Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Wow, it's hard to believe it's 2 days before Christmas!  Where has the time gone?  We have a lovely thick blanket of snow outside, and providing the rain holds off, it looks like we will have a white Christmas.  :)  I think the wind has died down some, which is making our drafty house a little more bearable.  

My Christmas sewing is complete!  Well, as much of it as I am going to get done.  ;)  I finished the kids' pajamas on the week-end, and then spent 2 nights making these boxer shorts for my husband. They look simple enough, don't they? His all-time favourite boxer shorts are from the Gap, but since we can't afford to buy them, I took apart an old pair and took a pattern from them.  The only problem is that I go so long between making them, that every time I try to do it, I can NOT for the life of me figure out how the fly goes together.  It took me several tries, but I think I finally got it.  I should really write the instructions down when I finally figure it out, but I never do.  :)  In any case, what I should have been able to whip up in a couple of hours took me about 6 or 7.  I hope he likes them.  lol.  Sorry I don't have any pictures of the pajamas, I was at a Barra MacNeil's Christmas concert last night, and by the time I got home, Bruce had all of the gifts wrapped!  It was a nice surprise, but now you'll have to wait until after Christmas for pajama pictures.  At least the kids will be able to model them!  Owen's book didn't get finished, but, well, there's always Easter.  :)  

My sewing basket is once again overflowing with "UFOs" (Unfinished Objects), so it will be time to get caught up again after Christmas.  I still have several diapers to repair, a pair of Norah's pants with a hole in the knee (brand new pants, she fell on the sidewalk and skinned her knee while wearing them), a pair of maternity pants that won't stay up, so I'm putting a new band on them, Owen's book, and a quilt I started more than a year ago.  The quilt top is finished, but I still have to add borders, and quilt it.  It's more of a long-term project, and since it was my first quilt, it's been a learning experience.  I'm in no rush to finish it, but it is in my basket, so it qualifies as a "UFO".  :)  

But first, I'm going to take some time to enjoy the holidays, and enjoy having my husband home for a little while.  I hope to spend lots of time drinking egg nog, with my feet up by the fire, and visiting with lots of good friends and family.  Thus, I'll probably take a brief blogging hiatus, and be back in the new year.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!  

Friday, December 12, 2008

No Sewing to Report

Well, I didn't do any sewing last night.  And we didn't watch any t.v. either.  My husband and I had some Christmas details to wrap up, so we decided to sit down together and get it done.  We still had a couple of things to order online, and with only 2 weeks remaining, we thought we'd better get them ordered!  I found a great Canadian website for natural/organic kids' toys, clothing, and art supplies, called Baby Naturopathics.  I was originally going to order from Stubby Pencil, but with the currently lousy exchange rate, plus the cost of shipping (not to mention customs delays), I just couldn't justify it.  So I was ecstatic to find a Canadian company to order from.  We decided that each kid is getting ONE purchased toy.  That's it.  They need no more (and don't even need that, but we can't be total scrooges!).  Not to mention, I'd rather buy them each one quality toy that will last forever (even if it costs more), than a bunch of junk from Wal Fart that will eventually make its way to a landfill.  We also got them each some art supplies...  Owen is getting some beeswax crayon blocks, and Norah is getting some neat eco-friendly watercolour pencils.  We got them a movie to share (Wall-E,  with a great environmental message!), and they're each getting their new, made-by-mommy pajamas.  I think that is plenty, and I look forward to enjoying the magic of Christmas morning, without the children being overwhelmed by a ton of stuff.  

So that took us until 11 pm, but it's so nice that it's all decided and finished.  All that's left to do is finish up the last bit of sewing, which I love that I can do from the comfort of my own home. It was so delightful to not have to step foot in the mall once this season!  No harried rushing around from store to store, trying to find meaningless gifts for people.  My in-laws have requested "gifts of time" this Christmas.  My Father-in-Law wants Bruce to help him with some computer work, and to move some furniture around in their house.  My Mother-in-Law would like some help sewing some roman blinds for their newly renovated bedroom.  Bruce has 10 days off after Christmas, which gives us plenty of time to do this, and I know that these gifts will mean more to them than some random thing we could buy.  

Tonight is Date Night...  and tomorrow we have a Christmas party to attend, so it will likely be a couple of days before I get back to sewing...  but I'm confident that I will get it done, with plenty of time to spare!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Progress Report #2

Last night after we got the kids tucked in bed, I came downstairs and spent a few minutes at the computer, reading my daily blogs.  One of my new favourite blogs is Green and Crunchy.  She makes AMAZING vegan food, and I am constantly in awe of all of it!  While I was browsing last night, I found this recipe for Very Vegan Chocolate Chippie Hippie Spelt Cookies.  Wow, that's a mouthful!  Of course, I had to drop everything I was doing (or about to do!), and try them IMMEDIATELY.  I didn't have all of the ingredients she suggested, so I made do with what I had in my kitchen.  For nuts and seeds, I used pecans, light sesame seeds, dark sesame seeds, and flax seeds.  I didn't have any vegan chocolate chips, so I used regular milk-chocolate ones (rendering the cookies no longer vegan!), and my spelt flour was pre-ground.  :) Otherwise, I was able to follow the recipe exactly, and they were delicious!  Even my oh-so-picky husband approved.  

But fear not, I didn't let it deter me from working on some sewing.  :)  After the cookie mess was all cleaned up (and some eaten with tea), I got to work cutting out the kids' Christmas PJs.  I made my husband some pajama pants last year with "The Incredibles" fabric, and had a ton left over, so decided to use it up for the kids' PJs.  I ironed all of the fabric, cut out the pattern tissue, and pinned and cut out all the pieces.  The only thing I was lacking was banding (I only had black, and I thought it was a bit harsh-looking for kids' PJs), so I'll have to stop in at Fabricville this week to pick up some white.  I'm happy with what I got accomplished.  Tonight is a good TV night, so I think I'll be doing some couch-friendly sewing...  like picking apart some diapers.  Not my favourite task, but it will be much more pleasant while watching ER and Grey's Anatomy, eating some Very (not so) Vegan Chocolate Chippie Hippie Spelt Cookies, drinking tea by the fire, and enjoying the twinkly Christmas tree.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Progress Report!

Okay, I actually SEWED last night, so I thought I'd keep you updated (and keep myself accountable in the process!)  I made:
6 Christmas coasters, made from the tutorial available at Chickpea Sewing Studio.  Originally, I was going to make these for a gift exchange for Bruce's Christmas Party (along with a tin of organic, fair trade hot chocolate), but I deemed them not gift-worthy.  The ric-rac was trickier than I anticipated and I had some trouble getting it even.  So we're going to keep them for ourselves - I've never had Christmas coasters before!  (Or any coasters for that matter).  :)  

And these I finished last week, but thought I'd show them to you anyway.  I wanted some inexpensive gifts to give to Norah's teachers (one for library preschool, and her 2 regular preschool teachers).  Library Preschool finished last week, so I already gave that one away, but here are the two remaining.  I gave them each a bar of fair trade, organic milk chocolate (ask me how hard it was to have these in the house and not eat them!), and a cute apron ornament (tutorial found here).  I decided to skip gift wrapping altogether, so I just tied them up with this pretty ribbon that they can re-use.  I think I might have spent $4.00 on each of these gifts, which I think is pretty reasonable!

Tonight's project is either going to entail working on Owen's book, or starting the kids' pajamas.  I'm leaning toward doing the pajamas first (because I know they don't take long), where the book is going to take several nights, and may or may not get finished in time.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A little sewing motivation, please. :)

Okay, I had the BEST intentions with this hand-made Christmas thing.  Really!  I was totally pumped to sew up a storm.  Yet here we are, with just over 2 weeks left, and my Christmas sewing is basically untouched!  The only time I have to sew is after the kids are in bed at night, and by then, well, I'm pooped.  The living room, with its warm fire and twinkly Christmas tree beckons to me, and I just want to sit and drink tea and enjoy it.  My get up and go got up and went.  Help!! Somebody light a fire under me!  Here is what I have left to sew:

*boxer shorts for DH (He LOVES the ones I make him, and I haven't made him any in ages!)
*Cloth book for Owen (nope, didn't finish it for his birthday, so bumped it to Christmas)
*Pajamas for both kids
*Christmas coasters for a gift exchange

And, not Christmas-related, but the elastic in all of Owen's Fuzzi Bunz is completely dead, so I have to rip those apart and replace the elastic.  I think I have about 8 left to repair, and they each take a full evening to do.  In the mean time, I'm washing diapers daily because I only have enough diapers in rotation to get through one day until I get these ones fixed.  

I know that a couple hours a night is all I need to plough through this list, but, well, DOING it seems to be a whole 'nother story.  Any and all "GET YOUR BUTT IN GEAR" comments would be much appreciated.  :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Babysteps are finally starting to pay off.

Do you ever find yourself so focussed on where you're going, that you forget to look back and see how far you've come?  For many years, my life has been somewhat chaotic, disorganized, and haphazard.  We planned for nothing, and it seemed we were always in catch-up mode.  I always felt stressed and anxious, and wondered if and when I would ever feel at peace.  I started university about 6 years later than my peers, at age 23.  We got pregnant while I was in my last year of university, unplanned, unmarried, living in an apartment, with a mountain of debt.  My husband had barely begun his career (also a late bloomer...  he took several years off before completing his university degree to play with a celtic rock band).  We had no idea how we were going to make it.  We decided to get married, which we were planning on doing *some day* anyway, but had never made any concrete plans to do so.  I also wanted to buy a house, because I didn't want to raise my baby in an apartment.  So in a space of 3 months, I graduated from university (complete with thesis), we bought a house, got married, and had a baby.  It was a whirlwind, and sadly, I don't think I enjoyed any of it.  These events all added to our mountain of debt, and I didn't get to enjoy a single one of them, because they happened so quickly, and with little or no planning.  The house we could afford to buy was 85 years old, and needed a TON of work.  Of course, we couldn't afford to pay someone to do it, so since buying this house, my husband has spent every spare moment working on it.  Both of our babies came home to a construction site.  When we brought Norah home, her nursery was a mess of plaster and paint cans.  What was supposed to be a quick makeover turned into a job bigger than either of us anticipated, and her nursery wasn't complete until she was about 4 months old.  She was an extremely colicky, difficult baby, so getting things done during the day was impossible.  I spent many nights working on the nursery until 2 or 3 in the morning, because that was the only way it was ever going to get done.  I never got to indulge my nesting urge; I barely got to do a single thing to prepare for the arrival of either of our babies, because we were living in a pile of plaster dust.  I certainly didn't get to organize or clean much of anything.  Instead of getting to enjoy my precious newborn, I was stressed because of the state of our home and our lives.  For the first several weeks after bringing home our son, we lived in our bedroom because it was pretty much the only habitable room in our house.  We were living at my in-laws up until 3 days before my due date.  What was supposed to be a 1-week arrangement turned into 2 months, and 3 days before I was due I put my foot down and said I was going home, I didn't care what state it was in.  I wanted to go into labour in my OWN house.   You couldn't get the door to the nursery open because it was piled high with furniture, boxes, clothes, you name it. So we worked tirelessly for those 3 days, so that we could clean out the nursery, and finish our bedroom so that I would have at least two rooms in the house that were livable.  At midnight that night, we fell into bed, exhausted, and woke up at 6:30 am in labour.  I was praying that the baby would hold off, but he arrived, quickly, and right on his due date.  Babies apparently don't care if you're not ready for them.  Our living room furniture was piled in a dusty heap in the corner because we had torn a wall down to install our woodburning insert, which was supposed to be complete LONG before our due date. In our kitchen lived a pile of saws and tools. The other bedrooms upstairs served as storage rooms. You couldn't walk in the house without shoes because it was so filthy. Combine that with a toddler and a newborn, and a husband who works 60-80 hours a week, and you have yourself a pile of stress.  Every time the kids would nap and I had a moment's peace, all I could think about was trying to get some work done.  We've slowly, bit by bit, room by room, been piecing our lives back together.  A good chunk of the work that we needed to do to the house has been finished (although there is still plenty to do!).  I've been working on decluttering, organizing, and reducing the overall stress in our lives.  I slowly began to implement my weekly schedule, in an attempt to maintain a generally clean home.  Part of my weekly zone cleaning entails doing one "extra" thing in each zone, whether it's to clean out a drawer, a cupboard, or simply rearrange things so that they are more functional.  What once seemed impossible to imagine, that I would have a clean, organized, orderly, stress-free home now seems within reach.  Those little "extra" things I've done each week have now reached the point where I can barely find an "extra" thing to do.  Nearly every corner of our living space is purged, organized, and accessible.  Our finances are in order.  Our debt is slowly coming down (and most importantly, we are no longer adding to it!).  Because our physical space is less stressful, and my mind is no longer cluttered with stress, I've had time to ponder what is truly important in our lives and make significant changes to how we live.  

With the impending arrival of our next bundle of joy, I am finding myself feeling slightly less anxious than I was with the other two.  We still have some work to do on the house.  We never did complete the upstairs, because we really just needed to return it to a state that we could live in.  I couldn't handle any more construction, I just wanted to get back to life.  There is still some sanding to do, some trim to finish, and we have to get the fourth bedroom ready for Owen so that the new baby can have the nursery (the bedrooms are too tiny to share).  Chances are, the kids and I will have to move in with the in-laws once again so that my husband can complete that work, but hopefully it really WILL only be a week this time.  And I will be insistent that it happens LONG before my due date.  I still have a to-do list that's about 3 pages long that I've been chipping away at.  I want to finish organizing our photos, and finish our CURRENT kids' baby books, before the new baby arrives.  I want to get our food binder complete so that life with 3 children will be as SIMPLE as possible, so that I can actually enjoy it.  I want to make and freeze meals ahead of time.  Our basement and attic became the dumping grounds when we were trying to get our house back in order, and we still have to clean those out.  My husband has been saying forever that he's going to get to it, but given his work schedule I don't see how...  so tackling those areas is also on my to-do list.  I still have diapers to sew.  It seems like a lot left to do, but when I look back and see how far we've come, it actually seems manageable.  With regular, day-to-day life functioning fairly efficiently now, I can actually find bits of time to work on these extra tasks.  With our environment less chaotic, I am enjoying our children more, as I have more time to just *be* with them, and not constantly thinking about what else needs to be done.  

So there you have it.  Babysteps.  Sometimes they're so small that they seem insignificant, but looking back, you can see that those miles you've walked have happened one tiny step at a time.  With children, we only have time for babysteps.  Unlike the days before children, you can't plunge head-first into a task and work on it until it's complete.  You have to find 2 minutes here and 2 minutes there.  Every seemingly insurmountable task can be broken down into parts.  This logic can be applied to so many areas of our lives.  We are climbing out of debt not by waiting around for some miraculous windfall, but by slowly, steadily, paying it down a few dollars each month.  Our emergency fund is growing not by leaps and bounds, but by tiny little amounts each month.  Our home and lives are becoming more and more organized, simply by spending 5 or 10 minutes at a time working at it.  By doing these things consistently, they add up, and eventually begin to merge together into an overall state of peacefulness and well-being.  I can finally see a tiny glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, and each day it shines just a little brighter.  I think that we sometimes need to stop and look back at what we've accomplished, and congratulate ourselves on a job well-done.  What's left to do won't seem so bad then.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I'm Joining a Vegetarian Support Group!

Okay, it's not really a support group, but I thought that was catchier than "I'm Joining a Vegetarian Society".  I recently discovered that our town has a vegetarian society, and I thought it would be fun to join!  They have monthly potluck meetings, and children are welcome to attend.  (Not that I'm bringing mine...  I don't have many opportunities to go places without the children, so I'm definitely taking advantage of this one!).  They have guest speakers each month on various topics relating to vegetarianism.  I'm hoping to be able to glean some new knowledge, score some new recipes, and meet some new friends!  It's always nice to meet other like-minded people.  It's not like I can walk down the street and ask people if they're vegetarian.  :)  My first meeting is this Friday, and a friend of mine (who is semi-veg) is coming with me.  Now I just have to think of something yummy to bring to the potluck.