Obsession: Vikings

Last summer, I did a favor for my friend Bristol while she was visiting Iceland. As thanks, she sent me two skeins of beautiful Icelandic wool yarn, one a natural undyed black and one a stunning natural dye blue. I had no idea what to do with them, but kept them safely tucked away as they are very special.

love story pair

This past spring, Will and I agreed that for next year’s renaissance faire, we need Viking clothing. I have an apron dress that my sister made for me for Halloween when Sam was two, but I’ve, um, grown a bit since then.

Sam-Annika-halloween2008

HE WAS SO TINY. I can sew a new dress, of course, and I still have the brooches my sister’s ex made for me (they are not visible in the photo, so let me assure you that they look exactly like copper boobs). Sam’s tunic is too small for Grace to wear, but that is okay because I want to make her a girl’s costume. I think I will make the apron dress in two pieces with ties at the side so that it can grow with her.

Because it is regularly over 100° at the ren faire, I plan to make everything out of linen, and wear only one underlayer. I am planning an alternate, long-sleeved overdress, because reasons, but will not likely wear that at the faire. Unrelated, I am planning to make myself a linen Scout tee, and may see how I like the apron dress over a short layer instead of a long one.

Also in spite of the weather, I plan to make outer layers for all of us. Wool wraps for the boys, a cloak for Grace and a kaftan coat for me. I am planning to use the Icelandic wool from Bristol for all (or at least some) of my embroidery needs.

Now that my sewing area is nearly ready to go, I will hopefully have pictures to share as I work. In the meantime you can see all of my inspiration here.

By the way, I finished Beautiful Wreck, immediately read it again, and then made my husband read it. It is my favorite. I have a lot more to say but maybe in another post.

Obsession, 8-year-old style

Let’s talk about Sam and Aliens.

So, my eight-year-old son is obsessed with James Cameron’s 1986 action/horror/sci-fi movie Aliens. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Perhaps you are thinking, He is too young to see that movie! Yes, well. I agree. And he hasn’t seen it. YET.

But he wants to, desperately.

He brings it up frequently. The other day he turned to me out of the blue and said, “Mom, I really want to see Aliens now. It might be a spooky one, but it’s okay. I might be scared, but I just have to find out. I really want to see it.”

And why, you may be wondering, is he so obsessed with this movie? The board game. He plays the board game, and the flash version of the board game, frequently. He does voices for the marines. He refuses to leave an injured man behind. The other day when I was playing with him, he had one of the guys GO BACK for Vasquez. Which, actually…

Anyway. He loves the world so much. He knows all the characters and has a favorite (Hicks, thank goodness). He can tell you in great detail why we do not like Burke. He knows everything but what the movie is actually like.

I won’t lie, I might let him watch it. Nothing has scared him yet. Literally ever. And honestly, the most disturbingly violent thing shown on screen is an android–excuse me, synthetic human–being skewered. (Yes, of course we re-watched it this weekend to help us decide what to do. Holy shit the blu-ray looks amazing.)

Random

My main observation from nearly three weeks of our new eating regime is that the children’s personalities are exactly as I suspected.

Sam wants to please us. He will try anything. Just pops it in his mouth and chews it up. But he doesn’t like any of it. He coughs and fake-chokes and is dramatic about all of it. He won’t let himself really taste things.

Grace does not give a damn about pleasing us, but her natural curiosity wins out over stubbornness about half the time. She has found several new foods that she LOVES.

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We’re rearranging our apartment. I know what you’re thinkng–AGAIN?!–but beyond moving a chair or something, we only rearrange ever 2-3 years, which is less frequently than most people move, so you do the math.

Sam and Grace have their own room. Sometimes one or both of them disappears for hours. Most nights they go to sleep in their own beds, thought here are nights like last night, when grace was feeling anxious and sad about losing co sleeping, and I brought her out to falls sleep in my bed.

…Which is in the living room. It’s temporary, and was a great transition point for everyone, but I’m ready for more privacy and the apartment isn’t. Yet.

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I miss sewing. My work area, which was a disaster to begin with, is totally non-functional as I sort through the mess. I have clothing to sew! My wardrobe is on the right track for the first time in years, damn it!

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What’s new with you? I feel out of touch.

Day 16

I promise I will talk about something else eventually, but not today.

Because.

GRACE IS EATING A PULLED PORK SANDWICH.

Sure, I still haven’t convinced either kid to eat more than a bite of any vegetable. It’s still a win.

Day, um. 13ish.

Last night, as I was preparing dinner, Sam came into the kitchen and said, “Is that TOFU?” When I confirmed that it was, he said, “Can I HAVE some?” And I managed to say, “Just ONE piece” without dying from the suppressed laughter because OH MY GOD MY BOY ASKED FOR TOFU.

Dinner was sesame noodles, but I also put out a bowl of noodles with just soy sauce. Sam ate a quarter pound of tofu and Grace had half a chicken thigh, so I allowed them to choose which noodle dish they wanted, and they both chose soy sauce. I also made salad, and they both tried it. GRACE TRIED SALAD. AND LIKED IT. Apparently French vinaigrette (with Dijon mustard, wine vinegar, and olive oil) is MAGIC.

Not every meal has been this successful, but they have eaten more foods in the last two weeks than in the last two years.

Day 5

Today at lunch Sam said this:

“Well, I love trying new things!”

He then ate half a quesadilla, even though he did not particularly like it. IS THIS REAL LIFE?

Grace is still being a pain, but sliiiiiightly less of a pain? Maybe? Could be wishful thinking or resignedness.

I’ve added a second snack to our day. Four meals meant SO MUCH WHINING. Five seems more manageable.

For tonight’s dinner I am making Bread Alone baguettes and zucchini soup (kind of–I’m not following the recipe, just the basic idea). I know they will eat baguette. Will they eat a vegetable?

PLOT TWIST

Grace has been extremely reluctant to try new foods. Like, somehow simultaneously screaming her head off and clamping her mouth shut so nothing can pass her lips.

As a result, dessert following dinner as it does, she has not had any coffee cake. She has instead spent pretty much every waking moment begging me for coffee cake and failing to understand the natural consequence of not eating.

Sam has been splendid about trying new things. He ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich earlier. JELLY. (Actually jam.)

Tonight, I made sausage sandwiches for Will and Sam, a veggie burger for myself, and a grilled cheese for Grace because dear god I just need her to be able to eat some fucking coffee cake and there was no way she’d try a sausage sandwich.

Sam, who does not like his precious spicy Italian sausage to touch anything else (even pasta), shivered and shook and guzzled water and didn’t eat until I literally hand fed him about half of his sandwich. He complained the whole time, but happily ate a pickle.

Grace chowed down on her grilled cheese, reluctantly tried a bite of pickle, was inordinately proud of herself for trying it, and then FINISHED SAM’S SANDWICH.

Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Picky is as Picky does.

My mom recently gave me a book called French Kids Eat Everything (affiliate link). I started reading it rather apprehensively, because I just can’t take one more smug parenting book about how I am doing it wrong.

It is not one of those books.

Basically, it’s a memoir of a North American family who move from Vancouver to the author’s husband’s home country of France, where the author is expected to feed her children the way the French feed theirs, which is…very very very differently than she is used to. And, well, it works. Her children develop better eating habits and more diverse palettes. In the book she lays out ten rules that she followed to achieve her goals, and gives tips and recipes to help others follow them.

What the fuck. I am pretty desperate.

DAY ONE

Today I informed the children that they will no longer be allowed to snack whenever they want to. One of the key principals in the book is that grazing on snacks all day leads to kids who aren’t hungry for meals. Seems legit.

I fed them (and myself) a good breakfast around 8-8:30. Baguette with butter (no butter for Sam–I will work on that aversion slowly), bacon for them, eggs scrambled with goat cheese for me, and a square of dark chocolate each. Coffee for me.

We went to the playground and then speech therapy. On the way to Pasadena, Grace started crying because she wanted one more turn on the swings. She demanded a food treat to make her feel better, and I informed her that we would no longer be using food to make ourselves feel better. I offered to read her books instead.

We came home and I made lunch: pasta and sausage, both favorites, but this time I mixed them together. It was on the table at about 1:00. Sam spent twenty minutes saying he just wasn’t sure he could eat them together. I ended up feeding him about half, then he had a bit more on his own. I let them be done when they felt full. I did not let them move onto the next course until they were both finished with the current one. After pasta (I had parmigiana on mine, which Sam shockingly tasted), I had a carrot salad. I insisted they each try one bite. Grace was the harder sell this time. Then we had a fruit course (apple and banana, Grace is not required to eat the banana because she is very averse to the texture), and then–and only then–they were allowed a popsicle.

It took an hour and a half and there were many tears.

Sam gets a video game on speech days. He ended up with only about 40 minutes because lunch took so long and I wanted the TV off for an hour before snack time. At 4:00 I gave them peanut butter pretzels and frozen strawberries (which they have never agreed to eat before, and which disappeared into Sam in five seconds flat).

I’ve insisted that they eat at the table, such as it is. (We are overhauling the apartment again, and our table is currently under a tarp on the porch. They ate at the coffee table.)

I’ve corrected their language about food fairly constantly. “No, thank you” is the only negative talk I will accept.

This is exhausting, and we still haven’t gotten to dinner.

Morning people

You know what’s fun (and for “fun,” you should substitute absolutely any other word)?

Having a kid who is as crabby as I am in the morning.

Grace takes after her father. They both have the uncanny ability to brain immediately after waking (shut up, “brain” is too a verb), a talent that eludes me. It seems that Sam has inherited my level of functionality. He does not (yet) tackle the problem with gallons of caffeine, as I do. On a good morning, he simply stays in bed until he feels capable of facing the day. On a bad day, though.

Today Grace decided, almost immediately on waking, to play with her Playmobil family. She’s been setting up her dollhouse for them.

“Mom, will you play with me?”

“After I drink my coffee,” I tell her, guilt eating at my stomach lining. (Okay, guilt and strong black coffee.)

So she plays by herself until Sam stumbles out of the bedroom, yawning (he’s been awake for at least 20 minutes at this point), and collapses into a chair.

“Sam!” Her bright eyes turn to him like he is her favorite person on earth–which he is. “Will you play with me?”

“Ugh, Gracie. I don’t want to play.”

And just like that, everyone’s morning goes to shit.

And because I recognize in him my own failing, I have to work extra hard to keep from exploding with anger at him. Why can’t he just be nice to her? I know the answer, but I want him to hold it together in the morning, the way I often cannot.