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Our California Adventure

We were crazy adventurous this Christmas. We packed our car, stocked up on juice boxes, and hit the road. We drove about 1200 miles in two days to southern California, where we visited friends, relatives, and mice.

After arriving late on Christmas Eve, we awoke to find that Santa knew where to find us in California! We were graced with the presence of a cowgirl (yes, the dress is backwards)….…who magically transformed herself into a snow princess.

After a couple days of enjoying a white Christmas in the mountains and sunny summer weather in the city (30 minutes away), we moved on to meet more new friends.

Months ago, Munchkin saw a Goofy clip on TV, and ever since has been talking about Goofy’s Hotdog Dance. We had no idea what she meant, but she loved it and demonstrated the dance to everyone who would watch. When we told her that we would be going to Disneyland, she immediately started talking about how she would do the Hotdog Dance with Goofy himself. You can imagine her delight when Goofy walked right by us as we were eating lunch on the first day. She asked him if he would do the dance with her and, lo and behold, Goofy knew exactly what she was talking about. Munchkin and Goofy did the Hotdog Dance, right there in the middle of Toon Town, in front of a crowd. It was awesome.

More dancing took place a little later, although this kind involved a lot more twirling.

Some of us couldn’t have cared less about the strange characters and dazzling sights. Good thing some of us got in for free.

The highlight of our two days at Disneyland occurred at the very end. We had dinner at Ariel’s Grotto. At the bottom of a winding stairway, we were greeted by Ariel (aka The Little Mermaid), then shown to our table. After a few minutes, a couple of princesses (Jasmine and Snow White) walked out and participated in a Lesson on Courtly Manners, taught by a loud and funny court hand, seen on the left in the purple hat.

After the lesson, the children returned to their tables. The meal itself was very good, a nice, relaxing way to end the trip. The best part, though, was that four princesses visited us at our table. Jasmine, Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty all stopped by to say hello. Munchkin talked to Cinderella about how silly Gus-Gus is, and showed Sleeping Beauty (whom she had been hoping and waiting to meet during the entire trip) her pink dress and crown. Watching her excitement as she met the real princesses was priceless. Of course Bug barely gave the ladies a cursory glance before going back to her macaroni. Snow White referred to Bug as Munchkin’s “little friend”, and Cinderella said it was nice of Bug to drop some food on the floor for the mice.

It was a great family vacation. We’ll likely go again when Bug is old enough to care. Watching the magic through my girl’s four year old eyes was wonderful. She believed that the snow falling on Main Street (in 60 degree weather) was the result of a child’s wish. She believed that the bad characters (she met The Queen from Snow White) were good, because everyone is nice at Disneyland.  She believed that Goofy really lived in Goofy’s House, and that she really flew on Dumbo.  The lines and crowds and rude people (we were amazed by how many very rude people we encountered, line cutters and pushers and foul-mouthed parents) were frustrating, but worth it. Our family at “The Happiest Place On Earth”.

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Thrift Score

So the other day I went into a thrift store near our house, looking for a cowgirl hat for my daughter’s dress up collection. Thrift stores are usually great places to find dress up clothes. Not that day. (I later found a super cute cowgirl/sheriff hat at a local toy store.) However, a quick survey of the fabric section surprised me with the best thrifted fabric score ever. (Indulge me.)

Someone – someone with good taste in fabric – cleaned out their stash. In two minutes, I found Miss Amy Butler:

Michael Miller:

And Alexander Henry:

There may have been more, but I had Bug with me and we were on our way to pick up Munchkin from preschool, so I had to be quick. I was shocked. I’ve bought fabric from thrift stores before. They sometimes have beautiful vintage fabrics and good children’s prints. But never before have I seen recent, designer, “quilt shop” fabrics at a thrift store. And yardage. These aren’t scraps. The first two are at least a yard and a half, and the Alexander Henry is two full yards. It totally made my day.

(I think this might make me a fabric geek. I'm okay with that.)

And so this is Christmas

Why, yes, it has been two months since I last posted here. And now it is Christmas.

We got to meet Santa a week or so ago. What a nice gentleman he is. My Munchkin wrote him a little letter, the back of which you can see in the photo at the top of the post.

This is as near as my Bug would get to the jolly old elf. I had no intention of being in this year’s Santa photo, but – well, there I am. We weren’t about to put Bug or Santa through the trauma of making her sit on his lap just for the sake of a photo.

Now if I could just find the Santa photos from years past, we would have a nice little display in our living room. New Year’s resolution #1: Organize photos.

Quilt Festival

Amy at Park City Girl is hosting a Quilt Festival for the rest of us – i.e., everyone who is not in Houston at the International Quilt Festival. And yes, I am late! Today is the last day of Amy’s QF. I’ve been enjoying browsing through some of the 600+ links to pictures and stories of favorite quilts.  I don’t actually have a favorite quilt. The quilts in my house that have been made by someone else are all precious. The quilts that I have made have almost all been made for babies of dear friends.  So, while I can’t choose a favorite, I will share the quilt that was the most fun to make.

I made this quilt in 2007 for my friend’s son.

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The appliqued blocks each have a picture to represent a letter of the alphabet. Apple = A, Ball = B, etc. My husband and I had a lot of fun coming up with pictures for each letter. My favorites are T = Trogdor, a character from a website that the baby’s father and my husband both like; W = Weed Patch, the name of the store owned by the baby’s parents; and Y = mx+b, a tribute to the baby’s grandfather, who is a dear friend and a math PhD.

Two and a half years later, I look at this quilt and see all sorts of things I would do differently. Thank you to my friends who received those first guinea pig quilts! (If your kids’ quilts are falling apart, feel free to send them back for repairs!) But I really loved making this one.

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Excited

This week’s theme challenge at I ♥ Faces is EXCITED. What fun! Here is my entry – she was very excited after her first few bites of solid food!

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Gabriella

I wanted to let you all know of an opportunity created by Megan at Sorta Crunchy. She has organized a raffle to support the Vega family, whose four year old daughter, Gabriella, has had a stroke while waiting for a heart transplant. This beautiful little girl is the same age as my oldest daughter, and it breaks my heart to see her and her family go through this tremendous trial.  When I worked at a pediatric hospital before my girls were born, I had the opportunity to know and work with several families whose children had suffered strokes. This is not an easy thing, folks. Recovery can be slow, tedious, and very expensive. My thanks to Megan for making a way for us to offer our support to this family.

You can find details of the raffle here.

As an aside: there are thousands of families in our country, and millions and millions around the world, whose children are suffering from life-threatening diseases and medical conditions. Only a tiny fraction of these families have the means, whether personally or through insurance, to cover the high costs of treatment. There are some social service programs in place to help, and I am so grateful for them, but they are not enough. Any time you can help, in any way, you lighten the load and offer hope to a tired, frightened, hurting family. Please don’t underestimate the value of your contribution. The handmade donation boxes at grocery store counters for local families; the change boxes at McDonald’s for the Ronald McDonald House (this is a GREAT organization); raffles and charity auctions; craft fairs for medical charities; the list goes on and on. There is ample opportunity to help. We are fortunate enough to have a top pediatric medical center in our area, where I worked for the five years between college and babies. They operate several thrift stores in the area, the proceeds of which go to their Uncompensated Care fund. If you buy a lamp from their store – or donate a lamp to their store – you are actually providing a child with medical services that they would otherwise be unable to afford. Every offering helps a family.

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Here she is, my Bug, less than five minutes old.

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Tomorrow she’ll be one. Oh, how quickly this year has gone! She has challenged us, this one. She has stretched us more than we thought we could stretch. Not always gently. She was born strong. She was born awake and stayed that way for the majority of her first year. We had no idea we could function on so little sleep. She is an explorer, a climber, a fighter. She is also tender, loves to snuggle, loves to touch. She yells in protest when her sister aggravates her. She bursts into adorable, heartbreaking tears when her father tells her no. She grins when I tell her no. She dances to Mahna Mahna.  She loves cheese. She loves her Teddy. She loves her sister. She hates having her face washed. She has taken more falls in her first year than I think her sister has in four…climbed out of her crib (after we lowered her mattress to avoid just that), climbed out of her (buckled) highchair, climbed onto and fell off the hearth, climbed onto and fell off the sofa, etc. She has been walking for a month. She keeps us on our toes. She makes us laugh every day. She says, “DaDa” frequently, “MaMa” occasionally, both appropriately. When she is happy, she is happy; when she is sad, she is sad. She is full of life, joy, energy, enthusiasm.  I am excited to see her story unfold. I am not all that worried about what life will bring to her, because I can already see what she brings to life.

IMG_3903Happy birthday, Bug! I love you so very much.