christmas date night

christmas is over & ramona is slightly distraught. after we packed up our ornaments (gifted from jared’s parents–all the sentimental ornaments they have accumulated over the years, as they are downsizing their house in preparation to move) & took down the tree, she cried & cried. she told jared, “i am angry & frustrated! i want to kick daddy & slam the doors!” she’s pretty good at expressing her feelings!

jared’s parents came out to kansas to spend christmas with us. ramona was absolutely thrilled. we didn’t tell her that they were coming, so it was a big surprise for her when they walked in the door. a giant smile spread across her face & she said, “that’s grampy! & that’s nana!” she hadn’t seen them since last christmas. she spent all week playing with them & asking them to read stories to her, which gave me a lot of free time to lay around on the couch reading books about himalayan mountaineering disasters. i always like to read about that stuff when it’s chilly outside.


momo & her grampy, as well as proof that people use that giant pouf i made a year or two ago

ramona made out like a bandit on christmas morning. she’s three now, so she’s finally old enough for really fun toys. plus she’s an only child, & an only grandchild. she got a bunch of new stuff for her dollhouse (including a tiny sewing machine, ironing board, & iron–those were from me), a million new duplo, crayons & markers, dress-up clothes, & a stuffed crocodile that is bigger than she is. she wears her construction outfit pretty much all day everyday.


i got a new child bike seat for jared, since ramona has outgrown her yepp mini. i also found a nice wooden recipe box at the antiques mall for like $4 & painted it.


i know. too much eye, not enough forehead. i never claimed to be a master portraitist.

jared surprised me with the greenleaf garfield dollhouse kit! it’s their biggest kit. i haven’t even opened the box yet because i am too intimidated. but i am REALLY excited. & jared’s dad genrously bought me a dremel rotary tool, which will have all kinds of uses for miniature-making.

jared’s parents offered to take ramona for the day before they flew back to boston, & jared & i really made a day of it. we started at the toy & miniatures museum in kansas city. i thought it would be easier & more fun to check it out without ramona, & i think that was definitely a good idea. the big specialty exhibit in the toy section was kids’ rideable cars & ramona would have gone absolutely bonkers wanting to ride all the cool pedal cars that are positioned at toddler height but behind velvet ropes with DO NOT TOUCH signs everywhere. & while the miniature exhibits were absolutely fascinating to me, they were all in glass displays set into the walls at an adult eyeline level. i think she would have been pretty bored.

the miniatures we saw were amazing, & there were so many different dollhouses! one even had a tiny bird’s nest with bird poop in the eaves. but i did feel uncomfy with how much of the miniature-making world seems like a paean to white supremacy & capitalist excess. there are so many royal halls & so much victorian excess. i have even seen dollhouses that had white dolls decked out in their old-timey finery, with dolls representing small black children dressed in rags & sweeping the sidewalk outside. (clarification: i saw this online, on a miniatures blog, not at the museum.) i don’t give a shit if it’s historically accurate; it’s fucking gross. this is a big reason why i don’t really like historical dollhouses, although i do fully recognize that the miniatures we saw at the toy museum were amazing examples of craftsmanship.

they had a little workshop with displays showing miniatures at different stages of completion & videos of artisans showing exactly how they work. these people were making incredible things: ornately carved brass candlesticks, a miniature vermeer reproduction in egg tempera, elaborately glazed china, a tiny wooden drawer with teeny tiny dovetail joints. it was absolutely amazing. they also had some interactive exhibits, like one where you test your ability to place teeny tiny clock hands on a teeny tiny grandfather clock face. i’m proud to say i nailed it on the very first try!

when we pulled up to the museum, jared said, “oh, look. a prius with vermont plates & a bernie sanders bumper sticker. maybe your friend rebecca is here, haha.” (rebecca is my closest mom friend in kansas.) i was like, “haha, very funny,” but who should i see when we walked in but rebecca’s daughter tearing around the lobby in a state of hysterical excitement. & there was rebecca right behind her, being all, “okay, let’s just slow down.” it was so weird, given that neither of us lives in kansas city & i didn’t even know this museum existed a month ago.

after the museum, we went for an early dinner at an ethipoian restaurant. just in case any aspiring lawrence business owners are reading this: someone should open an ehtiopian restaurant here! there’s always a storefront downtown available for rent & lawrence is getting a great rep as a foodie haven. all we’re missing in an ethiopian place! help us out! all i want out of life is to eat lentils & injera with my hands! trust me: we do not need more dog bakeries, shoe stores, or sandwich joints.

we drove back to lawrence to try to beat the forecasted winter storm & checked in with jared’s parents. they said everything was going great so we should continue our fun. so we went out to iowa street & i picked up the newest mccall’s shirtdress pattern at hancock. it’s from their “early spring” release & is a half-shirtdress with a full skirt. the waistline has a curve to it that looks a little juvenile, but i’m withholding judgment until i actually make it & see how it looks on a real body. the clerk gave me the sale price even though it wasn’t on sale. awesome!

then we went to home depot, where i stocked up on wood glue & painter’s tape for constructing my dollhouse, & i helped myself to a big bag of free sawdust. i want to make my own pressing tools (tailor’s ham, sleeve roll) & sawdust is good for stuffing those things because it’s nice & dense & holds its shape. sawdust is also good for making hardwood dollhouse floors. you mix sawdust with a little glue & gunk it into the spaces between your miniature floorboards. then you sand everything & stain it & the sawdust mixture masks any discrepancies in the gaps between your floorboards.

& then we saw “sisters” because there weren’t really any other movies we were interested in. (we are not “star wars” people. or at least, i’m not, & jared respects my complete & total lack of interest.) it was only meh. there were kind of way more distasteful jokes about women’s bodies than i would have expected from a tina fey/amy poehler movie, though, to be fair, they didn’t write it.

jared & ramona just left on their inaugural bike ride on the seat i gave them for christmas, so i am going to seize the alone time to set up my sewing space again now that the tree is down. i leave you with this photo of biscuit relaxing in jared’s bike basket.


Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

6 thoughts on “christmas date night

  1. We didn’t do presents for grown ups this year, just kids. And LJ is the only kid on two sides of the family and one of only three on the third (yay, divorce math). She made out like a bandit. It’s a little sad how excited I got about reorganizing all of her toys and books.

    1. you should come reorganize ours. i try to pull the things that she doesn’t play with, but she plays with EVERYTHING. i try to come up with a system, like “duplo in this drawer, stuffed animals in this bin,” etc, but jared tidies in a big rush & just puts things wherever & then is all, “ugh, ramona’s toys are so chaotic!” sometimes i reorganize things when he’s not here, but it feels like a waste of free time, for sure.

      1. Lilian mostly reads all her age-appropriate books and plays with all of her age-appropriate toys, but we had a major backlog of stuff she’d outgrown. I got rid of a lot of board books that she wasn’t into anymore, as well as all of the books that we hated reading to her. Same thing for her toys. I thought she would freak out, but she didn’t really notice what I was doing. Then, I put everything into piles based on a system that made sense in my head. Based on what I had piles of, I bought a bunch of little bins at the Container Store. We’re pretty lucky that friends/family have been good about not just giving her a whole bunch of crap (I go to friends’ houses and see their playrooms just STUFFED with toys and I get very overwhelmed by it). I have what you might call a touch of the OCD.

        My system only works because I’m the only person in this house that actually puts things away. :p Lilian will help clean up, but only if I’m right there encouraging her.

        I read the Marie Kondo book this past Summer and I really took it to heart. I especially like her advice that you shouldn’t buy any storage system, bins, etc, until you’ve pared down what you actually need to store and then honestly assessed what you need to put it all away efficiently.

        It might be a little more than a touch of the OCD.

        1. ramona still has board books she likes to get out sometimes. she has a dedicated bookcase that is just for her books, but it’s kind of overflowing. we pulled a lot of her baby toys when we were packing to move…i don’t know. i do feel like our house has kind of been taken over by ramona’s toys, & it’s complicated by the fact that one of her favorite things to do is to dump out all her toy bins & say, “i have so much interesting stuff!” on the plus side, she does have a sense of what the storage system is, & she’s pretty good at putting stuff away when we ask her to. she impressed me last night by putting all her dominoes back in their box & putting the box in the spot i like to keep it in.

          jared & i both read the marie kondo book too. it seems like a cool idea, but not the easiest to implement with a child underfoot. i’m pretty on the ball about ridding myself of unwanted crap, but i still feel overwhelmed by the idea of going through everything & asking myself if it “inspires joy”. i mean…i am just not a very joyful person, & i don’t think it’s because my sweaters are bringing me down.

          1. Lilian doesn’t play nearly as independently as Ramona does. Which means I can’t really leave her on the floor with a bunch of duplo and say “have at it kid.” But it also means that she mostly plays with the toys that I play with. So I have a lot more control over what stays and what goes. I definitely push her to play on her own, but then she usually ends up getting into some serious mischief. She’s usually very smart and creative, so it’s not like she doesn’t have the capacity to make up her own games. I think she just likes playing with me. I also don’t spend my days with her, which means I have the luxury of focusing on her when I get home at night.

            I feel like this comment thread has made me seem a lot nuttier than I am in real life. :p I tend to err on the side of getting rid of stuff, but I would never throw out anything that Lilian really loved playing with. She tends to get overwhelmed like I do, so she actually plays better if I’ve curated her options for her. My house is also totally full of crap, so it’s not like I’ve Marie Kondo’d the whole place down to a minimalist nirvana. I went hog wild on my craft room, but I still have a bunch of fabric scraps that I can’t figure out what to do with. And I don’t touch my husband’s debris, which is all over the house. It’s definitely a process. I think that’s why I enjoyed organizing her toys so much. It was a manageable project.

            1. Ramona is definitely not as independent in playing with Jared as she is with me, & it’s probably because Jared is gone eight hours a day, so she wants to maximize her time with him (whether she consciously realizes that or not). It’s probably the same for LJ. Ramona is chill & independent with me because it’s like, “Oh, look, there’s Mama. As always.” & also because maybe she knows on some level that we would both go insane if I focused solely on her all day long.

              I didn’t think you were throwing out things LJ likes! I was just reflecting on how weird it is that Ramona has SO MANY toys (so it seems to me) & actually does play with them all on the regs.

              What the hell does one do with fabric scraps? I have so many little bits & bobs that are really not enough to do anything with, but amount to enough fabric altogether that I feel really guilty tossing it. I eke what I can out of everything by using smaller pieces for pocket linings, bias tape, piping, etc etc, but especially when it comes to fashion fabrics (flannel, boiled wool), it seems like the useful application of scraps is kind of limited.

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