Monday, June 24, 2013

[peaceful parenting] Mama Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barney

Around the time that my daughter was born, a new children’s show was all the rage.  Rage being a key word here as it also produced a LOT of push-back from parents, adults, and older siblings annoyed by the cloyingly saccharine song so famously associated with the show.  

I was one of those parents.  The show and its predominate purple protagonist left me so piqued that I engaged in strategic channel changing and PBS viewing schedules just to avoid exposing her to the show.

My efforts paid off, she never was much of fan.  (She only later learned of the show’s existence when she started preschool.  But always preferred to watch other programs, much to my relief.)

Flash forward to today, and I find myself dealing with the purple menace in a much bigger way.  Declan has, completely on his own, discovered the show via Netflix and Hulu on our tablet computers.  (Oh, if only both of those programs allowed parents to individually filter out certain shows!)  
Here's the techno-savvy lad now

Through no prompting nor training on our part, Declan has learned how to open the tablet, start the appropriate application, switch the application to the kid’s catalog, browse the options, pick a show, and watch it.  He is also very adept at rewinding and replaying key parts, particularly theme songs and musical numbers, over and over again.

Obviously, I’m no fan of some of his choices in viewing material.  My language makes that plain.  So why have I chosen to not only allow him to continue to view these shows, but also defend and support his tastes?

Well, I feel that to do otherwise would be shame him for being himself and expressing his tastes.

As much as I may not be a fan of cavity-inducing children’s music, it does not hurt him at all.  Whereas if I turned the situation from supportive to adversarial, someone must win and someone must lose.  That sort of relationship can cause harm; definitely to our relationship, but also to his developing sense of self.  So, instead of instituting a ban of B-word in this house, I’ve chosen to find acceptance.

Some may find my support to be a bit on the extreme side.  After all, would censoring his exposure from a children’s TV show *really* be that bad?  Honestly, I think that it might.  I’ve decided that my role in his life is to be a partner to him, and that a huge part of my “job” is to be supportive of his interests.  If I start to dismiss his curiosity and interests at this stage, how can I show him that I truly am interested in helping him to explore his world later on?

I’ll admit that this is perhaps a departure from some folks’ views of more conventional parenting.  But I’ll wager that even those people can cite a time in their adolescence when their parents chose to be adversarial at a time when they could have really used support instead.  I know that I can recall a few.  I can even recall moments when I really should have been more supportive of my daughter.

How do you as a parent view your relationship with your children?

On a somewhat related note, Declan has also--on his own--found Family Guy.  In some respects, I think that is almost more annoying than the dentally-challenged T-Rex.  No, it IS more annoying.*

*Yeah, I’m not a fan.  Too formulaic, too sophomoric, not witty enough.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

[in stitches] A New Dress for Daughter

Years ago I picked up a vintage reproduction pattern of a tabard-style dress.  The pattern, no longer in print, featured a quick-to-sew "Walk-Away-Dress" that had no sewn sides.  Instead it wrapped from front to back, and back to front to create the closures at the sides.  I made one for myself and liked the dress well enough, but there were a few issues.  Minor ones, that kept me from making any more dresses from the pattern.

While browsing through one of my favorite sewing blogs, I saw an older post about the Walk-Away-Dress.  In the post, an updated version of the dress pattern is featured.  Alas, THAT gorgeous pattern has not been reissued.  But a similar pattern from Vogue was reissued (and is, of this writing, still available).

But there was still something that kept me from making the dress.

Flash forward to a week or so ago.  I had finished a very sewing-intensive costume and wanted something fun to make. Plus, I was hoping to work on something that could try out some new skills.

I decided to make the Vogue dress, but not for me, for my daughter.  I also decided that I wanted to try my hand at pattern drafting by adding a peter-pan collar to the dress.  My daughter chose a darling cotton lawn fabric of blue with dots of white and green.  For the collar, we settled on a true red fabric.

As the pattern that I picked up ages ago was the wrong size for my girl, I did have to due some alterations.  I was excited to try out Nancy Zieman's Pivot and Slide technique.  The adjustments were so easy to make using the pivot methods and quickly produced a new, well-sized pattern.

I used my toile to underline the bodice, but decided against underlining the skirt.

The dress worked up quickly, though I did pause at one point to see if my local sewing machine shop had a specialty foot for attaching bias tape.  (They didn't, alas.)

In putting together this dress, I did feel pretty good about my collar pattern and how that all came together.  It also proved to be another lesson on bias binding, but I've only concluded that I'd really rather just get a specialty foot and technology to the fiddly work for me.  And I think I may become a devotee of the pivot and slide technique.

I would like to make this pattern again--again with the collar, too.  I think that the collar really sets this dress apart.  Linen may be a nice choice, or another cotton lawn.  But if I did it for myself in the cotton, I would probably underline the skirt, too.

Do you like to try out new skills when you sew?  What sort of projects do you enjoy?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Haus: Dilemmas of the MiniTrad Owner

I cannot help it.  I've been thinking a LOT about paint.

Haus, Sweet Haus
When we were in the market for our new haus, I had very definite ideas about the exact sort of haus that I wanted.  It would be old (built before 1940) and it would have a lot of charm.  Instead, we bought a house built in 1948 and with the curb appeal of a plain box.  *sigh*

(Why did we buy it, then?  The neighborhood, mostly.  But the interior features several darling details and original elements that we just adored.)

Since buying the haus, I've learned a lot more about post-war architecture.  For a start, our home is transitional, but mostly Minimal Traditional in style.  Minimal Traditional, or MiniTrad, homes were pretty much exactly what it sounds like: usually single-story homes built with very minimal details, and traditional elements.  They were often small and square, wasting almost no space on hallways.  Effective, efficient, affordable housing for our returning soldiers and their families, basically.  Our home feels a touch more transitional, though, in that its footprint is longer than most, has a large kitchen and service porch, and has a very long hallway from front to back.

Most MiniTrad homes are rather plain building on the outside.  Ours, being almost all stucco, is double drab in that it's currently painted the color of sand.  And did you spy that uninspired white accent color on white trim?  Yeah, yawn....

If there is one good thing about having a home that was built in the late 40s, it's that color was starting to be all the rage in homes.  The color palette was moving away from the earthy tones that dominate the Arts and Crafts movement, choosing instead vibrant, almost painful colors.  Folks were using color to brighten their lives and to forget about the austere war years.  Yellow was very popular in interiors.  Bright blues, and even jade, started to appear on exteriors.  The homes were small enough, that such bright colors didn't look garish.

My efforts to find a suitably historic palette have not, alas, turned up a plethora of available paint.  But I did find out that Sherwin Williams does market and offer a Historic Collection.  Worse still, they have a wonky, but addicting color visualizer tool.  (Wonky in that all attempts to save images after "painted" have thus far failed, or produced buggy images.)

Still, can you imagine how much more fun my haus would look painted gold with avocado trim?  Or jade with bright blue door?

Alas, I think we will have to wait a bit.  While the wood trim is liable to need some touch-ups soon, our  financial priorities have limited our ability to purchase paint for the stucco.  Any ideas on how to brighten up our home with just a new color trim?


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