Friday, April 18, 2014

BUNNY BAG

My sewing machine had been silent for awhile, and recently I just had the urge to create something. Somewhere in the online realm I came across this bag and I knew I wanted to make something like it for Mason.  I figured out a rough pattern and a about an hour later (generally spent 20 minutes at a time spread over three sessions) I had this!
I didn't take any photos along the way and this is by no means a tutorial, but if you are wanting to make something similar, here are a few tips.
1.  Embroidering the face is one of the first steps you will do.  It probably helps to use an embroidery hoop, but I do not have one so I just went for it.  To secure it, I used a fusible lining that I ironed on to the back.
2.  If I were doing this again, I would have stabilized the sides and bottom of the bag with something sturdier.  I used a few scraps of fusible lining, but it was pretty light and just what I happened to have around.  The ears actually stand up by themselves, but since the bag is not structured, they tend to fall over.
3.  When you are sewing it all together, pin the crap out of that bad boy to help all the seams line up properly.
Even without a pattern (or much of a plan for that matter) this project was super simple and now I have the urge to keep creating!

Monday, March 31, 2014

MASON PAINTS

This post could also be titled kid projects I liked doing more than my kid or also I probably missed my calling and should really be a famous artist with my mad skills.  Has a nice ring to it.
So, I found another project on Pinterest that I wanted to try with Mason (originally from here).  It looked easy enough, and ever since the bathroom activity Mason has really been into painting.  The premise of this activity is that you dip an old plastic card (gift card, hotel key, etc.) in paint and drag it along your paper, or in this case, empty cereal box.  And then you are a world class artist.  The end.
I just taped the box to the counter so it wouldn't move, then I showed him what to do and let him go for it. With my first swipe I was pretty much addicted so when Mason asked me to help I didn't back away.  I am such a dork.  Even as I was painting, it was fun to listen to him describe what we were painting.  He talked about making buildings and then asked me to make a bridge.  So even though it looks like blobs, his little mind was running wild.  I love it.
When the paint dried, the box buckled just a little bit, but I would still love to cut a portion of this painting out and frame my little artist's work.  You could also cut it into shapes and make some other type of craft project with it.  I will say, the reason we used the odd color combination that we did is that most of our paints have been sacrificed to the bathtub and I haven't picked up more.  I do wish that the colors went together a little better, but I guess we'll just have to do the project again.  And when we do, we will do it side by side so Mama gets to do it too.  Have fun trying this with your little ones!
Update:  I realize that I don't have a picture of the finished product.  Just trust me.  It's pretty amazing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

MY NEW LIGHT

My precious moments of spare time are often spent doing the following things:  reading blogs, online shopping, and perusing Pinterest.  And usually these things have something in common - the overall design and decor of my house.  I love to see other people's homes.  I love to read about projects that I could do, or get ideas for paint colors, or daydream about getting new light fixtures.  I realize that might not be how everyone chooses to spend their free time, but I can't help it.  I just like design (and light fixtures).

Usually, all of the ideas that I get from looking at all of the online eye candy is out of my price range. Especially now, when all we can really focus on is finishing our basement and paying for our adoption, it's really really out of my price range.  But every once in awhile, something sneaks in on my radar at just the right price, and that is why I was able to snatch up this new light.  And boy, am I glad I did.

Among the many many people with unique and beautiful homes that I like to drool over is one gal from the blog Under the Sycamore.  I really love her whole space.  She has such an eye for vintage and color while still maintaining a (mostly) calm feel.  She curated a collection for Joss and Main, which I'm sure I've talked about before.  (Click here if you aren't a member yet - don't worry it's free.)  Well, I happened to catch it with nothing particular in mind to buy.  I just wanted to see what kinds of things she picked out.  But very quickly this baby caught my eye.  And well!  I was smitten.

I quickly asked Byron if he liked it.  He did.  I jumped on it.  And for a really great deal, we upgraded yet another feature of our home from builder basic.  The best part?  For the price I paid, I was expecting a fixture and that's it.  I was expecting to have to buy a canopy from Lowe's that maybe didn't match perfectly, but you know what?  IT CAME WITH A MATCHING CANOPY!!!  I was stoked.  Well done, Joss and Main.

Byron installed it for me with relative ease.  The instructions confused us for just a bit, but we quickly figured it out.  We're so smart.  And now I just stare up at my new light fixture.
And I'd just like to say that of course, there ARE fingerprints on it already.  Oh well.  Also the photos are grainy because I work during the day and we are living in an eternal winter.

This room has traditionally been what we call my sewing room because, get this, it's where my sewing machine is.  The grand plan is for all my crafting supplies to move down to a corner of the basement and this room will become a bedroom. So for this girl who loves to decorate and design, this light fixture is just the beginning of a transformation.  Can you say moodboard?  My only question to you is this - we're tired of the blue.  What color would you paint the walls?  Can you believe I'm leaning toward white???

Monday, March 17, 2014

A TRIBUTE TO EVERYONE EVERYWHERE

Not related to our weekend, but what a cute boy I have!
This weekend was tiring.  It was great, but tiring.  Two of our nephews, ages 16 and 18, came to stay with us from Friday evening to Sunday evening.  It is really great having them here.  They help Byron around the house in ways that I can't (meaning we FINALLY got our Christmas lights taken down right before St. Patrick's Day) and they play with Mason.  Mason ADORES his big cousins.  And they are so good with him.  They help him get dressed, make sure he eats, and are patient with him (and share their iPads) way beyond what you would expect from high school boys.

But back to my weekend.  Friday night wasn't so bad.  The boys came, we grabbed Subway for dinner, and just chilled.  I started in on some usual weekend chores, like dishes, tidying up, etc., but nothing was too stressful.  Saturday is where I started to get tired.  Have you ever felt like you work and work and work all day long and just don't have much to show for it?  That was Saturday.  It started waking early with Mason while everyone else slept.  This is not unusual, and in fact I prefer early mornings - my favorite part of the day.  We got up, and I started the coffee.  Then I washed dishes (this would be the first of many times), folded laundry, and went to the grocery store.  When I got home from the grocery store, Byron went to get his dad's ladder, I started making lunch, and when Byron got back the boys helped him take the lights down. We ate lunch.  Lunch created a LOT of dishes, probably the only downside of cooking at home.  So we washed dishes.  I helped Byron hang a light fixture (beautiful by the way...I have to take pictures and show it!!!).  We fought Mason to get him down for a nap.  I ran an errand to pick up TurboTax (finally) and started doing our taxes.  Then I started making dinner.  We invited my parents to join us, and we ate like kings.  It was awesome.  There were a TON of dishes.  So we did dishes again. And eventually, fought with Mason to get him to bed.  I was already so tired, and the weekend was only half over, that I'm pretty sure I just handed him my phone with Curious George pulled up on it and said "Watch some Georges, mama's going to sleep" and proceeded to fall asleep right next to him.  I later woke at 1:05 AM and said a quick prayer "Lord I hope he has been asleep for awhile..."

Then Sunday came.  Again, I woke up early with Mason.  All five of us got ready for church, and there was even a pancake breakfast so score, no dishes for that meal.  We came home.  We folded laundry.  We fought Mason for a nap again.  I paid bills.  I mailed some important documents.  I organized our files after getting our taxes done.  I started making an Easter basket for Mason (also going to be awesome and I hope to share!).  I made dinner.  There were MORE dishes.  And eventually the boys went home, Papa came over for a bit, and we all collapsed into bed.

Now, before you think this is just a massive complaint about how hard my life is, that is not the point (plus I know it is not hard compared to some). Somewhere between Saturday night and Sunday morning, when I realized that after I got a ton accomplished, I really had barely hit the tip of the iceberg, that it came to me.  Running a family is hard.  Quite honestly, just being an adult is hard.  Not only are there bills, taxes, chores, errands, etc. that are required to keep a house running, but there is this other (huge) part about investing in people's lives.  Yes, I need to pay bills in order for Mason to live in a moderately functioning house, but I also want to spend intentional time with him where I foster his development so that he will turn into an awesome young man.  I want my husband to take down our Christmas lights and hang my new light fixture, but I also want to just spend some time talking with him.  These are ALL necessary things.  Ultimately we have to choose how to spend our time.  There are moments of crossing off tasks and moments of making memories, and we are lucky to get to do them all.  But sometimes, we have to choose, and what we choose is not always fun.  And so, my friends, my realization is this.  If you are alive, and if your family is alive, then you are doing something right.  I am so thankful for my situation - a great husband who helps around the house, good jobs that allow us to do so many things, and family close by who we can do life with.  I realize there are so many different families out there, with so many things going on.  I admire you all.  You are all amazing.  From the bottom of my heart, congratulations on a job well done.

With my mental to-do list *slightly* shorter after this weekend, it seems that I can let a bit of my anxiety go.  And although those chores will always be waiting for me, I have a special little boy and a special big boy that I will remember to keep at the top of my list.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

HOME STUDY COMPLETE...ALMOST

I have wanted to write an update for some time, particularly about our adoption, but I have been so distracted by the details swirling around in my own head.  As of March 7, we have completed our home study interviews, but it will be a little while before our home study is officially complete.  For anyone wondering how the home study process went for us, well, it wasn't bad.  All in all there were four meetings we needed to complete.  The first one was in our agency's office.  And despite the fact that the heat was actually broken and we sat in a 46 degree room for two hours, it was a basic introduction about us an our home.
The rest of the meetings were all in our home.  The questions were very personal, but nothing that I wasn't comfortable talking about.  Our case worker asked us about each other, about our upbringings, about our relationships with each other's families.  She met Mason and Minnie and toured our home.  I honestly don't have a lot of thoughts about this part.  I understand that it is a necessary part of making sure we are genuine people who are cut out for adoption, and thought I wish it would go faster or involve less paperwork, it really wasn't that bad of an experience for us.  Maybe I am just plagued from the stories I hear from reading the internet and actually most people find that it isn't so bad, either?  Let me know what you think if you've been through it before.
I said we completed our home study visits, but it will actually be a little longer before our home study is complete.  Our case worker needs some time to write up her findings, first of all.  Second of all, Byron and I are required to complete 10 hours each of training.  I have actually completed all mine, but Byron still has the 10 hours to do.  (Side note - I was dreading these classes but ended up loving them.  If you need or want adoption training, talk to me!)  One of my main goals now is to make sure that he has the quality time and clean working space to focus on these and he'll hopefully complete the classes in a very short time.
Another thing that has to happen is that we all have to get physical reports from our doctors - even Mason.  Fortunately we were able to all schedule our appointments next week and it won't cause a huge delay in the process, but still, it's yet one more thing to schedule and juggle.
The last thing that gets included in our home study is yet another round of paperwork.  We have to provide proof of financial statements.  We had to get fingerprinted, and send those off for official background checks.  Because Byron lived in Arkansas for a time, we have to fill out a special form for that.  The paper trail just seems to never end.  I think that is everything that goes into a completed home study, at least to my knowledge.  I'm sure I'm missing something.  I try to maintain the attitude that if something is in our court, then we just have to keep pushing to get it done, otherwise nothing is getting done.  It has helped with my motivation through most of this, but I have gotten a little behind recently.
So what are our next steps?  Well, to my knowledge, when our home study is complete, we get to file our first official document with the Ethiopian government.  You could call it our application, I guess.  And with that, I think our clock officially starts ticking.  There are no guarantees of timing, only averages and guidelines, so I don't know how to accurately judge how long this journey will take.  In my heart, I'm praying for two years, but for now we will just wait and see and trust in God.  My small group is studying 1 Thessalonians right now, and just yesterday I found this verse:
"God will make this happen, for He who calls you is faithful."  1 Thessalonians 5:24
What comfort I find that through all of the unknowns that we are entering into, God holds the power in his hands and he will make this happen.  Can I get an amen?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

ANOTHER BOREDOM BUSTER

Alternatively titled, "She just went for it and fortunately it worked."  Mason couldn't stop talking about playing with aquasand at his babysitter's house.  The first day he played with it for an hour and a half, and the second day he played with it twice. I had this idea in my head that he was really wanting to do some activities at home.  On the drive home, I got this idea in my head that we should paint in the bathtub.  I know that's not a novel idea or anything, but the paint we happened to have at home was just regular Crayola washable paint - nothing bath specific - so I was just hoping that I wouldn't regret this later.  I asked Mason if he wanted to paint tonight and he said he would.  So my plan was after dinner I'd strip him down and let him go at it and hope for the best.
I can gladly report that this was wildly successful. Off went his clothes, and I just plopped him in the bathtub with three separate pots of paint and paintbrushes, and it didn't take him long to make masterpieces.  Between the time it took to get him ready, paint, clean the tub (which only took a washcloth and Mason did most of it himself!), and bathe him, Mason was probably in there for an hour and a half.  A miracle!
Of course we (the parents) had so much fun that we had to FaceTime with all the relatives, and at one point we squeezed four adults into our tiny bathroom along with the artist himself.  Yes, we might be crazy.  The best part was watching his little mind work.  On his own, he painted a rainbow, a bird in a nest, several monsters, and a purple banana (he narrated this, of course).  With my help we painted his name, Elmo and Cookie Monster, and some various other characters.  I love watching his imagination develop.  I'm sure we'll be doing this again.
I just have to share part of the conversation we had on the way home that day.  After I mentioned painting to him, the subject changed and I asked Mason what he wanted for dinner that night.  His response?  "No thanks, I'll paint!"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

BAKED COTTON BALLS

I just have to say thank you to everyone for the kind words and encouragement you had for us as a result of my last post.  It means the world!
For lack of a good transition, I'm just going to say...and now for something completely different.  Over Christmas we were home with Mason a lot, and unless I wanted him to beg me for the iPad all day long, I needed to come up with activities to keep him busy.  This is one of those ideas that I came across somewhere on the internet (okay my addiction Pinterest - here is the original source) and it looked like a winner.  The concept is to make a batter that you dip cotton balls in and then bake, so that the batter hardens.  Afterwards, you can smash them to your heart's content.  Sounds like a blast, right?  I thought so.
So Mason and I got to work.  The batter is just equal parts flour and water, plus food coloring.  This was a great activity by itself because Mason loves to help me mix things and it was fun explaining to him how the colors would change.  It also probably took us 30 minutes or so, and when an activity holds Mason's attention for that many minutes in a row, it's a good one.
We baked them for about 45 minutes at 300 degrees and let them cool.  This is where I thought the real fun would begin.  Who doesn't like smashing things with a hammer?  (It was a toy hammer.)  Well, turns out this part wasn't so fun.  By the time we got to this part it was the next morning, so I don't know if this was just the mood he was in or if he forgot what we did or what.  Even so, I would still try it again.  It was fun and really cheap.
If any of you end up trying this out, let me know if you find success!