Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My New Hobby

I've taken up a new hobby. Last spring, I made my daughter an Easter dress.

It was sort of a complicated dress to make for a beginner. There was a net ruffle and slip underneath that makes the skirt poof out more. Plus it was fully lined. I was pretty proud of myself when I finished it. I only wish I had made it a size bigger so she could have worn it longer.

But it was a while before I attempted a sewing project again. We had a horrific stomach bug that kept getting passed around throughout December and January that kept me from trying anything. I did want to make her a dress for Christmas, but then decided not to. Then, I tried to make doll clothes for my daughter for Christmas, but ran out of time.

In February, I went and picked out a pattern and some fabric to make an Easter dress for her again. Then I got the crazy idea that I wanted to make a dress to match her. So I pulled out an old pattern of mine for a dress I made when my husband and I were first married and was going to make that. But I didn't get started on the dress right away, figuring I still had a month. But then, my baby was born in the middle of March. Despite the fact that I had both my mother and my mother-in-law around the first few weeks after he was born, I didn't find time to start the dress. In fact, I didn't make it for Easter at all. Then I discovered that I was nowhere close to the measurements for the dress pattern I was going to make for myself. So I went back to the store and bought a skirt pattern that required the same amount of fabric that I already had. I decided to make the dress for her and the skirt for me for the weekend that we both baptized our oldest son and blessed our baby.

I got the dress finished. The pattern had a purse pattern as well, so I made the matching purse. My aunt took some of the leftover fabric and made the cute matching headband.

I still haven't made the skirt. My measurements are all weird. According to my waist measurement, I should be a size 12 but my bust measurement shows me at a size 4. And my bum and hips, don't even want to go there.

So I've been holding off on the skirt.

But then, in the in between time, I've done a LOT of mending. Sewing patches onto jeans. Mending rips in dresses and other clothes. I have really enjoyed sewing.

So, now I have a few projects on my list that I'd like to do, some of which sort of have deadlines.

Project #1: T-shirt dresses

I'm making these for all the granddaughters on my side of the family. There are twelve of them, ranging in age from ten down to newborn. I bought a bunch of blue T-shirts and onesies that were clearanced at Children's Place and then found some cute black and white clearance fabric. All I have to do is measure out the fabric and start sewing. But my deadline for that is August 10th. See, on August 11th, I'm driving to my mom's house for my brother's wedding on August 18th and I'd like to have the matching dresses done so we can get a family picture with the girls wearing them.

Project #2: Baby blanket

I found some cute fleece with a monkey pattern on a green background on clearance a few years ago and bought it. It's the perfect size for a baby blanket. Not a newborn blanket, but one that will last for a few years, or life. All I have to do is edge it somehow. My baby is almost five months old and it would be nice to give him the blanket that will be his for childhood. If I don't do it soon, he probably won't even care for it.

Project #3: High chair pad

Our high chair that we've used for the four kids is a hand-me-down. The original plastic pad was completely worn out by the time we used it with our daughter. I bought some cute fabric and batting with the intention of making a new pad but never got around to it. My baby is four months old and will be starting solids and sitting in the high chair in a matter of months. So I'd better get cracking on that too.

Project #4: My skirt

I need to get cracking on this skirt that I want to make that will match my daughter's yellow dress. Before she outgrows the dress. I guess I'd better get cracking on that one too.

So, here is my list. First, I finish the T-shirt dresses. That one has the most immediate deadline. Then I should probably do my skirt because the other two projects do not have set patterns. The third one should be the high chair pad because I have to figure out the size and shape and stuff on my own (I did keep the old, worn out pad to use as a guide). The last one, and easiest, will be doing something to that baby blanket. I don't know if I will sew some satin around the side or just zig zag stitch all the way around, but I want to do something, I don't like tied fleece blankets at all, I find them annoying, so I won't be doing that.

In addition to these projects, which I intend to finish by the end of the summer, I am going to make our family's Halloween costumes. It's already been decided that we will go as characters from the Wizard of Oz. So I'll need to get started on that next.

Then, at Walmart the other day, I found a bin that had 97 cent patterns in it and found a whole bunch--a dress for my daughter, a child's apron, a dress for me, some capris for me, a doll dress and a bib pattern. I may go back and raid the bin again without my children so I can have more time to find some more.

And then, I found this great book at the library.

I have already been reading it and am so excited to try and make my own skirts. I can even use the information in this book to adjust the pattern I bought to match my daughter's dress so it will fit me better. I think I will have to buy this book so I can use it!

Yea for fun new hobbies! Especially ones that are so useful.

Something About Myself

Sometimes I wish I could be a very different person. I'm such a worrywart. I worry about everything under the sun. You name it, I've probably worried about it. In fact, naming it might cause me to continue worrying about it, so don't. It's no wonder I deal with massive anxiety on a regular basis.

I wish I could be relaxed and easygoing.

I wish that I could be funny.

I wish that I sometimes did funny things so I could write about them.

Nope, that's not me.

I'm all serious and all business. I'm organized and passionate about that. I'm a perfectionist in every realm of my life and I hate it.

How can one who has perfectionist tendencies even remotely enjoy life? There are too many things to pick apart and be dissatisfied with when you are a perfectionist in the way that I am.

And when I try to be different, I get extremely stressed out.

Either way, I'm stressed out. So why bother trying to change?

I might just have to resign myself to being an overly uptight perfectionist because I really don't know how to approach life in any other way.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Life Happens

When I was in high school, and even looking back now, it seems that many of us walked the same path. We went to school, participated in activities or after-school jobs or both, did homework, and had to maneuver the social world of it all, dating included. We dealt with parents and siblings and bosses and teachers and friends and relationships. Of course our struggles were different in many ways, but overall, we faced the same types of problems.

Fast forward fifteen years. Instead of facing the same types of now what seems to be trivial problems, we have all had our share of heartache and challenges, many of which I'm certain our younger selves had no idea of what was coming.

A few of my friends have faced breast cancer and are raising young children at the same time. I have a few who've endured terrible divorces and all the pain that accompanies that. I've had some who've lost children. I have a couple friends who have children with disabilities, Down's Syndrome being one of those. Some of my friends have dealt with infertility and are still dealing with it. Others have been diagnosed with degenerative diseases that have really taken a toll on their abilities to keep up with their families. One friend has dealt with the tragedy of learning her child was abused by a neighbor. Some are not married and have traveled the world. Some are military families and face the unique challenges that presents.

Recently I got together with a number of ladies from my high school years and had a girls' night out. It was interesting to see the depth in these ladies that was lacking when we were so young.

I must admit, the challenges that I've had seem small in comparison to some of the things these ladies have faced. I've dealt with my own set of trials that are unique to me, but I'm impressed by the courage these ladies have shown in facing their trials and the positive outlook they all still seem to have despite their struggles. But I especially loved seeing the depth and seeing in their eyes that they have gained so much strength since I saw them last.

Life is hard, isn't it? And how differently we all experience it has become very evident, whereas when I was younger, I never really saw it that way.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Teaching My Children

I love being a teacher. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching in the public schools--everything but dealing with nasty parents. I love summer break because I get to be with the kids all the time and we do lots of fun and educational things. I'm teaching my older two boys piano and I'm teaching them art lessons as well and really enjoying it. Now, I think I would enjoy teaching other kids piano too, especially since they are less likely to talk back during the lesson, but even so, I am enjoying this time with them.

I love doing preschool with my children. I love teaching them one-on-one in a more formal setting and also doing some of the other less formal activities we do. As I look around, I wonder if I am the only parent in the world who thinks teaching them preschool myself is so much better than sending them to someone else for preschool. These preschool years are so short, so precious, and I want to be the one to provide them a foundation for a love of learning.

As much as I love teaching my children, I also love sending them to school. I think there are valuable things that they experience at school that they won't experience if I home school them. I think home schooling would be a wonderful experience. I think I would enjoy it and my kids would thrive. But I like that they have to learn to maneuver through the social pitfalls of school, that they have to learn to work with other personalities and meet new people. I like that they have to adapt to someone else's teaching style and learn how to follow another person's rules. I like that the particular school they are at is so big on school pride and they sing the school song every week and have assemblies all the time. Even with the incidence of my son being bullied a little this year during second grade, I feel like school is a good place for them, especially the school they are at. It doesn't have stellar academic programs or a super reputation. It is, in fact, a brand new school, opened in August 2009. But it's a good school, you can just feel that it's a good environment when you walk in. I like that they get to experience these new things and new ideas and things I might not be able to teach them at home.

These days, it seems that so many are turning to home schooling to teach their children and I think that would be great. I know I could do it and my kids would thrive. Is it strange, though, that even with the teacher in me and the fact that I love having them home 12 weeks in the summer (I can't believe we only have five more weeks of summer, I'm so SAD!) that I still want them to be in public school? I don't rejoice at the end of summer that I get to have a break from them; rather, I'm excited for them to start a fresh school year. I love the back-to-school time of year.

I guess I might always just feel torn between the two options. I love the idea of home schooling but I also love having my children experience new things and meet new people. They are very independent and outgoing and have a lot to give others and gain from others. Maybe someday I will homeschool. Maybe someday I will go back to teaching. Right now, I am just happy that they are home with me for the summer months and we have been very busy enjoying this time.

Modern Media and Marriage

When most people today think of media in a marriage, I think they probably are thinking of the newest technologies--the data plans for cell phones, the newest phones, the ipods and ipads, the laptop computers, etc.

In our marriage, our biggest sources of media use come in the form of watching television and using the Internet. My husband loves to watch TV. He grew up in a home where the TV was always on, even just in the background for noise. Most of the time, he doesn't watch anything of substance, it's just something to occupy his time and mind while he is away from work and "relaxing". The television is actually a huge source of contention for us. It really bothers me that my husband can watch mind-numbing television for HOURS and never tire of it.

That said, I am one who could spend hours on the computer. I check Facebook, talk to friends and family online. I check my emails (I have three accounts--two are mostly for spam, they're the ones I put when an email address is needed for something, the other is personal), I write on my blogs, I post on a parent discussion board, I read other people's blogs, I research for preschool ideas and other things. I play around with my digital pictures, making photo books or other things. I write stories and books.

There are many nights when my husband comes home from his typical 11 or 12 hour day and he sits for three hours in front of the TV flipping channels aimlessly while I sit on the computer catching up on blog-reading or writing or whatever. When the kids are in bed is uninterrupted time for me to do these things. Often, when I'm posting on the blog, I'll get going with an idea, then I'll be interrupted, and then I can't figure out where I was going with it. So those evening hours when the house is quiet, it's really tempting to just spend all that time on the computer, especially when all my husband is doing is watching TV. Even if I were to forgo the computer in exchange for a conversation with my husband, most likely, the TV would be on in the background and we'd just end up watching that instead.

These devices are incredibly addictive. As useful as computers are and as wonderful as TV is (we know what's happening in the WORLD the very minutes in which it is happening), they are incredibly addictive.

The important thing is to set limits. Yes, even adults need limits. There are many times when I will set a timer for myself with my Internet use. I give myself 30 minutes to check Facebook, email and whatever blogging I want to do. If only I could get my husband to do the same! We've tried (I've tried) instigating a "no media night" where both of us refrain from watching TV or going on the computer, but that hasn't worked very well. We'll need to try something else or really set up one day a week that ALWAYS a no TV day. When I was growing up, we couldn't do any of that on Sunday. I try really hard to not use either one on Sunday, but when my husband is gone most of the day for work, it's so easy to be online a lot and to flip the TV on for the kids. There isn't a whole lot else to do on Sundays, since we don't go out on those days.

I can certainly see how all these modern media outlets can interfere with a marriage and cause strife. It's just something we have to work around since it's new to our generation. (Click here for Media Mondays. Can't get the picture to link.)


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