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    Entries in baby (14)



    It was George's birthday, it was Zelda's birthday. We had parties. I was going to write things about them, but everything I started to say was uninteresting. My kids had birthday parties like pretty much every other kid has at some point in their lives. 

    (I love this picture for many reasons but one of those is that Autumn is just cruisin' the internet)

    And the bowler:

    (his favors)


    zelda's first

    There is a post rattling around in this tapped head somewhere about the past year, about having two children, about one of them being a daughter who is different than my son, about the passage of time or exponential growth of love or how you forget that babies are just so fucking cool and then you have another one and you're like how did I ever forget this? But instead, for now, here's our yearlong documentation of one Zelda Marigold LeJeunesse, cat lover, daredevil, yogurt fiend. When she was first born, I kept saying, "someday we'll have a three year old and a one year old," like that's when we'd be legit. Legitimacy is pretty rad.

    Happy birthday, Goldie. 



    an early birthday

    I am no good at giving presents. Well, I'd like to think that I'm good at some aspects of gift-giving. I put thought into it, and often a lot of time. But when it comes to waiting or surprising I'm pretty much the worst. It usually works out, since as a procrastinator I don't frequently have long to wait between finalization of gift and handing it over, but every once in awhile I plan ahead and find myself with weeks of lag time. This simply will not do, and do it did not in the case of Zelda and the armless baby.

    Zelda's beloved Gob, a naked thriftstore baby George picked out a long time ago and had since abandoned -- her akimbo limbs and creepy, uneven, dead-eyed blink citable as potential turn-offs -- recently lost an arm. It's no shame for her; she's dragged around by her arms more than anyone can be expected to survive, limbs intact. This hasn't affected Zelda's love much, but it was a good opportunity for me to make her a new doll. With her birthday coming up, I had the occasion in addition to the reasoning. 

    Waldorf doll making has always intimidated me. The particular supplies, the expense and the precise techniques were hurdles I hadn't overcome though I've long admired the style. Meg McElwee's book Growing Up Sew Liberated: Making Handmade Clothes and Projects for Your Creative Child includes a pattern for a Waldorf doll, and it's been in the back of my mind since George was smaller. Alas, he's never really taken to dolls. Zelda is a different story, though, my children being so unbelievably gender stereotypical as to make me think someone is playing a joke.

     I love Meg's book (and blog) and the directions seemed clear enough to allow for some finagling according to my budget and crafting style which is a little more by-the-seat-of-my-pants than Waldorf dolls generally call for.

    I regret that the face isn't shaped, and if I ever make another I'll put more time into the facial features. The body is out of some soft bamboo velour I thought was perfect for a one year-old to snuggle, and the clothes are made from fabric scraps (Heather Ross' beautiful and now out of print mermaids) and leftover yarn. Choosing the hair yarn was tough, and I wish that I'd found something more colorful to make a real rainbow mop but that, too, is something for the next attempt.

    This doll is most definitely a quick and dirty version of a Waldorf doll, but the Sew Liberated pattern and instructions gave me a great starting point and I gained some knowledge about how to attach arms and heads in ways that don't result in droopy shoulders and floppy necks. Because it's tough to have a tea party with someone who can't stay awake.

    She's real cute, and, true to form, I couldn't wait until Zelda's birthday to see the reaction, even though every gift I've ever handmade for my kids has been met with the same vague interest. When will I learn? Never! It doesn't really matter -- most of the fun is in the making, anyway. 

    At their introduction, Zelda dubbed her "Dunna!" which we took to mean Donna, a perfectly suitable sister for an armless baby named Gob. 

    They were fast friends, though Donna's gonna have to do something to prove her unconditional devotion á la allowing herself to be drawn and quartered. 

    The entire project took me three evenings of off and on work, the most time-consuming being the altogether pleasant handwork of the face, hair, and foot shaping.


    I think Zelda's actual birthday may see the opening of a matching outfit or two, because I am that person I would never have expected myself to turn into, who loves matching outfits on pretty much anyone and anything. When I was little, my mom made me a life size Raggedy Ann with a dress and pinafore for each of us, and if photos are to be believed it was a monumental hit.

    I think a more androgynous doll may be next on the agenda. Overalls, shorter hair, and some actual facial features.

    Happy early birthday to you, Goldie. Here's to a (doll's)life-long friendship.



    the spinning kind

    So much going on.

    Most of it good. Really good.

    I love this season. The weather. The holidays. The happenings. 

    There are lots of ways to dance and
    to spin, sometimes it just starts my
    feet first then my entire body, I am
    spinning no one can see it but it is
    happening. I am so glad to be alive,
    I am so glad to be loving and loved.
    Even if I were close to the finish, 
    even if I were at my final breath, I
    would be here to take a stand, bereft
    of such astonishments, but for them.

    If I were a Sufi for sure I would be
    one of the spinning kind. 

    - Mary Oliver, from her new collection(!), A Thousand Mornings

    Never die, Mary Oliver. I simply won't allow it.



    The other day, it was my birthday. 

    Two years ago, the same dude tattooed my left forearm with a blue bird, a poppy, a banner that says George. My baby -- the first one -- was nine months old; I put on a flowered and pheasant-feathered headpiece, got drunk and walked across the street to get my indelible birthday present: a little bird for Woody Guthrie's tune by the same name, for the bluebird of happiness, for the blue of George's eyes. The poppy for the ones that line California's highways in the summer, growing wild, blanketing the way to Disneyland like a yellow brick road beside the real, wide, gray one. Things I love, that I love to share with him, that I look forward to sharing with him in the future (should Southern California be spared from its imminent ocean-falling-in). He learned to spell his name from that tattoo, can recite "G-E-O-R-G-E George" while pointing to the corresponding letters on my skin. 

    Since Zelda was born, I've known what hers would be. My round little same, looking so familiar, so like my own baby photos minus the cleft chin and plus a reddish tint to her hair. She is fat and happy, most of the time, with other dimensions peeking out from behind the good humor: determination; ambition; particularity. Even if she grows out of the resemblance to her mother, I can tell her that once, she looked like I had once looked. Maybe she'll like that.

    The marigold-spangled dress, the doll's blue eyes: those are easy. That Goldie came with eyes just like George's, just like mine. The colors match her brother's and together they make a nice pair, on my arms, in my arms, in general. 

    We came home and had cupcakes.

    It was a good day.