Monday, March 22, 2010

Crazy Town

As you might have guessed, things have been pretty crazy here. At the moment they are not showing signs of calming down substantially, so I'm grabbing five minutes to share some birthday pictures from Wren's party this weekend.

Her cake was very inspired by Anna Maria Horner's recent Kitty cake and I don't think I'll ever make another cake without using glitter icing pens. So fun!

Wren's birthday is on Wednesday, and we changed the dates for her weekend party around and finally settled on last Saturday, and then we went out of town for a week and when we came back there was a big thunderstorm scheduled for her party at Zilker Park. We kept watching the weather forecast move the numbers up- 40%, 60% finally 80% chance of a big thunderstorm on party day. Bummer! We promised Wren we'd go ride the Zephyr later this week, and we successfully crammed all 50 invitees into our house on Saturday.

This is pretty much what that looked like. I didn't get any pictures of Wren in her birthday crown, but I didn't really get many of Wren period. Mostly just a blurred mass of moving children.

We set up the projector in our bedroom, with Wren's first present from us- a copy of her favorite movie. The kids took breaks zoning out to the giant screen. Wren was being very shy, so she didn't open most of her presents while people were here.

One present that we definitely waited to open was from her Grandad-

Bunkbeds! Wow! That was exciting. So far they have been a big hit, and aside from the fact that Jane has one black eye and one giant forehead bruise from falling off the ladder TWO separate times, I think we'll get the hang of them eventually.

She got a few other showstopping presents. Lovely much needed clothes, amazing thrifted toys, and a few things- an oh so thoughtful gift from her Godmother, who remembered what it's like to be the SISTER of the birthday girl, and included a little package for Janey too. Wren got a beautiful kite from her cousins, and a homemade doctor kit from some good friends that is already much loved and treasured. We are so lucky in our friends and family. Especially our far away adopted family, who made Wren's birthday extra special with this present:


There is nothing that makes me feel so cherished in our community as these gifts that show people really KNOW and love our kids. It is so inspiring. I know how much these things mean to me, so OF COURSE I can make the time to do these things for our friends too. Make cookies for our neighbors, casseroles for our coworkers, blankets for new babies, all that stuff that slips through the cracks when things get so busy. Thanks to all of you for being such an inspiring, loving bunch.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dance Party! (and present)

I saw this Where the Wild Things Are tote project from Two Straight Lines a couple of months ago, when the movie was out and everyone was crazy for it. I really loved Courtney's take on it, and filed it away for future present making potential.

Jane was recently invited to a birthday party for a school friend at a dance studio. The girls wore tutus, learned dances, made tiaras, got stick-on earrings, and of course ate lots of cake. It was pretty insane. We don't know this family super well, and needed to bring a present. And apparently I like to structure my life so that leaving for a party ALWAYS involves a last minute crazy making rush to get a present done in time to be fashionably late to wherever we are going.

Enter the tote bag. I had fabric paint, I had felt, and I had the general idea of what a ballerina friendly wild thing might look like.

Once the fabric paint dried, I started piecing some felt faces together, going for generally goofy, rather than menacing.

It was pretty down to the wire, by the time I tied off the last stitch. The birthday girl's name is Genevieve, and I definitely wasn't appliqueing that whole thing. I went with "g". We got to the party just a few minutes late, and Jane was not shy about crashing the line up.

However, she was not so sure about her new earrings. We'll be waiting a few years to revisit that.

Overall, Jane had a blast, of course, and I was asked repeatedly if she was taking dance classes somewhere, which is hilarious. For one thing, she's two. So no. And then in reality, she takes pretty intense dance classes every day, from her big sister, who demands perfect form and definitely does not offer her cake at the end of the class.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Winter Dinners

I have been struggling with what to feed this family lately. Soup is BORING at this point, not matter how exciting it was back in October. And I think Chase may revolt if I serve roasted root vegetables one more time. People are planting vegetable gardens right now, not harvesting them, and there's not much yet in season to spice up the basic menu I've been making for months.

I've fallen back on pizzas, and other comfort foods for the most part, and when Soulemama posted the other week on their attempts at homemade pasta, I was inspired.

One mystery that has haunted me and Chase for years, ever since we got married, is generally referred to as 'the mystery of the wineglasses.' When we registered, before our wedding, we requested pretty rational amounts of various items, like towels, plates, spoons, sheets, etc. What we got, for some reason, was dozens and dozens of wineglasses. Not at single towel. Not an entire place setting. I think my grandmother gave us two sets of sheets, and maybe my aunt chipped in for a duvet cover, but they probably also bought us wineglasses. It was truly insane. We were returning those glasses to the store for months. And every time we'd bring in another box, we'd pass that pasta machine and try to talk ourselves out of it. "We're too young- we'll be moving all the time. We don't need big heavy kitchen gadgets. We don't have time to cook like that. This fits the lifestyle we WANT to have, not the one we actually have" etc.

I thought we were being super rational and mature. But now all those years later, when having $60 to blow on frivolous gadgetry seems awesome and absurd, I am kicking myself for not grabbing it when we had the chance. The kids have long since broken whatever bowls or plates we got instead.

And I've got to say, feeding a lump of dough through the machine seems like an easier prospect than this:

We did have fun though- the girls were helping, even though that meant we had to constantly keep Jane from shoving raw pasta in her mouth- note her grabbing hand next to the pile-

It's something we'll definitely do again and Oh My God was it filling. It was sort of like putting tomato sauce on a loaf of bread. I mean, not as gross as that sounds. It was really tasty, just sort of, maybe plan on running a marathon the next day or something.

And if you're looking for some incredible tomato sauce, I have a new favorite. I'm not sure it replaces my very very favorite, but for ease on a weeknight, it can't be beat.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Bunny for Bea

This weekend we got to celebrate the second birthday of one of our favorite friends, a kid we're all going to have to stop calling "BABY Bea" pretty soon.

When Wren turned one, Bea's mom Rachel sent us a big box absolutely exploding with amazingly beautiful, lovingly constructed toys. There was a little red bird, a bunny, a big green frog that still gets a LOT of play in our house. So I wanted to make a friend for Bea that would hopefully have that same level of belovedness. Or at least cyclical played-with-ness. Let's be honest, kids are generally somewhat fickle in their attentions to inanimate objects.

Anyway, I've been wanting to try to the Hop Skip Jump pattern for Jack Rabbit, but it's Bea's bad luck to have been born at the end of the month, and my craft budget was shot. I DID have the pattern for the Wee Wonderfuls Olive and Archie dolls, and I thought if I could just improvise some ears, embroider a bunny face, and maybe add a little length to the limbs, I would come out with sort of what I had in mind.

Meet Lily, christened by Wren, feverishly and cursingly assembled while Chase was attending a church retreat, on the day of the birthday party. I am pleased to report that Lily only has ONE backwards leg, and just a FEW unsightly scars on her bottom. Happily, the anatomical upsets gave me an excuse to whip up a little skirt with some fabric that's been languishing in my closet for way too long.

Anyway, I don't know if Bea will attach to Lily or not. Even if she is doomed to a life of taking up the last place in various tea parties and classroom settings, or worse, smushed under a bed until she is discovered by the vacuum cleaner, I am glad I got to make her for such a special girl. Happy Birthday Bea! Even backwards legged bunnies need love. Maybe it will be a life lesson?