Experiments In Tie Dye

It started with a shirt from the thrift store — a bright tie-dyed shirt, mainly in orange, which very briefly became The Thing in our household. Technically Nathan had picked it out, but Ryan wanted to wear it, and Nathan, despite the fact that he wasn’t wearing it, definitely did not want Ryan wearing it because… Well, I’ve no idea why, actually. Such questions are pointless.

To keep the peace, I suggested to Ryan that we tie-dye a shirt for him, too. He was all for this, or at least he didn’t object and he stopped trying to steal Nathan’s shirt. That’s a solid win.

The last time I did tie-dye it was in grade school, and I have a vague memory of tubs of dye set up out in the school’s courtyard, and lots of kids with inexpertly bound shirts, and me carting my own inexpertly bound shirt from one adult-moderated dye bath to another. In my memory all of the dye baths looked, to my young eyes, like some shade of mud — which, if the same bath had been used for the last thirty kids, was probably true. I’ve no idea how old I was, but attached to this vague memory is the belief that whatever I came out with wasn’t very cool and in fact may never have been worn.

So I was delighted to discover at the craft store that these days tie-dye doesn’t necessarily involve large, scary-looking dye baths. You can get a neat little kit with just-add-water squeeze bottles of different dye colors, and these are conveniently located next to all of the inexpensive probably-not-made-with-child-labor T-shirts, in various sizes, from Ryan-sized to pregnant-woman-sized. And as if to seal the deal, they also had packages of onesies. Holy Moses, I could make tie-dyed onesies!

(I may have mentioned that I’m pregnant. Onesies represent a minor obsession that I try with limited success to fight.)

I got a 12-pack of the dyes, but mindful that it was a lot more dye than I had fabric for, I let Ryan only choose four of the colors for our first foray. (Nathan, despite the fact that I’d optimistically gotten a shirt for him too, refused to have anything to do with the proceedings, so Ryan got to do two shirts.) He chose Wine, Red, Pink, and Yellow, thereby proving that he’s inherited Mom’s warm-color bias instead of my own cool-color one. He eschewed any scrunching or rubber band work, preferring to apply the dye straight to the shirts in rich, uncomplicated patches.

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Myself, I discovered that you can do a simple kind of batik using Elmer’s glue with these dyes. That and some rubber bands kept me happy with my own shirt.

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And best of all, did I mention the onesies..?

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We have eight dyes left, and I think we’re going to have a tie-dye playgroup party sometime soon…

Posted in Kids, Making. 1 Comment »

Parenting Humor: Honest Toddler

If you’ve never been in charge of a small child’s bedtime before, this link to the Honest Toddler may not be worth your time. But if, like me, you’ve ever been involved in ongoing negotiations which you diplomatically refer to under the title of “Bedtime” but which should really be labeled as “Why I Don’t Want You To Come Out Of Your Room Once I Put You There, For The Love Of God,” then it might kill you. It almost did me in, but fortunately when I laugh too hard tears blur my vision and prevent further reading until I can breathe again. This is apparently a protective response provided by evolution to prevent death by humor.

Playing The Tooth Fairy

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Nathan recently lost his first tooth. He’s been looking forward to this for a while, and although he claims not to have hastened the process by consciously working at his tooth, I’m nearly positive that his tongue was busy at it without conscious effort. I vaguely remember how irresistible is that temptation.

He was so very excited by the whole thing, so we all admired his tooth and the gap left behind, and I got out the Tooth Fairy Jar my Aunt Marybeth had given him to put the tooth in. We’d talked about the story of the Tooth Fairy before, and had even been inspired to look up some of the origins of the story. (I rather like the idea of teeth being collected by mice instead.) So I was not too surprised when Nathan, staring meditatively down at the little jar in his hand, asked if I wouldn’t like to pretend to be the Tooth Fairy for him. He could put the jar under his pillow, he said, and I could try to wake up in the middle of the night and put some money under his pillow with the tooth. (He didn’t want the tooth taken away; he was quite explicit about that.)

Waking up in the middle of the night is unfortunately not optional for me just now, thanks to the baby, but I wasn’t wild about having to do anything more complicated than stagger into the bathroom. The idea of fumbling into the kids’ room and trying to put something under Nathan’s pillow was unappealing. We reached a compromise; the Tooth Fairy jar could stay on Nathan’s computer table overnight, and a fairy or mouse would leave something beside it. I liked this plan because it could be accomplished before I went to bed.

I admit that I felt a brief pang at not having perpetrated the Tooth Fairy fiction, so that he could believe in a magical creature rather than the intervention of his mother. But when I asked him later whether he’d rather that I’d pretended the Tooth Fairy was real, he only looked at me in vague surprise. The question seemed to be a little confusing to him, but overall he seemed content with the “Tooth Fairy game.”

A Warm Ocean

Water and dirt (and by extension rocks, sand, etc) are the best toys ever. This is why the beach is so awesome. And if it’s a warm beach, with water that doesn’t induce hypothermia? Even better.

The kids took a little time to warm up to the novelty of the ocean. Nathan found his feet first, and spent a long time playing catch-me-if-you-can with the waves.

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Ryan started down the same exploratory path as Nathan, got knocked over by a wave, and developed (for a while) an intensely suspicious relationship with the ocean. He also played tag with waves, but was careful to stay entirely out of them, throwing defiant shovels of sand at the retreating water. By the end of the trip he was becoming more used to occasionally getting splashed or knocked down by the waves, and no longer treated it as such a traumatic event. He spent a fair amount of time among the rocks, scooping sand into the little pools left behind by the waves, telling me that he was “salting” them.

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Just A Picture

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Bags For Carrying On

Our family will soon take our first long airplane trip since having children. Oh, we’ve done short hops, but an hour on an airplane is just enough time to enjoy the take-off, be distracted by the snack, and then start the landing. And anyway, Ryan tends to demonstrate his superior travelling skills by falling asleep.

This will be a six-hour stint, though, and even supposing that the kids are willing to watch a movie (not at all certain, especially for Ryan) or take a nap (also uncertain, especially for Nathan) that still leaves a lot of airplane time. Dave is unworried by this prospect. I am… well, I won’t say that I’m worried, only that I’d like to be prepared. To that end I’ve stocked up on some travel games, snacks, fresh notepads and pens, stickers, that sort of thing.

And of course, in the midst of considering what to take, my mind immediately jumped to the obvious things I could make: individual kid-sized carry-on bags.

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Normally my instinct when it comes to bags is to wing it, but in this case I broke down and bought an actual pattern, which I think was a good move, because I’m pretty happy with how they came out. I let each of the kids choose a main fabric from my stash, and since I love all those fabrics in the first place, I naturally love their choices. The bags are surprisingly roomy (I cut down the original pattern to make them 7″ x 10″ x 13″), but still small enough to fit under a seat, or (theoretically) be carried by a small child. Whether they will actually carry them is another question.

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As icing on the cake, the need to quilt the pieces before assembling the bag gave me an excellent opportunity to practice free-motion quilting, which is one of the skills I’ve been interested in delving into more deeply. With variegated thread, no less. Those bits alone I had to go display to Dave.

None of this bag awesomeness will have any impact on the kids’ experience of a six-hour flight, of course. I don’t care; I’ve already enjoyed the heck out of making them, and if nothing else, I’ll enjoy looking at them on the airplane.

Ephemeral

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I know that around the country, millions of people are getting lots of snow — more than they would normally expect or want. I know that it can be an annoying thing to work around. But here it is still an unusual and fleeting occurrence, and my heart — well-trained by the promise of missing school for a day as well as by the simple loveliness of it — lifts whenever flakes drift out of the sky. And if the snow is persistent enough to bury my garden? That’s just joy.

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My excuse currently is that I have small children. This is an entirely false excuse, mind you; I would love the snow just as much if I were alone. But it’s more socially acceptable for young children to get excited about snow, so I focus the conversation on them and casually fail to mention my solitary ventures out for snowy walks. (I love tilting my head back during a good snowfall, letting the flakes brush my face as they spin dizzyingly out of the sky. I don’t even mind the occasional snowflake-in-the-eye.)

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If anything, my children are not quite as insanely excited about snow as I am, no doubt because they lack the “missing-school” portion of the excitement, which to this day creates a sense of almost agonizing hope in me. But they still think it’s pretty cool, and after scrabbling together some semblance of warm clothes, most of which they put on only under protest, they did get out to explore the whiteness. Nathan liked destroying pristine whiteness — Dave and I believe that one of the fundamental hallmarks of humanity is the instinctive thought “How can I mess with that?” upon seeing anything beautiful or well-functioning.

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Ryan’s exploration was more oriented toward his taste buds. He liked eating snow, a lot, which led to a long and detailed conversation about which snow I considered clean enough for consumption, and which snow or ice (like that found in tire tracks) I’d really rather he didn’t sample. I don’t know that he agreed with my analysis, but he mostly tried to humor me.

The snow lasted only a few days before melting completely away. It’s now mid-50′s out there, intermittently sunny and with sudden gusts of delightfully emphatic wind. Some of my crocuses are poking tentative edges of color out, as though debating whether they should commit.

I love this too. But I’m really glad we had the snow.

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