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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wacky Wednesday #33: I am Thankful

Every Wednesday I trot into my local Vons market and laugh for a few minutes with my buddies who work there. It started months ago, on one of my first Wacky Wednesdays. The checkers liked my costume (and that day it was relatively simple—only a hat. A bird nest hat…). Soon it became part of my Wednesday routine to pop in and say hi. A few days ago several of my Vons friends joked around about whether I’d be dressed as a turkey today. It’s a reasonable guess, given that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. And given that I dress up in strange and playful outfits each Wednesday. And given that I love to make people laugh. And given that I have a giant turkey outfit in my closet. (Just kidding about that last one.) As I explained to my friends, this sounds fun but potentially could be dangerous. What if my costume looked really realistic? I wouldn’t want to the guest of honor at a turkey dinner. (Tip: if your place card is nestled in a bed of parsley on a giant platter in the center of the table, distract the guests by pointing a wing in the opposite direction--exclaiming, “Hey, look—what’s that?”—and then hightail it for the door.)

Anyway, cute as the turkey costume idea is, I had something else in mind. I decided to go with a concept that I’ve used a few times in recent months: wearing words on Wednesday. Wearing words is a good way to share my thoughts with others. That’s part of why I write this blog. But for those who see me but don’t know about the blog, I want to get my message across in a few seconds or less, which can be done if you wear words. Given that it’s Thanksgiving week, I want to wear my gratitude on my sleeve (and on the rest of my dress). I am grateful for a lot, and I want to express it.
My dress is made of fallish colors. Some might confuse this with a throwback 1970s costume: all mustards and browns and squash tones. Hey, I’m a product of the ‘70s, so I embrace that decade. Today’s dress is not about the 70s, but is my attempt to celebrate fall, its colors, harvest, and gratitude. I wrote the word “thankful” across the front of my dress in fallish colors.

I also have “thankful” on my headband. Originally I’d planned to have something different on my head. But plans were shuffled the last few days and I ran out of time. I’m human. As much as I’d love to create a Last Vegas caliber costume every week, sometimes I have to cobble together a simpler Plan B. On Sunday I played at the beach with two of our three kids, and I think that was more important than creating a memorable hat. Our beach day was fun and I feel lucky to have that choice. On that note, here are some more things I appreciate:

I am thankful for family, friends, and my community.

I am thankful for health, freedom and a safe place to sleep.

I am thankful for teachers, and all those who help others.

I am thankful for hope, because I know that many people don’t have it.

I am thankful for creativity and for laughter.

There are other things I could list but I’m keeping the list to a smallish number because it’s a busy week and tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I still have loads to do. You, too? Okay, well then it’s time for you to stop reading stuff online. You need to stop this endless Googling of “bad celebrity plastic surgery.” No more screen time! (After you finish reading my post, of course.)

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wacky Wednesday #32: Flash Cards

I hope you’ve been limbering up because it’s time for a little math!

I’m dressed in math flash cards today, an idea that came to me months ago when I saw flash cards on sale at a store. These cards were cheerier than most flash cards, with their colorful borders, and instantly I saw potential for them to become wearable art. Perhaps if more flash cards had bright colors on them, kids would be excited about math drills. Hey, bring a little dazzle to math!

It’s always fun for me to create an outfit made of unexpected materials. Having learned from my attempt to sit in my cupcake liner dress earlier this year, I decided that I would make this costume more of an apron rather than a dress. I wanted it to be a little bit open in the back because sitting on paper breaks your paper and is uncomfortable. What I didn’t anticipate, though, is that this apron would not be interested in bending. I should have known this, since the cards are fairly rigid and I glued each one to my fabric. When I finally put this outfit on (five minutes before leaving the house today) I realized that I could not bend. Could I get through the day without bending? I didn’t think so. A few quick cuts in the front of the dress allowed me to walk a little more easily. Bending down to pick up things I dropped was not easy, and I’m always dropping something. And don’t get me started on using the bathroom in this dress! Bathroom breaks are a reality. Bathroom breaks require bending. Oh, my.

Wednesday mornings are when I volunteer at my youngest child’s school, helping kiddos with their banking. The students have their own accounts, and they bring me deposits of dollars or coins. I bring their money to the credit union, where it is put into their accounts. Although my costume today wasn’t intended as a reference to banking, wearing numbers while I took the kids’ money worked with my theme. Saving their money in the bank is a real life application of math because they are earning interest. Lots of students commented on my costume and solved some of the math problems on my dress. I doled out high fives as kids solved the problems on the flash cards and told me that they knew 12 x 12. 144! High five.

Later, after I deposited the kids’ money, I did several errands on foot. People were surprised and delighted by my outfit. Quite a few people asked whether I was a math teacher. I’m not, but I do think math is important and this costume has turned into a way to bring a little more fun to math. Several people commented that they wish their math teacher had made classes a little more exciting. These tended to be people of an older generation, and I imagine that in their day, school was a serious place. My oldest child has math projects that bring a little extra fun to the subject, and connect math to the world outside the classroom. I love that. Even if math isn’t a student’s favorite subject, it’s important to understand how it connects to the real world. As adults we use math every single day. At the supermarket our understanding of math is in use when we compare prices per ounce of food. We use math to select a phone plan—not just choosing the most affordable plan, but deciding which combination of services and costs fits our needs. Math isn’t just for the parts of life that are obligatory, like paying an electricity bill. Math can be your friend when you’re doing your favorite activity. Understanding numbers can help you decide whether to rent roller skates at the rink or to buy them. Will I use my skates often enough to justify the cost? If there are any kids or teens out there reading this blog, take it from me—understanding math isn’t just about passing the course and keeping your parents at bay. A good understanding of math can help you for the rest of your life.
Okay, enough lectures. Back to fun! I loved wearing this costume because people seemed to get a kick out of it. It’s fun to see the surprise in people’s eyes as they see me and it’s a great conversation starter. One man in the supermarket commented about how nice it would be to make school more exciting to kids. That got me thinking. I’ve decided to share my formula with anyone out there who wants to make a similar outfit at home. Math teachers, this isn’t that hard. You could do this if you have some flash cards, a little fabric, some hot glue and two hours. I’m presenting this lesson as a formula because creating costumes actually can be a little like doing a math problem. Strange, but true.

Formula for Fun Math Apron:

Supplies needed:

·         Fabric (see below)

·         Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks (or regular glue if you are more patient about dry time than I am)

·         Flash cards (I used two packages of cards—probably 80 or more cards in all)



1)      Get some fabric as the base of your costume. I used a piece of cotton I had already. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Cut up an old sheet if you have one. No one will see the fabric.

2)      Measure against your body how tall the apron will be. Also measure around your body so that the apron will covers as much as you’d like it to.

3)      Cut your fabric into an apron shape, based on the width and height you just measured for yourself. (Here’s what the apron looks like from the back.)

4)      Cut a length of fabric to create a strap that will attach to the top of the apron, around your neck. It needs to fit over your head. Attach it to the apron. Create straps for the back of the apron.

5)      Start hot gluing your flash cards to the front of your apron. You can glue them randomly, or in a pattern, as I did. I did my pattern according to color, but there’s no wrong way to do this.

6)      Keep gluing down cards until your fabric is covered. Try it on and if it’s too stiff for walking, cut some slits in the bottom of the apron so you can move.

7)      Walk into math class and see what happens.

Total cost:

Flash cards (from the 99 cent store), 2 packages                                $2

Hot glue sticks (from the 99 cent store)                                                $1

Random piece of fabric you already had                                               $0


Total spent                                                                                                  $3

Now, I hope your pencils have been sharpened because I have a surprise for you. Pop quiz!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wacky Wednesday #31: thank you, veterans…

Today’s costume and theme aren’t wacky the way they’ve been on other recent Wednesdays. My Wednesday posts don’t often coincide with a serious day, so most of the time I freely embrace whatever wackiness occurs to me each week. However, today is different. Several months ago I realized that Veterans Day would be on a Wednesday this year, and it was clear to me that I wanted to honor the veterans who have given so much to America.

So how does one mix a wacky weekly creative post with a serious occasion like Veterans Day? Not quite sure. I don’t want my playful style to be confused with a lack of appreciation for veterans or anyone in the armed services. I’m certainly not mocking anyone, but I do have a playful style and I’m not going to alter that so as to try to appease everyone (which is impossible, anyway!).

Well, I know I can’t control how people perceive my creations, so I’ll just hope that they see the intention behind today’s wearable art: a salute to veterans.

I’ve dressed patriotically before (and not just on July 4th). As a teenager I created a red, white and blue dress as a statement about the American spirit. But the patriotic 17-year-old didn’t understand how different America is from many countries, and I do as an adult. I am grateful to live in a country where I can do what I like, be who I am, and where diversity is celebrated. I vote. I am thankful for those who protect America. As I get a little older, I appreciate more and more the sacrifices of those who serve our country and sacrifices of their families. Thanking veterans is not about which political party you identify with—it’s about an appreciation for what veterans have done for us.   

The further I get from age 17, the more I understand how young the teenaged soldiers are who enlist. Their bodies may look grown but the responsibility they take on is greater than a teenager should face. I want to mother them, not send them out to take care of me…And so today I’m especially appreciative of those who have served and are serving this country. Our country isn’t perfect but it is a good place, and I am thankful to live here.

Thank you, veterans...


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wacky Wednesday #30: Fall Leaves

This costume was made by hand--in the dark.

(Well, that got your attention, I’d bet.) It’s a sliiiiight exaggeration, I admit. I had both sunlight and electricity to aid me in this project. The darkness I mentioned is my self-pitying reference to the fact that we’ve returned to Standard Time. It’s November and someone, somewhere, made us turn our clocks back. It’s dark earlier these days and I’m not happy about it.

It’s officially fall now, and I thought I’d make a costume that reflects that. What’s that you say? It’s been fall for six weeks, officially? Hmmmm. It’s been in the high 80s here in San Diego. It doesn’t really feel like fall yet, except for the annoying darkness that settles in far too early now.

Of course, I have noticed leaves changing lately. Just a little. And that means a fall leaves blog post.

I decided to make my fall leaves by painting fabric and paper. The paper leaves were especially fun to make. If you want to make some of your own, here are some tips:

1)      Do not chant rude things to yourself, along the lines of “This leaf is lame. I can’t paint a leaf!”

2)      Your leaf can be big, small, realistic, cartoony—whatever. There’s no right or wrong.

3)      If possible, use thicker paper as it will hold its shape and won’t bend and buckle when painted.

4)      Try painting the leaf asymmetrically. It’s only my opinion but the ones that are not perfectly symmetrical are prettier, and more natural-looking. Leaves don’t change according to a diagram, so if one side is red and the other yellow or orange, that is how nature does it. This actually takes pressure off of you and me, since making something perfectly symmetrical can be stressful. We’re trying to de-stress with our leaf project, not re-stress. The photo below shows leaves I drew using permanent marker. I layered paint so that the effect would be mottled and have lots of color and visual texture. If in doubt, keep layering paint!

This week’s creation is not as much a costume as it is accessories. But it has a fallish feel and was fun to wear. I’m still really tired from Halloween so I scaled back a little on my creation this week. I hot glued my fabric and paper leaves to one another to form a necklace. It has a bit of a Hawaiian feel, I think.

When I started typing this post a few days ago, it was still hot and my brain was not in fall mode yet.

Fast forward two days and I can report to you that the atmosphere must have known I was going to write about fall, because yesterday we got some rain—yes, rain in San Diego!—and I needed a sweatshirt this morning. Someone flipped a switch somewhere and suddenly it is fall.

Supposedly we’re going to get an El Nino rainy winter this year. So tune in next month when our topic will be Build Your Own Ark-in three easy steps!