Sunday, October 30, 2011

Michael at 21 Months


Supporting the home team!

I'm not too great at documenting all the wonderful stuff my kid does but if I actually documented everything, I'd be so busy that I'd miss a lot of it too... but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't up my effort a little.

Michael is such a great little boy these days. It has been hard, very hard to handle him through much of his life, but lately he's usually so delightful that some of the stress of the earlier days is finally being forgiven/forgotten.

He does a lot of cute stuff that cracks me up. He loves to read and would let us read books to him all day long. He'll sit down with a book and carefully look at the pictures by himself for long periods of time too until he finds something he just has to share and then he'll drag the book over to me shouting about what ever he see in the picture.

He is interested in the different parts of things. He is constantly pointing out parts of a tractor or body parts to us. He's been big on nipples lately, or "nimmels" as he sometimes says. He became a little obsessed for awhile and would stick his hand up his shirt trying to find his nipples and crying out in frustration (I'm guessing because he can't find nipples like the bigguns that mama has).

He loves anything with a wheel on it. Classic boy.


This should have been one of the greatest moments of his life. He loves skid steers (he can even say 'skid steer') and is always begging us to let him up in one. Then he finally gets in one and is totally unimpressed because there's no wheel.


That's better. 

He loves to make animal sounds. He made cookies with me the other day and had the an arm and leg left from a 'gingerbread' man sugar cookie (I only have Christmas cookie cutters) and was dancing it along the coffee table yelling "Horsey! Neigh!". Dang that was cute.


'Horsey! Neigh!' The cookies were yummy, but I want to eat this little boy up!

He such a loving little boy. He loves hugs and asks for them frequently. He's trying to kiss us lately but hasn't really figured it out and just presses his face hard up against ours. When he really enjoys something he will say "Happy" in a whispery voice. I wasn't exactly sure I was hearing him right because I was hugging him one time and I thought I heard him say "Happy". I thought that was a little too cute but then he did it a few more times and I knew I was right. It's pretty darn awesome to hug your child and hear him say "Happy." It melts my heart. He'll repeat "Love you" but hasn't said "I love you" yet.

We've started in on a lot of Montessori stuff at home, and I don't really want to write a post on it now, but it's helping a lot. We are emphasizing picking up after himself and respecting his things and it took a couple of weeks but he's definitely picking up on it and making changes. He puts things away without being asked. I think it's lowered the stress level for both of us. He's very good at following directions so I can ask him to get a rag and clean up a spill he makes or throw something in the trash and he listens. Now if I can just get him to stop pulling the cats' tails, we'll be great shape.


President of the sandbox today, the free world tomorrow!

I sometimes wonder if he has Tourette's Syndrome. When he gets excited (which is nearly all the time) he'll just start shouting words and sounds. Sometimes there is a theme to them (Dark! Moon! Howl! Outside! Dark!) but it's not always clear. It's kinda weird, I've never really seen any other kids do something like it... perhaps he'll get some verbs in there and it will make more sense. I was changing his diaper the other day and he was yelling "Penis! Hole!" (cause we've taught him that pee comes out of the hole in his penis). I thought it was pretty funny. I'm going to stop calling people assholes and start calling them penis-holes. I think penis has definitely surpassed ass in funniness, don't you?


Zooming!


I can't believe this kid is going to be 2 in a couple of months.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Judgement

DH has a cousin that is in her mid-thirties and has been trying to conceive for a little while. I have tried not to butt in and say too much since I'm a little worried that I would end up overwhelming her and she has a very different personality than me. Apparently someone people don't like talking about their sex lives with the whole world. The one thing I have stepped in and told her is to not wait to see an RE. If you've been trying for 6 months (for over 35), make the appointment! Some offices have waiting lists and time is the enemy.

But mostly I don't ask about the baby making efforts... but I'm always eagerly listening in case there is an opportunity in there to offer any help.

So we were "camping" (can you call it camping when you're staying in a air conditioned and heated cabin with satellite TV?) with DH's family last weekend and the cousin's husband had to leave early because he had been long suffering with a sinus infection. I was talking to the cousin and ended up gushing about my love affair with flaxseed and how it has helped my allergies and eye fatigue and just made me a better person all around (ok, maybe not the last one). But then I let it slip, "And it lengthens your luteal phase. You do know what your luteal phase is, don't you?" Turns out she didn't. I immediately made judgement about her right there. How can you have been trying to get pregnant for the last year and still not know what a luteal phase is?

But I do try to remember, not everyone attacks IF like I did. Not everyone tries to educate themselves the way I think they should. Some people trust their physicians to know the tight thing to do. Some people don't their free time staring at calendars studying their fertility signs and planning what days to have sex and which days to go to the clinic and when to test to see if the trigger is out of their system and how many months it will take to save enough money for IVF. Some people try to live normal lives and not let this shit overtake them.

Then yesterday we were visting with BIL and SIL and we asked it the cousin was pregnant yet (cousin talks to SIL about this stuff). Apparently she is not and went through some preliminary testing a few weeks ago and supposedly everything is ok.

There are quite a few people in the family that don't care for the cousin's husband and don't particularly want them to have kids and SIL shares this opinion. It's important that you know that because SIL basically said something to the effect that she thinks 'they don't really have infertility, it's mental, and they shouldn't have kids anyhow, so maybe this is how it's supposed to be.'

Wow.

I have been kinda pissed with some stuff SIL has said about IF before and I completely resent anyone that suggests that the inability to conceive is due to a couple not loving each other enough or being right for each other. I do think that psychological issues can contribute to infertility, but for most couples with infertility, it is a very real, physical condition. End of story.

But I found myself a little conflicted the other day. Now that I know she's gone through testing, I kinda want to reach out to her more, especially since she'll probably be starting drugs soon (this from SIL too), and those kinda suck, but I was hesitant because of what SIL said the other day. Yeah, the cousin's husband is kinda weird. I wouldn't marry him, that's for sure, but that's not really so important is it? Honestly, I don't know that guy that well, and other than the fact that he's done some stuff in the past and smokes cigarettes, I don't know that he's that bad of a guy. I don't really know him at all.

So it occurred to me that it is far better to not sit around and judge whether a couple is worthy of having a child and just do the thing that I feel is right and reach out to her.

And as I thought about this I realize that I'm being somewhat hypocritical about this since I'm none too thrilled that her sister is having another child. And I do realize that it's wrong for me to judge her sister too, but that situation is a little different in that she already has 3 children (the monster children) and does a shitty job with them... I'd rather she focus on the kids she has.... Ok, I'll own that one, still a hypocrite.

So I'm emailing the cousin. I hope that she knows what she wants and it's my job to support her like a friend/family member rather then judge whether her having children is a good idea.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sew for Boys - Little Heartbreaker Pants

I was able to make the Little Heartbreaker Pants out of Sewing for Boys: 24 Projects to make a Handmade Wardrobe and I'm happy to report it went a lot better than the To-Go Artist.

The Little Heartbreaker Pants are the dressiest pants featured in the book. They have button hole elastic on the back allowing for changes in waist sizing. There are nice pockets built into it and a faux cuff sew on the legs.

I'm not terribly experienced in sewing pants. I've sewn quite a few pairs of very basic, simple pants that work well, but I'd been wanting to upgrade and add pockets and this seemed like a good pair of pants to try out.

I didn't see any errors in the patterns pieces or the instructions. Several of the illustrations are not entirely accurate... I think a lot of beginner/intermediate sewers will find this confusing at times. Of the written instructions, the only thing I found to be difficult to follow in them was how to complete the front waist band and facing, and unfortunately the picture isn't a help here either so I had to redo that part. And somehow the front (or was it the back?) legs ended up longer than the other side. I'm not sure if this was my fault when I traced the pattern or if the pattern actually is a little off. This really isn't a problem to just cut off and even up before sewing on the cuffs.

The fit on them is ok. The button hole elastic is nice, but I imagine that my son will outgrow the length before I need to adjust the waist. That cuffs on the pants prevent rolling the legs up or letting the out to get longer wear of the pants (well, you could work in some extra length and rip off and reattach the cuff, but that's a lot of work). They are very roomy and probably pretty comfortable. The rise fit over his cloth diapered butt, which is saying something. In a perfect world, I'd want just a little longer on the rise, but it was enough but Michael's diaper's fit a lot trimmer now that he's slimmed down and I'm not sure the rise would have been enough a couple of months ago (the pattern is made for 18m-6/7).

The pants sewed up well and made for high quality finished product. The pattern is very versatile. They are very relaxed pants that can look very casual or more dressy depending on the fabric choice. I can't wait to try them with denim. I think these could probably be modified as shorts and look good. They could be easily lined for colder weather, which would be helpful and I wish they would have included a lining pattern with it (not that it would be hard, but anything to make my life easier would be nice). I made Michael's out of corduroy, but even corduroy will need a little extra insulation when winter hits.


View of the pocket and cuffs. Wide legs.


Very comfortable.


Pretty shapeless in the back. 

Then today I decided to make a shirt to match by upcycling a $2 shirt I got from Target that I accidentally ripped a hole in since Michael needed more long sleeves anyhow.


Bliss helped.


I can't believe that I got this shot. The point-and-shoot gods smiled upon me.

This project was the level that I expected of the book. I'm hoping that the to-go artist was just a poorly tested afterthought and not demonstrative of the other projects in the book but I'll have to try a few more just before I really can make that call.

One of the better aspects of the book is the variety of clothing pieces in it. You really could make an entire wardrobe from this book by choosing fabrics wisely and a little creativity. The clothes were designed to be comfortable for boys to play in comfortably and I think the authors accomplished that well. Many of the patterns were also designed to make use of scraps and old clothes, which is very commendable. Some of the reviews of the book bash it for having too many "ugly" clothes and I don't totally agree. There does seem to be a fit issue with most of the models, but the choice of fabric and consideration of whether certain projects are for play or for dressing up really makes a difference in the looks of the pieces here. For instance, the 'kicking back sweats' are not that attractive, but they are clearly meant to be play clothes so why spend a long time making fancier clothes that your kid is just going to get dirty?

The one piece I feel the book is missing is a nice button up shirt. There is one project called 'the henry shirt' be even with a dressier fabric it still seems too casual for dressier occasions.

One sticking complaint that I have with the book is the illustrations. Honestly, McCall's patterns have better illustrations, eek. This is full color printed book so they really could have done more to make the pictures easier to understand. And the lack of accuracy in the pictures is disappointing.

Coming soon, Michael's Halloween costume! I'm really looking forward to it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sewing for Boys - The To-Go Artist

I have been all kinds of excited about a new sewing book that came out the other week called Sewing for Boys: 24 Projects to Create a Handmade Wardrobe.

If you have a boy, or have tried to buy an article of clothing for a little boy you may have noticed that there are 2-4 times as many racks of clothes for little girls compared to boys. When it comes to clothing patterns for boys, the discrepancy is magnified about 100 times. And since I've been sewing a lot of Michael's, I was really excited about this book.

The publishers did a really good job of promoting the book. They did a big blog tour and well known crafty bloggers showed off the book and did projects from the book and gave away copies of the book. I wanted to win a copy so bad (I didn't, just FYI).

So I ordered my copy of the book and got it last week. I got my sewing machine back today and set about making my first project from the book, the to-go artist. I wanted to make it because my nephew's birthday is coming up and I thought it would make a good gift. But then I was buying fabric for it the other day and saw some fabric that I loved and decided to make one for Michael too.

Anyhow, so I'd read the instructions the day before and all I could think is that they were a mess. I was pretty sure there were a lot of errors and extremely skeptical about some of the steps and figured if they weren't wrong, they were definitely done the hard way.

So I set about making it tonight, and unfortunately, I was right. I found AT LEAST 9 errors... maybe more if I wanted to be picky. I followed the instructions, mostly, just so I could prove to myself that things were incorrect and it wasn't my "fixing" of the instructions that messed things up worse or something like that, but on a couple of things I just couldn't go on without fixing them. But the good thing here is that I have everything figured out for when I sew my nephew's up.

The thing that really pisses me off is that it's obviously that the finished one in the book clearly didn't follow the instructions either. And this is a rather simple project, so there just shouldn't be these kinds of errors here.

One of the bloggers on the book tour even did this project, but she made several changes to the overall to-go artist. She didn't comment of the wonky instructions, so I don't know if she didn't notice, or was just being nice (like her changes a lot too). I did pick up from some of the other book tour bloggers that it was light on the instructions and illustrations... they tried to put it in nice terms, but now that I have the book, I feel like I reading between the lines of their reviews better.

I want to love this book, but I can't. I don't hate it, but it has issues that keep me from loving it. I read something on one of the book tour blogger's website in an interview with the authors that the book was completed very quickly and you can definitely tell it. I also wonder if they needed to use less experienced pattern testers... advanced sewers may have glanced through the instruction more quickly than novice sewers and not caught as much as those of us that need the instructions. But  they have a flickr group and I can clearly see some of the mistakes in the one of the tester's photos, so go figure.

But I'm not done with the book! I'm still looking forward to making several other projects from the book. It's not perfect and there is a fair amount of deserved criticism about this book, but with a little determination I still think it's an ok book... and probably the best book for sewing boy's apparel out there.

So here is my to-go artist.


Closed up. Velcro tab. I just love this sail boat pattern!


Opened up. Nice idea. The paper pads fit very well. 


Look y'all!!! I got my own tags made! I feel so special and fancy now.


I love the big pocket for stowing a coloring book or extra pad of paper.


See that gap to the left of the crayons and colored pencils? Yeah, if more care had been given to the instructions, that wouldn't be there. It will not be there next time I make it. 


Cleaned out.

I was a little late on my crafty project for the week with the sewing machine in the shop. It still seems a bit off to me, so it might go back and in that case I probably won't make next week either.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lovely Week

So much for sticking to my new blogging schedule. But I'm not going to let that bother me, I've have a very good week otherwise.

First, the fall weather, spectacular. No complaints here. And the trees are looking so pretty this year (I guess that's the payoff for all the heat and drought).

After my sewing machine bit the dust and I decided to say "screw it" I was relieved to be completely unburdened from sewing projects for awhile. We've had a lot of fun this week overall.

Saturday we went to the little local airport's open house. Michael took a ride in the barrel 'airplane' train. DH and I held our breath as our baby disappeared from our sight, all alone. He did fine, the first time, the second time he was in a bad mood and we had to cut his flight short. There were lots of air planes to look at, of course, including a cool B-25 bomber.


In his airplane


He's so far away! You can barely even see him.


Ah, good, almost back to mom. 


B-25


I'm sure these are just for show, but they still look pretty cool.

Sunday was the Fall Festival. We didn't stay for long, but Michael had some fun picking out some new pumpkins and then trying to eat the paint he was supposed to be painting them with.

Monday we ran errands and dropped my sewing machine at the repair shop (it's still there). We picked up some books from the library, some of which were actually for me and I actually got to read them this week. Reading a book, what a novel idea. I also reclaimed my living room by purging a bunch of toys. I took several sacks of toys downstairs and switched out some of the upstairs toys so he would focus on the "new" toys and not all the missing toys. Once I was finished it was like I had a whole new living room. It was soothing and organized. Almost like it was before I had a baby. I've managed to keep it picked up all week!!!

Tuesday we went for a nice bike ride. We didn't go very far because I just wanted it be fun, and I haven't been on my bike in a couple of weeks and was hoping to ease back into things (I still paid for it later). On the way back to the car we stopped at the Master Gardner's demonstration gardens and played in the shade of the old trees. It was quiet and lovely.

Wednesday I was very tired for some reason, so we stayed in during the morning and went out the nature center and did some shopping in the afternoon.

Thursday I decided that we should hang out at the demonstration gardens again so I packed the picnic basket with books and toys and snacks and we rolled out the blanket and spent the morning there. Michael was outside and free to run around and play. He was kept happy with snacks and books. He was so content playing with his toys, I actually got to read some from one of my books! Whoa!


Be free my child!


I love your little face.


This child runs on grapes.


Hi-ho Silver!

Friday we had to go grocery shopping. Blah.

Saturday DH took Michael for a combine ride. Do you think it's a good idea let a kid that's allergic to soybean harvest them? Michael enjoyed the ride but his nap got screwed up and that made for some unhappy time the rest of the day.

Today we all went back to the demonstration gardens had a "picnic" (or 'nak' as Michael calls it).

I'll take as many of the lovely days as I can get.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Disaster

I have been busting my butt almost Michael's every sleeping hour to try to get 16 dinosaur tails finished for my church's Fall Festival tomorrow. The tails were going to be sold at the "Country Store" to raise money for the church. I had dreams of seeing kids running around the festival with their tails on.

SIXTEEN tails.

It wasn't so hard. Very time consuming, but not that bad.

Not that bad until the other day. I have all the spikes and main tail pieces cut out and sewn together. The straps and velcro all sewn, turned and pressed. All that is left to do is top-stitch the straps, sew them on to the tails, base on the tails and stuff them. Easy. I'd say they are all 80% done. It was totally doable to get them done in time. But then...

My machine started being an ass. I was using clear nylon thread to keep from re-threading my machine so much since I'm working with a bunch of colors. So I switched to regular thread and everything seemed to be fine again. For awhile. I was top-stitching the straps with a zigzag and the stupid thing kept skipping stitches (though it did about 6 of them just fine). That can't happen with such a visible zigzag and it looked awful. So I ripped out stitches and decided to use a different decorative stitch. It went okay for about a strap and a half and then it started skipping stitches. Then I said enough. I decided just to use a straight stitch but then it started skipping those too.

I have been in denial, but it seems that my machine's timing is off.

Weeping.

I have worked so hard to get these tails done and spent so much time on them and now I will have nothing to show for it except bags under my eyes.

And I don't know what's happened. I've messed up the timing on a machine before, but I was a teenager and way too rough on the machine and I was using hand quilting thread and well... I pushed too hard. None of that happened this time. I'm totally baffled as to why my machine decided to let me down in such a big way.

This all really went down last night. No time to get it repaired. I started to email my neighbors to ask to borrow a machine but decided to try one last thing and switch out my needle for a new one and see if it could just keep it together with a straight stitch. It seemed to do the trick, so I discarded the email. And then this morning it continued to give out on me.

I've thought about asking a neighbor for a machine again but I'm so demoralized and wasted so much time troubleshooting this that there is so little time left now that I'd be missing all kinds of family time to finish... and I hate telling Michael I can't play with him because "Mommy's sewing." And I have a ton of baking to do for the festival... 2 pies, 2 cakes, 2 loaves of bread.

Disaster.


Waste.


Check out my lovely zigzag.


So. done.

I'm so tired.