Friday, July 30, 2010

Yay! We got a notice of non-renewal!!

HAPPY-DANCE! We got a notice of non-renewal regarding our lease!! Why is this so happy? It's proof of landlord-retaliation regarding city code compliance!! State law says no retaliating for 180 days, and not renewing a lease is just that!! They were notified of the violations Wednesday before this one just past, came over the same day to tell us we're out, and we have a letter now!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


We had plans to go to Disneyland. Season passes FTW!! So we drove to Simi to pick up a friend of ours who "only" went 25 times in 2009. A friend of ours is working on setting her up with Roy Disney III (his great-uncle is Walt), since they're roommates. It's be awesome is Jenn and Roy ended up married. Anyway we got to Jenn's place, or at least the entrance to the gated community, and our car started hemorrhaging coolant and suddenly overheated. GDI. We have AAA Premium, so had it towed to Firestone, and, as I suspected, the damned radiator was blown and had to be replaced. Well, as our luck seems to have it, the day before I got a deposit on a gown of $425, $3 and change less than the cost of replacement (Cody got a discount). So we left the car and headed to Disneyland, finally getting there around 3pm, maybe 3:30. Jenn drove, and since she so rarely goes, you know, she knew right where to go and how to get the close parking.

I hadn't been to Disneyland in 17 years. It was 1993 that I went, not when I was 13, as I'd been thinking. So much has changed, but some things haven't. The emaciated dog in the Haunted Mansion is still as skeletal as I remembered. That dog scarred me as a kid, and still upsets me now. Pirates was mostly the same, with the addition of Jack, Barbosa, and Davy Jones. Our guide on the Jungle Cruise was hilarious. As one point she asked, "Who here thinks a captain should always go down with the ship?" I raised my hand first, so she asked me my name, and said, "Everyone give Aria, our new captain, a round of applause!" A big palm frond then got caught on the pole right next to me that was holding the canopy up, and it came loose when we got enough past it, then smacked me upside the face. That stung like hell, but was so funny. When we got back to the dock, she said, "Watch your step so you don't bump your head. If you bump your head, watch your language. This is Disneyland after all, and there are kids around!" and got a lot of laughs. She was really great. The Tiki Room was better than I remembered. We didn't make it on Space Mountain or Indiana Jones since we had to leave earlier than planned originally because Cody's mom was going to have to take him to work early Monday morning instead of him driving in at 11. Star Tours closed today and will re-open next year as Star Tours 2, so I video's the video of it and uploaded it to YouTube.

We're going back next Thursday. We're going to take Charlotte, and have a damned good time.

I hate our landlord so much

Kathy left a note saying she'd be here Friday to work on the house, the weekend to work on the debris in the yard, and Monday at noon (the only day a time was given) to strap down the water heater. We made sure to be out of here, all of us, on Friday, so I wouldn't have to deal with Kathy in the house while I'm here. Sorry, but calling me "Areola" doesn't have me feeling comfortable. Well, she didn't show up. Saturday she didn't show up. Sunday...let's go in chronological order.

Skip to the next post on Disneyland.

Kathy didn't show up on Sunday either.

In case she showed up on Monday, since I couldn't go out of town that day because of the car (see next post), I took Charlotte, the dogs, and Star, and hung out in Cody's and my bedroom, trying to be quiet enough that hopefully Kathy wouldn't know we were there. She did, and instead of knocking on the bedroom door, she rattled the windows, paced the hallway, basically attempted to make me uncomfortable At about 1:30, my one of my to-be-dads-in-law came over and told her to leave so I could leave in peace, and she told him she was going to be there the rest of the day. I hurried and rushed to get out, and noticed she had gone through the stuff on our desk. That fucking bitch actually went through our personal paperwork. I am 100% certain of this because a very specific piece of paper I very specifically put under the computer on the desk had been moved to the speak next to the wall. By the end of the day, the ONLY thing she had done was pull a pane of glass out of a slatted frame and slip a new one in. Literally seconds to do. Yet she was in the house all day unattended. And we know she at least went through the desk.

We are moving without a fucking doubt, and suing her. We already know she intends to use our deposit to replace the carpet because it looks old (no shit, it's from the 70's and is older than I am!!), so we're going to have to sue to get our deposit back. We're also suing since we've had to live with the housing violations she didn't take care of before we moved in, as well as for her harassment of us and her attempts at retaliation over the city forcing her to repair the violations.

In trying to get away, I was shaking so much and was so angry that I dropped my brand new iPhone 4 on concrete and shattered it. The worst side to shatter, the front. Into a gazillion pieces. Well, about 150 pieces. Most of them stayed attached to the face of the phone. I was so upset over that too.

So today I went to the Apple at The Grove, where I don't know anyone, to see if they'd replace it. I didn't go to where Cody works because making an exception for something so clearly outside of warranty could have gotten Cody and/or one of our friends, whoever would approve the exception, into trouble. So better to go where no one could be accused of nepotism for this kind of exception. They are really not supposed to replace iPhones with broken glass except for exceptional cases. So I went not expecting anything but to be told it'll be $200 to replace the glass. I got there early (I forgot how much Highland Ave in Hollywood sucks - it took me 40 minutes to drive 2 miles, no exaggeration), and was really nice and polite as I usually am, and the Genius who helped me went ahead and replaced my phone. So that was good at least.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Charlotte tid-bits

Charlotte cut her eighth tooth Wednesday! Her upper right incisor. She now has more teeth than months to her age!!

She and her daddy and I went to the beach on Wednesday and she played in the sand for the first time! A bunch of pics in a moment, as I'm sure you expect. She was so smiley and loved trying to pick up sand, then would watch confused as it went through her fingers. So cute!!

Yesterday she was playing with the car keys and hid them so well it took over an hour and two sets of eyes (mine and her grandma's) to find them. Well, if Cody or I ever need something hidden, we just need to give it to her!!

House update

The landlord was notified by the city on Wednesday of the violations here, and the first thing she did was go to Cody's mom's work trying to find her, claiming to be an old friend and trying to find his mom. His mom's co-worker wrote a statement we'll use in court. Kathy then came here, again with no notice, to tell us we have to move. State law prevents a landlord from taking retaliatory action for 180 days. Evicting for not paying rent isn't retaliatory, but we're paid up. We want to move anyway. We're tired of this crap. Her fix for not having smoke alarms here (state law says one in each bedroom plus any walkway) was to put an old one in the kitchen without a battery. We can't rely on her doing more than making patch-fixes to hide violations.

I got a couple abusive comments that I didn't publish calling me a bad mom for moving into a place with these violations. I'd like to address this. When we signed the lease, the landlord said everything would be fixed. Her brother-in-law didn't vacate until six days AFTER we we supposed to move in. We were standing outside with the U-Haul waiting for him to finally leave so we could start moving in. We were allowed in for minutes at a time in those six days to drop off my sewing machines and a few other things, sending the message to get the hell out. Finally, with the U-Haul, he got out, leaving the house smelling of cigarettes. Those minutes weren't enough time to go through and make sure everything was done. When we realized some of the problems when we had the time, it was too late to simply not move in. Where else were we supposed to go? Our apartment was vacant, the keys turned back in, no where to put out belongings. We had no viable choice but to move in and deal with the problems afterward.

Moving doesn't necessarily imply instability. It's not like we're couch-surfing, looking for a new place to sleep every few weeks, not knowing week to week where we'll be the next. We are in the same community, Cody has the same job, stable family, stable and strong relationship. We are far more stable than most Americans, and have no doubt about a roof over our heads. Our parenting should be questioned IF we were fine living in this house with its violations and no care about getting them fixed or getting out. I'm not crying over getting out. The music the landlord played when I was initially showed the place drowned out the traffic from the damned freeway that's literally about 50 feet from where I'm sitting. I can look to my left and see the freeway out the window. So fine, we'll leave. Forking out $2,300/mo (that's the total we're giving the landlord, $2,000 for rent and an additional $300 to keep piling onto the deposit) is too much, and we're suing for every penny of deposit back, some of the rent for the areas here we haven't been able to use or access, moving expenses, and punitive. We have a strong case, I think, and their band-aid fixes show their unwillingness to properly care for the place. C'mon, a smoke alarm without a battery, and not where one is legally required to be?

Funny how wanting a clean place to raise our daughter makes me a bad mom. :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wedding recap

So we knew it's come down to the wire on getting the gowns done. Adding seven gowns in the last month when the delivery date of the wedding gown is just a couple weeks before the wedding was going to push it. Sure enough, many nights of being up until 2:30am or later. This sort of thing is made more difficult by Charlotte being up by 6am every morning so reliably we don't always bother setting the alarm clock.

The night before the wedding, I was up until 5am making a petticoat I decided the gown needed that I'd started at 1am. I was up again at 8am finishing everything that could be, getting everything packed up to take to the courthouse, where the wedding was going to be. I was there the day before scouting out getting-ready places, and the first-floor bathroom has a bride's area. This courthouse has national historic landmark status. It's incredibly gorgeous.

I got my machine and everything set up, and realized Cody forgot to toss the power cord into the suitcase, so a run back home, then back to the courthouse, and the three bridesmaids I still needed to fit had just arrived. That's right, I didn't get to meet or fit three of the bridesmaids until just two hours before the wedding. So I had to finish them while everyone's getting ready!! I had to recruit a few of them to help sew on buttons, and they understood fully my need for help. It was an inhuman amount of work for such a short time. I had literally been running around. No time to walk. Run run run, warm day, busy, run run run. Exhausting.

I got them dressed and sashes wrapped right, then got Carmen dressed. The first time she had the entire ensemble on was that moment. As we were finishing, we were being kicked out because the courthouse was closing early for some reason. 4:45. And they would only let us go out a side door right by where all the guests were. No amount of pleading to let us go out the front would work.

So we had to hop a rail and go doing a small hill full of brush to get her somewhere where the guests wouldn't see her. Unfortunately this also meant changing the entire processional. Rather than coming through the arches toward the guests, she had to come from the back. The bridesmaids and groomsmen came from the front at planned, but the flower girl and Carmen came from behind. The minister announced that the flower girl and Carmen were coming from behind. The bride was understandably upset for a moment not knowing how to not be seen, but took it in wonderful stride. No one would have been able to tell the last-minute change.

She walked down the aisle to a harpist playing All I Ask of you from Phantom of the Opera. She looked gorgeous. Her groom looked charming. They both were so calm on the outside, clearly excited and in love. I don't know if it was the love between them or the thrill of seeing eight of my gowns up there in a row, overhearing guest whispers about how amazing the girls looked and how wonderful the gown was, not knowing their creator was right there, that gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. Perhaps both.

Seth's father, a minister, was the primary officiant. Carmen's father is also a minister, but from Canada and not ordained for weddings in California, so he was unofficial. At the moment they were about to be pronounced, Seth's father informed the guests that Carmen's dad would pronounce them first, and then he would to make it legal, and then quipped, "Now this is what I call parental control!" Many chuckles ensued. It was a cute moment. He forgot at first to tell them to kiss, so they both turned to him expectedly. Kiss!

After the ceremony, I asked the bride's if he knew where she went so I could offer my quick congratulations before heading home, and he asked me to come to the reception. I let him know my fiance was home with our baby, and we were going to go to dinner, and he invited Cody too. So a quick rush home, hurriedly getting Cody into something nicer than jeans and a t-shirt, changing out of my sweaty clothes and into something reception-appropriate. What I had been wearing was, if it weren't sweaty.

We got to the reception venue as the bridal party was being announced, and I saw Carmen and Seth and they were excited to see us there. Cody and I went in a side door, waiting for the couple to make their way to the head table, then found seats (open seating). The first dance was sweet, and the bride-dad and groom-mom dance, simultaneous, was hilarious. Seth and his mom got so into it, all over the dance floor, resulting in many laughs, including by Carmen and her father. The parents song couldn't be found, so it was to the same song as the first dance.

The slideshow the fathers did was long, but really great. I loved getting to see pictures of their childhoods, narrated by their fathers. Carmen grew up so far north in Canada that they got place to place by snowmobile and small plane. Her father also told how, after Carmen and Seth had been together a fairly short time, a few days before Christmas Seth asked to speak with him, and he expected Seth to ask about dating Carmen. Instead he asked about marrying her! After praying on it, he felt Seth was indeed the one. And so proposal, and now married!

I'll admit to enjoying to accolades lavished upon me by their families and their friends once people knew who made all the gowns. I also enjoyed the credit given for finding the seamstress who was able to do the groomsmen's shirts on such short notice (Moonstruck Originals) as well as the ceremony location. Seth said I was responsible for the look and feel of the entire wedding. These are really very nice compliments. I hope to keep in contact with them. They are one of the sweetest couples I can recall ever meeting.

On to some of my pictures! Pro pics will be available in a few weeks.

The bridesmaids' gowns have about 60 yards of fabric between them. Between Carmen's corset, bodice, skirt, petticoat, crinoline, and veil (which I also made), about 90 yards of fabrics were used.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tired!! I didn't get to fit three of the bridesmaids until about 3 yesterday. The wedding was at 5! And the courthouse closed early for some reason, so we were rushed out the doors at 4:45. I had my sewing machine set up sewing frantically, recruited a few of the girls to help sew buttons. They graciously helped and understood the time-crunch placed on me - I was supposed to have fitted those three BEFORE yesterday, but plans changed and none of those girls could make it to my place earlier. The other four were finished. Just the final three. So I had to get those done, then help the bride get dressed. That girl is abnormally gorgeous. I swear, no one should be allowed to be as amazingly beautiful as she is. I'm jealous!! But she's also the sweetest bride I can imagine, and one of the sweetest people I've ever met. Her new husband is also a complete gem. I love both of them so much!

Anyway this last week has been spent sewing every spare moment. Since being an at-home mom of a very mobile, very curious little girl is a full-time, non-stop job (who says it's easy and stay-at-home parents get to sit on the couch eating bon-bons all day? I'm lucky to have a full minute to myself to go to the bathroom!!), I had to do all my sewing after Cody got home, after being awake since 6am. Getting to bed "early" meant 2:30am! Friday night/Saturday morning I got to bed at 5am, and did get to "sleep in" until 7am, and then was literally running around all day. Not walking, running.

So now I'm still physically exhausted, but it was so worth it. Every minute. I'm so glad I decided to go ahead and tackle those bridesmaids dresses, even though Carmen asked me four weeks ago. I hesitated, was about to say no, hemmed, hawed, then decided it would be a good challenge and a way to see what I'm capable of. Thing is, I still had some work on her gown. She was in Israel for a while, which pushed back the delivery date, which was originally a few weeks ago. But we decided to wait for her to return to decide on some elements of it, and she understood this meant the original date likely would be delayed. So finish on her gown, seven bridesmaid gowns, then her veil, a petticoat (that's gorgeous enough to be worn as a skirt by itself), and a few other minor things, in a month.

I'll recap the day, with pictures, tomorrow. The gowns are just amazing, and I think this is my greatest accomplishment. I've done fully-beaded gowns, but something about this wedding is different. I also got to stay for the wedding, and her father personally asked me to come to the reception and bring Cody, and it was quite the incredible feeling to see eight lovely ladies in my gowns!!

Now to go to bed. I'm just dead-tired.

Monday, July 12, 2010


My bride for this Saturday was here for her final fitting tonight (cutting it to the wire because of the rush orders for her bridesmaids' gowns, but she knew it would result in a lot of last-minute finishing) with her maid-of-honor, and once she got her gown on, she was so excited and happy she cried. I love that! It's a great feeling getting to be behind such happy feelings! I also made her veil, and she doesn't know yet, but it'll be a wedding gift to her.

Pictures very soon!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Exciting Charlotte-news!

After this house-update:

Still dealing with the house. Not happy. Didn't want to have to move again for a few years, and technically we don't have to, but hell if we're going to put up with landlord and husband/semi-owner who don't want to bring the house up to code and who harass the hell out of us and have quite the reputation around town for harassment. I found out Cody's mom's husband's mom (all people we know very well and see all the time) rescued an exotic bird our landlord had that she had neglected nearly to death, took the bird and said she wasn't getting back.

But if moving is what it takes to get Charlotte into a house where Mommy and Daddy don't like in constant stress because of the landlords, then we will, and we have a prospect.

Now in better news!!

Charlotte turned 7 months old on Saturday! She tried solid food for the first time. Daddy made her mashed sweet potatoes, and she didn't care for it. So she had applesauce. Nope, didn't like it. I admit to being glad. I didn't want her to decide she likes solids so much that she doesn't want mommy-milk anymore. But I needn't have worried. She fussed for me and wanted to nurse.

Nommy sweet potatoes?

No, more like stuff to squish.

No to applesauce too!

She was not amused. =D

Ah, bathtime to clean the baby!

And in the MOST exciting news, Charlotte stood by herself on Sunday! Without holding onto anything!!! She's trying to take steps, but falls. Still, standing!! And today she was hold onto the couch while I was in the kitchen, and she turned so the couch was to her left, let go, stood a second, lifted a foot, and then fell. She's trying to hard!!

Last night at her grandma's house, she ate a little rice cereal with breastmilk. She liked that a bit. Right now she's with her grandma and great-grandma (visiting from Nebraska) for a few hours so I can get in some sewing.

The wedding I'm dressing is next Saturday, the bride and her seven bridesmaids. Not done yet, but it's not expected. The bridesmaids dresses are all rush orders. This is one almost done, but not quite. Still needs to be hemmed, the buttons on the halter and neckline band, and the sash. I just took a picture using a piece of the fabric it will be made from. I'm going to knock out two more today, two or three tomorrow, finish the bride's gown Sunday, the last two bridesmaids' gowns Monday, and then the hemming for all of them and the buttons for the bridesmaids gowns on Tuesday.

And then, after this, in addition to my wedding gown and the three bridesmaids and three flowergirls for my own wedding, I've got a reproduction of a gown worn by Dollie Madison (for a lady in Vermont), a Titanic tea gown, corset, Titanic boarding hat, Titanic flying gloves and shawl (all for someone in France), two Alice in Wonderland gowns (girls in Pennsylvania), a spider costume (for Charlotte for Halloween - need I explain why a spider? =D), and a few others. BUSY!!

Also I got a makeover yesterday, the biggest in my life. More on that later. I'm still getting over shock at how much thinner I look, and, odd as this is for ME to say, it's not exactly a good thing. I look skeletal. What's awful though is I'm still convinced I need to lose weight. I hate having an eating disorder and body dysmorphia.

Okay, on to sewing!!