Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - We ride the bus together

Warm weather is here. I am happily freeing up the part of my budget wasted spent on parking.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In a Modern World

This parenting thing, this working full time thing, this trying to have a house that I want to come home to, this attempt at improving my health through regular exercise and good eating, this doing all of those things and more, every day, it is hard. It is hard in ways that I could have never imagined. It is hard in ways I never expected. It is hard in ways that slap me upside the head in the middle of the night and make it so I can't fall back asleep.

I grew up with a parent, or two, at home most of the time. When they weren't around, there were grandparents just two miles down a country highway. There was north woods and fields of vegetables to run free in. There were people around all of the time to answer my questions and teach me new things. The concept of a working mom was foreign to me until I was at least 9. Even then, my mom worked in her massage studio in what had been the bottom duplex in our house.

This thing I do now, this doing everything every day, is a thing that I don't know how to do. There is no manual for how to do it. All of the moms who work outside the home are too busy doing it. They are too busy just getting by themselves to share their secrets. Maybe they are like me, unsure that they are getting it right at all.

Monday, after a weekend of not enough sleep and lots of stimulation, M had a bad day at school. I was the one who got talked to after class. She was full of no's. She was not listening to her teachers. She was having a hard time accepting the consequences to her actions.

Work has been unbelievably stressful lately. I have been drowning my stress in chocolate, and chips and sugar. My fuse has shortened. My ability to keep it calm and cool and not let it show at work has come bursting out at home. I yell, I holler, I boss. I escape. I run (quite literally occasionally) away out of shame and a hope that it will make it all better. It hasn't. My fuse is still short, the stress is still there, and I keep giving myself more to do.

M got in trouble at school, but I did to. We're both going to have some new rules.

There will be no yelling, no hollering, no bossing. There will be pleases and thank you's, and listening the first time. There will be time for playing and snuggling and the things that are not important will just have to wait. I cannot do it all. I will bring something from the store to Easter, because I will never be the mom that can work the full time job, make the gourmet dishes, and still be the kind of mom that she wants to be. The one that her daughter deserves.

I will still make time for exercise, but I will do it in the dark if I have to. If that is what it takes to give time to the small person that matters the most. Everyone in the house will start cleaning up more. We will make the basement craft room/play area work because we have to. Because it is something that our family needs for its survival. We will clean the kitchen for the birthday party, and keep it clean.

We will do it. (because there is no try) We will make adjustments as we need to. We may get talked to again, by school, by work, by each other, but we will do it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Queen of the Weekend

This weekend, after much hype and high expectations, M had her first sleep over. It was at Grandpa & Nana's, down in Red Wing, and while not that far away, it did require close to five hours of total driving for A & I. We're hoping that the success of it (and it was a wild success) means that maybe the in-laws can meet us half way next time. We're also hoping that they will keep her for longer at some point, perhaps in August.

Before we made it out of town, she was asking to go back, asking when she could go again, and falling asleep. Apparently no nap, late to bed, early to get up and lots of excitement (including an unexpected visit from the cousins) can really wear a girl out.

We made good use of the time alone to do fun stuff like go out to dinner at Solera (a 5th anniversary treat using a gift card given to us for our wedding). We also watched a movie and were generally boring (I have a cold and did not want to get anyone else sick, so we were really really boring). Best part however was sleeping in.

I also made good use of the time in the car to finally knit up a pattern I got from Knit Picks awhile back.

I tried to get M to pose nicely for a picture of it, but she was too strung out from a lack of sleep that we could barely understand what she was saying, let alone get her to follow directions. Fortunately the bear follows directions quite well.

One sort of worked out, but required a lot of blurring to make it blog acceptable. I think I may modify it slightly for her giant noggin and knit in a warmer yarn (the pattern calls for cotton) and make a really fun winter headband. For now I'm working one up in pink so there are at least two to play with when the cousins come for her birthday.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

If You Sew It...

So last Friday night, I met the wonderful Andrea at Crafty Planet for a little sewing workshop. While I consider myself a relatively skilled sewer, I'll be the first to admit that adult clothing scares the crap out of me. Kid stuff is one thing, but there are aspects of construction that you do with stuff you intend on wearing to work that you just don't worry about when you're talking a skirt for a three year old.

So I went to get a little help from Lisa's workshop. I needed to take an unlined skirt and line it so I could wear it for work. I also needed to make sure that I was on the right track about making sure it fit my rather non curvy body. Well, I don't have the curves you want.

I think it turned out pretty good. I want to make it again, and make improvements. However, I will continue to wear it in to work. It will be awesome for summer.

I even think that I'll be able to make the skirt work in something like a light corduroy for fall. I think I'll even be looking in to more patterns from Favorite Things. They have another even fuller skirt that I think would be fun to change things up.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Insert Tab A into Point B

So not so much with the blogging lately. Not that I haven't wanted to, it is just well, that whole work/blog barrier. Work seems to be calming down for now, which is nice. I've also been working feverishly on some sewing projects, including what will be a submission for the next One Yard Wonders book. The first one was such a big hit that Trish & Rebecca are doing another one. Being a published writer is on my bucket list. I figure that while I may never make it for any other writing, maybe I'll have a shot with a pattern. The reality is that I have never written a pattern in my life. I may have bit off more than I can chew. However, since I have a fully finished, and pretty damn awesome, mockup sitting on my kitchen table, I can't just give up now.

Until I finish that, I suspect that posting here will continue to be sparse. It is due April 1st, wish me luck. If it fails to make it in to the book, expect me to publish it here.

In the mean time, here are some pretty photos from a trip to the park on Sunday. I am loving the new camera now that Spring is finally here.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Great Outdoors

I like exercising indoors... wait no. I can't lie anymore.

I hate it.

I just attempt to fake it every winter because if you're trying to be healthy, you need to exercise, no matter what the wind chill factor is. The reality is that I can only fake it so long. What I long for is being able to get outside, breath fresh(ish) air, and stretch my body in a place that doesn't require making sure I'm not going to hit myself or injure a piece of furniture.

It is a damn good thing that spring came early. Not that it would have stopped me entirely. I have found over the last couple of years that my limit is around 40 degrees. I'll even wear my mittens when I'm out walking/running if I have to just to be able to get out. The hardest part is enough daylight.

Since last Saturday, when it finally got warm, and the dreaded daylights savings time kicked in (I hate adjusting my sleep), I've been out five out of six days. That one day I didn't, it rained and I worked late, because it was raining and I wasn't going to get out anyway. I've even managed to do some real honest running in there. I'm not where I was last fall, but I am not bad at all. Give me another week or two of good weather (and an understanding husband because this all happens pre new bedtime) and I think I may be ready for a 5K in (gasp!) May!

I have a whole winter of not doing as much as I should to make up for. I have a good five pounds of back peddling I need to get past before I get back on track. However, unless we start having monsoons, I'm not worried, even a little.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Brightly Colored Life

When we redecorated M's room, I worried that it looked like a rainbow threw up in there. However, yesterday, with the curtains drawn and the bright evening sun of Spring shining through the windows, I realized how cheerful it was. Even when it was cold and dreary and gray, her room was nearly the brightest spot in our house. Second only to her.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Solar Energy

If I were 10, instead of almost 33, I am pretty sure I would have been skipping around all day long. Even if it snows, even if ceases to get above freezing some day, the end is near. Spring has all but arrived.

Cabin fever does odd things to people. It makes adults stew in their discontent. It makes dogs ask to be let out just to smell the one wee patch of lawn exposed in the snow. It turns the almost three year old in to a two year old version of an insufferable teenager. It is good for no one.

Yesterday, even though the sun promised last Monday did not show, and the temperature was only 40, we went out for a walk. Just to two of us. Mother, daughter, and my camera. It was overcast, but bright in a way that doesn't happen when it is overcast in January.

It wasn't the three miles that I managed to easily do last weekend. It wasn't the pace that I would have liked, but we did it. She smiled, she laughed, she didn't listen, she thought she had lost her pink bracelet, she found it after we turned around to go home, but she did it.

Afterward, we went to dinner, where the food was late, and she was hungry, but she behaved better than she had in a long time. So did I.

Spring is almost here. Today it was well over 60 and we did it again. We went for a walk, without our vests, in the bright sun and blue skies. This time we took the dog, and she went slow, and I had to chase her home, but we did it. We still had time outs at home, and frustrations, but that is just being two, going on thirteen. We grilled dinner. We cleaned up after a winter of a dog using the back yard as their commode. We all felt better.

The dog is no longer going crazy, she's passed out on the couch. I am no longer going crazy. I'm happily doing my housework, listening to my daughter snore in the room next door.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Skirts are Easier Than Dresses

Today at work one of the women, someone older than myself, when she heard I had been sewing a lot, mentioned how relaxing it is. She is right. It still may be the only thing keeping my sanity intact. Which may explain why I am sewing more than oh say, doing the dishes.

I also sat down and did the math.

Aproximately 1 yard of fabric: $9.50
Less than a yard of elastic: $0.75
Total: $10.25

Which is clearly less than what you could find a skirt like this for either on somewhere like Etsy, or better yet, at a place like the Gap. Other than having to use a zig zag instead of a serged finish on the seams, really not much difference in construction.

Balance it all out with the stress relief of sewing, and getting to pick out exactly what she gets instead of being at the mercy of designers that clearly don't have kids, and I would say it is almost paying me. Cheaper than therapy for sure. Even after the $9.99 cost for the cool pattern from Frog Legs & Ponytails.

Speaking of that. I've purchased two skirt patterns off of Etsy in the past few days. One being the above mentioned and another that I will not mention because frankly I didn't like it. Instead, I'll talk about what I did like about the FL&P one. The directions were very clear, and I think someone who wasn't an experienced sewer would have no problem following along. Unlike the Portabello Pixie's (the dress I made last weekend) pattern that lumped a bunch of serging in with a "beginner" pattern, this one mentioned it, but offered clear alternatives for those of us with more basic equipment. The other thing I really like is that she explains some more advanced finishing techniques. Things like top stitching can make something handmade look way more professional.

I will definitely get full use out of the pattern. I already have plans to make more of them. The first one was big hit.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fabric Store Stress Relief

Work has me stressed. Stressed in that way that reminds me just why it is a bad idea to forget to refill the happy pills. I've been rationalizing my bad eating, my bad attitude, as coping with the stress. Really I'm just making excuses. It ends now. Plus, I got the happy pills today.

I've buried myself in sewing. I took a pattern out of One Yard Wonders and mass produced it. Assembly lined cutting at least 7 pairs of booties, then planned to sew them all up. Tonight I tried, but I'm unsure how I feel about the result. It looks... wrong. Which of course means that I will be spending the next few nights trying to alter the pattern enough to make it bend to my will. After I finish that, since I am pretty sure that the cut and unfinished pieces would drive me insane (we'll see), it is on to skirt making for M. Summer is coming, and I'm going to be super mom and make her a bunch of clothes...

Maybe that is the stress talking.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Like Rabbits

In the past three or so weeks I have found out that there are nine babies on the way amongst friends and family.


That includes some that no one really knows about yet (still holding our breath for them), friends, coworkers, and an old family friend and his husband who are expecting triplets (3! at once!).

I need to get my crafty butt in gear. It started with a mere four. So I had plans to make quilts. I have the pieces of at least two downstairs in the craft things, in various states of assembly. I could do a non pieced quilt for at least one or two of them, and nearly all of them were due late summer/early fall.

Yeah... consider me completely under water now. The triplets! are due in early April, and since that one is family basically, I can't exactly phone it in. So I did what any self respecting crafter would do. I made something for my kid.

Andrea and I were supposed to meet for sewing a few weeks ago, and thanks to a slight communication issue at the shop, we ended up eating dessert instead. She showed me this adorable dress pattern for her daughter, which got me thinking about how I really should make some dresses for M. I haven't been finding anything sufficiently pink and twirly lately at the stores, and heck, I know how to sew. Reasonably well even.

We went to Crafty Planet and picked out this pattern. She would have preferred all pink, but I realized that wasn't a good idea. It is just mostly pink.

The pattern was nice, but I found at least three typos in it. If I were a novice sewer (it says it is good for beginners) then I would have been very confused. She also suggests using a serger for the "beginner" patterns. Yeah um... what beginner do you know that invests a minimum of 200 bucks in a serger. Those issues aside, nice overall design, I finished it in an afternoon, and she loves it.

I did leave off the apron from the front, but the sash stayed since I made it large enough that it can grow with her. I think next I'm going to combine two of the patterns and do tunic top, but with the top from this dress. As long as it is pink, I am pretty sure she'll approve.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On One Hand

You'll have to forgive me for a moment while I turn in to one of those bloggers who talks about her kid. I'm finding myself more and more moving away from writing about her. Part of it is that I've become more confident as a parent (delusional as it may be) and no longer feel the need to poll the Internet for advice. Part of it is that she is getting old enough now that I feel a need to respect her privacy more.

However, maybe this isn't about her so much, but more about me, and how she effects me. One of these days, maybe not so very far off in the future, she's going to be able to completely out smart me. She's already well on her way.

I've always been very proud of my ability to learn things quickly. I have a great memory for the randomness of things, as well as a knack for being able to make connections that others can't see. Perhaps it is the creative part of my brain working, maybe I'm just weird. Likely it is a bit of both. It annoys some people, but I've learned to shut up most of the time. When I was a kid, I almost always had an answer, I rarely could tell you how I got the answer, but I was right, a lot.

M seems to have taken after me a bit. She's picking up things up, sometimes it would seem out of nowhere. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, as she puts on her mittens (yay for being able to do it herself, thank you daycare) she will say "left one" and "right one". I'm usually in another room, making sure that I haven't forgotten anything (not that it works), so I haven't been paying that close of attention. However, I caught her doing it. Convinced that it must be a fluke, I've asked her which hand was which, repeatedly. She always gets it right correct.

Puzzled by this, I asked daycare if they have been teaching it, and besides playing the Hokey Pokey, it isn't even on their radar for things to teach. I'm pretty sure it comes some where after the alphabet and tying their shoes.

She asks me about random things I've said, days after I may have mentioned something in passing. She has started picking up songs after hearing them once, at best. She can manipulate a situation and has started to use the quivering bottom lip. She has age and cuteness in her favor. I may have burned a few too many brain cells while in college (at least I waited until I was 18 to waste them).

I am so screwed.