Moms are Mighty

As a mother, I often get bogged down in the day-to-day stuff.  Most days I feel very alone – wondering how can I wash the same clothes over and over, how can I clean up the same messes that I’ve told my children not to make, how will I survive the day when it’s only ten o’clock in the morning and my patience is already worn thin, when will I have time to do anything else.

Oh, and try to do everything without scarring my children for life.  So often I question myself.  Am I talking too much, not enough?  Should I explain myself or just say “no.”  Do I try and plan an activity for my children or let them amuse themselves?  Am I feeding them right?  Am I being frugal?  Am I making them feel loved even though I feel like I’m YELLING all the time?  Will they grow confident in their abilities?  Will they learn enough since I’m homeschooling?  Tell me again why I’m homeschooling!?  Will they become good people?  Will other people like them?  Will I ever get any sleep?  Can I stand wiping another runny nose today?  Am I worrying too much?!

The list goes on and on…

Just today I was telling Phil that there are times – like when you’re looking out at the vast ocean, seeing a beautiful sunset, even witnessing something tragic like the Boston bombings – when you’re able to put everything into perspective.  Sometimes it really hits me – my life is just a little blip on a timeline and I want it to count; in the grand scheme of things these little every day challenges aren’t a big deal.  Even more so, I should be grateful for them!  But when you’re in the midst of them – when you’re trying to sleep at two o’clock in the morning and your 3-month old is awake all you care about is getting sleep!  - it’s hard to keep your head in the game.  When your kids have been playing tag team all day, taking turns fighting and complaining, it certainly doesn’t feel like a good place to be.

I saw this video on New Nostalgia, one of the blogs I frequent.  It reminded me that being a mom is one of the best jobs there is; it may not be the easiest, but it’s the most rewarding.


Lisa-Jo Baker also has some free printable bookmarks to go along with this video.

And being a mom has made me appreciate my own mom – and mothers everywhere – so much more.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there!

Sewing for Mother’s Day

While flipping through some sewing books from the library I got some ideas for Mother’s Day gifts.  I was excited to get a headstart on these and wanted to make sure I wasn’t overestimating my abilities with the sewing machine.

My mother-in-law is a very practical gal.  She hangs her clothes out on the line even when it’s freezing cold, so when I saw the clothespin apron in One-Yard Wonders I thought it would be perfect for her. 

Now, I may not be as dedicated as she, but when the weather is nice I also hang my clothes out on the line.  When Phil and I got engaged, his mother excitedly handed over this drawstring bag filled with clothespins and gleefully cackled (I swear, she cackled), “you get to do his laundry now!”  That bag has served its purpose but it’s a pain to handle when trying to hang the clothes so I figured I would use an apron for myself as a guinea pig of sorts.     

Dude, this was a fun project.  I got to practice some new things – like making my own bias tape and “stitching in the ditch.”  Some parts were a bit tricky for me, being a novice ‘n’ all, but I’m happy with the results.  If I were making another for myself I would make the ties longer and skinnier so I could tie them around the front, like I do when cooking in the kitchen.   

Here’s my apron:

 

And of course I would encounter some issues with the second one, since it’s the one I plan on gifting.  The linen I used for the trim ended up being too bulky to slide nicely under the presser foot (should I be using the special-purpose foot?), but I managed.

 

I specifically wanted a food- or kitchen-oriented fabric and love the apples and pears print I found.  I prefer to look at and feel fabric before I purchase it, but other people have raved about buying fabric online and I’ve been pinning favorites.  Check out my Fabric Pinterest board for inspiration.

When I saw a tutorial for a patchwork heat pack I thought, my mom would love one of those!  After looking at my little pile of fabric decided I wasn’t too crazy about the prints I had to go together.  Then I stumbled upon this ingenious idea for a gathered comfort pack – it looks so pretty and was surprisingly easy, and I got to try the basting stitch to gather/ruffle the fabric.  I played around with the measurements and used the two fabrics I had leftover from my apron, plus some muslin for the top accent as well as the inner bag filled with a wheat berry spice mix.  I didn’t want an open top or velcro closure, so I gave the back an overlapping pillowcase-type opening and the cover can easily be washed if it gets dirty.


It’s so pretty and smells so good (I used orange EO, whole allspice and cinnamon)!  I had fun with the scraps and put together a little instruction tag to go with it.  Think I’ll make one for Gwen since she gets growing pains and always complains about her legs hurting at night; much better than letting her borrow my heating pad all night long.  Dude, I should so re-open my Etsy shop!  It could be fun playing around with color and pattern combinations, even making different sizes for neck or hand warmers.   

 

Are you making anything for Mother’s Day?

Paper Coterie – a review

It’s here, it’s here!  The album that I ordered from Paper Coterie arrived yesterday, and I excitedly tore open the box… 

I love pictures – taking them (although I am by no means a professional, usually taking lots of pictures and narrowing them down to a few favorites), organizing them, putting them into albums.  I decided that instead of developing the marjority of my digital pictures and later deciding how to organize them, I would start making a digital album for each of the kiddos every year. 

I currently upload my pictures to Shutterfly, where I arrange them into files, share them with friends and family members through one of their Share Sites, and use them for a variety of projects (mainly albums and cards, but there are other offerings).

When I heard about the Paper Coterie Beta discount, during which you can get any of their products at 50% off with free shipping during their trial period, I decided I had to make something.  

Browsing their book section, I immediately took to the idea of their alphabet books.  Gwendolyn is a pro at her ABCs (singing them, anyway), and is beginning to recognize letters everywhere.  What a great way to incorporate favorite pictures and familiar words to help her recognize letters!  I liked the look of their Book of ABC, but didn’t like that I couldn’t change the predetermined words for each letter of the alphabet.  Instead, I went with About a Boy, which basically has a more neutral color scheme than the girl version.

The process of uploading pictures and creating pages is easy enough, though I found myself comparing it to Shutterfly’s interface, since that’s what I’m used to.  Initially, I thought I had to stick to one of a few different page layouts, though I soon discovered I could drag a picture or text box and drop it wherever I pleased.  This is where I was able to get most creative.  Editing the photos and changing the text was a breeze, but I soon realized I would have to make sure I had a good idea how I wanted to lay the pictures out on the pages because there is no way to rearrange the pages (other than to add or delete a set).  I rarely know how I want every single page to look, sometimes moving pages around until I’m happy with the result; this is definitely something that would influence my making another album.  I contacted customer service about this but haven’t received a reply.

The selection for backgrounds and graphics is limited to the specific product you’re personalizing, unlike the variety of backgrounds you see on Shutterfly - but I like this, it’s more focused and removes a lot of the guesswork.  I hit one snag when, while trying to add one of the letter graphics, I found it had somehow disappeared from the list of options and I had to start fresh with a new album. 

It took a while picking photos from my extensive database, trying to match elements to all the letters of the alphabet.  There doesn’t seem to be a way to delete photos once you’ve uploaded them, so even if you don’t end up using them, they just take up space.  The program seems slower the more pictures you load, which is problematic when there’s no way to get rid of the unused ones.  

When I was finally happy with the result, and had proofed it a hundred times, I ordered it.  Woo-hoo!  Then came the option to share the album – a different kind of preview, during which I noticed a piece of text stuck at the bottom of one of the pages that wasn’t visible during any of the other previews.  Arrrgh!  I always have at least one trademark mistake.

I immediately e-mailed customer service about the error, and they were quick to respond, and very gracious – assuring me it would be taken care of.  I was relieved that the mistake wouldn’t be in the final product.  Other than a couple of my questions remaining unanswered, I’ve been very happy with the level of customer service. 

And the packaging… what a beautiful presentation!  This little vellum envelope lay atop the box’s contents, welcoming me as a new member.  What a thoughtful, whimsical extra!  Wonder what the guys get…

  

Simple, clean, elegant, crisp.  And I love the color combination.  Warm and cool. 

 

The envelope has four flaps that unfold to reveal the treasure inside…

I love it!  No need for extra wrapping if giving this as a gift.  The unexpected green inside is a nice touch.  Great quality, beautiful paper, and a vellum page with the company’s name at the back of the book.  I will note that the text seems darker in person than it did during the design process, but it’s not a big deal to me.  There were a couple spots where it looks like not all of a letter printed smoothly, but it’s very minor.  My only complaint with the album itself is that there’s a small barcode on the last photo page that covers some text - and it just so happens to read “the end,” which is very important in a book!  The design/preview process doesn’t make mention of this margin, so it’s a tad disappointing.

All in all, I’m happy with the results, and already contemplating making one of their recipe books.  Just as with Shutterfly, though, at full-price I would wait for a promotion or discount code before ordering.  Take advantage of their discount while it’s still available!  The swatchbooks are adorable – think, Mother’s Day gift. 

Here’s a peek at Gwendolyn and Josiah’s ABC Picture Book.

May 5, 2011 EDIT: Now that Paper Coterie has officially launched their website, I find the prices a bit, well… pricey.  Yesterday, they had a little “launch party,” including a code for $40 off an order, shipping not included.  I thought, for the measly price of shipping, I could get a couple lovely gifts.  After putting the items in my cart, I was shocked that shipping was over 20 dollars!  At the very least, they could do flat rate for less.  It bugs me when companies over-charge for shipping, especially when it looks like they’re trying to give you a discount.

Three Months!

I’m officially three months pregnant this week! Tuesday, to be exact. I was somewhat disappointed, though, when I found out I won’t technically be into the 2nd trimester until week 14, when Baby is 12 weeks. *sigh* I’m not really in a rush, but I’m anxious to be out of the “Danger Zone,” as I’ve been calling it. I was telling Kim – I’m looking forward to wearing maternity clothes, but not to the FAT part!

It’s like I’m having six babies – two in my tummy, two in my ass, and one in each of my thighs – I’m pregnant all over! I was telling Phil how my favorite pair of jeans are getting sort of stretched out and pushed down below my belly, so they seem loose when I stand… but when I sit, they’re uncomfortably tight and I have to unbutton AND unzip!

For Mother’s Day, I did feel extra-special even though I’m not an Official Mom and my pregnancy isn’t “showing.” Phil was so sweet – we went to Chariho Furniture (his great uncle’s wife either owns or manages the place) and he let me pick out a rocking chair! I always told him it would be #1 on our list IF we ever had kids! You must have a rocking chair for quieting down baby! It was so funny… they had this double-sized rocker (think chair-and-a-half size), and Phil joked that if we bought that he’d be rocking me AND the baby to sleep! Anyhoo… I wasn’t having much luck ’til we went to the basement of the store, where they had this nice, cushion-y glider. Now, I wasn’t sure I wanted a glider, because they always seem to get squeaky… but this one had a cushion that was rounded in the back; you nestle back into it and it cradles you. Ahhh. We got the lightest color, although it will still be a medium tone (I wanted something pale), and I picked a sort of light aqua blue fabric that was the same price as the one it “comes” with.

It’s hard coming up with original gifts year after year, and we’ll see how long I can milk this baby/grandchild thing! I
decided to make our parents/grandparents a framed picture of the my favorite ultrasound image. I made five different shadowbox frames – what a messy project! – and I think they came out cute. I wrapped two of them before I thought of taking a picture, so you’ll only get to see three of them (click on image for full-size version):

Chronicling one’s belly growth doesn’t seem the most admirable of pursuits, but I was determined to find a pregnancy journal I really liked so I could record the amazing journey. I finally settled on The Belly Book, which has spaces each week for a new belly photo! Uh-uh, once a month is fine with me – I don’t want to see any more than that! Anyhoo, I’ve been faithfully recording the process, and thought you might enjoy some excerpts so far:

“I am so excited – and anxious – for this new turn in my life. This has truly been an answer to prayer, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.”

Foods that generally calm my belly: what do you think? “SUGAR!”

Things I’ve been seriously jonesin’ for: “more ice cream… milk… homemade burgers… cookies… anything with sugar!… fruit… colored peppers… chicken salad…”

March 18, 2007 (written in April in retrospect) – “Extremely excited and nervous about seemingly positive HPTs – wouldn’t believe it until I saw the doctor on Monday the 19th. ‘Oh yeah, you’re pregnant alright’ the assistant said. I was dazed as she congratulated me, but my heart soared and this quiet happiness overtook me. I couldn’t stop smiling! Called Mom.”

March 25, 2007 (written in April in retrospect) “I’ve had so many ups and downs since first hearing the news – and it’s only been two weeks! And I’m almost two months pregnant. Weird… I think I’m more worried about people’s condemnation and judgement than I am about labor and being a good mom.”

April 5, 2007 – “Nothing else seems important now – I research baby stuff online, read baby books, make lists of name ideas… Mom, Kim, Nikki, and Kat have been SO encouraging.”

April 23, 2007 – (after the ultrasound) “It was my first sight of baby, and I was SO excited because I thought perhaps I would discover that it’s all in my head, or that Baby wouldn’t be forming or something. I was surprised to hear the thumping of the heartbeat; I thought it would be too early. I started giggling – which muffled the beat – so I had to settle down. I was so excited to show Auntie Nikki Baby’s first photos, and when Daddy got home I was grinning and skipping with excitement as I showed him our little jelly bean with feet! He laughed at my uber-excitement… This has definitely become more real for me.”

Of course, I have a million thoughts throughout the day that I don’t bother writing down – but that’s normal, pregnant or not! Please pray that things will continue happily and healthily – especially that I’ll be able to remain positive about my body. Low self-esteem and negative body image have been life-long struggles for me, and I’m definitely not getting any thinner (and I have enough stretch marks as it is, thank you very much). I pray constantly that I’ll be reminded that my worth is in God, and how He sees me, and I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It’s hard to beleive it, though. It also helps that I have people who love and accept me as I am – but *I* want to be happy and confident with who I am.

Thanks. K

Ramblings & Rants

i finally got access to my father’s ftp server so i could fool around with my website. i’ve been helping my sister with a website project – mainly the measly html code, but it’s just copy/paste for the most part, nothin’ fancy. anyhoo, i have a trial version of dreamweaver (page building software), and it’s neat some of the stuff it can do. granted, i don’t have the time nor the patience to figure it all out… but at least it got me inspired to fix up my own spot on the www.

then i found createblog - i think nikki used one of their layouts on her myspace page – and they have some pretty snazzy layouts that have been submitted by various artists. the one i chose for xanga is kinda purty, except that a box pops up every time i open the window – something about activating controls or whatever. see, i really don’t know that much about computers, or else i would know what that means. =sigh=

i should probably mention something about mother’s day being tomorrow, but my mom doesn’t read my blog so it wouldn’t do any good to make a huge fuss about it. in any case: HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all you moms out there – one of the hardest, thankless jobs in the world. and i know of a few moms-to-be who must be pretty excited about the prospect of celebrating next mother’s day in a different fashion. *grin*

well, i’m all alone this weekend. even though this is quite often the case, i don’t usually have the house to myself for days in a row – there are always more meals to cook, more dishes to wash, more laundry to do, someone else to clean up after and “get along” with. it’s freeing, in a way, but also kind of a bummer because of the circumstances. i kept hoping He would call, but i guess he’s just too busy. what else is new?

rain, rain, go away!

* * *

i’ve never been very eloquent in expressing my opinions, but this is just sickening. many of you probably heard about the students who protested against the law that targeted illegal immigration. as the article puts it, a “law that would criminalize illegal immigration.” um, hello, isn’t that redundant?

anyhoo… apparently, some of the same protestors (i presume) put up the mexican flag above the american flag – which is flying upside down!

now, i’m not uber-patriotic; i’m not racist and i’d like to think i don’t discriminate… but how am i, as an american, supposed to feel about this? it fucking pisses me off that trying to crack down on ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION would create such an uproar! and they wonder why we’re trying to keep ‘em out. *shakes head*

i’m ashamed to say it, but the older i get, the more i witness – the more disenchanted i’ve become with our world, with society and the way the corrupted government works. i don’t know how to be a christian, be loving and “tolerant,” while at the same time wanting to preserve some of the good things in life. it seems these things are often opposed to one another – welcome them, and they take advantage. what’s that children’s story – “give a moose a cookie”? maybe it’s another animal, but the point is that a cookie is never enough, he’s going to want more.

i understand being a hospitable country… but allowing everyone who wants to live here, especially if they’re illegal aliens? i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, it just screws it up for the legitimate citizens, those trying to get by and raise families (start them, even!). i’m not the most educated person, so i’m sure there are many other facets i’m not even considering. it just pisses me off. and i suppose this is a small matter in comparison – but why does everything nowadays come with a spanish translation? sometimes you can’t even find the english! if that’s not an indication of where america is heading, i don’t know what is.