in flight

we came back from camping, then back from DC, and are now on our summer trip to oregon. the rugged coastline, redwoods and family called our names and so we came. the last three mornings before leaving, ruthie woke up asking if it was (finally) "oregon day". "no, but it will be soon, rufie" eve would quickly answer. "super duper soon?" "yes, super duper soon" "super duper malooper soon?" "yes, super duper malooper quadooper soon."

our annual trip to oregon usually involves me flying by myself with the kids, chip joining for the last week and then the five of us shuttling home together. this time we switched it up. chip is with us for the first two weeks, so our family of five all boarded and landed together. a big relief for all involved. especially me. nothing like trying to get yourself and all three of your children into an airplane bathroom before your (then) two-year-old actually does wet herself, as she has been announcing to/ threatening her fellow passengers with at the top of her lungs for three minutes while we wait for the "occupied" light to dim..  

but even with chip there to wrangle and distract, traveling across the country with these three takes a little planning. not my strong suit, but we made it here and did so without our neighbors cursing our names. charlie, being magical and in love with his thumb, was easy. and, with the help of their very own back packs bags full of a few simple treats and ways to pass our nine hours of travel, the girls were pretty great too. 

the goods inside the bags:

+ new coloring book and new crayons. heaven for my little girls. brand new pages waiting to be filled and sharp new crayons means fresh, intricate designs for the girls. a dolphin? no, no. a rainbow, diamond, snowflake dolphin with pink eyelashes. takes at least 40 minutes to get just right.

+random activity books from the pharmacy because we couldn't find any decent coloring books on our own (chip's sister saved the day and showed up at our place with the real goods).

+ stickers. with thousands of foam stickers floating through our apartment (and torturing me) years ago, i began taking them on flights with eve and i. we would stick them all over the tray table and seat back, we'd make scenes of dancing animals or designs with our shapes. i'd put two pair of each (animal, shape, whatever we had) up and eve would find the matches. we'd draw faces on them and find the sad horse or the happy lion. and after an hour or so of playing we'd we'd take them off the seat and tray and be done. i don't have the foam stickers anymore and don't ever want them in my house again, so we go for regular stickers. they don't entertain nearly as long but they are a special treat. and apparently ruth loves to put them in her hair (which works out really well..)

+ snacks. of their very own in their very own back pack. no sharing, no bargaining, no waiting their turn for a bite. preferably wrapped up in colorful paper. because unwrapping takes time too, and it makes everyone happy.

+ a book. i can't take my kids anywhere without a book. i used to bring several, but we've streamlined. one for each girl and a couple for charlie. old favorites are the best, because i know they will be hits and the girls can "read" them to each other when i'm finished.

+ woodkins. i may need to devote a post to this toy. all i can say is that they, a gift to the girls from chip's parents, are so much better than i thought they'd be.  

+ home videos. pulled out when all else has failed, these are always the answer. the girls love watching themselves, so the dvd with an hour's worth of footage sampling their entire lives is devoured happily. they stare and laugh and pretend to be embarassed by themselves while i try to take a nap.

all carried on their own little backs from plane to plane, these items weren't anything new or groundbreaking, but they did the trick.  

in four and a half weeks i'll be flying across the country to get home. a mom alone with her three very young kids, i'll be every other passenger's worst nightmare. but hopefully the treats, and crayons and home videos will, once again, charm the littles. and maybe the people who watched me with big eyes and thought to themselves "please don't be sitting next to me. please don't be next to me" will watch me leave thinking that it wasn't so bad afterall..


backpacks are a shrunken version of the backpack pattern in lotta jansdotter's simple sewing. easy and fast.

i have a lot to post, but being on vacation with family in paradise is distracting and too much fun. i'll try to get back to at least once a week. but if i don't, take it as a good sign. summer!




summer is here


friday was eve's last day of her very first year of school in the new york city public school system. 

she learned to open up her own milk carton, zip up her coat, sound out words, sing in spanish, make purple, write bubble letters, unbuckle and slowly buckle her sandals, count over 100, finally accept not being the fastest, dance the salsa and merengue, cough into her elbow, wait in line, draw the perfect orca whale, tell nonsensical (but apparently hysterical) jokes, roll her r's, do tricks on the playground bars, get over the frustration of not being able to whistle yet, walk quietly in the hall, imitate the principal's daily intercom announcement, and fall in love with school and the two amazing teachers who, i think, she will love forever. it has been a great year. 

and now that summer is really here i'm taking the littles camping. we've got meadows to run in, lakes to swim in, tree frogs to catch, and stars to see. and i've got to convince eve that having to stay out of school for two months is not such a bad deal. after all, at some point she is going to be surrounded by classmates that burst through the school doors screaming and running, nearly trampling a mother going to pick up her daughter from pre-k for the last time, and i certainly can't have her walking slowly behind, crying because she wants "to go to school forever". it is time eve learns the glory of summertime freedom, the glory of swimming everyday and eating popsicles at 10am and flying on airplanes and escaping the usual. today we start.


fodrz day

with father's day sunday and his birthday yesterday, it has been an eventful week for chip. the girls have made him no less than twenty cards (each) and several involving stacks of oversized cardstock stuck together with gluestick. pictured next to the (second of three) official father's day/ birthday gift are the official father's day cards. ruth drew a portrait of the whole family with charlie the size of a small parrot resting on her right shoulder. eve also drew a family portrait but went thematic; a circus family. complete with circus-y building, large spinning wheel, balloon-bearing clown and chip in plaid pants. penned along the top is an excellent example of eve's "sounding it out" skills. makes me want to cry i love these stages so much.

and what were the official father's day/birthday gifts? first: a jacket chip has been thinking about for months. chip never thinks about clothes for months, so we had to. second: a father's day classic that has been long overdue. ties.

his work uniform rarely involves more than jeans and a t-shirt but each sunday and one or two nights during the week chip puts on a suit and tie for church and related meetings. the girls helped me choose the fabric (although their first pick involved sparkly unicorns), i cut one inch off the pattern width (chip is a skinny tie kind of guy) and got to sewing and ironing. 

for the last few inches of the tie we used different fabric for a cool semi-secret surprise. i've gone back and forth about my feelings for the surprise, but now i really like it. chip does not feel the same way. he says he does, but he is a terrible liar. i can't blame him; it is a fact that, aside from the skinniness, he leans pretty conservative and subtle with his ties. however, he likes them and us enough to wear them very happily anyway. and that's part of what makes him our favorite.. that and the fact that in two weeks he will be used to the tiny bit of flash and will be telling the truth when he says he loves them. edit: one week! it took one week!

as for the third offical father's/birthday gift.. it hasn't arrived yet. but hopefully will within the next week or so. which works out well, because a birthday week is much better than just one day of celebrating, right?.. and when father's day is in the mix too, we might as well go double time and make it two solid weeks of gift giving.. (mom, you were a genius when you started the "birthday week" when we were little. it now serves as the perfect cover for my procrastination..).

get ready, chip, the third offical gift will be your favorite.. if for no other reason than you don't have to wear it.


edit: fabrics used for ties (all 100% cotton):

tie one: brown and cream stripe (pictures make it look black. it's brown.) by yuwa. brown dots on cream also by yuwa but i couldn't find it available in my hasty search just now.

tie two: both the brownish and pink tiny dot are part of the "30s collection" by atsuko matsuyama. they were bought at purl's soho shop and again, i can't find them online.. (if someone knows a source online, let me know!)




they love the shoes! and they're mad at me. hoping to get the most use out of them, i ordered on the big side.. the way too big side.. we'll be waiting until the fall to wear them without tripping. sorry girls. 

several people asked if anjie would be willing to share her design so that you and yours can share in in the rainbow/unicorn/flower heaven too. good news! anjie has made the design available for all to use right here. so go, order the shoes, wait patiently for a few weeks and then revel in the happy gasping and jumping. just don't order too big. they don't like that. 

thank you, again, anjie! 


totally unrelated: right now the 14-year-old watching ruth and charlie in the other room (while i hide away in my bedroom trying to get some work done) is trying to play MONOPOLY with ruth. ruth is three years old. my eyes are watering from the laughter i am holding in. 


they will freak out

these shoes should arrive anyday and when they do, the girls are going to go nuts. a unicorn, golden-haired mermaids, a rainbow, crowns, a jaguar, their most favorite colors, fancy flowers, along with their own made-up princess names: "lady eve" and "cinderuthie".. all on one pair of shoes in just the right sizes for their little feet.  

i've seen some examples of customizable shoes in the past; choose which color you want where, a stripe or not there.. but i had no idea that you could go this custom- design your own fabric that the shoes will be made from custom- until chip came home from work one evening raving about the keds his co-worker, anjelika, was designing for herself and a friend in honor of their upcoming trip to disneyworld (awesome). the next day he sent images, i went berzerk and anjie was gracious enough to not only design two pair for the girls using all her perfect illustrations, but she also added princess names on the tongues and little blonde mermaids on the back.  

oh, i cannot wait for them to arrive. after laying on my back, staring at the ceiling for two days and hobbling around the following five (warning about stretching your back in the morning: sometimes it doesn't work out and you finally get the chance to understand what "threw my back out"means..) i will take any bit of excitement i can get. and the excitement and squeals these beauties are going to elicit has me giddy. 



answers with unrelated pictures

i've been getting quite a few questions from you kind readers, and i love them and i have wanted to get back to all of you. but there are two things you should know about me: 1. i am crazy forgetful and, 2. i'm sometimes kind of a slacker. so, if you are one of the people who have sent a question my way without a response, this post is for you.. and for me, because i like looking at these pictures of my little boy wonder and his sisters on his very first birthday.


six inch single layer ice cream cake with whipped cream frosting. charlie is not a fan of the cake-y texture, but is a huge proponent of strawberry ice cream. and whipped cream. and blueberries. after freezing cake, frosted, i made a stencil, placed on cake, filled stencil with new layer of fresh whipped cream, put sprinkles all over that, removed stencil and had a perfect c for the boy. 

QUESTION: "what pattern did you use?" 

ANSWER: unless i have noted otherwise in the post, the pattern i am using is my own. 


QUESTION: "do you sell your patterns? where can i get them?"

ANSWER: i do not produce or sell them.. yet! but plans are in the works, my friends. if all goes well, or well enough, i am hopeful to have a small line of patterns available in the fall. i will certainly keep you updated and maybe take a poll or two along the way. 


QUESTION: "how do you do freezer paper transfers?"

ANSWER: first off, let me say how impressed i am with many of you scouring the archives and tolerating the slightly wonky photo formatting that was a result of importing from my old blog space. freezer paper transfers were all the rage when i was first introduced to this craft blog world, and they are good fun. i have sent a tutorial to many of you, but am too lazy to take decent pictures to post here when there are several tutorials out there that do a lovely job. like this one. 


QUESTION: "how do you get such vibrant play dough colors?"

ANSWER: i use a no-cook playdough recipe using powdered alum and boiling water, which usually results in less bold colors.. enter: gel food coloring. i was not stingy with the stuff and when used in combination with some regular liquid drops, i got some really atomic colors (i will add this information to the "kids zone" post shortly). i bet the paste food coloring that you can get at cake decorating/ candy making stores would be awesome too.  


ruth is always fancy. and a little crazy. the funny, good-natured kind of crazy.


QUESTION: "where do you find your fabric?"

ANSWER: all over the place, but consistently: purl and recently, denver fabrics. a beast of a collection to get through but i have been really happy with what i've bought- and at pretty decent prices. there are also a few places in the garment district i visit, but rarely since i've got the kids to tote around and trying to keep track of them among all the rows of giant bolts is no fun. lastly, i haunt all the really run down thrift shops when i visit family in oregon each summer and usually score some pretty sweet stuff.. the smell goes away after a few washes.. 


QUESTION: "how do you like squarespace?"

ANSWER: love it. really love it. took some adjusting to, but that was quick and i can't imagine going back now. the support people are amazing and so friendly when dealing with my idiot questions. 


she's asleep here. and no matter how many times you close them all the way, eve's eyes always go back to being open just enough to make everyone uncomfortable. 


QUESTION: "do you bleach your daughters' hair?

ANSWER: no! who do you think i am? ok, fine, this was never asked by a reader here, but somebody on the street asked me recently.. and despite the craziness that would have to be deep inside me to consistently bleach my three-year-old's hair, i liked the question. it made me feel like my mom. i have clear memories people asking my mother if she bleached my hair when i was little. i don't know why, exactly.. maybe they thought it the only possibility when compared to my two sisters- one brunette, the other red-head?.. i didn't pay much attention to that when little. instead i spent all my emotional energy being outraged and frustrated by the fact that i was, on several occasions, mistaken for a boy.. once while wearing my favorite dress..  


did i forget any? probably. if so, ask again. if it is a popular question, i'll post the answer here. otherwise i'll do my best to get back to you as soon as i can. of course, if there is anymore crazy sickness in our house like the last couple days, all promises go out the window.. hooray for the (not swine) flu!



happy birthday charlie

magical charlie. just when i think i can't love and adore you any more, i do. just when i am certain there is nothing you could ever do to top your knee-bounce-head-banging to a good tune, you take off into the tightest, fastest little circles and figure-eights your crawling body will allow in response to an especially good beat. just when i think you've outgrown it, i am woken up as you tug fistfuls of my hair as hard as you can and flash the happiest smile when you finally see my eyes. i don't think you will ever get cuter than when you stick your tongue out and smile or when you pull your arm back, way back, when you are just a little nervous. nor can i imagine your smiling, arm-waving, kiss-giving response to your sisters ever being sweeter.. but then, you've outdone yourself constantly for the last twelve months, so who am i to say..

oh, charlie. there really is something magical about your relaxed, playful ways. you get our jokes, but don't always think they're funny. you throw your whole body forward and bury your head during a good laugh and have the saddest sloping back and hanging head when you are sad. you love almost everyone you meet and happily tolerate the others. the swings leave you screaming with laughter. the big kids running ahead leave you kicking your legs as hard and as fast as they go. you can't wait to be running and jumping right alongside, and you will be, soon. your cautious standing will turn to reckless sprints, your sweet jibberish will turn to entertaining conversation and your little pointer finger will take a well-deserved rest. you will finally be able to go up to your sisters' loft bed all on your own and know how to get those blocks to make noises without pushing them across the entire apartment for help. you'll be able to hold your own cup without getting soaked and finally, finally you'll know what every button and switch and outlet you come across is really for.. but for now, let's just clap and play and laugh while my arms turn to jelly from throwing you in the air. let's just cozy you as you suck your thumb, put your other hand down my shirt and watch your sisters play princess. lets just keep doing the things we are doing, because man, it has been pretty great so far.. you've brought an entire year of magic to an already charmed home and we all love you an insane amount because of it. happy birthday, my little boy. let's brave the rain and go find some balloons. 



american summer

if there is an american flag anywhere nearby ruthie will find it, point, and give a gleeful shout: "MERIYAN FLAG!" on the bus, flying above the playground, stuck to accelerating cars, painted on the fire house, waving in little passerby's hands, way beyond in the distance flying above buildings.. she sees them all and lets us know so that we, too, can share in the delight. an exasperated eve will complain, "she always says that." but then she will smile (we all do) with wide-eyed ruthie as she points and exclaims, holding her breath and spreading the excitement.  

as the heat increases each year and the sewing really gets going, i find myself continually (but somewhat unconciously) drawn to that flag's classic american color palette of red, white and blue. old pieces of fabric are pulled out, new pieces brought in and they wait in their pile until i figure out exactly what it is they will become.

as always, but particularly in the summer, they become simple shapes that remind me a little of my own childhood days.. days that looked nothing like eve, ruth and charlie's; rolling hills in the place of brick and cement buildings, one neighbor down the hill in place of hundreds on one block, five acres instead of 600 (maybe 650) square feet.. but days that i still, somehow, see glimpses of everyday as i watch these kids laugh and fight and play.

there are more reds, whites and blues to be put to use, and soon. but here we have a start. 

round one: american summer






this many pictures for one post would certainly be unnecessary if i wasn't so entertained by eve's modeling lately. here's to summer and the extended days i'll be able to spend with this moody little girl again.


little mermaids

nearly every day for the past year eve and ruth have asked me one or all of the following questions: "why aren't we mermaids?" "why can't we be mermaids?" "can we, at least, please maybe be real mermaids when we grow up?".. after each round of questions and answers, their slumped little shoulders move to the next room to talk about sharks and crabs, to sing (or demand that i sing) ariel's songs, and to lament the fact that they are just humans.. 

the requests and pleas tripled after seeing the little mermaid on broadway last month (find a three or five-year-old girl and go see it, ridiculously fun). but almost two days have come and gone without one query about the possibility of future mermaid-ness. i think it may have something to do with monday. there were no shell bikinis or fins for feet, but there was a day spent with daddy at the one place in brooklyn where mermaid dreams almost come true, where being a mermaid makes sense: coney island.


the aquarium may have done it. 


or maybe the boardwalk, replete with murals of busty mermaids and strange sea creatures.


or maybe it was playing in the surf that satisfied all their little hearts' desires for a mermaid's life in the sea.


but now that i'm thinking about this, the drop-off in mermaid questions likely has nothing to do with monday and everything to do with our recent reading of the original hans christian andersen the little mermaid. the illustrations by lizbeth zwerger are so lovely and the story is wonderful in it's old fairy tale slightly creepy way but.. wow. you should have seen the girls' faces when the sea witch cut the mermaid's tongue out. or worse yet, when the prince married another and the mute, suffering mermaid turned to sea foam. pure horror. in lieu of the fulfillment of blissful wedding dreams, the mermaid is left to waft through the air for 300 years as she waits to receive an immortal soul. but beware, children (what true fairy tale is complete without a terrifying moral at the end?) for if she happens to be breezing through your home while you are being naughty, another day is added to the poor mermaid's soul-less wanderings.. the girls were not happy and being a mermaid didn't seem so great after all. 

i give them a few days to process, accept and mostly forget about the real version until the questioning returns. after all, a love this strong can't possibly die so easily.. they'll soon remember that they don't live in an underwater castle, have red hair, or a decent set of clam shells to call their own.. and that those are the only things they've ever really wanted in life.


update: eve and ruth are now arguing over who would win in a fight; a mermaid or a shark. one has teeth, the other has a sword (from a sunken ship?). ruth bets on the teeth, eve is going with the sword. i'm betting that within five minutes they ask me to sing every mermaid song they can think of. 



kids zone

sunday morning i woke up with painfully sore legs. strange, considering i haven't worked out in over ten months.. unless, of course, you count my daily crazy run pushing charlie and ruthie in the stroller down eight blocks to get to eve's school in time for pick up.. (which, i'll admit, i kind of do count). after a few foggy minutes of stretching and trying to remember if i had any violent dreams, it came to me: the giant bubble. 


from 12-3pm on saturday eve's school held a fundraiser for a future science lab. in addition to the main event, i partnered with another mom and organized the "kids zone." in honor of the end goal, we put on a little exploratory science-y fair for the kids. it was so messy, and a little crazy but hilarious and so much fun. 


snail discovery. a ton of snails, hasta leaves, magnifying glasses and spray bottles (snails come out of their shells and move around a lot when sprayed with water, which actually makes them fun). the kids were fascinated. at three different points a group of kids ran up to me and, with arms about one inch from my eyeball, showed me the snails sliming their way up their arms. eve was not very interested. but ruthie, although she won't admit it, must have liked them; i have it on good authority that she gave one snail a good lick while holding it.. (no salmonella poisoning yet).. 

smell identification. jam jars, painted on the inside (to hide contents), small holes punched in the lid, and filled with common foods for the kids to smell and try to identify.  banana, orange, lemon, garlic, peanut butter and chocolate sauce. garlic was definitely tricky (although a lot of kids were pretty close- with guesses of "pepper" or "some kind of onion") but the chocolate syrup was particularly challenging.  "oh, i know this! what is it? what is it??" eve: "i can't believe i didn't know that because i love it sooo much."


the messy table.

mounds and mounds of homemade playdough for the kids to sculpt and mix to their hearts content.

big tub of GAK (glue, borax and water). at one point i heard "chicken fat! we need more chicken fat!" as the kids broke it apart and moved it all around. placing it on the edge of the table and leaving it alone, they would watch it slowly, slowly ooze and stretch to the ground without breaking, then scoop it up and start again. fake sneezes and hours of laughter were also involved. 

big tub of oobleck (2 parts cornstarch to 1 part water). playing with this mixture is one of six clear memories from my own pre-school experience. i loved it then and still do. roll it, squeeze it, hit it hard, try to move your hand quickly through it and it acts like a solid, but release the pressure or slowly let your hand sit and it acts like a liquid. "quicksand!" "ahh! my hand is stuck! really!" regardless of the smocks and rinsing bucket we provided, every kid was covered in white. admittedly, so was i.

the giant bubble. surrounding each child bubble after bubble was so entertaining that i didn't notice the 5000 squats i was doing. until the next morning. the bubble solution was amazing and got better and better by the minute. joy liquid soap, corn syrup and water.  hula hoop wrapped in cotton string to soak up more solution and trough made out of a dryer vent. stiff little kids watching the bubble surround them through squinted eyes, preparing for the burst. 

geysers. every 20 minutes i set off the diet coke/mentos geysers. the kids would count down, we'd guess how high it would go with three mentos, with five, with ten. then, pipe in hand to help get the mentos in all at once and to get it going higher, i set it off. the kids would scream, i would laugh as i watched their faces and tried to avoid the spray. i never did, and a few times i got soaked (it's what i get for looking down or at the kids instead of the geyser). luckily, diet coke is barely stickier than water.


after the fair i came home to try to clean up the three days of playdough, GAK and oobleck making.. i'm still finding bits and pieces throughout the apartment..  but mess, sore legs, diet coke hair and all, i am already making plans for next year. i am not satisfied with a tub of oobleck, i have visions of an entire kiddie pool of it, so kids can run across (or sink). i see secret messages, rainbow prisms, making silly putty with the kids, more geysers, more bubbles..  what else could we do? .. it could be seriously incredible. in fact, i may not be able to wait until next may/june. our own science party might be coming again soon.. i'm dying to try running across that pool of cornstarch and water..