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Archive for the ‘Arts and Crafts’ Category

Friends have asked if I have regrets leaving work, if I’m finding it hard staying home and if I’m busy. Lauren and Will try my patience daily, whether it be the refusal to put on pants or not replying when I ask a question three times over. And lately, Will is up nights, almost as if he’s a newborn again. I’m tired most of the time, and I’m drinking more coffee than I ever did at my full-time job.

That being said, I wouldn’t change a thing (well, maybe the late nights). I love my days with the kids. It’s been wonderful to deliver Lauren to preschool and not have to rush anywhere. Will can stay and play for a bit, and when it’s time to leave the classroom, the two of us run errands together, play baseball in the driveway or hang out at the local coffee shop. One day, while strolling down Main Street, he declared, “Mommy, we are happy!” He couldn’t have said it better.

Will takes long naps in the afternoon, so that’s when Lauren and I spend time together. She’s tired and cranky after school, which is never fun, but post lunch, she’s ready for anything. We’ve been doing a lot of baking lately. I have to remind Lauren not to put her fingers in the batter, or lick the sugar off the table, but generally, she keeps herself in check. She also likes to do arts and crafts. I’ve found I have a flair for making construction paper people and figures, so that’s what we create most of the time. This week we made a movie star version of Lauren’s aunt, two delivery trucks and a Thomas the Tank Engine for Will, which I’m particularly proud of.

Thomas the Tank Engine by Yours Truly

Thomas the Tank Engine by Yours Truly

Lauren's ice cream delivery truck

Lauren's ice cream delivery truck

When the kids are not at home, I’ve been diving into work. I feel guilty because I accepted a copywriting job, which I said I would not do. But I feel better knowing I’m contributing in some way, and as far as copywriting gigs go, this one is as good as it gets. My client is flexible and I can tell him up front when I’m having a crazy week. And he pays on time, which is a rare treat for a writer.

I’ve made a promise to myself to pitch at least two stories a week to magazines, and I’m hoping an assignment will come. Next week I’m headed to Boston to talk with some writing peers and a former boston.com editor about pitch letters in general. Sending a story idea to a magazine is similar to drafting a cover letter for a job—the process is time consuming but necessary. And like applying for a job, you never know if or when you’ll hear back. I figure the more I put out there, the more chance I have of something happening.

So do I have regrets? Not yet. I miss clothes shopping in Freeport during lunch. I miss seeing some of my friends. And I still worry about being poor and on the street. But for the most part, as my son would say, we are happy.

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As seen on beaches everywhere

As seen on beaches everywhere

An email arrived the other day from the parenting magazine, Cookie, suggesting the book, Sandcastles Made Simple, accompanied by the photo you see above. Now I don’t know about your children, but mine prefer to destroy their small towers of sand seconds after construction. Can you imagine a toddler patiently watching while her parent follows instructions to build a replica of Cinderella’s castle on the beach? I can’t.

It’s not that I’m opposed to a creative challenge, but building a sandcastle that is made of more than a bucket of wet sand is not in the cards for this mama. Besides, I’m too busy fretting over the pile of unfinished projects I have accumulated since starting a beginner’s sewing class a month ago. I signed up thinking it would be nice to learn how to make skirts for Lauren and I, and a few handmade gifts for the holidays. But even as I write this, I realize I must have been delusional—perhaps in the same haze Cookie’s editors seem to be under.

I was more nervous for the first day of sewing class than my first day of graduate school. I worried I’d be the class f*** up—the sole individual who demands all of the teacher’s attention. Fortunately, on the first night, my fears were put to rest. Another woman’s 60 year-old sewing relic, sorry, machine, was literally smoking, so our instructor spent most of the class helping her.

Now, with 5 weeks under my belt, it is clear that I am the slowest in the class (I’m talking 80 year-old grandmother slow), and there hasn’t been a week that has gone by when I don’t ask myself, what am I doing here?

But let’s concentrate on the positive: I have learned a lot about myself. For example, among other surprises, I can’t cut a straight line. And I can’t sew in a straight line either. I’m horrible at listening to directions—especially when distracted by more pressing issues, like threading the needle on my machine. I have also learned that I need a lot of handholding. In fact, a step–by-step instruction guide like Sandcastles Made Simple with a sewing bent might be just the thing.

To help, the teacher has started drawing blue lines on my fabric. She even placed a little piece of tape on my machine to guide me while sewing. All of this special attention is a little embarrassing.

Even with added assistance and an incredible display of patience from my instructor, I have not been able to complete any of the projects. I’m envious of the satisfaction on my classmates’ faces when they finish a pillowcase, a cute tote bag or a buttonhole for their wallets.

Maybe I’m overly ambitious for a mom of two children. And maybe that’s Cookie magazine’s problem, too. The editors want to believe their readers can do it all, and who can fault them for that? I’m just as guilty, even more so, because I am already determined to kick my sewing machine’s butt.

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She’s Crafty

This weekend, out of sheer desperation due to endless rain, I took it upon myself to make hair accessories for Lauren. I have not made anything like this since 6th grade, when streamer barrettes were all the rage. But anyway, after spotting a 6-pack of grosgrain ribbon hair clips at Target for nearly $10, I thought, I can do this myself. Crazy? I did work for Martha once, you know.

I found some spools of grosgrain ribbon for $1 each, and purchased a box of metal clips from the beauty supply store. Ted rummaged through old boxes in the basement to uncover my glue gun and I set to work, while the kids made father’s day cards.

And I did Martha proud. The barrettes came out. Lauren even wore them in her hair for longer than five minutes! There must be some kind of crazy, crafty spirit that’s taken over me, because this week, I start taking sewing classes at Z Fabrics in Portland. I have some silly, Project Runway Dream of making A-line skirts for Lauren and I.

Grosgrain Ribbon Barrettes

Grosgrain Ribbon Barrettes

Who knows? Maybe you’ll see me on Etsy someday. Crafty? Oh yeah, I’m always down.

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