Monday, October 20, 2014

Mona as a Tapejara

No, I didn't know what that was either.  Definitely one of the most interesting parts of having kids is learning about things you wouldn't have been introduced to otherwise.

A tapejara is a specific kind of flying dinosaur.  Mona was clear she didn't want to be any pterosaur, she wanted to be a tapejara.  And she wanted to help!

I was apprehensive about working with Mona on her costume, not because she's not perfectly capable of making something on her own, but because we don't always communicate on an artistic level very well.  She has her own ideas, and I have mine, and sometimes they mesh, and sometimes they don't.  I'm happy to report it all went well and Mona is very happy with her costume!

I started with the basic jumpsuit where I traced around Mona on the fabric.  The biggest challenge to my sewing costumes (aside from finding the time) is probably the dog.  Chipper wants to lie on all the fabric all the time, and he doesn't like when I use the sewing machine.  While I sew he begs to sit in my lap, trembling pathetically until I give in and then can't do anything.

After making a basic jumpsuit with a hood I worked on the wings.  Tapejara wings extend past the hands, so I installed extensions with sticks Mona can hold.  When she needs her hands she can just drop the sticks.

Mona did the headpiece and the mask herself.  We used a couple of masks with long noses, one upright on her head so she could build the crest off the nose, and one where we sawed the nose off so her beak wouldn't be too long.


Mona used fleece, felt, a piece of foam core board, and a hot glue gun.  She's amazing.

I added flaps of fleece to the headpiece when she was done so I could sew it to the hood.  I also added a Velcro chin strap sort of piece across the neck to help keep the hood in place with all the extra weight on it.  She can't go too wild, but she can pretty much tip her head any direction without the hood coming off.

So we have a finished tapejara costume!  That was fun.

Just in time, too.  There is a Pajama Jamboree concert on Wednesday where they can wear their costumes, the Halloween dance at school on Friday, Trick-or-Treat on Saturday night, and more Trick-or-Treat on Sunday if they want.  I also told the kids that they could also, you know, for kicks, wear their costumes on HALLOWEEN.  (What a concept.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Swim Team

Swimming is one of those basic skills I feel all of my kids should have a handle on before they grow up and leave my care.  We've done basic group lessons at the Y sporadically over the years, and my kids are comfortable in the water, but this last summer I decided I wanted them to have training in more specific strokes rather than just let them keep paddling around however.  We ended up enrolling them in private lessons, and that worked out really well.

The Y was nice about letting us sign up for the regular blocks of time and then splitting that time up amongst our various kids.  They each got at least two private lessons, and they advanced much more quickly than they would have in another group class.

The teacher was particularly impressed with Mona's abilities, and told me that she expected by the last lesson Mona would be ready for the Swim Team if she wanted to join.  The Swim Team met at the same time in the evenings as our private lessons so we could see it in action in the next couple of lanes.  All the kids were about Mona's age, happily doing laps and being coached by some young, energetic Y people.  It looked fun, so I introduced the idea to Mona and let her think about it.  She can be shy, so I knew it would need time to sink in before she'd consider giving it a go.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Snowy Owl

Two down, one to go.  I'm heading into the homestretch of the Halloween costume making.  Quinn's pigeon costume is essentially finished.  And now Aden's snowy owl is done!

I'm glad Aden wanted a costume.  She's worried she's getting too old for it, but I believe you can wear a costume at any age.  People I think get rightly annoyed with teenagers trick-or-treating who just walk around in normal clothes with a bag, but wearing a costume for Halloween is fun at any age, and people appreciate grand displays of imagination.  Why not be a snowy owl for a day?

I started with a basic fleece jumpsuit, but with a wider hood than normal and an extra piece fastened with Velcro across the front of the neck to kind of blend her head into her body more like an owl would be.  I have to say, I am getting fast with the jumpsuits and I make fewer mistakes.  They aren't perfect, but I can trace the kids on the fabric and then pretty much sew the whole thing without them around and just have them try it on again when I finalize the hems, etc.  I used to have to do the whole thing up in safety pins and have them keep putting it on and taking it off and I'd make lots of adjustments.  But after so many years I've got the basics down and can just see it in my head enough to do it on the first try.

Anyway, this was the plain jumpsuit and hood:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pigeon's Progress

Quinn asked to be a pigeon for Halloween this year.

That may seem mundane to many, but to my kids pigeons are exotic.  In Milwaukee we have seagulls, which apparently eat pigeons, so what few pigeons we have congregate in minor numbers under bridges here and there.  One of the great joys of visiting New York when we go is seeing so many pigeons and my children adore them.  So when Quinn asked to be a pigeon I could see the appeal.  (And yes, he's already been told by several people he will not get to drive the bus.)

I felt up to a pigeon challenge!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Blog Silence

Just a quick note, because I tend to get worried emails when I don't update my blog in a timely fashion....

So many blog posts in my head!  No time to get any of them down!  Because I am in the midst of a costume crunch. 

Milwaukee does trick-or-treat on the Saturday before Halloween.  This year Halloween is on a Friday, so I lose a whole week of time before costumes need to be ready.  Plus I have two concerts coming up which means rehearsals at least two nights a week between now and Halloween.  And, you know, work, husband, dog, kids, life....

I've been up very late the past few nights working on Quinn's costume, and with a little luck I should finish it tomorrow or the next day.  He's going to be a pigeon.

Aden wants to be a snowy owl (which should go fine) and Mona wants to be a pterosaur (which I'm not feeling optimistic about).  So all my kids will have wings this year, and they're all pretty monochromatic.

Anyway, that's where I've been.  More soon.  (Maybe when the snowy owl is done.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Open Doors

This past weekend was the return of Doors Open Milwaukee.  We weren't able to venture outside our own neighborhood for it this year, but it was still fun.  Although the day got off to a rocky start.

Ian has been out of town for a week doing Army things.  I'm surprised how much the stress of that can still get to me.  I think of myself as a fairly calm parent, not prone to fits very often.  But a lot of my ability to be that way has to do with sharing the burden and having someone to laugh with and getting a break.  Remove the other parent from the equation and my mind becomes a constant scramble of responsibilities, always sure I'm forgetting something, and I become far less patient.

The weekdays with Ian gone have been complicated.  Last Thursday in particular was impressively tricky where I had to work, I arranged for the kids to walk themselves to the violin store after school rather than be picked up, I would feed them there, we'd head to the school for the open house right after work, then go straight from there to the Y for Mona's swim team practice.  Sure the dog wasn't getting walked until pretty late in this scenario, but it was the best I could do.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

On the Mold-A-Rama Map! (Well, Almost)

Korinthian Violins is now the proud owner of our very own Mold-A-Rama machine!
Although, technically, that's not quite true because Mold-A-Rama is a trademarked term used by the Mold-A-Rama company which operates machines in the Midwest.  Machines not leased and maintained by that particular company tend to go under the name "Mold-A-Matic" (which is how most of the machines we saw on our Florida trip were labeled), but they are all vintage machines from the early 1960s.  They are hard-working antiques that still delight many.  They certainly delight us!

Our machine was salvaged from the group of neglected and damaged Mold-A-Matics that we encountered at the Knoxville Zoo.  I essentially said in my blog post about our Knoxville visit that this seemed to be where Mold-A-Ramas went to die.  If you'd asked me when I started blogging what I might achieve through this medium, getting the Mold-A-Rama machines replaced at the Knoxville Zoo would not have ever come to mind.  And yet, when people who care about these machines saw my post, wheels were set in motion to remedy the situation, and as a result I was offered the opportunity to buy one of the neglected machines "as is" at a steep discount.

How could I say no?

Well, any reasonable person could say no.  My husband could have easily said no.  But the poor man is married to me and OH MY GOD WE COULD HAVE OUR VERY OWN MOLD-A-RAMA MACHINE AND I WANT IT SO SO SO MUCH!!!! and he loves me and here we are and we have zero advertising budget now for the store from here until forever but I don't care.  We only have to sell about, I don't know, 2000 plastic figures to break even on the thing, but that could happen, right?  Sure.

In the meantime this is so cool.  We get to be on the Mold-A-Rama map!  Or the Mold-A-Matic map.  Or whatever.