boys have birthdays too

and eve knows that because her daddy has a birthday and she remembers when charlie came out of my tummy, and that was his first birthday ever. but he was zero, which is a little funny. 

so, because they have them too and because i believe in the glory of two-in-one, we now celebrate birthdays with this banner. one side for the girls. one side for the boys. or if the kids decide to break free of the gender-specific color regime, they get to choose whichever side they like the best. either way, this thing is going to be around forever. i love thinking of hanging the banner up 10 years from now when these exact shades and designs are decidedly out of fashion and the kids think it's so ugly, but love it still. because it is tradition, and you can't help but love tradition. 

if you don't already have your own and are thinking of the awesomeness of reversibility and segregating colors, this is a fun project. great for using up fabric already in your stash, in fact, i like this so much more knowing i used only what was on hand. and even though it sat in the "almost finished" pile nearly a year, it really is quick. especially if you sew the triangles, wrong sides together, and use pinking shears on the edges rather than spending the time turning each right side out, which i'm happy with, but am not sure was worth it when pinked edges are fun too. and faster. 

. . .

things are most likely going to be calm around here for the next week or so. i've got my hands full watching over little charlie as he recovers from a terrible burn on his left hand. my chest is tight with guilt just thinking about his sad bandaged hand. i will never doubt his determination or strength again. nor will i assume that trains and a chair barrier are enough to distract him from the heat pipe of his desire while i wash my face. as i was waiting with him in cornell's burn unit, clowns came in to cheer the room up. people laughed. a lot. but i couldn't look at them, it was too sweet and right and made me want to cry for little charlie, that we were in a place where clowns come to cheer up the sad and broken. but i was so grateful all the same. people are awesome. 

(and so were your treat suggestions! it's almost scary how many delicious things there are to shove in my mouth. . . i haven't stopped dipping my apples in honey since jackie suggested it and i can't wait to get going on all the other favorites. but slowly. because charlie and his paw need more attention than my belly. . .) 


i wanted banana cream pie

so, lately the law around here has been: have a craving, satisfy it as quickly as possible. really great in some ways. really not great in others. happily for me, i don't own a scale. but i do own skinny jeans. which, come to think of it, are definitely scarier than a scale. i should really considering changing the law soon. . . 

i digress.

last week i wanted banana cream pie. but didn't have patience for the 10+ hours of time the pie requires. so, this is what i ate intsead: 

a pretty great substitute. it isn't pie, but it's something sweet and fast. graham cracker, slices of banana topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream. i think we've eaten it two or three times since and everyone is a fan.

and then there was the time when i wanted cheesecake. or chocolate. clearly a cheesecake wasn't happening, and the chocolate just wasn't doing it. so, i melted the chocolate (70% cacao bittersweet. i like dark.) and beat in cream cheese. berries to dip and, oh my word. it really was like eating chocolate cheesecake. but maybe even better because it took two minutes. the blueberries were especially awesome with the super dark mixture. it wasn't sweet enough for the girls, maybe a 60% cacao would have been a better bet for them, and chip isn't a big chocolate fan. but i loved it.

the time will soon come when i care about fitting into my pre-charlie skinny jeans and these quick, sweet treats will have to be forgotten about. but now is not that time. in fact, now i'm very very interested in your quick treats, because your old favorite just might become my new favorite! (and for you good souls who have only quick healthy "treats" to share, don't hold back. heaven knows, i need those too. . .)  thanks for sharing, i'm excited! 


unrelated business:

some of you have mentioned bloglines (and other feed readers) not keeping up to date with my blog. that's my fault. kind of a long story involving me jiggerring with some things that had more impact than intended. if you happened to come visit even though your reader tells you it has been five weeks since i updated, i'm so glad, it is great to have you here! in order to be kept up to date you will need to re-subscribe, and everything should be good . . . now,  back to the good stuff: what are your favorites? 


five! five! FIVE!


this little love is FIVE today. i can remember being five. i got a tea set, loved my rainbow-sleeved shirt-tails shirt and had my first official friends birthday party. what will eve remember from this day? will it be riding daddy's shoulders to school? waking up with the birthday banner (finally) finished and displayed in her honor? ruthie shouting over and over and over "it your birthday, eve! it your birthday!!"? maybe she'll remember her baby brother swatting at the shower curtain, trying to get in with her and soaking himself in the process. she might remember me sewing her birthday shirt seconds before she needed to leave (and minutes after). possibly she'll remember sitting on our bed opening birthday cards (cards in the morning, presents at night) from her dear family. she might remember her own disbelief "am i really five now? really? five?" or she may remember none of it. but i will remember. i will remember rushing and sewing her shirt to help make her special day just a little more special. i will remember ruth and charlie and chip slowing our usual morning routine to celebrate. i will remember looking at this big, beautiful little girl and feeling about her now the way i felt the moment she was brought into view and placed on my chest. absolute amazement. i will remember sitting here typing, my eyes stinging as i think of how much this little one is to me, to our family. she is our first. the protector, the encourager, the comforter. she has so much growing to do, so much to learn and be. but for now i will not think of that. i will freeze time and sit in awe as i think that she has been ours for five years. . .five years. . .

and then i will get busy. because this one is also a taskmaster. banana cupcakes to bake, crowns to cut out, goodie bags to tie for our class celebration this afternoon and then there is the dinner to prepare, rainbow cake to assemble and gifts to wrap for our family celebration tonight. we'll see how much happens. regardless, we'll be having a fun day. the perfect day. just like five years ago. 

the birthday shirt with the number eve is now thrilled to claim as her very own, thanks to my recently re-united best friend; freezer paper. disregard non-ironed back. and wet, messy hair. there's only so much a sentimental procrastinator can get done on a great morning like this. . . happy friday the 13th! (clearly, always a lucky day around here).


this girl


she is so funny and so very loud. so crazy and free. she spins and falls then spins again. she climbs and jumps and would swing all day if you let her. she can never choose, but when she does she will change her mind exactly five seconds later. she tries to ride on her baby brother at least once a day. she covers her ears when she is nervous and giggles and laughs the happiest laugh when her world is right. she will threaten to "never ever play with unicorns again" when you've wronged her. she lays down on banks of snow and daintily pretends to be a mermaid. she talks to herself in quiet, high voices and booming low ones. she wishes she could vote for eve for president. while getting ready to cross the street she tries to hold her own hand for safety. she is sneaky and fast and stubborn. she does what she wants to do and when questioned always has a sound explanation. rainbow, snowflakes and pink are her three favorite colors. she wears her blue tutu everyday and is startlingly good at shaking her hips. she will put almost anything in her mouth, or at least give it a good lick. whatever the group, she's a part of them but when she's done, she's done and moves on without a care. she is terrorized by the sun in her eyes and tortured by the cold of winter and heat of summer. she sneaks the phone and tries to watch episodes of backyardigans during church. she is charming and almost always loved instantly. she growls and bares her teeth when fighting with eve. she whispers secret plans and (three-year-old) naughty words. when she gets big she wants to be a doctor and then a mommy and then a princess named cinderelly. she loves her sister and her daddy. and charlie and mommy too. she makes us laugh and shake our heads every day. she is our little three-and-a-half-year-old ruthie. and today she learned that rats make nests too. 



art shirt/ failing my daughter

sometimes the things i make don't work out the way i have planned, which is great. in fact, it's the way i prefer to operate; the unforseen adjustments and even mistakes are a part of my process. a different fabric is chosen, a piece is added here, a cut, a pleat, a stitch or a button there. . . or it is all eliminated and simplicity reigns. in the end, the result is so much better than the original idea, than the original sketch. 

this is not an example of that happening. . . a cute little white shirt with gathered sleeve, tiny orange ribbon to tie in back and - to make her love it - a tansfer of eve's very own artwork. perfect idea, right? i thought so, but it didn't work out. my floor is burned (i'm an idiot), the transfer is weak. so weak that i pulled out the sharpie to fill in some of the most glaring gaps- a desperate low. and for the first time since the apron i made her when she was two, eve doesn't like it. she saw it and decided she doesn't want to wear it. ever. "it's supposed to be blue at this part, but it's white! where's the green i colored, mom?! i think you didn't do it right!" i agree. 

but, despite my apparent lack of iron-on transfer skills, i'm really good at reverse psychology. and bribing. the shirt was agreeably worn to school and at the end of the day eve reported that both julian and brody liked it. and if julian likes it, everyone likes it. especially eve. first he introduced pokemon, then "dude!" and now he has restored my daughter's faith in me.

i might put a proper hem on the shirt after all. and then experiment with the iron-on transferring, it shouldn't be that hard, should it?


R dress


if there is an "R" anywhere in sight ruthie will find it. "that my letter!" "R! R!" finding her very own letter makes her hour, and hearing that little voice shout in glee makes mine. 

two years ago (three?) when eve was little(r) i decided it was time to start making the dresses i had floating around in my head. a dress a lot like this was the first thing i made. eve wandered around brooklyn, twirling and showing off her letter E with pride. last year ruthie started trying to wear that dress. she would complain about the E not being her letter. i would complain as i tried to pull the dress closed over ruthie's belly (these littles have such different bodies). . .  no more complaining! out came the muslin, the freezer paper and fabric paint, and yesterday my littlest girl got a dress just right for her. now she can always find her very own letter, even in the off chance that we find ourselves without the signs and graffiti of the city to search. 



clothes for (fake) babies

eve's teacher is every parent's dream; fun, smart, kind, engaging and so funny. she is also resourceful. in a school system dealing with horrendous cuts to an already insufficient budget, she manages, piece by piece, to get everything their little classroom needs. mostly through the incredible donorschoose.org. "teachers ask. you choose. children learn" such a valuable tool- both for teachers and for those who would like to give to the cause of education.

the most recent result of people's generosity through donorschoose.org is a group of four baby dolls that live in the dramatic play area of the classroom. clad only in diapers, these babies were in some serious need of coverage (and really, isn't the best part of playing with dolls the dressing and the undressing?). so, out of the scrap pile these four outfits were born. 





if you are looking to achieve super hero status among the group of girls in your daughter's pre-k class, make outfits for their dolls. they will look at you in wonder. they will love you. they will ask if you can make dresses for them. your daughter will squeeze your hand in appreciation and pride. you will be embarrassed by the amount of attention you are getting from these 4-year-olds. . . but not too embarrassed because, man, feeling like a super hero for a few minutes is fun.  


++eve would like to make it clear that these pictures are all of the same doll. the four dolls in the classroom are a much more accurate reflection of the diversity of the students. 

++ thanks to all of you for your concern and good wishes toward our little family. it is wonderful to be surrounded by so many kind and incredible people. we are all well and very thankful to be so. thank you, again! 


monday evening

after eight years in new york it finally happened. we got mugged. it was different than i imagined. i never imagined it happening in the daylight. i never imagined a mugger in his 40s. and i never imagined it happening while my kids played games around our feet.

i stared at his painted-on beard, at the upper lip filling the gaps where his teeth should have been, at his long brown coat, at the half smoked cigarette in his left hand as his right held the partially concealed revolver. he needed money. he had kids. he loved kids. our kids were beautiful. he didn't want to hurt them. he didn't want to shoot us. but he had $900 rent due. he needed $900. he wouldn't go to a shelter. he wouldn't put his kids on the street. he needed $900. please. he didn't want to kill our kids. he loves kids. 

i searched my pockets. i had $0.75, maybe $0.80. i had a $20 watch. i took it off and handed it over. he didn't want change. he needed $900. what were we going to do for him? he had no choice. i fished some more. another quarter. chip shifted charlie and pulled out his wallet. i stared at that beard. was it shoe polish? was it a disguise or just to look good? was that gun real? it looked too small to be real. i was calm. i calmly told him to chill out. but i was also irritated, really irritated. chip handed over the wallet, empty of cash, full of credit cards and id's. i wanted the id. he would mail it to us. i wanted to get it now, i didn't think he didn't need my husband's license. he'd put it in the mail. i persisted. he raised his voice. don't push it, lady. i didn't. my hands went up. he told us to go to our apartment. "go inside mama." he didn't want to hurt no one. he just wanted to go. we just wanted it to be over. it finally was. 

i went inside to cancel credit cards. chip pulled out his phone to call 911. "no! you only call 911 if there's an emergency!" eve cried. they had no idea what had just happened as they giggled and played and we talked with the man in the doorway.

i always imagined being scared, too scared to scream, too scared to think. but i wasn't. strangely, i was not scared at all, only irritated. maybe because chip was at my side or maybe because the man kept shifting his body so the girls wouldn't see the gun. maybe because he seemed affected, almost tortured when he first saw eve's face. maybe i believed him. or maybe i've been in new york long enough. or maybe i just couldn't believe what was happening, that his man was mugging a family of five, my family of five. 

police came, chip went to the precinct, detectives were assigned. i dreamt about him all night and awoke remembering every detail of his face. i left to the suburbs for a happily pre-planned overnight stay. chip got a call at work. a kind stranger found his wallet and called his credit card companies to contact him. everything was there, except the metro card and his driver's license. maybe the mugger put it in the mail after all. or maybe he took it out to spite me. . . who knows. 

how's that for heavy fare? but, after the many many talks with the girls about the choices we make, taking responsibility for those choices and controlling our emotions, we're back to our usual business. . . like making a scarf in commemoration of our group mugging experience. one four inch wide strip cut from black and white striped knit and wrapped around neck. not one stitch of sewing. i'm certain i made this in less time than the mugging lasted. . and don't worry, the girls don't know what this is "in memory of," that's my little secret. . .


arrows and (more) hearts

let's face it, valentines without candy aren't much use to kids. but, we're giving it a go anyway. with a little felt and a lot of help from eve, bracelets were made for the classmates. will they be passed by as the greedy little hands search for more pink laffy taffy? probably. but i remain hopeful that these little bracelets will find a home on the little four-year-old wrists at some point. the arrows should lure in the danger seeking boys while bright pink hearts are like a siren's song to this group of little girls.  

for the girls


for the boys


eve was busy cutting out hearts and addressing the cards while i trimmed her edges, rounded corners, and sewed pink and red buttons for the bracelet closure. we both "threaded" the hearts/arrows on the bands and eve took particular care assigning each friend a specific bracelet. she amazed me over and over again with remembering the assignments perfectly (i tried to trick her). . .  a quick project that should complement the kit kat (oh, i hope there are kit kats) and m&m hands. 

happy valentine's day to everyone! and to those celebrating president's day, enjoy the long weekend! we'll be making our log cabin cake in honor of mr. lincoln and enjoying some long overdue time together. 



hearts in their hair


because they are little girls who love to talk in high voices and wear high shoes. and because no matter how foul the mood brewing between their little eyebrows, when given a heart- any heart- their world becomes warm and bright and magical again. ponies, unicorns and princesses return and they are back to the work of rescuing us all from the ever present danger of hot lava.

and because if you're going to wear a garland of bright pink felt circles and hearts in your hair, this is the week to do it, right?


i took pictures of the girls after writing the above. turns out hearts on the head are not the cure for everything, especially for a mom who won't stop taking pictures of girls who have better things to do. . .