Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hip hip hooray!

Baby Stephanie had two birthday celebrations yesterday: a birthday breakfast picnic in the morning and cake and ice cream in the afternoon. We sang and blew out candles twice, because she loves the birthday song so much. She has especially embraced shouting, "Hip hip hooray!" after the birthday song, as you will see about half-way through this wonderful afternoon cake clip:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Baby Stephanie

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Ellie, and now it's Stephanie's turn. I've found it hard not to oversimplify Stephanie's update. Words like "joy", "sunshine", "happy", and "imp" spring to mind immediately, because they describe her so well. I could leave it at that, and it would be honest and complete, but more detail is in order, especially since today is her second birthday.

Baby Stephanie Grace was born at home in The Hague two years ago. I always bring this up because her start could not have been more perfect (or more different from Ellie's). We had planned the home birth, and Markus and I labored together until it was time to call the midwife and the kraamzorg (the nurse who cares for mom and baby at home and also assists the midwife with homebirth). They turned up not long before it was time to push, and then Stephanie was there! The overhead light was off, candles and a small lamp were on for peaceful light, and the midwife just gave her to us to enjoy for a long while, saying she'd weigh the same in an hour or so and there was no need to rush it. No bright lights, no whisking baby away from mama to be rubbed down and weighed and poked and prodded and otherwise harassed by strange hands. Just baby on Mama's chest, snuggled close and warm and peaceful. She has been happy (and firmly attached to Mama) ever since. Early on, we dubbed her "Mama's koala", and she still lives up to that nickname. She now repeats it back, and I'm desperate to get a recording of her saying it in her little voice before she grows any more. Baby Stephanie has a variety of other nicknames too. For most of her first year, she was "Baby Stephanie Grace", and then "Baby Stephanie", which she still is no matter what people say about her turning two and not being a baby any more (she's MY baby!). Most recently, she's "stinkerschen" or "stinker" or "bubilein" or "bubzi" or some variation thereof. When she's tired, she is a hair twirler (has been since birth), so she is often a "twirly girly" too.

Stephanie recently transitioned from crib to mattress on floor, and then big bed. She's still in the extension because she is a light sleeper, so her room has a bit of an institutional feel. Sigh. She doesn't mind! She loves her newfound proximity to a light switch, and she often entertains herself turning it on and off for a long while before falling asleep (often with the light still on). You know when she's awake, not because she fusses or cries, but because she makes non-specific shouting noises, kind of like little loud announcements in short, intermittent bursts. It's pretty funny, actually.

While Ellie is a logic girl, Stephanie is all about feelings. She made her first joke at seven months (repeatedly spitting her drink into the air because the first time made Markus laugh so hard). She laughed out loud at something Ellie was doing around the same time most baby books say baby's smiles might be more than just gas. She is very in tune with people's feelings, and she loves to make people happy. She performs for those she loves. "Watch this everybody!" is her most frequent cry, usually before she does anything from jumping on the trampoline to running like a monkey down the hallway to spinning in a circle. She has an incredibly impish nature and loves good-natured mischief. She will usually ask before doing anything particularly impish, or she will cast a sneaky smile over her shoulder and make sure she has your attention first. Her bright blue eyes sparkle and then there's that smile, and it's just about impossible to get upset with her over anything.

It's not an exaggeration to say that she is typically happy from the moment she wakes up until she goes to bed again at night. We often wonder how much of it has to do with her good start. Markus and I often feel that we don't play with her enough, because we enjoy watching her so much. She is remarkably at ease playing on her own. Once she becomes engrossed with an activity, she can sit quite quietly for long periods, peacefully working away.

I recently put her crib mattress on the floor in a corner of Ellie's room, and if you haven't heard from her in a while, chances are she's sitting there, looking at books. Stephanie loves books and stories, though she doesn't have much patience for reading them start to finish; she has her own way and pace. She really enjoys her Duplo Lego and playing with water, and she is almost always accompanied by several "friends". These friends almost always include Zuzu and Heidi (dolls she received her first Christmas) and lately lots of Schleich animals. Oh, the animal obsession! In the past week, she's taken to carrying around several Schleich farm animals in one of my old purses. They go everywhere. She received four new ones (mouse, squirrel, dolphin and whale) for her birthday, and she was one happy cookie! Of course, she's pretty much happy anywhere doing anything. Case in point, our recent IKEA trip:

One of the first things most people comment on is her language. Stephanie is a big talker, and she has a marvelous vocabulary. She uses complete sentences and often talks at length about something on her mind. She also listens to other people converse and chimes in most unexpectedly, a good reminder for us always to be mindful of what we say. She picks up many habits from Ellie, including the tendency to continually repeat what she is saying until someone echoes it back. If she addresses you, you must respond, "Yes, Stephanie?" or she might just keep asking ("Mama? Mama? Mama?..."). If she wants you to watch her, you must affirm this verbally ("I'm watching") even if you are clearly doing so visually. Stephanie really seems to enjoy the give and take of conversation.

In stark contrast to all of this, Stephanie is incredibly wary of strangers...for which we are quite thankful. She does not want to be touched by strangers or approached without invitation. She hides behind me or (more usually) wants to be held close when she notices someone watching her. Her good nature attracts a lot of attention, but she turns it off like a switch and closes down when a stranger is near (you will see her go from laughing to no expression and averting her eyes or looking straight down to hide her face). She is such a joy all the time that we are happy for her to close down like that and send a clear message to strangers. As long as attention isn't too personal, she is very polite and has exceptional manners for a child her age. She almost always remembers to say "thank you" without prompting, and she even says "excuse me" before interrupting adult conversation. Once a person becomes very familiar to her, she is thrilled to see them and asks after them when absent. She absolutely adores our friends across the road. She asks about them individually almost every night at bedtime. She calls them on her play phone. No matter who she's calling, her phone calls almost invariably end with "Good-bye! I love you! Thanks!"

We don't have many photos of Stephanie from this summer that we can share online, because she was almost always sans clothing. She embraces nudism with wide open arms. Her dolls are never clothed. Even her crayons have been stripped of their papers. Ellie has tried in vain to restore order and dress Stephanie's dolls, but it never lasts once Stephanie finds them. The nickname I forgot in the list above is "Nackedei" [nak-uh-di], a diminutive German word for a naked person. In our house, a person's bottom is called a "po-po", so Stephanie is also the "Nackepopo." (If she catches one of us coming out of the shower, she will reach up and pat our bottoms, chanting "Nackepopo!") Watching Stephanie run around happy as a clam in her birthday suit, we are thankful we were able to move to Perth, where the sun usually shines and she can be as free as she likes to be in great weather for so much of the year.

Stephanie loves animals, especially doggies. Oh, if we could get her a dog! She would truly be the happiest baby around! She is gentle and careful with dogs, and she knows to offer them the back of her hand to sniff before trying to pet them. She is also very sweet and nurturing with her stuffed animals or even pictures of baby animals. She will cuddle them close and coo over them. Sometimes, her eyes will well up a little as she tells us how much she wants to hold them in her hands. She is such a tender, thoughtful little soul.

Happy Birthday, Stephanie!

Two years ago today, our family grew by two (perfect little) feet.

She was born at home in our living room, and Ellie woke up the next morning to find a new baby sister snuggled in bed with Mama.

She approved (thankfully, she still does).
Happy Birthday, Baby Stephanie! We all love you so much!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A public apology

This blog has gotten me into trouble.
Technology, and my failure to use it, has backfired.
This year, the girls received on two separate occasions from two very important people some absolutely gorgeous, thoughtful, hand-made gifts. I was so touched and moved by the gifts that I took photos, printed, and saved the prints to mail with special cards instead of sharing them on the blog. I felt blogging about them before a much-deserved traditional thank you was too public and impersonal for such gifts. Of course, after over four years of blogging, it's quite understandable in retrospect that the lack of blog acknowledgement seemed telling (in a bad way). The wait for the traditional thank you was too long (due to normal mailing delays and my own inexcusable ones), and it seemed the gifts were not appreciated at all when in fact the exact opposite was true. Oh dear. I apologize! My recent disenchantment with the blog makes me forget how important it can be.

For Christmas, Grandmary sent the girls beautiful Southern-style smocked dresses. Ellie's is the requisite pink and Stephanie's is the perfect-for-her blue. Ellie has worn hers to school and Stephanie has worn hers on a few of the days when she has been willing to be clothed. The dresses are gorgeous and have been the source of much appreciation and praise!

Just look at those blue eyes, will ya?

For Valentine's Day, Mimi made lovely flower hairclips for the girls and myself. We all wore them that day and on other days since. I have had trouble getting the girls to pose in them. Hair accessories never last long before hair returns to an accessory-free state, which makes snapping photos tricky, but we all enjoy these clips and have gotten soooooo many compliments on them!

Stephanie's photo is a bit blurry because I had my foot on her belly, trying to hold her an appropriate distance away from the camera. She always tries to run around me to see the image on the screen (not good when she is the object of the image). We think this photo somehow captures a version of her that reveals a lot of how she will look as she gets older. Amazing. Ellie's photo is off-center because I held the camera aside to make her laugh for a genuine smile, and well, the camera was aside. What can I do? (For the record, Ellie's shirt is an adult-sized shirt she picked at an op shop. I had planned to alter it to fit her, and she won't let me near it. It shall be worn as is.)

Thank you both for the wonderful prezzies! The girls really enjoy them, and so does anyone who gets to see them!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This really sucks

...but that's what new vacuum cleaners are supposed to do.
I bought a new Dyson vacuum this morning. Moving as often as we do can mean buying new appliances with alarming (and expense-topping) regularity, so I cling to what works until it doesn't work anymore. Our vacuum from Carrefour in Qatar has been pleading for retirement for a long while now, and I've ignored it. No more! My floors were oh-so-gross, and I didn't know the half of it until I dumped most of it out of the new filter. Ick.
And then, ahhhhh, the glorious feeling of newly cleaned floors.
I feel like the stereotypical 50s housewife, oo-ing and aah-ing over a new appliance, only minus the apron, pearls and heels.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gettin' my groove back

An acute observer has remarked upon the light posting of late and almost no emails at all. The truth is I've been in a bit of a slump. Last week, we finally got work done on some of the issues in this house (hooray!), but that meant workmen in and around the house during Stephanie's usual naptime (i.e., 3 days without naps for a girl who normally takes a 2-3 hour nap every day; that also means my only good work time disappeared). When I picked Ellie up from school last Wednesday, she had the first case of other kids' germs for the year, which she shared with Stephanie, and she stayed home on Thursday. She recovered quickly (it seemed to be a 12 hour bug), and we had a great day together, but school again on Friday wore her out. Two overtired girls means lots of drama and woe, and we're all pretty darn tired. The weekend was nice but very quick. We're dog-paddling to keep our heads up until the long weekend this weekend (Australian Labour Day). And of course, we'll have a wonderful little someone's birthday to celebrate then too. In the meantime, I'll be working on gettin' my groove back both in person and online. Please be patient with me.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Domestic goddess

Today, I think I officially achieved "domestic goddess" status!
Before 9am, I sewed a ballet bag for Ellie. Then, I went to my knitting group to see my peeps.
On the way home, I ran errands.
At home, I prepared burgers for dinner and baked cookies.
Then, I cleaned like a mad thing, and we had friends over for afternoon tea and playtime.
Tonight, I will be babysitting for friends.
Sewing, knitting, shopping, cooking, baking, cleaning, entertaining, child-minding...woo-hoo!
Tomorrow, Sunday will definitely be a day of rest.

Update: I was wrong! Sunday brought a next-level domesticity encounter that was both relaxing and really good fun. I took an afternoon scoot over to the new Jo Sharp store in Cottesloe to check it out. I was the only person there besides the woman behind the counter (it's unusual for a shop to be open on Sunday). We got to chatting about yarns and patterns, preferred projects and techniques. I have a strong preference for circular needles for all projects and she's a straight needle knitter, so I offered to show her "magic loop." She offered me a cup of tea. I was in there about an hour and enjoyed every minute. As it turns out, she was Jo Sharp. So, I spent time this afternoon with an internationally-known knitwear and yarn designer, with me as the new knitter showing her a new knitting skill. I love it.
p.s. If you see Lumina yarns coming out in purple and/or raspberry red, you know who requested it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New skill in progress

Last night, I attended my first quilting class. A local shop regularly offers classes, but they are almost always during the weekday mornings when I cannot attend. This term, they offered one nighttime class, and most conveniently, it was their beginner class for making a basic squares quilt. I intended to pass it by this term and try next term, but then they told me this would be the last time a night course would be offered so I bit the bullet and signed up. For a while now, I have had the idea that I'd like to make a quilt for Ellie's birthday. This year, she'll be 5 (unless you ask her, because she'll tell you most vehemently that she already is 5), and I think that's a pretty big birthday. A quilt just feels like the right gift, and with several months to go, I think it's do-able. Thus, the class.

Last night was about proper cutting technique. We all started with 8 fat quarters and had to cut them down to 48 6.5-inch blocks. I bought this fat quarter pack a few months ago when I first had the quilt idea. I thought Ellie would like all the pink, but I have had second thoughts on the actual fabrics just about ever since. I decided to stick with them anyway. I think not having the perfect fabrics will make me a more relaxed learner. I won't fret about it being perfect, and I'm sure it will turn out nice, even if it's not quite me. My homework was to lay out the squares in a 6x8 grid (the look of the finished quilt) and get my patterns in the places I wanted them. She suggested we lay them out how we liked them and then walk away for a while, come back with fresh eyes, and see what we think. I took a photo instead and cleared them up again. Here's the potential lay-out:

What do you think?

Cafe stop and Perth culture

Baby Stephanie and I have gotten to be quite regular visitors to The Dancing Goat, a small cafe in Cottesloe between our house and Ellie's school. There are lots of reasons why I love it there. It's small and comfortable. It's low-key and kid-friendly. Although there isn't much space, no one seems to mind busy babies, baby noise, or kiddie mess. The owners (Annie and Rob) are my age, which I love! And Annie has remembered our names from the very first visit...a trick she seems to manage with everyone, which never ceases to impress me. It's cash-only, and I discovered that a few visits in when I was cash-less. We'd already had our drinks and snacks, and it was time to pay...only no $$. Annie just shrugged and smiled, telling me to just bring it next time. She knew there would be a next time, and it pretty much clinched the deal in my book! This morning, I tried to snap a photo of Stephanie enjoying her babycino and muffin (raspberry-white chocolate! yum!), but she was having none of it. In the only non-blurry photo, you can clearly read her lips: "LET ME SEEEEEEEEE!"

I also enjoy this photo because it gives you a small glimpse into life in Perth. Cafe culture seems pretty huge here. Almost as huge as the beach culture. In the morning, the two combine, resulting in lots of bare feet or flipflops and beach clothing (exhibit A: the young couple in the background). That's no biggie of course (although I always notice the bare feet). The bigger adjustment for my expectations is that no one bats an eye when someone walks in dripping wet and wrapped in a beach towel. When I say dripping, I mean wetter than I would want to be when I get into my car, but a lot of people seem to walk out of the ocean after their morning swims, get in the car, drive to a cafe, and then wrap the towel around the wet swimsuit so they can go order. It's amazing, and it's not limited to the cafes. I've seen people duck into shops this way, too. My all-time favorite "what the?" moment was a few months after we arrived. I was shopping in the grocery store, and at the check-out was a woman in her mid- to late-40s wearing her beach towel and very obviously nothing else (nope, not even shoes). It's like she'd been sunbathing in the nude and ran out of Perrier, so she dashed to the grocery store and did her weekly grocery shopping. She had a very full cartload of the usual grocery items. And no one seemed to notice her attire (or lack thereof) but me.

Early morning

This morning, I allowed myself to wake up slowly outside in the fresh air. I sat on our picnic table bench and watched the light turn from pink to orange to golden before it became the white light of daytime. I enjoyed breathing in the fresh new morning and waking up along with the sunlight. The temperature was cool, less than 20C/70F, reminding me that summer is slowly drawing to a close.

Of course, the six mosquito bites I collected remind me that summer is still with us. It's just waking up a little later these days than it was a few weeks ago.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Buying bagels

We have been frequenting Lawley's Bakery Cafe in Shenton Park almost as long as we've lived here. It's pretty big and quite amenable to kidlets (though no easy access bathroom is a big downside), so we're regulars. At first, we went there in the mornings sometimes for toast with jam and a babycino. It wasn't long before Ellie figured out babycinos come with cookies in the afternoon. Now, Stephanie loves babycinos too. Just about every cafe serves babycinos (usually with a marshmallow or maybe two), but at Lawley's, the babycinos are only 80 cents, and as I said, they come with a cookie. Hello.

Ellie often asks if we can go to the bakery after school. We used to go as a Friday treat for reaching the end of the week, but once she started going full days, she asked more often. I've noticed it seems to correlate with tough days or when she's extra-tired. It helps her handle the peril, so often I acquiesce. Today was one of those days.

When we arrive, the girls make a beeline for the toy basket. In the past few weeks, some stuffed bunnies have turned up in there, and the girls love them! Those are always claimed first. Then, we have our usual table in the corner along the wall where tables back up to a wall-length bench/booth seat. The girls are very polite and nearly always remember to say "thank you" when their treats arrive. The cookie is then devoured with gusto; the babycino may be consumed or not.

Then, there is the big finish: buying bagels.

For over a year, Ellie has liked to go to the counter at the bakery after her treat and buy two plain bagels, one for herself and one for baby Stephanie. I give her exact change, and I am supposed to remain in my chair but within sight. At first, she was often overlooked, the worker assuming she was a kid waiting with a parent in the queue, which often resulted in tears as Ellie was skipped over time and again. By now, almost all of the girls at the bakery know her/us and they know what she wants when she walks up. They even let her jump the queue, though Ellie doesn't know this.

Within the past month or two, baby Stephanie wants in on the action. Now, they each buy their own bagels. Ellie walks up and waits at the counter, and then she asks for "One plain bagel, please." She waits for the girl to get it, hands over her money with a "thank you" and comes back to me. Baby Stephanie puts her coins on the counter and runs away. I usually have to remind her to go back to get her bagel. She is always extremely proud that she was able to "pay the lady."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Get more sleep!

They say writing down something makes it easier to remember. It's not like I don't know this already, but sheesh, I need to get more sleep! Recently, Markus and I have been really good about going to bed much earlier than we used to, and it has been making a huge difference. I don't think I realized exactly how big a difference until last night when I kept him up obsessing about issues in the house (another blog post entirely) until well past our old (too late) bedtime--over an hour and a half later than the recent, more sensible bedtime. And guess what? Today, I am a zombie. Whereas the other days this week felt effortlessly productive, today I can barely rub two thoughts together. Today, productive is for radical, can-do people, not worn out old zombies like me. Yikes.
Must get more sleep.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Feedback wanted

Thanks to everyone who reads and enjoys the blog for your support! As I have often done in the past, I am once again pondering format. Over four years ago (!), I created this blog to replace mass mails, just to update friends and family on what we were up to given that we were so far away. I adapted that over time to increase frequency of posting to make it more worthwhile and more interesting to read (and write, frankly). That evolved to more general sharing of thoughts and experiences. Lately, lack of interaction has frustrated me, so I've brought it back more to updates...but (once again) I'm not finding that to be quite enough. What do you like? Is there anything you want to see/read more often? I'd like for this to continue to be an enjoyable space for all of us, so I would appreciate your feedback.
Thanks for your help!

Friday, February 05, 2010


I write this blog so friends and family can stay updated on our goings-on, but that makes it all too easy to let the daily on-going stuff go unrecorded. Since we've moved to the other side of the planet, most of our loved ones haven't spent time with the girls in over a year and (gasp!) soooooo much changes in children so quickly that I thought it might be nice to take a post to record where the girls are now and what they are doing. First-born first:

Our big girl is Ellie or Eleanor or even her full name if she is feeling so inclined. When she was littler, she had a whole host of nicknames, most commonly "Monkeyschatz", but those are almost always rejected now. If you call her a monkey (even when she's acting like one), she will become indignant and inform you sternly that she is not a monkey, she is a girl. Ellie is four and a half years old now, and she's over a meter tall. She is starting to notice her own growth and new little achievements. In the past week, she has been able to open the car door to let herself in (we have a SUV). She didn't have the strength/coordination/height to do it regularly before now. She is so proud each time to reaches a new little milestone.

If you met her out and about, the encounter would vary wildly depending on how well she knows you. If you are a stranger, she might reach for my hand or hide her face in my skirt, peeking out at you shyly, remaining perfectly silent; this might even happen if you are a known acquaintance of mine but not necessarily of hers. She might surprise us both by becoming chatty, telling you about her day, a funny recollection or some of baby Stephanie's antics. If she is excited to see you, you will know because she will hide behind my knees or under my skirt (prompting me to remind her that I don't love sharing my underpants with the world) and shriek with glee (it's the shrieking that will tip you off to the thrill). This is what she does most days when Markus comes home from work, unless I'm nowhere nearby, in which case she runs shrieking down the hall and hides under the covers on her bed, laughing hysterically. You will also know she is excited to see you, because she will not allow us to have any conversation whatsoever. She will interrupt with anything and everything she can possibly think of to tell you about, but she doesn't do this to be rude. She just really wants your attention and will do what it takes to keep it because she values it.

Ellie enjoyed her first day back at school on Wednesday. For you Northern Hemisphere people, our February is your August/September; this is the start of the school year. She just finished summer holidays, and man oh man were they too long. The first month was great, but after that, she was more than ready to go back (and there were a few weeks left to go). By the end of the holidays, she was downright difficult (and frankly unpleasant) much of the time. She had devolved to an almost continuous outbreak of bad soap opera displays of misery (fake tears, fake wailing in fake agony...) for any minor annoyance, real or perceived. Sometimes, she just woke up, took one look at me, scowled and announced in a surly voice that she would not listen to anything I said all day. It was raw-ther trying. But day one back at school and she was back to herself! She's happy to be with us, happy to play with Stephanie, happy to snuggle with me and spend time together, happy to sit on her own and name it. She is one contented kiddo.

A (well-meaning) older woman recently told me that raising children was a lot like having a dog in that you just have to train them properly. Of course, this lady had no children of her own but two little yip-yip dogs. In Ellie's case, it's more like having the big dog who needs continuous intellectual stimulation or it will destroy your house (and your sanity). Ellie loves school, and she took to Montessori like a duck to water. She loves to work. She loves the independence and the freedom to choose her work and the environment that allows her to work uninterrupted for as long as she likes. This work may be puzzles, drawing, cooking, writing, whatever...and she thrives on it. Today, she came home from school and read quietly to herself in her room and then in the kitchen with Stephanie and me for over an hour. She is relaxed, content, and centered again. Thank goodness.

Now, when I talk about her reading, perhaps I should put it in quotes. She doesn't actually read yet, but she is actively working on it. We are not trying to teach her (she works on it at school). Ellie has always done everything in her own time and in her own way, and she has always let us know when she wants instruction. On the other hand, she has been devouring books ravenously of late, so we think actual reading isn't too far away. She cannot get enough of the Connie books, a German series. Over the holidays, she watched a lot of German DVDs and greatly increased her use of Dinglish (blending German and English in her speech). We're pretty excited about her enthusiasm for German. Markus is feeling reassured for all the time he's spoken German with the girls, though we know immersion will be required at some point to firm it up.

On the whole, Ellie is a sweet, wonderful girl (if a bit--okay, quite--high maintenance). I'm her mama and I'm biased, but her goodness runs through every bit of her; anyone who knows her well will tell you as much. To knock down my bias, I'll also share the tougher sides. She's very sensitive, and she takes life's knocks quite hard. She is very serious and contemplative. She is stubborn, and she pushes buttons of mine that I didn't know existed until she found them. She is fretful and particular. As Markus often says, the order of the universe must not be disturbed. But...she is also incredibly loving and a true nurturer. She is a darling big sister and a sweet mama to her Lolo. She is compassionate and thoughtful about others. She is tender and gentle and caring towards all small creatures, and she is deeply hurt when others are not. She doesn't understand why people can be hurtful or mean, and when it happens to her, her heartbreak breaks your heart too.


This week, I have been enjoying a bit of sewing. For a while now, I've been trying to work up the courage to make my first garment. I have a book of cute and simple patterns for girls', and over the weekend, I found the perfect fabric to make tops for Ellie and Stephanie. I worked up Ellie's first, hoping to have it ready for the first day of school (second day instead, alas).

She really likes it! She tried it on and (magically!) it fit! She modeled it and insisted I take multiple pictures, all before changing out of her pajamas. Then, she stuffed it in her drawer and it hasn't seen the light of day since. Alas. The funny thing is she really does like it; she just also really likes to wear particular clothing items and this isn't (yet) on the list. As she removed it, she did place an order for one "just like it but a dress." I can do that. Of course, I still have to make Stephanie's. The double gauze fabric is so dreamy that I want to make something for myself out of it too. I have no particular pattern in my possession, and I have a whim to copy something I already have. Ambitious, yes. Crazy at my beginner level, just maybe. We'll see if I dare.

Two days ago, it was Ellie's friend Zoe's birthday. We'll head to her party tomorrow morning, but she needed something special on the day. Ellie helped me do the sewing for this necklace:

I had the idea for this back on Ellie's birthday, but that was pre-sewing-machine, and I was daunted by the work. The sewing machine made it a very quick project, and Zoe loves it! She has worn it for two days, and her mom now plans to snip the ribbon/necklace and sew it onto a t-shirt for repeat wear. For Zoe's birthday party, I've made yet another library bag:

I love these! I can whip them up pretty quickly now, and they make such nice presents. Our favorite gifts are books, so this is fantastic wrapping and a second useful gift all in one!

**Blogger tells me this was my 700th post! Wowsers!

***Update: All of the wool creatures I made for Crafthope have sold! At $20 each, they raised an additional $80 for Doctors Without Borders! Hooray!***