Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Motherhood and More: Sewing toward spring*

I’ve been spending a lot of my free time sewing lately.  Or maybe I should say that I’ve been sewing all of the time and ignoring responsibilities in order to create my own free time. 
I become addicted to crafts seasonally, like clockwork.  Fall and winter are for knitting and spring and summer are for sewing. 
Now – I realize that it’s not yet spring.  Not even close.  There’s literally a foot of snow outside my door right now and my normal sewing space is drafty and freezing and has a great view of the cold through the frost-covered windows.  Not spring.
But I got an urge that I couldn’t tamp down.  So I gathered up a bunch of patterns and fabric that is stuffed in my over-flowing craft closet and set to cutting out clothes.  I cut and cut and cut, then I dragged my sewing machine and sewing box and all the thread I would need and camped myself at the dining room table and sewed everything  I could.
And I am not a neat sewer.  I’m not even sure if that is possible.  There are pins hidden in the carpet and scraps of fabric and thread everywhere throughout the house – helped along by children who like to ‘assist’ me in my sewing adventures.
I’ve sewn dresses for me and dresses for my daughter.  Pants for me, pants for both of my kids, and then more dresses.  I’ve hemmed pants for my husband and made plans for more shirts and skirts and pants and shorts and maybe more dresses.  Because  I need to do it.  Have to, even.  With each new thing I sew I feel that much closer to warmth and sunshine and humid days.  It’s like, spring is for sewing so it must be spring because I am sewing.
I don’t understand how my mind works, either.  I do the same thing in winter with knitting because apparently just by the sheer weight of all the new things crafted with my own two hands I can change the weather.
And it’s not that I really want time to move much faster – especially with children who grow at an alarming rate and who will be driving and voting and moving out of the house before I can say “stop that.”
But seasons always get me anxious.  There will be one day that is a sort of prologue to the coming changes – a cold and rainy September day or a mild and sunny day in February.  And it sets my mind on a new course.  For fall that means that everyone in my life will need all of the hand knits I can make.
And for spring, like now (almost), everyone in my life needs more shorts and tank tops and light pants.  And dresses.  Lots and lots of dresses.
So I will make them.  I will take breaks to feed people and perhaps do some coloring or puzzle working and maybe even actual work-working.  But then it’s back to sewing.
I’ve got people to clothe.
*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on February 25, 2015.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snowbound and down. And then up. And then down.

I've been feeling a bit blah lately.

I don't feel like I have anything to say or any desire to create something out of a few words and thoughts.  I think I've said it all.

I mean, I know.  When did I ever have anything super important to say?  A lot of it was drivel, and I was okay with that.  I need to be okay with it again because it was fun and entertaining and we all need a little fun and entertaining drivel in our lives.

I especially needed it last week during snowpocaplyse or snowmageddon or whatever we are calling the ridiculous amount of snow my area received last week.  Of course, it was probably pretty light by Maine standards, but for Kentucky it was enough to close everything down.

It meant that my work was closed and my children were home with me all day every day and we couldn't drive anywhere the cabin fever set in pretty early so every day was filled with disagreements and whining and fighting and would you two please just separate so I don't have to listen to this?

So I let them watch entirely too much television and play games on tablets and I hid behind my sewing machine in order to pretend that I was alone and not currently in the midst of random outbreaks of sibling war.

I sewed a lot.  Like a lot a lot.

I made Adele three dresses.  The first one was Anya from Green Bee patterns.  I did not enjoy sewing this dress.  The set-in sleeves had wonky corner seams and it was frustrating and all I wanted was something easy.  But I think that had more to do with the person sewing the dress than any actual problems with the pattern.  Adele loves the dress, which she calls her 'cheetah dress' and I love the skull and crossbones buttons.

The second dress I sewed for Adele (McCall's 6728) is out of material from an old dress that Chris' grandmother gave me.  The material is fantastic and I thought it would be nice for Adele to have something from Uri (great-grandma in German).  Plus she loves that it's twirly:

No really.  She LOVES it:

I bribed her with candy to get her to stand still for this photo:

The pattern for the third one is Butterick 5019.  She doesn't like it all that much so I don't have a photo but one day I will either bribe her again or force her to put it on.  For now you can look at this picture and imagine that it's Adele wearing the dress.  Her's also has pink flowers on it.

If you sort of squint you can see me sewing the dress in this lovely photo that Adele took when she stole my phone as I was otherwise occupied.  That green thing on the table is a bottle of beer that is making me sad to look at because I gave up alcohol for lent.

I made myself two dresses.  This white one that I plan on dying red as soon as the dye I ordered gets to my house.  I'll share more about that later.  The pattern is Tiramisu from Cake patterns.

The second dress was another version of the Trapeze Sundress from Weekend Sewing that I cut out right after I completed that one and never sewed together.  It's been living in pieces in my closet since then.  This one is a sort of minty-teal.  Once it warms up enough for me to be able to wear the dress without catching frostbite I'll photograph it.  For now you can see the fabric underneath this jar of homemade face cream my sister whipped together.  If you're interested, she has an Etsy shop called Dixie Daisy Naturals and I highly, highly recommend this stuff.

And lest you think I forgot about the boys in the family, I'll put your minds at ease to tell you that I hemmed my husband's pants for him.  The same pants I have been promising to hem for months.

Sebastian got a whole new pair of pants - knit pants from Oliver and S patterns.  These were super easy and sewed right up out of a thin, light gray jersey material.  He loves them and I'm guessing I'll be making more of them.

I attempted to make a pair for Adele out of khaki because she's outgrown all of her school uniform pants, but unfortunately I didn't take into account that khaki isn't nearly as stretchy as jersey and so the pants have no give and are too small and it makes me sad because they are actually really nice pants.  That she won't wear.

I also made myself a pair of warm pajama pants, but the material was a weird polyester that I thought would be warm but in actuality was ridiculously hot and I can't bear to wear them.  Plus they're too big and fall down, even with a drawstring because the material stretches.  Those will probably be scrapped.

I sewed myself a bag using this tutorial from See Kate Sew:

It's huge!  I love it.  I've been using it as a purse because I like it and want to be near it but I think it would actually work more as a tote bag.

In addition to sewing I also finished knitting a sweater for Sebastian and worked more on a sweater I started last year for Chris.

(Apparently Chris gets pushed aside sometimes.  Woops!)

And I made homemade poptarts from smitten kitchen that were so, so good and homemade blueberry pancakes that tasted horribly and dinner every night and muffins and homemade paleo granola that I can't stop eating with milk and chocolate chips and I occasionally cleaned the house and we put chocolate in our oatmeal because we needed it.  And Adele learned how to write her name, which was super exciting for us all.  Also there was pantsless drawing.

I was so ready to go back to work.

I wasn't at all ready to go back to work.

I'm a better mother when I go to work.

I'm a better mother when I'm at home with the kids.

Such is life, right?

Monday, February 2, 2015

The real question here is how is she already old enough for kindergarten?

I don't think it's any secret that I worry more about Adele than I probably should.

She's stubborn and mule-headed and sweet and caring and wild and completely ignores me when I ask her to do something as annoying as 'STOP STANDING ON THE TABLE.'

I stress and stress and then stress some more.  And I've just added more to my list of things that worry me because now we are discussing kindergarten.

Her birthday is in a weird place - September - and the rules are changing soon for kindergarten eligibility.  Namely, in 2016 kids will have to be 5 before August 1 in order to be able to start school. It was a little up in the air as to when exactly that was changing because I've gotten conflicting information but I just called the school and got the 100 percent, here-is-how-it-works facts so yes, Adele will be going to kindergarten next year.

Holy shit.  Holyshitholyshitholyshit.  Holy shit.

I mean, we do have the option to keep her out next year if we don't think she's ready, but I really do. I haven't always, I admit it.  I've been so worried about how she is and how she learns and where she is on a scale of ready or not but she's grown and learned so much in the past few months at her preschool that I know she'll be ready for Real Live School.

Plus she's much better behaved at school than she is at home.  I haven't gotten any notes about her spitting in her teachers' faces so I think that's a good sign.

Of course, I've made everything about the school situation even more difficult because now we are deciding where exactly she should go.

A little background - Sebastian went to two years of preschool our local catholic preschool/elementary school/middle school.  It's an amazing school.  Like capital 'A' Amazing.  The teachers are great and the other students are great and even Sebastian's public school kindergarten teacher said that kids coming out of this preschool generally 'know their stuff' when they start kindergarten.  We didn't keep him in the catholic school when he started kindergarten because, well, it's expensive and I wasn't working at the time.

Adele is going to the same preschool this year and now I kind of want to keep her there for school-school.  And move Sebastian from his public school to the private one next school year.

We've had really good luck with public school - both of Sebastian's teachers for kindergarten and first grade have been amazing.  But this other school - it just gives me a really good feeling, you know?  It's my pick.  I want to give my kids the best that I can and I think this school is the best.  And I don't worry about Sebastian switching schools.  He may be shy a bit at first but he's an adaptable boy and incredibly social and he genuinely likes people.

The only issue is money.  As it usually is.  The school isn't cheap and we'd have two kids to cover.

We are mulling it over.  We are discussing.  We are budgeting.  We are strategizing.

(This is going to sound super selfish but in addition to the money aspect I'll also have to pick them up every day from school instead of relying on public transportation and IT'S ALL THE WAY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN!  So I'm taking that into consideration.)