Monday, February 20, 2012

High Five!


Robyn turned five this week.  Weird.  I feel like five marks the end of any illusions we had that she was still a “toddler” (ok…maybe we should have let go of those fantasies a long time ago…), even though it seems like we celebrated her 2nd birthday not that long ago.  (We were living here, in THIS HOUSE, when she turned two…where did the last three years go??!?!?) 


She was a great birthday girl and loved getting to parade her paper crowns from preschool and joy school for two straight days.  It wasn’t her year to do a birthday party with friends, but as luck would have it another fun mom planned a pajama activity at Joy School for the same day, which Robyn really enjoyed. 

Here are five other fun moments from her big day:

1. Blue box dinner.  Robyn got to pick the big family meal for the day and we should have guessed ahead of time that she would choose macaroni and cheese.  She’s a big fan of mix-ins, though, so we were able to make it at least semi substantive by doing one batch of original with peas and a “special” box of white-cheddar shells with chicken and corn stirred in.

2. Look at what it comes with!  Robyn was delighted to get Princess Yahtzee as a birthday present from one of her grandparents.  As soon as the wrapping was off she started inspecting what it included, the excitement reaching a fever pitch when all of a sudden she pointed out the dice tumbler and exclaimed, “Look!  It even comes with a garbage can!”

3. I wouldn’t eat that…  Speaking of mis-identified toy parts, Robyn received a set of Legos from her other grandparents.  With the enthusiasm of a new five year old she worked through the entire instruction booklet in an afternoon, gleefully assembling a cute little house, a car, and even a little Lego dog.  A handful of red translucent pieces were included as brake lights for the car, but ended up enjoying a different fate.  They ended up on a little Lego table as…<drumroll please>… Jell-O.  (Are we good Mormons or what? :)

4. Sam I am.  Robyn got to bring a snack to Joy School on her birthday and she ended up sharing her favorite fruit: kiwi.  It worked out really nice too, since it was also Green Eggs and Ham day at Joy School so the kids were all able to have a green fruit with their green proteins.  Unfortunately, kiwi turns out to be one of Amber’s least favorite foods and it sounds like payback may be in the works: Amber told everyone at Joy School she’s going to bring carrots (one of Robyn’s least favorite foods) when it’s her birthday in May.

5. Already?  When it was finally time to blow out the candles Robyn cheerfully announced her wish: “I wish I was turning six!”

She might want to wish the years ahead, but we’re plenty grateful to enjoy them one at a time.  Happy Birthday, Robyn!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cheerful Cherries: My First Smocked Dress!

After seeing smocking on a smattering of girls' dresses in department stores over the last couple of years (and loving it!) (is that because I grew up in the 80's?) I finally decided to try my hand at it.  I also decided that if I was going to put in time doing the needlework, the rest of the dress should match it in quality, so I used a Vogue pattern: my first pattern with a difficulty rating of "Advanced."  It's taken a bit longer than expected to finish, but the result is one of my favorite projects to date.

Putting together the back of the dress took some surprising effort.  I'd never done a self-lined bodice the way this one was constructed, and it took a few attempts (and some time with a trusty seam-ripper) to understand what the instructions were getting at.
Oh puffy puffed sleeves:  Anne of Green Gables would be so pleased.  Isn't the red piping fun too?

I'm actually almost as proud of the inside of the dress as the outside since it has all the nice touches I often skip when we're mass-producing dresses over here: slip-stitch secured lining, raw edges hidden in french seams, a blind hem, etc.

Of course my favorite part is the smocking.  One of the most nerve-wracking moments in the project came shortly after I finished the actual smocking stitches and came to the part where I was supposed to remove the gathering threads that had formed the pleats initially.  I worried that without the surrounding grid pulling it together the whole pattern would just fall apart.

Next fall Robyn goes off to Kindergarten.  Three weeks later (ok...maybe that's just what it feels like sometimes...) all the kids will be in college and it will just be Bryan and me fretting from our empty nest.  Sitting on the couch counting pleats and squinting at the smocking chart, I kept thinking about our girls and about how fast things are going and wondering how we were doing.  Hopefully one stitch at a time we're helping them weave a beautiful pattern out of their lives.  Sure there are mistakes and miscounts, periods of monotonous repetition and parts that have to be removed and redone multiple times, plus some sections that will probably look lopsided even after every attempt to even them out...still, I hope the overall effect will prove to be smocking-like lives: lovely, useful, and enhancing of a larger whole.

As we slowly stitch along with the girls, I often wish there were an easier way to step back and see what the pattern looks like at any given moment.  And, like with Amber's little dress, I worry about what will remain when they start spending most of their lives away from the gathering stitches of home.

Thankfully, the smocking on Amber's dress held together just fine on it's own.  I'm going to take that as reason to be optimistic. 

Photo Op

Sometimes the girls get a hold of the digital camera and start shooting pictures of what life is really like at home.  Sometimes they take so many pictures they fill up the whole 4 GB memory card.  Generally that means going through and deleting hundreds of random photos of socks, piano benches, hairbrushes, etc.  Every so often, though, they capture a real jewel that would have otherwise been lost forever. 

Today I decided to clean off the memory card. 

Today my suspicions that we are actually raising trolls were confirmed.