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Posts Tagged ‘dancing queen’

The 2013 costuming season can be summed us thusly: So. Much. Sewing.

Seriously. As I was sewing on what I’m pretty sure was the 67th snap, I found myself wistfully remembering that first year when all I had to do was lovingly affix 7,986,231 sequins to two costumes. This year, between the 2 kids, I was responsible for six costumes, all of which needed a moderate to severe amount of sewing. And yes, severe sewing is totally a thing. At least when it’s done by me. I severely sewed the SHIT out of these costumes.

Let’s jump in, shall we?

Rowan’s jazz dance was to Monster Mash. This costume was originally slated to be a lacy white and black, Bride of Frankenstein-esque number but it wasn’t quite Monster-y enough, which meant that the sewers had to start over, modeling it after a small-group costume created the previous season. I was a little put off by all the orange at first but it looked great up on stage and even won the costume award at our first competition.

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The skirt was probably the most labor intensive. The tulle of the skirt was dotted which made the placement of the sequins a no-brainer {and it was soft tulle which makes a HUGE difference in getting the sequins to stick} but there were A LOT of them. The black stripes on the front were glittered, which was messy but pretty easy. The waistband was added later by our room mom so we could add an assortment of orange, clear and irredescent crystal stones.

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The orange muppet feathers were originally on a rope-like spool; 2 four inch and one six inch pieces were cut for each skirt and we sewed them on to create the desired feathered-bootie effect. We also added the flower and tacked the skirt down in several places so it would stay in place during the dance.

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I’m sorry there was really just no good way to photograph this fluff of a top. When we got it is was just a rectangular piece of lycra. From there we sewed on two long ropes of orange fluff, tacking each down in 6 or so places. Then we added extra pieces of fluff to the back once we account for stretch, so it would completely cover the lycra. Three black straps were added to connect it around the back and two to the neck. The material is a sparkly black which is great for shimmering up on stage but not so great for the dancers as it is suuuupppeeerrr itchy. I ended up sewing a soft felt-like material on the inside where the straps were bothering Rowan which helped some.

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The neck straps were stoned with an assortment of crystals and I sewed on a swimsuit clasp and snaps for closures. There are 6 of these flowers on this costume, which were originally fake flowers with a stem and all, purchased from a craft store. They were de-stemmed, taken apart, hot glued and sewn back together, then a clear gem was sharpied {I promise this is a thing in the dance world} orange and glued in the center. We also glittered all the black stripes by placing many small dots of gem-tac glue and then sprinkling spoonfuls of glitter over them. Obviously this wasn’t enough DUH so we added random stones for shine.

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For the arm bands we sewed more orange fluff in a circle to splay out the feathers and WHY YES, that is more glitter on the black stripes, which was thankfully done in the studio and not spread all over my house… although I did mysteriously find some under Ezra’s chin a few days later for which the only explanation I can think of is some made it down my shirt and was transferred via nursing session, whatever… sparkle boob, sparkle baby. We also sewed clear hair elastics to the points of the band to loop around their finger so they would stay in place.

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The leg mufflers were made of a very messy fur that sheds everywhere so we had to handle these puppies with care. We sequined the black tulle and sewed on the decorated flowers. To keep these things from slipping down while the girls danced we were given very tight, long, lycra socks. We sewed snaps to both the muffs and the socks to secure them. There was still a little slippage but it worked pretty well.

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Last were the hair bows. I helped glitter and decorate the flowers but one of our talented room moms created and assembled the bows. They are super cute and will be great for re-wearing at Halloween.

And here is the finished product…

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Rowan’s tap costume was MUCH less labor intensive and I really really love it. Still though, with the sewing…

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The skirt was made out of a shimmery plaid which required no extra stones or sequins. I’m not quite sure how we made it through without having to sequin the tulle sticking out but thankbabyjesus for big/small favors. We stoned the belt loops and the buckle and tacked down the belt and the skirt to the tulle so it wouldn’t flip up. Voila! Done!

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For the blazer we stoned and sewed on the decorative buttons and then sewed snaps on the inside for the closure. We sequined and stoned to create the LD patch. The pockets and collar were tacked down in several places so nothing gets floppy on stage.

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For the finishing touches, the plaid was cut and glued onto the taps. We sewed on two rows of ruffle to the white knee-highs. The bra top required no extra work, as it was really barely visible on most girls.

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And here it is! I helped put the little stones on the hair bows but they were again mostly done by one of our room moms. I was disappointed when Charlie Brown was chosen as Rowan’s tap song- it’s just never been one of my favorites, but the costume ended up so adorable and the dance turned out to be one of my very favorites- the best one of Rowan’s yet. I love the whole thing.

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The studio also does a number that spans all the competition lines, 1st grade through graduating seniors {6 lines total plus the Dancing Dads- all of them except for the baby line, which is why this is Rowan’s first year in it} called Jive Bunny. It’s always a mix of songs with a common theme. Last year it was a Footloose theme, the year before is was Lady Gaga {those costumes were pretty rad}. This year Jive Bunny had a Rock of Ages theme. Rowan’s group dances out to I Wanna Rock during which they wield Paper Jams guitars. It’s reeeeeeally cute. A group of awesome moms took the helm piecing together this costume. I didn’t do anything but pay for it and add a few tacks to hold things in place.

Now for Keaton. Last fall I offered to help out backstage for the boys. I didn’t think it would be a big deal since there were just three boys on his line, they only do two competitions and two recitals and I was nervous how Keaton would handle all this so I thought it would be better to be back there with him. Then one of the boys ended up dropping out so it was just the two of them and I failed to remember that all the comp boys from the studio do a boys only number that is performed at all 5 recital shows. And little did I know, although I should have suspected, that I would somehow become responsible for the boys’ costumes which were eventually pieced together and modified by myself with a generous amount of help from the room mom from his line and a couple other older boys’ moms who have been through The Crazy and gave me help/tips. I was completely unprepared for this responsibility and hated pretty much every second of it from conception to execution to completion but there really wasn’t anyone else who could do it so that was that. If Keaton stays in dance I praypraypray a boy with a competent mother gets recruited so I can pass the costume conception torch to her, for I absolutely SUCK at it. Give me detailed instructions and material and I will gladly do whatever I can to help out but I’m just NOT cut out to put this stuff together; I do NOT have a brain that thinks in sequins and shimmer, just look at my closet where you’ll be assaulted with only varying shades of grey.

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I don’t have detailed or great pictures of Keaton’s costumes. I’m always so busy doing things backstage, a rushed cell phone picture is all I’ve managed so far, Hopefully I’ll get some good ones during the recital weekend. This is his jazz costume. It looks easy and unassuming enough and it really is, except that none of the items he’s wearing here came in the right color. The green t-shirt is the only thing that was purchased outright and the only modification was cutting a hole in it to string the light panel battery pack connector through. The sweatshirt had to match the girls’ vests so I bought white hoodies, cut a hole for the light panel in the lower chest, cut the sleeves off and had them hemmed, then a room mom helped dye them to match. Another room mom found the light-up panels {the girls’ tutus light up so they wanted something cool for the boys} which I glued and tacked onto the sweatshirt in 8 spots. I also tacked down the hood so it wouldn’t flop around and tacked the sweatshirt to the greet shirt.

The shorts were pretty time consuming because all the pink and orange you see on them was lovingly colored in with fabric markers and they needed to be gone over several times to be bright enough. They also only had the converse high-tops in bold colors; no neon or baby blue unless you want to pay big bucks for custom designs so those were dyed along with the sweatshirts, which took a couple of tries because they weren’t coming out dark enough. Then I ditched the white laces for the bright blue. The socks needed to be colored with fabric pens as well. There were tons of neon colors out there this spring but unfortunately they were all for girls and all super feminine styles. The process of running to store after store, getting excited about finally landing on something only to have it not work out and then heading back to return it was really daunting with the baby.

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Keaton’s tap dance was to Hound Dog. Please don’t ask me about the zebra print because I… don’t get it either. The pants and fake-leather jacket was purchased at H&M. I searched stores and the Internet high and low for a boys zebra print shirt with close to zero luck. The only one I found was spendy and non-returnable which really wasn’t a chance I wanted to take because I never knew what would make it through approvals or not. In the end I modified the straps on a zebra camisole I found at Justice. The boys HATE it but since you only see the bottom and a little bit at the top it’s not too big of a deal. My least favorite part of this costume was the dog collar {which you can’t really see in this picture}. It’s a men’s gothic spike necklace I got at Hot Topic. I had to cut it down and add elastic and a snap and ugh, it’s weird and yuck and I DO NOT LIKE. Admittedly it looks just fine on stage but I asked the girls’ room mom to sneak it off of him for his individual shot on picture day because just, yeah, no thank you.

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For the boys dance Keaton wore an adorable tuxedo. Since he was born with absolutely no butt to speak of, I had to take in the waist by about half. I also had the legs hemmed and each age group of boys got their own color cumberbund and tie. Besides adding velcro on the tie closure {they all pull them off at the end of the dance} and reinforcing the buttons, this one was pretty easy and he was just oh so handsome.

And there you have it! Time is always the big issue~ it seems no matter how hard everyone tries to get the ball rolling early, we always end up having to complete 9,000 tasks in about 3-4 weeks and it is really pretty stressful; especially when you’re caring for a small human that doesn’t understand when I say “hold on, Baby, I just need to sew on 8 more snaps”. I have learned to let go and just try to roll with the punches for the most part which was fine for Rowan’s stuff, especially after I learned to glue down the snap before sewing. There may have been some tears shed when those little bastards wouldn’t stop sliding around as I was trying to sew them down and it was 11 pm and I knew the baby would be up soon and I just wanted to sleeeeeep and STOP MOVING, SNAP I HATE YOU, SNAP WHY WERE YOU EVEN BORN, SNAP. Letting things go turned out to be a little trickier for Keaton since I was in charge of it but with lots of help I made it through with most of my dignity in tact. Being stuck in a dressing room with a dozen boys ages 4-12 is a WHOLE other story, one I’m really hoping I live through.

As in previous years, we are not sure if we’ll continue down this road. There are so many benefits of competitive dance but the main drawbacks, time and money, are getting harder to justify the deeper into this we get. We will reassess after the recital at the beginning of June and see where things stand. In the meantime, I’m so proud of all the hard work Rowan and Keaton put in this year. The progress they’ve both made is really remarkable and watching how much fun they are having up on stage has truly been one of my best moments as their mom, even if I do wince every time I see a hard-won stone or sequin pop off in the process ;).

 

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Knowing that this fall and a new sibling would bring many changes, I really wanted to make an effort to make this summer about hanging out with Rowan and Keaton and enjoying the relative get up and go freedom that comes with a 4.5 and 6.5 year old- something that we’ll be missing for the next couple of years as we start this whole parenting adventure over with our new little guy. Pregnancy in general, plus the anemia and fatigue I get along with it, sometimes made things tough but we accomplished a lot of what I wanted to do {water park!, beach! bike rides!} did more of some things than I thought possible {so. much. dance.} and had to skip a couple of bigger ideas {lake superior getaway} due to lack of time/funds. Overall? I think we did a pretty good job of soaking summer up…

Went for a firefly walk, Rowan even made friends with one.

Talked to a real pirate.

Made a pirate flag. That rainbow is really gonna strike fear into the hearts of other pirates, huh?

Made a butterfly ring.

Played on the sandbar on White Bear Lake that Mama grew up playing on.

Weaved on a loom.

Went to science camp.

Watched a ridiculous amount of swimming events during the Olympics. Here is Keaton “on the block”.

Splashed mighty splashes in puddles.

Not wanting to be left in his sister’s dust, learned to ride a two-wheel bike at 4.

Ate ridiculously bright-colored ice cream. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that the brighter the hue the more natural and healthy it is…

Bounced!

Pretended to be cuddle fish at the beach.

Pretended to be lifeguards at the beach.

Took swimming lessons in a pool where we held our breath under water for many seconds and even really swam all on our own.

Refused to put our faces in the “yucky brown lake water” and also refused to swim without a life jacket at the lake which was the whole point of those lessons in the first place.

Hugged curious George at the Children’s Museum.

Planted peas and beans.

Went to Cascade Bay where we chilled on the lazy river and went down the big tube water slide.

Swam with flippers for the first time.

Rode bikes to the park.

Went swinging!

Went to a T-ball clinic with dad.

Went to a watercolor and acrylic class.

Picked carrots, peas and raspberries from our friends’ garden.

Shot a bow and arrow.

Ate Popsicles.

Had breakfast outside.

Told stories by candlelight during the power outage at Mallinger’s.

Went out for pizza with our cousins.

Slipped and slide-ed.

Visited Jorie’s work.

Went to Mama’s doctor appointment where we got to use a doplar on mom’s tummy and listen to our brother’s heartbeat.

Turned into Spiderman.

Turned into a butterfly.

Turned into a giant douchecanoe.

Hung out at the fire station.

Went to the N. St. Paul car show to see the cool cars and get ice cream.

Got into a water fight.

Watched the fireworks with our cousins. (Not Keaton, who went to grammy’s to watch Frosty the Snowman instead.)

Made marshmallow pops.

Turned 4 and a half!

Turned 7.

Got pet betta fish! Named them Harry Potter, Olympic Swimmer and Shimmer Dufenshmirtz Jr.

FINALLY gave up pull-ups at night so mom gets to enjoy approximately 3 whole months diaper free.

Went to the county fair and pet a fluffy bunny and went on rides.

Were ceremoniously introduced to daddy’s boyhood passion, TMNT.

Did not disappoint dad.

Had 3 friends over for a pajama-movie-night birthday party.

Went down the log chute and rode the big swings with daddy at Nickelodeon universe.

Had a fancy lunch at the American Girl Bistro.

Got Rebecca and Kanani’s hair done at the salon.

Had another birthday luau with Ellie!

Went to a summer ballet clinic.

Worked really hard at stretching and can almost do the splits.

Took first comp dance class.

Made the next line up in competition dance!

Got to be a flower girl.

Got to be a ring bearer.

Danced the night away at Auntie Susie’s wedding.

Finally decided it was safe to swim with heads underwater at the beach. Had a blast swimming around like fish, looking for shells and practicing underwater hand stands.

Finished my pre-k workbook and started working in my kindergarten workbook!

Passed the first two levels of Super Mario Bros for Wii.

Did the monkey bars all by ourselves.

Helped the neighbor girl with a lemonade stand to raise money for Tanzania.

Completed 20 hours of summer reading for the library’s Bookawocky program by devouring Cam Jansen, Disney Fairies and Rebecca and Kanani books.

Was brave enough to finally try the big scary silver slide.

Went for a sunset climb.

And? On Tuesday it will be on to new things…first grade, pre-k, new dance classes, new piano teacher and a very full schedule. After being so sick and apart from the kids all late winter and spring, I hope that what we did this summer made up for the time they spent watching me crawl from my crypt of a bedroom to the bathroom, only to miserably crawl right back in again. I know they won’t retain it all but hopefully the memories they do keep tucked away in the folds of their little brains will tide them over until their next adventure of becoming a big big sister and a big brother begins in October.

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For whatever reason, two Fridays ago my body gave me a reprieve. Yes, things had been improving in the 2-3 weeks before that but being just a step or two above misery is hardly an ideal situation. Rowan had her last competition the night before and I was not feeling great in the hours leading up to it as I struggled though getting her hair and make-up done, and let me just tell you that the hour we were stuck in a traffic jam in Minneapolis did nothing to improve that. I tried to eat something after getting her settled in the dressing room but between the nausea and nerves for how the dances would go I was fighting off the puke most of the night. After her second dance {which went awesome} my adrenaline finally kicked in and I felt better so even though it was late and most of the other kids had left, I gave in to Rowan’s pleas to stay for awards {which I’m so glad I did because she got to go up and accept the plaque for placing 6th of the top 10 dances in their bracket- she was so proud!}.

We didn’t get home until after eleven pm and by the time we got the kids down and settled in it was well after midnight and then I just couldn’t turn off so I laid awake most of the night. The next morning, we were all wiped so I let Rowan stay home from school and after Bill went off to work I was left in charge of both my kids for the first time in almost three months. Internet? We had the best day. I could tell that I felt better right away that morning but I just kept waiting for the nausea to creep back in like it normally does, but nope, I was able to enjoy the shit out of that entire day and wow, what a difference that makes. We had a picnic outside and took a sun nap. The kids rode their bikes and played baseball. I wasn’t just watching them be happy, I was participating in the happiness which is a distinction that’s hard to make unless you go through something like this where it’s just so hard to feel good about anything.

Things have still been up and down since but I’ve had a number of days that I could actually classify as “good” without any qualifiers as far as the nausea goes. The fatigue, on the other hand, is a whole other story. You know what happens to you when the only exercise you get for 12 straight weeks is crawling to the bathroom to throw-up? Your body sort of forgets how to work at anything besides fighting the puke, which is decidedly a core exercise and does nothing for the appendages. Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to slowly build things back up by going for short walks around our block but even that exhausts me and I’m telling you, I have to sit down to catch my breath after I go up or down our stairs. Pathetic. The anemia is not helping this. I get terrible dizzy spells that sometimes verge on black-outs when I get up or try to move too fast which makes me scared to do any amount of walking/exercising while I’m alone or just with the kids- what if I black out? What would they do? {I mean besides check my pockets for loose change and head to the nearest candy store.} If I don’t stay hydrated or fed or rested my body and brain seriously just start to shut down. I feel like a flippin’ tamagachi- someone really should be regularly checking my body stats to make sure I don’t die a horrible electronic death.

Okay this is getting whiny, when the whole purpose was to talk about how things have been getting better, let’s try this…

Things I can do today that I couldn’t do a couple of weeks ago:

…drink water. If this baby comes out with an extra eyeball or two, I’m going to go ahead and blame it on the fact that up until very recently I could only stomach caffeine free diet coke. Water? PUKE. Juice? PUKE. Ginger ale? OH GOD PLEASE, DOUBLE FUCKING PUKE. People love to suggest this, along with soda crackers, like I hadn’t thought of that at this point and I want to throw cans of the shit at their face while crumbling saltines in their bed. Partly because I’m frustrated that these go-to morning sickness cure-alls didn’t do a damn thing for me and partly because I’m just a little bit of an asshole. Anyway, I started integrating flavored vitamin-fortified water into my diet a few weeks ago and now I can safely drink water or lemon water without gagging so, you know, progress.

…take a long enough shower to actually shave my legs without fear of having to jump out stark naked and soaking wet so I could dry heave into toilet. Oh my shit you guys. My legs had never reached such epic hairy proportions. I’m one of those assholes who always had fine, blond leg hair that needed shaving one, maybe two times a week if I was feeling ambitious, but this time the pregnancy hormones brought out the thick, dark, wiry leg hair and I very seriously considered ordering a machete online to get rid of it after weeks and weeks of going untamed. I admit to being a little bit of a hippie but long leg hair? Not for me. Just no.

…pick Keaton up from preschool. Seeing him run out to the car with a big smile is one of my favorite things of always.

…feed my kids lunch. Admittedly, Bill makes the lunches in the morning and so I just tell Keaton {and Rowan if she’s home} to get it out of the fridge and I’m just in charge of drinks, but it’s a start. My sense of smell is still so incredibly heightened that just being able to smell their lunch is impressive at this point.

… go for a walk around the block with my family. Watching Rowan ride her two-wheeler is still just not getting old. When I think of how far she has come in the last year…well, it’s just amazing.

…eat pickles and nachos and rainbow sherbert without having to thoughtfully ponder what they will taste/feel like coming back up. I admit to not feeling awesome after consuming any of these but at least I have the option to make dumb-ass food choices that I didn’t have a week or so ago.

…integrate small amounts of coffee back into my morning routine. I’m not going to lie. This has made a HUMONGOUS difference. I weaned off coffee while trying to get pregnant because some study or other showed the acids in it could contribute to early miscarriage, but since all the sciencey people are in agreement that once you’re safely in your second trimester coffee is just fine, I dove head first into a small 4 ounce cup last week and have been in heaven ever since.

Friday I had my 17 week OB appointment where my main concern was not feeling the baby much at this point. Like I said before, Rowan and Keaton were early wigglers which is why I opted out of buying an at-home doppler so of course this time Sammy Davis Junior Junior is not being wiggly at all. After finding a strong, healthy heart beat, my midwife guessed that this is probably because the placenta is hanging out in the front of my uterus this time around, causing a barrier to the kicks that will no doubt be felt in full force from 1-4am every night of my third trimester.

Other than that, she recommended some books on unmedicated birth options {no need to tell me I’m an idiot, I’m already fully aware of that fact} and we set up the ultrasound for next month, which will hopefully tell us if in a few years I’ll be vacuuming up tiny princess shoes or having to sit through that goddamn Jar Jar Binks Star Wars for the 3,985th time.

So! Onward. I can’t explain why my hormones finally decided to level off, or why the medication decided it was going to start taking full effect but honestly, I don’t care. Being able to take care of the kids again has been huge and while I’m definitely not 100%, I feel like a functioning human being again which is, you know, kind of important.

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For most people spring is a time of new beginnings. Fresh grass, chirping birds, renewing rain, tiny buds. For us spring means learning to sew one kind of unforgiving material onto another type of unforgiving material, hour after hour of sequining, stoning, glittering and long hours at the studio. It is a time of HURRY UP, oh just kidding wait, NO SERIOUSLY HURRY UP and wait some more. It is a time to part with money, and in Bill’s case, a good part of his dignity. It is dance competition season.

I have to say I couldn’t have timed this pregnancy and its accompanying sickness better or worse. On the one hand HA HA, GOOD LUCK, BILL. On the other hand, I could tell Rowan felt bad that all the other moms were there every week, working on costumes and watching the kids’ progress. “But I want YOU to take me” was a familiar theme on Saturdays when Bill was getting her ready and I had to explain for the 416th time that no one would appreciate mommy throwing up all over the shiny waxed dance floor.

For his part, Bill was a complete trooper. He had no desire to keep Rowan in comp dance- he was definitely pushing for her to join her brother at karate- but he kept most of his frustrations to himself and hardly complained at all when he somehow found himself in charge of an incredible amount of sewing for Rowan’s two costumes. It also helps that there is a HUGE learning curve to being a part of this studio’s comp dance lines and the utter unpredictability/chaos of it all, but having been initiated last year, we were old pros and rolling with the punches definitely came easier this year.

It also helped that this time around there is a room mom whose main purpose is communication and she is so super organized and lets everyone know exactly how they can help, what they should be doing and where they should be at, leaving no one guessing which takes away much of the mystery. This was obviously a huge help since I couldn’t be there to ask questions.

As far as the costumes went, because the communication was so clear and I felt like each task was given a manageable time frame, I felt like the assembly and bedazzlement was way easier than last year. After reviewing what was actually done though, it probably had more to do with the fact that Bill did a HUGE amount of work while I was praying for death in the next room.

Pictures? Of course.

Jazz Costume, "Smurfs*".

This costume was custom-made by the studio’s sewers. The good part: It was made out of pre-sequined material! The not so good part: See all of the blue? That was lovingly hand sewn on by us, as the only thing pre-made was the white dress shell and also the flowers were assembled and glittered by two brave moms from our group. Before I got sick I sewed two long blue ruffles together and then sewed them along the bottom of the dress. This was the first time I sewed since I got a D+ on a pair of boxer shorts in 7th grade home ec. so I was pretty proud of myself. It was also the only major contribution I made to this costume besides stoning the collar. Bill was stuck with: Sewing a very full tutu to a petticoat, then sewing both of those to dance briefs; sewing three teeny tiny snaps onto the dress to connect to the teeny tiny snaps sewn onto the petticoat so the dress wouldn’t fly up during the dance; sewing snaps onto the gloves and dress and all of the flowers; sewing the thin blue belt onto the dress; sewing the ruffles on the socks and the hair flowers onto the barrettes. And this was the “easy” costume.

*I cannot count the number of Saturday mornings my little sister and I would torture my father by jumping on his bed at 8am while loudly belting out “La-la-la-la-la-laaa, la-la-la-la-laaa”. I’m pretty sad he’s not here to be serenaded by his granddaughter’s dance, but I think it might be one of those few times he’s probably happier where he is, adding the booming back beat and hip-hoppity lyrics to an already annoying song is almost too much for anyone to bear.

On to tap! This costume was ordered from a costume catalog which for some reason made me think that we would get away without having to do as much to it. WRONG.

This is what it looked like upon purchase:

Cute, huh? Well not cute enough. Admittedly, in real life the skirt was not nearly so full and poofy but hung rather limply and those little shiny sparkles someone added in Photoshop were actually not included {I know, what a rip-off!}.

After we were through Dr. Frankensteining it, this is what it looked like…

Tap costume, "Mr. Sandman".

And assorted accessories for feet, hands and hair.

Again, we thanked a benevolent god/universe for providing us with an already sequined bodice. My contributions: Sequining the top three layers of tulle on the original tap skirt {which ended up being mostly for nothing because in the end we gathered the pink layers at the waist, hiding many hours of sequin work. On the plus side this tulle was very soft and pliable, making it relatively easy to sequin, so no great loss.} Next? Sequining the entire top layer of the GIGANTIC blue tutu {that was at least 5 sizes too big for Rowan} plus sequining three rows up on the next two layers. This took approximately forever because this tulle was suuuuuper stiff. In some alternative universe I am still sitting in bed trying not to throw up all over her costume as I try to affix countless sequins to the stiff, unforgiving fabric that was in no way made to have things glued to it. Here is where I admit that I actually don’t mind sequining, in fact I find it almost enjoyable {I SAID ALMOST}. The biggest problem here being that when you’re pregnant you cannot drink alcohol and I really can’t in good conscience recommend sequining without it. Lastly I sequined the socks which though tiny were complete assholes about the whole thing. Bill tried to do a row and I swear to god he almost started crying in frustration because the sequins will not stick and *PING* go flying off the sock after you spent two long, agonizing minutes lovingly and gently trying to coax it on, praying that it will stay when you pull the toothpick away, but haha no, it doesn’t feel like it, sucker. So I took over sock duty as Bill had his hands full with the sewing. I also stoned the shoulder straps.

Work Bill was stuck with: carefully seam ripping to remove the original pink sequin straps, the pink sequin top border and the light pink top ruffle. Sewing on two new tan straps, gathering and re-sewing on the light pink ruffle and sewing on a new blue top ruffle {which Rowan will not hesitate to tell you itches like a mother and will be the first thing to come off after the season is over so she can still wear the costume for dress-up}. For the huge blue tutu, he had to re-size and sew the waist to fit Rowan and then tack it under the pink skirt. He then gathered and tacked all 6 or so layers of the pink skirt and the top layer of the gigantic blue tutu to give the poofy effect. Sewed the snaps to the gloves and accompanying flowers. He then had to sew snaps on the dress to affix the 2 shoulder and two waist flowers to, plus sew a number of pedals of each of the flowers to the dress as well, to ensure we don’t have any flying/floppy flower accidents during a performance. All the flowers were {thankfully} hand-made and glitterfied by another brave mom, so we were {YAY!} spared that.

I actually love her costumes to pieces this year as I think they are adorable and age appropriate. Last years’ were cute as well but Rowan is just not a big Mickey Mouse fan so while the tap dress was cute, it has stayed hanging in her closet since last May. She still likes to wear her tutu from the jazz costume {which BLEEDS colorful sequins all over my house every time she puts it on} but the jean vest is not super practical for dress-up or regular wear and I was just NOT a big fan of thigh highs with bows on a five-year old. Thigh highs, I’m sorry…they are solely for strippers in my book. I know Rowan will love to dress up in this years’ costumes which definitely makes it more worth it when you know the kid is going to get some extended use out of them, even if that just means pirouetting around the living room.

***I actually started this post a few weeks ago, working on it intermittently since things have been so up and down, but sort of forgot about it as things have been decidedly down the last week or so. Since I last updated…

Rowan had her first of only two competitions this season, the second being tomorrow evening {the rest of the studio is heading to Las Vegas in June for Nationals but we opted out because of me being sick with Sammy Davis Junior Junior}. She did a really great job, though like last year, on her first dance she looked a little nervous to be up in front of so many people, but by the second dance she was ALL smiles. For that dance she has a little part where she comes up front, circles around the center boy and does a Russian jump. I was a little confused why her teacher picked her for this solo move since Rowan is not known for her flexibility, but she worked really hard all year on it and to be honest I didn’t care how high she got her legs or how pointed her toes were, I just PRAYED that she wouldn’t fall because she has a tendency to lean over too far when reaching for her toes, causing her to fall forward and this move takes place at the front edge of the stage- the last thing I need is a trip to the ER for a freak dancing accident. She, thankfully, did a beautiful job and I finally got to exhale after holding my breath all morning in anticipation- now I just have to get her through one more competition and two recitals in one piece.

So! There you have it! Bedazzlement 2012 is over and it remains to be seen if there will be a bedazzlement 2013. Rowan had previously decided she wanted to be done with dance, but like last year, as soon as the fun and bustle of competition season hits she remembers that she actually likes and enjoys it and has now requested to go on to the next level. The time commitment is… intense, to put it nicely, and it conflicts with her school day so I honestly don’t know if it’s even a possibility at this point but we’ll most likely put her in the three sessions of summer dance and decide in August if she can/should continue on.

I have to admit, if she doesn’t I will miss the adorable costumes…

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As in, fifty months of Keaton Sir. {Well, almost, but since I know I’ll be too lazy to post on a Saturday you’re getting the early edition.}

Keaton has been trying on his Fourness as of late and while he is still the comic relief that is so very much needed in my life right now, he is also 64.7% more pouty, whiny and snotty than one {namely *I*} would hope for. This behavior peaked at the end of December, early January and thankfully seems to be waning a bit.

In the poor boy’s defense he went through a major development leap and it manifested not only in his behavior but in his eating, sleeping and bathroom habits as well. He quit eating regularly and all of a sudden got very picky about food in general. He went through a two week period where he could not get himself to sleep for hours after lights out and then woke up from bad dreams about “monsters stealing my toys”. And the hardest one of all, after two plus months of being completely night trained, he started soaking his bed every night, multiple times. After attempting sticker charts, incentives and the like again, we saw that he just somehow lost his ability to control his bladder at night {something that he seemingly had mastered so I just don’t get it} so we gave up and succumbed to the Evil Pull-up as I packed away all the cloth diapers into the far reaching corners of the Closet of Death and Doom. This last week we’ve attempted underwear at night thrice, with mixed results, so we’ll see.

Other than these little hiccups, things are going pretty rad for our Budders. His current best friend in this entire world is his sword. When he’s home he wields it against unseen warriors and monsters that take the form of the back of our couch, the wall or any number of sinister looking stuffed animals. He practices his footwork and flips {and here ‘flip’ is used very loosely because hurling oneself harry-nilly, willy-carrey though the air and into the ground with no regard for ones head parts just doesn’t sound as cool as “flips”}. In repose he shoves it into the side waistband of his pants where it stays until another battle is nigh. Also? We must call him Peter The Magnificent, as we’ve moved on from warping our children with LOtR to the works of C. S. Lewis.

Ignoring most of the major plot points, Keaton instead stands in wait for a sword battle so he can fight along with Peter.

He also has grown fond of the sword fighting in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, asking to be called Captain Jack Hook Sparrow while sporting his "Pirate Boots" courtesy of pink fluff, Justice and his sister.

He does do a pretty bad ass pirate face, if I do say myself.

When taking a break from the nobility of a sword fighting king or the scoundral-hood of a pirate, he chooses the only logical pastime I can think of…BOOTY SHAKIN’:

 

Preschool’s going okay, I think. Due to the district’s odd January schedule Keaton only had one day a week for the whole month which sort of sucked as far as getting the momentum built up to learn new skills. After Christmas Bill and I decided to really push letters and numbers with him as he still had trouble recognizing some of them. After a month of this he seems to have all the capital letters figured out and a majority of the lowercase. For whatever reason recognizing numbers was a little more tricky. The kid can count just fine and count one to one correspondence just fine, he just has trouble recognizing the letters on paper and for whatever reason still has a hard time telling apart numbers and letters in general- so if I ask if Q is a letter or a number, he quite possibly will be completely stumped. I have to be honest…I have no idea how to handle this as it was just not ever an issue with Rowan. I never even had to teach Rowan any of this at all, she just picked it up in the natural course of things and never looked back. So we’re just incorporating a lot of letters and numbers into our everyday routine and hoping he’ll figure this shit out by Kindergarten. He did chicken scratch out his name for the first time after Bill worked with him which was a huge step and he was so proud of himself.

On Tuesday Bill and I enjoyed a day out with our boy for a preschool field trip to the Children's Theater to see Harold and the Purple Crayon.

He had fun but I think his favorite part was the giant cookie we got him at my favorite bakery/cafe in St. Paul and really, can you blame him?

He is doing great in dance and seems to really like it. We were asked in to observe for the first time last week to see the first part of their dance and ohmysweetlord those little boys were so adorable. I seriously fear Death from Acute Cuteness at his recital in May. Karate is also going well, as evidenced by a certain young sir receiving another belt on the color spectrum of ass-kicking:

His green belt combination was pretty awesome.

And then he was officially bepurpled.

We were all pretty excited about it.

A couple of weeks ago we managed to get snow instead of rain which lasted a record week and a half before melting. We did manage to make the most of it while it was here though…

Looking professional at the top of our hill. Unfortunately the longest he's stayed upright on the thing is about 4.7 feet.

Other than that?

He seems to have just realized we've owned a dog his whole life and has spent weekend mornings playing tug of war and fetch with Luna and her bobo, much to Luna's delight.

Legos are moving from the bottom of the pile of toys to near the top, though I'm not encouraging this one because I'm still trying to recover from the last of the tiny motherfucking princess shoes and something tells me legos are going to be worse. We Gunters value sanity over fine motor skill development.

And while he has regularly turned down getting his nails re-painted over the last month, he did ask for ponytails a week ago, which made my tiny, cold heart smile.

So many things have changed over the course of his fifty months but Keaton remains one of the sweetest, funniest, happiest and HAMMIEST people on planet earth. We love you, big guy.

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I think a series of family check-ins is in order, it being so, so long since I’ve assaulted you with the intricate goings-on of my family. In the interest of stretching things out as painfully as possible {wow, it’s only the third day of this shit and I’m already grasping at straws} I will do one Gunter at a time, starting with the smallest, funniest, and sweetest of the bunch.

Keaton only has thirty-one days left as a three-year-old, and to be honest there really isn’t much of three left in him. He seems to have stretched up and leaned out, taking the true shape of Boy versus the shape his mother prefers which is something more akin to Mah Baby Dumplin’.  His speech is that of a normal human child, with only small remnants of toddler-hood holding out, such as “strawl” for straw, “tennist” for tennis and my personal favorite, “pupcake” for cupcake. He also still asks me for “cold hot cocoa” when he wants chocolate milk which I sort of hope he still does on his visits home from college.

Here is what’s new with our Sir…

At some point towards the end of the summer Keaton’s first true love, toy cars, was swiftly replaced by his new true love, baseball. Last spring Uncle DCFI gave us Jorie and Ellie’s old tee-ball set and though he liked it, Keaton had some trouble hitting the ball off the tee, most of the time knocking over the whole thing with every swing instead. One day, after getting frustrated with the tee, he asked if I’d just pitch the ball to him. I explained that no, that was the way big kids played and he would have to get good at tee-ball before we tried that, but if there is one thing that child excels in, it’s persistence, so finally I agreed and WHACK- he hit the ball so hard it almost took my head off. Huh. That was weird. And a total fluke, and BAM, Jesus, Keaton! Be careful of mommy’s kneecaps! I sort of need them and BOOM. Okay, okay, I’m going to get my glove and perhaps some protective gear, this shit is ridiculous.

So we’ve spent nearly every nice morning out on the driveway since, trying to avoid putting dents in the siding or our neighbors’ cars. And it really is so much fun. I grew up playing baseball in our cul-de-sac with the neighbor boys and playing catch with my dad, but try as I might, Rowan had ZERO interest in it. Finally getting to play this with Keaton is one of the highlights of being his mom {which is great because I’ve spent way too many hours of my life playing “race the car” and “crash the car” and “vroom the car” and god help me that is NOT one of my favorite things to do}.

In other big news, you might remember I foolishly made a goal list last January and one of those goals was to potty train Keaton at night {he has been day trained since he was just over two}. And for the life of us, we could not get him to wake himself up or refrain from peeing in his sleep by the original goal-date of June 30th. So my revised goal was changed to November 30th and I’m pleased to report that we beat that goal to death by a good two months.

After the big push I made in June, I completely laid off trying, figuring we’d start again after he got settled into his new preschool. The big motivating factor here is that we cloth diaper and once Keaton hit about two years old, the ammonia stench from the diaper pail with even one diaper in it was completely over-powering. Turns out I’m a stubborn asshole {surprise!} so I wouldn’t break down and buy pull-ups even after that one time we did end up buying a pack last July for vacation and it was heaven to not have to smell the stink bombs. I refused to go back for that sweet, sweet second pack because I knew I’d become a pull-up addict and then the kid would never train which was exactly the opposite of what we were shooting for.

So we took a break. {I should note here that though we were disappointed, it was clear that Keaton was just not ready and we didn’t shame or make him feel bad that he wasn’t getting it.}

Then around mid-August Keaton asked me if he could try again and to see if we could pull a mind over matter trick, we gave him an incentive: if he could make it seven nights in a row accident free, we would get him his own baseball glove. To get him started we limited night liquids to small amounts of milk or water- absolutely no juice, which goes right through him. Then we had him pee right before bed which for him is usually just before 8pm. At around 10:30, before Bill and I turn in, I wake him up to take him potty. Then around 2am whoever got up first would go up to him and then Bill took him at around 5:45am when he gets up for work.

It was kind of a pain but the kid made it 5 nights in a row before he had an accident, which, although 2 days shy of earning himself the much-coveted glove, was the best he’d ever done by far. So we started over and he made it 4 nights dry. Then oops. Then he made it three nights, then GAH, then five again until finally the kid made it seven nights and we all rejoiced as we hit up the baseball aisle in Target. {And obviously since we’re push-overs we added a real metal bat and two rubber baseballs to his reward which after weeks of not giving up, we felt the bugger truly deserved.} It’s been a little over a month with no accidents and we’ve dropped the 2am check-in. Now we could probably forego either the 10:30 or 5:45 one as well but since we’re up anyway it’s no big deal. Plus seeing his sweet little sleepy zombie-walk back to bed warms my heart so we’ll probably just stick with this routine for a while. So! You can all breathe a deep sigh of relief that I will now shut up about diapers because after six years, one month, one week and 6 days we finally made it to the promised land of the diaper-free. Halleluia, Internet. Halleluia.

Moving on!

New to this fall’s line up of extracurriculars include an all boys dance class, which is seriously the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen. You think little girls in pink tights and leotards are cute? You should see these little guys stomping around in their taps and doing “cool guy poses” with the equally adorable twenty-something cool-guy teacher who the boys just idolize. We tried Keaton in this class last year but at only two, he was just too little. This year I really only tried it because the class ran during the same time he would have been sitting in the lobby waiting for his sister. And even still I made him wear Rowan’s old sparkly girl tap shoes for the first month because I didn’t want to purchase shoe’s and have him up and quit. After coming out with a huge grin after 4 lessons, I finally look pity on him and got him some nice, non-sparkly boy tappers and some black ballets to-boot {which, whatever, I don’t care what color they come in, ballet shoes always look feminine. Good thing my three-year-old doesn’t give a crap about the feminine/masculine shit 90% of the time}.

Karate is still going well, or as well as it can for a floppy, all-elbows and knees kid. He enjoys it and it’s great for teaching respect and discipline so WIN. He also started Sunday school, which ended the long and ominous terror reign of the Dreaded Church Nursery, which for some reason that we never could figure out, scared the shit out of him. I was nervous this fear would carry over into Sunday school but nope, everything is going well there.

This post is getting a little ridiculous in length so I’ll leave the school updates for another post that will no doubt be just as thrilling as this one. Turns out there’s a lot of silly {and most likely imaginary!} housekeeping when you up and quit blogging for a couple of months, but don’t worry! I’ll catch you all up. Get your breath bated, Internet, it’s going to be wild. Or really pretty boring. Yep. One of those two.

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Rowan J, what a year it has been. Year and a half really, if we’re starting from the time things got really rough. I have to be honest in saying that the first six months of Five kicked all of our asses thoroughly and completely. When I thought 4 was bad? BOY FREAKING HOWDY was I in for a shock at five.

But. Here you are. Here we are. At Six. And the girl I see right now is so very, very different from the girl of a year ago. I know there are a lot of contributing factors to this but mostly it’s because of you, Rowan. Your hard work. Your determination. Your never bending force of will. You learned some very valuable things without compromising who you are, perhaps even growing more into who you rightfully could and should be. The fight hasn’t gone out of you, not by a long shot, but somewhere in the sea of the last year you learned to convert that fight into something more productive. You learned to manage your emotions in a way that more positively reflected how you feel and because of that we all got a better idea of who this little being is, and you? Are nothing short of amazing.

Here is a recap of the things that brought you here…

We began the year of five in a fairly desperate state in terms of what to do with you and what you needed from us. In desperation we turned to occupational therapy in hopes that if they could help you with some of your mild to moderate sensory issues, we could better manage the other aspects. It was a really hard choice, but one of the best ones we’ve ever made as parents. What we found out was that your sensory quirks were exacerbated, if not caused by, a moderate vestibular disorder. Once we began in earnest working on getting your body to cross its mid-line and recognize its relationship to the ground, everything else fell into place. Your sensory issues dissipated when we started to treat the actual underlying problem and you were on the road to a happier you. It sounds so simple when I write it here but it took an incredible amount of work as a family to get you to this place. Somewhere around February we started seeing results and from there it went fast~ it was like we had our kid back. Last April, with a packet of homework and a wish of good luck, we were given your OT’s blessing to take an extended break to see how you managed without weekly sessions and we haven’t look back since.

Dance had a huge role in the success with treating the vestibular disorder. It also had a huge role in nearly driving mommy to the nut house covered in glue and sequins, but I’d gladly repeat this year knowing what a big difference it made in your ability to get comfortable in your own body. Now I love you with my whole big mama-bear heart, Kid, but you are NOT a natural dancer. We didn’t sign you up for competitive dance so you could shake your sequined-riddled butt up on stage, we kept you in it because it forced your body to learn to operate the way it’s naturally supposed to, to try and unwind from the tight, rigid, stiffness that defined it, only in your case it takes a lot of extremely hard work. After watching you that first month and seeing how far behind you were in terms of flexibility and know-how, I’m going to be honest, it was torture and I wanted to pull you out. Watching you stumble and fall over and over again, and then keeping my mouth shut when I just wanted to shout “Her brain is actually physically incapable of moving her body that way!!!” is one of the hardest tests as a parent I’ve come across. But you COULD do it- you proved that to us. It’s just ridiculously harder than it is for your average kid. Week after week you hung in there and you grew by leaps and bounds compared to where you started from. We are so proud of all you accomplished. I so wish we could keep you in at the level you are now but the commitment for this next year jumps from 3.5 hours a week to 9-10 hours a week and we just don’t see that working out with how this year seems to be shaping up. We have some other things planned that will help condition your body to keep functioning right which will hopefully be enough. This has been an agonizing decision for us but we’re pretty sure it’s the right one, especially because you want to keep up with piano which just wouldn’t be an option otherwise.

Moving on…Kindergarten certainly didn’t help an already rough patch. There are so many things I could say about last school year but I will keep it to this little nugget: I should have trusted my gut when it came to the class dynamic and the teacher. I should have moved you or pulled you out after the first couple of weeks. But being the stubborn lady I am {and optimistic at ALL THE WRONG TIMES} I kept you in and the year, though FAR FAR FAR less than idyllic, ended positively and you came out of it with good friends and a ton of new skills. Academically you really soared and watching you make and have your first real “best friend” was so sweet. Judging by how you’ve done with the reading and math exercises you’ve worked on this summer, I am excited for you to start first grade, not in small part because the teacher is the exact polar opposite of last year’s.

Rowan, this year you learned to add and subtract. You learned to read. You danced in a competitive line up on stage, in front of enormous audiences and panels of judges. You learned the 1st-5th ballet positions. You learned all the words and fell in love with Castle on a Cloud. You learned what a principal’s office looks like. You learned to read music. You learned to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. You learned to hold your breath under water. You’re on the verge of learning to swim. You laughed more this year than the three previous years combined due to your brother’s uncanny comedic timing with the uses of the words “fart” and “poop”. You made me so frustrated that I cried. You made me so proud I cried. You are always now, and ever, truly You.

And we love you, Rowan J. We really, really do.

Here is Rowan’s Year of Five slideshow. I know it’s long but you should know it’s a full five minutes shorter than last year’s which came in at a whopping 13 minutes. I’m sorry, Internet, but my photos are mah babies and it’s HARD to choose. At least the Justin Bieber stage was short-lived so you get to listen to Rowan’s current favorite, Florence and the Machine instead of “Baby, Baby, Baby, OHHHH, Like…”. Yeah. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Rowan’s Year of Five from Christy Gunter on Vimeo. Click here if you want to watch a larger version so your eyeballs don’t up and fall out of your head.

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