Category: Holidays


The costuming has been going much slower since the first big push with Pynni’s Weeping Angel dress. Last week, I was able to eek out some time to work on the wig. This was surprising because I was keeping Abshie and Timmus while my brother and his wife were out of town, and they are public school attendees. So here I was, thinking that I would be too busy with my normal schedule plus morning and afternoon carpool topped with homework and extra baths.

All my time concerns were for naught, though, and we were able to keep a tight schedule that allowed for the PS kids to have playtime with the HS kids, and THAT gave me time to work on the wig.

I started out crocheting a beanie with a flap around the ears and back of the head to better mimic Pynni’s natural hair line. Then I created bundles of yarn about 18 to 20 inches long that I tied along the center line of the beanie every two rows or so. This created the center part.

I looped yarn “latch hook” style (a’la amigurumi hair) all along the front, inside edge of the beanie  so that when I pulled the yarn up into the twist, there would be no beanie parts showing. Next I created two, much fatter bundles of yarn of similar length to the attached bundles and braided each of them. One of those braids, I rolled into a disc to attach to the back of the beanie to be the base of the messy bun. The other braid, I glued along the small space between the first bundle of yarn in the front and the amigurumi hairline. The Weeping Angels have some sort of ribbon wrapped around their heads and through their hair, and I thought this would fit the bill while also filling in gaps and covering exposed beanie.

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I wrapped a styro head with plastic wrap and worked the, now, yarn covered beanie onto it. I couldn’t decide, up until actually getting into the nitty gritty of this part of the project, what I was going to use to secure the yarn down on the wig. Originally, I thought I’d use fabric glue, but that is made to be flexible. I was wanting stiff because this is supposed to be statue-like. So I thought I would use Elmer’s glue. This would dry clear and stiff and, maybe watered down a little, would make a good over-all treatment to make the whole thing stiff. When I started gluing, the Elmer’s glue was a failure. It didn’t dry fast enough to be of use for securing large sections of the wig, so I had to try something else.

I settled on my glue gun and got to work. This worked exactly as I’d hoped, if a little more painfully. Did you know that glue gun glue is HOT? Yeah, me, too, but I burned my poor fingers over and over because yarn hair isn’t very solid and glue oozes easily into the spaces. I tried using tools like popsicle sticks to maneuver the hair around in the glue, but they just stuck to the glue. Whatever. It got done sans a few fingerprints.

Not really, no fingers were permanently damaged in the making of this costume (disclaimer: yet).

I glued down the braided disk and the head band type braid and then, beginning on the left hand side facing me, I began twisting the “hair” along the hairline toward the back and wrapped the “hair” around the braided disc. Along the way, I glued and secured the “hair”, leaving some of it down to create curls along the hairline after the main part of the wig was done. I, then, worked on the right side facing me and repeated the process, making sure the hair was a symmetrical as I could make it.

Then I trimmed the remaining “hair” and wound it into “curls” and glued and pinned them into place. I discovered that Elmer’s glue had it’s uses. In the end, there were ends of yarn that didn’t want to lay flat and weren’t long enough to tuck in anywhere hidden, so I used Elmer’s to glue the ends down and pins to hold them in place while the glue dried.

I also decided to forgo the stiffening of the entire wig. I’m not making the dress stiff so why would I do that to the wig? It doesn’t flow around her shoulders or anything. All the tresses are glued in place so the illusion of stone should hold without any extra gluing.

Things I learned during this process (yay bullet points!):

  • Hot glue is hot. Go figure.
  • Elmer’s glue dries aesthetically better than hot glue. Hot glue is shiny, not matte, this is problematic when imitating stone.
  • I should have used LESS yarn in the bundles that I tied down the center, as the yarn I used was very bulky when all gathered in the back.
  • I should have gathered the hair down one side and then the other BEFORE swirling one side and attaching it to the bun disc in the back. It was difficult to work the second side into the previously glued and dried half done bun and I ended up with WAY too much yarn for the bun in the back.
  • If I’d done the previous bullet point, I could have thinned the yarn out as I worked my way down the sides of the wig OR if I’d done bullet point 3, I might not have had to do even that.
  • I should have found grey yarn to make the beanie out of. I thought the black would be fine if there were gaps in the “hair” yarn, but it’s very visible. Yes, I needed a soft acrylic, but I should have looked harder for something closer to the “hair” color.
Pieces' hat.

Pieces’ hat.

Aye, that’s right. I’m bamboozling my kids. See I crochet and I’m almost always in the middle of a project, and if I’m crocheting a hat or scarf, I use my kids as models to make sure it’s looking okay or is going to be a good size. This year, unlike every other year, I’m making something for them. I’m making them hats. These hats will be in their cans. The great thing about these hats is that I’m making them right out in the open. I even got the kids to pick out the colors of yarn they like best.

They. Are. Oblivious.

Pynni's hat she insisted on the sunflower button.

Pynni’s hat she insisted on the sunflower button.

I’m taking pictures of the kids in the hats as I finish them. It’s GREAT! The best part is listening to their comments as they try on the hats:

“It’s so pretty!”

“It looks like Pieces!”

“I like it!”

etc.

Chi's hat. He may be suspicious.

Chi’s hat. He may be suspicious.

I’m not real big into the whole “New Year’s” thing. I don’t, on the whole, look back at my year with grateful fondness, or wistful nostalgia, or even apathy. It was a time period. It passed. What’s coming up this afternoon? Tomorrow? Next weekend?

In the same vein, I do not look forward with gleeful hopes of major lifestyle changes. I don’t plan lists of resolutions that will get dumped and/or forgotten in the first few days of the year. Sure, I have things I’d like to change about myself: lose weight, eat better, get more exercise, be more patient, smile more, laugh more, etc. But this dreamer is a realist and I know that making a giant list of “THIS IS WHAT I’M GOING TO DO, DAMMIT” is just setting myself up to fail which injures a self-esteem that wobbles from assured and confident to shattered and bewildered and back again.

Those things I’ve listed? I like to think I work on them always. I’m far from perfect and I’m a professional rebel. I question all authority, even that which I have over myself. “Self,” I say, “Self, sodas are bad for you. They rot your teeth and they are addictive and they make you fat(ter).” Self gives me the finger and has soda. So I have to play mind games with Self and trick it (me). (I AM NOT CRAZY!)

So, anyway. What I thought I wanted to say, was that with all the above mentioned things in mind (that’s YOU keeping those things in mind since I already know them), I was thinking about this year passed. It was a year like any other, I guess. It had bad, dark moments, months even, but then the light always broke through and things got better.

There were things like:

My back. It was awful at the beginning of the year. I was heading into month four and I was still almost completely stuck lying flat, no sitting or standing. Very little vertical allowed or even possible. The pain was awful. I saw my chiropractor two times a week until March or so and then I saw him every week until August when I was finally able to start physical therapy. Now I go once a month and physical therapy is over. And you know what? I’m better. I’m still at risk for surgery, but I have tools to help myself, now. Yoga for one and Tai Chi for another. Pain is minimal and sometimes gone altogether which is a revelation!

Chi. His third grade year was so much better than his second grade year thanks almost entirely to Miz Eff, his third grade teacher. We fretted and worried and planned and prepared and still I just knew that Chi was going to bomb that End of Grade test, but when we got his scores, he was among the top 5% in his grade. And all with no drama. He just let that test roll right off him as if it was nothing. I’m still not sure if it was nothing because we prepared so much, or because Chi was just inexplicably unaffected. Then we started homeschool in the fall and that has exceeded my wildest imaginings for what it would do for him. He is wholly himself. He hops around on his exercise ball and answers questions. He will even write a few sentences with no complaints. He loves school. He is more calm and collected than ever and seems so at ease in his own skin. A first.

Pynni. The start of 2011 began the odyssey that pushed me over the edge and made the decision to homeschool. It has been a hard row to hoe with her, but we seem to have hit our stride. I can only guess that most of our issues stem from how her Kindergarten experience damaged her self-esteem. It took four long months but she is reading. The light returned to her eyes when she was reading a short book to me and as she struggled through and sounded out all the words without any help from me, I touched her cheek to get her attention and said, “Pynni. You’re reading. Do you realize that? You. Are. Reading.” A grin that became a full on smile that lit the room (I swear) dawned across her face. Every so often, now, she’ll be reading quietly to herself and turn suddenly and say to me, “I really love to read!” All of that has made school with her easier, quicker and more enjoyable for the both of us.

Pieces. My fabulous, jolly little man is in preschool again and again it is all business. He loves it, but he is very serious about school. And it turns out, he may be my smartest child. He knows all of everything he is supposed to know for Kindergarten already. I’m going to start teaching him to read.

Doodle. He lived with us for most of 2011. Things got strained at the end. Things that are too personal, and still yet, painful to put down here. He moved out and then promptly got a new job and moved away. I will not be seeing him much anymore, although we talk on the phone. We have a very special relationship, my brother and me, and distance has never interfered, but I miss his presence. With his move comes the reality that his kids won’t be here much anymore, but we will get them here for a week or so every summer. I can be happy with that. Content? No, but happy and grateful for any amount of time for sure.

Grandad. My maternal grandfather was hospitalized after Thanksgiving. He’s had bypass surgery before and due to his age and heart issues, he is no longer a candidate for bypass surgery. Things were very sketchy for him there for a bit. He is very at peace with where he is in life and what his life has represented. He is a Godly man who has spent much of his adult life ministering to those in need, and I don’t mean preaching. His life is such a great example of what being Christian means. I can look at his example and be less jaded. Still, I am not ready to say good-bye and I am very grateful that he pulled through and is at home recovering.

Yeah, 2011 was mostly good. I’m sure I could month by month it and list all the things, good and bad. But I won’t. 2011 ended and I’m moving onward, but resolutions? Nah. I’m constantly working on bettering myself. One thing, though. I’m making my cousin a scarf or something, even though she hasn’t blogged SINCE JUNE!

****CAUTION! SPOILER ALERT****

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing up, we never believed in Santa Claus because we celebrated Christmas as the birth of Jesus Christ. My parents made Christmas special in many, many ways, and I never once wished I’d had Santa be part of that. Yes, I was most likely that kid in Kindergarten who burst your happy little Christmas bubble by announcing loudly and with great conviction that “THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS SANTA CLAUS”. We didn’t have stockings or set out cookies. We didn’t write letters to fictional men or mistake who gave us what.

What we did have was an all night fest of “WAITING FOR CHRISTMAS MORNING” on Christmas Eve during which we (that’s my brothers and I) would stay up all night and debate on whether 2 o’clock in the morning was too early to wake my parents up. (We generously waited until 3am, in case you were wondering.) We would then call Nanny and Papaw (paternal grandparents) and they would come over (having been awake since 2am waiting for us to call, btw) and after reading Jesus’ birth story, we would start what came be the most anticipated part of Christmas: Christmas Morning Games. These were sometimes simple, sometimes elaborate, games that my Dad would set up the previous evening (while we, the children, were “sleeping”) like Christmas Morning Scavenger Hunts, or presents that were for “Mom” until she opened it and it was for “Nanny” until she opened it and it was for “Tim” until he opened it and it was for me all along, or the time when Dad wrapped a phone number that I had to call and it rang in my bedroom (HOW DID HE DO THAT WITHOUT ME KNOWING?!?).

After all the paper was ripped off the boxes, Dad would present us with our Christmas Cans. In lieu of stockings, we had cans that we opened at the end of the presents part of Christmas. These were about the size of gallon paint cans and were usually filled with small things: tapes, cd’s, socks, money, candy, knick-knacks, whatever. Sometimes the best Christmas Games came in the cans that had the three of us working together to solve some sort of riddle and ended on The Gift that was for the three of us. So. Much. Fun.

After the mess was mostly picked up, and we were occupied with whatever we’d received, Mom and Nanny would make a giant breakfast that we would be eating by 5am some mornings and that breakfast was usually followed by Nanny’s chocolate cake and naps.

With all these great memories, Christmas is my favorite holiday. I LOVE this time of year. I love redecorating my house for Christmas BEFORE Thanksgiving. I LOVE listening to Christmas carols on REPEAT. I LOVE the excitement that builds and builds for my kids and I LOVE watching their joy and excitement culminate on Christmas morning.

Even with all of that the Santa question loomed large for me. I have nothing against him, personally, but I had no idea how to introduce such a concept to my kids when they were little without lying to them and I make it point never to lie to my kids. Hubs believed in Santa and wanted the kids to believe in him as well. I shrugged and figured that was no big deal. Oh, how wrong I was.

First of all, my oldest child is not neuro-typical. He did not naturally latch onto this myth and I found myself constantly telling him lies to make him understand who this Santa person was. He just didn’t get it, and I was pissed off all the time because of how difficult the whole undertaking turned out to be.

Christmas Can-Cans

The Christmas after Chi turned three, he started asking random questions about this Santa person and what he heard upset him immensely. He really was not okay with the idea of some strange man in red rappelling down our non-existant chimney unbeknownst to the sleeping inhabitants of our house. It scared the ever loving crap out of him.

So I did, it. I told him that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, and there was much relief on both our parts. He understood in his own way the idea of a pretend person that he was NOT going to imagine coming to our house THANKYOUVERYMUCH, and I was much relieved that I didn’t have to lie to him anymore.

Now that I have Pynni and Pieces, I can see how easy it would have been, had Chi been other than he is, to perpetuate the Santa Myth with my kids without much effort, but that wasn’t the case and I’m not sad about it. We have stockings that they pull things out of while Hubs and I get our coffee. They open their presents, and take our time taking breaks to play with what they get as they get it. Afterwards, they get their cans and after that we have a big breakfast. We don’t have any grandparents living close enough to spend Christmas Morning with us, but even without Santa and Grandparents, we do just fine.