Friday, December 28, 2012

In Summary....


 I have written some amazing posts in my head in the last two months.  Funny posts. One about how taking something out of my storage dish cupboard is rather like a daily game of Jenga and one about how depressing it is to suddenly have knees that sound like Rice Krispies when you attempt even the mildest of exercises.  There were others.  And, I know I have lamented about this before, but apparently they only make it on the blog if I actually sit down and type them out.  I think we need an app for that: telepathic posting.  

In other news, Tate had a birthday with a well thought out wish:


I occasionally amused myself online with Dogshaming and Craft Fail.

Did too much Christmas shopping.  Helped with the second grade Gingerbread House Decorating Day.
Nailed it!


Made three dolly diaper bags with diapers, bibs and wipes for my Sister-in-law's Christmas gift for her nieces.



Became increasingly unsure as to whether my current hair color is even remotely flattering. BLECH.  The roots don't help, do they? ;-)


Celebrated Christmas at Nana and Papa's


And at home:


And now we are in vacation mode.  Playing with our Christmas gifts and in the snow (we've got plenty) and hanging out in the computer with a cat on my lap and one trying to find a spot.  Life is, indeed, pretty good.


My guess is, I'll continue to be scarce around here, though I may do more visiting than posting.  After Christmas I am starting a part time job, a bit of providence for my little family.  Only 4 half days a week and I can still put the kiddos on the bus in the mornings.  The crafty business dream has been shelved, for now, but joyfully traded for a consistent schedule and paycheck.  Right now I am savoring my few days left without a schedule and a chance to hunker down under a blanket and read or watch an old movie.  

I hope, wherever you are, that you are feeling just as blessed and cozy as I do right now.  
Merry Post-Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Better Late Than Never

Calvin-as-Lego-Ninjago-ZaneZX Revealed






Probably not worth making the complicated robot panel for the few hours that he wore the costume, but it WAS pretty cool.  I know you were all waiting for that, so you can breathe and get on with your lives now.  ;-)


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween and Stuff

Well, for us, Sandy the Frankenstorm is over.  I know for many she was as bad as predicted and my thoughts and prayers are with those families.  Even my good friend and across-the-street neighbor had her neighbor's tree come crashing into her fence, yard, playset, trampoline and power line.  We came away completely unscathed, except for all that rain on our leaking roof.  Here you can see the rot in the tongue and groove boards in our upstairs bathroom.  At this point, there isn't much we can do about those until the roof gets fixed. 


What I was finding myself worried about though, was the continuing damage happening around the window frame and down the wall every time it drips.  And the thought of the ensuing hurricane made me think our bathroom wouldn't be in too great of shape if we really did get the torrential rains that had been predicted.


Luckily, my husband is a genius. :-)  They're like little water slides, right into the buckets!



Prior to worrying about leaking roofs and power outages, we took a day trip out to my in-laws, where we carved A LOT of pumpkins.  All the little ones are from my MIL's own pumpkin patch, the bigger ones we bought.  The carving templates we something they had, because we've never gotten that fancy before.  It was fun.  



I am still a little unsure how our night will go tonight.  The ground is soggy and we don't have sidewalks in our neighborhood.  Still, if we have a lantern we should be able to stick to the street and we have to trick-or-treat early anyway.  School night.  So there will probably be better "reveal" sorts of pictures after they are ready to go out tonight; provided their costumes don't get ruined while they are at school.  Ahem.  Still, I thought I'd share what I managed to snap quick before they scurried off today.  I believe I mentioned Ellerie's desire to be a mermaid this year.  After quickly talking her out of the expensive and poorly made Barbie-as-mermaid and Disney Ariel versions, she agreed I could make her one.  So, now she is a cheap and probably poorly made mermaid.  :-)  (That just sounded wrong.)



The dress is an adult size, knee length that I found at the thrift store.  I was delighted that it already looked mermaidy and only took off the spaghetti straps and added elastic to the back.  Of course, it was falling down all the time, so this morning I had to pin it to the inside of her shirt.  Anyone want to place a bet as to whether the dress or the shirt tears first?


Tate, you will recall, is still a big mystery.  What DOES that boy want to be?  A creeper from Minecraft?  Kai from LEGO Ninjago?  One of the snakes from Ninjago? A ghost? We, quite literally, went through all of these possibilities (and a few others) in the last few weeks while I worked on his brother and sister's costumes.  We also went through a phase of working on Daddy to buy Ironman, since he didn't think Mama could make that one.  But he just HAD to have the gloves and none of the cheap versions came with gloves.  The gloves were ten bucks on their own, people.  Nuts, I tell you.  Then, one day last week, he gets off the bus, bounces through the door and announces, "I know what I want to be for Halloween!"  

"Oh, goodness,"  I thought.  But said, "And what do you want to be, Tate?"

BIG, clever grin.  Twinkly eyes.  JOY at last.
"A man with a mustache and a suitcase full of money!!!!!"


HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!!!!  Cracks my can, that one.  How could I not oblige?







Thank you, once again Salvation Army.  Perfect little toy suitcase (with a new puzzle to boot).  Brilliant  little mustache man.  I hope your friends at school "get" your sense of humor.  But if they don't, believe me, your family does and boy are we amused and amazed.

As for Calvin, I'll have to post his finished costume later.  It's not perfect, but I'm rather proud of it all the same.  He, being a rather mature and important 4th grader, was not allowed to wear his costume until the party in the afternoon.  I am hoping that its ride to school stuffed in his backpack will not be its undoing, especially as it took me so long to "do" in the first place.  

Still, I'll have a nice excuse if it looks not so fab ;-)

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Progress and a Distraction

Progress:



And the distraction:



Must say it was worth it; the blue door is making me positively giddy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

So? What?

Hello, October! What, I'm sorry? You're almost half over already?  Yeah, yeah.  I can't keep up.  I feel like a dork, but how do people have full time jobs and a house and kids?  Something has to go, right? You/They don't have it all together right? I'd be in a padded cell before you know it!  And, clearly, I wouldn't be working on something like this: 


We've got Halloween on the brain around here.  Not because I'm such a major fan of the holiday...  I mean, I love the idea of All Saints Day and candy is kind of fun (though I can't seem to get into cheap chocolate anymore.  I'm a snob), but I'm not much for the scary stuff.  But COSTUMES?  Come on... who doesn't like a good excuse to play dress up? 

 Ellie's costume is pretty much finished and was rather easy peasy, but it isn't warm so I need to work on that.  We don't live in Halloween- as- a- Mermaid weather.  And Tate can't seem to make up his mind... Minecraft Creeper?  Ninjago Kai?  Super Mario King?  Calvin has known right from the start though that he wants Zane from Lego Ninjago.... who just happens to be a robot.  I'm having fun.



In other news, Mike's been working on my basement crafting room.  So excited to share pics of that, but I'm just going to wait until he's got the floor in.  Truthfully, I'm just excited to get the clutter of my sewing stuff out of my tiny bedroom!  But putting new paint on walls in my basement has made me notice how dingy and banged up a lot of the paint is around the rest of the house.  I want some on the walls but for now I'm just spray painting a frame?  A recent visit with a friend inspired me to fix up a kids' art display.  Not sure if I'm going with color or sort of a mettalic finish.  I'll surprise you.  
Wait for it.


It feels really good to be doing something.  I think I've been in a creative and emotional funk for far too long.  I've put progress on the back burner and felt super stagnant because of not knowing what was ahead, instead of just moving forward with what I know and what I've got now. Living in the land of "whatifs" has made me a real bummer, so I'm making a conscious choice to focus on what's good and to really and truly give my worry to God for once.  (SNORT.  Probably famous last words, but I'm working on it). This week I did put in some applications around for part time work and am just trying to stay focused on my home and family and be positive.  Sometimes knowing our choice to have me stay home has put a financial strain on us really gets me down, but then I remember all the good things I get to do for my family because I have time, and all the little things that my kids and husband don't have to worry about because I have time, and then I find two perfect condition boys' North Face down winter coats at the thrift store for 6 and 7 dollars apiece and know I could only save that money because I had time.  So mostly I'm feeling blessed and just trying to enjoy it all a little more.  So what if my house isn't perfect?  How mad would I have been THEN when Ellie wrote on the couch (accidentally) with purple pen?  So what if my windows are smudgy, shouldn't kids get to make smiley faces in the condensation?  So what if there's a hole in my bathroom ceiling from the roof leaking and a plastic bag on the broken window in my breezeway?  (Well, the "so what" to those is actually that it's making my house cold and, um, my ROOF is leaking ... but you get the idea)

Hopefully I'll be back soon with some finished up stuff.  But if I'm not, so what? ;-)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

And So It Begins

Oh my, I have been absent haven't I?  In spite of my good intentions to post at least a couple times a week, I am still lacking in time management skills.  Clearly my inability to focus and get things done is not the fault of having three young children, but all my own.  Though, now that I think of it maybe they are still to blame.  After all, they gave me their doozy of a cold the first full week I had to myself.  And they continued to make dirty laundry and ask me for food, even when they KNEW I had no time for such nonsense.  Ah, I feel so much better.  Not my fault after all.  Bullet.  Officially. Dodged. 

Other than being sick as a D. O. G., I did have another tiny distraction.  Sewing for cash.  Presenting:  
nĂ¥ler


The name is Norwegian for "needles," useful tools and playthings for both my niece and me.  Here was my little stash to sell:  mini wallets, bookmarks, sandwich wrappers and a few drawstring backpacks.


Our humble booth and Nicole looking lovely behind it.


Overall, peddling our wares for the first time was a fun experience.  I am not sure if I felt more like Maria or Professor Emelius Brown with my suitcase full of goodies.  (Though I could have sung "I Have Confidence" or "Eglantine" and been equally as happy.)  I didn't make a ton of money and probably earned slave labor wages for myself in what I did make.  But college homecoming is probably not the place to really rake in the dough for crafty goods.  We have some fun thoughts about our future though.  Not sure where it will go, but I think we might just enjoy the journey.


Next up?  Halloween costumes!... but first I CLEAN MY HOUSE!!!

PS.  There were some "leftovers" from what we were selling.  I currently have no online store to post them in, but if anyone is interested in detailed pics or information on anything you saw in my suitcase, or you can check Nicole's little mittens and hand woven dish towels here, please contact me at birchswinging@gmail.com and we can work something out.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thank You and An Answer

First of all, can I just say "Happy Friday" to you?  This first full week of school here is sort of kicking our butts.  We've had a whole lot of bus drama in the form of a kooky bus driver who can't seem to get her route down and is late in the morning and late in the afternoon and seems to sort of make up her own route as she goes!  The neighborhood is buzzing with frustration and the kids are exhausted and transportation is supposedly "on it" but the improvement has been marginal.  And just so you don't think I'm one of those crazy parents who gets up in arms about every little thing (I know how I can give that impression ;-)... the LATE bus beat my kids home the other day.  The late bus folks.  It's ridonkulous.

Nextly, (yeah, yeah, I know it's not a word but it's fun, right?).  Nextly, thank you all SO MUCH for your compliments and advice and thoughts about the bags.  The deal right now is not Etsy... though that is a possibility at some point... but my niece attends my Alma Mater and we have reserved a booth to sell some things at homecoming in a couple of weeks.  I have started some things and am actually not even sure what I'll have time to whip up before then, but it helps me to sort my thoughts to hear from you guys, so thanks for the support!  A couple of you were curious about the bag's overall size and sturdiness.  This is one of the short straps I made for Calvin, but the bag is the same dimensions.  It fits my on-loan-from-work-that-no-longer-seems-to-have-work-for-me Mac.  It is an older 15 inch (I believe) version, still an inch thick and somewhat heavy and it fits.


I think this one is plenty sturdy with the denim.  They all have interfacing on the bottom "edge", but I kept them more floppy otherwise, depending on the heaviness of the outer material.   I would definitely not market it as a laptop bag, as it is not padded or secure in any way.  But if you are just throwing it over your shoulder on a quick jaunt to the coffee shop or library, and you are not a complete idiot about it, I should think it would work. :-)  and, if you have one of those tiny PC laptops or a Mac Air or something, I would think it would be fab.


There is also the possibility of MAKING them more sturdy and with more pockets and padding or interfacing or adjustable straps or, or, or.   I have scads of ideas about these bags and about other fun and interested things I could make.  But for homecoming, in the interest of time and up-front monetary investment, I need to keep it pretty simple.  I like the idea of these bags in the two different strap lengths that might appeal to both students and alumni, singles and parents/grandparents as gifts.  This is all sort of an experiment for Nicole and me just to see how it goes and what we can make and to have the adventure together:  to sink or swim in company.

But thanks, too, for all of my online company.  The few of you that have continued to hang out here, in spite of my lack of posting and probably uninspiring verbiage, really feel like friends.  So, happy weekend friends!  See you on the flip side...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Belated Bag, Why Hoarding Isn't ALL Bad and a Question

Some of you may recall that last Christmas I made my kids these bags.  You may recall it because the bags were so awesome. OR you may recall it because, even though it was almost a year ago, it was only a few posts back.  Whatevs.  They are important to this story only because my sister-in-law liked them and said she wanted one.  I made a comment of the your-birthday-is-coming-so-you-never-know sort and that was that.  And then March was her birthday.  And then I just saw her in August and only THEN did she receive her own bag.  Cuz that's how I roll, folks.  NO! WAIT!  That's how the OLD me rolled.  The new, 36-year-old-without-kids-all-day me is totally going to be on time.  Ahem. 

I digress.

A couple of YEARS ago...hmm... maybe even more than a couple... said sister-in-law had given me a REALLY COOL piece of hand made fabric art from Costa Rica, where she does mission work.  I loved it but never quite figured out what to do with it.  Somehow it never seemed appropriate for anything that I was crafting in my completely non tropical world.   But I kept it, as I keep a lot of things (yes, that was a confession) oh so carefully (**SNORT**) stuffed in a drawer somewhere with a bunch of crap potentially useful things.  When I finally got around to making the bag, I knew I had to use it and it became the inspiration for my beach loving and living, Laurie.  

Tada!  


Essentially it's the same bag I made the kids, but with a couple of added pockets and a longer strap.  This is what it looks like on a headless, 5'9" body who clearly needs a belt.


If you are petite, or have a head, your results may vary.

So, long story short:  Laurie got her birthday bag almost 6 months after her birthday.  I used something I hoarded, so I feel good even though sometimes it means I live in clutter.  And here is my question for any of you loyal friends and followers.  Seriously, all 5 of you.  What do you think you would pay for a simple little bag like this?  No bells and whistles, just cool fabrics, maybe some applique or decoration of sorts, maybe some simple pockets.  Made one at a time and one of a kind.  (Hey, that's kind of catchy...don't anybody steal that, k? :-)  (BTW, didn't take a picture of the inside, but it is fully lined with that brown dotty fabric).  I like the idea of getting a little feedback, so hook a gal up wouldja?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Schooldays Genesis

And there was fighting and there was crying the second day.
And Mom saw all the tired kids that the new schedule had created and said "Rats.  The honeymoon is already over."  

The End

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I May Not Have Cried, But I Will Charge My Phone

Well, here they all go... off to another year of school.  Everyone was ready for an hour before the bus was scheduled to come and, of course, it was late.  


And little miss sassy-pants here was clearly VERY distraught over her first day of Kindergarten.


My next door neighbor was teasing me after they got on, "MOM, you ought to be CRYING!!"  But I just did a happy little jig right up to my doorstep and I sat here and posted this to the hum of my ceiling fan and the tippity tappity of my keys.  AHHH... does life get any better?  Oh, it's half price day at the thrift store did you say?  Well, then, yes.  Yes it does.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It's My Birthday and I'll Post If I Want To


36.

This has been a bumpy year, and especially summer, for me.  I could care less about 36.  It actually seems like a lovely number, but there are other things going on that are leaving me less than satisfied.  As usual, my desire to make a perfect decision or to carry out a perfect plan has left me a little....hmmm.... lost?  All of my children start school tomorrow.  Did you catch that?  ALL of them.  And, while much of me is singing the Hallelujah Chorus, a growing part is struggling with "what do I want to be when I grow up" and "how do I make some money because we are broke" and "how do I get both of those things to work within a schedule that doesn't wear out our family and turn me into an evil, exhausted nightmare who resents both her work at home and her money-making work and every person around her that possibly needs something from her?"  You know what?  I do not have an answer to that yet.  As I have had for years, I have some ideas.  The wheels are turning for some things and need to be put in motion for others.  I am afraid, which I know is bad but is the truth.  And mostly I worry that I will make the wrong choices and fail myself and my family.

But there IS something about a birthday.  And something about a new school year.  It just seems like a fresh start for me.  I love the fall for it's beauty here in the NE and for it's cooler weather.  I love the start of a new routine and, this year especially, I love that I will have some time to myself to actually have a coherent thought that is not interrupted for potentially 7 straight hours!!!  I have already started rearranging furniture and slowly cleaning things out.  I have a plan for what to do with my days for now while I remain unemployed, and for taking more pictures, and posting more here.  I have a plan in the works with my niece to start a crafty business of sorts and I hope you will all buy stuff from me so I don't have to sell my first born in order to take care of the other two ;-)  But mostly, I have a plan to TRY something.  I am choosing, at 36 to move forward into the unknown with faith.  I know that I have not fully let go of my fear or my worry, but I am choosing to try to enjoy the journey in spite of them.

I can do this.  This 36 thing.


Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm 

                                     you, plans to give you hope and a future.


                                                       Isaiah 43:19

See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in       

                                  the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Monday, August 13, 2012

GRRRR

I was just 3/4 done with this post.  Tried to delete one picture and add one and somehow I ended up with the ENTIRE POST DELETED EXCEPT THIS PICTURE:

(photo by Calvin)


Due to my current annoyance with Blogger and/or myself and my already semi-wasted morning at this computer, I absolutely refuse to rewrite it.  Enjoy the pics of my adorable kids.  I am going to slam some laundry in the washing machine and grumble under my breath in the basement until I feel better.








 (photo by Tate)


Yup.  Feels like a Monday...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hot

Photo by my sister, taken at her lovely pool.



It's been hot, people.  I know you all know this as half of you probably live somewhere that is even hotter than here.  But hot is awfully hot when you don't have central air and you are fighting a crazy algae problem in your tiny Intex pool because, well, it's been so dang hot.  Thankfully your sister's pool is dreamy and 40 minutes away does not seem at all unreasonable on a 96 degree day, especially when you can sit in your air conditioned car for those 40 minutes.  This morning is the first time my house started out below 80 in over a week.  And, what am I doing in these cool moments when I can finally move and not feel I am breathing through a stuffed sack?  Drinking hot coffee and wasting time on the computer, of course!  No sense in getting used to it.  It will be back up over 90 by the weekend.  

I have not been creative.  I have not been taking pictures, or sewing much, or doing much of anything except washing a lot of soggy towels and dreaming up things for dinner that don't really require cooking but no one will try to tell me "that's not SUPPER!!!!"  So far, hot dogs and popcorn were my biggest hit.  Now if I can just convince Mike that ice cream IS an acceptable dinner, even when they have a baseball game ;-)

I broke down and bought my kids a Wii game at Big Lots yesterday, something I almost never do.  Actually, that sentence was two things I almost never do:  take my kids to a store and buy them nonsense without a special occasion to prompt it.  The thing is, it was cheap.  And, truthfully, it's eye candy for me.  If you have not seen the art from Kirby's Epic Yarn and you are a crafter of any sort you have to check it out.  I want to live in this game:  entire worlds appear made of fabric and felt and yarn and buttons and sequins.  Woods, fields of flowers, underwater caverns, robots and soldiers, butterflies and treasure chests.  I might even have to play this game... right after I wash a load of towels.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Not Gone But, Possibly, Forgotten :-)



Well, here I am again.  Has it really been since May?  It's been a busy time and, I suppose, that is mostly my reason.  Still, shortly after my last post, my Daddy had a stroke.  I think that was a hard word for me to type out.  It is a scary word and the sort of thing I don't share much of in this space.  And, I guess I don't need to share it at all.  But I couldn't write about it and I sort of couldn't write about anything else without saying it.  I won't go into all the details, but I will say that Dad is doing well and is well on his way to a full recovery.  We all felt very blessed that it wasn't any worse than it was.  He had no cognitive damage and really only lost coordination in one leg.  Even that has come back around and I thank God that I am able to say that.  

The rest of life was a whirlwind of the end of school, gearing up for VBS, and all the usual nonsense of life with three active kiddos.  

Ellerie graduated from preschool








I recovered my kitchen chairs

Cal made a boat for Floatilla at school.



We played baseball and played with friends.



 And took pictures of new brothers.



We (rather, I) survived VBS week and really enjoyed it.  



Now, I am finally unburying myself from the wreckage of these busy days.  Piles of laundry and dirty dishes are fading and even some of the clutter.  I am keeping busy to catch up, but also to avoid thinking TOO much about my oldest being away at camp for the first time.  AHEM.