Sunday, August 30, 2009

Movie Night

Sometimes, when I start planning parties, I get so excited that there's no way I won't end up disappointed. Did not happen at backyard movie night. It was absolutely more fun that I anticipated. A perfect summer evening, great friends--old & new, lots of kids running around and terrible, terrible food (in the best way possible).

[I'm going to go into a wee bit of detail about the how-tos of movie night, because when we started planning we had a really hard time figuring out how to pull it off. Hopefully people thinking about planning their own backyard movie night will find some of this stuff useful.]

We covered the lawn in quilts and pillows, but designated a couple of chairs for the preggos in the audience because when I was pregnant, if someone had proposed that I sprawl my ass on a picnic blanket I would have killed them with my mind.

I made signs because apparently I don't have enough to do with my time.

I put up the tent and stocked it with art supplies & flashlights. I didn't know how the kids would do with the movie (Princess Bride), so I wanted them to have options. Those people are the lovely Kinkaid family. Steve is my oldest friend in the world. We can go five years without seeing each other, but pick up right where we left off. We last saw them at their wedding. Now they have TWO KIDS! It just blows my mind that we're all becoming grown-ups with kids and mortgages and blood pressure medication. Blows. My. Mind.

Isn't that nice? Toddler drive-by.

Uncle Bobby as wax figure.

My friends are gorgeous. And smart. And funny. Don't you wish they were your friends, too?

All babies hate me, except for this one. That's why he's my favorite.

Here's the food set-up. I hung the pirate flag in homage to the Dread Pirate Roberts.

I got these food containers from a restaurant supply store. I thought they'd be easier to manage than regular plates since we'd be eating on picnic blankets.

The menu was Dodger Dogs (did you know you could buy these to make at home? we normally eat nitrate-free, uncured turkey dogs, but sometimes you just need to eat the grossest, most delicious dog ever, and a Dodger Dog fits the bill), popcorn (cutest bags in the universe from here) with seasoning mixes I made up with Martha's guidance...

...tortilla chips with pickled jalapenos & that disgusting, delicious, crack-like nacho cheese in a can. I kept it warm in a fondue pot because I am klassy. Plus assorted candy in the form of Red Vines, Skittles, fun-sized chocolates...

...and cupcakes. Always cupcakes.

I designed Princess Bride-related cupcake picks. Because I don't know when enough is enough. This one is my favorite.

Although this one is pretty cute.

I feel pretty clever about this one.

This one was a hit with the kids. Because cleverness is wasted on them.

(If you want to throw a Princess Bride-themed movie night your own self, you can download the cupcake pick images here. Just print onto an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of cardstock, cut out & tape onto toothpicks.)

We were planning on renting a projector, but it would've ended up costing us about $175 plus shipping. So we scoured Ebay & found a used school projector for $200. In addition to a projector, you'll need a dvd player (we had an extra one in the garage) and a pair of speakers (again, sometimes it pays to marry someone who refuses to Freecycle old electronic equipment).

The screen was two vinyl shower curtain liners that Josh tacked up on nails. In this pic it's just halfway up so people can still get in & out that door. Once the movie started we corraled people through another entrance to the house.

We were all having too much fun to take any pictures during the eating & movie parts. But here's the warning we got from the cops when they came at 9:30 pm. On a Saturday. You could tell that they were embarrassed by the whole thing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

And then...

He went to the dentist! Like a person! I don't think I can take any more.

Pencil (Head) Case

Today was Dash's first day of pre-K and I am absolutely wrung out by it. Even though it's at the same school he's attended for a year. Even though it's with a teacher he's had before and absolutely adores. Even though he'll be with his best friends. Even though he's only 3 1/2 and will have to repeat the entire class before it's time for kindergarten. Despite everything, I'm sitting here weepy and a mess. And I know why. It's the pencil case.

They sent a note home from school asking parents to assemble a personalized pencil case for new pre-Kers. They want to teach the kids to be responsible for their own tools; to take ownership of something and be held to account for it. And I am in full support. I love the idea that he will finally start to learn that he, and he alone, must manage his most important belongings. That it's not Mama's job to remember every detail of his life and anticipate his every whim. Honestly (I tell myself), it'll be a giant relief.

Except. Except it's another small step away from us. Another assertion of independence. Another thing to learn that will make us slightly less necessary.

I embrace it, of course. I am thankful to be able to give him these small gifts of liberation that will add up eventually (more quickly than I'll be ready, I am guessing) to self-reliance. I want nothing more than for him to grow into the kind of kid, teenager and adult that can manage his life and its contents. I want him to be able to trust himself to take care of business.

But still. My heart is a little broken today. Another little piece of my baby is gone, replaced by a boy. A boy with a pencil case.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Making for Other People's Babies

Before I begin I would like to say that if your name rhymes with Shmustine, Hit the bricks, sister. Nothing for you to see here.

OK, now on to the post.

I have three things to report today.

1. It's Dash's little friend's birthday. I made him a cape just like the one I made Dash for Christmas. Except with a C for Cameron, which is his name. Because if I did it with a D, that wouldn't make a ton of sense.

These capes are incredibly satisfying to make. Not too much trouble, but I think they really are lovely and Dash has started to really love his (6 months later).

Also, they carry with them the gift of flight. On an airplane. As long as you have a ticket.

2. Craft Hope 4 is asking for sock monkeys for young burn victims through the Firefighters Burn Institute & their Little Heroes Preschool Burn Camp. You know, I know I usually do a big spiel here about Craft Hope, but today, I can't. My heart is so broken thinking about babies who have suffered burns that I just start crying when I think about it. I'm crying now. I swear to God. Please, if you have the means, make a sock monkey. They're not that hard and you'll feel incredibly accomplished after. Also, hurt babies will love them and that's really all anyone needs to know.

Mort & Saul

3. Finally, finally, my girls are starting to have some babies. Our first one is due in November and I made him a quilt. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be making him an insane number of baby things because I have been waiting THREE YEARS for someone to hurry up and HAVE A BABY around here. I have a lot of pent up baby crafting to get out.

Awesome, beautiful pre-cut squares from the seriously talented Amy Smart and her Etsy store here.

The back is pieced together from the most cheerful scraps in my stash. (Kitten & insane slippers not included.)

Sunday, August 09, 2009


We woke up early on Saturday morning and hustled buns to get on the road by 9 am. We had plans to meet Jen & Tom in San Diego--about 2 1/2 hours away--to look at the wedding venue. We were about halfway there, stuck in horrible traffic, when I called Jen to say that we were going to be late. Can you guess where I'm headed with this story? "Oh, no!" says Jen. "It's not today! It's tomorrow." So then Josh beat me to death and then I died. (Only in his mind).

Determined to salvage what we could of the day, we headed downtown, to the Natural History Museum (#7 on the list! We are kicking that list's ass.)

Dash was kinda overtired and cranky and hungry, so he only lasted about 45 minutes at the museum. But it was really absolutely beautiful, and if you're local and haven't been I can't recommend it highly enough--especially the bird exhibits.

Dash was obsessed with the idea that the animals were taxidermied (are they? I don't know. I told him they were and then I got the opportunity to explain death to him which was totally awesome and not something I feel I should have prepared for at all).

Over and over again, "Are they real mama? What happened to them? Are they real, mama?"

Professor Bird explains the difference between birds and humans in eight simple steps. Not really, but I wasn't paying attention so I have no idea what he was saying. Dash was mesmerized, though.

And then! Then the best thing ever happened! Aunty called (just as I was about to have a seizure from pure grossed-outededness at the insect exhibit) to invite us to the fair. All of Dash's little mamas were in town and headed to the Ventura County Fair, and I have no idea how but somehow I managed to convince Josh to get back in the car and drive another two hours to meet up with them. And we did.

From left, Hayden, Mackenna & Dash and Masie.

And the fair was truly, honestly the best thing we've done all summer. Dash and his dad were daredevils and Dash's little mamas loved on him until he was bursting. And they had wine there. And food that was so deeply fried that it was almost metaphysical. It was a gorgeous, cool afternoon into evening and no one was crying and everyone was doing exactly what they wanted to do and it was just one of those perfect summer days you figure you only get when you're nine and don't know what a mortgage is yet.

When Dash said he wanted to go on the carousel we were all, Psfft, BORING. But then it started and it went so fast we almost flew off. And, no, there weren't any seat belts. And no, Mother, you may not hold onto me to ensure my safety.

Dash & Daddy wanted to hit up the ferris wheel and I was all, Eek, oh no! Little did I know what was coming.

They are up there, somewhere.

I spend a good portion of my time and energy trying to keep all of the assorted residents of this house alive and in good working order. Some people might call me overprotective. I prefer to think of myself as vigilant against danger. So when I announced to all who would listen that I was firmly in the "pro" category in regards to Josh taking a flying leap off of a crane many hundreds of feet in the sky with only an elastic cord secured by a carnie to hold him, even I was a tad surprised.

That's my husband, the badass.

Dash did a little bungee training his own self.

Dash has had three sodas in his life (he's keeping a running tally in his head), and all three of them have been recorded here for posterity.

After pizza, soda and funnel cake but before caramel apple with M&Ms (the remains of which are in the fridge now), there was dancing. With Masie...

and with Batman.

And then, much too soon , it was all over. A good, full day that was entirely a surprise.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


I have three things to report, by increasing levels of insanity:

I made a picnic quilt. Which is really not very insane at all. It's actually rather adorable. I made it mostly from scraps of fabric I had hanging around, and backed it with an old, stained matelasse that was taking up room in my linen closet.

This fabric came from a skirt I bought at Old Navy about 10 years ago. I wore it exactly once, but I loved the print so much I refused to get rid of it. And now, one decade, two apartments and two houses later, I found a use for it. Vindicated.

This is one of two half-yards I did buy for this project. Because look at it. If that doesn't say, "make me into a picnic quilt, lady," then I don't know what does.

Here. Just in case you didn't think it was really that cute before.

Level II:

I bought this slice of tree at Michael's with no idea what I would do with it. Maybe paint a squirrel? A doe? A deer? A female deer? But then I saw this amazing wedding invitation and I was deeply, profoundly inspired to create this totally insane family portrait. It is so crazy that every time I look at it I start laughing. But I'm still hanging it up. Because no matter how nuts this thing is, I'm more nuts.

And finally:

My new slippers. With microfiber mops on the soles. Which attach with velcro. For ease in machine washing. I wear them EVERY DAY. They are the third greatest thing to ever have happened to me. If you see them for sale somewhere and you, too, are totally fucking nuts, buy them. Seriously. They are life-altering.