Thursday, October 31, 2013

Doctor Who-loween (Part 1)

It's no secret. My family is a bunch of nerds. If I was in denial before about this fact, my children's choices for what they wanted to be this Halloween would have been the face-smack of reality.

For those of you not familiar with the sci fi series "Doctor Who", these two series of posts may be a letdown. Unless you like super cool and resourceful use of materials to make kick-butt costumes. In that case, you should totally read on.

Cara had decided that she wanted to dress up as the Tardis from "Doctor Who". Those outside of the Who-verse loop, the Tardis is the blue wooden box that the Doctor uses for time/space travel. (Man, I am really resisting the urge to expound on that description and talk how the Tardis is much more than just a space ship and about the episode when the Tardis manifested itself as a woman and now I want to say that resistance is futile, which is a whole other can of nerd worms, so I'll just stop.)
So much more than just a time and space travel box. It's bigger on the inside.
Instead of doing a literal box costume, we had seen several interpretations of the Tardis that we were inspired by.  Because of my love of blue and my mother's thoughtfulness in keeping my old prom dresses, I actually had two royal blue dresses to choose from. Cara chose the strapless dress that I wore to my junior prom as the garment we would turn into a Tardis. 
Cara (age 6) in the dress that would be her costume six years later.
Cara did not want me to make too many actual changes to the dress itself, so we looked for a bustier to use over the dress instead of having to sew directly onto it.  We found a black girdle-type thing at a thrift store for $5. We used white scrap fabric to sew window panes to resemble the ones on the Tardis door.
The windows.
The size of the bow on the backside of this dress from the eighties seemed to be trying to compensate for the lack of shoulder pads and puffy sleeves in this strapless dress. Out came the seam ripper and off went the bow.
No more butt bow.
Most of the fabric from the deconstructed bow was used to sew wide straps onto the dress. Oh how I wish I had done this alteration before junior prom. Hours spent trying to keep my dress up would have been saved.
Much more 12-year old appropriate.
So far, we were into this costume five whole dollars. Man, I love a good deal.

I had to break down and buy white fabric paint but a good friend of mine (whose craft room is one I whole-heartedly covet) had some black satin that we were able to use to make a sash. I used letter stencils that I made to paint the sash and three coats of paint. Once this was done, it really felt like the costume was coming together.
Fabric paint ($1) on black satin fabric (free - thanks, Katherine) that I sewed into a sash.
One of the websites I like to visit had posted someone who made Doctor Who shoes. I promptly filed this idea in my brain (surprisingly, in an area of my brain that actually retained this idea) and talked Cara into using these as her shoes.
Brown flats that I painted to look like the Doctor (from the neck down, at least). Flats from the thrift store ($4), red fabric $2 (the rest of which was used for Connor's costume), and buttons from my giant button stash.
Originally, I had made a head lamp myself which was okay, but not perfect. Craig was very tactful in offering to upgrade this part of her costume and I heartily supported this project. 

Using a recycled cardboard canister, a couple of electronics pieces he bought at Radio shack (including the LED light), a switch and wires he removed from an old toy car, power tools, and a soldering iron, he got a MUCH improved head lamp for Cara's costume.
LED light with a switch that Craig designed and built. From scratch. With tools. It was glorious.
Once that was done, I used a sheet of vellum and some ribbon I bought at the craft store ($3 total) and most of the leftover bow fabric to cover the headband and lamp.  With the black netting that had also been a part of the bow (it was unsed inside to help it maintain its stability in its giantness) and some iridescent blue beads I had in my craft stash, I made a little fascinator to attach to the head piece.
Head lamp fully assembled with fascinator attached.
And then it was all finished.
Cara in full costume with trick-or-treat bag.
Cara "being the box" with her friends dressed as a Dalek (evil robot from the DW series) and the 10th Doctor.
We are all so thrilled with how great this turned out.  I love that it was truly a family project.  What's even better is that a couple of her friends from school got inspired by her choice in Halloween costume and made some themselves. They were three little Whovians at her school's Halloween Ball. This nerd couldn't be prouder. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Dozen Years

Last week was Cara's 12th birthday.  While many people lament that time with their children has gone by so fast, I honestly can say that this journey has taken twelve whole years. Even when I was digging around on our family website, looking through pictures of Cara when she was much younger, I do not find myself wishing she was one of those ages again. I like her at twelve. Twelve is just as great as eleven and ten and nine and all of the other year-olds she was.

During a visit from my mother when Cara was 6 months old (and excuse me if I've told this story before), Craig and I had my mom watch our daughter for a few hours. When we came back to get her, my mother said that Cara had been great but added, "She really needs you to watch her."  I stifled a "Well, duh, she's only 6 months old. Of course you need to watch her."  My mother must have seen that expression on my face because she went on to explain, "No, she actually WANTS you to watch her."

Looking back on that statement now, my mother had summed up my daughter in one short sentence.

So, here are some pictures of us watching her over the past twelve years:

The night she was born, she slept six straight hours. The nurses later scolded me for letting her sleep so long. But we had both been through 22 1/2 hours of labor. We totally needed that sleep. This was just one of many times that Cara made other parents jealous of how easy of a child she was.
Cara was born just a few days after my grandmother's 90th birthday.  The first great-grandchild.  Though Really Great (as we came to call her) was not too thrilled about our choice in names for our daughter (she instead referred to Cara as "Cutie Pie"), she adored this kid beyond words.  Since one of her favorite pictures of me when I was little was one of me looking into a mirror, this picture was taken just for her.
This was Cara's "get excited" face. It was one of our favorite baby tricks. One which we asked her to do repeatedly. And she would happily oblige each time.
This is a peek into her room-keeping skills. Though the books have been replaced with clothes, the results are fairly similar.
I stupidly used the "I think I hear Santa" to try to get her up to bed. This only managed to get her more worked up. She called out through the railing in a long, dramatic voice (the hands are to help her voice project), "SAAAAN-TAAAAA!"
We usually were instructed to announce her before she'd come out and put on a performance. "Presenting, Cara the dancer/singer/magician/musician/gymnast" or whatever she happened to be at that moment.
If Cara wanted to be or play something that she didn't have a costume or toys for, she would just make it out of construction paper and tape. She made a doctor kit, hairdresser set, Spongebob mask, tiger costume.....The list is as long as her vast imagination.
A true Minnesota girl. She actually spends more time outside at home when there's snow than any other time of year. Snow has become her construction paper. 
The ease in which she slips from serious to goofy is something I greatly admire. As she nears adolescence, it doesn't seem to be diminishing. Thank heavens. She's a dork off the old blocks.
Cara has always not only remembered birthdays, she's also made it her mission to make amazing gifts for each of us for our special days. This was the calendar Cara made for Connor. Each month had a different one of Connor's favorite characters, which she taught herself to draw by watching YouTube videos.  
When Cara started Tae Kwon Do a few years ago, she surprised us by setting a personal goal to get her red belt in two years. While she's had passing interests in dance, gymnastics, volleyball, etc, this was the first activity she was whole-heartedly passionate about. Doesn't hurt that she's amazing at it, either. Though it did take a bit longer than two years (a fact that can be blamed on summers filled with travels), she's now one test away from that red belt.
She has finally blossomed from only feeling comfortable performing for her immediate family to performing in front of people. She was the lead in her class play in 3rd grade, performs with the local puppet wagon, and regularly signs up for any school performance. Even with all of these extra outlets, we still get requests to watch performances at home.   
I love that Cara will go with me to events like this. When other pre-teens would groan about "old people's music", my daughter would take Beastie Boys over Bieber any day. 
Cara has such a sweet and gentle spirit, it's no wonder strangers have approached us asking if Cara was a babysitter. She loves to direct activities and to be in charge, it's the obvious next chapter for her.  And it's a perfect outlet for our pre-teen "look at me" girl.
When people hear that Cara has turned twelve, the comment that usually follows is about impending teenage-hood.  But Cara has been an easy, though at times dramatic, child.  Even on the outskirts of Hormone Town, we still enjoy being around our daughter.

Happy birthday, Schmoo! We promise to never stop watching you.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Protection. Winter. Same difference.

Connor was very excited about a recent purchase of kids' foam soap, which he likes to refer to as shaving cream. I explained that shaving cream is used by men for their face and women on their legs before they shaved.

After a moment of reflection, my son adds, "Yeah. Girls sometimes have spikeys on their legs. They do that for protection."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rocky Mountain. Hi.

While visiting family in Colorado, we decided to take the kids along on a road trip up into the mountains. We made sure to leave the screens at home so that they could actually enjoy the incredible view out their windows.

It was about midway through the trip when Connor asked, "Are we done with this adventure yet?"

Please. No one teach him air quotes.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Them Kids Learned Good

Don't get me wrong. I love my children's school and the well-rounded education they are getting.  But I'm not yet ready for them to intellectually put me in my place.

This evening, I got schooled by both kids at once.

Connor: "I didn't take a shower yesternight."

Me: "Yesternight isn't a word."

Cara: "Yes it is. It's Shakespeare."