Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Motherhood & More: Kids defy gender roles*

I try to live my life avoiding gender stereotypes as much as possible. Obviously that’s not something that can be completely done away with, but I do try to teach my kids it’s OK to be who they are, it’s OK to go against the grain of what society feels is normal.

If my son wants to play with dolls, then I’m all for it. If he wants to watch “girl” cartoons, then by all means, blast that “My Little Pony” show.

For my daughter’s second birthday, my mother bought her a princess dress-up outfit. My son, who loves dressing up in costumes, wanted to wear it. Absolutely, kid. Have at it.

I had zero problem with it. And if he wanted to wear a dress when he’s older, then fine, as long as he’s being true to himself. To me, that’s the most important thing.

Of course, now, no matter how hard I’ve tried to instill gender neutrality, he insists anything princess is for girls, especially Cinderella. Also Barbie dolls. Those definitely are girly, according to him, though he did become interested in some of my old ones when I pulled them out.

Now my daughter, of course, has defied all gender stereotypes. I know she’s just 2 and a half, but it’s hard not to compare her to her brother or to myself as a child.

Her greatest joys are basketball and soccer and running and animals. She’s so incredibly athletic and wild-spirited and full of action that I can’t keep up. She’s so different from me, from how I remember playing.

I was involved in sports and enjoyed them, but as a young child I remember mainly being interested in dolls. Dolls galore. Dolls I could mother and hug and feed and pretend-nurse. Dolls I could dress and change and put down for a nap.

But while encouraging my daughter in whatever she seems to be interested in, other than aggravating her brother, I also felt like maybe, as she grew older, we wouldn’t have as much in common as I’d hoped. And I don’t think I ever voiced that to myself until I saw her pick up a Cabbage Patch doll and try to change its diaper.

All of the sudden, I felt like, “Yes, this I understand.” This was something I could play with her that I had experience with. My son is completely entranced with Legos and Star Wars and all things I didn’t partake in as a kid, so I’m learning as I go. But playing with baby dolls? Well, let me show you how to feed that baby. Let me show you how to change her diaper. Let me show you how to sing her a lullaby.

Sometimes I hear my daughter on her monitor reading the baby a story. And the baby has to have its own blanket. And she’ll tuck it in and say “snug as a bug in a rug,” just like I do. And then I fall over from the cuteness.

I am restraining myself from buying her a special doll with diapers and a stroller and a bottle because I don’t have a reason to at this point. Her birthday isn’t until September and there isn’t a holiday coming up. But that doesn’t stop me from browsing through all the listings online, researching which would be the perfect one for her.

Most important in my search, of course, is that the baby doll have the ability to withstand a basketball to the face or a dinosaur attack. Because with Adele, that’s just common sense.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on June 26, 2013. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Let's catch up, shall we?

I seem to be neglecting this space.  And it's not like I don't have things to say.  I always have things to say.  And I've got lots I've wanted to share with you.  But this summer has been pretty full of Doing Things, which is marvelous, but doesn't leave much time for blogging.

I've been wanting to share lots of things with you, like how Adele has napped by herself, without me rocking her, for the past couple of weeks, which now that I've written it down will be the end of that, of course.

Or like how we've gone again to Huber's Orchard, and had a good time despite the exhausted kids who stayed up late backyard camping with their dad.

Or how we have been spending at least two nights a week swimming and we're all brown and waterlogged but are having a blast and how I decided to say screw it, I want a tan stomach so I'm wearing a bikini no matter what people think of how I look in it.

Or the fact that my diet is about 75 percent Paleo now, in the hopes of feeling better and having more energy.  I don't worry about the diet when I eat at someone else's house because at this point it's too much trouble.

But I think it's working out well.  After the first initial days of feeling like crap as I dealt with carb and sugar withdrawal, I'm doing well.  But I woke up last night for a couple of hours and am feeling it today.  But it's not as bad as usual when I don't sleep.  I'm grouchy and short tempered, but I do seem to be handling it with a bit more grace than usual.  The only real, noticable effect is my need to bake.  It's what happens to me when I'm exhausted.  Baking as therapy, you know?  So I've made a Paleo breakfast bake with eggs and cinnamon and almond flour and honey that the kids loved; and a loaf of Paleo Bread that my kids weren't all that fond of.  But I ate it and it was delicious.  Weirdos.

This new way of eating has required a lot of research, which I happily do, and it's also required a lot of from-scratch cooking, which I do anyway.  But I'm at the point where I can't stop looking up new recipes, or buying new cookbooks.  It's fascinating to me.

Let's see.  What else?

I got a sunburn on my back.  It hurts and itches at the same time.

Our garden is growing really well in spite of the fact that we bought a pack of cucumbers that turned out to be squash and if you know anything about squash plants, you know that they take over everything and are huge and don't leave room for much else.  But we've still gotten blueberries and tomatoes and cucumbers and squash (obviously) and radishes and any type of herb you can think of; and we've got some onions and green peppers growing.

It's a fantastic sight.

I think that's all for now.  I'm going to try to rest while Adele is napping and Sebastian is distracted with the 1966 version of Batman.

(Don't make fun of me for being a part of the Paleo Lifestyle.  And I promise not to say anything else like 'the Paleo Lifestyle.')

Friday, June 14, 2013

Homemade Friday: More sewing from Weekend Sewing

 Today was rough.  Like ROUGH rough. 

Sebastian has been going to Bible School all week, which I'm a little unsure about anyway, mostly because he comes home grumpy and doesn't seem like he's actually having fun.  But whatever.  We signed up.  So he went.

Today was the last day and they wanted the parents to go to a mass in the gym of the church school.  I had hoped that my mom would be off work so she could watch Adele, but no such luck.  And Chris couldn't get off work to go with me, so I was left on my own to wrangle (or wrestle, if we're being more specific) Adele.

The highlight was when the priest stopped mass to mention the fact that my phone had gone flying.  Into another kid's head.

So.  Good times, is what I'm saying.

And then I was set free and able to take my little hellion back home, where she continued her reign of terror.  And then I had to go back for a ridiculously long end-of-the-week 'program' where the kids sung songs and there was a 15-minute long slideshow and where my daughter tried to kick the old woman sitting in front of me and threw a piece of gum on the floor and IT WOULDN'T END.

And then it finally did.

And then we went home and she went to sleep, but her brother woke her up and she started screaming.  I rocked her, then put her back in bed.

And she screamed again.  So I rocked her again.  It didn't work.

So this is going to be quite short on the description.

Adele's dress is the Flower Girl Dress from Weekend Sewing.  It was easy (No Zippers!) and would have been even easier if I had measured her before sewing and realized that the bodice was entirely too small, so small that I couldn't even put it on her.  I was finished, all but the straps and hem, but I had to take it all apart and make the bodice seams smaller so that I could at least put it on her.

It's probably only going to fit for about three weeks.  Luckily I've already cut out another one:

But it's so adorable and the fabric is so sweet that I don't care.  It's actually a toss up between the bicycle and rainbow fabric for the one that is the most full of awesome.  The rainbow fabric I bought from Hancocks years ago, either before Adele was born or when she was little bitty.  I got the red fabric from ... well, I don't actually remember.  But I googled 'red bicycle fabric' and found it that way, if you are so inclined.  I do know that I paid more for it than I usually do.  I'm a clearance bin kind of girl.  But I couldn't resist it.

And speaking of clearance bin fabric:

This dress is also from Weekend Sewing, the Trapeze Sundress.  This one was also super easy and quick.  The dress is the perfect summer dress.  It's light, has large straps to cover the bra, and, most importantly, it has pockets.  But I also think I can get a lot of use out of it in fall and winter with leggings and a sweater or long-sleeve shirt.

I don't remember where I got this fabric from, but I do know it was cheap.  Here's a close up because I accidentally took a photo when I was trying to work the self-timer:

I think I should have made a smaller size because it bunches in the middle of the top.  But I'm horrible at measuring so this is what I got.  But I see many, many more of these in my future, so I can tweak it as needed.

Seriously - if you like to sew - buy Weekend Sewing.  I've already started on the Everything Tote. 

And the Smocked Sundress.  And the Kimono Dress.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Homemade Friday: Summer is for Sewing

I've been sewing feverishly.  And not feverishly as in I have a fever while I'm doing it, although why I do not when my husband has been deliriously ill for almost a week is a mystery.  Seriously.  He's weak and hollow-eyed and losing weight.  He's been so sick that he actually went to the doctor, which is remarkable in itself.  They said it was just an infection and gave him an antibiotic.  He's sleeping now.

He was home sick on Monday, then took Thursday and Friday off for us to do family things together, but that didn't work out so well. 

However, I still found time to sew.  Mainly because I put in headphones and listen to a book and ignore everyone. 

It's working for me.

In the past two weeks I've made a dress for me, a skirt for me that I have to redo because it's too big, a skirt for Adele, a dress for Adele, a pair of bloomers for Adele, and a pair of shorts for Sebastian that he has yet to actually choose to wear but I have high hopes that if I just put them in his drawer one day he'll become smitten.

I love the instant gratification of sewing.  Knitting is a lesson in patience.  I can pick out the pattern and yarn and if I'm lucky and work super fast and have thick yarn and needles, I'll be done in a week.  With sewing, I can do it all in a day provided my children don't act too needy.

I'm still not proficient, and I choose projects that don't need buttons or zippers because buttons scare me and the one time I sewed in a zipper it looked ridiculous. 

Elastic waists are my friend, is what I'm saying.  And not just because of my lingering, childbirth-caused lower-belly-pudge.

The little skirt I made for Adele was crazy easy.  I found the pattern at Wal-Mart for $1.  Simplicity has a pattern line called Sew Simple that has one pattern included for around 97 cents.  The first time I saw them I made the cashier double check because I couldn't believe that the price was so cheap.  Patterns are normally expensive.  Hell, fabric is normally expensive.  It makes it hard because I want to sew to save money, you know?  I don't want to have to buy loads and loads of clothes for my kids when I know I could sew them myself. 

The fabric I chose was left over from a skirt I made for myself years ago, one that I can still zip (I made my mom sew in the zipper!), but that, if I want to wear it, it has to be almost all the way up to my bubs.  So I don't wear it.

But the material was adorable for her.  It's girly and simple and flowery.  The skirt sewed up in no time.  You cut it out, sew up both sides, sew a waist seam, insert elastic, then hem it.  And she looks so cute in it!  Chris loved it and requested I make more. 

I've already cut out another one. 

I attempted to take photos of it, however Adele would like for you to notice her monkey.  Because it's in need of attention.

And here she is running away:

And here's a picture of the print up close:

The next thing I want to show you is something I started years ago.   As in almost two years ago.  As in look at this post and see how little both of my babies were and tear up a little just like I did because SUNRISE SUNSET I WANT MY BABIES TO BE BABIES AGAIN JUST FOR A LITTLE BIT.

As you can see, this is still not the best-fitting garment for Adele.  It's incredibly broad, even though I crossed the straps in the back, which only made a gaping whole and weird pucker.

But look!  Bloomers!

Those fit fine.  I sewed them today when I was supposed to be starting shorts for Sebastian but then I saw these bloomers cut out and shoved in Weekend Sewing, which is where the pattern is from - and I figured that maybe two years is long enough to keep them waiting.  Luckily I'd cut out the 18-24 month size instead of the 6-12 size so they still fit.  Because she is tiny.  Tall, but tiny.

You can find the pattern free on Martha Stewart, apparently.  But I recommend buying the book.  I've also sewn the Huck Finn Pants - which I wrote about here.  And I'm almost finished with the dress I said I wanted to make in that post, the Flower Girl Dress, which is freaking adorable even after I had to take the entire thing apart because I'd made it too small.  So.  The book is worth it.

And now I'm on to more sewing.  This time the shorts.  Sebastian needs more shorts.  I'll show you later.

Also, Adele, if you would stop growing so fast that would be awesome.