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The Full Suburban: Loft space becomes happiest place on Earth

A loft space has become a sewing room in the Ditto household. (Julia Ditto / For The Spokesman-Review)
A loft space has become a sewing room in the Ditto household. (Julia Ditto / For The Spokesman-Review)
Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

Last week, my family was supposed to be at Disneyland enjoying a long-awaited trip we’d been promising our kids for years but had always come up with one excuse or another not to take.

It’s not that we didn’t want to go – it’s just such a money-sucker of a family vacation that we wanted to make sure all the kids were old enough to enjoy and remember it. There is no way we’re not getting credit for taking them to the Happiest Place on Earth.

“Once your baby brother doesn’t take naps anymore, we’ll go to Disneyland,” we promised back in 2016. We blew past that deadline.

“When he turns 4, we’ll go,” we pledged. Nope.

Finally, they mutinied. “You’ve been promising this forever!” they wailed. “Hyrum is potty-trained, no longer takes naps, doesn’t need a stroller and can fall asleep in a hotel room stuffed to the gills with siblings. Are we ever going to go?”

No stranger to a well-laid guilt trip, I responded immediately to the one put forth by my children. We bit the bullet at Christmas and bought tickets to Disneyland with a departure date set for April 24. Bummer.

I’ve seen videos on YouTube of families making the best of their canceled Disneyland plans – turning the couch into a makeshift rollercoaster and eating homemade churros while wearing Mickey ears and such.

The Dittos are not interested in any of that. It’s real Disneyland or nothing. And, honestly, with all of the activities we have going on during quarantine, I don’t know how we would have fit Disneyland into our schedule right now anyway.

Jumping on the trampoline takes up an inordinate amount of my kids’ time. So does careening down the bike path they carved into the hill by our house. Reading while sprawled on the couch has proved to be fairly time consuming, as has our habit of making one or two desserts each day.

(I even made my sweet-toothed daughter promise that she wouldn’t make another batch of cookies while her dad and I left for takeout one night. “We’re running out of butter,” I told her as I stuffed a cookie from the first batch of the day into my mouth.)

But taking up much of our time nowadays is, of all things, sewing. You might remember from my column a few weeks ago I dusted off my sewing machine to help the Easter Bunny with last-minute Easter ties and skirts.

Little did I know it would awaken a previously unseen sewing appetite in our family. Our home office was getting so strewn with fabric scraps and pattern pieces that I decided to turn our small and rarely used upstairs “loft” into a dedicated craft space.

I cleared out the few things that had been abandoned in the loft – mostly wayward Legos and doll clothes that had gone there to die – and moved in a couple of folding tables, my sewing machine and crafting supplies. I fancied myself a less-fraught version of Virginia Woolf: a woman finally with a room of her own.

My kids noticed what I was doing and started wandering into my new craft space.

“Can you teach me how to make a tie?” my oldest son asked.

“And can I make a skirt?” chimed in his younger sister.

“I found a pattern online for some shorts,” my 16-year-old daughter added. “They’re meant to fit a 10-year-old boy, but I’m pretty sure I can modify them. Can you help me?”

I phoned in an SOS to my mom, who offered to let us borrow her sewing machine for as long as we needed it. By Sunday night, the loft was filled to capacity with three folding tables, two sewing machines and various children happily chatting while they worked on different projects. It was cluttered. It was chaotic. I loved it.

I quickly discovered the loft wouldn’t be a “room of my own” after all. But if there’s anything I’ve learned during this quarantine, it’s the greatest moments are often hiding in the least-expected places. Our week might not have been spent at Disneyland, but in precious flashes of time here and there, we still felt like we were in the happiest place on Earth.

Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at dittojulia@gmail.com.

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