Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Dress from a Shirt

DOB had a Very Nice Shirt that turned up with a rip in the sleeve. I couldn't bear to throw the shirt away but a patched sleeve didn't seem quite the thing for work.

So I decided to try transforming it into a dress for D1. I came across various levels of complication in attempting this, and determined to go with the simplest method possible. I used a simple jumper-type top pattern and just flared gently out from there, using the existing yoke and buttons. I sewed some pink bias tape that had been in a bag of freebies around the neck, armholes, and top of the pocket (which I moved down). I cut the bottom straight across and gave it a rolled hem.

I thought about adding an elastic waistband--I had enough bias tape to make a narrow band--but decided it wasn't worth the trouble, especially when I discovered I didn't have any elastic.

It's a little big at the top, but we decided she can wear it as a jumper this year and a sundress next year. I might have to add a ruffle at the bottom for that.

All told it cost however many pennies' worth of thread I used and took about three hours.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

When it Rains

I'm always taking my chances on the weather. I got away with it at my wedding. I've gotten away with it many times.

Today--I didn't. I know the forecast said "strong thunderstorms," but it looked like they weren't really going to move into the area until late afternoon, after prime yard sale time.

We woke up to rain. All the better. It would clear the air and be fine for the sale.

The downpour slowed to a drizzle and stopped just in time to start setting out the stuff. We hauled furniture and boxes and bags. Things still looked iffy, so I made a backup plan. Some stuff could be in the car. Some on the porch. Tarp on hand to cover the rest. We'd be ready for a quick, passing shower and then be back in business.

At 8:30 the early birds started showing up. We sold a few things. Recouped the cost of our signs.

At 9:00 the sky started darkening again.

And then, at 9:30, thunder crashed and the downpour begin. Our rain preparations quickly proved inadequate. Turned out we had an impromptu rain gauge, though.

At 10:00 we decided to give it a few more minutes.

At 10:15 we started loading up the books (which had been on the porch, fortunately) and made a run to Half-Price Books.

At 11:00 and still pouring we returned and met two guys looking for an end table and some stereo speakers. We recouped the cost of the babysitters. DOB helped them haul the stuff to their apartment on the way to take the first load to the thrift store.

Now it's 2:00, raining off and on, and most of the damp to soaking stuff is gone to the thrift store. A few of the nicer large items we'll try to sell on Craig's List and hopefully still get a few bucks out of. A few of the no longer so nice larger items are sitting by the curb hoping someone from Freecycle will take pity on them.

But hey, we got our costs out of it, we got rid of a ton (well, a few hundred pounds at least) of stuff we no longer have to move, and we got blog fodder.

Still, a couple of hundred extra bucks from actually selling some of this stuff would sure have come in handy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Lies We Tell

I think the last time we sold a house I vowed to never sell a house again.

(Insert trite response here.)

We went to the hardware store Saturday to get various improvement items. It's important, when selling a house, to make it look a lot better than it did at any time when you lived in it, or at any time when the buyer will live in it. The goal is for them to look at it and think, subconsciously, "Ah, this is a house where the flowerbeds are always weeded and the trim is never chipped and we will live with the austerity of Tibetan monks so that our house is never a mess and yet it will be warm and welcoming and smell of chocolate chip cookies."

Then they will move in and they will have way too much stuff for the space and the flowerbeds will get weeded intermittently and even if they got the house cleaned up in the dead of night within fifteen minutes the living room would be strewn with toys and there will always be a faint odor of mildewing towels. This is the truth. But when we are buying and selling it's best to avoid the strict truth and tell the lies everyone expects.

So we are doing all the repairs and touch-up we never would have bothered with while we lived here. And a few we really should have bothered with, like the counter on top of the dishwasher that fell off the wall. And a few that I hate, like using massive amounts of weedkiller on the beds I'll never be able to keep clean enough by hand.

We're still debating whether we need to repaint the kitchen or whether just removing the carrot decor makes it generic enough.

And we still feel like we should apologize to Wondergirl, because it seems like every time she finally gets us settled in, things up on the walls, (I never get very far at that kind of thing on my own) we decide to move. We made it a year this time at least! And three years in the same place! That's a record for us.

One little glitch that may or may not cause a lot of trouble is that after three clear title searches somebody turned up some misfiled paperwork that clouds the title. And it has to be refiled properly by the guy who messed it up in the first place. We hope a nasty letter on the right letterhead will be enough to motivate him to do so. But we don't know for sure yet, and we can't sell until it's cleared up.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Into the West

Over the past few months--years--the weight of something has been feeling heavier and heavier on us. We thought it was our responsibilities, tied to our backs, holding us down. We trudged up hills and down ravines but never seemed to be getting to the places we wanted to go.

We thought life was supposed to be that way; that once you grew up you stopped doing things you wanted to do and stuck to the stuff you didn't like. That you always had to take the safe, obvious path. We put our dreams in the closet and got them out to reminisce from time to time, but never considered them as a basis for action. That's just wishful thinking. Kid stuff. And once you have kids, you don't do kid stuff anymore.

But then we stopped and checked the weight on our backs and realized it was wings, tied. Doing things the safe way was wearing us out because we weren't made for walking. Maybe we are crazy. Maybe those wings won't carry us. But we need to try. It was time to get our dreams out and dust them off and work to live them instead of to ignore them.

Where is all this going? Well, one dream we'd shelved for a long time was living in Washington state. We knew our health would be better out there; and without slighting family and friends out here, we left a lot of family and friends out there, too. Instead of waiting for someday, we've decided to make that happen now. We don't know when, exactly. We still don't have the house on the market; we still don't have a job to go to. It is, as you all probably know, not the best of economic times for selling houses and finding new jobs. We decided all this just two weeks ago. We're hoping to make the move in the fall.

We are, by turns, exhilarated, exhausted, and terrified. Flying is scary when you've been grounded for a long time and have four passengers. But we're finding ourselves with energy and excitement we had forgotten we had. I'm organizing that community yard sale I always thought someone else should do. We are positively reveling in freeing ourselves from the things we had been clinging to--instead of hanging onto things for "someday" we are letting go of things for "now."

We would very much appreciate your prayers. And if you know anyone who wants to buy a house in Cincinnati, or hire a financial advisor in Tacoma, let us know.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Two for One

In about two and a half more hours, we will all have survived the first year with twins.

The only real difficulty about the first year with twins is that it immediately follows a twin pregnancy and is immediately supplanted by a year with twin toddlers. If I were arranging things, I would have planned a couple weeks off in a mountain cabin between each of those. Plus a night nanny, housekeeper, personal chef, and chiropractor who made house calls. Under those circumstances, I think I could be the serene, well-organized, stylishly-dressed, fun mother I envision instead of the stained and slightly deranged lunatic who seems to actually reside here.

But we survived, and that's the main thing. We can always do better next year.

Parents, "they" say, exaggerate the differences between their children. So exaggerate away. It's how we tell them apart; otherwise we'd be as bewildered by the sea of short tow-headed creatures as everyone else.

D4 scooted himself to the top of his bassinet before he'd coughed the fluid out of his lungs. And he's never stopped moving since. Yet curiously he still hasn't taken that first step solo--we thought perhaps he'd be our first to make it before 12 months. Yesterday he was pushing a broken toy shopping cart uphill over weeds. I pointed out to him that walking unassisted was actually much easier, but he just isn't ready to try it yet. His big, toothy grin catches everyone's eye. When he is happy there is no one happier, and when he is sad no one can scream more vociferously. He goes straight from 0 to 60 in the morning and back again when the day is done. Words produced so far include "more" and "tip" (as in "I'm a little teapot, tip me over and pour me out.")

D3 seems quieter on first glance, and yet give her some space and quiet time and she'll crow louder than anyone. (Perhaps it is only us, but we have found our introverted children are far more trouble in church than the extraverts. As soon as everything gets quiet they start chattering.) She is impelled to go up--stairs, stools, couches, pianos. Her favorite place to perch right now is on the toy picnic table, where she sits, back to the edge, two fingers in her mouth--yet somehow never falls off. Her angelic smile is particularly effective at persuading Papa to do her bidding. Words produced so far include "noo-noo" (food of all kinds), "oh, boy!" and "hi, baby!"

Monday, July 06, 2009

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Parading in the Rain

I forgot to look at the weather forecast for Saturday. We had two stops, first lunch at DOB's parents, then a large picnic at a friend's home. Before we left DOB's parents', rain was falling--not the usual summer downpour that would clear up in half an hour, but a cold, steady, all-day rain.

This probably should have been our cue to head home. I had not packed jackets or even shoes. (Why waste one's life trying to keep shoes on creatures who will simply lose them? The ducklings do not usually wear shoes from April to October. I usually do if I'm going out in public, but I had had stepped on a bee the day before and thought shoes would be uncomfortable.) But we did not head home.

We arrived at the picnic. The meal was hosted on the upper deck of a simple covered stadium overlooking a Little League field (These people have three baseball fields in their backyard. And a lot of other cool stuff which does not come into the story because it never stopped raining.) We dashed through the mud and up the stairs and then DOB left to try to park the car. The upper deck had a railing clearly designed for keeping parents of Little League players from accidentally stepping off, not for containing inquisitive toddlers. So I devoted myself to keeping the twins alive.

When DOB arrived back, D1 decided she needed to go potty. There was one outdoor bathroom. I dashed across the muddy parking area with her and D3, who needed a diaper change. Fortunately there was an awning under which the line was forming. Unfortunately there were a lot of people who had been swimming or playing baseball in the rain who also wanted to use the bathroom. There were also two portapotties, but of course everyone would rather stand in line for thirty minutes than use them. (For the record, I would have used them, but could not see how to fit three people in one at the same time.)

We all finally met back up with the male contingent of the family, at which time we were perishing with hunger. Fortunately they just then opened up the food line. We were looking forward to the arrival of DOB's family, who would help play pass-the-baby, but we were too hungry to wait. DOB suggested I go through the line alone and get a plate or two to tide us over. But then the older ducklings wanted to come and I figured they could at least carry their own plates, and then D4 whimpered for me, and we wound up all going through the line together. Four kids, five plates, two grownups. We made it as far as the fried chicken and the plates started collapsing and we decided just to give up and find somewhere to sit.

Perhaps for parents whose children also spent a lot of time on the bench, there was a weight bench sitting nearby. We determined to impress this into service as an impromptu table. It had the disadvantage of being at easy baby height and extremely narrow, but it had the overwhelming advantage of being (a) partially horizontal and (b) right where we were standing as we were about to drop babies and food. We lined all the plates up more or less precariously along the bench, sat down with babies in lap and were about to try to eat when observation informed us that D2 now needed to go potty.

There are a few things that D2 does not handle well. Crowds are one, noise is another, and getting wet in the rain is the third. He had already had about enough of the first two, and it took some persuading to convince him to try the third, no matter how urgent the need. By running with him through the mud and rain and by pointing out the excellent opportunity to select desserts on the way back, I was able to persuade him to try it. Fortunately by this time the bathroom line had evaporated.

D2 and I returned with desserts. Of course DOB had been holding two babies all this time, so he had not yet had anything to eat. We parceled out the babies and began the interesting task of trying to hold a plate in one hand, a baby in the other, and somehow feed the baby and ourselves. I managed better than DOB, but my skirt will probably bear permanent testimony to the cost.

At about this juncture DOB's extended family began to trickle in, and we gratefully began to pass the babies about. It's amazing, however, how many adult laps two babies can occupy, especially when the food must also go in your lap. We managed through the rest of the meal, though, until the critical moment when D2 tried to eat his long-anticipated cupcake. For reasons of his own, he felt that his napkin needed to be under the plate while he ate the cupcake, but in the confusion we did not realize what he was trying to do. While executing this operation unassisted, he tipped the cupcake off, icing-down, onto the filthy deck.

This was a tragedy, and it was not helped by the discovery that the cupcakes were all gone (except for a thoughtless person who had taken two bites from one and set it back on the dessert table). I finally persuaded him to take two small cookies instead of one cupcake.

After the meal things were a little simpler, with only three more potty runs to execute, a lot of mud, and, of course, keeping the babies from diving through the gaps in the railing. A good time was had by all, and a good bath once we got home.

I believe Frank Gilbreth once was asked, "Are all these kids yours, or is it a picnic?" He replied, "They're all mine, and believe me, it's no picnic."

Not even when it is a picnic.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Games Smart Toddlers Play

I accidentally clicked on a link to a book entitled 365 Games Smart Toddlers Play, but I immediately went away. I could write a book on 730 games smart toddlers play, since they come up with new ones every day. How about, "Make gagging noises so your parents start running?" Then there's always, "Turn the toy bin over so you can climb on the couch," "Dump the contents of the drawers and sit in them," "Empty the bookshelves and chew on the covers," "Swipe the crayons off the table and run."

Yes, that could be a really full book. But I'd rather not read it.

Another Profound Insight

D2: Hey! The sun is behind the clouds!

QOC (trying to teach directions): Yes. But if you could see the sun, where would it be?

D2: I know! NOT behind the clouds!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

It's Really Gone This Time

So, first, I've been trying to wean the babies and have persuaded them, with great reluctance, to give up their morning post-nap-pre-lunch feeding, as long as I have lunch and plenty of it ready immediately. (I feel bad about weaning them because they're clearly not eager to do so, but I'm also not eager to continue feeling like a sow. Nursing two babies is just not very cozy and nursing two squirming toddlers is not cozy at all.)

Anyway, I went in this morning and absent-mindedly sat down and started nursing them. After kicking myself for throwing out two weeks' worth of work, I set out to change their diapers. D3's was hardly wet at all, but I figured since she has a rash I might as well change it while I was at it. I set it aside and put the still-damp-from-the-dryer clean diaper on her. Then I changed D4. When I was done, I looked and realized one of the diapers left over was another damp one from the dryer--in other words, I had put D3's used diaper on D4. I'm guessing nobody else in the world has ever done this.