Why Sarah Shouldn’t Be Allowed In Craft Stores

A friend of mine is trying to pare down her stash of craft supplies.  My punishment for snickering at her pain (in sympathy, sheesh) was a bagful of gorgeous embroidery floss and a roll of 14-count Aida cloth* metaphorically let on my doorstep with a note saying, “You know you want to.”

I do and this was the perfect excuse to make time for a project I’ve been thinking about off and on for a while now:  I wanted to make a framed cross stitch of one of my favorite poems.

The poet is a very-much alive friend (hi, John!), so I asked permission and he immediately granted it, because he’s a nice guy.

Last night, I sat down with a calculator, a ruler, the back of an official-looking envelope that I should probably look at more carefully once I finish this post, and this nifty little online program.

An hour (or two) later, I had a basic pattern and a problem.  Because this other nifty little program told me I didn’t have enough Aida cloth, unless I skipped the border and the framing margins.

Luckily, it’s my day off today, so I had time to run out this morning and buy a bigger piece.  Unfortunately, the only place that sells that stuff . . . is the craft store.

You don’t send an alcoholic to the liquor store.  You don’t send a compulsive shopper to Rodeo Drive.  You don’t allow Sunny near FAO Schwartz, Jane within visual distance of an Apple Store, or any member of my family by blood or marriage into Jo-Beth books without a plan, a cash-only budget, a megaphone, physical restraints, and possibly a trained therapist to provide aftercare.**

I know this.

But I still believe I can  zip into the craft store—by which I mean any craft store—and buy the single item I need without trouble . . . and I still automatically pick up a cart at the door, like that isn’t a blatant, if subconscious, admission of defeat.Aida cloth

This morning, I spent a ridiculous amount of time debating whether one of the several other available items is better than the one I was determined to buy.  One was, and I bought it*** and avoided the scroll frames, because my friend Grace gave me a perfectly good one before she moved last year.^

I could have left.  I should have left.

Craft NeedlesCraft glassesBut then I caught sight of the needles, and I couldn’t remember if I had the right kind or where I would have put them, if I did.  But I did remember the trouble I had the last time I tried to thread a needle, while simultaneously ignoring the fact that I’d been trying to even shove the end of actual invisible thread through the eye of a tiny sharpie.

I’m talented that way.

Alarms were dimly ringing at this point, possibly from the direction of my credit card, but I remembered that Jane had asked if we had any fabric scraps so she could practice with the sewing machine.  So I decided to swing past the quilting stuff to check the remnants, which was just past the bargain bins . . . which is when everything went a bit funny . . .

Craft Yarn

. . . I don’t know, the last thing I remember is a random thought about Christmas and scarves and the kids, who don’t like wearing scarves.  Then next thing I knew, I was at home with a big bag of stuff and a receipt that was a lot longer than I’d anticipated.

At least I came home with the Aida cloth.  It’s on the frame (thanks, Grace!), center-marked, and ready to go.

As soon as I can decide on the colors . . .

Scroll frame

Onward!

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*The stuff that looks like rows of tiny squares, for cross-stitch.  The count means how many squares there are in a linear inch.

**You’d think librarians would be immune to the lure of literary acquisition, but we really, really aren’t.

***The project isn’t this big, but stores don’t usually carry sizes between 15″ x 18″, which is what I had at hand, and this.

^Along with four garbage bags of her stash.  I have a theory that craft supply stashes are a single, gestalt being that shuffles itself around from place to place as needed.   My husband has a theory that I’m a sucker in need of professional help.  I don’t see the conflict, here.

Cruising with Disney

Disney Fantasy

We’re back from our seven-day Bahama cruise on the Disney Fantasy™ and while the kids seem to have rejoined the Real World without a hitch—though with some magnificent tan lines*—my husband and I are still staggering around on sea legs humming “Be Our Guest”.

And doing loads and loads of laundry.

As many of you know, I approached this vacation with a high amount of anxiety about what we would need and what we would do and how I would handle the possibility that my family wouldn’t let me escape the experience without wearing a swimsuit.  In public.

But for the most part, it was a blast—a relaxing blast—and it was comforting to know that we were surrounded by families who understood about random pre-teen surliness and the low boredom thresholds of small fry in formal restaurant settings.  When I noticed a fellow passenger standing in a corner and lecturing their child through gritted teeth, I knew that these were my people.

The staff was terrific, the staterooms were comfortable, the showers were pure heaven, and the food was wonderful.  There were little touches, like towel animals and pillow chocolates and wait staff with impressive memories for preferences and a good supply of riddles and brain twisters.**

The Disneyness of the place, while obviously a fundamental theme, wasn’t oppressive at all.  Some people dove in head first and Lived the Disney Experience™ but the rest of us just skimmed the surface of our personal nostalgia, avoided the Princess Photo Op Corral, and/or took advantage of the company’s rights to the Marvel movies to see Ant-Man once or twice.  Three times tops.

My husband and I are already plotting to take another cruise, though next time, I’ll be referring back to this list of things I wish I’d known before we sailed:

disney-cruises-logo

1. Decent walking shoes are essential

 Sandals and flip-flops are usually good enough on board*** but don’t let packing space or weird tan lines prevent you from wearing decent arch support when you go ashore.

I brought my sturdy pair of walking sandals, but my mother’s quest for “that one shop” she remembered on Cozumel^ still nearly did my poor feet in—you know you aren’t doing well when the hawkers stop telling you about the bargains in their shops and start luring you with benches and band-aids.

 

Towelephant!

Towelephant!

2. Go off the grid

I decided to leave my laptop at home, figuring I’d write longhand and pay the minimum to connect to the ship’s WiFi through my phone to check my e-mail,^^ but I only tried once or twice with no joy—my phone couldn’t detect the signal.  My husband ended up borrowing a ship laptop to check in on my MIL, but the connection was very slow and intermittent, and ultimately wasn’t worth the bother.

Good thing we paid by the meg and not the minute!

And barring a bit of blog and texting withdrawal, I didn’t miss being plugged in at all.  My phone did come in handy for on board photo ops and to entertain Sunny on the nights when we were assigned to the boringest most formal restaurant, but I kept it in Airplane Mode the whole time.

 

Towel Baby!

Towel Baby!

3. Don’t care about the hair

You know how your hair reacts to your hometown humidity, but in equatorial, oceanic humidity, cowlicks go gleeful.  Arguing about this with styling implements, smoothing products, and bad language doesn’t help.

I gave up by day three—I’m stubborn—and generally wore my sunglasses as a headband indoors to keep the whole mess back.   By the time we reached Jamaica, I was able to walk through the windtunnel of Falmouth without care—and when the nice young lady trying to sell me a $2000 pendant told me she loved my hair, I thanked her instead of laughing in her face.^^^

 

Towel Rhino

Towel Rhino with nose blurr!

4. All body types are welcome

This ain’t the Love Boat—this is parents and grandparents and kids who are all too busy having fun to give a hoot how you look in your swimsuit.

Assuming you know what strangers are thinking about your body is defeatist and damaging . . . unless you’re focusing on all the strangers of your general size and shape who aren’t letting anything get in the way of their fun.  You can totally assume that these people think you’re fabulous and would like you to leave your towels and cover-ups behind as you stroll to the water, so they can check out the adorableness of your swim-shorts.

 

Towel Monkey!

Towel Monkey!

 3. Sunscreen. Sunscreen. Sunscreen.

At all times you are emerging into the open air, even if you’re only going to the buffet by the pools.  Reapply twice as often as you think you should.§

I had sunburned knees from sitting in the surf, even though the stuff we use was rated waterproof for 80 minutes, and I wasn’t in there that long.  I would think that the waters near public beaches would be 30% sunscreen anyway, but it apparently doesn’t work like that.§§

 

Towel Bear!

Towel Bear!

4. Save your receipts—there will be a quiz afterward!

The last full day of your cruise, your steward will deliver a copy of Declaration Form 6059B, courtesy of US Customs and Border Protection.  THis form will ask you which foreign ports your household members visited and how much they spent there, itemized by general category.

I saved my receipts because I do that, but my husband had to go through a few bags to jog his memory.  It was a blessing that the nine pounds of beach shells Sunny brought back, not to mention all the hitchhiking sand, didn’t count.

Of course, if you really want to be prepared, you can check the list of Things That Custom Agents Frown On before you go shopping . . . but what’s life without a little risk?

 Towel Monkey Again! We like Towel Monkey!

Towel Monkey Again!
Because we love  Towel Monkey!

4. Check every single drawer after you pack to go home, even if you remember doing it.

Because you might remember packing all your clean underwear and good bras from the upper drawer of the cabinet to the left of the connecting door . . . but  if you don’t make absolutely certain, it will become evident that you did not and tragically so, if you aren’t traveling directly home after disembarking.§§§

 

Snorkel Sunny!

Snorkel Sunny!

5. You aren’t actually obligated to do anything.

This is your vacation, too.

You can spend time with your whole family, part of your family, or enjoy some Me Time.

You can go swimming all day, every day, or never go near the pool.

Pirate Buffet!

Pirate Buffet!

You can eat at your assigned restaurant every night or skip it in favor of the buffet or a poolside food stall—or even room service.¤

You can see all the shows or none.

You can spend the whole day in the movie theater or never go at all.

You can stay in your room the whole trip and watch Disney stuff on television (or never turn it on after the suggested Shipwide PSA feature).

Princess Corral!

Princess Corral!

You can stand in line to get a photo taken with various Disney characters or avoid that noise altogether.

You can dance, play, write, nap, party, work Sudoku, take towel-folding classes, shop . . . or not.

You are paying the Disney Cruise Line to entertain, feed, and clean up after your family—let them take care of you, too.

 

______________________________

*Sunny’s skin went brown and her hair went platinum.  She looks like a walking photo negative.

**Joseph, our amazing assistant server, managed to stump the whole family twice—we still maintain that our answer to that one about making four triangles out of two by moving one crayon was perfectly right.  So there.

***Though it’s a bigger ship than you think and most of it, oddly, is inside, away from the pools.  So you don’t actually need ventilated, water-friendly footwear all the time.  And unless you become addicted to Elevator Roulette (I did, at one point, for the sheer challenge of it all), you’ll be taking the stairs out of sheer frustration.

^I’m not sure we ever found it, but the ones we did find were well worth the blisters, if not the walk back.  At one point, I was seriously considering hiring a taxi to take me the remaining six blocks to the port entrance.  Guh.

^^On advice, I was careful to shut down the automatic updates on my apps the day before we left; the last thing I wanted was to waste all my allotted megs accidentally updating Fruit Ninja.

^^^I’ll admit that I might have been stunned by the price of the pendant at the time.  I managed to extract myself with relative dignity and bought a nice, kitchy, CZ frog necklace at the duty-free for . . . somewhat less.

CZ Froggie

CZ Froggie

§ Especially if your idea of setting a base tan is to glance briefly at the Midwestern sun as you scurry from your air-conditioned library workplace to your air-conditioned car.

§§ Except for Sunny, who never had so much as a pinkish blotch on her.  Though we still squirted SPF50 in her direction whenever she gamboled past.

§§§Thanks again for running that emergency load for me us, Dad!

¤But if you go on the Fantasy™, try the Animator’s Palate at least once—it featured interactive shows guaranteed to make 8-year olds abandon Tetris.  According to the aforementioned 8-year old, they also have the funnest desserts.

Mickey Cupcake!

Mickey Cupcake!

The ABC’s of Hedgehog and Frog (and Turtle)

My sixth-grader, Jane, has some great teachers this year.  One of them is working on their creative writing skills and hands out neat assignments like, say, writing 26-sentence alphabet stories where the first letters of the sentences run A-Z.

Jane likes these assignments because they’re fun and I like them because I get bragging rights on her work and also blog posts.

Here’s the story she wrote last week—she doesn’t want me to tell you that she giggled through the whole thing, but she did.  She also wanted me to edit it, but I didn’t.

The Party

©2015 by Jane Wesson

 

A hedgehog was taking a bath one day, because he had to go to a party.

But he had spines, so he couldn’t use bar soap.

“Could I use liquid soap?” he thought.Hedgehog_animals_and_you_LA_zoo

“Do I need to use soap?” he thought a little later, pulling the plastic bottle off his spines.

“Everybody will be ready for the party soon, so I’d better skip it,” he said, getting out of the tub.

Fidgeting with his bow tie, Hedgehog stepped out to meet his good friend Frog.

“Good evening, Frog,” Hedgehog said.

“Have you seen Turtle?” asked Frog.

“I thought he was going to walk over with you, even though he’s so slow,” Hedgehog said.Kaldari_box_turtle

Just then, Turtle came zooming by on roller skates, terrified in a tuxedo, and crashed into a bush.

KRASH!!

Letting the skates go on their way, a very dizzy Turtle came out of the bush.

“Maybe we should take the car,” suggested Hedgehog.

“Nah, this’ll work,” said Frog.

“Oh no,” moaned Turtle, getting up from the ground and brushing the sand off his pants

“Projectile rocket boots, that’s it!” yelled Frog, running off.excellent-frog

“Quit it,” said Turtle, stopping him, “we’re taking the car.”

Rushing there, they made it to the party right before it started

Shall we?” asked Frog, stepping out.

Turtle nodded and got out, as did Hedgehog.

Vanilla_ice_cream_coneUnder Turtle’s umbrella, because it had started to rain, they went inside.

“Vanilla ice cream!” yelled Frog, running off.

“Wait here, I’ll go stop him,” said Turtle, walking off.

Xylophone music was playing and they all enjoyed themselves.

Yawning, because it was three in the morning, they went to the car, drove home, and fell into their beds.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

 

I may be biased—I know I am—but there’s good characterization in here. As Jane said, Frog has issues.

I hope she’ll use these friends again in future stories. I like them already.

Roller-hockey-(Quad)-Skate

A Very Wesson Christmas

Christmas Haul

We had a lot of Christmas this year.

It officially started with the Christmas Eve Children’s Service, in which Sunny played a Cabbage Patch Doll, and I played the Voice of a Cabbage Patch doll.  Sunny didn’t like the doll’s outfit, so we dressed her in a strapless gown filched from Sunny’s American Girl doll, on the theory that she has such an extensive wardrobe, she wouldn’t miss it.  The gown matched the color of Sunny’s own Christmas dress.

Unfortunately, Cabbage Patch dolls aren’t built to wear strapless gowns and Sunny wasn’t overly careful about sitting like she was wearing a skirt instead of jeans, so I spent a good deal of time pulling the doll’s dress up and Sunny’s dress down.

Jane was Mary, and wore a beautiful blue scarf that she hadn’t because it covered the peacock streaks in her hair, which she was secretly hoping would impress the boy playing Joseph. She doesn’t like him in that way, Mom, Jeez!  but it was still disappointing.

I was wearing my usual green polyester choir robe, which covered all sins from the neck down.
Can I get an Amen?

The next morning was sheer chaos, but it started after my first cup of coffee—
there are benefits to having children who are too wound up from late dinners and the prospects of Santa to go to sleep before eleven—
so I didn’t care.

Luckily, this year’s holiday madness included my brother-in-law’s girlfriend, who is a terrific photographer, so most of it was documented a lot better than in previous years, which, as some of you might recall, tended to feature my photobombing thumb.*

Christmas Stress

___

We upheld many venerable traditions,
including awesomesocks:

Awesomesocks 2014

 . . . which this year also meant things made out of awesomesocks, from the kits Mom gave both kids.

Sockraties

This is Sunny’s “Sockraties”.
(We are not arguing with the spelling. He is not ours.)

 

 There were favorite presents.

book bracelet

I received a lot of jewelry this year, which isn’t a complaint. I love the malachite set that the kids gave me and the chain my husband gave me for my favorite pendant–or gave himself, really, since he won’t have to battle with the clasp on my old chain–and the beautiful bracelet my folks sent me that is still firmly attached to its theft-proof box, but this one, given to me by my BIL and his girlfriend, photographed best.
It makes my wrist happy.

1 little girl from school

One Little Girl From School.

Santa gave Sunny and Jane fans in their stockings. They learned to unfurl, snap, flirt, and smack their uncle on the head.
Good times.

Skates!

Sunny received these at 8am Christmas morning. By the time she went to bed, they had only been OFF her feet a cumulative two hours.
She likes being tall.

pokemon!

Santa gave Jane Pokemon cards.
This is, apparently, a super-extra-rare-Somethingagon, which is just as confusing when it isn’t all fuzzy.

And yes, I took this photo. Hush.

Beaver Bites

Watson mailed us a big ol’ box of Texas, most of which came from Buc-ee’s and most of which is, theoretically, edible.

The Beaver Nuggets are very tasty.

And Reindeer Games.

Reindeer Games

The photographer might have arranged this one a bit while one of the subjects was having an after-brunch snooze.

jump

This captures not only a forty-year Wesson family tradition of ringing the bells as you pass underneath the felt Santa, but also the moment just before Sunny grabbed instead of swatted.

Santa is expected to make a full recovery, once the glue dries.

We even introduced a new tradition, we hope:

The Wesson Christmas piñata.

Contemplating the Enemy

Regarding the enemy.

Ninja Attack

Smacking the leg off the enemy with the soon-to-be-traditional Inexplicable Kendo Stick of Righteousness.

(“Inexplicable” because I didn’t know we owned one, and no one can explain why we do.)

Victory!

Victory!

Victory Dance

The traditional Wesson Victory Dance!
(It’s true. I’ve seen it before.)

Clown noses

To the Victors go the spoils. And clown noses.

The *funniest* part of this is when she leaned over the basket of goodies and tried, loudly and unsuccessfully—all three times—to blow it off her nose.
Two out of five adults and one older sister were appalled and disgusted. The rest of us were too busy laughing to speak.

 How was your Thursday?

__________________

*Those of you with discerning eyes—or just, you know, eyes—will be able to tell which ones are hers and which are mine.  Even if I had a quarter of her talent (nope) my phone app is no match for her professional-grade camera, with special lens attachment.  And she also gets up and moves around for shots, which I also do not.

Don’t wait up

Way back in April, my friend Dee—who comments here sometimes and with whom I’ve bonded over librarianship, Leverage, husbands, muffins, and music—dropped me an e-mail:

Just FYI, I just found out the Piano Guys are going to be at the Civic Center in Des Moines in October.

Des Moines is within reasonable driving distance from our place—or reasonable for a chance to see this group live and meet Dee face-to-face, anyway—so I immediately replied that we totally needed to go.

And we are.

The tickets arrived in May and I’ve kept them safe ever since—so safe, I thought I’d lost them once or twice.*

But I’m looking at those two lovely pasteboard rectangles right now and soon my husband and I are going to hop in the car and escort them west, where we will trade them in for a night of good company and excellent music, and finally return home to grab a couple hours sleep until it’s time to wake the girls for school.

My husband arranged to have Sunny’s godmother pick them up after school and take them home, where they WILL be doing their homework and minding their grandmother, JANE—and you aren’t supposed to be on the computer, log off right now and finish your math or you’re toast—and tucking themselves in ON TIME, SUNNY—and I hope you’ve done your spelling module?

They’re both a bit befuddled that their parents are escaping running away going on an adventure in the middle(ish) of a school week—and frankly, so am I—but they’re stoked about being allowed to sleep  in my MIL’s guest room as a special treat, so it should work out all right.

Regardless, it won’t be my problem until tomorrow morning.

See you then.

 ____________________________

*Though not as safe as I kept the check I wrote to Dee the day after but didn’t actually mail until June.  Letters can be so unreasonable about mailing themselves, even when you go out of your way to find stamps to put on them.