Random Bits

No energy – sick with a cold. So let’s do a Friday Five.

  1. Z’s Great Grey Owl costume turned out really well! Husband did the feathers for the mask, I did hours of sewing for the cape o’ feathers, and she absolutely loved it. I absolutely loved sneaking chocolate from her Halloween bag. Will post a how-to-make-an-owl-costume some other time.
  2. I’ve got a Fabulous Support Network re-reading le manuscript, but already I’ve found Flaws In The Middle. I really shouldn’t read books on craft when I’m trying to finish a project. One of the chapters in Donald Maass’s The Fire in Fiction covers what he calls the “saggy middle.” No, he better not be talking about my tummy. The problem with middle scenes is that the main character tends to go through the story, and these middle scenes, especially, without a clear goal or inner or outer turning points. Now angry at the world and frantically revising.
  3. I need a really good book to read. Fiction, nonfiction, YA, adult – doesn’t matter. But I need something to suck me in, and fiction usually does the job better than non, for me. Preferably something short. Recommendations?
  4. Have I mentioned I’m sick? Murphy’s Law must govern preschool schedules, because the week I get sick is the week Z has two days off of school. So now I’ve got to keep her busy all day long. We’ve been doing special art projects. We made a paper chain for Thanksgiving, and I got her a bunch of fall-themed foam stickers so she’s making more Thanksgiving decorations. Also, at her school they give them those perler beads that the child puts on a plastic peg board, and then the theory is that the adult will unearth her iron and iron the plastic beads so they stick together to make a fun, bright shape for everyone to enjoy.
  5. Finally, on the subject of school. Z really wants to go for the full day. She’s been going for half-days, so we promised to talk to her teacher about it at the parent-teacher conference, which was today. Her teacher recommended starting on Monday! As in, three days from now. I’d thought there would be hemming and hawing, and we’d start her full-time maybe in January, giving us all a lot of time to get used to the idea. But Z wants to go now, and her teacher sees no reason not to. Plus in the coming weeks there will be lots of breaks for the holidays, and supposedly this will make the transition easier. Part of me is overjoyed at the prospect of so much time to myself before the baby comes, and a part of me is weeping, “She’s growing up so fast!” But that second part is mostly quiet, especially when I have a headache and a cold and all I want to do is take a nap that lasts until March.

That’s all! Happy Friday!

One Fish, Two Fish, Blue-fish, Blue-fish, Blue-fish

In which the Ever-Suffering Mother gets crafty.

Last year's Red-winged Blackbird costume. I'm smiling 'cause the sewing is OVER.

This Halloween, Z is old enough to choose what she wants to be. Her first Halloween she wasn’t even three months old, so I got to decide (butterfly). Second Halloween,  I got to decide (Red-winged Blackbird). Third Halloween: she wants to be a fish (not what I would have chosen).

"Baby" as model.

So here’s how I made a very easy fish costume. Some assembly required. But no sewing.

Step One: Find a babysitter. You do NOT want to take your two-year-old into Jo-Ann’s Fabrics. Bad idea.

Step Two: Head to a craft and fabric store to gather materials needed. You will need:

  • 2 pieces of poster board. I chose blue because she wants to be a blue fish, but it doesn’t really matter.
  • fabric. Two yards total would have been fine for my two-year-old. I went overboard, buying four different shades of blue, some with bling, some shiny. It depends on what you want for the end result. One yard should be your “base” for the fish, so when scales don’t match up right, you don’t have poster board showing through. Note: I think I got extra mileage from my “yard” because the fabric is sheer and was doubled up.
  • 2 9X12-inch foam sheets (the ones I bought are 2 mm thick)
  • dark blue ribbon
  • spray glue
  • strong masking tape
  • a lot of hope
  • prayer won’t hurt

Step Three: Cut a toddler-sized fish shape (minus fins – so basically an oval) from both pieces of poster board (just grit your teeth and eyeball it, then cut away). I used Z to measure how long to make the ovals.

Step Four: Cut out the fins for the bottom. Z’s fins are one foot wide.

Step Five: Cut two ovals from your large piece of base fabric to roughly match size of poster board ovals

Step Six: Cut out lots and lots of “scales” from the fabric. I was not exact on this, and I think the more size/shape variation you have for the scales, the cooler it will look. The scales I cut were anywhere from 5 inches long to 6.5 inches long, and between 3 and 4 inches wide.

Step Seven: Using the spray glue, glue the base fabric onto the poster board. If it’s wrinkly, don’t worry, it’ll barely show after the scales are on. Trim off excess fabric.

Step Eight: Use masking tape to attach the fins to the bottom (tape them to the reverse side of the poster board so the tape doesn’t show).

Step Nine: (the fun part!) Glue on the scales. I started at the bottom and used spray glue. I glued the bottom row first, then moved up to the next row, trying to vary the ways the scales overlapped within rows. I don’t think it really matters.

Step Ten: Using whatever genius is left over in your craft-fried brain, figure out a way to attach the two pieces of poster board to make a front and back of the fish. I used ribbon (fixing it in place with extra masking tape), but I will probably change this before the Big Day, because I don’t think ribbon is strong enough to withstand a toddler running around. I might use leftover scraps from the poster board (and more masking tape. Love masking tape).

I am not worrying about extra fins or anything. The scales and tail fins peg it as a fish. I only lost one night of writing by working on it, and Z LOVES it, so I’m a happy mom.

Z modeling her costume at school