Friday, February 23, 2007

circus maximus, here we come

Thanks for the grab bag of great party ideas! (Google – doh! Why didn't I try that first?) We'll definitely be using some, if not all, of them. Yes, the party planning is on a roll now!

The connection's a bit of a stretch, I know, but this groovy bag used to belong to my mother-in-law in, oh, what do you think, the 1970s? She had style. Maybe Iris takes after her.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

because what toddler doesn't love grape leaves?

Have I ever told the story of Iris' name?

I liked it because it met my three criteria. Our child's name had to be:

1. Easy to spell;
2. Easy to pronounce (my own name being neither of the above); and
2. Unusual but not bizarre or un-heard-of. Bonus points for not having been in the top 100 names for at least 100 years... although I drew the line at naming her after my grandmother, Irma. Somehow it was not too difficult to seperate my feelings for my grandmother from my feelings about her name.

For J, the name Iris met his sole criterion: derived from Greek literature. If we’d had a boy, my husband insists he'd have wanted to name him Telemachus (after Ulysses’ son in The Odyssey). Fortunately I didn’t have to call his bluff, if it was a bluff (!!), on that one.

The reason I mention this at this particular moment is that Iris' third birthday is coming up and we have just done a 180 degree turn in planning her party theme. Totoro, the original plan, has been shelved in favor of her current passion, Greek goddesses.

That's right, Greek goddesses. Kind of a weird preoccupation for a preschooler, you might be thinking, but you wouldn't think that if you knew my husband.

J has loved Greek literature all his life – he dressed as Odysseus for Halloween when he was in the fourth grade, people – and he is doing his best to pass on that love to his daughter. He is succeeding. So far he has been unable to find a children's book of Greek stories that is up to his exacting standards, so he tells Iris his own versions, glossing over the age-inappropriate parts with phrases such as "Medusa and Poseidon disrespected Athena in her own temple." (How long, though, before she starts demanding details about that, and how Clintonesque can J remain? I wonder.)

These stories have completely captured her imagination. She recasts them with her dolls and stuffed animals ("Mama, Daddy! Kiki fell from Mount O-woopus [Olympus]!"). Requests them night and day. And retells them in her own inimitable way at school, which I'm sure is a treat for her teachers. "Iris told an interesting story about Medusa," read her weekly report recently. Yes, I'll bet she did!

So, there's really no question as to what will make Iris happiest this birthday (not to mention her father). We'll be having a Greek goddess party for her in a little over a month. Time to get planning! But... what exactly does a Greek goddess party for preschoolers consist of? I must have missed that issue of Martha Stewart Kids. So far, here's what we've got:

   Toga (though J disdains the word, preferring peplos)
   costumes for child guests to don over their clothes

   Plaster of Paris model of Mount Olympus (nix)

   Cake shaped and decorated like a Greek temple (some
   trepidation on my part here)

   Somehow outfitting her rocking horse with wings and
   offering Pegasus rides

   Greek food for grown-ups; capitulate on serving pizza for

And, well, here's where I could use your help. Greek goddess theme party ideas, anyone?

And even if you don't have any of those, how did you name your kid(s)?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

a new necklace

I've finished – almost – the project I began in the Cook Forest: a necklace made out of felt spirals. The idea of a felt necklace is kind of funny to me, but also appealing. I still have to add some beads for length in the back, then the clasp (for this picture, it was held on with a miniature clothespin). I think I'm happy with it? It's hard to say till I've worn it. I just hope I won't feel too anxious about the spirals falling apart (they shouldn't, but that doesn't mean I won't worry that they will). I like jewelry that I can put on and forget about.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

craft congress!

How cool is this?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

have a heart

I whipped up this batch of little stuffed felt hearts for Iris' preschool class

and she pretended they were cookies and popped them into her oven to bake.

But they are still awaiting delivery as a snow and ice storm has pretty much paralyzed Pittsburgh. Everything is closed today, including her school and my work. I couldn't have wished for a happier way to spend valentine's day: cozy at home with my loves.

Hope you are feeling the love, too.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

only the good die young

One year ago yesterday we said goodbye. Thisbe, wherever you are, I hope it's snowing.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

not much, how about you?

I'm checking in to dust off my little corner of the blogosphere, not really knowing what I'm going to say. We have been having a quiet month. Wake, work, school, home, play, eat, sleep. Routine in the most comforting, contented sense. Outside of this, I haven't been doing much, but this has been enough. This, and noticing that the days really are getting longer and lighter. I can hunker down and enjoy this frigid patch of winter knowing spring is truly, if not right around the corner, then at least just a block or so away.

These days have been all about small pleasures. Like this wee plant our potter friend Gary – the one who made our bathroom sink – gave to Iris in a little pot he made. She would kill it with kindness if we let her (like, water it five times a day).

We did break with routine last weekend for a visit to Washington, DC to visit my sisters-in-law, or "the aunties" as they're more commonly known. I got to see the Joseph Cornell exhibit, which was amazing, and we had a belated Christmas gift exchange. Which means I can finally reveal the most intricate freezer paper stencil ever:

Ta-da! An Eleanor Roosevelt shirt for Auntie R.

And for Auntie A, a silk throw in her favorite colors, quilted and lined with cozy flannel. Except for the fabric and the colors, it's actually the exact same thing as Iris' blanket. I often make prototypes of new projects for her because neither Iris nor I will care if they're not perfect.

And I do have to show off the absolutely stunning vintage barkcloth fabric Ronica gave to me:

I could look at it for hours!

Now that Christmas crafting is finally over, I'm off to make valentines.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

the driver wasn't very fuzzy, was he?

And this:

J, exasperated with the driver of the car in front of us: Hey buddy! Buddy, buddy!

Iris, from the backseat, earnestly holding up her teddy bear: Here he is!

the optimist

I don't have much today but the below-zero blahs and then this:

"The water goed down my throat and I didn't cough. Hey! Look at my glass! It's half full!"

Thursday, February 01, 2007

the japanese have a word for it

Wabi: the imperfection of the handmade. I call it “Amy’s present” and hope she will contemplate its, er, uniqueness in the spirit of Shinto serenity, although somehow I doubt the Japanese were thinking of bunched-up bobbin thread. For the record, switching to plastic bobbins all but eliminated the problem and definitely brought the cursing back within the parameters of PG-13, so I owe my sewing-machine repair guy a kiss. Even though there is nothing wabi about a plastic bobbin.

I’ll have pictures of both my sisters-in-law’s (um, what is the plural possessive of “sister-in-law”? anyone?) presents when we get back from visiting them this weekend. In the meantime, yes, that is a magnetic Japanese syllabary on my refrigerator. Tragically, a couple of characters have gotten lost over the years, including “wa,” so the word shown is actually not wabi but sabi, a companion concept that connotes the patina of age and impermanence. The two words are often linked together to express an aesthetic concept called wabi-sabi.

That concludes our Japanese lesson for the day. Arigato gozaimasu.