Thursday, June 19, 2014

I try to set one night a week aside to just sew. Or craft. Or do anything but clean and pay bills and do the things that really need to get done and would be the responsible thing to do. It actually takes discipline to do this. I would think I would have no problem diving into a project and neglecting the unfolded laundry. But it actually takes effort to stop myself from cleaning and just pushing everything aside to make room for my sewing machine on the table. Tonight I sewed with every monster truck my three year old owns. Which is twelve. He spent the evening gathering them up from around the house and put them in a nice circle on the table. I worked around them, both because I think he will be happy to see them all still circled up when he wakes up in the morning and also because cleaning is a slippery slope and I have to be very strict about not going down it on my no cleaning nights or the next thing I know I have a clean table, or folded laundry, but nothing creative to show for the night. And being creative is good for my soul. And as a busy mom of three youngens I need to do things that are good for my soul to continue doing things that are good for theirs.

Tonight I decided to finish the Superman cape I started 3 weeks ago. It took less than an hour to do, and I have I'm sure spent more time than that moving it from place to place these past three weeks to "get it out of the way" as well as talking to my son about how I will get it done as soon as I can, but so goes my life these days. It was a simple project but one that I am excited about because I know that my 3 year old will love it. It's fun to make things for him because his expressions of excitement and gratitude are so rewarding. I once brought home a spray bottle from the dollar store that gave me days of "Thank you mama for getting this for me". (I had actually gotten it just so I could have a spray bottle to use for this and that, but I didn't have the heart to tell him and I let him have it as his own and sucked up all the gratitude I could from it.) His love language is definitely "gifts", which is frustrating at times when he has his eye on something expensive, or when there is always something else that he would like. But as the spray bottle shows, he is pretty easy to please. And when the "gift" he is after is something I can make for him then the reward of making it for him is twice as sweet.

Anyway, back to the cape. I used the tutorial from And I added a logo. I did a lot of searching to learn about Superman and I learned that he doesn't actually have his logo on his cape. But I learned this after I had already cut out and appliqued the logo, and my son gets excited when he sees the logo and all things superhero so I just went with it and put it on the cape. I printed a logo from the internet (don't remember where exactly I found it) and used Steam a Seem to attache the red S to the yellow background. Then I used more Steam a Seam to attach the logo to the cape. Then I stitched it on, which took some time, and almost a whole spool of thread, and tried my patience at times. It is certainly one of those things that you just shouldn't look to closely at but from a distance you can tell it is the superman logo and that is the important part. After the logo was appliqued on I continued following the directions from the tutorial on howdoesshe. I liked this tutorial because it was so basic and simple and not overwhelming. She didn't even pin the two pieces together! I love this. This is so how I work. And it is how three year olds work too. It's actually one of the things I love most about three year olds. The only thing I added (besides the logo) is that I did a finishing stitch around the entire outside. I did this for two reasons. The first is that I hate sewing openings closed by hand. It just seems like more work than using the machine. Even if it means sewing a few yards by machine versus a few inches by hand. I know it probably isn't, but it is how I think. It's the same reasoning that makes me carry all my groceries from the car in one load, even though it hurts my hands and I drop things that I later have to pick up. But still I do it every time. I also thought that finishing the edges would give it a, well, more finished look. But that might have actually been a mistake because I think it may have actually just highlighted my wrecklessness with the way I sewed the edges together. But again, the intended audience here is a three year old and I know that he will never notice the specifics of the edges so it was pretty easy for me to let it go. I actually pretty much just raced through this project. Patience is a virtue, just not one of mine. At least not when I am sewing. Which is why I love a project like this every now and then when the details don't really matter. It is so freeing to just race through a project and not get hung up on the little things. Or, frankly in this case, even the big things. God bless three year olds and their imaginations and lack of high standards for detail and reality.

I'm really excited to give it to him. But it will have to wait because I don't want to give it to him until I finish the tutu that I have been promising my two year old for months. I know things don't always have to be fair. And really since we added a third child 6 weeks ago the fairness in the house has been pretty much non-existant. Which is what makes me want to be fair in this instance. So, hopefully I can whip out a tutu in the 30 minutes that it should take to make a tutu for a two year old. I do already have the material. I have had it for months. I adore buying material. I almost feel that just by purchasing the material I am completing the project, which of course is far from the truth and the reason that I have so much material and so few finished projects. Sigh. Maybe one day I will have lots of finished projects and not enough material, but that is not the current season of my life. But maybe with each "No Clean Night" I will get one step closer. As long as I stay away from the fabric store first.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year.....?

Happy New Year! New years has been my favorite holiday (a tight second with Christmas Eve) for as long as I can remember. I love that it is a chance to celebrate with out the stress of getting gifts for people and much of anything else. I also love the idea of new beginnings and all the excitement and opportunity that a new year holds. When I was a child we would spend new year's eve with my cousins' family. Now we spend it with my parents and my siblings and their children. For the most part we all do Christmas on our own and New Year's Eve is our chance to all be together. We eat, play games, eat and at new years we break out the noise makers. We also break out our phones and call our loved ones that aren't present to shout a happy new year to them. I love New year's Eve.

This new year has gotten off to a rough start. Yesterday I was on call at the hospital and I spent my day with a family whose child was pronounced brain dead as the result of abuse from mom's boyfriend. Heartbreaking. Happy new year. I came home emotionally exhausted to my sick daughter who much to my chagrin had not magically healed from her fever and excess boogers as I had unrealistically optimistically hoped for. So I took Max to the family party while my husband stayed home with the feverish booger monster. Being with family was fun and my 3 year old, with just a few tears and melt downs, stayed awake to ring in the new year with us. Max fell asleep in the car on the way home. An hour later Maggie woke up, and didn't go back to sleep until her nap at 11 am despite all our efforts, threats and bribery. And my husband, who was taking the 2-5am shift informed me that she now had red bumps covering her face. A rash as a result of the virus that had invaded her? Who knows. Happy new year. Max refused to nap, even after only sleeping 6 hours. We persevered and showed up to the family luncheon just one and a half hours late. Well, Max and I showed up at the lunch. My husband took the sicky to run errands for an hour while we lunched with the family. Better, we thought, to potentially infect strangers than our own family. Don't judge us too harshly, we were losing our minds and this felt like the least harmful solution to save our sanity. And, just to top it off this all happened while the air quality website that I have found myself addicted to confirmed that the air outside had in fact reached "unhealthy" levels. Happy new year. Of course, I have all of this in perspective. After all, I did spend yesterday with a mother that was receiving the news that she would have to "let her child go". I'm well aware that this is not really a life shattering bad I am experiencing. It just wasn't the cheerful entering of a new year I had hoped for. But, the new year started despite it all.

And here I am, trying to make my plans for the new year like I do every year. I feel like I am starting this new year in a weird place. Last year was a rough year. But the real rough, not the kind of rough of the last few days. In 2013 my sister died. I'd like to say, "see you later crappy year, I'm gonna make this year better!", but that doesn't bring a sister back the way it might motivate a person to really lose weight this year, or apply to school, or whatever goal was within a person's power to control. And in the end I am just further away from the last time I saw my sister, heard her laugh, and held her hand. I want to make 2014 a great year, but it comes with a new ache that I know will never, ever go away. And also a new awareness of the other aches and pains that likely lay ahead that I can't control either. So, with a new humility and realism about how much of my happiness I really create, and really, how much happiness should be the ultimate goal anyway, I am planning how to move forward in my new year.

A few days ago in a make-shift family home evening I asked the members of my family what they would like to do in 2014. Maggie answered, "play this" as she pointed to her new legos. Done. Thanks baby girl for creating an obtainable goal that I can definitely make happen. Max's list was a little longer but I think still completely doable: Play with cars and trucks, Play with trains, Go to the fabric store to get a shirt to wear with my tractor pants (that I sewed for him), Ride my new bike. My husband made a list too. It includes taking some trips, running a marathon, buying a house, starting a profitable company and buying and house (and a dog and a snow blower to go with it). Now we are starting to get into some bigger hopes for the new year. But as big as his hopes are I realize they are not as big as mine. My list includes visiting my sisters that live out of state as well as my parents that live just a couple of hours away but that I don't see enough, buying a house, sewing lots of stuff, having a clean, organized and cozy home, being home more, paying off debt, nurturing friendships, planning activities to do with my own little family as well as my siblings and their families, enjoying my time with my kids more, improving my marriage, and (to top it all off) being happy.

It felt good to write the list, but as I look it I haven't the least bit of an idea about how to make a plan to actually make all of that happen. If I have a weakness, and I have many of them, it is trying to do more than I can ever actually do and then feeling disappointed and frustrated at the results.  I have learned a lot in the last few years about how to lower my expectations (in a good way). But I still find myself wanting to do so much. Really wanting to do it. And planning for this year is no exception. But, I'm putting it on hold. After all, I am operating on only about 5 hours of sleep last night in the mist of a lot of stress and demands. So I am going to end the night with the good feeling of all that I want to accomplish without the reality of actually making a plan. And I'm okay with that. I'm sure that no matter what I do the new year will be a nice mix of happy and sad, good and bad, and a lot of ordinary days. That is just how life is, no matter what we do. Still, I want to add a little more meaning for myself to it all. And I will. Starting tomorrow.

Happy new year! Welcome 2014! For better or worse (and likely a mix of both) here we go.