Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Spirit

Last night we went to the church for our annual ward Christmas party. It was fiesta themed and the food was fantastic, which is unusual. (I'm just being real here.) They asked me a few days ago to perform a song dressed as an angel for their nativity. I sang "The First Noel" barefoot and wrapped up in yards of flowing cream fabric. I'm glad there are no pictures because I probably look like a humongous female yeti or something, but I sang pretty well. The lights were dim and other people performed, there was even a real baby representing Jesus. My kids loved it, especially Gwen. She loved that I was an angel.

After we got home Asher wanted to direct a play of his own. He has seen the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, and Charlie Brown was the director. Also, Asher likes to be in control. He is constantly making deals with us. Mom. Either you let me watch a movie, or I will not talk the whole day through! That is the deal. Anyway, he wanted to do a Wolverine play, but Dan said he could only stay up if he directed a Christmas themed play. Also Gwen really wanted to be Mary and she was already holding a rolled up blanket that was supposed to be baby Jesus. And when Gwen doesn't get her way now-a-days, she screams and cries like she is on fire. We pick our battles.

Asher was upset, but we dragged him in eventually on the condition that he could "dress up" the stage. We all took turns playing different parts. Except Gwen, of course. Asher was Joseph sometimes, sometimes he was the innkeeper, sometimes he was a shepherd. We sang silent night at the end, with Gwen yelling at me to stop for half of the song.

We will be in Utah for Christmas, so I have a lot of preparing to do. Sometimes I feel like it is easy to get in the Christmas Spirit and sometimes I want to just curl up in bed and shut out the world. It has been raining, which I love, but on the flip side it triggers that "curl up in bed" feeling. There was also a major tragedy in Connecticut where a man killed a bunch of young children and teachers at an elementary school, and that has got me all sad and out-of-sorts as well. I pray for those kids and their families, and all the people who had to be exposed to that tragedy, and I pray even harder for my children's safety and in gratitude for my blessings. I guess my view of Christmas changes the older I get, but I feel like the world needs the special feeling that Christmas brings more and more. I hope the Christmas Spirit will always be alive as long as the weary world exists.    

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mr. Sandman....

Asher can't sleep.

I guess that is the problem with having too big of an imagination, he just can't turn it off. And at night his thoughts take on a sinister twist. He is convinced that his closet is dangerous when it is dark outside. He demands that it be closed tight every night, and if there is even a little crack open, he will not rest. He breaks down in tears telling me about how one time Boba Fett really did come out of his closet and I have to believe him he really ruhziques (exists) and he had a gun and everything, Mom. It doesn't help to tell him that didn't happen or it is impossible or it is all in his head. I just have to say, "Well what happened after that? Did he shoot you? Or did he just go away?" And Asher has to admit that no harm came to him but he is still so scared. One night, I didn't ever even close my eyes at all, Mom.

Last night he came into our bed and our room and woke us up at least ten times. Which might be more times or less than the night before, I have lost track. We all had a rough night, and when he should have been getting dressed he climbed into our open suitcase and shut himself in. I had to spend a lot of time this morning telling him that we really did love him even if we told him to leave our room a hundred times in the night. I had to explain how we CAN'T SLEEP when he is in our bed and how when we are tired we can't do things correctly and we can't focus and we get grouchy and mean. But always I must remind him how much we both love him, (even Dad?) even Dad, even when we tell him to sleep in his own bed or on the floor in our room, it isn't that we don't love him it is that we really NEED TO SLEEP.

I don't know how to fix this situation. A lock on his closet door? We already moved Gwen into his room, and that hasn't helped. We gave him blankets by our bed, but that doesn't seem to be solving anything either. We always say prayers when he is scared, we tell him that our house is so safe and that he has so many guardian angels watching over him and that he has never been hurt and that he won't be hurt now. He is still scared.

And we can't sleep.

(PS Since the last entry we went to the Stewart's Christmas party which was fun. I got some Isagenix products during the white elephant gift exchange. It was a miracle. I willed it to happen, and it happened. But somehow I can't do that with Asher's sleeping habits.

I also went to East Valley Mormon Choral Organization concert at the Mesa Arts Center. One of my friends had an extra ticket, and I am so glad that she offered it to me! The song arrangements were amazing, the orchestra was amazing, and the 1,000 participants in the different choirs were also amazing. Many people asked if I wanted to join afterward, and I think I almost do want to sing with them. Almost. I for sure want Asher to sing with the little kids. They were fantastic and hilarious. And somehow I missed the memo that a few of my relatives were in the choir, so that was a fun surprise to see them performing up there.

I was in the Stake Christmas choir this year. I also directed the Young Women choir. They sang The First Noel and sounded like angels with violin accompaniment. It was an amazing concert with an orchestra and everything. Not as amazing as EVMCO, or Disneyland, but still pretty darn great.)  

Thursday, November 29, 2012


We went to Santa Barbara for Thanksgiving. We were there from Tuesday night until Saturday. It was great to be by the beach and around family and in our old hometown. We hope to visit again soon. It was too short and we forgot how much we love it there. It was crazy to be staying in a house where 55 other people were hanging out... but it was mostly a good kind of crazy.

I exercised every day while I was there. I saw my sister every day too, which was so great. We jogged together, talked together, and went shopping together. More on that later.

My kids had a lot of time to hang out with their cousins. I think they were sort of in heaven. And so was I, because I got to be free of responsibility for large chunks of time. My children are at an age where I feel ok about letting them do their thing, and I have very responsible nieces and nephews. It works out splendidly.

I hardly helped at all in the kitchen before or after the Thanksgiving meal. It is shameful really, but it was sort of covered by everyone else. Mostly Alison. But believe me, had any need arisen, I would have helped. As it was, I felt like I was in the way every time I entered the kitchen. Plus, let's be real here. I'm lazy.

The meal was fantastic. I tried so hard not to over-eat, but there were a million dishes and everything was so good! I had a little bit of everything and I was stuffed.

So, besides going on jogs (and walks with Dan) and hanging out with everyone, I went shopping downtown with some family. (In other news- Boom! Santa Barbara now has an H&M.) So, I spent some money. It is nice to shop without kids. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, but they don't love shopping.

On Friday my sister took Rachel, Alison, and I to Solvang to this amazing place where they sold clothes and fabric for super duper cheap. We didn't think we would spend tons of time there, but we did. We found all kinds of goodies, including formals and temple dresses for three dollars. THREE DOLLARS. All the fabric I bought was a dollar a yard. I scored, and it was super fun. We took pictures in the room where you pay for everything. I offered to be a boy, but Rachel and Lori took one for the team. This picture cracks me up! What a fun group.

We were hungry after foraging for deals in all those different rooms, so we walked to a main street and bought pastries. I wasn't expecting much from my apricot danish, but it was OUT OF THIS WORLD good. I need to go to Solvang next time we visit SB, because it is cute and amazing and I'm still thinking about that danish.

While I was doing other things, Dan went shooting. Once with guns in the mountains with the boys, but mostly he did the kind with his camera. There were a lot of photo-shoots last weekend! He was asked by 4 of his siblings to do family pictures, and he also did a few surf/beach shoots with teen and adult family members for his and Jake's venture into selling clothing. It's called Babes Arizona Surf, and they have a lot of followers on Instagram. Check it out. We hope it will help pay for Jake's mission to Croatia. (Click here for Babes!)

We took the kids to the beach before we left. They wanted to stay there for much longer... mostly to play at the park. It was such a beautiful day... I didn't really want to get in the car either. But we loaded everyone up and headed home eventually. The kids were pretty good in the car, and we had a great vacation. For that I am thankful.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Carnival, Creating, and Celebrating

We went to "Frontier Days" at Asher's school. It is their one and only fundraiser (so they say) and it is huge and beautiful. I always loved carnivals as a kid, and I think my school even did one at some point. It probably wasn't as epic as this one. Each class has a booth. I was stuck at ours for an hour because I volunteered to help and nobody came to relieve me at the end of a half hour shift. It was fine, but I missed the kids going on the train ride, bouncing in the bounce houses, dominating the other booths, and I missed Gwen going on a pony ride. Dan got some video though, so I didn't miss it completely. We saw a lot of friends from church. There were a lot of silent auctions, food choices, etc. I got a free back rub at a booth, but we didn't take advantage of the free face painting. Maybe next year.

I also finished a big sewing project for a friend. Her photo shoot got moved up three weeks, so I felt like I was on Project Runway. I was actually sewing some finishing touches RIGHT before their photo shoot. It is a good thing my friend is laid back. I snagged some pictures from some blogs so I could show what I made.

I made the dresses on her girls. (I took a picture of the baby dress so you could see it a little better.) I also made the ties and bow ties on her boys, and the light blue houndstooth jacket on her oldest one. My friend was SO trusting of me... she gave me fabric and said "make whatever you want." I mean, she knew she wanted ties and dresses, but that was it. She showed me some pictures of kids clothes that she loved, and then gave me complete creative freedom. It was kind of nice, but sometimes I was scared she wouldn't like what I was doing. She ended up loving it all, thank goodness!

 And look at her kids! They are so stinking adorable! What a good looking family.

We also had a birthday in our family... Dan's! I felt bad because I was super busy and didn't have time to get many gifts or to plan very much. But I made him breakfast and lunch, then we went out with family to dinner at Firebirds. It was really nice. When we got back to Stephen and Rachel's house our little niece Lauren had made him a cake. The birthday cakes at their house always feature this Stuart Little figurine. I think it is a cute tradition. We opened presents two days later, so Dan's birthday was stretched out a bit. I think that is always the best way to go.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wizard of Oz and Halloween

I have been SO BUSY. SO BUSY!!! I mentioned being cast in the Wizard of Oz, but I also did a lot of work with choreography and so forth. I was at rehearsal all the time.

(Here I am in my Second Act glory.)  

 And when I wasn't at rehearsal, I was trying to finish sewing projects that were way overdue. I made a bunch of girl superhero costumes for a family in our ward. They were relatively easy, but I didn't have a lot of free time. I committed to them before I decided to do the play, so it was my fault for taking too much on. They turned out cute in the end, but I think I almost gave that poor mom a heart attack, because true to form, I gave them to her the day before she wanted to use them. Sorry Jennie! (She also just had her fifth child, so she really needed more to worry about in her life.) I planned to get them done way before Halloween. It would have been a piece of cake with no Wizard of Oz.

Batman and Robin are twins. Isn't that the cutest?

Made: Tutus, logos, masks, sleeves, one pair of fake boots (Superman's), and some wristlets/ crown thing for WW.

Side note, these kids are the nicest ever. Whenever Wonder Woman sees me, she gives me a big hug. She tells me that she wants to grow up to be like me. I better start shaping up!

I did not dress up for Halloween. Being green for seven performances took the desire out of me I guess. But Dan was Tony Stark. I cannot tell you how excited I was when he actually wanted to be someone for Halloween. He even made his own arc reactor. I am so proud. The costume was subtle, but he looked awesome. Asher and Gwen went to Aunt Amy's trunk or treat one night when I was performing. Asher was Captain America that night, hence the picture. But for actual Halloween, Asher was Indiana Jones and Gwen was Rapunzel. Cost? Free! We borrowed and we used what we had. Best Halloween ever!

Halloween snuck up on me. We decorated the night before, and then it was only because Asher really wanted me to. I don't have many Halloween decorations, so I just used the spooky stuff I had on hand and my fabric stash. No problem.

The kids have been eating candy like crazy. I can't stop them and they can't stop themselves. Consequently, they have been a little temperamental. Emphases on the MENTAL. But they will detox soon and then all will be right with the world.

So that is it. I'm basically caught up. Whew!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


We went up to Utah for the first week of October. It was in the middle of Wizard of Oz rehearsals, but I am glad I took that break. Unfortunately, I was sick almost the entire time. However, my awesome parents watched my kids in the morning so that I could sleep in and get better. I hadn't slept in consistently like that in a long time.

While we were there, we did a few things (despite my sickness):
-One of the first things we did was go on a family walk with my mom. We took the trail near her house that she walks almost daily. It was so beautiful! We don't see much of fall in Arizona, but Utah's autumn is spectacular. Even Asher noticed how beautiful it was there. He went on and on about it.

-We visited the Adairs in northern Utah (without our kids, and Dan spent the night so he could work and hang out).
-We went to dinner with my sister Tracy and our brother and his wife... and I met their sweet little baby girl. I also saw their condo for the first time, which was fun.
-We took the kids to the Springville Museum of Art. They had a strange style of art featured, but I loved the water sculpture. The kids got to draw a little, and see the big Bronze Indian. The Russian art was amazing! I took a few pictures. But my favorite part was something that my mom and I discovered by accident as we were trying to leave. It was an exhibition of Fred Howard's study of the Tabernacle and the organ. I loved the style of his paintings.

-We ate at Magleby's with our family and Jon and Lisa Williams, which is funny because the last time we saw them was when they got married... and their brunch was at Magleby's. (Different location, but still.) We met their cute daughter Jane, and they came over to my parents house so that we could talk and hang out.
-Chad and Clara hooked us up with a guy who cooked dinner for the family. It took 4 hours, and in return, he wanted us to buy his super expensive cookware. Ever heard of SaladMaster? Yeah. I was actually interested in it, but it was far too expensive, and it was presented in a way that turned me off. The guy was like "you are going to die of cancer and obesity unless you buy and use our cookware." And he somehow took 3 1/3 hours to give us that information. At the very least, that experience will give our family something to joke about for years to come.
-My dad gave Asher and Gwen tractor rides, we ate my favorite childhood salsa (made from garden grown tomatoes-thanks mom!), we watched the first presidential debate, we saw the movie Hugo (in 3D!), Dan went shooting with Jess, the kids and I saw my sister Kristy's new house, we visited Grandma Great on our way in and our way out, and we enjoyed everyone's company. We also got to chat with Dan's parents for a while. They were in town for General Conference. Asher and Gwen were confused.

-Dan and I also went to the first session of General Conference at the Conference Center. It was amazing! I had never been. We were in "nosebleed" seats, but we had a good experience regardless. Afterwards we at ate at an amazing hamburger place called JCW's. Everything was SO good. We have to remember that place for our next Utah trip.    

To sum up: We had a great time, and we are wishing we could go up again soon. I feel like I don't see OR talk to my family enough. I wish I was better at keeping in touch, and I wish we saw them more. Ah well, that's life I guess.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Life Gets in the Way

Forgive me Blogger, for I have sinned. It has been almost four months since my last entry. Many things have happened in my life since then, but all those things have kept me so busy, that I haven't had the time to blog about anything. And I feel quite guilty about it because this blog is sort of my journal. So... here goes.

 We went on a cruise. It was the same cruise we did 10 years ago for our honeymoon, but this time it was with Carnival and it was for Dan's parent's FIFTIETH wedding anniversary. Eight of their kids and spouses were there. It was fun to be on a big boat with so many people that I love. And our adventures in Mexico were fun, fun, fun! On the boat we did a lot of hanging out and talking. We played trivia, family jeopardy, and took tours together. We were at the same few tables for dinner every night, switching back and forth for variety. We walked around in our robes, attended shows together, and tried to find empty rooms to take over. On shore, we took a guided van tour to a place where we could swim and jump off rocks (Puerto Vallarta), ate yummy food, shopped for souvenirs, relaxed on the beach, and walked all around (2 days in Cabo San Lucas). It was a blast, and very relaxing. I actually lost two pounds.

 Asher had a birthday. I felt bad that we didn't make a big deal or invite any friends. He requested a Star Wars party, so I made him a Star Wars cake and some of his gifts were Star Wars themed. It was just our little family, and then unexpectedly Stephen and Rachel stopped by with Lauren and Calvin and some gifts. It was an awesome thing, because then it felt like a real party.

 I had a birthday. It was pretty uneventful, but I went to breakfast with my sisters-in-law (they are the sweetest) and Dan got me a ukelele and a fitbit. I love both gifts. And the ukelele lead to our re-do of the front room, which is now a music room. Yay!

On my birthday, Asher started kindergarten. I didn't cry. He didn't cry. In fact, he told me that if he saw anyone crying he would pat their shoulder and say, "don't worry, your mom will be here soon." He is the only kid in school doing the half-day schedule, but we aren't too worried about him. He seems to love school so far, and he is learning a ton. We think he looks cute in his uniform, and he is pretty good about doing his homework.

I should also mention that I finally got our family to the dentist. It was Asher's first trip... he was such a champ! Gwen wouldn't even open her mouth, but I guess she is still pretty young (and sassy). Everyone checked out pretty well except for me. I had three crowns put on. I was in pain for over a month. It was finally resolved, thank heaven. Mouth pain is the worst.

Besides all of these milestones, I have had a lot of day to day things that keep me busy as well. I have had a strange influx of sewing projects. I sewed curtains for a neighbor, a tablecloth for a random lady from our neighborhood, girl scout patches and mending for a new friend who lives by Amy, family picture/correlating outfits for a new friend and her five kids, and Halloween costumes for four cute girls from church. Then there are the piano and voice lessons, the random sewing lessons, the primary program we just had where I was in charge of the music (and 300 kids), babysitting a sweet little girl once and week, family events, etc, etc, etc! I feel like it is hard enough to keep up on the cleaning and the homework (Asher has about 45 minutes of hands-on homework a day) and the kids.

                     (Half done curtain for a client. I guess I forgot to take pictures when I was finished.) 

On top of ALL of that... I am in another play. Copperstar's The Wizard of Oz. I HAD to audition, because that movie and that story were such a part of my formative years. I feel like The Wizard of Oz is stitched in my soul somewhere. Anyway, I am the Wicked Witch (!) and I couldn't be more excited about painting myself green, throwing fire, and flying on stage. On top of that, I have been helping with choreography... so basically I have been there every rehearsal and then some. It is coming together, and I am so happy with the way it is turning out! But of course it is also time consuming. Dan is my hero for putting the kids to bed every night and for being generally supportive and good to me.

 So there it is. Now that I am safely on vacation in Utah, I have the time and mental space to dedicate to my blog. This is my life, and I'm not sorry. I'm only sorry it took me this long to post it. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Asher is Growing Up

Asher graduated pre-school last month. It has been so good for him to be around other kids his age two days a week. It has helped him socially, and the peer pressure has helped him to care a little more about learning. He can write his name, Hallelujah! His teachers were awesome, and his graduation was the best ceremony I have ever attended. It was short and cute and fun. The kids got to slide down a slide when their name was called. And Asher looked so darn cute in his graduation gear.

I don't think I have blogged about any pre-school field trips other than the trip to the farm, but we also visited a fire station, the Phoenix zoo, and had a few fun park days. Asher always made the best crafts, and he was always excited when it was his turn to bring the snack or share a book. Near the end of the year he started worrying about whether his shirts were cool. I am a little bit glad that the school he will be attending next year requires uniforms. But I just cannot believe that he will be in kindergarten.

Since Dan and I are about to go on a cruise and Asher and Gwen are staying with their Aunt Amy for a week, I figured it was time for Asher to take swimming lessons. The house has a pool, and the pool has a gate, but better safe than sorry. (I wanted Gwen to be water safe too, but since she is not potty trained yet she wasn't allowed in the class.) Anyway, Asher was afraid of the water, and now he is not. I took him to 6 days of swimming class and now he can monkey walk, put his head in the water and blow bubbles, jump to people in the pool, and kick in the water. His teacher was so good with him. She knew just what to say and just how hard to push him. I'm proud of him, and I love how proud he is of himself.

We took this trip to Santa Barbara...

The week after I finished that dress, our family took a trip to Santa Barbara. We stayed with Dan's parents and we visited my sister who had just had a beautiful baby boy. He was 5 days old when I held him, and he is such a little love. They named him Jameson Osa Wrenn. My sister said she felt great, and she was walking around looking healthy as can be. I am so amazed at her resilient nature and her boundless energy. If I had a C-section I'm sure I wouldn't be able to walk for a week. The kids loved playing together, both at my sister's house in the mountains and at their grandparent's house. Another great thing about going to visit so close to when the baby was born was that we got to see Billy. He is in the National Forest Service, so he is off fighting fires a lot. This was actually his first time meeting Gwen, and she is 2 1/2 years old! It was fun to have him around.

While in Santa Barbara, we also went to the carousel with the kids. Asher thought it was fun, but Gwen was a little scared. I stayed standing next to her, holding her, and she was fine. We also went to the zoo that day. We had been to the Phoenix zoo twice recently, but the kids loved the Santa Barbara zoo because it is smaller and way less hot. We went on the train with Grandpa, which was fun. We also ate at the Habit, even though we have a Habit near us now.

We went on a date while G&G watched our children. We ate at the Palace Grill, which is probably our favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara. The food is cajun/creole and SO delicious, the atmosphere is fun and reminds me of places I ate in New Orleans, and the service is exceptional. We love that place. We also walked around downtown a little bit. It is both interesting and sad to see it change so much from when we lived there. Certain stores that were fixtures before are no longer there. That's life I guess.

I tried to do some running/jogging even though I forgot my workout shoes. That was a mistake. My shins and ankles hurt for a week afterward. I didn't even run that much, and I finished off my workout with yoga. Moral: don't run without shoes.

Some of my favorite moments of the trip were seeing our kids with their grandparents... playing games with Grandpa, Gwen sleeping in Grandma's arms. I also loved how often Asher played outside. He just opened the side doors and climbed up the treehouse throughout the day. He hates going outside in Arizona (as do I) and I just think that is not healthy. Sometimes I wonder if we are living in the wrong place. We used to be outside all the time when we lived in Santa Barbara. Oh well.

One night we had spaghetti, and Asher was trying to feed Gwen a noodle. She was refusing and protesting as usual, and I said that I would eat the noodle if he wanted. So he gives me one end of the noodle and he puts the other in his mouth, and we both slurped until we kissed. He wanted to have a Lady and the Tramp moment. He is the cutest boy ever.

Before we left for Simi Valley, we went to an awesome park downtown called Kid's World. It was hard to keep track of Asher, he was like a monkey running and climbing all over everything. Gwen was easier to keep track of, because she was a little intimidated by the size of the place. We explored together, and when she found a steering wheel, she said "Look, Mom! I a pirate!" She happily played at that little area for quite some time. My friend Anna met us there with her sweet baby girl Georgiana. I used to walk and talk with Anna all the time when Asher was a baby, and I'm so glad she has a little one of her own now. We walked to her house and hung out with her husband and talked for a little while. I wanted the kids to go to the beach while we were in town, but it didn't work out. The kids were sleeping on the way out of town and Asher just wanted to get to the Murphy's house as soon as possible anyway. He proclaimed "I already know what the beach looks like!" We went out to eat with all the Simi Valley Hixons and stayed with the Murphys. My kids LOVE the Murphys, and the Murphys love them right back. Asher sometimes still asks to go to their house.

So there you have it. I hadn't blogged about it because I haven't had my pictures ready. And I still don't. Maybe I'll add some later, maybe I won't. But I wanted to at least document it before I forget.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sewing on...

Two weeks ago I was working overtime on a sewing project. My wonderful and beautiful niece Hannah asked if I could make her a prom dress. I thought, "Well, she knows what she is getting herself into. I made dresses for her dance concert when she was a freshman, and that was craaazy and last minute (due to my own busy schedule and procrastination, I might add)." Still, I tried so hard to make sure I had enough time. We had to decide on a dress style, choose and order swatches and fabric, and then wait for it all to get here. I got the chiffon a week before prom and the underlining fabric three days before. Yeah. It was another last minute scramble.

But there were a few things I could do without fabric. I measured her, made a body block and made sure it fit, put it on my mannequin, and planned the structure. I went to Joanne's and bought thread, an invisible zipper, special machine needles for light fabric, beads, sequins, and other embellishments. And then when the chiffon arrived, I cut out the skirt and belt (I just used some white fabric from my stash to back it) and started hand beading. That probably took like 15 hours. I'm just telling it like it is. And honestly, it drives some people crazy, but I really like hand sewing. It is fun. I made up the pattern as I went. I used 3 types of sequins, 3-4 colors of beads and occasional pearls. Not real ones.

I took a picture of the process. Now you know why awesome beaded embellishment costs so much. If it is hand sewn, it takes a LOT of time. If you paid someone only 3 dollars an hour, it would still cost you $45 for 30 inches of beading. This doesn't include materials (which are cheap) or a margin of profit for your finished product. You get the idea.
So, after the underlining came I was able to cut out and sew up all three layers of skirt. Chiffon is sheer. The poly underlining wasn't too opaque either. You can see in the picture to the right that two layers was not sufficient. (You can see my mannequin through the dress.) Three layers it was.                                    
I should mention that I didn't use a pattern for this dress, although I did use pieces of a pattern for the skirt portion. I altered it to fit the dress I designed. But because I wasn't using a pattern there were some times I had to sit and problem solve. You know, I had to figure out the shape of the under structure, where to put darts, how to drape and gather different sections, what should be interfaced, under-sewn, and tacked down. The times when I stressed the most all had to do with fit. I had one fitting with Hannah, but I could have used at least one more. Of course, it would have had to happen at 3:00am, and that wasn't possible. For her, at least.  

Above is a picture I took of the dress on the day of Prom. I was just showing Hannah that I hadn't gotten around to the beading at the neckline that we had planned, but it was still modest. I was having a terrible time with the zipper. It was easy to install, but it kept breaking and getting stuck. And even though I let the dress hang for a while, the hemline kept stretching. So hemming was difficult. On all three layers. The chiffon actually wasn't that hard to work with, but that poly underlining was a pain. It was static-filled and slippery and shifty. But it was cheap, and I have worked with cheap-o fabrics since I was 12 years old, so I figured it out.

Still, when Hannah came to pick up her dress, I was so worried because the zipper was stuck, yet again, at the waist. I tried to cut out the extra fabric at the stress point, etc. but it was not happening. THANKFULLY Hannah was able to get it on regardless. It was a little prom miracle. But the dress didn't look fantastic from behind. And I was sad to have spent all that time on zippers and hems instead of beading the neckline. I ended up letting Hannah borrow one of my necklaces.

Below are some pictures I stole from Facebook. They are kind of tiny, but you can see how it turned out. I was so happy that it was wearable, you have no idea. And that color looked so great on her, and the fit was pretty good. I couldn't believe I had pulled it off! And yet, I was also tortured by the stuff that either didn't get finished or seemed a little funky. The belt didn't meet all the way in the back, I didn't bead the neckline, the fabric around the zipper was slightly puckered (but seriously, how do you NOT have that with the disproportion of the weight of the fabric and the zipper?) and I would have liked to play around with the sleeves a little bit more. I think when I get the dress back I will re-hem it, re-zipper it, add beading, fix the belt, and re-shape the sleeves. When I create something, I am seriously irked until it is done the way I want it to be done. But at least it wasn't crazy ugly, ill-fitting, or shabby looking.

And look at that girl. You could put a potato sack on her and she would still shine. 

In other news, I made some mermaid tales for two of my other nieces right before the prom dress. They are actually made so that you can swim with them. Of course, I made their mom promise that they would NEVER swim unattended because I am so afraid they will drown. So far, so good. It helps that the fin is an actual swimming flipper. In addition, I made the tails in two parts so that if they felt like they were getting in trouble, they could kick off the bottom part and hike the top part up to kick their legs. I am terrified of kids drowning. But they sure look cute in those mermaid tales. And FYI, those two tales probably took me a combined total of 4 hours to make. 

I know this is a long post, but really, this should give you an idea of how long it takes me to design and sew. I am not super fast. I could never be on Project Runway, nor would I want to be. (I actually have had nightmares about involuntary Project Runway participation.) I could probably get faster if I sewed more often, but I have a life and I don't have fashion world aspirations. Don't get me wrong, I like to sew, but I probably won't sew you anything unless you are related to me or I like you a WHOLE lot. It takes TIME. And I probably could have made a simpler dress that took less time, but I want to like the finished product. If I am going to make something, I am going to try to make it the best that I can.

PS I need to thank the amazing Dan Hixon and mention his role in all this. Without his help, that dress would have been less than half finished on the due date. I told him I would really need his help that week, and he made meals, ran to the store for me, took care of the kids, put them to bed, etc. so that I could work. I am so blessed to have such a helpful best friend/husband/knight in shining armor.

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Newest Addiction

 This is the image that started it all, folks. 

My little sister told me about this game, Draw Something. She said it was really fun and that I should download it. I'm not usually a phone user, let alone an app user. It took me a while to remember to look it up and give it a try. But when I did, it appealed to me right away. I like to draw, I like to guess what other people are drawing, and I like the constraint of using my finger and a very small phone screen to get the job done.
No, seriously. 

I started out with three colors and stick figures, but it wasn't long before I was "earning" more colors and adding more detail. That picture of the Joker is the first drawing where I actually took my time. It was fun to create something kind of good in a few minutes with my finger on a 3.5 inch display. And it didn't take long for me to realize that I had a problem. I probably play this game at least 5 times a day. 

Of course, the game has bugs. And the word selection repeats, so I have drawn a lot of words multiple times. Sometimes it is fun, because you want a chance to improve upon your last drawing or try making it a different way. But sometimes it is tedious because you get sick of drawing the same thing over and over again.    
It is interesting to compare a few of my multiples side by side. 
Can you guess what these are? I bet you can. They didn't take long to draw.  They are in the 30 second-1 minute range.
These took a little longer.  I'd say 1-3 minutes. Man it is hard to get the details right on such a small picture.
With your finger. 
I actually looked these up on Google Images first (except for the "symphony" which I also normally accompany with a picture of a chocolate bar) just so that I wouldn't get lost. I don't do that often. But if I'm going to spend perhaps more than 3 minutes drawing something, I want it to be legit. 

This next picture is one of my favorites. I didn't even try to get that look on Taylor's face, but it happened. This is why I love using my finger on a small surface. Crazy things happen. Sometimes you have to erase those crazy things 5 times, but when you get a good one, it's fun.   

How else do you draw Kanye West?
I know I'm bragging, but remember, that is what this blog is for. This next drawing is the pinnacle. I cannot top it. I will never be able to draw anything better than this on my phone. It is all downhill from here. I actually found out while doodling you can run out of time, or "ink" as they call it. I had to finish the other two characters pretty quickly. I had to draw more than Captain Jack, because I was going for the actor, not the character.

So that's it folks.  I should probably put myself on a technology fast.  Seriously.
I have a problem.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Let me sum up...

Much has happened in the last month or so. I don't want to forget that I actually do things other than play Draw Something on my phone, so here is a run down with a little bit of commentary.

March 17th was St. Patrick's Day. It was also the day that one of Asher's "best cousins" was baptized. I was asked to lead the music, which I happily did. I also made a bunch of green bow ties for my nephews. It was fun.

The next weekend Dan and I saw a preview of the Hunger Games on Thursday, Seussical the Musical on Friday, and then on Saturday we took the kids to the Renaissance Festival. I thought the movie was good, but I could have made it even better with a few tweaks (remember, I'm narcissistic and studying screen writing), Seussical was fun and all my friends were fantastic, and the Renaissance Festival was... interesting. In a good way.

I had never been to a Renaissance Faire before. The one here in Arizona is HUGE. There are a million shows happening on a million stages all at once. (Ok, you got me. That was a hyperbole. It is more like seven or eight shows going on at once.) And lots of vendors were selling things. There were a plethora of people dressed up eating turkey legs and getting drunk. And there were animals to observe, rides for the kids, and jousting. Jousting. We took the kids to a show called Three Guys and some drums. Asher loves drums, which is weird because he hates every other loud noise. Gwen on the other hand covered her ears the whole show, but she didn't complain. We tried to take them to some kind of pirate show, but the jokes were all dirty and bad (the no talent kind of bad) so we left that one and crashed an acrobat exhibition. All I could think while watching them was "I could probably do that. It reminds me of movement class in college." They were mostly just juggling and balancing. The last show we saw before heading back home was the jousting tournament. The kids both loved it. And I thought it was really interesting. They are all dressed up and acting, but they are also actually jousting and competing. The guy on the black horse was our guy. They split sections of the arena and tell you who to cheer for. Our guy was presented like a villain, but he won almost everything. And when he would win a medal, he picked a child from the audience to bestow the prize upon, so he couldn't have been that bad. After the excitement of watching horses, Gwen met a fairy who put glitter on her arm. Then Gwen fell asleep in her stroller. That was our cue to leave.

Dan and I decided that we should make a documentary about Renaissance festivals. I mean, the traffic to get there was terrible, the place was packed, the culture is so strong and different, and I have not had that much fun people watching in a long time. I kept thinking "Where did these people come from?" We ate lunch on the lawn next to a half naked boy with long ratty hair who looked like Mowgli from the Jungle Book eating meat with his hands and his mother who was wearing a short skirt and sitting cross-legged. (That was a run-on sentence, I know.) There were 50 year old men wearing full Renaissance outfits with gusto and plump older women wearing corsets. I saw a group of young goth hispanics dressed up like dark fairies. And the people who worked there... now that is even more of a mystery. How do you get a job JOUSTING? How do you even learn that skill? And the acrobat trio looked to be about my age. They said that they travel around from Faire to Faire. How did they get started with that? I am so curious as to how this whole culture began and why is appeals to so many people. PS... I don't consider myself very "hot" right now, but in the fifteen seconds I was away from my family I was hit on by the guy selling pretzels. He looked like he was maybe 20 years old. It completely took me off guard because I am old and probably 30 pounds heavier than him. However, I did not notice a lot of particularly attractive people around, so I suppose at the Festival a 5 becomes a 10, if you know what I mean. I wonder how different an experience it is for single ladies in corsets. Hmmm...

Anyway! April 8th was Easter. We dyed eggs the night before, and Asher was way more amazed and happy than I expected. And Gwen tried to drink the dye because it was Kool-aid. (For reals, but with no sugar, so it smelled good but tasted gross.) I think both kids enjoyed the egg hunt in our house on Sunday more than they would have if they had not had a similar egg hunt for Asher's preschool a few days earlier. They practiced hiding eggs at home for each other, so they totally knew what to do. And they were so happy with their baskets of bubbles, M&Ms and coloring books. Of course we also went to church and I sang in the choir. I don't want my kids thinking that Easter is all about candy and a big scary bunny. We rounded out the evening with dinner at the Stecks. It was the best.

The following Wednesday we were invited to the zoo by the Martin family down the street. They have a zoo pass, so I only had to pay for Asher. This was my first time at the Phoenix zoo. I thought it was nice. The animals always seemed far away, but maybe that is because they have more land. (The only other zoo I have experienced is Santa Barbara, and it is quite small.) The kids thought the animals were cool, but they were happiest at the zoo play ground. And they had an ok time at the petting zoo. They are both a little terrified of animals, but those goats were pretty catatonic, so my kids approached with caution and got a kick (not a real one) out of brushing them. Asher wanted to be in the stroller most of the time, and Gwen wanted to run around. I got a work out for the day. And really, it was fantastic weather and we had a nice time.

Besides all this, Asher is continuing to love preschool, Gwen and I (and Asher once) attended a great music class for a few weeks, and we have been living life: baking bread, playing games, doing favors, teaching, and trying our best from day to day. Gwen is loving her fake kitchen right now, but is not so excited about real food. Asher has discovered (quite by accident- I swear I didn't teach him) his love for The Phantom of the Opera song. He lip synchs and acts it out with me, per his request. Dan is working from home again but for the same company, and I am trying to start an adventure in podcasting with my friend Stephanie. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 30, 2012

On drugs

I have a lot of things that I want to blog about, and I realize I haven't blogged for a while, but I'm going to start with how I'm feeling.

I'm feeling pretty good.

This is amazing, because for at least a year I have been feeling very run down. I would mentally berate myself for falling asleep at 4:00pm while my children were jumping on me and tying my legs together. I felt more than lazy, I felt bone tired through and through. I thought it must be my fault. I thought I didn't have energy because of something I was doing or not doing. I tried altering my diet, cleansing, going on diets, and of course I work out at the gym without fail every week. Every time I would work out, I would be done for the day. I felt like I couldn't move. I also tried not working out for a little while. No change in energy. Oh and by the way, I could not lose weight.

I had some blood work done, and my thyroid was fine. Everything looked fine in fact, except for my vitamin D levels. I was put on prescription level vitamin D and told to come back in a month or so. If I'm honest, it didn't help me much. My sister-in-law mentioned that if she doesn't take vitamin B complex vitamins every day she doesn't have energy. I tried that as well. It helps a little. And I mean a little. When I went back to the doctor he suggested giving me Phentermine. It is basically an upper. (We also checked out a few of my other malfunctions. I got my first EKG and did a lung/breathing test. Both completely normal. I still need to go in for a chest x-ray, and I'm sure that will be fine too.)

The first week, my doctor told me to take only half a pill per day. So I did. OH MY GOODNESS GOLLY I had the most energy I've had in my whole life that first day! I didn't even feel like sitting down at all. I couldn't even think about the computer or anything really, except cleaning and organizing and straightening. I was on my feet all day long, and my body was a-ok at the end of the day. I also kind of felt a constant buzz in my head, but I think it's a small price to pay to feel normal in the rest of my body. I kept marveling and thinking "is this what everyone else feels like? This is amazing!" That night I fell asleep fine, but I woke up at about 3:00am for a little while. But it wasn't a big deal, I was able to go back to sleep.

I have been on this medication for a little over a week. No day has been as good as that first day, but I am down five pounds (without doing anything different diet-wise) and I don't feel the buzzing in my head anymore. I wake up once a night for a minute or so, and then I fully wake again at about 7:00am. I feel like I am taking a rooster pill. I can also get very tired still, but then I have energy sometimes too. Overall, I think it is amazing. To have any amount of energy feels so different and so good that I will gladly take the tired times.

I'm still exercising, but I have to watch it at the gym. I normally do an hour of cardio, but these pills make my heart rate naturally higher all the time. So it is easy for me to overdo it. But it is also easy for me to get into my target heart rate and stay there for an hour. Pros and cons, people.

I am also eating the way I always eat: no soda or juice, lots of water, balanced diet with a minimum amount of processed foods. I am really liking chia seeds and salads right now. Hopefully I can finally lose these 30 pounds I've been carrying around for 2 years and turn it into energy.

On a side note, I don't feel creatively inclined on this drug. I just don't even think about stories and lyrics and creative things. It is a little odd. But I'm only approved for this drug for a maximum of three months, so we will see what happens.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Play Time

There were bad guys in a hotel, so the police obtained a package. The package was filled with guns, to help them protect the people. The ice cream shop got a similar package, but their package was star-shaped and contained swords. They needed to defend the ice-cream.

This is "Red Fire Grouchy." He was pretending to be good, but he was really a mischief maker. He kept flying around and knocking things over. And he kept calling me "Jamie."

A metal tub of mud was placed in front of the hotel to stop the villains. When that no longer worked, Yoda was brought in to use the force.

His back-up was a small dinosaur.

Are you ready to see what the bad guys looked like? Get ready to look into the face of pure evil. Or not. The choice is yours. (This is a shot of a bad guy getting stuck in the mud pit.)

After the threat was neutralized, Asher ran a race. You know, with his fingers. He declared himself the winner, and this cake was his prize. (That is Gwen's hand in the shot.)
I probably don't play with him as much as I should, but when I take the time to watch him, he amazes me. His imagination is awesome. He can take the first seven things he sees off the top of his toy box and create a world. And he wants me to live in that world with him. And that makes me so happy, even if he does call me "Jamie" when we are there.