Hopkins for the Umpteenth Time–a recap

Katya is having surgery in early September,  so before our house is deluged with relatives who *all* picked this August as their time to visit, and before we swing full on into packing and and pre-ops, I thought I’d catch up on our last trip to Hopkins.

Early June we took Katya down to Hopkins again. There was a CT scan, and appointments with the Geneticist, Plastics, and Neurology.  No Eye-Clinic, since Dr. Repka was on vacation.

Katya and Daddy with their tea and coffee, respectively. Katya was so happy to get tea!
Katya and Daddy with their truck stop tea and coffee, respectively. Katya was so happy to get tea!
Katya eating breakfast at The Children's House
Katya eating breakfast at The Children’s House

I didn’t go back for the CT scan, but mum didn’t even have to hold Katya’s chin this time, because the guy who ran the scan kindly put Curious George on his phone for Katya to watch.

Then we went back to the Children’s House for a quick bite to eat, before heading over to the outpatient building to have the scan read.Katya Children's House

There was a mix-up with the scheduling, so we had to wait even longer than usual to be seen. But it was fine.

Dr. D. came in to see Katya first. Katya is quite comfortable with him now, and lets him take her pictures for his records, and even tries to smile.  Dr. D. was in top form, and was his usual, amicable self. He’s always more relaxed when Dr. A. is out of the room. I don’t know *why*, and though I could give you a stunning description of exactly how each acts when the other is present, I have learned my lesson. No more public character sketches of people still living. The ramifications are too long lasting. Hilarious, but long lasting.

Dr. D. read the CT scan, which reported that her skull 1) still has very large soft spots and 2) is half as thick as it should be.   The significance of 2) is that, when she has her patching surgery, bone will likely be taken from her ribs and/or hips, instead of or in addition to her skull.

Then of course, there was Dr. A, and the Genetics Lady, and sundry other persons. Dr. A never says much. He has the air of a man who has learned to keep his eyes open and his mouth shut.  He probably plays golf.

After the appointment was done, we packed up and headed to Alexandria WV, because Daddy had some work there. While Daddy worked, we hung out in the hotel.Katya HotelKatya hugging One of the days, Mum and I took Katya into DC via the metro, and went to the Smithsonian Art Museum, the Spy Museum gift shop, and a farmers’ market, and Katya ate peanut soup and drank pink basil lemonaid.  In the Art Museum, Katya was bothered by the modern art– depressing, weird stuff– and enjoyed the more open portrait galleries. She especially enjoyed the large nature paintings, such as “Grand Canyon of the Yellow Stone”.

Katya Metro

Katya and I in DC
Katya and I in DC
African Peanut Soup. Katya wasn't sure about this at first, but by the 10th spoonful she liked it!
African Peanut Soup. Katya wasn’t sure about this at first, but by the 10th spoonful she liked it!

On our way home, we stopped off at Harper’s Ferry, and enjoyed the sun and the old buildings.012 040Katya Harper's Ferry Katya and I split an iced tea, and she threw a panicked fit because she was a bit dehydrated, and was scared that she wouldn’t get enough to drink. Poor kid.  Her years of abuse and deprivation still show through. She calmed down once she got more to drink.


Despite the many challenges thrown at her– long waits, holding still for a CT scan, metro rides, a big city, the art museum, dragging around in crowds, loud noises, dogs, etc., Katya handled virtually everything with aplomb  and dignity. It was tough for her, but she survived.  She really seemed to benefit from the three of us being able to give her our undivided attention, and seemed much calmer and more “ten”.  We really enjoyed the extra time with her.

“Sew Chic Kids” by Ruriko Yamada Book Review

Due to finishing up school– and general stress and whatnot– this review is very late. Embarrassingly late.  But here it is: Dress “J” (Katya is squinting in the light)

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by Tuttle Publishing for the purpose of reviewing it. All opinions expressed here are my own. I was not paid. 

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This was a really easy pattern to cut out and put together. All told, it took maybe a day once it was traced and cut.

The pattern sheet came in 4 colours– green, blue, black, and red. This–and the clearly labeled list on each page– made it easy to find the patterns.  Each sheet is printed on both sides, so if you don’t see what you’re looking for, flip it over. :-)

The measurements seemed true–I had no problems– but I got maybe a 1/4th yd more fabric than the book required, and still had to be creative getting all the pieces cut out.

My favorite tip:  Ironing the ruffles before sewing them.  It just made everything lie so flat and nice!

I changed just two major things with  this pattern:  Firstly, I lined the bodice. While I’m sure it would work without the lining, I preferred the slightly more substantial look the lining gave.  001

Secondly, I added the super-cute sleeve ruffle from dress “A”.

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Because I couldn’t flip the ruffled seam allowance under, without also flipping the whole edge of the arm hole, I bound the whole edge together for a neat finish.


I positioned the ruffle by going to the pattern for dress “A” and measuring down from the shoulder seam to the marking for the ruffle edge. Something like 8cm. down the front and 7cm down the back.


The binding is some vintage hem-tape I found in the stash.  Hand stitching it was the most time consuming part of this dress.

The instructions did not call for top-stitching— I top stitched anyway.

The Fit:  Katya is a slender gal, and fit right into a size 8 (the largest size) with no problems. She wears a Gymboree size 9, usually. As always, measure your child in centimeters for the best fit.

Since the dress is in a bishop sort of style, it isn’t very fitted. In the front bodice width, I might have been able to size down, but Katya needed the neck and armhole size.

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The pointy yoke was a little difficult to pull off. Perhaps it was because I lined the bodice. I ended up hand stitching the point, then top stitching the whole thing.

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I really liked this pattern, and would so totally make this again!

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Thanks for modeling, Katya!

Pinwheel 4th of July Skirt for Katya

Every year Katya’s school–she goes to summer school, because it’s *awesome*–lots of splash pools, special guests, and music therapy– has a 4th of July parade, where they play music and march around the block. The families can then come and have a picnic. Such a festive occasion requires a festive skirt, so I got a head start. Pinwheels were a natural choice, because Katya is fond of pinwheels.

This skirts special feature– a silky ruffle around the hem, snipped from the sleeves of a silky grey shirt.


It’s got an up-cycled underskirt–not pictured–made from the body of the same silky grey shirt as the ruffle.  Katya looked super cute in it.

Graduation and Musings

I officially Graduated on Monday night. I didn’t have to wear a cap or gown–hate me some mortarboards– and there were cupcakes. It was a small gathering put on by the home-school group. Just us five graduates, our families, and some close friends.  My best friend drove 2hrs to be there.  I wore my white Ukrainian blouse, a thrifted gray skirt, and for a belt–a piece of teal silk I had on hand.

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The graduation class, lightly edited.

So now we’re done with High School, which is weird.

My violin teacher  sat me down at my lesson this Wednesday and had me write up a list of goals– no “I dunno’s” or “Maybe’s” allowed– either “Yes” or “No”.  I wasn’t allowed to base my answers on what I thought possible, but what I really wanted. He said that,

‘Our ultimate goal is Godly joy and happiness, which is not based on circumstances but in fulfilling God’s plan and purpose for our lives. If we are moving in the direction we think God wants us to go, it is easy for God to direct us. When we sit still and do nothing, we become depressed and unmotivated.’

It was really difficult to stop thinking of all the ways things weren’t possible, and to just admit to what I want. I felt vulnerable, because I’m afraid of not getting what I want, and it feels safer to only want what I think I can have.  I wonder if that limits my faith in God? But you know, I do feel better. More energy, somehow, like the feeling I get when I find where I am on a map. Mr. S. said I am allowed to change the list, add to it, erase it, start over– every day if I want. But I have to have a list, and read that list every day.


“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”~Lewis Carroll

Graduation 2

I’m blogging again, that’s a good thing. I haven’t wanted to in a long time. I had nothing to say. After this post is up, I’ll practice my violin– something else I haven’t really wanted to in a long time. I want to move up a book, you know, and it will take an hour and fifteen minutes a day to do it.  Weirdly enough, I’m excited. I haven’t felt anticipation for *life* in a long time. It’s good to be back. It’s good to be moving.

Katya and Yurtle the Turtle

My science teacher has sent home specimens. Frogs, perch, and a turtle. Katya has been fascinated by it all. She prefers her animals dead, you see. She would never touch a live frog, or fish, or turtle, but dead=safe, so we’ve been encouraging her to look at the specimens, tying in the correlation between the animal’s body parts and her own.

Today Katya and I examined the turtle, which she enjoyed. Afterwards I asked Katya to pose. She really, really tried,


even though she didn’t feel like it. 082

But she thought of something funny–me, probably–and smiled.087

May Yurtle the Turtle rest in peace.083