Max’d out

Max From Where The Wild Things Are (Upgrayedd)

Max From Where The Wild Things Are (Upgrayedd)

This is the first year I offered custom costumes online on Etsy. I haven’t done any marketing unless you count the occasional tweet, or Ralph’s Facebook plugs now and then. Now I’m glad, because I have found myself with a good number of costumes to sew this year and I’m late on two. Given this, I am presently only taking ONE more costume item before Halloween.

I’ll be back for Christmas gift awesomeness. If you’ve thought of anything simply wonderful I should sew, let me know.

Today I took pictures in the Max I made for a 9 year old up on Bainbridge Island. I am very pleased with this Max, and I have two more to make – one for a four-year-old, and one for a grown-up! I am also happy to answer any questions you put me on making your own – so you can post them in the Flickr comments or here on this post.

Happy costuming, tweeps. May your sewing machine bobbin run smoothly, and your glue gun not burn your hands.

Max From Where The Wild Things Are (Upgrayedd)

just a reminder this is a thing

Bitsie Boogie

MONSTER-ous booties available – be sure to check out the awesome papercraft Ralph and I designed to wrap them. Perfect for a newborn/0 – 3 month baby you know. But only a really, really fierce one.

Halloween approaches; after that, I’ll be making Christmas stuff. Suggestions are welcome – keeping in mind I prefer making items for babies and children.

A friend of Ralph’s suggested hobbit booties. What the hell are those? What does that mean? Like wee hobbit-feet looking things? I am intrigued. Because that is a pretty killer idea.

Currently: working on a Max costume. My best yet. I first overdyed cotton terry. I love simple dye projects:

Original Terry, White

Original…

Overdyed - Too Pink!

Oops! Too far (too pink)! – and then:

Corrected: Just Right

Just right. And super-soft.

Kind of, nothing is better than having custom sewing work. This was my first year listing Halloween offerings, and it’s been going well. [ she says, tentatively ]

sending the little ones to Dreamland, and the radio dial to “Spooky”

It’s 11 PM on a Thursday, and we Hogabooms are still on vacation, technically. Ralph doesn’t have to go back to work until Monday – even though he has two performances of Rocky Horror this weekend, and those are no-joke – both in time spent and in effort required.

Ralph’s schedule regardless, tonight I’m grateful we still have an unschooling schedule. I’m speaking specifically of my son, at the foot of my bed, fresh out of the bath, with squeaky-clean wet hair and wearing only a pair of wee underwear with scuba-diving skull motif. He’s eating ice cream out of a bowl, lying on his belly at my feet. Now he laughs and says, “Daddy’s biting my toes!”

So I’m speaking of my husband, too. He’s up a little late, and waiting for me to close up shop on the computer so we can watch a B-movie. Typically if Ralph wants to go to bed earlier than the rest of us, he heads into the guest bedroom to sleep. Tonight though, I get both the boys a bit longer; our daughter, a school-kid now, slumbers upstairs. And now, the home is settling into that comforting atmosphere I love, the quiet of night. The dishes are done, the carpets are shampoo’d, the pets are snoring, the little light above my bedroom’s shrine glows.

It’s time to wind down, after a busy day.

Schedule-wise, I’ve been busy enough to be distracted. I’m trucking away with sewing and I have a great deal of work ahead of me. Today another custom costume sold, and I ordered the supplies necessary to create this five-piece bit of awesomeness for a very, very cute child (I saw pictures! He is to-die-for adorable!). I also sewed up most of a baby bunting for the upcoming Fiber Festival in Elma. And this evening a client mailed me measurements of her child, so I can start on another costume – likely the most challenging of this season. My schedule is getting a little crowded and I will soon have to close Halloween orders. I’d love to do some Christmas gift sewing, so I am giving a little thought on what to offer. You bastards reading here know mostly I just want to sew a bunch of little woolen blazer-style coats for kiddos. YES THAT’S RIGHT, you jerks know me and I’m boring AF.

I’m grateful for a busy life; I’m grateful for a healthy and happy family. I am very grateful for being able to earn a little scratch, doing something creative. I’m profoundly grateful for my sobriety, without which I would not be able to be profoundly grateful.

Goodnight, my dear readers. May you rest well, and may you be safe.

Pack It In, Pack It Out

well and i even have a little left over, to help you

Pack It In, Pack It Out

Today on a Flats walk with our dog and three kids – two of the children mine, one from another family – we came across a dozen pelicans (of at least two species) diving for fish. It was really something to watch, as they hit the water with incredible force, like missiles. Along with the pelicans many species of gulls and other waterfowl messed about, and we spied at least two harbor seals. Obviously, there was a large school of fish in the water falling prey to this predation. In the course of the walk around The Flats, two different men along the trail told me two different stories about the species of fish out there (men love to tell you shit, even when they don’t know the shit!).

My dog was out of his mind with joy. In case you hadn’t been following: he’s been on near-bedrest for a few weeks since his incredible illness adventure with salmon poisoning. Today he was so excited he actually fetched a stick (unheard of) many times. He also played tug-o’-war with me and growled a lot. He has a huge, powerful mouth and very sharp teeth and I’d never heard him growl before. I was a bit unnerved!

The weather on our walk was so wonderful. It was balmy-warm – in fact, it would have been unpleasantly humid had it not been for a wonderful sea breeze. There were so many animals at The Flats – wild and domestic – and not a few people. It was a wonderful walk out and I’m glad I made the time.

***

Just lately: I am over-worked. Not only physically – besides having household responsibilities, more water aerobics, and two new Etsy sales that have me knee-deep in costumes – I’ve also been working intensively, and I do mean intensively with a new-to-sobriety alcoholic. I am astonished how much work she’s willing to do – but I’m also aware that yeah, it’s necessary. Watching someone reconstruct themselves from near-ruination is an honor and a privilege beyond what I can articulate.

And I’m a bit rueful: in Recovery communities you will sometimes hear those with long-term sobriety say, “I won’t work harder than the new guy!” [Meaning: as a sponsor to help him get and stay sober.] And yeah, I’ve heard it now and then and always thought that’s supposed to mean, Yeah that’s right, tough love, those lazy newbies! Well I never thought of the reciprocal. Because let me tell you, this new gal works like a dog, so that means I am working like a dog. I am not even kidding. Even if I didn’t think it completely unethical to share details, I haven’t the strength to write much about it. It’s working me, right now.

Many reading here won’t understand. [And yet she tries to explain anyway!] A big part of what’s hard on me is going through my own history – memories of what it was like to get sober, of those early days. If you’ve done it, you probably get it. It’s a big deal. Remembering what it was like invokes a kind of PTSD. Today and yesterday I’ve been thinking, Did I really do that? Did I really go through all that? And it’s like – yeah, I did. I felt like crying today and wanted to give myself a hug or somehow take care of myself in ways I neglected before. I had it hard. And I didn’t even know I had it as hard as I did. Does that mean I have it hard today, and I don’t know it, as well? It’s a scary thought. I am tired of suffering. It hurts.

Tonight: I resolutely put aside my fears and my own traumatic memories. I am here now, my children downstairs want me now. My husband is available to me now. A small dish of strawberry shortcake awaits. Hot water and soft pajamas. A warm bed. A curious dog. Purring, comforted kitties.

I am here now. Tomorrow is another adventure.

hogaCHITLINS on Halloween

In a few minutes I’m off to help host a Halloween dance. Here’s a few pictures of our early evening before music, dancing, trick-or-treating, shenanigans, and probably one really shitty B-movie.

My Daughter Phoenix Fire

Phoenix designed everything about her costume. I helped a little, although I should point out she made her entire mask.

Nels + Phoenix, Halloween 2012

Nels was originally going to be “a tornado”. He’d figured out the whole thing. Then after Hurricane Sandy the costume was deemed insensitive. I made the Pikachu costume last night. My fastest work ever. 4:30 PM to 7 PM and I was pretty tuckered out making it. Here’s the back, and never let it be said I don’t do bush league work when I have to.

My Daughter Phoenix Fire

Phoenix's Pumpkin

I told you my daughter did a great pumpkin.

Phee Draws, In Costume (& Boots)

Phee draws while Nels & friends get an early start on the T-or-T. Daughter pretty much always, always draws whenever she gets a chance.

here dwells lurve

Breakfast, Watching Pokemon

Nels says to me, “We’re grown up now, not babies. You can’t hold us any more.”

“Oh really,” I say dryly. “So like how every morning you come downstairs and climb on my lap for snuggles?”

An instant cloud darkens his brow and his eyes focus on the floor. He frowns. He’s pissed.

“Well you can’t voluntarily or easily hold us.”

Phee clips Nels’ nails.

Nail-Clipping

Nail-Clipping

Nail-Clipping

Nail-Clipping

Breakfast. Vegetable quiche. I don’t like eggs in any form. But my kids ate more than half the pan, immediately:

QUICHE

Today I finished my housework early in the morning, avoided the computer (and Twitter!), canceled some of my mental commitments to other endeavors/people, and instead spent the day goofing off with, lunching with, and crafting with my children. I’m committing to a Halloween craft per day. Think we can do it?

because tomorrow can worry about itself

“Can any of you, by being vastly concerned, add a foot to your height? And why do you worry about clothing? Study how the lilies of the field grow; they don’t work, and they don’t spin cloth. But I am telling you that not even Solomon in all his glory was ever dressed like one of them. If that’s how God clothes the wild grass of the field, here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you, unbelievers?”

Claws For Phee

Our daughter comes home and hands me some Halloween werewolf claw tips; price tag $3. My kids impress me, because even though my mother took them to the Halloween store and would have bought them one item, whatever they wanted, they show restraint and care in what they choose. Phoenix selects something sensible, as sensible as her fierce little heart can be. The children are considerate and frugal. Quite frugal. (Nels selected a jumping pumpkin toy, also for just a couple bucks.)

So my daughter gives me the “claws” and a pair of cut-up fingerless gloves and asks me to affix them together. I am secretly pleased. It is wonderful to be asked to do something and to be able to do it. And it is pretty keen, how many memories my kids have of me making them exactly the food or the clothes or the day’s experience that they want.

I sit at the table with Ralph, who is helping another craft exploit of mine, and glue all the fingertips together while and we talk. I finish, and our daughter is pleased.

This morning while I put away laundry I felt that familiar sting of anxiety; our towels are all falling apart (which reminds me of course that our bedding is also, and all of our beds are as well, and our couch is too – et cetera). My hand is on a well-worn cloth diaper rag still hot from the dryer and I suddenly re-remember I don’t have to worry about any of that stuff. I have $20 for today and tomorrow’s food so buying towels or couches or beds is not even an option. I finish putting away my laundry and I make the kids food and I remember my job is to do what’s in front of me, not to worry so much. We have been provided for so wonderfully so far in life and it is good to remember that.

Claws For Phee

i’m so happy you’re mine / so imma love you a long time

Last night Phoenix is the first to go to bed. Then Ralph is sleepy too and he eventually fades away. Nels tells me he wants to finish watching the documentary on corn. We cuddle close and only five minutes into the show he’s hot and folded into my arm. “Nels, are you falling asleep?” I ask. “No, I’m just laying like this” he replies, his voice is sluggish and muffled. Soon he is fast asleep and clinging like a hot little clam. His hair smells better than anything. I push him away but he keeps returning, his long legs wrapped around mine. He is tall now, as tall as his sister just was, reaching close to my shoulder.

In the last two days I celebrated my 11 year wedding anniversary with Ralph, took a shift at the art gallery, designed a shirt, hit a few meetings and did some other volunteer work, ran up to Oly for costume and garment sewing, sewed three pair of pants for Nels, and gave kids, dog, cats and husband all the loving-up I could, plus got up to some writing.

I’d like to write more here but my wrists actually ache from overwork.

Pho Hoa

Phee & I at Pho Hoa while Ralph attended a meeting. You see those fresh jalapeños in my pho? Good lord. Such a delicious moment in my life. My daughter… it’s wonderful to hang out with her. We usually are either silent, or we’re singing full-throated in the car. She’s the person I am most comfortable being silent with. And singing with. Hands-down.

Ralph bought me flowers and made delicious, delicious cream cheese-filled cupcakes. Best ever.

Ralph Makes Cream Cheese-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Ralph Makes Cream Cheese-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

In other news, I’m still trying to scrump money for the kids’ winter coats. It’s getting there. VERY sluggishly! Donations are wonderful. Or if you’d like me to make you or your kiddo a Halloween something-or-other, now is the opportune time.

shrinky-DON’Ts

Shrinky-DON'Ts: Hours Of Work!

I made twenty-one pincushions, out of two paired fabrics (you can flip ’em over and use either side). Every one has custom-drawn pins, a unique set of buttons (usually not matching) and their own thread scheme. It was a lot of work but a lot of fun.

Shrinky-DON'Ts: Red Skull Rising

“S” “E” “W”. Skulls and velveteen.

Shrinky-DON'Ts: Stars Abound

Lots of stars. This fabric from Britta’s shop.

Shrinky-DON'Ts: (This One Is Mine!)

Tapir. Bad-ass.Shrinky-DON'Ts: Spoonflower Mermaids

Getting to use the mermaid fabric Emily gave me. Yay!

I didn’t burn myself nor the shrinky-dinks, but you may be pleased to know I stabbed myself SO MANY TIMES handsewing on firm pincushions. I am hoping to be in the Fiber Fest again this year (although they haven’t returned my call, yikes) and making up some inventory.

I’ve got the obligatory Hendrix perm / And the inevitable pinhole burns / All down the front of my favorite satin shirt.

Sitting for twenty five minutes entirely still, and entirely silent, it’s not for the faint of heart. I elect for the cushion as I haven’t given the little meditation stools a shot yet and sitting cross-legged just flat-arsed for that long, without moving at all, well it is not for the ill-rehearsed. I have learned to observe the cold in my extremities and the occasional pain of sitting and fall into the trance of observing, of “resting in the breath”. In short, it feels good to meditate.

But what there is to observe, sometimes it’s not all that happy-clam. Tonight as I sit I almost fall asleep. I come to an awareness I am sick, and tired. I’d known I was sick (a sore throat and slight head cold) but hadn’t realized I was tired. That kind of bone-tired, an inexplicable exhaustion. And the longer I sit the more I realize the extreme discomfort I’d been ignoring, pushing my body past. The habit of a lifetime, or at least since pretty early childhood. Anyway I tell a friend later and she asks if I rested after this discovery, and I said Yes in fact, I even cancelled something in the morning so I could sleep as long as I needed.

The children, my children, are incredible. I call Phoenix on my drive home and ask if she’d turn up the heat in my sewing room and she says, “Gladly!” Her vocabulary is exquisite. Both kidlets are growing so tall so quickly that almost every outing, a friend or acquaintance comments on this.  Our Halloween was a four-day extravaganza of parties and silly Halloween food and costumes and spooky movies and friends over and one hundred thousand candy wrappers. Yes I have pictures, and yes I will be posting them.

It’s cold, the coldest Halloween I’ve ever experienced. I buy a new hat at the thrift store for $1 but somehow it shrinks, despite being a nonshrinking fabric, so anyway that’s for Phoenix I suppose (as if my kids need more hats!). What I really want is one of those Irish tweed handmade hats, they have them out at the beach. I have a cash stash and could buy one but I keep the money in my cigar box, unsure of what really to do. Our rent, electric bill, everything is increasing and my husband’s job faces mandatory furloughs.

The early winter weather brings a great sense of gratitude; for a job, food, a warm home, and for one another. Tonight I was watching my daughter in bra and panties brushing her teeth and I thought how I don’t think I’ve once resented the work of raising children. I’ve been alarmed at how much this has entailed, and I’ve been tired out – but let’s face it, I’d likely have tired myself out as a childless singleton if that’s the way I’d gone. I feel only gratitude, if a bit humbled, picking up what must be the four hundred millionth wet towel off the bathroom floor, and treading back to our little laundry room, and time to wash up and crawl into bed and watch “River Monsters” until everyone’s sleepy but one of the kids cheerfully gets up and turns the program off and we fall into one another’s arms and sleep very soundly.