Neko’s “Fake Birthday” and Dressember Day #9

All day today, Neko told everyone it was her birthday… her “fake birthday.” In reality, today was the day of her birthday party, which I’d be willing to bet is more like her birthday to her, than is the day of the anniversary of her birth. Ah, well. We started off with a “Chickadee Party” with Outdoors In, a local organization that teaches classes about nature and animals. Judy, the instructor, offers a lot of neat classes on seasons, survival, habitats, adaptation and so on to homeschooled kids, and given that Neko is really into nature and science, we go to a lot of these. Today’s class was on birds and different animals and how some adapt, some hibernate and some migrate during winter.

“Mice” hiding under the “snow.”

A mouse emerging from the melting snow in the spring.

The idea was that this was the “Christmas party” to end off the fall sessions of Outdoors In, so we ended with cookies and hot chocolate.

Here was today’s dress:

Dress: vintage store in Vancouver (gift) // Long underwear: Hocosa // Shirt: Old Navy

The evening was Neko’s birthday party. Neko turns six later this month, but given the proximity to Christmas, we try to have her party early. This year marks her first sleepover! We started off with Make-Your-Own-Sandwiches. The girls could choose toasted or untoasted; mayo, mustard or roasted red pepper hummus; ham or chicken; spinach, sprouts, tomatoes, pickles, onions, avocado or red pepper; herbed havarti, cheddar or emmental.

My chicken/hummus/pickle/tomato/sprout/avocado/red pepper/onion/havarti sandwich was EPIC.

Next, we had Make-Your-Own-Sundaes, featuring chocolate marshmallow swirl ice cream (Neko’s choice, but sickeningly sweet) with blueberry sauce, strawberry sauce, chocolate chips, cookie dough, coconut, cinnamon, maraschino cherries, pecans and cashews.

I made a photo treasure hunt, as most of the girls in attendance are just learning to read. This went over like gangbusters.

Going to the basement to find the treasure. Yes, I know how creepy our stairs look.

The treasure was Crazy Carpets! I couldn’t have guessed how well these would go over!!

I somehow managed to not take a photo of all of them playing Just Dance 3, which was the highlight of the night, and so cute and funny to watch. This was Neko’s early birthday gift. Two of the girls went home around 9 pm, while Charlotte stayed to sleep over. While Neko and Charlotte stayed up to read/look at books until 10:30 pm, once we turned out the lights, they were asleep in minutes.

Now, Charlotte has requested I wake her at 7 am to witness the lunar eclipse. That is about two hours earlier than I’m apt to wake up/come alive, so I’m not sure how the morning will look. I’m quite sure, though, that it won’t be pretty.

Soup Day and Dressember Day #8

Sometimes when I have the extra two kids, I like to do theme days. They’re fun for me to plan, because I can incorporate the meals, books, activities and crafts or experiments. Today was Soup Day! There wasn’t a lot to it, but it was fun. First, we read Stone Soup, by Ann McGovern (my copy is from the 70s or 80s and is well loved). It’s about a traveler who stops at an old woman’s house to beg for some food, only she says she has none. He says it’s fine, he has a stone that he can use to make soup. They throw it in a pot with some water and boil it, and he keeps suggesting she add more ingredients (chicken, carrots, onions, beef bones, barley) and of course they end up with delicious soup.

After we read the book, I took out three pots and put a clean, round stone and some chicken broth in each, then let each child choose veggies, legumes/beans, a grain and a meat to add to their own soup.

The three stones we used to make the soup.

Finn only had peas, corn, cauliflower and rice in his; Mairead chose peas, corn, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, rice and chicken; and Neko wanted peas, corn, carrots, cauliflower, legumes, macaroni and sausage. I tried all three, and they were tasty! I also made some fresh bread for them to dip in their soup.

After lunch, we read another favourite – a really funny book by Jackie Urbanovic called Duck Soup. It’s about a Duck named Max who loves to cook soup, but one day, when his friends come to visit, they find a big pot of soup on the stove and think he has fallen in, so they dump it out in an attempt to save him. It’s really cute.

I’m sure we could have done more for Soup Day. Does anyone out there have any ideas?

Also, today was Dressember Day #8. All this time there has been the issue of trying to stay warm… today I was too warm! I was wearing tights, with wool socks and wool/silk blend long underwear overtop, then wool leg warmers, plus my dress and for much of the day, a short sleeved, hooded cardigan. With the soup and bread cooking, I was cooking too.

Dress: Zara // Long underwear: wool/silk blend from Hocosa – LOVE // Legwarmers: Cronert Button-Up Legwarmers from Sock Dreams // Socks: Smart Wool

Dressember Day #7: Whirling Wednesday

Today I wore another one of a few work-safe dresses I had to pinpoint for the month. Some of my dresses either aren’t dressy enough, aren’t conducive to demonstrating baby carriers, or are just plain too short or too low cut, so I had to choose my work-day dresses first.

This, incidentally, is one of my favourites.

Dress: Bellissima Petite // Shoes: Mantles // Both via clothing swaps

The nice people of the Dressember Facebook page tell me that today is Whirling Wednesday, so that explains the above photo. And yes, I do always make that face when I whirl.

Dressember Day #6: A Woolen Tragedy

Today I wore one of my favourite dresses; a cute taupe wool piece that I bought myself at Portabello Arts Market for my 28th birthday. It’s by a Vancouver designer, Cici, and is great for work in the winter.

Well, you may remember from my first post regarding Dressember that I store my dresses hanging from a pipe in the basement. As it turns out (and I had never really noticed this before), the duct that runs adjacent to the pipe is a heat duct, and it gets quite hot. Apparently, my lovely little wool dress was up against this duct for a period of time. The result?

Yep, major heat damage. I’m going to attempt to dye the whole thing, but that’s not happening this month, so I wore it today anyway and recycled yesterday’s emerald shrug. I was cooking at work! Oops, I mean, I don’t work in a kitchen – I was really warm. And, consequently, dopey.

Dress: Cici (Vancouver) // Shrug: Gilmore // Tights: Army and Navy. I don’t recommend buying your tights at Army and Navy; these are crap. // Boots: a reappearance of the Paris cheapies

Dressember Day #5

Dress: Vintage handmade // Shrug: Gilmour (clothing swap) // Shoes: American Eagle (thrifted) // Brooch: origin unknown but the missing stones add character

Not much to post today other than the dress. Neko came to work with me for a couple hours; we went tobogganing, talked about base-ten numbers and trans-gendered folk, and read some stories. This blog will turn more unschooly soon, I promise!

Dressember Day #4: The Ugly Dress

I’ve had this dress for years. It’s actually my favourite. It’s also incredibly odd and people either a) make fun of me or b) refuse to be seen in public with me when I wear it.

First of all, it’s grey and a very fine corduroy. It had a dropped waist with pleats. It ties in the back. It’s knee length. It has about 30 tiny buttons up the front, an odd collar, and puffy, elbow length, cuffed sleeves.

So, I wore it to volunteer at a homeless shelter. Because I knew the people there would be nice to me and not judge me and guess what? They were. Five different people complimented me. It was lovely.

Dressember Day #3: 3 Parties in 1 Day

What a way to kick off the month of December: three parties in one day! Justan’s union had a kids’ Christmas party, then Neko had a birthday party to go to, then we had my friend Ulrike’s annual potluck Christmas party. Luckily, the timing worked out so we could make it to all three.

Here is what I chose:

Dress: Chado (yeah… ridiculously short) via a clothing swap // Sweater: American Eagle via a clothing swap // Tights: Two pairs, Joe Fresh

There’s Neko with me, in her “Christmas dress.” She got it as a hand-me-down and has been dying to wear it – it’s supposed to be her dress for Christmas day, but given that we have three parties today, we figured she could wear it today, also.

There was a snowstorm tonight, and I have my long wool underwear in tow in case I break down on the side of the road (safety!).

On a short unschooling note, the theme of the day seemed to be motor skills – gross and fine. Party #1 was at a play centre with arcade and carnival type games, things like skee ball, whack-a-mole, that sort of thing, so Neko got lots of practice with motor skills there. Then bowling at the birthday party. Then, at the second Christmas party, we played a German board game (old favourite!) called Spitz Pass Auf, where most of the players hold coloured pieces on strings, then the main person rolls a dice with colours on it, and if one of two colours is rolled, the roller brings a cup down on the pieces, while everyone else tries to pull their pieces out first. It’s tense and fast-paced. Neko played as a puller and did really well.

As an embarrassing addition…

This is the most ridiculous photo ever. Neko LOVES Ulrike’s westie, Snoopy, obviously. And how drunk do I look? Ouch.

Dressember Day #2 – Two Dresses in One Day

Kind of a fail on cold climate dress-wearing today. Here is my first outfit:

Skirt: vintage K-Mart // Shirt: Nine West via a clothing swap // Sweater: Brooklyn Industries via a clothing swap // Necklace: turquoise, Global Wonders/Servants Anonymous Foundation // Shoes: American Eagle

I was supposed to be able to bring the kids home from IKEA by bus wearing this, which would have been fine, temperature-wise, if it hadn’t been for the wind! The wind was super cold today, so we decided to just stay at IKEA till Nicole came to pick up Mairead and Finn. (No big unschooly adventures today, just the chance to jump in the ball pit and such things in Smaland, on a cold day when playing outside wasn’t in the cards.)

I didn’t mind this outfit, but I had a swim date followed by plans to see the Muppet Movie later in the evening, and this didn’t feel quite right, so I picked this out:

Dress: The Gap via Value Village // Tights: Really not sure // Necklace: it’s from a booth at a music festival – it’s made out of dyed acai pits!

I usually wear this “dress” as a sweater over jeans, so it felt a bit short on its own, but was all right.

Not much else to say today – I was cold. I considered my long underwear but didn’t feel like I could do it. Not today. I have a fun outfit picked out for tomorrow though! Speaking of which, we’re well into tomorrow already, so I should go get some sleep.

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and Dressember Day 1

Today is Day One of Dressember, and we had a big day planned, so I had to think carefully about all eventualities while considering my outfit.

A long time ago, I committed to taking the kids (my own plus the two that I take care of twice a week – Mairead and Finn ) to an Alberta Dance Theatre production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I had assumed that it would be at the Centre for the Performing Arts, downtown, a half hour bus ride away. Well, as it turns out, it was at the University, an hour and a half bus ride away. Fine, doable (thank god for buses as there is not enough room for three carseats in my car!), but a long day that could be very cold. I needed a dress that wasn’t too short and would be relatively warm, plus double tights or tights and legwarmers, and boots, and coordinating accessories.

This is what I decided on:

Dress: BB Dakota (thrifted or clothing swap, probably the latter) // Tights: Codori Crochet Tights from // Legwarmers: Dream Stockings short Super Warmers from // Boots: el cheapos from a random shop in Paris (can’t remember – it was 7 years ago) // Necklace: Baltic amber, ordered online somewhere ( or similar) // Added a thick coat with hood, a scarf, knit mittens and a wool bag (plus of course diaper bag, cloth tote of snacks and small backpack of toys) and I looked like a stylish sherpa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The play was pretty great. The dancers looked to range in age from about seven to their   late teens, and did a fabulous job. And this was the dress rehearsal! The kids all did really well – the older girls sat pretty quietly, and Finn was fidgety but quiet.

Bus Bingo!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Even the bus ride home went all right. We ate our lunch, then played “Bus Bingo” where they had to find certain objects and cross them off, and this actually kept them amused for 45 minutes! Amazing! (I printed the Bingo cards from this ironically named website.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    All in all, a successful day in fashion and in homeschooling. Now, more coffee.

Arriving home from our bus adventure.


I have decided (thanks to the lovely Jen) that I’m going to take part in Dressember – which, of course, follows the inversely horrible Movember (thank god THAT’S over!) and involves committing to wearing a dress each day of December. It seemed silly at first. I mean, December is cold (here in Calgary, between -20 and +5 degrees Celsius, usually) and snowy, and I don’t own that many dresses! My excuses quickly melted away as I browsed through photos of others trying it in a cold climate, and then counted my dresses: 35.

Unceremoniously stored in the basement…

Wow. I’ve long called myself a Vintage Dress Collector, but now I know it’s true. The funniest part is, I have a soft spot for the really ridiculous ones, in a “I can’t believe this actually exists!” sort of way. I own at least a dozen that I would never consider wearing in public… at least not any other time but Dressember! This will be so fun. This month, expect to spot me in:

I’ll post a photo each day to show the actual outfit, and describe where I’m wearing it. I can’t wait to get started!