25 June 2008


Here at The Home of Catchy Blog Post Titles, I've been sewing. Well, mostly I've been amassing fabric, thinking about sewing, and all that fun part of sewing. But I have been able to produce 2 pairs of shorts for Thalia:

from New Look 6354. Although she wanted them longer than the shorts they show on the pattern. The picture on the front of the pattern envelope is deceiving, by the way -- the inseam of the shorts really isn't very long. Pattern companies tend to make their illustrations very long and lean, have you noticed? Anyway, I drew a new length -- "drew" because I was tracing the pattern onto Pattern Ease. Pattern Ease is handy for messing around with patterns. It's sold at JoAnn's, and goes on sale when the interfacing is on sale, at which time I buy several yards.

Anyway, I made them about knee length. Also, she wanted a drawstring in the waist. After much discussion and pondering-of-options we ended up using double fold bias tape. I sewed it up so it wouldn't unfold (during which the needle fell out of the sewing machine and I put the new one in backwards, which, of course, means it won't sew right, which was about the time I started reconsidering my new plan to make the kids' Irish Dance solo dresses myself since I think you maybe need enough basic skill to put the flipping needle in correctly if you're going to attempt one of those).

The fabric is the linen blend that is on sale at JoAnn's for weeks at a time every spring. I also got enough to make a couple of pairs of capris for myself, but these will be a different pattern which will feature things like a zipper and pockets, which translates into "will take more than an hour to slap together".

Not exciting, groundbreaking sewing, but sometimes we just plod along making practical items for our families, building our skills. And sometimes the skills being built are as mundane as "able to trace patterns quickly" or "always remember to tighten needle screw better so needle doesn't fall out while sewing". Go forth and do likewise.

20 June 2008

Attack of the Camera Gremlins

Yesterday I took some pictures of yarn stash to put on Ravelry. Imagine my surprise when I downloaded the photos and discovered that instead of just the 2 I had taken, 60 photos were on the camera card.

Including such gems as


plus the profound, not to be missed


I still have more stash photos to take. I'm sort of afraid of what I might find when I download the next batch, as last night the camera gremlins discovered the joy and excitement of nighttime flash photography.

By the way, I'm organizing stash because I've decided to start knitting up all the summer yarn I have. On the way home from the Indy feis we were listening to a book on tape in the car, the sun was shining brightly, I was exhausted, I was about ready to start clawing my eyes out in order to stay awake and also just for something to do, and I thought, "I really need to knit something." So, since I'm not sure what I want to knit, I'm going to cast on for everything, since I figure that will up my odds of actually liking one of the items.

18 June 2008

The Myth of the Long, Lazy Summer Day

Yes, the days are long, but they seem to be spent in a frenzy of Getting Stuff Done.

My main occupation this week seems to be ferrying kids back and forth to dance class. It's time for some intense dance practice as we're getting ready for Nationals. At this point we've amassed most of our accoutrements -- MAC lipliner in the appropriate shade, Boots Bronzer in the appropriate shade, the correct wig, the Hullachan shoes (oops, still need a dress bag; add that to the list). Now we come to the home practice, like Getting the Wig On So It Looks Halfway Decent and Applying Bronzer And Seeing If Child Gets a Rash From It. And, of course, the dance classes.

Thalia and I were in the grocery yesterday (sale on popsicles! add that to the list -- we still have freezer room!) and were talking to another adult. The adult asked Thalia how old she is. Thalia replied "12", and I thought to myself, "Why didn't she say 'Under 13?'" because that's the age she is according to the Irish Dance world. And I realized that I was losing my ability to have a normal conversation, since normal people answer age questions with simple numbers like "12". Of course, the adult in question would've understood what was meant by "Under 13" because that woman has a daughter who dances in Open Champion, which is the upper echelon of competition and translates into "we have spent several years and thousands of dollars on this".

So, not only have I lost my ability to have a normal conversation, but it doesn't matter since the people I usually talk to understand this weird "code" I'm using. Isn't this a sign of belonging to a cult?

We had this notion of doing some school over the summer. Thalia is working on Analytical Grammar and Life Of Fred Algebra. Sometimes she also works on Latin. AnnaBeth is working on First Language Lessons 3 and also RightStart C. She is less enthused about the summer school concept. It really doesn't take long, and if we have other obligations during the week (like, say, 10-15 hours of dance classes) we don't bother. We're also continuing our read alouds, which are drawn from Ambleside Online Year 2 plus our continuing slog through Every Little House Book Ever Written Including Prequels And Sequels. I was working on Henle Latin, but it doesn't get done if I'm always driving or messing with wigs, plus, honestly, I don't think there are direct translations into Latin for things like jig, reel, and hornpipe, AND DOES ANYTHING ELSE REALLY MATTER?.

Thalia is also learning how to clicker train a cat, specifically Demon Kitty. Thalia is good at working with animals -- it's really neat to watch her, as a matter of fact. The training has only been going on for a couple of days. We hope to eventually train Demon Kitty to be less demonic. I was reading Karen Pryor's book on clicker training in which she tells about teaching her dog to not attack her cat. And, of course, I was attracted to the notion of "not attack the cat", and decided to see if we could teach Demon Kitty to remain calm around Wimp Cat. Expect blog posts.

We have made it to the pool, and even taken a (non-dancing) friend along. And we've had neighborhood kids hanging around our house (nothing like a freezer full of popsicles to make your house attractive on a hot day). Kids have stayed out late chasing fireflies, and have run through sprinklers. Really, I think the kids are having a great summer. I'm the one who wandering in a daze. But I'm thinking that isn't season-specific behavior on my part.

16 June 2008

Indianapolis, I Love Your Feis

Saturday found us at the Indianapolis Convention Center participating in the Indianapolis Feis. It is a very well organized, fun event.

The Convention Center is big enough to hold several stages and still have plenty of room for everyone to spread out, so that's how the feis was arranged. Each stage had some relatively comfy chairs to sit in for viewing the competition, but each stage also had plenty of empty room around it for competitors and families to spread out a blanket and dump all of their flotsam, such as dress bags, shoe bags, wig cases, American Girl dolls dressed in Irish Dance costumes, lucky stuffed animals, etc. etc.

AND, better yet, all of Thalia's dances were on a single stage, and all of AnnaBeth's dances were on a single stage. No moving around! No having to check 2 signs per child to see how each stage was moving! AND, extra special bonus, Thalia and Annabeth's stages were side by side. So I parked our stuff in the area between the 2 stages, and was actually able to watch both girls dance all of their dances. This has never happened before. It was so cool.

Actually, AnnaBeth ended up switching stages. Her stage was still slogging through dance after dance after dance, and another nearby stage was totally empty -- all dances were done. So, in a fit of flexibility and organization, the Powers That Be took a few groups over to the empty stage and had them compete there. PRESTO -- everyone gets done more quickly! Which was probably good, because AnnaBeth was starting to fall apart -- it was a long day. Her wig was starting to hurt her head, she hadn't eaten enough (although there was a nice selection of food vendors, plus we had brought some snacks -- she was simply too nervous and excited to eat).

Thalia placed in all of her dances, which is to say that she is now qualified to dance at Novice level because she got a 1st, 2nd or 3rd in everything she danced plus there were 5 or more competitors in each dance. Here are the goals Thalia had for Irish Dance as of about 2 weeks ago: "I'd like to make it into Novice, and I'd like to place 1st in something." Okay, CHECK THAT OFF! Both have been accomplished. She's worked hard, doing extra conditioning to help her technique. It's paid off.

Plus, super-duper bonus, she was a gracious winner. This was particularly important since AnnaBeth got a 3rd, then a bunch of 4ths and 5ths. AnnaBeth had a bit of a meltdown over that; we have had several talks about how it's pretty good to get 4th place out of 2 dozen competitors, even if 4th place doesn't put you into Novice.


The competition started at 9am. First Feis rotated with Beginner 1, neither of which had a hard shoe category. Beginner 2 rotated with Novice and Open. We ended up being there until about 3pm. Next year take chairs to put in camping area, plus something to wear at lunch time.

We will be returning next year. It was a fantastic feis.

06 June 2008

The Exploding Cat

Lat night Demon Kitty was staring out the sliding glass door. I went over to pick her up, and she exploded into a ball of fur and claws and yowling. I screamed. I bled. I threw her in the basement.

This morning she was her usual loving, cute, cuddly self.

We think she was concentrating so much on something outside the door (probably our other cat) that she was totally taken by surprise when i touched her. And now I have scratches down the side of my face and also my arm. I also have blood splashed on the top I was wearing (the kids had a piano recital earlier in the evening, so I was sort of dressed up). I always end up with blood dripped on my favorite tops. Sigh.

I also have a prescription for anti-anxiety drugs for Demon Kitty. We're hoping they "take the edge off", as the vet says.

Anyway, that pretty much took my mind off of everything else. And there's a lot of "everything else" these days. The car was dying, but has revived after tender ministrations (and several one-car-family days). We seem to be unable to get the proper shoes in the proper size and the proper wig for Annabeth's Big Dance Competition coming up in just a few more weeks. It's raining constantly, meaning the water table has risen to the point that sump pumps that NEVER run are merrily pumping water, and those of us without sump pumps have plans to install one soon. Sometimes the storms feature bonus tornado warnings, which adds to the excitement. And can you believe how hot it is for the beginning of June? Yowza, it feels more like July or August.