Saturday, September 25, 2010

Traffic Light and Apple Tree

This is my Grandma's sewing machine.

It's one of those fold out ones so when its all put away it just looks like the stack of drawers.

I'm lazy and plan to leave it folded out for the next little while, so you don't get a picture of it that way. Unless my girls (okay, just one girl) get into it.

Anyway, I inherited it in 2002.

I have moved it 4 times.

I have never used it.

Until today.

That's right people, after about 17 years, I have actually touched a sewing machine! And sewed something. All by myself. For real this time.

My mom used the machine when she was here in July when Kaitlyn was born. She put it all away nicely. Including the bobbin. Here's a confession. When I was learning to sew I could never remember which direction to put the bobbin in. I always got it backwards. So I learned to just look at the one that was in there previously. But this time it was empty. I'm proud to say I got it on the first try!

Filling the bobbin, not so much. Apparently you need tension or something. Or you end up with this.

It's not pretty. It was not tight. It was not usable.

So I called Mom in a panic (only a few hours of nap time for my girls and I got them to sleep at the same time for probably only the 3rd time in Kaitlyn's life!).

She wasn't home. In fact, she's 2 provinces away (later when my Dad called I made sure to find out when she's coming back so I don't go attempting zippers without her close by).

Well on the second attempt I got it to work and I officially put together 2 pages of my quiet book.

After I re-pinned them.

Apparently there is a certain direction the pins need to go. I forgot that.

Or I'm left-handed and just do everything backwards.

I started with the traffic light because it uses black thread and I figured it could hide any of my mistakes. But if you check out the back you can see I did a pretty bang up job. I know this is the simplest stitch, on the simplest of fabrics to work with, but work with me here.

The apple tree was a little harder because it's curved, but I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

I'm debating if I should add a little turtle embellishment. Thoughts??

So there you go folks, it has begun. And now that I'm not totally scared of the machine, I might start progressing a little faster on this book. I have a LOT of pages left to do. For the record, I HAVE been working on it, I've just been cutting and doing all the hand-stitched pieces. I'm not totally lazy!

And the bobbin will be staying in.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Things that Make Me Happy - September

The crunch of leaves
Kids who sleep in later because the sun is no longer waking them up at ridiculous hours
Fresh laundry. I love that smell!
Seeing my big sister (Move back Jen!!)
Baby socks
Having two cars, meaning I get one all the time
Figuring out computer things all by myself
Husbands who finish start projects that are long overdue (we'll work on the finishing part later)
Creating stuff
Baby smiles
Preschooler giggles
Fall comfort foods

What makes you happy this month?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Murphy and Motherhood

I've only been a mom for just over 2 years, but I've already discovered how Murphy and his laws like to mess with Moms. Here are a few I've personally encountered, with a few from my mom-friends. I'm sure you have experienced some of your own. Let's hear them in the comments!

(I know Mady's dress and jacket severely clash in this photo - so much so, it hurts my eyes - but she insisted. It wasn't worth the fight. I love her facial expression. This girl and her playgrounds...)

How Murphy Messes With Moms

1.Though your preschooler has been sleeping through the night for 1.5 years, the night your baby sleeps more than 4 hours in a row will be the night your preschooler wakes EVERY HOUR!

2.The one time you go out without the diaper bag (either because you forgot it, or because “you'll be real quick, surely you won't need it”) is the one time that your child not only fills the diaper, but over-fills the diaper. Up to her ears.

3.The only other time she will fill her diaper up to her ears is when you're ready to go out the door. This will always happen when she is already strapped into the car seat.

4.It doesn't matter if you waited those extra 5 minutes to be sure you get it all. The moment you change the baby is the moment they will poop. Again. Always.

5.Your kids will be fantastic angels all day, not making a peep. Until the phone rings.

6.Your kids may be wonderful at going down for naps, but the day you have a lot to get done and really need them to sleep is when they will fight it. Maybe Probably taking a nap strike altogether.

7.Your child will wake you up at 6:00am every morning. Except for the morning you forgot to set an alarm and have to be out of the house by 7:30am. You'll discover this at 7:35am.

8.The night before family/school pictures is the night your child will fall. They will scrape their face. Never their knees.
9.Kids always fall asleep 5 minutes before you get there. Unless you want them to.

10.Your child will eat anything put in front of them. Unless other people (usually ones you need to impress) are around. Then they will fight everything. Even all their favourite foods.

11.Your child will be helpful and answer the door for you, only on the day you're not yet dressed and the package needs to be signed for.

12.The line in the grocery store and how fast it moves are always directly proportional to how close it is to nap-time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kaitlyn's 2 month photos

I almost forgot to post this. Yesterday was Kaitlyn's 2 month “birthday.” Hard to believe she's this big already! Look at how much she's grown in one month!

Some people are still calling her “little” (with those cheeks I don't know how that's possible!). I think she's huge. To put it in perspective Mady wore this outfit when she was 6 months old:

My kids have the same face with different hair...

She has a bit of flirt in her!

Ps – I know she has red-eye and looks like a demon-child because of it, but really, she's the sweetest little thing and just has a lazy mom who doesn't want to edit all the pictures.

The Best Parenting Advice I ever Got

(My sister-in-law took this picture. She gets the best photos of my kids!)

It seems that once you announce to the world that you're expecting everyone and their pet dog has advice for you. Within the first three months of being pregnant I perfected the “smile and nod” technique. And most people didn't know I was pregnant prior to 11 weeks, so you do the math...

But as much as I met people who told me they knew lots about kids because their sister, who lives 4 hours away, has a couple of kids that they see sometimes (true story!), I also have some really smart parents in my life. Both my own biological and in-law parents as well as tons of friends who are a little farther down the parenting road than me.

The really smart ones I take the time to ask for their advice or watch what works with their kids. I've learned to make friends with people who raised kids that turned out how I want mine to turn out. Hopefully I'll glean some tricks from them.

And I have learned some wonderful little tricks along the way for dealing with my headstrong, stubborn (and equally sweet!) two-year old. I've also learned some tried and true advice. So here are the top pieces of parenting advice I've received. If you're a new/expectant parent, I hope they are gems for you as much as they were for me. If you are a parent and you have an equally valuable nugget of gold that has gotten you through so much, I'd love to hear it. This doesn't need to be a complete list!

1.Don't take breastfeeding advice from someone who has never breastfed.

-I know this isn't really parenting advice, but it's advice I got as a new parent. And let me tell you, it is SO true (I was really tempted to put on about a zillion extra O's on that “so.” Imagine saying it that way, okay?). Inevitably you will meet some really nice nurse who will try to help you. And she'll even sound like she knows what she's talking about. But really, if a person is going to claim professional status in anything else, we expect them to have at least done it once. The same should be true about breastfeeding. So ask how many kids she nursed and for how long (if it was only 2 days, ask for someone else!).

(A little note to those who work in this area. If you have never breastfed, please do all mothers a favour and keep your mouth shut. I know that sounds harsh, but really, you don't know any more than the mom (trust me, if she's planning on breastfeeding, she has read all the books). It's then the blind leading the blind. Except she doesn't know you're blind. It doesn't matter if your sister, best friend or wife nursed, if you didn't, you have no business trying to help someone else do it. I have SO (again, add those extra O's) many friends who have been led astray by a well-meaning, misinformed nurse. Its not fair to her or her baby. Go get your coworker who actually nursed a child. You'll do the moms under your care a huge favour.)

2.Parent from your feet not from your seat.

-Sigh. This one is hard, especially when you're tired (and even harder now that I have two kids and the older one has figured out the times – like when I'm nursing the baby – that I can't really parent from my feet), but MAN it works. My kid responds so much better when I get UP to parent her instead of yelling (or even talking nicely) from the couch. So even when I don't want to, I try to remind myself that there will be a shorter battle if I'm standing and intervening rather than yelling/coaxing/begging plunked in my favourite chair.

3.Every time you ask your child twice (or more!) you undermine your own authority

-Ugg. Again, so true. Hard to live by, but once the habit is formed its so much easier. We work a lot on first time obedience at my house. And when I say “we” I mean me too because I have to remember to not ask a second (or third) time if I expect her to respect me and what I'm asking.

4.Get over Mom-guilt. It robs you of the joys of today

-Everyone makes mistakes. There are always better ways you could have handled the situation. Acknowledge that, apologize (to your kid, yourself, your spouse, whomever) and move on. Don't dwell on it. Wallowing in the guilt does not make you a better mom. And all of the worry and guilt does nothing to help you today.

5.Allow your kids freedom and independence.

-You are raising your kids to be contributing members of society (hopefully that's one of your goals!), so teach them how to contribute and then let them do it. You WANT them to be independent. If you teach them to always need you, what will they do when you're gone?

6.Pray, pray, pray.

-Sometimes that's all you can do.

Okay, let's hear yours!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lessons on a Choir Riser

I grew up with music all around me. I took piano lessons from the time I was 5, sang duets at church with my sister in elementary school and was involved in my church singing and leading worship from about the age of 11.

I didn't experience my first choir until I was in college. As a music major it was one of my required courses. And it was my favourite. I'll admit, the first couple of weeks were stressful. We had a rehearsal camp where we were given music and just started singing. No plunking out parts or anything. I was not used to that!

In just a couple of weeks we had our first concert and we had to have probably close to 20 songs memorized, all the while starting all our other classes. Worse I had been home schooled and had never experienced balancing course loads (ha ha!). I thought I was going to die.

But then I fell in love.

Something magical happens on choir risers for me. There is a whole other side of me that comes out, that can't be expressed any other way. Words to songs take on meaning they never have before. They become deeply rooted in my heart. I feel it is a place I can freely and truly worship without hindrance. I don't know if it is because of the mixtures of harmonies around me or what it is, but if I'm given the chance to sing with a choir, I'll take that over anything.

It is also the place I have been most broken. God has shown me so many things standing on those risers. Things I need to work on. Things I need to pursue. Things I need to be humbled about. Things I need to let go. Things about Himself.

I have had every emotion on those steps from elated joy to seething anger, to painful hurt to deep sadness and everything in between. But it is one of my favourite places to let those emotions out. It is a safe place for me. Which is funny because it is so exposed.

I haven't sung in a choir in over two years. I had a fantastic opportunity to lead a kids choir and (hopefully) give them a similar experience in those two years. I loved doing it, but really missed singing. On Tuesday I joined a choir again. It felt like I was home. I didn't realize just how much I missed it! I'm so excited about this year.

What is the “choir riser” experience in your life? That one thing that fills your soul more than anything else?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The "Ing's" of my life

Making: Cookies and squares to restock my freezer.
Cooking: Chicken Pot Pie. It's a must when it is fall. Brings comfort to the soul.
Drinking: Tea! Hot Tea. Not iced like I have for the past few months. I love curling up with a mug of tea in the evening before bed. Ahhhh!
Reading: Emma by Jane Austin. I started it last Christmas and still haven't finished it! The Littles don't make reading time easy and I can't read at night without falling asleep.
Wanting: A Sillouette machine so I can get all crafty. They need Mac software first and I need to save my pennies.
Looking: At the leaves outside changing colour. I really do love fall!
Playing: Choir practice songs. Lots of music to learn. Never enough time. It is always on in the background to help me learn the words.
Wasting: Time. Always wasting time. Unless I have lots to do and then I wish I could borrow from those days when I was lazy.
Sewing: A quiet book for Mady for Christmas. Still haven't pulled out the machine. For some reason it scares me.
Wishing: My sister still lived in the same city as me so we could hang out more.
Enjoying: The regularity of a schedule again. I thrive on routine.
Waiting: Rather impatiently for Christmas.
Liking: Sitting and playing piano. Not as much time to do that anymore.
Wondering: Haha! A lot of things. Have you heard my ability to ask questions? I'll do a post of questions that go through my head.
Hoping: I can create a life of fun memories and traditions for my girls.
Marvelling: At how fast a 2 year old can rip apart a perfectly clean house. Amazing.
Needing: A full night of sleep. Once Kate is over her cold we are diving into sleep training so that this can happen.
Smelling: Mady's foam soap. It's purple and claims to be a berry scent. I love it and sometimes will use it instead of the “grown up” soap right beside it.
Remembering: Not much! When does the Pregnancy “Mom-brain” end? Seriously.
Wearing: Those yucky in between maternity and pre-baby clothes.
Following: Way too many blogs! Google reader is truly addicting.
Noticing: The rolls of fat on Kaitlyn. So much fat! I'm not used to such big babies.
Knowing: This stage of life is going to pass way too quickly. I should really take more pictures.
Thinking: I need a haircut and soon!
Bookmarking: Ideas for a tea party. Some day I want to do one for my girls, but I think I want to do one for my friends before that because, why not?
Opening: My bags of fun coloured sprinkles from Bulk Barn. Why can't I have a Bulk Barn in Calgary???
Giggling: At my two year old's facial expressions that are a little too similar to mine. Especially the sassy one. Just need to remember to not giggle in front of her!
Feeling: Like I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Paranoid Much?

Over the last couple of weeks I have had several conversations with other parents about their parenting styles and the freedoms they are willing to give their kids and how they feel about entrusting their kids to other people. I am learning just how wide spread the fear of "the predator" is. I've always known that there are parents who are paralyzed by the thought that someone will kidnap or otherwise harm their child, but I didn't realize how many parents that I rub shoulders with have this deep-seeded fear. I blame media for hyping up the truly rare cases and making this seem like a likely, every day occurrence. Many parents of children quite well old enough to walk to the park alone have told me there is no way they would let them because "something might happen." I have had no less than 5 conversations in the past two weeks about this! The funny thing is, these kids are more likely to be hurt in their parent's car than walking to the play ground. And as an adult in my community, I know that if I saw a child in need of help, who was hurting another child, causing mischief or anything else that would need an adult to intervene, I would do so in the absence of parents. I also know that my neighbourhood is filled with similar people who would do the same that there are few (if any, really!) people who would not help or worse would hurt a child.

I don't worry about much. Nor do I dwell on a lot of "what ifs." I have better things to do with my time. Maybe I'm naive, but I tend to think that we as a society err on the side of over-paranoid and look at our own childhoods through rose-coloured glasses.

I have a very vivid memory. I can remember being as young as 1. I remember the Christmas when I was 18 months old and the thoughts that went through my head as I opened my presents. I remember the freedom of my childhood. We were not allowed to watch TV during the day (though truth be told, since I had an older brother 6 years older than me who was often left in charge, we managed to sneak it in on regular occasions!) so my mom often sent us outside to play. We roamed the neighbourhood both on foot and bike. In the summer we would play until supper time (my parents literally calling us from the back door) and in the winter when the sun went down earlier we could play outside until the street light in our yard came on. I remember one day wanting to try to get lost so that I could try to find my way back home. I thought it would be a fun game. I couldn't get lost. I knew all the streets and alleys in a 2 mile radius of my house too well. We walked to the corner store to stock up on candy or to the playground to play, to the skating rink or big toboggan hill in the winter. I had a newspaper route that I delivered by myself at 5:30 in the morning every day when I was 7 years old. I even went and collected payment from my customers by myself (so many people I know would be horrified at the thought of a 7 year old walking around with a fannypack - it was the early 90s - of money. Alone.)
Its pretty safe to say that my parents weren't too concerned about what *might* happen to us. They taught us how to be safe. We knew not to go with anyone whom they had not previously told us to go with. We all knew our address, phone number and parents' names. We knew that if we were in trouble and needed to ask for help, the safest person to look for was a Grandma or Mother with children (we had a tape called "The Safety Kids" that taught us all of this in song!). We knew all our neighbours. I never felt fear walking through my neighbourhood, even at 10 at night or later.

Some would say that it was a different world back then. That it was safer. Funny, with that vivid memory comes the memories of crimes committed in or near my neighbourhood. My neighbour 4 houses down had his house broken into and was attacked by the thieves with a hammer. There were many gang related shootings that happened not too far from my house (in those streets I rode my bike trying to get lost). There was a little girl abducted from her back yard in the city I lived in that was just a couple of years younger than me. She was murdered and they never found her killer. There was a mom in a neighbourhood close by that was murdered in her home. Sound safer than today? And we didn't even live in the worst part of town or anything!

I'm not one to watch the news (I find it painfully depressing), but big news stories I tend to hear (my husband works in television so he hears the news stories come through the wires all day and if its big he'll usually mention it to me). I haven't heard much that would suggest that today is less safe than when I was growing up.

So then I wonder why there are so many parents who are so concerned about the safety of their children to the point that they won't give them the freedom to grow up and learn on their own. I learned so much roaming my neighbourhood. I want the same for my kids. I will let them play outside without me watching their every move. Even at 2 I let my daughter have freedom and as she shows she can follow the rules we give her more freedom. I have full intentions of letting her play in the yard alone this winter. Why not? Its fenced in and she can't get out. And she loves to be outside, even in the cold. And I hate it. So I'll sit on the couch by the walk-out drinking tea and if she needs me she can knock on the window.

I've witnessed another form of parenting that I think is slightly linked to the above. Parents who fear their children getting hurt from normal childhood things such as falling down and scraping their knees. I've heard parents stop their children from running (!) because they might fall, or parents who won't let their child climb to the top of the slide by themselves. Kids who are not given the freedom to find their own limits will never trust themselves and worse will not know their limits and are more likely to go past them thinking that someone will always be there to catch them. This will cause them more pain than whatever their parent originally feared when they wouldn't allow them to try. Kids need to be given the freedom to get some bumps and scrapes along the way. This is what shapes them and makes them who they are. It teaches them about life. Life happens in those little bruises and heartbreaks that kids face. It's also what gives them the satisfaction of knowing they can do it "all by themselves." Kids need that self confidence, because even if Mom and Dad don't want to admit it, they will not always be able to be there for their kids (everyone dies at some point!). What will their child do if they can't function without a parent?

A wonderful blog I read is called Free-Range Kids. Lenore does a fantastic job of advocating children's rights to be kids! Check it out and let me know what you think.

What do you think? Do you let your kids have tons of freedom (age appropriate of course!), or do you reign them in out of fear?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Facing my fears

I'm officially facing my fears:

Of flannel-graph?

Of Apple trees?


Sewing and big projects.

As you know, I am not very good at sewing. If you know me in real life, you'll also know that I get bored quite easily.

So it only makes sense that I should decide to take on a huge project and make Madelyn a Quiet Book for Christmas.


Why would I torture myself?

I wondered that too and then remembered, she's 2 and she's loud and needs more quiet time in her life.

I'm seeing it as an investment in my future sanity.

If you're crafty (and even if you're not) and want to make one too, I'll gladly share my ideas/patterns/sources with you. Just write me a comment.

As I finish pages I'll post them so you can be inspired. Or, if its been weeks you can remind me how many days until Christmas.

It may take a while as I can only work on it when they're both sleeping and we know how often that happens!

(The picture above is the layout for one of the pages, I just need to sew it)