Monday, April 22, 2013

Cherry Blossom Dresses

In February when we visited heaven  S.R. Harris Fabric Outlet in Minnesota, one of my favorite finds was a sheer pink knit with layers of ruffles.  By the time I got home, visions of "cherry blossom dresses" (to celebrate our upcoming trip to the DC Cherry Blossom Festival) were dancing through my head.   

Matthew sharing his personal space with all sorts of ruffle-y goodness at  SR Harris.

And even though a cold spring meant the cherry trees in DC looked more like this:

No blossoms.  But the weather was so pleasant I feel guilty even thinking about complaining!

than this:
SOMEDAY I am going to see DC when it looks like this! :)

the girls' dresses at least were in full bloom.

Group shot with only one person's eyes closed and no one crying.  Good enough.

Robyn's dress was pretty basic.  (That's not the word someone else who-shall-remain-nameless used, but we won't go there... :)  In my head it was a chance to let the fabric speak for itself, while hopefully making it a little more grown-up for Robyn.  Or something like that. 

Robyn with Grandma's bunny decoration.  We tried to convince the girls that Grandma had stuffed the Easter Bunny, so he wasn't going to be coming any more.  Guess we're in the market for a meaner Grandma, because they didn't believe it for a second.
Amber's dress had a lot more fullness to it than Robyn's and is probably the one I'd most like to wear myself.  In honor of the cherry tree's Japanese connection, it's supposed to be kind of reminiscent of a kimono.  It's also the dress I had the most fun laying out, since I decided to have the ruffles in the fabric run parallel to the inset pieces.

Three pictures of Amber, three different hair styles.  We just barely cut her hair short again, and while I miss playing with her long hair (she has incredible hair!), she definitely prefers it pixie-length.
 Finally there's Katie's dress.  I stole the strap/sleeve from a really fun new Butterick pattern (I'll make it a little wider next time, but I really like the effect!) then improvised a drop-waist bodice, added a gathered skirt, and decided to sew in a couple layers of tulle for some extra poof.  These pictures seem to sum up more about Katie than about the dress though:

She's a little bit playful.

A little bit dramatic.

And a lot a bit sweet.

Yay!  Spring dresses done!  And after the last few projects, my sewing machine is itching to do a project that isn't in triplicate.  Hopefully that means there's a mommy-dress in my near future...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring Dresses

The idea for this year's first round of spring dresses was hatched the week after Christmas.  My fabulous little sister had given me a JoAnn's gift card that was just itching to be spent, so when I saw a bolt of bright floral bottomweight fabric abandoned in the red-tag clearance section at JoAnn's I started getting excited.  With big melon-colored flowers and citrus-soaked swirls (and a $3/yd price :) it didn't take long before I was dragging it to the cutting table and imagining away the remaining months of winter gray.

Since the fabric was cheap (and covered by the aforementioned, much-appreciated, gift card :), I decided to use yardage with reckless abandon and went ahead with a ruffle-theme for the dresses.

Robyn's got the most basic treatment: I added a single narrow ruffle, trimmed with eyelet lace, to the bottom of a basic circle skirt.

If Robyn's was basic, Amber's was ruffles in excess, with three tiers of ruffles spilling down the skirt. 

And then there's Katie's.  A couple of years ago my mom gave me this pattern:

If you were to look up "Children's Dresses of the 80's" in the encyclopedia I'm pretty sure this would be the illustration.  For everything outdated about this pattern, though, I really liked the tiered skirt with the angled drop waist.  So off went the sleeves and down went the neckline.  If that sounds a little racy, hopefully we made up for it by adding about a bizillion inches to the hemline.  (No wonder we wore little lacy underwear as children: with dresses made so short everyone could probably SEE our underwear every time we wiggled!)

 Bright pink sweaters from Grandma (maybe a touch large, but really really cute anyway!) finished off the dresses, which the girls wore this weekend for General Conference (semi-annual broadcast with messages from church leaders.)

Picnicking at the church before a Sunday session of General Conference.

Conference weekend is always a really neat experience, and even more so now that the girls are getting older and more into it.  One of their favorite traditions is eating a picnic lunch at the chapel on Sunday.

Since the first Sunday session starts at noon (unlike out west where the between-session break would be at noon), we could technically just eat before going, but it's so much fun we figure, why not?   Plus it was fun to overload their minds telling them why our family used to picnic on General Conference weekend growing up.  That was back when you couldn't just stream Conference on the internet and with only the two-hour break between sessions it didn't make sense to do an hour-round trip to eat at home.  (You didn't have the internet??!?!?!  WHAAAAT??! :)

Robyn eating French chocolate cookies Bryan's mom sent home with us after Easter last weekend.

Katie, posing waaaaaay too seriously after conference.  (Any chance Masterpiece Theatre needs a new host??)

Also great from Conference was the girls' summary of the Sunday morning session (where President Monson told a story about nearly starting a forest fire):

Me: What did you hear at Conference?
Robyn: That President Monson played with matches.
Me: Anything else?
Katie: Follow the prophet!

It might be time for a fire-safety review at our house...

More serious posing.  Maybe they were just tired by this point?

The conference talks that really grabbed me personally (other than President Monson's pyromania-prone memoirs of course :) were President Packer's and Elder Holland's.  I loved how President Packer shared about not wanting to trade the understanding that comes with age for all the benefits of youth and closed with such a sweet expression of his testimony in poem:

'I know that He will come anew
With power and in glory.
I know I will see Him once again
At the end of my life's story.
I'll kneel before His wounded feet;
I'll feel His Spirit glow.
My whispering, quivering voice will say,
"Oh Lord, my God, I know."'

I also really enjoyed Elder Holland's discussion of the New Testament story of a father bringing his son to be healed.  

I've long been intrigued by the father's expression, "Lord, I believe.  Help thou my unbelief."  Sometimes I've seen it portrayed in New Testament films with the father first saying, "Lord, I believe," and then only after a withering gaze from the Savior, backpedaling to "Help thou my unbelief."  Instead, I really resonated with how Elder Holland seemed to interpret it: a humble acknowledgement of faith-that-exists, coupled with a desire for faith-that's-still-developing.  Especially as a full-time missionary, the idea that it was possible to both have faith and at the same time be desperate for help where faith seemed to be falling short, rang true.  I also loved Elder Holland's encouragement not to "pretend to have faith you do not have," but at the same time to "be true to the faith you do have," followed by this reminder: 

"Brothers and sisters, this is a divine work in process with the manifestations and blessings of it abounding in every direction, so please do not hyperventilate if from time to time issues arise that need to be examined, understood and resolved.... And remember in this world everyone is to walk by faith."

Back in mid-winter, it was exciting to discover a whole bolt of bright spring fabric: it popped out of the pile, promising all sorts of pretty possibilities.  I feel sort of the same way about some of the talks this weekend: in a world that can seem murky and discouraging, they were beautiful, hopeful, and brimming with all sorts of opportunities for growth and comfort.  Of course, purchasing fabric is one thing.  Dress-making is another.  Now that the broadcasts are over, what will the next few months bring?

Will the messages be measured, shaped to individual size and worked until I wear them in my life?

Or left to collect dust in the stash?

Friday, April 5, 2013

FAIRY Uneventful Spring Break

Last weekend we played in DC.

The weekend before that, we played in NY with largely the same cast of characters.

Matthew chowing down at the all-you-can-eat maple breakfast at Critz Farms.
The rest of the crew enjoyed the breakfast too.
After all, what's there not to love about blueberry pancakes, french toast, scrambled eggs, maple-soaked ham, and all the yummy real maple syrup you can squirt?

Cousins in cuddly caps waiting for a demonstration at the sugar house.
Amber may have had a little too much syrup...

Guess it's not just Amber.
Grandma and Grandpa ready to go for a tractor ride out to the sugar bush!  (Aren't my mother-in-law's scarf and mittens cute? :)

Yay!  A semi-respectable family picture!
Snuggling with one of the few things sweeter than syrup.
Katie savoring an ice cream cone from Grandma on Sunday afternoon with true two-year-old zeal.
Bryan getting ready to throw a snowball at his sister on the other side of the car.

Bryan nailing his mother with a snowball instead.  It's amazing we were still invited for Easter the next week!

 And with so much fun so recently in the rear-view mirror, we decided to keep things simple this week for Robyn's spring break.  We've mostly just been savoring being home and realizing how luxurious it is to not have bus stops and preschool runs dictating out day.

Taking it easy has also given the girls some time to make up a lot of their own fun, one of my favorite examples being the "Fairy Houses" they set up one day.

This is Amber's fairly complex fairy complex.  I love the slide and water fountain out front.

If I were a fairy, I'd definitely want to stop and eat here.
Robyn's pixie palace.

A little bedroom for a little visitor.
No fairies have taken up residence yet, but with this sort of an invitation I expect a nice fairy family to move in any day now:

Robyn's sign: "I want you to live here because it's cold out!  I love you."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Let's Go Fly A Kite

It's spring break here, but since it snowed all day yesterday and seems intent to do the same today (we've had over 8 inches from this storm already!) I think I'm going to go ahead and indulge in pictures of our wonderful warm weekend in Maryland and try to forget about the wet winter wonderland outside.

Stole the idea to make bunny rolls (we called them Bunns :) from Pinterest to make sandwiches for the drive down.  Since the interstate was closed part of the way and even the side-roads backed up, we were grateful to have lots of food on hand for the ride.
We've wanted to see the cherry blossom festival and kite festival in DC for years, and since it happened to correspond with Easter weekend this time around it seemed like the perfect year to couple a visit to Bryan's folks with some fun in the capital.

Taking the train into D.C.

Matthew loved the subway: he clenched the front of the double stroller and laughed like he was on a roller coaster the whole way.

Katie enjoying the view out the train window with Grandpa.
The girls stretching their legs on the mall.

Unfortunately, the cold spring meant the blossoms weren't really out yet, but since the weather was so warm the day we were there I suppose it's forgivable. 

We had a great picnic not far from the Washington Monument.  The girls loved that some of their cousins were able to come for the festival too.

After eating lunch, Aunt Jennifer whipped out a couple of small kites for the kids to try flying.  Yes.  Robyn is wearing her hoodie upside-down.  I'm pretty sure it's a genetic defect... :)
Robyn trying her hand at kite-flying.

Amber's turn!

The weather was warm, but the winds were fairly calm, so it was hard to keep our little kites up in the air.  Here's Bryan trying to help the girl cousins out.

Amber was just glad to be able to play outside in the sunshine.  (It's been a long winter where we live...)

Little Cousin Grant (who isn't nearly as little as I remember him!) looking on at all the kite-flying fun.
I made cherry blossom-themed mini-cupcakes before we went down to Maryland.  They ended up being used as edible packing peanuts for a lemon meringue pie I tried to make with a bunny face, but the girls didn't mind eating them, dents and all.

The calm winds didn't stop the kite-fliers from being out in force.  (Although you could tell when the winds really died down because all of a sudden all the kites would suddenly drop :)
Besides picnicking and kite-flying, we also took a quick stop in a couple of the Smithsonians.  They were packed, but it would have been a shame to not at least take a peak in them while we were there.

Robyn was tired of walking, so she found a nice seat while we waited in line for the Museum of Natural History.
Which meant Amber found a seat too.

Bryan took the big girls in the Air and Space Museum too.  (He was smart enough to know the line at the back entrance would be a lot shorter than at the main entrance.)

Little Matthew finally surrendered and took a nap while we waited for the big girls.  He gave up mid-graham cracker-bite, leaving half a cracker wedged under his chin. 

Just a cute picture of my sister-in-law snuggling little Grant.

Cousins Katie and Lylia playing outside the Air and Space Museum.

Matthew was sleeping, so he missed our attempt at a family picture.  Oh well!

And before we knew it it was time to hop on the train and head back to Grandma's.

Yay!  We didn't lose anyone in the crowds!
Of course, going back to Grandma's wasn't the end of the festivities: there was still a lot of Easter fun to squeeze in.

The Easter bunny found Grandma's backyard and left over 100 eggs!

Looking for Easter eggs as the shadows start to grow long.
The Easter Bunny didn't forget the grown-ups either.  In what has become a VERY MUCH LOVED  (note: VERY MUCH LOVED!!) part of our Easter visits to Maryland, the happy hare's helpers also left bottles of soda scattered through the yard.

Matthew guarding me and Bryan's basket-o-bottles.
So much for "guarding."  Hands off, little man!

There were also hard-boiled eggs to color.

Coloring eggs with cousins.
This was very serious business for Katie.
For Matthew, on the other hand, it was all funny business. 

And children to un-color.


The Saturday fun spilled into a nice Easter Sunday, complete with an amazing--and beautiful--lunch after church.  The girls' Easter eggs even found a home in the meal's centerpiece.  (The lucky ones...the other ones found homes in deviled eggs and potato salad :)

Sunday dinner
Speaking of lucky and unlucky centerpiece elements...

You want me to do WHAT to this poor little chocolate chicken???
But he's such a sweet little chicken.  Are you sure...?
Oh the humanity!
Mmmmmm.  Anything else I can do for you?
And then it was all done and time to head back home.  To this:

Umm...April Blizzards bring May Gizzards?

Forget going back to Maryland next Easter: what we really want to know is if we can come next WEEK!