Thursday, July 28, 2011

Call Me G-Money

My son is kind of skinny. We have a hard time finding pants that aren't huge in the waist. In fact, after buying three different swim suits, I finally had to sew a makeshift casing into the waistband of one and add a drawstring. Poor kid, pants just fall off him.

I like to think he's practicing for a future as a rap artist.

Introducing G-Money.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dressing Myself

I made myself another piece of clothing. Actually I made this one first, but didn't totally finish it until last week. I'm a slacker sometimes. But back to the subject. I made myself a summer dress. Although it sounds like an ambitious project, it was really pretty easy.

I have realized that I sew like I cook, without a recipe. My mom is just the opposite in sewing and cooking. I know now that's why we always fought in the kitchen. She wanted me to do things a certain way and I liked to wing it. That's also why, I think, I had zero interest when she tried to teach me to sew. There was too much terminology and too many instructions.

I visited one sewing class in 4-H too. (Yes, I was in 4-H. Yes, I was in 4-H for 10 years. I have a very nice pen and pencil set to prove it.) I didn't like it. There was a lot of pressure. We practiced sewing straight lines on a piece of paper. Then someone checked our stitching. Once you were deemed proficient enough on the paper, you could start sewing a project, usually a draw-string laundry bag. Seams were checked for uniformity, and then ripped out and done again. Blech. Of course, those girls are probably sewing up all sorts of fabulous things now and I'm still just learning. And some people do well in that kind of environment, but I sometimes like a little more freedom.

And freedom it was as I made my first dress. And by made I mean, MADE, as in, made the pattern and sewed it up. It wasn't as hard as it sounds, but I'm still really proud of myself.

Let's start at the beginning. I found some fabric at the thrift store for $0.75. It was, in the words of my friend, "the ugliest fabric I've ever seen," but for some reason I just really liked it. There was something about the color combination that I loved. I bought it. I brought it home and looked at it a lot trying to decide what to make. Finally I landed on a summer dress. I had a vision in my mind of what it would look like, so I headed off to find a pattern. No luck. Pattern makers really need to update their inventory. It was settled then, I was going to attempt to make my own pattern.

First I gathered some supplies. Brown paper (That kept rolling up. Annoying. So I weighted the corners with magazines.) A pencil and a cutting mat to use for straight edges. 
I took my measurements to ensure a good fit and then added a few inches to allow for seams and so the dress was kind of loose. I was going to add elastic to the top and I wanted it to gather up some.

After drawing and cutting out my pattern, I laid out my fabric. Eek! This was where I started to get nervous.

I pinned on the pattern and it was time to cut! No turning back now!

This is where I stopped taking pictures. Lame-o. But here's the run down of what I did to create the finished, and wearable I might add, product. After cutting out the pattern I had an identical front and back. First I stitched up both sides. Then I folded down a casing at the top for the elastic. I measured the elastic around myself and threaded it through the casing. I pinned the elastic and tried it on. Too big. Why does elastic always end up being a little big? I don't get it. Anyway, I adjusted the elastic and stitched it all up. I planned to tie a sash around the dress as a belt so the top would be "blousey." Messing with a sash to ensure even "blousey-ness" can be annoying so I decided to add some elastic to the waist too. No casing here because I already started the project. Uh-oh! Not to worry, a few online tutorials later, I was stitching thin elastic directly to the dress. And it worked! Ok, I did have to rip it out once because, again, it was too big. Seriously, how does that happen?

At this point I had a strapless A-line dress that was totally wearable. I wore it to a picnic with a black sash and found myself nervous that it was slipping down the whole night. Plus, I hadn't hemmed it at all and it was an unflattering length. (I made sure the bottom edge was the selvage, so it wasn't a totally raw edge.)

The dress was cute but needed straps. So I added some. And found some fabric to make a turquoise sash, which I liked much better. Then, after putting it off and putting it off, I finally did the hem. It's hard to hem a dress by yourself. Lots of pinning and trying on involved.

Finally the dress was finished and ready to wear for a date night with Adam. Of course, we had to stop by a friend's house on the way to dinner so she could take some pictures for the blog. Ha ha! (She's painting her dining room that awesome shade of blue, so that's why there's paper taped on the floor. Also don't mind that I'm standing so awkwardly.)

I love how it turned out. It's comfortable to wear and super fun for summer. Plus the cost of the whole thing was less than $5.00!

Monday, July 18, 2011


We've had two more milestones since G's birthday.

First, Graham was dedicated. Adam and I committed to raise him in such a way that he would know how much Jesus loves him. It was really special. I'm so proud to be able to build our family on a Christian heritage.

The other major milestone was The First Haircut! This boy needed a trim. His hair was getting so long. I was adamant about waiting until he was one just because I know how much that first haircut turns a baby into a boy.
I could actually put it in a ponytail. Of course, I didn't, but I could.

We cut so much off!
Yes, I just posted a picture of my son's snipped locks. And yes, I do have them in an envelope to save forever.

Now isn't this boy just so handsome?

And one last pic with the hairdresser.

It's happening. My baby is turning into a boy. It makes me a little sad because he is so sweet as a baby. But he's also just really fun right now. He is starting to throw a ball, he stacks his blocks into a tower that he then destroys, he giggles when anyone sneezes, and he "dances" when he hears music. I love his little personality. So, yeah, my baby is becoming a boy, and I'm OK with it. Let the boy adventure begin! 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The First Birthday--the party

Being the crazy mama that I am, I planned two parties. Friday night, on G's actual birthday, we had a potluck cookout with our small group friends, namely G's little baby buddies. Four of us in the group had babies last summer and G kicked off the birthday bashes. EL is next, followed by EH, and J rounds us out. So fun that the babies even have friends!

Anyway, Friday was the friend party and Saturday was a cookout with the extended family. We had a great time. Saturday was just too hot, so after we ate and G smashed his cake, we moved everything indoors. Oh, and it was so hot that the balloon arch wilted away one popped balloon at a time. When it's hot enough to pop balloons, it's time to come in.

First, the friends:
The grown-ups had fun eating and talking and playing some games.

Then it was the kids' turn to have fun.

The only little lady.

My kid is so much like his father. He hardly got messy. He's such a "clean" eater--no face plants, no hair smearing--just fingers to mouth. We finally took it away when he just started clearing off the tray using his sweeper move. When he's done with something, he wants the mess gone!

This was our valiant attempt to get all the babies to look at the same time.

and they're out...
Finally G and his buddy J made a run for it. 

Then the family:
This party was in the middle of the day. The set-up was the same, the food was basically the same except  my mom and I made it all (burgers, potato salad, ramen noodle cabbage salad, baked beans, watermelon, strawberry lemonade), the cake was the same. It was just a lot hotter and there were more people. Still lots of fun, but G was pretty partied out by the end of the day.

I'm telling you, the kid is a "clean" eater. Cake destroyed, no mess on little man. No post-cake bath for this boy. Just a little rinse off in the baby pool and we were good to go. He definitely played more and ate less the second time around. That's ok. He doesn't need the sugar or the excessive amounts of food coloring anyway.

By the time we got to presents G was starting to run out of steam.

G's last present was a wagon. Who can resist two little boys in a wagon? But G was done. It was naptime. And his cousin J thought it was super fun to grab the sides and rock the whole thing back and forth. G was not down with that action.
"Hey man, quit rockin' the boat!"
All in all it was great birthday. I can't believe my baby is a year old! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The First Birthday--the details

I will begin by stating that I know G will not remember this birthday. But I will remember this birthday. And when he asks, I will tell him that he was loved and celebrated. I will also tell him that he's not allowed to have an outdoor party again unless it involves a pool.

I had dreams of this beautifully decorated party that was cute and clever and coordinated. Then I snapped back to reality. I didn't want to spend a lot on this party, and when it came down to it, I didn't want something perfect, I wanted something fun. So, fun is what I did.

I made a "1" wreath for the front door and attached everything with pins so it can be usable every year. I used cream yarn to cover the wreath so it will go with any party theme in the future. Yay for fun new traditions. (Note: I planned to hot glue a thumbtack to each piece, but the tacks didn't stick far enough into the foam wreath to hold anything securely. So I just used pins and got over the fact that you can see them.)

I also made a bunting for the front porch. While we were visiting my parents, I dipped into my mom's fabric stash to make my flags. I just used the pinking shears to cut them, which meant the only sewing required was to attach the flags to the bias tape. Easy peasy. A few of the fabrics have sentimental value, but most were just random. I ended up with way more than I thought, which means I scored two buntings. They're so fun and summery that I just took them down two days ago. If they weren't getting faded in the sun, I probably would have left them up all summer.

The last decoration was a balloon arch. I followed this tutorial and it worked like a charm. I had trouble finding waxed kitchen twine, so I just used wax coated dental floss. It's super cheap and doesn't break, especially when it's only holding balloons. I enlisted the help of one of Adam's summer interns at the church to help me blow up balloons. We both got super light headed. Thankfully it didn't take too long.

So, the party was light on decorations, but it really didn't feel that way. We put some colorful tablecloths on the tables in the garage and used colored cups and napkins, so maybe that made it feel more put together. Either way, it looked great and felt welcoming without a lot of effort.

I also made G a shirt to wear. It had a 1 on the front and back like a jersey along with his name on the back. We got him some new little g's for his birthday, so of course everything coordinated.

Man that kid has long hair! Someone should give him a haircut!

Finally the cake. Oh the cake. After my cakes in a jar disaster, I focused on actually having enough cake for all the guests. I only had 11 jars, so those were just going to be a novelty for the kids in addition to cupcakes. I'm not great at making fancy cakes and I didn't want to mess with having to cut anything, so I went the cupcake route. Instead of layering the colored batter, I just made each one a different color with white frosting. Several cake mixes (yeah, I used a box. The frosting was from scratch, though) later, I had a lot of cupcakes and enough batter left to make G's special cake. This was my inspiration for G's cake because it's one of his favorite toys:
Brilliant Basics™ Rock-a-Stack®

Since I'm terrible at frosting a cake, I decided to make the cake itself colored. I found a set of three biscuit cutters that were graduated sizes and then used a glass and a plastic lid to make the largest rings. I baked each layer in a different pan--mostly small casserole dishes--so they would be large enough to cut two circles (I had to make two cakes since we had two parties) but small enough to make sure the layers weren't too thin. Once baked, I wrapped each layer in plastic wrap and popped it in the freezer to cool and harden some. When it was almost time for the party I just cut my circles, stacked them up with a little frosting between each, and we were good to go. I was so nervous that it wouldn't work, but it turned out AWESOME! The second one was a lot better (more even layers and much straighter) then the first, but I didn't have time to take a picture of that one with his toy.

It turned out to be such a fun celebration. Getting all the food ready and worrying about the sweltering heat made things a little stressful, but once the party started, we all had a great time. My goal was to have everything ready so Adam and I could really enjoy celebrating our son's first birthday. And we did.