Monday, May 31, 2010

Let's talk about diversity

A while ago, I read an article in the NY Times which I now can't find. I can find this, which is an amusing, but simplified version. Basically, the article talks about children's inherent tendency to prefer people who look and act like them and how it is our jobs adults to teach them differently, just like we teach them not to hit, and not to pick their noses.
There is a fair amount of the advice that I agree with. My generation was taught to ignore skin color and it turns out that doesn't lead to a more inclusive attitude. If you don't explain to your kids why people different skin color, they will assume negative connotations.
It also mentioned how African American children are less likely to make negative assumptions about people of other races. This was attributed to the fact that they get very strong messages to be proud of their own ethnicity. What really bothered me was the following sentence, "Of course, this lesson cannot translate to the general population, because you cannot teach kids 'White Pride'."
Well, of course we shouldn't go out and join the Ku Klux Klan, or any other separatist organization. But I'm not just 'white'. My ancestors are from Denmark, Norway, The British Isles and Germany. My father's father was Jewish. Walker is descended from some of the first Protestants that landed in this country. One of them wrote religious tracks that are still for sale at Amazon. We shouldn't be proud of being part of a broadly lumped together group of people who happen to share a certain range of skin tones, but we can be proud of our specific history.
It all got me thinking, and worrying, about the racial diversity in our lives currently. We live in a very white suburb of a very white city. Most of the people we see look generally like us. I firmly believe it's important to make sure our world is as inclusive as possible. My elementary school was in the city's African American neighborhood until I was in 5th grade, and most of my classmates looked different from me. I don't remember the teachers talking about what race was, but I do remember talking to my friends about the differences between us. If I'm committed to raising a child who believes in racial equality, then how far am I willing to drive for say, swim lessons, so we have a chance at having more then one or two kids of color in our lives?
But then I thought, it's not just about racial diversity, is it? Prejudice has many forms in our society, homophobia, ageism, sexism... I wonder how much a sense of comfort with one kind of difference spills over into the others. My guess is a lot. Once you start looking past one superficial difference, it's easier to see past the rest of them. We may not have much racial diversity in our lives, but we have a lot of other kinds of diversity. Until this last week, both of my grandmothers were still alive, and because of that, Moira is exposed to the very elderly. We know a couple of people who were not born the gender they are now living as, and others who just like to fool around with the differences between the sexes. We have loved ones who are lesbians, and bisexuals. We know families in all sorts of configurations. Yes, most of the people in our lives conform to the societal standard of white, straight men and women, but our lives have a great diversity, and I relish the differences.
I've been pointing those differences out to Moira already. Before she starts asking.

Mombian is hosting the 5th annual Blogging for LGBT Families day. If you have something to say, fill out the form by tomorrow when she will post a big round up.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Good bye Maggie. You will be missed.

Baby Maggie
My Nana as a toddler. She was born in 1919 and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio.
See ya
As a teenager, she went to a boarding school in the suburbs called the Andrew's school, which encouraged girls to be independent. A trait she passed down to her children and grandchildren.
WAC office
During WW2 she joined the WAC, eventually becoming a First Lieutenant in the Air Force. After the war, she volunteered to go to Europe and help with the reconstruction.
On a trip to Switzerland during that time, she met Sam, her future husband. They learned to ski on that trip, another skill they passed down.
Sam & Maggie
Sam was just getting into cameras, and took a lot of pictures of their adventures together.
Maggie & Sam's wedding
They married in 1948.
Baby Ellis
And their first child, my father, was born in Frankfurt, Germany before they moved back to the states, where Sam went to school and got a business degree.
Bonneville Dam
They had three more children, and moved to Seattle. (Not in that order).
As the kids got older, Nana looked around for something to do and became involved with the Ryther Foundation and helped to start the R Shoppe, a Ballard thrift store to benefit the organization.
The Hillinger clan in the early 70's
In 1969, the first grandchild was born.
And the family quickly grew with weddings and more grandchildren.
There was lots more skiing.
The grandkids
Nana was a wonderful grandmother. She was always encouraging, accepting and actively interested in our lives. She was the emergency contact for my parents when I was in school, and many a time she would pick me up when I was sick and take care of me until my parents finished work.
Innusbruk, Austria
After Sam retired, they started taking trips to see more of the world.
Giant's Causeway
I never really looked at the photos until last year, but I kind of wish I'd been old enough to go along.
In Thailand
It looks like they had fun.
Be prepared
We still did plenty of things as a family though.
Ellis, Ruth & Nana
Sam died in 2000. She didn't let that slow her down much though, and she continued traveling with her kids.
Mount St Helens
She was even on her way home shortly after September 11 happened, and caused quite a stir in the long line at the airport when an airport official offered her a chair.
I will miss her so much. I'm glad she got to meet Moira (and Moira's brand new second cousin) before she died. I know the last few years had been hard for her with a steady loss of independence, but I will admit here to a small amount of having really enjoyed being able to take care of her for a while.

Monday, May 24, 2010

And the days go by

My Nana is dying. It's not unexpected, and we have the luxury of time to say good bye, but we can count the likely number of days we have left with her on our hands. I'm having a hard time thinking lately while I process this, which doesn't make the process of explaining what's happening to the 2 year old any easier. The 2 year old one who talks about Nana now on a regular basis, but will not remember her for long after she's gone.
Moira is really into adjectives right now. She always starts with hot, "Shoes! Shoes hot?" and then we cycle through the list of adjectives she understands till we either get to one that works, or I supply a new one. She is working on emotions the same way, which means our conversation goes like this.
"Mama sick?"
"No, mama is not sick. Mama is sad because Nana is sick."
"Mama not sick. Mama sad. Nana sick?"
"Nana is sick and she's not getting better."
I figured there should be some explanation, so I talked about the mouse we saw in the woods that didn't move. How we think and feel and talk and Nana will stop doing all that soon and not move, like the mouse. It is good that this is happening while she doesn't translate things that happen to other people into things that might happen to her, or that explanation might have lead to some fear of sleeping. I suppose that could still happen.
We talked about the mouse on Thursday, and yesterday we went to see Nana. After we told her where we were going she remembered that Nana was sick, that I was sad and that Nana was in the hospital the last time she saw her. Walker asked her if she was bringing it up to make Mommy sad and she said, "No, mama (brought it) up." She was also nervous when we were talking to Nana in a way she never had been before, so maybe she understands more then I think she does.
I will miss my Nana.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

TIme to go

Cool baby
Originally uploaded by Maydela
Moira has reached the phase where she is talking all the time without stop. When she's happy there's a bunch of babbling about everything she sees and hears. When she's tired and bored (usually in the car) there's a constant stream of crying about things she can't have right that second.
She's also started insisting on nursing more frequently. Not that she's letting that stop her from talking all the time. She likes to let me know when the milk suddenly turns into juice. I don't mind the talking all the time, but I was really ready to stop nursing completely, rather then suddenly quadruple the time we spend on the couch. It's probably just a developmental growth spurt and it will pass. I can't really mind too much because she gets so excited when I say yes, and she's so polite when she asks.
She is insisting on 'driving' the car every time we come home lately. Occasionally I'll get in the car after she's played in there and it's cleaner then when she started. After nap today Walker took her into his S200 and let her play with the key in the ignition and the roof down. Lucky kid.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Retreat day!

Quilt group retreat
Today was my quilt group's retreat day. One of the members has a palatial quilting room (more square footage then her house!) above the garage. The break in the wall in this picture leads to the alcove where her machine was set up, along with another cutting table and iron. The light is amazing.
I managed to finish my blocks for April and May for the International Scrap Busting Bee. Both of the requests were for 12" blocks made primarily out of 1" squares. I didn't bring enough scraps to cut up, but the ladies were happy to donate some of theirs to the cause. They also tried to make me feel better about how they turned out, but I wish I'd done a better job.
10: Ruth's triangles
I was so busy working on those I didn't take many pictures of the show and telling, although I did bring my camera. I did manage to take a picture for my 365 project, after accidentally skipping a few days. I also finished the top for my pin up girl wall hanging, but I forgot to focus so I'll have to take another one tomorrow.
Thank you Wendy, and everyone else, for a lovely day. I didn't get to go to this meeting last year, and I'm very glad I got to go to this one. I'm hoping to be able But this is good while I can't manage it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Giveaway day!

*Update* I forgot to do this yesterday. The winner of the scraps is comment #6, Amaranta. Congratulations!

It's time for Sew Mama Sew's May giveaway day. I'm giving away this pile of cowboy themed scraps. I got these years ago from my aunt, and I've made three quilts with them and I'm out of ideas. There's probably as many scraps left as I managed to use up on those three quilts.
Giveaway day
What's included in the pile?

Giveaway day
Most of the scraps are strips between 1.5"-2" wide and various lengths, although the blue horseshoes pieces are pretty big (the piece in this picture is folded in half).
How can you win? Leave a comment on this post telling me what book you are reading right now and what you think of it. I am willing to ship internationally, and you must include a way for me to contact you. Entries close 9pm on the 20th.

You should visit Sew Mama Sew for hundreds of other giveaways. Join the fun!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


6: Ruffle
I'm just showing off a detail shot of these. They are white cotton bloomers, and pretty boring on their own, but I love how the ribbon trim I added turned out. These are to go with a sun dress from Gymboree with apples on it and the green thread I used on the jean shorts two days ago is the perfect match to the leaves on the apples. Plus it was still in my machine, so it was meant to be. The rest of the top stitching is done in white since I don't think there was enough of the green left in the bottom to do it all. I might do some more sewing tonight, but probably not.
Moar fabric!
Remember how I said I was just using supplies I already had for this challenge? Today while I was out running errands (give old car seat to friend who will take it to the recycling event, exchange rental car for Subaru, get groceries) I realized I was only 2 minutes from the Bellevue Pacific Fabrics, so I stopped by to see if they had the crinkle cotton Pearl saw at the Puyallup location. They did, but not in the color I wanted. But I found these cotton knits on the flat fold table and they were so cute. The stripes should work perfectly with the dress Sika is knitting Moira. Most of these are under a yard, but it's probably still more fabric then I used up this week. Oh well. I have exact plans for everything in this pile, and I might actually manage to make those things, you never know.
To make up for it, I did some organizing in my sewing room. Most of the knits are now in bins together (not folded or color coordinated or anything though, heaven forbid) and I found some more fabric and half finished projects that I no longer want to keep. It all evens out I guess.
I kind of want to go back and buy the purple stripe I left there. That would be bad right?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day 4 and the end of the plants.

100. Tatsoi
Already knew: Tatsoi is a kind of Bok Choi. Most of what I got from Cascadian Edibles appears to have bolted already. One of them is over a foot tall now, but all the leaves are teeny tiny. This one is the one that seems to be relatively happy.
Recently learned: It's also called spoon mustard or rosette bok choi. The leaves are smaller in proportion to the stems then bok choi. It is usually eaten raw, but can withstand a short period of cooking.
Jean shorts
I made these shorts to go with this dress that Pickle made for Moira's birthday last year. It still fits, it's just very short now. I was planning on making little bloomers, but I decided that the lace would peek out under the dress better if I left them as shorts. I used bright green thread for the top stitching.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 3

Hand dyed shorts
Originally uploaded by Maydela
I didn't get to sew yesterday because of sickness, but not only did I feel better today, but Walker worked from home in the morning and when he took Moira to the grocery store for sparkly water and bread for me, I managed to whip these shorts up. I was hopeful that I could do some more tonight, but I'm feeling worse as the day goes on.
I dyed this fabric last summer, thanks to Sunny Jim, and I thought it went well with this tank top Pearl bought. There's a dog on the front with details in pink and teal. I decided to put the pockets on the back because Moira keeps sticking her hands in the back of diaper and telling me she has her hands in her pockets.
It was my intention that all the clothes I made for this challenge use materials entirely from my stash. I can only manage that because I bought a large amount of waistband elastic late last year. For some reason I love vintage rick rack and bias tape, so I am always buying packs of it at garage sales and thrift stores. Until I started making things for the kid though, I rarely used it.
I've been waiting for Sew Mama Sew's next giveaway day since I missed the deadline for the winter one, and it's finally coming up on the 17th. I have a bag full of cowboy themed scraps I'm never going to get through. I made three baby quilts with them, and I think I've used less then half of them. Time to send them along to the next good home.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

This is what happens

Trying them on for size.
Originally uploaded by Maydela
When I have Moira try things on for size. She wore these for at least a half an hour, carefully holding them up, until she spilled water on them and let me take them off. Any suggestions that I could fix them for her so they would stay up on their own were met with resounding nos.
They are all finished and in the dryer now, waiting for summer.
It seems however, that my plans for kids clothing week may be ruined as I have a horrible sore throat/sneeze/achy/nauseous thing going on. I felt pretty bad when Walker took me out for my birthday, but I powered through. And today, I'm dead on my feet. Moira and I managed to make it through the day despite the 5:30am wake up call from her. I decided the only way to make it through was to say 'yes' as often as possible to her requests. Even with me trying there was an awful lot of no and later, but there was also singing and playing and cuddling and reading.
There were also a lot of tears from her, especially after 9:30 when she started getting really tired. I managed to keep her awake until about 12:30, but she was not happy. She stayed asleep for over an hour and a half before she woke up though, so I got a little bit of a nap.
Hopefully tomorrow I will fell better. There is a toddler story time series starting at our local library tomorrow. It is only 5 weeks long, and I know she'd love to go. It's been a long time since we went to story time. It seems unlikely that we will be able to make it though.

Monday, May 10, 2010

You say it's your birthday. It's my birthday too, yeah.

Beware, this post contains a boatload of pictures.

We turned our old coffee table (which I hated) into a train table for Moira's birthday with a small amount of wood trim and a bunch of paint. The bright green is leftover wall paint from my sewing room, the rest of the colors are acrylic or craft paint. I didn't manage to seal it before Moira started playing with it, and now the mountain needs some touch up, but that's okay. We were originally going to buy her some Nuchi trains which are non branded and they have flower and animal shaped trains. Instead, my neighbor called from a garage sale asking if we wanted a giant box of trains for only $40. I sorted through it and we kept only the trains without faces. That was less then half of the trains, and way more then enough. We also kept only half of the track, although it hasn't actually left the house, so we may look through it for more sharp curves. Moira loves it, enough that for the first time ever she played by herself for a few minutes while we tried to get a few more sleeps on Friday morning.
Are you sure they aren't here?
Her birthday party was a smash hit. All my concerns about her not sharing well were completely unfounded. She didn't even complain when other kids took something right out of her hands. After we pulled out the balloons, her friend Will suggested we should have a balloon parade, so we went out to see the horses, chickens and pigeons. Will was a little surprised that there wasn't a full farm tucked in at the end of my street, but he dealt with the disappointment well. Surprisingly, only one balloon was lost, and we had an extra to replace it.
I didn't try the dress I made for Moira's birthday on for a fitting, because I didn't want to cause screeching when I took it back. Big mistake. I always forget when I am serging things that I need to account for the rest of the seam allowances on the commercial pattern. So this was comically big, like maybe a size 4 instead of a 2. We eventually convinced her to let me fix it so she could wear it for the party and simply stitched the side seams in about 1/2" each. Then it was only a little too big. I will probably undo that and just bring it back out when she is the right size, rather then unpick the whole thing. I love the bias binding I used. Thank you Sika for talking me into the bright blue instead of the dark green. The fabric is the frogs on lily pads from Heather Ross' Far Far Away line. It's double gauze, and I've read a lot about people having trouble sewing with it, but I thought it was lovely to work with, but then, I like sewing organza too, so I may just be weird. The pattern is Butterick 4434. I was going to do a double skirt, but I didn't have enough fabric.
Me do it!
We had a small Mother's day brunch (of pizza, yum) with my parents, my sister and her husband. Moira loved all of her presents so very much. Her absolute favorite is probably the porcelain tea set from Pickle and Emily. She spent a good ten minutes serving tea to everyone and didn't want to put it down even to look at the brand new trike that suddenly appeared in the living room. She's also very interested in the bubble machine from her friend Jenna, but we haven't tried it out yet. We were going to try it today, but it's not bubble weather. We ended the party with Mom, Mika, Moira and I going downstairs to show Mom Beatles Rock Band. Moira excitedly sat on her Nain's lap saying "Rock Band!" and clapping along with the music while Mika and I tried to harmonize. We ended our set with "Birthday" which seemed the most appropriate song for the occasion.
Let's race
Walker and Moira took a three hour nap after the family left, and I spent some quiet time scanning pictures in. When they woke up, we went for a bike ride. Moira was so proud to be riding her bike, just like Daddy, and kept carefully watching to see how he pedaled. She also kept talking about his helmet, and I think they are going to pick one up today. We shall see.
Today is my birthday. Walker is taking Moira to gym class this morning and then to downtown Seattle for chocolates and/or lunch with his friend. I have a chiropractic appointment with a friend and will putter around the house. Then I hear Walker is taking me out for steak.

Today is also the start of Kids Clothes Week at Elise Marley and I'm all ready for that. I have a bunch of summer shirts and dresses for Moira and very few appropriate bottoms, so on Saturday I cut out a stack of shorts and bloomers. Every day this week, I hope to get an hour or sew of sewing on these done, and then she will be set for summer. It should be fun, I'm planning different details for each of them, and I found some fun butterfly batik I had forgotten about that works perfectly with one of the shirts.
Moira at 24 monthsFinally, this is Moira's last monthly picture. Discussions are still ongoing for how often we will continue to take her picture in this chair with this bunny.
Moira at 1 year old
Last year, on her birthday.
Moira & piglet
The very first one of these, at one month old.

Friday, May 7, 2010

It's Moira's birthday, she can be naked if she wants.

That's a quote from Moira's birthday party this morning. Spoken by a wiser mom then I. She was on her third outfit by the end of the party because I kept insisting on clothes.

This is not a picture of Moira' birthday; I haven't gotten things off the camera yet. But since today is Friday, I figured I'd share this vintage photo instead.

This is Chris Matlack on her second birthday. She is Walker's adoptive mother and biological aunt. She died shortly after we were married, and I'm glad I got to meet her. Moira would have loved to meet her too.

This is from the set of color stereoscopic slides taken by the Holly family in the mid to late 40's. It is dark and oddly colored compared to the rest of them. I assume there just wasn't enough light.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


It's two days to Moira's birthday, and the house hasn't been this tidy since Christmas. And that's before pearl comes over to help me clean tomorrow. We are slobs.
When we got back from New York, we decided it was time to push the morning nurse forward from 5am to 6:30 (or later) as Moira was starting to not go back to sleep totally, and she and I were both tired and grumpy all morning. The shift has happened pretty painlessly, and now whens she wakes up and realizes it's light outside, she climbs out of her bed, opens her door, closes her door, opens our door, closes our door. Then she says "Hi Mommy!" and walks over to Walker's side of the bed to ask for up. I'm not sure why she goes to Walker's side instead of mine, although maybe she's just not used to the fact that the bed isn't pushed against the wall anymore. When she sees me she giggles and announces "I get (to) drink booboos!" and then there is snuggling. It's working pretty well for us I think.
I am disappointed that she calls nursing "booboos" instead of "nom noms" but you can't have everything.
She wore her Iron Maiden (Ionmain!) shirt over the weekend, and she has asked to wear it every day this week. We looked through the laundry for it, but it's still dirty, and she was willing to accept one of the shirts I made her as a substitute yesterday. It's in the dryer now. We will let her wear it on her birthday. She wore it to Jenna's party, so maybe it should be the party shirt?
She was asking for something I had, and I said it was mine, but she could have it if she wanted. She said "No Moira, Mommy Moira. No Mommy Moira." And walked off grinning and shaking her head. It's hard not to laugh at things like that.
I've been trying to prepare her for her birthday party. Friends are coming! We will play! I told her who was probably coming and she started saying "No babies!" Now every time I mention her birthday she says "No babies!" I actually think she was just upset about Jahleel coming over, as he came to play a few months ago and she had extra trouble sharing with him then. She has never reacted to another kid that way, so I'm not sure what the problem is. She also didn't have a problem playing with him when we went to his house a few weeks ago. I just found out that they can't make it to the party, so I guess we'll find out if that's the problem. She'll have to get used to him eventually. His mother is helping me with the yard.
I finally broke down and bought gluten free bread. She could not be more excited about having bread for her after months of me telling her no to all bread products. I love that the slices are perfectly sized for a toddler sandwich. Today we had grilled cheese, and she was so pleased she didn't even notice that my sandwich had ketchup on it and hers didn't.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Moira recommends poetry

No, she really does. We went to the library after we got back from New York and they had signs posted saying it was poetry month. I checked out a couple of books, thinking that we wouldn't have very many poetry books (not counting all the rhyming baby books) to make a pile with. Boy was I wrong. I forgot that my dad likes absurdism and much of children's poetry is absurdist. I think we had a 15 book stack and when I was putting them away at the end of the month, I found two more. Next time, and there will be a next time because she loved the poetry. Even the long books with many many poems and especially the dark and vaguely scary ones. All links now link to Thank you for the suggestion, Dad.
You Read To Me, I'll Read To You by John Ciardi - With drawings by Edward Gorey! Moira likes all the poems just fine, but her favorite is "What Night Would It Be?" there is a picture of a grinning moon and some other Halloween images and the first time she saw it, she pointed to the page and said "Halloween!" before Pearl started reading. I think she must be remembering Scary Scary Halloween from the pile in October.
Chicken Soup With Rice by Maurice Sendak - Technically, this is a song and I can never read this one without singing it, but I decided it was close enough to a poem, so it joined the pile.
Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex - This book was in the Halloween pile with Scary Scary Halloween, but she wasn't at all interested in it then. Now it's a favorite, mostly because of the inclusion of a poem about Zombies. These are all scary poems in that not at all scary, but about traditionally scary things way.
The Adventures of Isabel bu Ogden Nash - Isabel is not scared of anything, and a little scary herself. She eats a bear, turns a witch into milk and beheads a giant. Moira thinks this story is awesome.