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.

Haunted Hoquiam

From today’s foray into downtown Trick-or-Treating:

TONIC

What’s not to like about Halloween? Such a creative and fun holiday, and one I enjoy more and more each year. This afternoon I was underfed and tired, but I still had a great time seeing all the kids out and snapping pictures.

Baby's Not Right

A mutant baby designed by artist Robin Moore. She always has a lot of great stuff at the Guild. Today I was super-distracted with this-and-that and didn’t get a good photo-blog of the art here, but the good news is they keep making pieces more and more.

Emerson Manor Not-So-Spooky Haunted Candy House

At Emerson Manor, just one spooky detail in a very spooky lobby. This low-income apartment building is a pleasure to visit, most especially during holidays. They had a lot of witches this year!

Friendly Witches At The Emerson Manor

Sweeties with sweets.

NYAN CAT

Nels as NYAN CAT. Yes, he had a little iPod setup playing the song. It was a big hit around town. It is also super-super-super warm and needs to end up with a little fan somewhere COLD.

Darth Vader

This fella. Doing the same thing he did last year! Big comedy.

Creepitude!

My mom, at my request, breastfeading the aforementioned Mutant Baby. By the way the Guild has three phallic art pieces in the foyer. WINNING

Comely Wench + Real Live Parrot

A lovely lass with her bird. I’ve decided I wish I could be the Patron Saint of Cleavage, because I am just so fond of it.

At The Guild

More art by Robin M., if I’m not mistaken.

Tinkerbell Didn't Make It

But – sad to say, Tinkerbell didn’t make it.

(here are the pictures I took today, a handful of which I did not post here)

Ears and Whiskers Oh My!

Contemplative

As any longtime reader knows, I’ve made many a fanciful, comfortable, and sturdy garment, mostly for child-aged humans. I keep coming back to animals and creatures (real or imaginary). In no small part this is due to the influence of my own children, who retain an interest in biology, zoology, cryptozoology and anything else involving creatures that flap, crawl, squirm, prowl, and/or fly.

This particular hat is a faux fur wolf-inspired self-drafted piece, lined in 100% wool for warmth and comfort. Since Halloween approaches – and I do run a side-sewing blog, here – I wanted to share a bit about how to make effective ears and easy-enough whiskers from inexpensive and rugged materials.

Now a few words about what is entailed in good ears. It might not be obvious to the initiate, but it isn’t enough to have wire or pipe cleaners, or whatever, stiffening the ear. The ears will be rigid, but they will not stand up from the head if this is all you do. The tail ends of the wire stiffening the ear will need to be anchored to a rigid form, which is in turn inserted into the hat body in a way secure and comfortable to wear. This means the rigid form has to mimic the shape of the pattern pieces of the hat itself. Get it?

So let’s get started. Materials needed (not shown, glue gun):

Supplies

Left-to-right: cardboard (buckram or light plastic, like a thoroughly-cleaned bleach or carpet-cleaner bottle, will also work), wire for ears, needle and waxed thread for handsewing, cable ties (and assembled “whiskers” on anchor tie, self-explanatory), pattern template, and both fabric AND paper scissors (ask any stitcher how much he/she likes having sewing scissors abused by paper!).

Different hat or hood shapes will have different templates – this hat was made by an earwarmer-style band and a four-gore crown. The traced piece you see here is one of the four gores. It is NOT an ear! I am assuming you have a rudimentary knowledge of sewing, or can follow a pattern, and already have your ear finished and waiting – with the bottom raw edge open (you’ll see below when I show you my finished ear).

I chose cardboard for my form, because I plan to simply spot-clean this hat, not immerse it in water. Dry-cleaning would probably even be an option but I don’t think we’ll be needing that. Using buckram or thin plastic might make the hat more washable – but you certainly want to wash a structural item like this with care, not throw it in the washing machine or anything.

So! Trace your cardboard (or whatever) form from your pattern piece(s):

Trace Pattern Piece To Form Material

If you’re thinking about ear placements/markings at this stage, don’t. There is no need to worry about ear placement yet as you will be able to use the lining to determine where to fix the ears.

Now it’s time to cut the cardboard (or whatever) form:

Cut Out Cardboard Form / Trim Seam Allowance

Make sure to trim off the seam allowances. This is because tape will serve as our “stitching” together the form pieces (if we do have more than one, as I do). If you didn’t cut off the seam allowances, the form would be too large. Go ahead and be confused, that’s okay. You’ll see what’s up when you stick the taped-together form in the lining and it doesn’t work – if that’s the case, you can go ahead and tear it apart and re-tape, or re-trace and re-cut.

Tape The Form, & Then...

The red piece on the left is the hat lining, an indespensible item for making sure things will fit nicely. At right we have the form, taped together. Next I need to slide the form into the lining to make sure it fits perfectly and does not extend awkwardly or look bulky. The goal is the intended recipient will not even feel the form. So let’s see how we did, eh? The cardboard form is inserted between the child (Hi, Phoenix!) and the lining:

... Double-Check The Form Fits Nicely

Everything looks good – that cardboard form is inside the hat and against the child, layered just beneath those two front gore pieces you see here. A few notes: the hat is a little large for my child, so would fit an adult with a smaller head. Secondly, that raw edge is going to be turned under and stitched, so the hat lining appears a little larger than the finished piece will be.

Slip the form out, and it’s a good idea at this stage to punch a few holes in the form. Even if you plan to use a glue gun exclusively, may find you are glad for a few holes to use in reinforcing by stitching:

That's Awl She Wrote!

Now for wiring the ear. Simple at first – just get a flexible but rigid bit of wire (23 cents a foot at the hardware store), bend it, and slide it into the ear with at least an inch and a half margin poking out the bottom from the open end of the ear. Wrap the wire-ends with tape so no one gets poked. Handstitch the raw edge of the ear together with a simple baste, and lash the wires to the ears. This is to preserve the general ear shape and make sure the ear form is closed, before proceeding.

Lashing Wires Into Ears

The wire may want to creep down a bit. That’s okay for now. When you’re finished you should have something like this:

Finished Ear; Wire Inserted

Pretty-cool ear, eh? I thought so.

Now sew the ears, again by hand, to the position on the shell hat pieces. You can use that lining (and hopefully a live model) to determine ear position.

Hand-Sew Ears First...

Basting or tacking the ears in place by hand will make sure they are symmetrical when sewn into the hat. I highly recommend this over pinning. Simply take firm stitches about 1/8″ shy of the seam lines.

Don’t worry about the wires much at this stage. They may be trying to slip around a bit. All you are doing is anchoring the fabric ear piece in position along the seam of the as-yet not-assembled hat.

Now, machine-sew the hat seams, which will anchor the ears firmly. Assembly will depend on the hat or hood pattern you use. Just don’t try to sew right over that wire, or you will bust your needle and scare the heck out of yourself, especially if you’re amped up on coffee (ask me how I know this!). When you get close to the wire, take your foot off the pedal and use the handcrank, guiding the seam along with your other hand.

... Then Machine-Sew The Ears - Carefully!

Your ears are almost finished! Now, insert the finished form into the finished hat/hood/crown, and glue or stitch first the form itself to the inside of the hat using the seam allowances, and then the wire “legs” of the ears to the form, to secure. As if that faux-fur wasn’t messy enough, we are adding a GLUE GUN!

Bending the wire “legs” of the ear and affixing them to the form may or may not be tricky, depending on your hat/hood style. Be patient, use more glue – the whole thing will be lined anyway. Press the wire into the hot glue using a spoon. Not your fingers. (Ask me how I know this!) Be cautious with the hot glue if you’re using it – don’t let it mar your fabric or your body.

Glue/Sew Template

Ears all done!

Finished Ears

Finally: when the glue is entirely cool, slip the lining into the hat and feel to make sure the hat will be comfortable to wear. No jabbing wires or glue bumps. You can add batting or a layer of fleece if you need to, but if you’ve cut your form templates properly and wrapped your wire, you shouldn’t need this layer. My daughter said she couldn’t feel the cardboard at all.

And now – this is easier, promise! – the whiskers.

The assembly for the whiskers and anchor cable ties is self-explanatory, and shown in my Materials photo up above. Now we only need push the whiskers through the shell material. If you are sewing a hat with a woven that has a loose weave (not likely, for a hat project, but still), you may want to interface or interface and make eyelets (by hand or machine), to make sure you don’t get a ravelling effect. However, these directions assume a knit or fleece, etc., easy, sturdy, and typical fabrics we work with.

So first, poke holes in the earflap to slide the “whisker” cable ties through (here you are looking at the wrong side of the shell fabric)…

Seam-Ripper To The Rescue

Then slip in the whisker assembly:

Inserting Whiskers

Now we need to lash the whisker anchor cable tie in for security. Due to the nature of cable ties, the “whisker” ties can only slide one direction along the anchor tie. So lash accordingly:

Lashing Whiskers In Place

If you’ve cut your hat out properly on the grain, the grain will assist you in making sure your whisker alignment is proper. You can see the knit grain here on the wrong side of the shell. Alternatively, just make sure you carefully mark your whisker-placement lines after cutting out the hat pieces.

One more note about lashing the whiskers in place: if you were to be creating a hat where you didn’t want stitches to show on the shell side (as you see, my choice of faux fir hides anything like that), you could carefully apply the anchorpiece to the lining and take orderly stitches from the anchor tie to the lining, then poke the “whisker” cables through the shell, when the lining and shell were joined.

Double-check the whiskers are symmetrical:

Whiskers, Right-Side

And kink them up, if you like it kinky. Heh.

Bent Or Straight?

If you went mad with power earlier with that glue gun, you could apply a bit of glue on the anchor points of the whiskers, although it’s not needed.

Now all that remains is inserting the lining into the shell. Normally I do this in such a way that only involves a teeny bit of handstitching, but in this case I turn under the entire lower edge of both the shell, and the lining, and securely whip-stitch all along this edge.

Voila! You now have a pretty ferocious little hat.

On The Prowl

Cutaway

spooks on second street

Death Stalks You
I live in an economically-depressed area hit hard – and not-fully recovered – long before the recent recession made the news. It seems every few days I hear of someone who’s lost a job through downsizing or is currently experiencing underemployment. Homes are lost to the bank and the proverbial belts are tightened. Nevertheless that didn’t prevent homes last night – even those here on “the flats” as opposed to (as my daughter’s friend’s mother called it) “snob hill” – from opening up and offering a bounty of candy; most houses did not do “one apiece” and more than I would have thought offered up full-sized candy bars. The children also came home with packages of the beloved Play-doh, a large pretty comb for each, a Barbie, and homepacked parcels of several selected candies in bags printed with adorably-creepy critters.

Littlest, Friendliest Ghoul

Really I don’t know why I was surprised at the generosity and openhanded nature of our neighbors; trick or treating in Hoquiam has always been deeply satisfying – very old school.

Ghast, Death

By the way, Nels eschewed his ghast costume this night and went as a ‘zombie’ – fully in character with his sounds and walk, but a treacherous ghoul indeed as there were no physical markers designating him as such (he wore clean, intact clothing and had no makeup – in other words, he looked just like Nels does every day).

One of my favorite things to observe when out on the streets are the many impressive Halloween displays and the talent involved in pumpkin-carving (and one day I hope to have a camera up to photoblogging these in their splendor). I complimented many a pumpkin and took many pictures, to the delight of their artisans.

Witch!

Web!

Teef

Friendly, Goofy Punkins

Phoenix is such a sweet, friendly little girl; nevertheless in her ominous garb everything she did had the effect of looking like a prescient vision of Death (here she is petting a curious cat):

Death Stops For A Cat

Una arana grande a la casa de mi madre, flotando por encima de la puerta:

Spider At The Fisher Manse

After trick or treating we set up a projector and sheet for movie watching. My mom prepared a lovely little cheese and veggie platter, wine, juice, and an altogether delightful spread for her guests (my foursome and our friends Steve and Kit). We hosted the last leg of Trick or Treaters, many teenagers. Later we got takeout dinner at Casa Mia and followed this by slices of a lovely pumpkin pie (made by yours truly and involving delicious home-roasted pumpkin) while watching The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra on the “big screen”.

Good times.

Hallowiener (a prelude)

Littlest Ghast

This year Ralph and I surpassed all previous records in ingenuity, speed, and thrift where the kids’ costumes were concerned (a major departure from my more ambitious efforts in previous years). Pheonix wanted to be Death – she made this selection a while ago. I made her hooded robe and applied her makeup; Ralph made Nels’ ghast costume and Phoenix’s scythe – and we did all this after Phoenix’s soccer game this AM so we could be ready for the Haunted Halloween downtown Trick or Treat. We spent about $30 all in all, had a wonderful time, and, most importantly, our kids were thrilled. (better pictures of Phoenix tomorrow, promise)

Sasha, Phoenix, Nels, & Patrick

What’s a “ghast”? Nels is glad you asked. A “ghast” is a new MOB or “bad guy” or whatever you want to call it in his (current) favorite game Minecraft. Not only is his costume that of a character in a video game, it’s actually a character in a Halloween update, which was then released today (instead of tomorrow) – we discovered this upon coming home from the downtown Trick or Treat. Nels has been more pleased than anything how all of this has gone down.  The best part is trick or treating downtown today when grownups say, “OOOoooh we have a skeleton, a ninja, a princess, and a…” and then they stare, smiling with vacant wide-eyes, at my son. Who beams back and says, “A ghast!” and then explains it all. Every time.

Here he is, using the costume as a windbreak on the last leg of our tour (& no, he can’t lift his arms in the costume, but he is fine with that):

Chilly Ghast

So yeah, today was just the Halloween downtown trick or treating business (full Flickr tagset here). Two friends asked themselves along and we all braved the rain. Tomorrow’s the real event! Nels came home and had one piece of candy then asked me to make broccoli for dinner. Phoenix ate about a bucket’s-worth of confectionery.

It was wonderful to see so many grownups and children mingling so happily.

Hardware Store

Creepy Hand

Robin As Groucho

Some People Like To Wear Masks A Little TOO Much

But some grownups seem to enjoy themselves a little too much, if you ask me.

friday fan-fucking-tastic

Family!
“The Importance of Family Dinner” by mamapoekie
This subject was a tricky one for me as until very recently I revered and “enforced” family dinner (the enterprise has good intentions, of course, and is also such an awesome thing to root-toot about and we’re told if we don’t do it we’re what’s Wrong With America). Of course, my kids and husband and I still eat dinner together almost every night, except now it only happens when people want to, not because they have to or are nagged at (there’s a real difference!).

“Thoughts on Man Caves, Mom Caves, & Gendered Space” by Alexis at the Studioist
I love Alexis’ pieces as well as her rather considered responses to anyone who takes the time to work out a comment. She is a gracious hostess.

The new Life Learning Magazine is out. Well-worth the subscription (and if you write an article, you may get a discount / free subscription).

Science!
Mantid of the Week at I Blame The Patriarchy
Twisty’s been posting less, but each post is enjoyed. I think she has the most tender heart underneath all her meanie.

Porn! (not really, something way better actually)
thethickness.tumblr.com
Edit: see comments.

Halloween!
Super-easy ghost cloak at mermag.blogspot.com
I will be using this. Probably in a few minutes, actually. Yes, not everything I sew is some goddamned masterpiece.

“Scary Decor”; the Studioist (again, but I love her posts and the brief discussion of Halloween experiences in the comments; also she said I was the “best Mom in the world”, praise I sorely need  on days like today where I hardly do anything decent as a mother

“Stripes”, a how-to for making striped fabric (bonus, the tute’s by my brother’s lady J.)

Etc!
“Hey Skinny…” at Twisted Vintage. Loving those little red shorts.

Great review of a pretty spooky movie: “Re-visiting the Canon: Candyman” at PostBourgie. This movie scared me quite deeply as a teen.

Guess who I think is sexy? No, guess. But you know, I think a lot of people are sexy. I guess I’ve got that joie de vivre. P.S. I’m also a big fan of his work and think he’s a compelling performer. The last bit of it I saw was in Wives & Daughters (Netflix instant). Did you know I’m a fiend for pre-20th century British period pieces? WELL I AM.

One imagines this Elliot Smith mixtape on soundcloud is against the Rules of the Intenetz & Copyright, but I have been enjoying a listen.

***

I am a total mess today. I can’t even express how little-by-little I’ve fallen behind to where my life currently feels like a small, grounded hulk of a shipwreck. I won’t feel this way soon. But I feel this way now and I’m being very hard on myself.

photos or it didn’t happen

Soccer on Sunday:

Soccer/Windstorm

What a wonderful, exhilarating game – maybe the hardest-working one the girls had yet. The other team had two more teammates which meant they were less taxed. The game was quite close. Phoenix made a beautiful assist to a classic-teamwork goal, and did a good job defending and passing as well. Only minutes after the game ended – the girls, having worked so hard, immediately clapping and hugging one another and the opposing team – a huge rain- and windstorm devastated the field and drove us shrieking and dismayed into our vehicles.

Nels, on our way to the game:

Nels, Pensive

Beautiful.

Cat decadence (more to follow):

Hygiene

Come Hither

That night Grandma invited the kids over for a movie (How To Train Your Dragon) and the kids in turn asked if Ralph and I could come. When we got there Grandma had set up a cozy little living room scene; she also made fresh popcorn, pumpkin pie, cookies, and a variety of drinks. It is so rare I get “taken care of” or hosted – it’s usually me on the hostess end. So this brief date was a really lovely experience. Not only that, but every time I’m around my mom I’m reminded of how far she’s come in being loving and present and responsive to children and  what wonderful spiritual and emotional support she gives me and my family. I think a lot of families feel a certain degree of tension or (resentful) “agree to disagree” issues tugging at the fabric of their relationships. My mother and I increasingly grow of similar accord, providing a wonderful, nurturing environment for the children and in turn, all of us.

Playing

This morning when I woke I found three of the four cats were sleeping with my daughter, on the pallet on the floor. This doesn’t surprise me; all sorts of people and creatures of all ages and sizes find my daughter incredibly appealing, including Harris, the snoring beast we see on the left who’s approximately the size and demeanor of a Great White Shark.

I Simply Have No Words

You may be asking yourself where the fourth cat was (the one we occasionally call “lardon”). Answer: she was waiting just outside the bedroom, ready to ambush me with screams for a refilled food dish. And like a reconnaissance mission, as soon as this was done the other two little ones were in that kitchen gobbling as well. They went back to bed with Phoenix afterwards, of course.

This afternoon I get an email there’s a Halloween Fun night planned at our library. The kids’ costumes aren’t ready (twatever, I’ll get to it before the 31st) so they dress themselves. We five (always with the extra kiddo or two) cram into the car. The wet car. That is rusting apart before our eyes. [ sigh! ] But the library was great – lots of wonderful costumes and wonderful children. They had an energetic time laughing and singing and shouting:

Led By Lisa

Nels Is Having A Good Time

Nels Is Having An Even Better Time

And then Lisa told a spooky story:

Lisa Tells A Spooky Story #1

Lisa Tells A Spooky Story #2

Lisa Tells A Spooky Story #3

Whereupon Nels’ attitude abruptly changed, huddling very small on Ralph’s lap and begging for assistance in stopping up ears:

Nels Regrets Listening To The Spooky Story

Phoenix was, of course, clear-eyed and analytical as to the quality of spooky content (that’s her on the far-right):

Children Listen To Spooky Story

Afterwards, the children painted pumpkins:

Phoenix's Pumpkin

Paint Removal

And went Ghost Bowling:

Pumpkin / Ghost Bowling #1

Pumpkin / Ghost Bowling #2

We came home to homemade frijoles refritos and pork loin shredded in homemade salsa verde, wrapped in fragrant tortillas and served aside homemade coleslaw from our CSA veggies.

Home to our cozy nest protected from the fierce elements –

Outside my window the world has gone to war / Are you the one I’ve been waiting for?

correspondance, commerce, & creeps

This morning after meeting a friend at Pure Clothing here in HQX (I love the owner J. and think we are so lucky to have such a great shop; today I found a pair of hot-ass Silver jeans in my size as well as a pair of my tried-and-true Levi 501s – have I mentioned how much I love jeans yet hate stretch jeans, which are almost all you find if you’re over about a US size 10, and remind me sometime to tell you my friend Jasmine’s dire and graphic warnings on such stretchy-fare) I stopped at Jackson Street Books and chatted with the owner Tammy (who really. REALLY. knows her books). While talking my eye fell on about ten books I wanted for myself or as gifts. I finally settled on two for Phoenix: Bunnicula by James Howe and The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (the second book in the very popular Percy Jackson and the Olympians series; she simply devoured the first one about half a year ago). I thought both were excellent Halloween choices. When I got home I surprised Phoenix with the books and she smiled bigger than you can imagine and put aside the “younger” (and shorter) Bunnicula to dive into the YA/General fare of Percy. I felt a bit sad as it seems her babyhood vanished far before I could treasure it; however I know she will pick up the story of the vampiric lupine (a favorite of mine as a kid) – at some point.

So I spent my grocery money on jeans and books but we made due with pantry provisions for dinner and I really think the purchases, especially the books for my girl, entirely worth it.

Today a friend asked me if I’d sew her up a dress (based on the striped hooded version recently modeled by Phoenix) to which I said Yes. I am ready and willing to take on full-grown ladies (and gentlemen), especially plus-size women as they are so underserved in the fashion industry. All of this has to be done within my own work schedule of course (I am currently two pair of monster booties behind) – which I’m trying desperately not to get backed up on as:

the gag order has been lifted and I am now able to publicly blog I am testing for an upcoming book project of Karen and Shelly’s (of Patterns by Figgys) as published by Wiley. While I’m not able to post pictures of the garments I’m testing (yet), I can say they are all fabulous and fun to sew and scratch my technical-writing nrrd-skills.  I’m saving up pictures in Flickr (as private) and hoping to make them public some day. There are a lot of things I really love about these two ladies, their designs, and their ethos (including generous voluntary copyright clauses for cottage-industry or home sewists). It is pure joy to be able to help such an enterprise.

And:

I recently received a Thank You email (very specific and edifying and including details of my reader’s life – which I love!) and a Paypal donation by reader E.; the day after a handwritten letter arrived, penned from New Zealand blogger Elly – and full of NZ and AU currency and some history/geography to boot! As far as feedback and commentary from readers it’s been a great week. Well actually it seems to get better all the time, although to be clear IMs and DMs and tweets and email and snailmail has never been much more than a steady trickle (I am no Celebrity). For this I am grateful as I sometimes fear I let correspondance slip through the cracks. Frowny-face.

In other news, sketchy Flickrite Alejandro seems to like the ladies. And the little girls. Like my 8 year old daughter. (Just not anyone over 22 or so, or fat or “ugly” – ew!) But don’t worry, I’m sure the fellow’s legit. See how he has no profile information and has posted no photo except one of a Siamese cat.

Cute cat.

the littlest giant

Today the children and I went off for a lunch date and then swimming as soon as I’d done the laundry and made all the beds blah blah blah. We got sandwiches together at Subway (all three of us eating for $11; can’t beat that) where I saw then introduced myself to one of the excitable soccer parents from last weekend.

The kids were a delight to have lunch with. They were very hungry (well, for them – the kids and I are all three kind of light eaters), splitting a ham sandwich on flatbread and judiciously divvying up a milk between them, followed by a cookie apiece. I can’t always know when they are hungry and I’m glad I took them out first because we ended up playing quite vigorously in the pool.

It felt wonderful to be back in the water again. Now that it’s school season we often have the pool to ourselves which is incredibly peaceful.

Phoenix and I played many games together. This was a welcome improvement from the last few months we’ve visited the pool. Phoenix loves to swim with me but often we have to stay close to Nels or risk being admonished by the capricious lifeguards and this limitation has frustrated us both in the past. Today she figured out a few new games we could engage in together: we performed a syncrho-swimming waterdance using hoops formed from those styrofoam noodles in the pool (she challenged herself to see how long she could stay under and quickly swim in back and forth in the hoops; she got up to three). Then she had me hold her straight out from my waist, her legs around my body, while I spun her like a fan blade through the water (now that was a workout for both of us!). I get dizzy easily now (ever since I had kids, and I’m not making that up) so I had to rest between goofy games like this. She helped Nels improve his kick. She tickled me and swam in and out around my legs with a grace and a lack of kicking-me-in-the-face which was delightfully new and appreciated.

My son has been a bit fragile today. It is truly a wonderful experience for me to be able to be available to them for their needs. Today from across the pool my son swam out from the little winding river and I saw the set in his shoulders and the sadness in his eyes. And I swam over to him and asked, “What is it baby?” He told me he had hiccups and they were hurting his body. He said, “But I feel better now you’re here,” and wrapped his arms and legs around me. And there’s probably nothing that smells and feels better to me than my children.  And sure enough a hiccup jerked through his little body, his frog-like limbs and tender little ribcage and his little belly. And I showed him how to hold his breath and tighten his eyes up and plug his nose and ears and he tried this many times, his little body convulsing now and then. The hiccups seemed too big for him!

Later at home he lay on top of me and we played “I Spy.” He made me laugh about eighteen times. For instance when he said, “I spy something BLUE… It’s outside.” I laughed and told him the whole point of the game is that you could SEE the thing from where you were. But I got it anyway (answer: the sky). A minute later it was my turn and I told him it was something that looked like a breast… he looked and looked and finally I had to tell him it was up high, at which point he saw the hemisphereical-with-nipple-fitting center light in our room and pointed triumphantly and then looked down at me and shook the hair out of his eyes and said knowingly, “Eas-y,” as if he hadn’t been guessing for minutes! I laughed and wrestled him and grabbed him up and we kissed and hugged times One Hundred.

I played a game with him, one he hadn’t remembered but I had. First I took my hand on his bare big toe (the right one) then pretended The Toe was sojourning on his body on its way to see The Head (I perform the role of The Toe by dancing my fingers along his body). So The Toe would stop and introduce herself to The Ankle, or whomever (as played by Nels) and they’d have a little talk, with The Ankle directing The Toe on further to her destination. Et cetera. We played this when the kids were little – I mean littler. It’s one of those simple but amazing games because it involves a lot of touch but a total respect by the grownup, since the child is in control of directions. We play similar games where the children will tell me where to kiss them, or stroke them or squeeze them, or (if they want to scare themselves) bite them or pinch them.

It really is an honor to be trusted and loved so much by my little ones.

In other news I have the perfect Halloween costume idea (finally!). I do not have money to garner my supplies!  Very upsetting. I am hoping (against all hopes) to set up a little display and sell a few of my wares. This would be a miracle (by “miracle” I mean something kind of nice that no one could possibly give a shit about, and thusly deserves a less auspicious descriptor) as I do not have my items ready or a display ready and also, by the way, I’m being a total coward about the whole business. Halloween approaches and I have three semi-elaborate getups to assemble and I’ve made no headway and can’t even sell our last running car without a few repairs that I’m not even going to type about as one of them makes the vehicle un-street legal.