31 May 2009

Bonnet for Emmy

My mom and sister went to the Cities this weekend (which is what we call Minneapolis/St. Paul, for those of you non-Minnesotans) to have a sewing party with some of our oldest friends (Sorry, Kathy: I mean, you're not old. Just your friendship is. I mean...oh, never mind). For various reason, V and I stayed home, but I was sewing with them in spirit, and so my sewing machine hummed quite a bit these last few days. One of the things I worked on was a new bonnet for my niece, Emerson. I haven't made her one since last summer, when she was a wee 8 pounds or so.
I get a little ambitious, sometimes, and this may be one of those times. First, it looks more ambitious than it was: yes, that's embroidery, but I didn't do it. During one of my thrift store bag sale binges, I got myself a rose colored, embroidered linen dress. It's not the sort of thing I'd wear in public, per se (a bit too librarian esque for me), I thought I might wear it around the house. Instead, I cut it up. V already has a pair of pants from it, and I used the ties from the back of the dress as the bonnet ties here. I hope it doesn't look like I cut up a dress to make a bonnet, though. I just wanted to make Emmy something fancy.
Here's my non-cooperative model, showing us the back.
Aren't these little gathers the cutest? My inner Laura Ingalls Wilder is very pleased.

As if embroidered linen wasn't fancy enough, I went all out and made this one reversible. Sweet dragonfly fabric can't just hide on the inside, you know?

Hopefully Emmy (and her mama) likes it, and hopefully it fits. Maybe we'll even get to see the lovely recipient wearing it in the near future.

(Pattern, as usual, from Angry Chicken)

30 May 2009

Because I'm the one to call when this happens.

Normally I'm in bed by 11. V gets up between 5:30 and 7 every morning, and though Shaun and I take turns on morning duty, I still try to be sleeping before midnight. But sometimes, on nights when Shaun's getting up, I'll stay up a little later, read a few new blogs, tinker with some crafty something or other. In the first week in May, on Wednesday night, I was playing some PopCap game at 11:30 when the phone rang. You know that feeling, right, when it's way past normal calling hours? It just isn't a pleasant sound. So I answered, and it was my Mama (which always makes me think someone's dead at 11:30).

But no one was dead.

Wait, maybe I should give you some background: My mom's been having bad dreams recently, for the last few months, and they seem so real to her. They're not even bad dreams, necessarily, just unnerving: one night, she dreamt V and I had come in to visit in the middle of the night. She sat up, said, "oh, hi! What're you doing here?" And when we didn't answer, she followed us out to her living room, where we waved, then walked through the wall. So she's basically hallucinating. Weird, but then she realized it was just a dream/vision, and she'd go back to sleep. (She's been on prednisone for almost a year now for this weird arthritis thing she has, and long term prednisone use does sometimes lead to hallucinations. We knew this). She'd had maybe 3 or 4 of these types of dreams in the last several months. Okay? Are you still with me?

Soooo....at 11:30 that night, she called me because she wasn't even asleep yet and had one of these visions. Only this time it wasn't friendly. It was a ghost and a witch, and they wouldn't go away unless she stood up and yelled at them.

Oh. Okay, mom. That's weird. "I just had to talk to someone," she said. "I know they're not real, but they really scared me!" Then she explained that they weren't actually a ghost and a witch: they were short people with a mask and a sheet. Okay, mom. Just tell them to go away and not come back. I love you. Then we hung up.

Five minutes later she called back. "Do you think I should call my doctor about this?" Yes, Mom. You should tell your doctor first thing in the morning. "Okay. I'll do that."

Ten minutes later, at 12:05: "Jenny! They came back and they won't go away! What should I do???!!!" Well, mom, I dunno..."GO AWAY! I DON'T WANT YOU HERE!!" My mother is hollering at a ghost and a witch while on the phone with me.

"Jesus, mom. I'm on my way. I'll be there in 25 minutes. Is that okay? Can you wait that long?"

"Oh, would you? But what will Shaun say?" Because appearance is important when you've slipped a major cog. "Who cares," I said. "I'm coming." "Okay. I think I can keep them away until you come."

So I went upstairs and threw a couple things in my pillow case and said to Shaun, who was already asleep, "Uh, honey, I have to go to Hendrum."
"Mmm? What's wrong?"
"My, uh, my mom's hallucinating. She's seeing a witch and a ghost and they won't go away."
"Of course. Only in your family, honey."

So I drove to Hendrum, and tried to formulate a plan. I know it's not normal to see things when you're awake. I know she'll need to see her doctor. But we are not emergency room people unless there's an unreasonable amount of blood, and we're pretty sure it's a medication side effect. I don't know anything about hallucinations, but I thought maybe just me being there would be different enough to help, and she could get some rest.

When I got there the whole town was dark, except my mom's house, which had every single light on. She let me in and said "I'm so sorry, Jenny." Hey, ma, whatever. If I can help, I want to help. We visited awhile, then we made up the couch, turned off the lights, and laid down to sleep. In less than a minute, she was hollering again. "Go away! NOOOOO! GO AWAY!" Dang. It's okay, mom. I'm here. No one can hurt you. "I know. I just want them to go away!" Okay. How about if I sleep in your bed with you, Mama? Okay, she says. By now it's 1:30, and she's exhausted (we both have bad colds) and I'm thinking we're gonna end up in the ER for sure. So we lay down together (I don't believe I ever slept with my mom in my whole life. We were not a cosleeping family, and when I got sick I got to sleep on the couch. So this was a little weird. But then I, um, passed gas, and we laugh, and everything was cool).

Even with me in her room, the visions came back. "Go AWAY! They're right there, Jenny." So I grabbed her hand and said, "It's okay, Mama. They can't hurt you." And after about 15 minutes, she finally fell asleep. Around 2:15, I moved back to the couch (she snores a bit, and so do I, especially with a cold), and we both slept until 6.

Since then, she's been to two doctors who pointed out that she was on three different medications that could lead to hallucinations (hello? Isn't someone supposed to be checking on that?), and those dosages have been reduced or discontinued entirely. She's not had any hallucinations in almost three weeks. But isn't that a crazy story? It was surreal, for sure, and I don't imagine this happens to most people very often.

No one (including Mom) can figure out why she called me in Moorhead instead of my sister, who lives 3 blocks away instead of 25 miles. I guess when you have threatening short apparitions appear, I'm the woman you want to come fight for you.

Let this be a lesson, to you hallucinators out there, and to you threatening visions of various types. I'm available for intervention whenever you need me. Maybe I should make myself a cape.

28 May 2009


We stayed at the Flamingo, the hotel that Billy Wilkerson (and the infamous Bugsy Siegel) built in 1945. It was overall classier than the Imperial Palace, but the rooms weren't necessarily nicer. The restaurants were better, certainly, and it felt a little bit less like a frat-house party. Here's the view from my hotel room window:

We met a very, very tall pirate at Margaritaville. Beth tried on some Flamingo apparel. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
My daddy raised me to be a big nerd, so I brought 20 $2 bills with me to Vegas. I tipped almost everyone with these, and so took a picture of my last one. I didn't get a lot of reaction, but the cocktail waitress at the Imperial Palace squealed "Oh! Great! For my collection!" and the security guard who found my wallet (it's a long story. I'll tell you later) said "Cool. You don't see these everyday."
Here's the first round of dessert at the buffet in Paris. Eclair, cheesecake, creme brulee. My eyes rolled back in my head, and I made Beth and Mary promise to have my casket made of creme brulee.I think this is Wednesday morning. Did I mention they give you free drinks in Vegas as long as you're gambling? Yeah. So I woke up, and decided to take a picture of the morning after debacle, and then post it on my blog. Vegas apparently affects my judgement on many levels.
Later, we went downtown, which is somewhere we didn't go last year. Downtown is much less polished than the Strip, and there are fewer women in 6" acrylic stilettos. It feels like a whole different city, really, and we liked it a lot. Here's the Fitzgerald, where I won the most money of the trip.
This is in the bathroom at the Golden Nugget, I think. It epitomizes the difference between the Strip and downtown. The Strip has no signs like this in their bathrooms, at least that we saw. More downtown shots. This year we tried on a lot of stuff.My freakishly large head does not allow actually "trying on" so much as "perching upon."

It was a delightful trip all around: good food, shiny lights, kind people, and pina coladas. And the two best traveling companies a girl could want.

Viva Las Vegas, baby.

27 May 2009

I Make Books

I know, I know. I've got a lot of Vegas to share with you, and I've already been home for five days. But I'll get on that. Also my 36th birthday deserves some sharing. But first, I'm reading blog posts all about stuff I meant to say even before I left for vacation. How embarrassing!

Here's the latest reminder. Miss Susie over at boygirlparty posted a great tutorial for making your own notebooks. (I just read that today, and made these notebooks before I left for Vegas. Hence my hurried "Wait! I thought of this too!" post...not that I invented notebooks...) I like Moleskines as much as the next girl, but I'm too cheap to shell out that much cash. These are a marvelous compromise, plus I can make them look exactly as I want. Rhonda at My Handbound Books did these a while back (scroll down to the second photo), and made me start collecting cereal boxes, which is the absolute last thing I need to do in my palace of collected junk. So in an attempt to use/reuse, I made these.

These little booklets have 16-24 pages (32-48, back to back) machine sewn into cardboard box covers. They're about 4 x 6 inches. There are about three more, but as soon as I laid them out for a photo, V squealed "Books! I wanna play library!" Then she scooped them all up and shoved them in a variety of bookshelves around the house. I could only find these four. I may never locate the others again.

You can see my stitching isn't as neat or lovely as Susie's, because, as usual, I'm more of a "get 'er done" gal than a "get 'er exactly right" type. I do like the orange thread I used, though, and the paper is from Keiffer's, a local this-and-that store that bought up some sort of art supply surplus and has this great creamy artists paper with a perfect tooth for $1 a sheet. (I can make 2 notebooks out of one sheet). Which means each notebook cost me 50 cents to make, as opposed to Moleskine's $12 a pop or so. For those of you keeping score. Which I am.

I brought the Swiss Chocolate Milk book with me to Vegas, and kept a running scrapbook. As I got receipts/matchbook covers/free crap, I pasted whatever would fit into the pages. It's not quite full, but almost, and I could write about things as I pasted them in, making the usual "pile of vacation stuff" a lot easier to understand and appreciate already.

As a side note, you should also check out Rhonda's steampunk journals: I find steampunk to be an interesting phenomenon, and if I was a boy in a city, I'd be all over it. But as a 36 year old woman in moderately sized town, I just admire from afar.

I wanna quit my job and bind books for a living, but so many people are doing it so wonderfully, I think I should probably stick to teaching. At least until there's a surge in the "get 'er done" style at which I have become so adept...

17 May 2009

More unbearable cuteness

Jess and I were blessed with 9 sets of aunts and uncles. While we were growing up, three sets lived on our very street: we were never too far from a friendly snack or bathroom (though now that I write that, I don't know that I've ever met an unfriendly bathroom...). At any rate, these men and women helped raise us, provided examples of personality, marriages, and beliefs that varied widely from each other, and through them we felt the love of a large extended family that helped us feel deeply connected to our community and the world.
So I don't take aunthood lightly: when V and Will were born, Jess and I occassionally lamented to each other, "I would totally be a better aunt if I didn't have my own newborn/toddler/force of nature to reckon with." Though I was there when Will was born, I didn't get to absorb his babyhood much, because I had my own baby to get to know.
Now that the older cousins are 3 1/2, and Emmy is ten months of giggly babyness, I'm feeling much more of an aunt groove. When I see Will at school, he runs toward me at full speed, throwing his arms around my knees and squeezing hard. It's the best feeling, to be loved like that. Emmy's infancy has allowed me to enjoy the growth of a little one without the exhaustion that comes when that little one is mine. She has a mouth full of teeth, a sparkling laugh, and curious eyes that follow the blur of her brother around the yard.

And V and Jess speak each other's language. They are not necessarily similar in personality, but Jess gets down next to V and talks to her, and V listens more carefully to Jess than just about anyone. After I've turned away in frustration, Jess is still willing to explain things to her, and Jess inspires me to be a more patient Mama myself.

V only has three sets of aunts and uncles, 1/3 as many as I did. But those three sets vary widely in many ways, too, and though we don't live in the same city as any of them, I hope she feels the connection of family from here to Denver to Minneapolis to Hendrum. I hope Will, Emmy, and Jake all know that I would gladly give them a kidney if they needed it, and that I love them so very much, and I'm so lucky to be their aunt.

I swear I'm not trying to rub this in.

In 36 hours, I'll be enjoying this weather:

Five-day Vegas Forecast

Mon 103°/77°sunny
Tue 98°/73°sunny
Wed 96°/72° mostly sunny
Thu 95°/71°mostly sunny
Fri 95°/72° partly cloudy

Instead of this weather:

Five-day Fargo Forecast

Mon 70/35 partly cloudy/wind
Tue 61/54 partly cloudy
Wed 79/53 isolated thunderstorms/wind
Thu 62/41 partly cloudy/wind
Fri 64/44 sunny

The sunscreen is already packed, as are some bejeweled sunglasses. I can hardly wait!

06 May 2009

Insane amounts of cuteness

As promised, here's the report from Sunday's trip to Good Hope Township.

As we turned down the road that would take us to Nancy and K.C.'s, and V spoke up from the back seat, concerned. "What's that noise?!?" As I answered her "It's just the gravel on the road, honey," I realized with a jolt that she had never been on a gravel road before. My daughter, at 3 1/2, had never been on a gravel road.

Somewhere my father is shaking his head in amazement. I don't think he was on a paved road until he was 15 or so.
A couple of weeks ago, I was telling V a story about before she was born. I said "When I was pregnant with you, we had our wood floors refinished, and that's when we got rid of our piano."
She sat up straight in her car seat and said "What?"
"Oh, yeah," I said. "Didn't I tell you? We used to have a piano. But we gave it away."
She burst into tears. "Why did you do that?" she asked between sobs. The only way I could calm her down was to remind her that Nancy had a piano and we could come and visit, if we liked.
So on Sunday, the first thing she wanted to see was the piano.
Though it was sunny and lovely outside, it was tough to tear her away from the piano, even though she has a great hat. Here she is by Fej, looking very 1920's Cabana-y.
Finally it was kitty time. Here is V holding her first ever baby kitty.
She's not sure if she likes it or not.
Here's the pile of kitty goodness. 13 in all, from two or three different mamas. They are new and tiny and so adorable it made my skin hurt to look at them.

Shari quickly fell in love...
As did Crystal. It was funny how we each gravitated immediatedly towards different kittens. Meanwhile, Ramona watched the festivities, obediently waiting outside the barn where the baby kitties were, playing fetch with a yellow ball, and finding deep muddy water somewhere to wade in. We've all known Ramona since she was just a puppy herself.

As a grown up labradoodle, she's the perfect size for V to ride on now, if we could just locate ourselves a labra-saddle.
Finally, the main reason for this little shin-dig (aside from lovely weather, baby kitties, pianos, and a strong desire to avoid grading): Nancy and KC's new pupdog.
He's 9 weeks old, and he REALLY makes my skin hurt. He's got these beautiful gray-green eyes, and he follows anyone anywhere, and he loves to be held.
We brainstormed names, including Jasper, Rufus, Scooter, Skeeter, Skeetch, Darl...But I think they've decided on O'Riley. Riley O'Riley Hanson. As cute as puppies get.

03 May 2009

Whatcha makin'?

So my kid is 3 1/2, which means in theory she should be in 3-4T clothes. But those sizes companies assign to clothes? Misleading at best, and in our case, plain old wrong. V's waist fits perfectly in 2T pants. But her legs are at least 4T, 5T in most pants. Which means she either wears high-water capris, or she has to constantly hike her pants back up over her non-existent hinie.

What's a mother to do? Why, make some V sized pants, of course. I used the tutorial here.

Here she's climbing on the monkey bar shadow (I like how her brain works) wearing some denim-weight pants with cute owls and leaves. The fabric is from the juvenile dept. at JoAnns.
Next: capris. I actually made about 8 pairs before these, and the ribbon made my brain hurt (but it's not hard, really). But since summer is coming, it just had to happen. The fabric is from the 99 cent bin at Mill End, and has a smooth side and a slightly less smooth side. I put the smooth side out.
See? No hinie.
These are today's pants. These were the easiest ones yet: made from a butter yellow linen skirt, I just cut out the pieces with the hem intact.

Comfortable, long enough, and no need for hoisting up. What else could a girl want?

Oh, right. An ICEE.

We're off to visit a friend in the country this afternoon. There are baby kitties, we're told. Prepare for upcoming cuteness overload.