28 September 2009

bits and pieces.

after a soggy week, saturday afternoon cleared to a lambent sun and sky, and i got to spend a few hours with the lovely emily:


more to come!

* * *

elle has this way with phrasing that just makes me smile. "well mom," she says, "this sidewalk has positively a bunch of leaves." also, apparently she has been drawing up invitations to hand out at church, which inform the recipients that they may wish her a happy birthday if they'd like. oy vey.

* * *

as promised, a few of my faves from alyssa's session:

amattei blog3

amattei blog1

amattei blog2

* * *

happy monday!

25 September 2009

five on friday (with many parentheticals).

1. so i've jumped on the p90x bandwagon, which turns out to not be the greatest bandwagon upon which to deposit oneself, as it does not pull over to let off passengers who are, hypothetically, bored out of their socks, until 90 days have passed.

tomorrow is only the first day of week six. are we there yet?

1b. incidentally, if i am not able to do pull ups without the chair by the end of the trip, i want my 90 days back.

2. contrary to popular (and justifiable) belief, i have not abandoned the quilt. right now, however, i am actually making the opposite of progress (regression? can you make regression?) due to A Lack of Pinning (also known as Laziness), resulting in rows of squares that start off matching up and end up not matching up. my seam ripper is earning a lot of overtime.

3. tonight the hubby and i are going on a Bonafide Date Night, thanks to the indefatigable lisa and matt (the latter of whom may have been lassoed into this arrangement against his better judgment. sorry, matt.).

one of the numerous things i love about lisa is that she values my kids and treats them like fully fledged human beings (and not lower caste creatures), even when they are moody and belligerent (in direct emulation of their mother, no doubt). she's a rare one, that lisa.

4. also beautiful: my bestest pals lovelyn's and jenn's journeys to bring little people into their families.

5. current list of Really Neat Things: crowder band, THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL SOCIETY, the starfish project, the libby sweater, and this quote:

The most important thing she'd learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one. [jill churchill]

22 September 2009

tutorial: knit ruffle pants.

ruffle pants are uber cute and comfy, and best of all, they stitch up easily in an hour or two. i relish projects like this one on a rainy afternoon, or late at night, when the littles are slumbering and my house has found its quiet.

ruffle pants10

materials: you'll need a couple yards of knit fabric (depending on the size of your pants), a sewing machine, thread, scissors, and pins. a serger is preferred but optional. (crybaby's boutique is an excellent source of fun, affordable knits.)

ruffle pants1

step one: i used a basic self-drafted pants pattern for the body of the pants, but if you don't have one handy you can also draft a loose pattern on lightweight paper, using a pair of yoga pants as a guide. (you can also use jeans, but you may want to extend the crotch just a bit.) i included the measurements of my pieces above, but yours, of course, will be different.

**if anyone's interested, i'll sketch out a basic pattern and tack it on here, but keep in mind that it will need to be graded if you'd like to make a size other than little girls' 4.** eta (5/2012): in the past couple months, i've gotten a few requests for a pattern--i sincerely apologize, but life has shifted a bit for us since i posted this, and  i'm now in the middle of coursework and photography and five kids. my four year old is now seven, so that size four pattern is long gone. if i find a couple hours to spare at some point, i will work on a new pattern for y'all, but in the meantime please forgive me and go with the instructions above. thank you, friends!

step two: cut out your pieces and pin them to your fabric. cut two of the main pieces, reversing one of them. cut one waistband piece (this should be an inch or two narrower than your child's waist). cut two long rectangular pieces for the ruffles; they should measure about twice the length of the bottom of your main pieces to achieve a full ruffle. (please note that although the ruffle pieces are pictured with a long vertical edge, i cut them horizontally.)

ruffle pants2

step three: pin the top curves of the main pieces, right sides together. sew and finish your seams (serge or zigzag stitch). **do not sew together the bottom curves of either side or the top straight edge.**

ruffle pants3

step four: rotate the fold of the sewn piece so that the seams are in the center (it should now resemble pants). pin the insides of the legs; sew and serge in one continuous line up from one ankle, across the crotch, and down to the other ankle.

ruffle pants4

step five: press your waistband piece in half the long way, wrong sides together. open it and sew the short ends together, right sides together. fold it back in half so that you now have a double-sided waistband.

ruffle pants5

step six: turn the main body of your pants (sewn in steps three and four) right side out. position the waistband upside down around the outside of top of the body piece so that the raw edges line up. (make sure the seam of the waistband matches up with the back seam of the main body.) pin through all three layers of fabric; sew and serge.

ruffle pants6

step seven: fold each ruffle piece in half so that the short edges match up, right sides together. pin, sew, and serge. finish the bottom edge of each piece with either a rolled or a double-turned hem.

ruffle pants11

ruffle pants7

step eight: set your machine on its widest setting and sew a gathering stitch along the top of each ruffle piece. gather and pin each piece to the bottom of the main body's legs, right sides together (the ruffle piece will be upside down and circling the outside of the leg). sew and serge.

step nine: give it to your little one and revel in her appreciative crooning.


fold over ruffle pants ruffle pants9

note: the waistband is meant to be folded over, but you can easily have your child wear it unfolded if you prefer a higher waist.

happy sewing!

21 September 2009

sneak peek: brooke

saturday i whiled away the afternoon with this stunning senior:


more to come. happy monday. :)

17 September 2009

needs improvement (a work in progress).

i'm the sort of person that requires a solid eight hours of sleep. at seven hours i'm functional, six and i'm pretty much channeling attila the hun.

sunday, after a weeklong string of late nights, i was bleary and headachey and exhibiting a remarkably low tolerance for anything that breathed out of place. the littles were begging for the park with the spinning thing, and i, from my perch at the computer, kept saying no, i have this whole list of things to do and i wish we could because it's gorgeous outside but i just don't have time to do the park and all this too.

my list went something like
edit photos
record expenses
order packaging
back up images
file taxes

except it was longer and looked hairier at the time.

but somewhere in the nether regions of my sleep-deprived frontal lobe, i realized i'd left off the most pivotal items: play with your kids. listen to their happy chatter. memorize these small faces because they'll never again look exactly as they do today.

we went to the park.

true, i was pretty much straight out of a tissot entitled Snippy Mom At Park With Four Kids, but i think they had a nice time in spite of me. they had the sky, luminous and unwrinkled, the soft rush of the river, the light refracting off the water to shimmer on the undersides of poplar leaves.

we spread dinner on old blankets and watched the ducks squabble and dive. the boys collected an assortment of sticks and leaves. too soon, we packed up and headed home for baths and pajamas and sleep.

i'm far from the perfect parent, but it's nice to know there was that one time when i chose right. i'm far from the perfect parent, but i've made a concerted effort to get to bed earlier this week. i'm far from the perfect parent, but i am learning.

and my kids haven't given up on me yet.

13 September 2009

sneak peek: alyssa

blog amattei

such a sweet, beautiful girl. more to come!

11 September 2009

c&m sneak, plus the gorgey dowling family.

a sneak peek for the lovely cindy:

blogsneak: c&m

and a few of my faves from the dowlings' shoot:

[dowling] all kinds of gorgeous.

[dowling] ties that bind.

[dowling] dad's got it covered.

[dowling] such a sweetie.

[dowling] family.

[dowling] smoldering.

[dowling] together.

[dowling] true colors.

[dowling] a tender look that becomes a habit.

[dowling] still in love.

i can't say enough about how much i love this family, their warmth, their authenticity, their robust humor. thanks for a delightful afternoon, guys.

09 September 2009

05 September 2009

this week's library book

WHILE WE WERE OUT by ho baek lee is a delightful south korean import, quiet and fanciful.


with the family away and the door unlocked, bunny has the apartment to herself.


she enjoys a meal at the table,


a movie,


and fancies herself up a bit.


bunny finds a costume just her size


and goes for a spin with rollerskates and chopsticks.


tuckered out from her exploits, bunny finds a comfy bed. the next morning she returns to her spot on the balcony


and does her best to look innocent.


(the very last page, which i did not photograph, is rather humorous, so i shall leave it a surprise for anyone fortunate enough to nab a copy of this book.)

go forth and read to someone small. (or large. or mediumish. i'm all about equal-opportunity reading.)

04 September 2009

a finding walk.




pretty grass.

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” [roald dahl]

more here.

happy weekend, friends.

03 September 2009

alphabet soup. and stuff.


so it occurs to me that most of you are not in a homeschooling stage of life, and reading day after day after blessed day of schooling goings-on, ad nauseum, may not be your precise cup of tea.

to allow you to stick with your beverage of choice, i've set up a space dedicated entirely to our preschool/kindergarten endeavors...you are welcome to pop in there if you have interest, or to ignore it altogether if you don't.

i may, from time to time, post a project or snapshots from our learnings here, as i am about to do:

alphabet soup, a spelling game.


i pick a word and elle spells it out loud, hopping to stand on each corresponding letter. we began with a few words she knew well, then moved to a couple requiring a bit of sounding-out.


she got to hop, i got to stand about in the gorgey september morning. fun times for all.


for more of our day, hop on over to our spinoff journal at 60piggieshomeschool.blogspot.com.

happy thursday.


01 September 2009

preschool w/elle: day1

after forking out exorbitant sums of cash to zee's preschool in exchange for what was, essentially, glorified playtime, we decided to homeschool our youngest two for the preschool year. em is now happily blitzing through first grade, so i assume i didn't trammel his education too horribly, and now we are on to the very last little: elle.

seriously, how are my children this old already?

with em, i admit, my inclinations toward exhaustion and distraction, combined with his general lack of enthusiasm toward Mom Thinking She Is The Teacher resulted in a somewhat haphazard preschool year. elle, however, is the lastborn and infused with inquisitiveness and has mom all to herself, so the odds of a sound education have increased exponentially.

so. we'll do school 3-4 times per week (i have standing morning appointments to work around), following a loose sort of montessori meets unschooling meets waldorf meets project-based meets reggio emilia. what a plan.

mostly we'll do the things i love plus the things she loves, and also a lot of snacks. i know some of you homeschool for the early years, so i'll try to briefly chronicle our days in the hope that our activities may be of use to you. (many of them are kindergarten-based, so if you're working on that year, feel free to borrow from our ideas as well.)


31aug [day 1]

calendar: date, counting the days in the month, days of the week

chalkboard: we write the date and read our sentence together, then observe/record the weather

snack: popcorn and orange slices

mosaic: we studied a few mosaics in an art book, then elle arranged/glued shapes to create her own mosaic for the cover of her journal

journal: elle writes her name, the date, then draws a picture and dictates a few descriptive sentences to me

globe: we talked about globes, then found our country and state on the globe, then read a brief overview of the united states in THE TRAVEL BOOK [sidenote: i know local geography is recommended for small children, such as plotting one's own neighborhood and town. we will do this as well.]

and such was the steady, quiet start to what i hope will be a year of wonder. i can't wait for tomorrow.

adoption timeline

1998 or so
first inkling that we'd like to adopt at some point
request adoption packets from several agencies (i still have these; the fact that they've survived roughly 10,000 purging frenzies means that this dream has stuck close to me)
we birth two more littles, move a few times, discuss missions work, attend missions seminars
jan-june 2009
lots of long, intense discussions about loving people on a macro level vs micro level, what that looks like for our family, etc
summer/fall of 2009
missions work is on hold; first inkling that we'd like to adopt NOW
sept/oct of 2009
research countries, ethics, independent adoptions, adoption agencies, loans and grants, and so forth; PRAY
nov of 2009
apply with holt international, start saving/earning money for initial paperwork fees and homestudy cost
dec of 2009
sign contract w/holt, accepted into ethiopia program
dec 15-30
fill out paperwork needed to commence homestudy. attempt to contact local agency handling our homestudy with several questions; everyone is on holiday
jan 2009
get the med forms i need. find out the kids do need updated physicals; schedule dr appts (required before homestudy can begin).