Tuesday, September 29, 2009

why do i bother?

I absolutely love one-on-one time with the kids.

Whenever I have them together as a group, I often feel a little overwhelmed, like I am facing a total mob scene. But when I can have them all alone, it's a completely different scenario. I get to see their personalities in full color and it is such a treat for me.

Yesterday, I took William to the store.

We went to the store because I needed to replace a needle on my sewing machine. I feel so domestic writing that. A needle on my sewing machine. But please don't be fooled in to thinking that I actually know how to sew.

The last time I sewed was about 14 years ago when I made my own Halloween costume. I was Little Red Riding Hood and Charlie was the Big Bad Wolf. The red cape that I made for myself looked like it had been made by someone who was totally blind and lacking hands. And you know, as I'm typing that, I'd be willing to bet that somewhere on this planet, there is a blind seamstress that with their feet, could sew perfect stitches around me.

I pulled my sewing machine out yesterday, dusted off 14 years of lint, read the manual for 30 minutes to remember how to secure a bobbin and then fired it up to fix a cushion cover for our couch. The cover had separated along the seam because it has been repeatedly washed and if I didn't stitch it closed soon, it was just a matter of time before the kids ripped the whole cushion apart. Our kids tend to be a little tough on the furniture.

As I'm sewing, I start to notice that the needle isn't going up and down. And instead of stopping and trying to figure out what might be wrong, I thought that perhaps the material was just thick and I needed to keep depressing the foot peddle.


This is a photograph that Charlie snapped off a millisecond before the near tragedy that almost took out my eye when the needle snapped in half and an airborne piece of steel ricocheted off my cheek. (Lesson learned: ANSI rated safety glasses might be something to consider if you have no idea what you're doing with a sewing machine.)

(Does any one else struggle with putting their vacuum away? Although I'm rather fiendish about putting things away that aren't in use, for some reason, I leave the vacuum out a lot. Probably because I don't like the idea of dragging it out of the closet three times a day.)

Not one to be dissuaded, I grabbed the manual - my pocketbook - a band aid - and declared that whoever got their shoes on first could come with me to the store to buy a replacement needle.

William won.

But when it comes to getting shoes on first, William always wins.

(I don't know what it is with the girls and their shoes. Unless I do it myself, it will take no less than 15 minutes for them to accomplish this one seemingly simple task on their own. We're not talking about complicated lacing or buckles. We're talking about sandals. That are marked with arrows so they know which shoe goes where. And even when they finally do get their shoes on, 7 out of 10 times, they're on the wrong feet. Drives me berserk.)

William gets in to the car and comes with me to the store where we buy sewing needles and thread. And on the way out of the store, my young son happens to catch sight of the Halloween costumes and begs that we please walk down that row.

William spots a costume that in his words, looks "bad and scary."

He wants it, desperately, so I pick up the bag and review the contents.

It's a Transformer costume. But interesting to me is that my son has absolutely NO idea what a Transformer is. Still, he likes what he sees and for the past 36 hours, all that he has talked about is going back to the store and buying this Transformer costume. Because when he gets his mind on something, he doesn't let it go.

Last year, he dressed up as Buzz Lightyear for Halloween and for the next three months, he wore that costume almost everywhere that he went. Here he is the week before Christmas with Big Bird and Elmo from Sesame Street, in none other than his Buzz Lightyear garb.

Now, in my mind, I'm thinking that perhaps this year for Halloween, I can coordinate the children's costumes, once again.

Like old times.

When they would let me dress them up in adorable matching outfits.

But try as I might, I absolutely cannot convince my son to be anything other than what he wants to be. I've suggested that perhaps William could dress up as Prince Charming with his two Princess sisters but he scoffs at that idea.

"That sounds like a girl thing. All that girls want to do is spin around and have people clap. Mommy, I am really not doing that. It's goofy."

So tonight, when we are sitting around the dinner table, I broached the subject of Halloween costumes by telling the children the story of the Great Wizard of Oz. With excruciating detail, I created the image in my children's minds of Dorothy and her little dog, Toto. There was a big storm and a tornado. Dorothy was lost. She met the Scarecrow who desperately wanted a brain. She later met the Tin Man who desperately wanted a heart. She then met the Cowardly Lion who desperately wanted C-C-C-Courage.

Together, they voyaged to the Great Wizard of Oz along the yellow brick road.

(Imagine me singing the song. And for the record: I sing about as well as I sew.)

Along the way they met Belinda, the Good Witch of the North and the scary green Wicked Witch of the West with her flying monkeys. As I was telling this story to the children, they were completely engaged, listening to every word, with their beautiful blue eyes fixated on me.

I fully expected that by the time I finished the story, I would have them hook line and sinker.

The girls would be Dorothy and the Scarecrow, William would be the Tin Man and Henry would be the cuddly lion. I would be the the Good Witch of the North (or the Wicked Witch of the West - depending upon how I'm feeling that day), and Charlie would be the Wizard.


Family themed costumes.

So cool.

Wrapping up the story, I tell the children that after a number of distractions and detours, everyone finally arrived at Oz and got to meet the Great Wizard. Each person got to tell the Wizard exactly what it was that they wanted. "I want a Brain! ... I want a Heart! ... I want Courage ... and then there was sweet Dorothy and her dog Toto. All that they wanted was to go Home."

I pitch the idea of costumes to the family and the girls jump on it. Carolyn will be Dorothy, Elizabeth the Scarecrow. They buy in to the idea that Henry will be the lion and William will be the Tin Man. Charlie was distracted by this point with Monday Night Football, but when I asked if he'd be the Great Wizard of Oz he said, "Sure, whatever."

Which means he'll be fine wearing this.

(Certainly after he's had one of these.)

William climbed up on my lap and in a very serious voice said, "So, the Great Wizard will give people whatever it is that they want?"

I smiled and asked,
"Whatever it is. Son, tell the Great Wizard of Oz what it is that you want!"

Without hesitation, he said, "Mr. Wizard, I would like a Transformer costume. PLEASE."

The point of this post: I cannot sew. I cannot sing. I cannot convince my son of a single thing.


  1. That sounds like such a cute idea; family themed costumes. Maybe you could get William to compromise by getting the costume he wants for dress up and the one you want for Halloween with the family. Although I realize that if he gets an extra one you probably will be buying the other three extra ones too. But you do realize that everything comes with a price, right?
    Good luck:)

  2. Our vaccuum sits out 905 of the time too. I think it's a natural part of the decor when you have four kids and ceramic tile.

    There are four different colours of Transformers you know...:) I know, I wouldn't let our kids be that either.

    What about Toy Story Characters? Maybe there are some new ones in the new movie. But I forget when it comes out. Or are they over Buzz etc?

  3. Jen, I adore this post. I have been trying to convince my hubby to dress up as Shaggy from scooby doo so that I can make Nadia Daphne, and me of coure, Velma... but to avail. He looks sooooo like the character too, but try as I might I can't get the family themed costume thing going either.

  4. I love it! Thanks for making me laugh here at work.

  5. Wasn't the Good Witch named Glinda?

    We did the Star Wars theme last year - Princess Leia and a Jawa. This year... my son wants to be Davy Crockett (if he wants to be anything - he'd also be happy with Darth Vader), so I'm trying to talk my daughter into Pocahontas or Sacajawea. She's trying to talk me into Padme Amidala. There isn't a good costume for her, and I sew just about as well as you do. It makes me cry every time she points to the fancy yellow dress that Padme wears that she wants for a costume.

  6. Deanna - I totally ran out of steam when I was writing this post, last night. I had intended to wrap it all together with my grandiose plans of sewing everyone's costumes, once I realized how EXPENSIVE costumes are.

    But if I was going to actually make everyone's costumes, I think that our best bet would be a family of ghosts with white sheets and holes cut out for eyes.

  7. Our gang is doing the Wizard of Oz this year too. But only because it's the last year that we'll probably be able to convince the 6 of them to dress in theme.

  8. Perhaps not but you did an EXCELLENT job of ALMOST convincing him.

    Nice try

    And just because I keep forgetting to say it, thanks for doing the cancer walk. You have no idea what it means to us survivors to have you all out there as support. The three year anniversary on my last chemo was Sept 21. It was supposed to be the 22nd but that's one of my sisters birthdays and I didn't want the association.

  9. .....snort.....William is just soooo smart!

  10. Auntie Kathy9/29/09, 11:18 PM

    Jen, I hope you bought a heavy duty needle for uphostery. With the correct needle, sewing is much easier and you don't need to wear safety glasses. Good luck with the family costumes. Are you going to sew them?

  11. Here's a link to a website that carries some safety glasses. Maybe you can wear these when you sew!


  12. I was trying to convince my two to be Max and Ruby for Halloween this year -- it would be so cute! :-) But Mac refuses to go along -- he wants to be a vampire or a skeleton depending on the day. I liked your idea of a family themed Halloween -- that would be fun!