Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Final Days of Sun

First of all, that moment? The one I told you about last week? In case you wanted to share it too...

Moving on.

I took the camera out on that sunny Saturday because it suddenly occurred to me that this might be The Last Sunny Fall Saturday for awhile and I had better get cracking on our fall photo opportunities.

Also, Christmas is only, like, 5 weeks away now (who's counting?) and I need our annual Christmas Card Picture, because I plan to BOMBARD my friends and family with Christmas cards. Why the special interest in Christmas cards? To enrich the lives of others? To spread holiday cheer? Well yeah, that too, but mostly I am just hoping that you all will reciprocate and our mailbox will be teeming with Christmas greetings from far and wide and that my kids will rush outside each day to meet the mailman with that feeling of festive anticipation that I remember so well from my own childhood.

I think that this last year we got maybe 5 or 6 cards total, which led to a lackluster display on our mantle, which then served as a daily reminder that either our friends and family forgot to send us a card OR that maybe, just maybe, horrible thought that it is, perhaps Christmas cards have become passe?

(Gasp. I certainly hope not!)

And so, friends and family, mentally prepare yourselves for a season of Christmas card sending. Let's revive this tradition! Who's with me? Christmas Cards 2011!

If I already have your address, expect a card. If I don't have your address or you think I might not have your address (I am not the best at keeping track of these things, let's be honest here), email, Facebook, text, send an owl, or whatever it takes to get me your address because like I said, I plan to get this party started.

(Some of you are probably thinking this sounds vaguely familiar, as if once long ago I pledged something similar to this. Forget about the birthday cards already! It's Christmastime!)

My attempt at a fall themed photo shoot resulted mostly in grouchy and cold kids. We were also nearly killed by a passing bicyclist who was texting and listening to his iPod and somehow DID NOT SEE THE THREE OF US. Note my festively dressed children? I suppose they do sort of blend into the fall foliage. Still.

We gathered a big basket full of leaves because I had a crafty ulterior motive which I will share with you another time when I have more than 30 minutes on the computer. Brent and I share a laptop and let's just say it might be time for me to get my own. Santa?

Just when our toes had frozen and the memory card was just about maxed, we ran into my friend Amberlee and were treated to an impromptu tour of the UO Geophysics/Geology/Oh Hell I Don't Know They Had a Bunch of Rocks department.

They also had prism glasses. Sweet ass prism glasses, oh yes. Geology rocks. Or is it Geophysics that rocks?

And then there was Mount Pisgah's annual Play in the Rain Day. It was, of course, unseasonably sunny. Natch.

Moved by the spirit of Christmas, I have had visions of homemade advent calendars dancing in my head. We have a Playmobil advent calendar that contains millions of microscopic pieces that are eventually assembled into a wintery forest scene, but they come in these flimsy cardboard boxes that have not been able to withstand the excited hands of toddlers over the past few years. I think it's time for something new in the advent calendar department. I want to try this, but I don't know how I will ever cut the felt numbers out- they seem so small and my hands and scissors are often an awkward combination. Aunt Bobbi? Liz? Can I do this? Do I need a scalpel?

Okay, well, I have cards to make. Or addresses to search for. Or stamps to buy. Or something. Peace out.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

This is Halloween

Halloween! It came, it went. And to think: all those hours spent knitting that damn scarf for just a single evening’s pleasure. The many seams ripped and resewn on that slippery and unforgiving black and red Harry Potter robe. The epic battle of seamstress vs. snaps on the cowboy shirt. Oh yes, the fruits of all my labor were devoured in a twenty four hour time period.

The fruits of my labor, AND about five pounds of Halloween candy.


I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for Christmas.

I made some pretty kick ass roasted pumpkin seeds using this recipe. Too bad I burned most of them. While I was stomping around muttering about all my hard work going straight to the trash, I burned a batch of homemade granola. So then I just gave up, cracked open a beer, and sat by the fire with my dog.

Somebody remind me of this thought next year: would it kill us if the kids had store bought costumes? I mean really, is all this sewing and craftiness really necessary?

Also, I’m teaching a new class! NEW CLASS! Woohoo! And guess what? It’s a HOME EC CLASS! A dream come true, right? I’ve often lamented the tragic loss of home economics and other electives from our public education system. I loathed middle school math, social studies was a snooze, and you already know my thoughts on 7th grade PE, but I recall fondly the many extra curricular classes that my classmates and I were exposed to. Art, music, Spanish, home ec, and of course shop.

(Although now that I am a teacher I really have to question our shop teacher’s judgment. I remember that we made these little plastic keychain thingies, which seems reasonable enough, though I don't remember exactly how we fused the plastic together, just that it smelled really bad. But then there was that one project with involved a lathe and ultimately produced a baseball bat. A baseball bat? And then we walked out the door with those things? What were they thinking, equipping a herd of six graders with baseball bats? Also, sixth grade me operated a lathe? Wtf? I am lucky to be alive.)

So we’re bringing home ec back, which seems like a really cool idea until you sit down and think about how you’re going to organize twenty or so teens into cooking groups, oversee an outdated and somewhat grimy kitchen, purchase supplies on a shoestring, and then make sure nobody burns themselves or gets food poisoning.

Maybe the lathe wasn’t so scary after all.

And then there is the sewing component! My personal favorite until, again, you look at the logistical aspects of twenty or so girls doing any actual sewing on the few machines that I’ve managed to rustle up.

But I’m not known to be intimidated by these pesky details and so forward I march! Day one: Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes! And they were a hit, because, well, they are awesome. Also, super easy on my part and the kids loved them. Win win.

Sewing has been trickier. We are making reusable snack bags (!!) and there’s nothing like watching a group of inexperienced seamstresses take the helm of a machine for the first time. Some dive right in and plow through the material, narrowly missing their precariously stationed fingertips, while others have to be coaxed to apply even the slightest hint of pressure to the gas pedal, then recoil in fear when the needle starts jumping and the feed dogs pull at the fabric.

Then funny thing about teaching kids how to sew is that I’ve realized that I really don’t remember ever not knowing how to do it. I guess because I was surrounded by sewing as I grew up and it was such a natural part of our lives. My mom sewed all of our Halloween costumes and so, on the day of, as I am furiously tying the last of the fringes to Jack’s Gryffindor scarf in my carpool on the way home from work, I know that there’s really no other way to do this. To me, sewing and mothering go hand in hand.

I was reminded of this when my dad surprised me the other day by bringing over two of my dusty old dresses that had been forgotten in a closet for the last few decades. These dresses were, of course, homemade and I inspected them through my seamstress lens, admiring the attention to detail, the heart shaped buttons, the hand stitching to reinforce the zipper, the perfectly aligned ruffle. And then I took those dresses into my own room for a private moment and I breathed in their musty smell, willing that fabric to share some forgotten memories. For a few seconds the world stopped spinning and I held those dresses and closed my eyes and wondered what will be left of me someday when I am gone.

A Harry Potter costume. A cowboy shirt. Two boys who will remember that their mom got really excited for Halloween.

Twenty something snack bags.

So yeah, to answer my own question, I guess all of this sewing and craftiness really is necessary after all.