Sunday, November 30, 2008

Field Trip: Dickens Fair

Every Christmas season we go to the Dickens Fair in San Francisco. It's a huge recreation of Victorian London, complete with characters from Dickens novels recreating scenes from the books everywhere you turn. Here is Charles Dickens himself. I asked him if I could use my modern photography machine to take his picture with my kids, and he asked if his son could be in the picture as well. Please ignore the anachronistic exit sign in the background.

Marley's ghost mingled about everywhere, invisible to most of the denizens of London. At one point when he was nearby, I turned to my sister in law and said "I'm actually a little afraid of him" so of course he jumped out at me and I screamed. Here he is skulking about while Jungle Boy discusses the ending of "War of the Worlds" with H.G. Wells.

What has the elf been up to?

Duncan and his friend Meteor got into the video games and spilled them all over the floor. Apparently they were playing Mario Kart last night. The kids think Meteor probably won. I made them clean up the mess.

To answer a question from yesterday, if you'd like to play along at your house, you can get your own elf here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

He's back

Duncan arrived last night, and made a little mess of his crackers in the process. The kids are thrilled. We're off to the Dickens Faire today in San Francisco. I think Wasabi Girl is planning to bring him along.

Now the fun begins. . .

Friday, November 28, 2008

Finished for (Black) Friday

I finished up the vegetable abduction tea towel. Makes me smile. Hope it makes the kids want to help with the dishes!

And just in time for Christmas, a holiday pincushion from a pattern at Bird Brain Designs.

Join in and let us see what you've finished up this week.

Christmas plots are starting to hatch around here. I found this letter from Wasabi Girl on the table:

Duncan is the elf who came to visit us last year. Meteor is his reindeer friend. The elf wont come until he's lured with saltine crackers though. Let's see if the kids remember. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I am thankful for many blessings.

  • A daughter who still cracks a smile at my jokes, even though she's trying really hard to hate me right now.
  • Another daughter who is bursting with joy because today she can finally wear "dangly earrings" in her recently-pierced ears.
  • A son who thinks it's incredible that he's going to have four straight days without a ballet class and is asking if we can install a barre for him in the garage.
  • A husband who gets up early to make perfect coffee for me.
There have been some tears lately, and some health challenges, and some growing up moments. There have been complaints, eyes rolling, and accusations of injustices. We're a normal family, weathering the storm of preteen years.

So today, like other families in the United States, I am taking a moment to reflect. Life's greatest joy is seeing your children happy. I feel very very fortunate.

I wish everyone a beautiful, happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two for Tuesday

How many twins does it take to play one video game?
Two: one to play, and one to give nonstop advice.

Two for Tuesday is hosted by Eight is Great.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I found the panicked call on the answering machine. I had been on the way home from dropping him off when he left it.

"Mom! Somehow one of the shoes fell out of my ballet bag! It must be on my bedroom floor. Can you please bring it?. . ."

At that point apparently, his big sister picked up the phone and told him to "suck it up and wear a pink one from the loaner basket." Helpful big sister, that one.

To her credit though, she did tell me of the "emergency" as soon as I walked in the door. In the same breath she reassured me that there were plenty of loaners and he would be just fine.

Later when he got home we looked everywhere for that other shoe. We even searched the ballet studio and the parking lot. I reassured him that the dance store opened at 10:00 on Saturday so we could get him a new pair before the Nutcracker rehearsal. But he was still crestfallen.

"But mom, that one's special. It's my first pair of ballet shoes!"

It's mangled and scuffed and has not fared well from my attempts to add white polish to it. But apparently this nasty looking item holds a lot of sentiment for my boy.

I'll save it for him.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Little People, Little Wishes. Bigger people, Bigger Wishes

Lit and Laundry

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Wasabi Girl really does want a unicycle. She tried one out at a bike shop and fell in love. As if it weren't already like a circus around here!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Finished for Friday: A Real Turkey

I'm getting a little crazy with this whole Amigurumi thing. I have to try every silly pattern I find. So in honor of Thanksgiving, I present this week's effort - a turkey. The pattern is available at the Lion Brand yarn site. In my usual nitpicky manner I'll confess that I didn't have the right size eyes. I think these are 8mm and I was supposed to use 6mm. I know - it ruins the whole look. In the further interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that he's also supposed to have legs and feet. I was just rolling my eyes so much at this point that by the time I got the tail sewn on I just lobbed it across the room at a kid and ignored the feet. I really don't think they would have helped much.

Got some more shopping bags made for Christmas presents. If you know me in real life, guess what you're getting for Christmas? Try and act surprised. Pattern can be found on Craftster.

And here is the little boy mouse finished up to go with the little girl mouse I made earlier. I think the ornamentification process takes me as long as doing the actual stitching. Of course since I finished this, I had to order a few more canvases from this eBay shop.

Some of you have asked how I get so many things done. Let's be clear - I don't start and finish these things in the same week - far from it! I'm the Queen of unfinished projects, which is why I started this weekly feature. It's giving me incentive to clean up and finish some of the things around here.

Now it's your turn. Please show us anything you've managed to get done this week!

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Baby It's Cold Outside!

I'm sure this is very politically incorrect these days, but I do love this coat with a mink collar. I inherited it from an Aunt, and I'm not sure when she got it. It's camel color with 3/4 sleeves and warm as toast. The buttons are enormous. I love the whole boxy shape of it.

Vintage Thingies Thursday has a new home! It is now hosted by Coloradolady. Pop on over and see what everyone's showing off.

Don't forget to join me tomorrow for "Finished for Friday!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wordful Wednesday: Hunger

Dear Jungle Boy,

I know you are excited about Thanksgiving coming up, and I know you are hungry. I'm cooking dinner as fast as I can. Please don't eat the decorations.

Love, Mom.

Wordful Wednesday is hosted by Angie at 7 Clown Circus.

Be sure to join me on Friday for Finished for Friday. Get ready to link up your projects!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm a Winner!

I love entering giveaways on blogs. Once in a while I even win, and I'm so thrilled to have won this from Stitchado. Go look how she announced it! I don't think my name ever looked so cute.

Here is what I got in the mail today; A pad full of fabulous funky transfers from Sublime Stitching, a hanky and a tea towel ready to stitch, some yummy floss, and even some vintage Vogart embroidery transfers.

Look at this cutie, being abducted by some anthropomorphic vegetables. Or maybe they're making her dance. I love it.

Go visit Claudia at Stitchado and see the wonderful whimsical stitcheries she makes. And check out the great embroidered items in her Etsy shop. Thank you again Claudia.

I was also happy to recently receive this award from Cheryl at Twinfatuation:

The rules ask that we link to the giver, link to the original post here, and pass it along to 5 more bloggers. I'll confess I can't remember who I've given awards to before (I should have made a spreadsheet months ago - who knew it would get this confusing?). So without further ado, my favorite scribblers list will include some of my favorite twin moms:

  1. Angie at 7 Clown Circus
  2. What a Card
  3. Debi at Who Says 8 is Enough?
  4. Snickollet
  5. Laura at Laura's Mommy Journal
Don't forget to link up a project this Friday on my "Finished for Friday" post! Get creative - it can be any kind of project at all.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Of Tempests and Teapots

I know that a few of you may have missed the internet tsunami that happened this weekend, so to recap, Motrin launched a pair of ads on their website claiming that moms only wear their children in baby carriers to be fashionable. The ad for children's motrin claimed that if people really knew what moms were thinking, we'd all be committed to mental institutions. Nice. Ironically, this also happens to be International Babywearing Week, so the company's timing was particularly inappropriate.

The backlash from moms was huge and immediate. Katja Presnal launched a counter-video containing some of the messages from and beautiful images of parents wearing their babies. Conversation on Twitter about the issue became the number one topic on Sunday, outstripping the earthquake in Indonesia. Although it took over 20 hours for McNeil Pharmaceuticals to react, they finally took down their entire Motrin website and issued email apologies from their VP of marketing.

And then the next wave of opinion began. Twitter, blogs, and advertising sites began to accuse moms of creating a tempest in a teapot. One Huffington Post author accuses moms of caring more about babywearing than rapists.

These writers miss the point entirely. What they saw yesterday was not moms getting worked up about a small issue, but moms united in their advocacy skills at a single point in time, creating change through the power of the internet. To believe that these women only care about babywearing is naive indeed. In fact, babywearing is probably the smallest issue that all but a few of these women fight for. While the Huffington Post author was advocating for funding for law enforcement, another mommy blogger was working for safe drinking water in Africa and I was standing up before the City Council for funding for a local tutoring program.

Every mom who wrote to the company, every mom who posted on Twitter, every mom who wrote a blog post - every mom cares and speaks up about many issues. The Motrin issue brought into focus the potential sum of our powers.

That's what I want detractors to understand. I'm a mom, and I'm changing the world. You just might not always be able to notice.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Remember that plant?

Remember that big plant in the living room behind the chair?

Neither did I.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Finished for Friday: Amigurumi

Finish any projects this week? Link up and let us know!

I've been trying to figure out this whole amigurumi thing. I thought I was doing ok until my daughter Wasabi Girl pointed out the following flaws:

Santa's face is off-center. I told here he's looking to his right.

Undercooked Gingerbread man.

Overcooked demonic gingerbread man.

Trip to the store for the correct shade of brown, but I need to fix the wonky eye now.

The kids love these little guys. I got the pattern from the Lion Brand yarn site (I think free registration is required). My husband however, is having a little trouble understanding the fascination. He was pretty perplexed when he saw this sitting around. I can't imagine what he thought it was.

Link up and share what you've been working on!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vintage Thingies Thursday: A Walk in the Woods

This is the very large oil painting that rests over our mantle. I don't know how old it is. We love to hike and I particularly love forests, so I was really happy when my husband bought this years ago from an antique store.

The scene shows a path through the woods that opens out to a sunny meadow area. You can see the path continue into the depths of the woodsy background.

I play a little game with the kids sometimes when we're in the room with this picture. I ask them if they would continue down the path or stop in the meadow today. I get different answers on different days, and different reasons for those answers.

Either way, it's serene scene that I love. I hope my kids remember as they plow their way through life's forests that they should stop and notice and enjoy the unexpected meadows.

Did you finish anything fun this week? Be sure and join me tomorrow for "Finished for Friday!"

Haiku Wednesday VII

Halloween candy
In the hands of a young boy
Makes a great sandwich

Some Laffy Taffy
Tootsie roll, Smarties, Starburst
How did he chew it?

My youngest daughter
Let her sister do her hair
More fun than Barbie

Monday, November 10, 2008

And the greatest toy is. . .

The National Toy Hall of Fame has announced their 2008 inductees, and I couldn't be happier. Among the class of 2008 they have elevated the baby doll (fine, it's a classic, I had a few), the skateboard (excellent choice) and a third toy that has been around long before any other toy on the list.

But before I reveal this wonderful winner, let's take a look at the importance of toys. From the Toy Hall of Fame website:

Q: Why do toys merit a hall of fame?
Toys are among the most important human artifacts. They are learning tools. By guiding play, they foster imagination, creativity, and critical thinking. They socialize us and teach fairness. They reveal what we believed and valued, encouraged and endorsed, dismissed and feared. They remind us of who we were, who we are, and who we hope to become. They help us imagine what’s next.

They help us imagine what's next. They remind us of who we were/are/hope to become. Almost the job of a parent really. Toys are powerful things.

My girls are past their doll stage now, with the final expensive hurrah occurring two years ago when they got their American Girl dolls. My son still plays with his Legos on rare occasions, but Thomas and all his train parts have been lovingly donated to their former preschool. The toys they enjoy the most these days seem to require batteries and thumb dexterity more than anything else.

But this one toy, the new hall-of-famer, it still attracts their attention and entertains them every time they pick it up.

A stick.

The Toy Hall of Fame has inducted the humble stick as a tool for limitless creativity.

Dear Toy Hall of Fame, I applaud you on your marvelous choice. And considering the financial state of the world at the moment, I will use your endorsement to guide my gift-giving this year.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Books: Better when passed around

My kids read a lot, which is wonderful, so I try not to complain about the frequent library trips and frequent library fines. Let me tell you though, the fines add up. Too many books being read in every corner of the house.

I learned early on that buying used books can hold the kids over for a long time, and are probably cheaper than dealing with all the library fines. Our local thrift store has such a great room full of books that we joke about it being our personal bookstore. Our library has a shop full of donated books that often find their way to our house. Why pay $12-16 new when you can pick it up for $1.50 used?

My lovely daughter Drama Girl has been known to pick up her 50 cent favorites when we go on these hunting expeditions, but I never really paid attention to the extent of her collecting. Until now.

She found that her new 7th grade English teacher had almost no books in her classroom library, so Drama Girl decided to donate two boxes from her collection. The first was filled with excellent pre-teen literature. The second?

Goosebumps. If you aren't familiar with these, let me just tell you that they're silly scary stories for kids. The author, R. L. Stine, must just crank them out because there are hundreds and Drama Girl had a lot of them. I had no idea until she started reaching into her cache under the bed, in closets, on shelves, in the garage.

I don't know what the seventh grade English teacher really thought of this donation, but Drama Girl says she was happy.

I'm just happy to have them out of my house. Now there's room for more books.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lofty Aspirations

Lit and Laundry

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Finished for Friday! Join the fun

I got a few little things done this week; here's a pair of shopping bags from the fabulous pattern on craftster. These will be a Christmas gift.

A little felt candle mat from the free pattern this month at Bird Brain Designs. I was going to give this as a gift, but I think I might keep it. I'm so selfish. I love their patterns.

Finally here is a simple little baby quilt I made for a special baby who is not yet born. Some kind of record for me, actually finishing a quilt before the baby arrives. I don't know if you can tell, but it's different dog-themed fabrics. All flannel, so very soft.

What have you finished up this week? Link up and tell us about a craft, or a book you've read, or a project of any kind. Let's celebrate the things we do that stay done (unlike laundry and dishes!).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Disneyland Plates

I'm sharing some more plates today, and this time they don't have dead people on them. These are just a few of my vintage Disneyland souvenir plates. Disneyland opened in 1955, towards the end of the transferware era. Homer Laughlin, who supplied china for the Disneyland hotel and restaurants at the park created some souvenir plates as well, and I believe this first is one of them. It features the vehicles of Main Street.

I love the depictions of the different lands in this one. The entrance of Frontierland is still very similar, and the Mark Twain still circles the Rivers of America.

This one has the most primitive artwork in each of the edge designs, but also features some wonderful rides from the past.

Vintage Thingies Thursday is hosted by Confessions of an Apron Queen. Please visit and check out all the other wonderful vintage goodies this week.

Don't forget! Friday I will be hosting "Finished for Friday." Please link up your projects and successes for the week.

What I want my kids to remember

I'll never forget last night. Not just for the historic decisions that were made which will impact my children's lives for years to come, but for the night itself, and how we spent it as a family.

During the afternoon, I pulled out the flag and hung it on the pole outside. I pulled out the July 4th decorations and mini-flags and decorated our family room. I set the stage and set up my laptop so we could watch msnbc together.

Our family has talked about this election for months, every candidate, every proposition, and the crucial local city proposition that would provide bond funds for our small school district.

We've had differences of opinion, and lots of misinformation from their friends at school to clarify. My children are children, and so much of the political scene seems remote to them. But they tried to understand, and listened to everything we tried to explain to them.

Drama Girl is 12, and her attention doesn't go much beyond her own navel, but she was the one who sat with me early in the afternoon here in California and started following the results avidly. As I took trips around town to drop the twins at various lessons, she kept me informed on the progress of the votes. We're having a tough time communicating at times these days, but we shared the excitement of the moment every step of the way.

And then we ordered our requisite pizza and the whole family gathered close to watch the final results. When the moment came, we were together, watching the world, part of the world.

They're tired of hearing me tell them that they are witness to history. Maybe what they don't realize is that it's not just America's history they are witnessing, it is their personal history as well.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A message from my twins

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Science Fair

Lit and Laundry

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Recap

A wonderful Halloween was had by all. Here is Drama Girl doing her "Wicked" poster imitation.

Jungle Boy in his "Barrel of Toxic Waste" outfit. All I did was drive him to the thrift store to get the shirt and pants. He did the design with a Sharpie. I don't know if you can see in the picture how he made the pants into a barrel. Pretty funny.

Wasabi Girl, who dressed as Athena, shows her enthusiasm for her candy haul.

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