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Scientific Research

  • August 25, 2012 4:47 pm

Having a family is a lot like doing scientific research.

I am currently living in the field engaged in an experiment called “What do Killian’s like to do?”

You would think I would be somewhat of an expert on that topic,

but after 11 years of having this family, we are still working out the details.

We are all very different people.  Our interests and likes are pretty varied, as are our ages and abilities,

and that has kept us from doing a lot of experimenting.

Being a military family and having Chris gone a lot hasn’t helped.  Neither has having a mom who got really sick every time she had a baby. Moving from place to place, finding something we like and then moving somewhere where that is unavailable can throw a crimp in your family activities as well.  You can’t go to the ocean here. You can’t go to the zoo. You can’t eat at the places we used to do birthdays.

Now these three are gaining a little more independence, and it is suddenly very important to me that we do something together-

something beyond household chores and being vegetables in front of the television.

We need some memories. We need bonding.

These kids are getting huge in a hurry, and I am pretty sure they will all move out and move on in a few minutes,

and they might never come back.

When you look at your family, can you make a list of things that you all like to do together?  Not things that half the people tolerate, or things that wear mom out but make everyone else happy, or things so expensive that you only do them once in a lifetime. I’m talking little things that could slip into your definition of who your family is.

We are people who. . ?

We all like to eat out.  And earlier this summer we discovered we all like to go swimming.

We are also homebodies who all like quiet time alone at home, by our selves. We need nudging to break out of our routines.

I have been making plans to do new things. I’m experimenting.

I’ve come to the hypothesis that we all really like a low key hike around Canyon Lake Park.And I like taking pictures of things I love.

My Children Crack Me Up- And They Don’t Mean To

  • August 18, 2012 1:16 am

You know what I will really miss when the kids go back to school?  I will miss hearing their hilarious opinions on the world.  Their take on things has had me cracking up all summer.  Here are my favorite two from the past three days.

Jonas:

We’re driving home from a piano party and stereo is playing a Barry Manilow song I like called “When October Goes”.  Jonas has heard this song a few times, but tonight he is curious.  He wants to know what the big deal is about October and what this song is about.  I launch into a detailed explanation about longing and the bittersweet reality of time passing and love lost.  A a few minutes after I am done explaining he pipes up, “Oh, I get it!  I bet he just doesn’t want the Halloween candy gone.  THAT makes total sense.”

Yeah, kiddo, Barry Manilow really had your number on that song.

Mermaid tails for Waldorf sized dolls- made a new one for Maggie and a few to sell in my etsy shop.

Maggie:

It’s Friday.  Every Friday Bamboletta dolls puts up their new selection of dolls for sale, and Maggie and I stalk the previews and drool over the cute dollies.  Maggie especially wants a blue haired doll, and there is one this week that is truly blue haired perfection.  Her name is Winter. However, she is expensive ($245), and it’s just not going to happen this week since I blew my budget on back to school stuff and new wardrobes and a not very fun car repair.  Not to mention the fact that these dolls hit the market and sell out in seconds so your chances of carting the one you love are slim.

Maggie saw me on the computer, got excited and asked me if I got the doll.  I explained no, someone else bought her. She was not pleased.

“Mommy!  Why do people keep buying the dolls we like best!?”

“Well, we like the super cute ones and other people like the really cute ones too.”

She chewed on that for a moment, face scrunched up in displeasure, trying to process this reality.  Finally she shakes her head, mutters “MEANIES!!!” and stalks off.

Sometimes it is really hard not to laugh until they are out of earshot.

Because I’m Hotter Than Fishsticks!

  • August 8, 2012 7:45 pm

Jonas is cracking me up today. BIGTIME!

I went to pick him up from a friend’s house today and she tells me that she served the kids fishsticks for lunch.  Apparently, JOnas took a bite and said, “This is hot!”  To which my friend agreed.  Then Jonas looked at her and said, “Not as hot as my MOM!”

HA!

Then I’m sitting here playing on the interwebs listening to a conversation between Jonas and Maggie.  “Maggie! Don’t ever let anyone see that ketchup makes you hyper! If you ever do, they will never let you have ketchup again! MAGGIE!  Calm down!  Someone will see and take all the ketchup away forever!”

Spoken like a child who cannot tolerate red dye 40, and who doesn’t get any red treats because he gets off the wall bonkers when he’s on it.  FYI- Ketchup is naturally red.  I have never taken ketchup away from anyone.

I can’t wait to hear what he says next.

Bamboletta Cornrows

  • July 30, 2012 11:03 pm

Today I am going to show you ow to do cornrows on your Bamboletta doll. These make for a really funky style and are easy to do.

To begin with, separate the bottom layer of hair from the top. divide those into smaller sections and create several braids. Leave about half a braid’s worth unbraided at each “ear.”  Now- you could do smaller braids than this, but I don’t recommend it.  If you try a three strand braid, you will find that they knot up when you try to take them out.  Also, smaller braids will leave the hair more kinky afterward than a thicker braid.  It is helpful to do this layer first so you can gauge how long you want your top braids to be.  If you do the bottoms last, you will probably find that you want the top braids longer.

When you are ready to go on to the top, separate out small sections.  Start braiding at the part line and pick up one or two more strands per braid as you work down the side. This will attach the braid to the head so they aren’t sticking out all willy-nilly.

It should look like this.

Pick up at the next bit down, taking some hair from both the center and that bottom hair you left.  This just helps the braids be more face framing, rather than all pulled way back. It creates a slightly fuller look in front.

Braid it up!

Then go down the part doing the same thing.  You may want to get your top ones done before you go back and get the center layer braided. With the center braids, you won’t need to add in bits of yarn to make corn rows- just braid it straight out.

When you have your top finished, it should look something like this.

Once you have your braids complete, you can play around with a few styles.  I like to pull it back like this twisting the braids as I go.

And then I like to flip the ends up under that twisted style to create an even cuter look.  There are loads of things you can do with these- braid the braids, pig tails, the options are wide open.Do make it a point to not leave the braids in too long.  The smaller braids will leave small waves in the hair, which looks pretty for a day or two, but which you probably don’t want to have last forever.  I leave these in for a week to ten days and within a few days of being loose the yarn has completely straightened back out.  Leave it in for months, and it will probably hold the waves a lot longer.

Until next time, Bamboletta fans!  Get ready for some ideas on styles for boucle babes like this one!

Bamboletta Hair: French Braided Styles

  • June 15, 2012 2:32 pm

Today we are looking at french braiding yarn hair and using this pretty Bamboletta doll, Maggie, as our model.  This doll was created to look just like my daughter Maggie- and when Maggie got her for Christmas way back in 2008, Maggie named her Maggie, because, “Mom! It’s ME!!!!!”  Pretty cute. I thought Christina at Bamboletta got the doll made perfectly- super sweet with a discernible dab of mischief and ardent intelligence.

This style is really pretty simple, and you can dress up a lot of styles by french braining parts or all of the hair. If you already know how to do french braids, you will find this tutorial very easy. If not, don’t despair- for some reason, I can’t french braid people hair to save my life, but I’m just fine on dolls.  So there is hope! Dolls are don’t wiggle, yelp and are totally willing to stand upside down if that position makes it easier for you. As with all yarn styles, the trick is to keep the seams hidden, and the hair looking as full as possible.

To get started, pull small sections of hair from all three main seams (top, middle, bottom) and do one initial three strand, criss cross rotation to form the beginning of a basic braid.   With each new strand that you move into the braid, pick up just a few bits of yarn and add it to the three main pieces you are making the braid from.  You will want to make sure you grab them from the top and bottom- you can get some from the center, but I usually go for more from the sides.  If you leave the center alone, the non-braided part will look fuller.

You can see how I am adding just a bit with each new twist, and see how the sides are being pulled into the braid down the center.

Keep this going until you get the front section braided, and then tie it off with a ribbon or band or just wrap a few strands of the yarn around it snugly.  If you want to do braids all the way down, then keep going until you reach the bottom of the hair.

At this point, if you want to top it off with messy buns, pull the braided section behind and around, then twist the hair until it forms a bun and secure.

You can add ribbons or flowers to dress it up or down.

 

Or you can just leave it down.  I like to wrap some hair around the band holding the front bits, and then tighten it up so it forms two little fountains.  I actually really like this style- it seem very spunky, Punky Brewster to me. (Now you know how old I am!)

I know it was similar to last week’s fishtail, but don’t despair- next week we will do something funky and fun- cornrows and cornrow styles!

Fishtail Doll Braids

  • June 7, 2012 10:39 pm

double fishtail braids modeled by Peony

Maggie likes to have me do her dolly’s hair, and is forever requesting more and more complex styles, far above the usual pony tails and simple braids.  I don’t mind this because I actually find doing doll hair really relaxing, which might be kind of weird, but what can you do?  I also like to keep her dolls’ hair styled because dolls with crazy, free flowing locks usually turn into dolls with nasty, matted, broken, snarl bombs that take forever to de-tangle and de-crud. I fix Maggie’s bum length blonde hair for the exact same reason.

Doll hair is different from people hair in that is typically doesn’t come straight out of the scalp, but is often sewn in in layers, and that can make it challenging to translate your usual hair-dos, because when you pull hair from one area, it exposes the “scalp”.  It can look particularly weird on dolls with yarn locks, like this pretty Bamboletta. I’ve sat down and figured out a few ways to make some fun styles work, and I figured, what the heck- my blog readers are used to me being totally random-so I’ll just do a post or three on some of these styles I’ve worked up while doing my mothering duty.

I’m going to start with this fishtail braid, because it is quite simple, but looks neat enough to make people wonder how you did it.  I do Maggie’s hair like this from time to time.  The main trick is to take just a very small amount of hair from the back each time.  I would love to see how this looks on a doll with rainbow tresses!

Start by getting a firm grip on your doll.  My chubby thighs work great for this.  Then part your doll’s hair down the center using your fingers, and work with just one section at a time. You can see how the yarn is stitched in there in layers that you don’t really want to have showing.  There is a layer dead center of the forehead, at the “ear” and one right in the middle. On a people-style fishtail braid, you would grab a huge section of hair, divide it all into two and go to town, on this, you need to be a little more strategic, and start off with a bit of a french braid style fishtail.  Take a small amount of hair on each side, and divide the center into two equal parts, as shown above.

At this point, you want to grab a very small amount of hair from one side (2-3 strands of yarn) and cross it over to the other hand.

Then do it again but from the other side.  Don’t worry if this looks odd now, it takes a few repetitions to make this start looking like a braid.

Keep taking just a little hair from one side and crossing it over into your other hand, left hair to right hand, right hair to left hand. Your hands will slowly have more hair in them with each repetition.

It won’t take too long before you see the fishtail pattern, and all the seams are hidden under the pretty braid.  You can decide now if you want to fishtail all the way to the ends, or if you just want to stylishly pull the front back.  I like to just do the front.

Once you get a good start, you will realize that you are holding two very large hunks of hair, and that there isn’t much to cover the seams in the back, on top of which, your braids are getting a little chunky and slightly out of control. Just reach underneath (while keeping the strands separated) and gently pull the bottom half of the hair away from the braid, as shown.  This will make her hair much fuller looking, and cover seam lines.

Doesn’t she look pretty?  Nice and full in the back, but spunky and ready for action in the front!

Up next- french braided messy buns- or as we like to call it, “Flower Girl Hair”.

 

If This Kid Could Talk

  • May 22, 2012 4:02 pm

Why is it that dollies are so much more fun when they're naked?

This morning I took Gabriel in to the school district’s early intervention program to have his initial assessment.  Since he is quite speech delayed (We are three for three, people. My kids don’t talk until they start Kindergarten), we are hoping this gets him into the fabulous, free preschool they run in our school district.  It is called Carousel and from what I hear it is a really free great preschool that helps kids with developmental delays. Also, may I mention again the fact that all of these services are rendered completely free? Why yes, they are. Isn’t that great?

I think after months and months of listening to a non-communicative child tantrum five times a day because he lacks the ability to tell me what he wants, I deserve free preschool. Also a parade, very expensive jewelry and quite possibly a padded room. I’ve been dealing with these kinds of tantrums for about 9 years now since my preschoolers don’t talk. THEY SCREAM.  My sanity is questionable at this point.

Anyway, I am feeling slightly guilty because I am hoping that he stays sufficiently non-communicative before his re-assessment in the fall, and that he doesn’t pull ahead to where he is borderline and won’t qualify for services and then gets left in the dust because he’s behind, but not so behind to be worthy of help. Every time I find myself saying, “yes, Gabe that’s a fork, can you say fork?” Part of me is telling myself to shut up because I’m undermining a good thing. On a positive note, the really adorable woman who worked with Gabe seemed pretty sold on him needing the communication help, so I am hopeful.

Gabe has had many tantrums lately. It is hitting the point where I don’t even try to make him happy half the time. You see, if we go to the store and he asks for a treat, he will yell if he doesn’t get it.  But, if he is given a treat, he will find something else to scream about.  Perhaps it will be a request for a second treat, or a disapproval about the way I opened the first treat.  More than likely it is the fact that I made him put on pants five hours earlier and he is just now remembering that he scheduled a tantrum on that topic for later since he was already screaming about the shirt I was pulling over his head, and hey! the commissary is as good a place as any to commence with the screaming and flailing.

Sometimes I know why he is yelling.  Most of the time, after many guesses, I fail to understand why he is upset, and so I just chalk it up to an existential need to express his true feelings to the universe. If the tantrums don’t stop soon, I may join him.

Right now Gabe is sitting in the living room watching an animated version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. I kid you not. It is part of a collection of old cartoons that his great grandpa gave him, and happens to be Britain’s first animated feature. Apparently a highly metaphorical exploration of the frustrations born from the corruption of socialist ideals in a revolutionary, cirica 1917 Russia was much more fun than his usual fare of Pixar’s Cars.

If only this child could talk.

Soggy

  • May 14, 2012 4:42 am

Gabe is obsessed with the water outside.  I have been changing his clothing about four times a day lately because he will sneak over to the spigot and turn the hose on.  Some times I just roll with it.  The days when it is 55 degrees outside and he’s run out the back door sans britches. . .then I need to intervene.

He also has a squirt gun, purchased in the Target dollar section.  The gun was actually $2.50, and I expected it would work like a gun that costs $2.50, but no- darn thing works like a fifteen dollar super soaker, and I’ve been nailed several times a day over the past week.  Once it was point blank in the face while I was sitting here typing.  This caused the gun to be put on top of the refrigerator (the only place Gabe can’t access these days), which of course ended in tears, and then worked its way into an agreement to only shoot the gun outside.  You can imagine how often I’ve had to remind him of that.  I think he is finally catching on.

Despite the fact that Gabe spent most of the past week dripping wet and completely happy about it, I find it interesting that I cannot convince him to take a bath to save my life.  This kid used to love baths, but lately it has turned into a nightmare where I’m trying to rinse the (gentle! tear free!) soap out of a slippery, screaming child’s hair and failing miserably.  Between the flailing and the panic the entire bathroom ends up wet, and I have to change my clothes down to my underwear because it has soaked all the way through.  I’ve even done several baths without soap and he is only convinced to rinse off if he is taking a bath with his big sister, and I am a safe distance from the tub and the shampoo.  One false move in his direction and he’s thrown one leg over the tub and is ready to bolt faster than I can say “lather, rinse and repeat”. The results of this method aren’t that great.  Between Maggie and Gabe splashing and the ten million ponies and littlest pet shop figurines, this usually ends with a soaking wet bathroom and a child who is merely rinsed and not really clean.  Also, there will be laundry (every towel and bath rug in the room, plus all clothing) and I will probably have to change the toilet paper roll.  On the up side?  Great opportunity to really clean that bathroom floor.

After all this, we usually hit the point where it has been weeks since Gabe’s hair was washed, and it begins to make me crazy. I do have one other option.  For some reason, he will peacefully allow me to lay him on the kitchen counter and shampoo his hair over the sink, so when I get completely fed up that is what we do.

My mother in law told me once that she used to line the kids up in the backyard and spray them down with a hose in lieu of normal bathing.  I’m not sure if she was joking or not, but the idea is tempting.

Maggie’s New Do

  • May 2, 2012 9:13 pm

Maggie got a haircut today.  We last trimmed her mane back before school started.  As you can see from the photos below, it had grown quite a bit.  It was two inches below her rear!

These before after pics show the 7 inches of hair trimmed away.

Maggie also got some colorful hair tinsel tied in.  She picked rainbow colored strands, rather than a solid color.  Suits.

So here we are, healthier hair, waist length- can’t wait to see how much it grows over the summer!

 

A New Job Description

  • April 23, 2012 2:36 pm

Maggie at two- five years ago. Seems like a whole other lifetime.

Maggie was in my room last night, clearing a pile of notes she had left on my bed. Apparently, they had been addressed to me, but I hadn’t noticed them.

“You don’t need to read these anymore, Mom.”

“Ok. What was it?” I dared to ask.

“Just some notes about how sad I was that you were making me clean up, but I am better now.”

“Ok.” At this point, I was reminding myself that rolling my eyes will only cause more trouble down the road, so I stifled the urge, even though it caused me great pain. “I’m glad you’re happy again.”

“It’s your job to keep me happy, Mom!”  This was said in complete seriousness, with a big smile and the attitude of, “aren’t you so glad I’m making your job so easy right now, mother-dearest?”

I about died.

And then went on to explain that it was NOT my job to keep her happy.  Her attitude was her own responsibility, and that her job was keeping her attitude positive- my job was basically making sure there was food and clothing and education.  Happy was her own choice, and one she would make for the rest of her life.

Maggie had been very UNhappy an hour earlier.  She had been creating with fuse-beads (you know those little plastic beads you put onto a peg board and then melt into the shape of animals, flowers, hearts, ect?) and had left a huge mess all over the dining room.  I told her to clean up after herself, and she was not best pleased at the suggestion. There was a great deal of pouting and even some whining and manipulatively requesting that she would feel so much better about this if Jonas had to help her -aka do it for her.  I did not relent. In fact, I upped the ante. No dinner until the beads are cleaned up. It was an hour until dinner.

It was, apparently, around this time that the notes were written and left.

We had dinner without her, standing around the counter since she still hadn’t cleared the table, and she ate about a half an hour later, once she realized that I was very serious about her pulling her own weight here.  Maggie is very capable; she just doesn’t want to.

Apparently her first grade teacher has been dealing with the same attitude. A few weeks ago she asked Maggie, who had finished her work, to help another student.  Maggie heaved a giant sigh, rolled her eyes (I wonder where she gets that?) and irritably said with a scowl, “well, I was hoping to finish my book.”

It would seem this was the first time her teacher had seen that attitude from a kid, and she meekly desisted, out of sheer shock. I can’t blame her. Maggie is good at catching people off guard.  Now, it has become a major issue, as Maggie really doesn’t want to help anyone with anything in class.  I can’t blame her, really. She worked hard, finished her work and wants to go on to the fun stuff, not be saddled with helping a struggling student catch up. Maggie is exceptionally bright, so she finds herself in this position a lot. That being said, it would be nice of her to at least pretend to be a kind person on some of these occasions, and stop meeting her teacher’s expectations with a glare and a pout.

I am torn between admiring my daughter for knowing what she wants and not feeling pressure to please everyone all of the time, and wishing she would place value on mercy and kindness.(I’m afflicted with a major need to be loved, so I see Maggie’s priority of her own will trumping all else as something quite empowering). Ultimately, it boils down to being a choice she will have to make, and a balance she will have to live with. She decides who she will be, and I am just here to provide opportunity for her to see the worth inherent in those choices so she can decide with informed consent and not be at the mercy of her own selfish folly.

“Hey Mom,” she said after dinner, “You know what would make me really happy?  If you bought me that new Webkinz purple Emperor Dragon!  It’s so beautiful!”

“It is beautiful, isn’t it?  But Maggie, who decides if you’re happy?”

She just smiled and flitted away.