Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rx Embroidery

These days, sewing helps me recover some of my sanity each night. The embroidery for this quilt (Clover and Violet) has been a lot of fun.

It's been an especially rough day with daddy being gone so much these days and the two-year old defiance kicking in extra strong. If my printer decides to cooperate (not doing that so far), I'll start on the third block tonight before crashing.

Let it be a good night!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A bubble for me

Today while my girls napped I sewed. That's right, I ignored the huge pile of laundry, the dish washer that needed unloading, and the toys scattered all over the floors. After attending to a few household items online and checking in on my online students, I sat and pretended I HAD to get the embroidery done on this first block for my Stitch and Quilt Along quilt. And it felt good!

Green by necessity

As time goes on I seem to get more and more 'green'-conscious. Maybe it has to do with being more concerned about my kids than myself, or living in Colorado, or widening my circle of friends as I move away from family. I try to buy natural products and make things myself if I can (for example, I now make our laundry detergent). We try to keep our waste down by doing things like recycling, composting, using re-useable bags at stores, cloth diapering.

Some of these things took some effort or diligence to stick we (we still don't have our vermicomposting set-up figured out completely), while others felt so natural we didn't have to think twice. And sometimes being green comes by necessity.

Last week my husband's truck broke down. He currently has a job where he is out-of-town all week and he has to have a vehicle. So the girls and I are left with our feet and bicycle. This wouldn't have been a problem in Cambridge where most necessities were in walking distance or at least accessible by public transportation. Not so here in beautiful Fort Collins.

A LOT of people bike here. For fun, for exercise, for errands. And I always thought it would make me feel good to ride my bike instead of driving to do things like grocery shopping. But I can't carry as much on my bike. And, having my little one on the bike seat and the older one in the bike trailer, that's some extra weight! (Not to mention that the little one REALLY doesn't like wearing her bike helmet!)

Well, we made it work. Only got the absolute necessities and made it to the store and back without too much ado. We were all a bit cranky but some nice cool watermelon remedied that. We even jumped back on the bike to visit a friend that afternoon. And it did make me feel good to know that we could do it but it was definitely a lot of work, something I don't feel I need more of these days. And if the car were here, I'd go back to using it in a heartbeat. But for now, we are green by necessity.

I imagine that must be somewhat common these days, being green by necessity. With the way the economy is now, families are having to own less vehicles, live in multi-generation households (smaller carbon footprint, sharing of resources etc), carpool, and more. I wonder what changes ir trends will stick even when the economy improves?

When we got home from the store, I opened the big tub of my daughter's favorite yogurt and found mold growing. I called the store and they said to bring it on back. Needless to say, we haven't gotten around to that yet!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Piecing together...

The title of this post could actually lead into a number of stories but this time, it's quite literal. There are quite a few things I could/should be doing this evening, including loading the dishwasher and picking up all the toys from around the house. But instead I HAD to get back to my quilt. Quilting may not be the best pastime for me. I love sewing and patterns and a finished project as a goal. But when I am in the middle of a project I enjoy I am too tempted to set more mundane tasks aside to keep going until I have finished. Ah well, I'm having fun and I need the mental relief.

So I've sewn three full blocks and two other partial blocks. I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of the rest of my fabric that I ordered from Etsy (the Stitch & Quilt-Along organizer suggested I look up 1930s fabric on Etsy to find some fat quarters to go with the rest of my prints and it was a success! Dangerous but I managed to limit myself to a set of four FQs that I think will work really well).

And I can't wait to get started on the embroidery!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Embarking on a Stitch & Quilt Along

Ah, so this evening I'm taking a mental break from everything going on and sewing. Well, starting a sewing project anyway. That quilt-along I wrote about hasn't started yet but I found a Stitch & Quilt Along on the Clover and Violet blog to get me going. From what I understand, the quilting will be basic but the blocks will incorporate embroidery so that should be fun.

I started cutting fabric this evening. It's the first time I'm actually following directions for any quilting project and I must admit I've never been very organized about my quilting (which is probably why I have many unfinished projects!). Another element that makes this tricky for me is that I'm on a really tight budget these days so I've resisted (very hard) buying a lovely new set of fat quarters and am trying to use what I have. I'm starting with a set of seven vintage floral fat quarters I have that are almost intact. Well, three or four of them are.

I've been noticing lately that sewing enthusiasts refer to fabric by name, designer and print. Although I've been sewing for as long as I an remember, I've never really paid attention to fabric names. So I don't know I'd that is because I often buy fabric at discount stores or what, but then I noticed that my fabric has names printed on the selvage end! Names like 'Sail Away' and 'Just Makin' Conversation' by Maywood Studio. Fun!

Okay so I think my cutting and blogging is coming to an end for the evening. I've cut the pieces from four different fabrics:

The other three FQ's have been cut away at too much (another eye-opener for me, I never really understood the point of FQs before!). But I'm too tired to turn on more brain cells and figure out what to do now. So I'll have to go through my stash and see what I have. I can probably find some plain colors to use. But five of those would be boring. So I may need to go to a fabric store to find some prints that will go with the ones I have. Or maybe I can use this as an excuse to go to a local antique store to look for some sheets or something. Probably not more thrifty in the end.
So, for tonight, bed calls (as soon as my husband is done watching this episode of 'Mythbusters'). And here's hoping the little ones sleep well tonight so we can too!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Moving on (pun intended) - Let the Quilting Begin!

For the past six weeks I have been busy with moving from Massachusetts to Colorado. Not a simple move even without two toddlers. It feels like we have met one difficulty after another along the way but right now the final boxes are being brought into our new (but old - it's a long story involving a very large fire) home and we can finally start settling in.

During those six weeks I also managed to get involved in four 'swaps' which were great fun and about which I meant to blog. I welcomed the distraction of the sewing (the swaps were: 12 mug toppers, 9 wool bunny/chick Easter baskets, a cupcake pin cushion, and my first mug rug!), to take my mind off all the decisions that had to be made, even just for short periods of time in the evenings. And I even took photos. But they never made it here and now it seems Iike so long ago!

Well during the move I made sure to keep my sewing machine available so it didn't end up buried in boxes somewhere. I'm not signed up for any swaps right now (I don't think the hubby would be too happy what with the move and the summer class I'm teaching starting in less than a week!). But, I did find a fun Quilt-Along to join in on! Now that I've wet my feet on the virtual world of crafters' swaps, I can go back there. And I'd like to explore the _____-alongs I keep seeing mentioned!

So this Quilt-Along is called 'The Skill Builder Sampler' and it will go for one year. My understanding is that every month there will be a tutorial on a different quilting skill and everyone joining will plan to make 3 blocks by the end of the month. Everyone that does complete 3 blocks can post them in a Flickr album and will be entered to win a prize! And at the end of the year, if you have completed all the squares, there will be enough to make a queen-size quilt! A year sounds like a long time at first but I think it will be just right. I have been wanting to jump into quilting somehow and get beyond my novice (self-taught) skills but I wasn't sure where to start. I don't know a group of quilting moms that I can meet with once a week to share tea and cookies with as we quilt so this is the next best thing, and modern version of that I suppose! So enough chattering. I will hopefully share my progress here as I participate. And if you want to join in as well, check it out here or click on the 'We Can Do It' button on the right side of my blog. We begin on June 17th!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Our almost 'Irish twins'

My girls are now about 27 months (we just say 2) and almost 13 months. I must get asked at least once a day (if we go out) if they are twins. I don't see how they could be mistaken for being the same age but I suppose I know them too well to be objective.

When I was pregnant with #2, I had trouble finding anything to read about having kids so close together. I haven't had much luck since then either.

Co-sleeping was the first big question. The big one (relatively, although now looking at my little one I can't believe big sister was physically this size and only a bit older - so little!) wasn't sleeping in our bed but on a futon mattress on the floor next to our bed. She wasn't nursing anymore but she did wake up a few time each night needing water, her binky, or a pat on the back; and she usually fussed if it wasn't me that provided any of these things. Luckily for us, little sister slept through the night, or close to it for the first few weeks (we are far from being that lucky now!). Also, big sister started sleeping through the night for the most part and she started letting daddy attend to her, sometimes. We definitely had those nights where I would nurse the little one (lying down, half asleep - so much easier with baby #2!) and then jump over my husband to respond to the big one and jump back to snag a few zzz's before I was needed again. But somehow the big one was satisfied to stay in her bed (so we didn't have to worry about her climbing into bed with us - until morning - and squishing the baby). And somehow the girls never woke eachother up even though the big one used to be super sensitive to noises (she now sleeps like a rock)! So it worked. A number of the other families I know that co-sleep with two have the bigger one sleep with dad in one room while baby sleeps with mom in another room. It sounds like that works too but I'm glad we made it work staying together.

Naps didn't work out quite as well. The first month was fine since a newborn pretty much falls asleep easily anytime if clean and fed. After that though I have memories (and photos) of me with one little one on my front and one on my back, sometimes both crying. But we survived that phase too. Now the problem is that the little one really wants one morning nap and an afternoon nap but also doesn't really want to sleep while her sister is playing. And big sister doesn't want to nap if her little sister is playing. On days we go out in the morning and they fall asleep in the car on the way home, naptime is usually easy because I can carry them into bed asleep. But on other days, getting them both down can be a long and frustrating ordeal. That too though is getting better as the older one gets bigger and willing to lie quietly, sometimes reading books to herself, while I try to get the little one down.

Other than sleep, behavior and play are challenges with two so close in age. It seems that every time the little one transitions to a new phase in mobility (sitting, crawling, walking), the bigger one takes to pushing her down. Constantly. Often unprovoked. Little sister gets back. We seem to be at the tail end of a biting phase but moving into hair pulling. Ouch! They are both still at the parallel play level if course so they play on their own but of course whatever the other one has looks SO much better. And even if there are two of them, one must have both. Apparently second children take notes on everything big sister or brother does, including tantrum-ing. So we have two drama queens now. (Little one is still practicing so she throws herself around on the floor in slow motion - it's pretty funny to watch actually.)

And then there are the sibling moments that have nothing to do with being close in age. For the duration of a 20 minute drive last week they kept up a back and forth:
Little sister: "Ella Ella Ella" [the name of our dog that she loves]
Big sister: "DON'T SAY 'ELLA ELLA ELLA'!"
Little sister: brief pause.. "Ella Ella Ella"
Big sister: "DON'T SAY "ELLA ELLA ELLA'!"
And so on. For 20 minutes. I tried singing, putting on music, shouting and whispering. Nothing could stop them.

All that said, we are getting glimpses of good times to come. A few mornings ago the girls woke up before mommy and daddy were really awake and they came on the bed with us and were singing and playing 'ring around the rosie' and 'row row row your boat.' And they love to laugh together, often for no reason.

Sisters. Fun.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Real life

This evening I stumbled upon a post by The Happiest Mom with a brief interview with the author of 'Instinctual Parenting,' a giveaway (me please!), and a question about parent moments where information or advice is contradictory to our gut feeling or just our reality. I wrote a really long comment in response because, once again, this is very pertinent to what's been on my brain lately (I love the mommy blog world!); so I figured it was worth sharing here -
Oh so many examples of 'Subway' moments! [That will only make sense if you go read the post I was commenting on, which I recommend but it's not necessary for the rest of my post to make sense.] I guess a current ongoing one relates to pottying and EC. I so very much wanted to do EC (Elimination Communication) and actually, even before I knew the term existed I was doing some of the suggested practices with my daughter - cloth diapers, sitting on the potty from early on, communicating what she as doing, etc. She seemed to be getting close to being out of diapers at 15 months when her sister was born and I didn't have the time, energy, brain cells to keep up our routine much. She's now 26 months and resists gong #1 in the potty. And her sister doesnt get much EC'ing. I've been to one EC meeting and saw 4-month olds telling their moms they needed to go potty and waiting until they were placed on the potty to go - and I felt hugely inferior! I still feel like I missed the boat when my daughter was ready.
My husband says I'm too hard on myself and he's right; but when I'm being nice to myself I tell myself that even having an infant or young toddler potty trained, it's still a lot of work because they are not very independent, unlike and older toddler. And I'd rather spend time enjoying them and with them, then spending a lot of time in the bathroom. So for now I'll just deal with a squirmy infant who doesn't like to lie still for diaper changes, and extra laundry, and in the summer we'll go diaperless when we can!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Little accomplishments!

I may have discovered both another use for my blog and a way to finish more craft projects! I always have a mental list of projects I'd like to be working on and there's usually a few little piles of things I've begun, usually knitting or sewing. And I also usually have a BUNCH of tabs open in my browser (my husband uses a different browser so he doesn't have to navigate my tabs!) with ideas, inspiration or tutorials. I've tried creating organized bookmark folders but I rarely go back to those so tabs it is until I find a better way.

Then earlier this week I decided to post a few links on my blog (near the upper-right corner) to a few of those pages. And doing that I finished the hobby horse I've been working on in 5-10 minute segments for weeks and I made sweet (and oh so simple) matching dresses for my girls. I love feeling like I've accomplished something!

I'll have to add more links soon!

(Picture of hobby horse to come - it still needs a harness!)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Let's keep it simple

I blog hopped my way to the Progressive Pioneer's blog this evening. (Love that phrase - Progressive Pioneer!) She talks about natural parenting and refers to Occam's Razor, which bascially says that the simplest answer is usually the right one. It is *great* to be reminded of this. Sometimes I/we make things more complicated than they need to be. I scour books for the solutions for co-sleeping with two little ones, and continue on my search for the perfect baby carrier, and try to find the answer for breastfeeding and good sleep habits. Sometimes I forget that even though I might not know where my instincts will bring us, it will make life so much more simple, and therefore happy, to do so.

There's not a whole lot of thought going into this post. I just had to post something as I process my thoughts about 'simple.'

Good night.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Mother's Needs

I've never been big on taking care of myself. I mean, I don't go all out to pamper myself or to think about what *I* need. Being a mom now, I have even less time to myself than I ever had before and I never thought it would bother me because, as I said, I didn't think I needed to think about 'me' much. But things have been difficult lately and I've been out of sorts, and unable to really put into words what it is that I'm feeling or experiencing.

Yesterday, I stumbled upon The Happiest Mom's blog post on a 'Mother's Hierarchy of Needs.' I remember when I first heard about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Or at least, when I first heard about it in my professional life. I was working for an early literacy home visit program and we were having our weekly meeting with the director of the program. It was the beginning of a new year with new families and she was reminding us to be sensitive to the families lives and needs, and understand that if some of the parents seemed not to care about whether their children were able to read or do crafts, that they might perhaps be caught up worrying about elemental needs a bit lower on the pyramid - things like food, shelter, or even safety. I have carried that reminder with me ever since.

Seeing one person's version of a Mother's Hierarchy of Needs reminds me that there are those different levels of needs. I long for moments when I can curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and read a good book for a long time, maybe until I finish it; or a day when I can sew or knit or spin or felt to my heart's content; without having to respond to fussing or diapering or make sure everyone is fed. It's not that I don't love my family, not at all. Or even that I want to spend a day without them. It's just hard to respond to everyone's needs all the time. And worries about things like jobs and money and other such mundane things (or a fire destroying the inside of our townhouse), make it even more stressful, because they are closer to the base of that pyramid. I guess it doesn't give me any answers but at least it is a reminder that a) I'm not alone in this mommy-predicament and b) I'm not feeling out of sorts because I haven't been able to complete a knitting project in ages, but more likely because of those lower level elements (let's talk about sleep!).

I'd love to have this on a t-shirt, or maybe a diaper bag. Then instead of talking to people when they ask how things are, I can just point to whatever level I have an issue with at the time!

Note: I promise I'll post something more cheerful soon. On a happier note for the time being, we changed our sleeping arrangements once again and put all the mattresses on the floor. I think this will be a good short-term solution for us all.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Co-sleeping with two little ones

Wow. It's been over a month since I last posted. I really enjoyed blogging when I got into the habit of doing it every night (although I'm sure my husband was bummed that I would go straight from putting the girls to bed to "Just 10 minutes hon!" on the computer, which always took more than 10 minutes). But once out of the habit, it was hard getting back to it. The holidays didn't make it easier though. I really enjoyed reading other blogs about decorating and gift-making and cooking for the holidays and I wanted to take part but blogging was just that one-more-thing that was too much. Ah well, maybe next year (or rather, this year!).

So today I'm posting just to try and dabble my toes in it again in hopes of returning more full-on soon.

We are experimenting with the girls' sleeping arrangements again. With a toddler and an infant (although at almost 10 months, she's almost a toddler herself!), co-sleeping is tricky. Our 2 year old has been sleeping on a futon mattress about 6 inches lower than our bed for over a year now. She moves a lot and doesn't like covers so sleeping in our bed wasn't working out for anyone. But she likes to be close by and still needs us in the middle of the night sometimes so this is a good arrangement. Once our youngest started inching down to our feet during the night (around 6 months), we had to make other arrangements for her and so we put the crib that my husband made right up next to my side of the bed so it's almost like an extension of our bed, but she has her own space. This worked well until just recently when she started a) really fighting going to sleep, and b) crawling out onto our bed and trying to get off herself after naps. So we moved things around again and I put both girls on the floor, next to each other, next to our bed; their heads towards us.

Our older one seems to like seeing her sister sleeping near her (then she knows she's not off having fun without her). And it's nice because the little one can crawl off and on without us having to worry. But there are definitely some downfalls.

Firstly, I have to respond to both girls at night now. So last night that meant getting up for the older one three times because she had either rolled off her mattress or was upset because she couldn't find her dolly (roller onto the floor). And getting up three times for the little one, to nurse her or get her out of the small crack between the mattresses.

Then, at nap time, if the little one wakes up first, I hear her once she's crawling on top of her big sister to get out.

And now my train of thought is gone after the girls wake from nap and our evening was filled with its usual busy-ness. So I'll leave it at this.