Lately, when you've called, it's been to complain that you didn't like what I bought for Lizzy or Ricky.  I somewhat resent having to clothe your kids as it is, and your complaints make me want to tell you where to get off.  Momma taught us manners.  Marrying that damnyankee of yours seems to have erased yours.

You seem to think that we owe it to you to take care of your kids because we take care of Gracie and Nikki.  We don't.  If you'd drive from Stone Mountain to here to visit more than Christmas (and part of me is convinced you only come for the gifts) I might love your kids more.  Mom might, too.  But ours is a distant, dutiful kind of love because we don't know your kids.  At best, I see them once a year unless we have something you want.

When Jared was in school, Joanna was working to put him through.  They couldn't afford child care, so we volunteered to take care of Gracie.  This has been her second home since she was three months old.  The same with Nikki.  They're both working full time, but with school debts, and what they make, they still can't afford child care, so Gracie and Nikki are here.  I couldn't love them more if I'd given birth to them.  I'd die to keep them safe if it were necessary.  They're my kids, and I have full permission to claim them.  You say that they're spoiled, I say that they're loved and know it.  Mine aren't even mostly given their own way and have set rules that they follow.  Yes, even 18-month-old-Nikki has rules.  They know what the consequences are for breaking the rules, and they also know that afterwards, they can always expect hugs and kisses and forgiveness.

Yours I'm not so sure of.  I don't know what to think of your kids, Sarah, but at the same time, I know you.  You're stubborn.  Anything I say to your face will cause a rift until you manage to rewrite history in your own head to make it your idea.  You claimed that you knew Ricky had wide feet, but when I suggested that might be the problem three months ago, you told me that I was crazy that there was no way.  I've watched, and you tend to treat them as if they're older than their age, but you tend to baby them with certain things, too.

Some of the behavior you complain about is your fault.  It's one thing to limit your kids' sugar intake.  It's another to deny it entirely.  That's why Ricky will stuff any sort of sugar loaded thing he can get down as fast as he can, even if it makes him puke.  It's the same with television.  By not allowing it at all, you make it to Ricky and Lizzy are immediately drawn to it when it's on and turn into zombies. Mine take it or leave it because they've been exposed to it, and I swear the idiot box saved my sanity when Nikki had colic.  I could count on one blessed hour of no crying when The Fresh Beat Band was on.  Control what they watch, fine.  Mine watch educational TV when they're allowed to see it.  They also have no problems with turning it off to go play, do a craft, or go outside.  Yours throw tantrums.  I don't know how to end this letter.  Gracie, Nikki, Joanna, Mom, and me are sick now because of exposure to your kids' germs.  I still love you.  I just don't know what to think of you anymore.  All I can do is keep communication lines open so that if something happens, you have someone to turn to and somewhere to go.  And despite the fact that your kids have a complete wardrobe of new or nearly new clothes that we gave them, and we took them in and I had to give up my bedroom so they'd have a place to sleep, you still haven't said thank you.

Love, Laura.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Babies and sewing machine feet.

I'm the proud owner of a Pfaff 1222E.  Yes, it's older than I am, but it's a workhorse and as it's mechanical, it will never get a virus or have a software problem.  I know where I can get it fixed and as the walking foot is built in, I have less problems than a lot of people.  I was also lucky enough to get a complete set of sewing machine feet before Grace was born for $10.  And those feet have served me well... until two months ago when Nicole threw my buttonhole foot away.

See, this was how Impling got her new nickname.  She's a sweet baby, but she gets these looks on her face that mean she's planning trouble.  and her fascination with throwing things (like Mommy's Ipod Touch) in the trash has led to that!  (The Ipod was two weeks ago.  *sigh* Nikki, what are we gonna do with you, Sweetheart?)  Since we didn't figure out exactly what happened until the week after the event, my buttonhole foot was long since consigned to the dump.  So that started off a month and a half of searching.  I can easily find the feet, yes, but I'm sooo not willing to buy a new-to-me machine to get it.  I have a perfectly good machine--I just didn't have the foot.  and truthfully, my buttonholes look better when using the proper foot for them.

I contacted every seller who had one, offering $10 over the current market value if they'd separate it from the machine they were selling.  I posted ads.  I even asked around on Pfaff boards and the vintage Pfaff list.  Nada.  Until last week.

Ahh, my new buttonhole foot.  How do I love thee.  I will take him home and love him and squeeze him and call him George.  He will be my pet, my good pet, and I will feed him and brush him, and give him baths..  *ahem*  Sorry, got a bit carried away!  ;)

To make it even better, I also scored a new pedal from the same seller.  Both mine and the one from the 1222 have electrical problems.  Since mine and my mom's machine (the 1222) are only one model apart, feet and the pedals are interchangeable, among other accessories.  But in both, there are breaks in the line somewhere that make them not-quite-functional.  So now I have one that's listed as functioning perfectly and--eventually--I'll buy replacement cords and work on rewiring the old ones.  Everybody have a great day!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween in Review

 I kind of find it ironic that Grace needed two costumes for Halloween this year.  There was the purple bat costume that Joanna got for 90% off last year--

The skirt lights up, and her hair was supposed to be purple, but I guess that wasn't quite right!  And yeah, that's a bat painted on her cheek!  The original commercial costume is sleeveless, but it was actually cold here (which isn't usual for Halloween in Georgia)  so Mommy insisted she wear a black turtleneck underneath.  And the boots are an Aunt Laura and Grandma contribution to her regular wardrobe.  Boots are favorite footwear and even though I always used to say that they were a waste for a little kid, I've found myself looking for flat (no heels here for a four-year-old) boots to add to her shoe collection!

But then her preschool insisted on non-scary storybook costumes.  So here comes Rapunzel.  I purposely left up the hair post until today just in case somebody needed it.  :) At 7 am yesterday, they showed up on my doorstep so that I could fix Bit's hair.  I've had waist-length hair since high school, so I know how to deal with it.  

We put Nicole in the high chair with breakfast so things like shiny bobby pins wouldn't suddenly disappear, wet down Grace's hair, and did it in double twists.  You can find a general tutorial here.  I had to locate said tutorial because I hadn't done that since high school!  I did it to the middle of her head, ended in a ponytail, and then twisted that into a bun so it would look like it was almost into the Rapunzel braid.  Then after a generous application of hair spray (which she hated!) I started pinning in Rapunzel hair.

This is probably one of the few places you'll see pictures, even sort of , of me.  My disease led to inactivity because of having to have limbs elevated for a minimum of 8 hours a day, which meant a massive weight gain.  It also means that very few of my projects are for me because if you're even as big as a RTW size 20, patterns don't come in your size... but that's a rant for another day.

After I pinned it in, we had Gracie shake her head a bit... which led to more pinning because I hadn't pinned it tightly enough.

To which she said it was too tight, but when asked it she could wear it anyway, she said yes.  We've been talking to her for over a week on how she couldn't take it off herself because with how I carefully put hairpins in the twists as well as pinning it in, we'd have a partially scalped child.

Her hairpiece is pinned front, back and sides, and when her hair dried, it almost looked like the braid was actually her hair since she's such a light blonde.  Because it was even more cold yesterday morning, that's a My Little Pony PJ shirt underneath.  After all, poly satin and poly organza are not cold weather fabrics!

Since crinolines have been pronounced "itchy"  (would hate to see how she did with the original starched cotton ones) she did without, which I think didn't hurt the look at all.

One in, the braid went almost a bit past her knee, which just shows how long that bugger is.  (Grace currently needs a 26 inch dress to get to the bottom of her knee... which I prefer because that gives a little bit of growth space before it's too short)

We were just lucky that the dress still mostly fits!  If it weren't for the fact that the sleeves could use another inch...  :)

The ribbons and flowers in her hairpiece were a source of happiness because she's a girly girl!

And she proudly showed them off for the camera.

She was the prettiest Rapunzel at preschool!

But not to leave the Impling out, we also had the cutest little pink owl running around.  She's learned to say "who" for the sound an owl makes and loved informing people that she was an owl.  "Tick or teat" was her request at Trunk or Treat last night along with pleading looks and "Candy peas!"

The weather made me glad I'd gone for felt because she was nice and warm in the cooler weather without being overheated.... which was the mistake I'd made with Grace at this age!  (And ironically, I used felt for Gracie's Foofa costume) 

We set up a clothespin drop with varying containers, step stools, and distances according to age.  :) Candy for all, prizes for those who tried.  3 and under had their own setup to ensure that they could win, too, because I swear it's the most frustrating game ever invented!  Even some grownups tried it... and failed.

So how was everybody else's Halloween?  Ours was fun, and the neon purple even washed out of Bit's hair!