Going Back To Work

About eight weeks ago I went back to work. Like, really went back to work. For the last year or so I knew I was ready. Ella turned ten last Spring. My brain was growing mushy. I would go to volunteer at their school and not want to leave when my shift was over. I craved the community, the peer relationships, the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a real job. I was ready.

So I started looking. And thinking about what I wanted to do. And then I started really looking and all of the cards fell into place - as they do sometimes. So back at the end of August I started as a Teaching Assistant at a smallish private school in our neighborhood. I had originally looked for a part time position but instead jumped with both feet and not only took a full time position but also decided to move our kids there with me. The idea of managing two different school schedules while also handling The Dad's travel schedule was daunting. It all worked out...

In some ways it has been a huge adjustment. In some ways it has been a natural transition. In most ways it seems to have been a good move for all of us. It's funny, though...  I used to lament that folks here in Philly only knew me as 'Ella and Ollie's mom'. They never new me as the Child Life Specialist that I was in the Twin Cities. They never knew the me that spent her days with sick kids and their families, sharing resources, experience, and a little expertise to make their time there a little bit easier. And I went with that. And I told myself that that person was still in here, even if the people around me never knew she existed.

Today, on the porch of school at dismissal time, Ollie came and sat on my lap. Another teacher walked by and did a bit of a double take. "It's neat," she said, "to see you in your other role." And I laughed to myself -  that being Ella and Ollie's mom has, to some people, become my "other role". I feel grateful - to be where I am right now. And to be able to show different sides of myself to people. As exhausting as it is sometimes to be both Teacher and Mom simultaneously.

Happy New Year! A little late...

 Happy New Year! A little late...

The kids had an extra long winter break this year. A day short of three weeks.

It was wonderful. Yes, they got bored. Yes, they fought. It wasn't necessarily the idyllic days of playing legos, reading books, and exploring outside that we imagined it could be but two thirds of the way through I realized that something else had happened.

Generally during vacation, I am constantly counting down in the back of my mind. Trying to fit all of our fun vacation pieces into a limited number of days...  Five days left and we still haven't gone here. Only two days left and we haven't gotten to do this yet...

About two weeks into the break, I stopped paying attention to the days. I stopped thinking about when the kids needed to go back to school. It stopped feeling like vacation and just started feeling like life. And that was wonderful.

Making a Minion

 So Ollie really wanted to be a Minion for Halloween. He was set on it and didn't even want to consider anything else.

 That was at the beginning of October. We searched the internet for ideas. He really wanted something realistic - it had to have the shape of a minion. None of this yellow swim cap and homemade goggles...

We found some ideas making the top out of paper mache. Formed over a physio ball. It was looking more and more complicated and more and more expensive. Maybe we could use a bowl - a ball would make the frame bigger than necessary. He's only 7 and pretty lanky...

Then in the middle of October we found this.  There we got the idea of using a bullet trash can. As the end of October neared, we started looking for an inexpensive trash can in that style. This proved much more difficult than expected! Not at Target... Not at our local hardware store that usually has everything...

We were getting down to the wire. I suggested to Ollie that maybe we could come up with something else that he could be for Halloween since we might not get to make the Minion costume in time. He cried. I found the trash can at Home Depot for $13 on the 28th.

The Dad cut off the bottom and cut the holes out the night of the 29th. I spent the 30th making the body and the head - going through almost a whole bag of hot glue sticks. I made the overalls on the 31st and attached the hair 5 minutes before we left the house for trick-or-treating.

Visibility was a little limited, but he had a blast. I think my favorite part was the little boy we ran into who kept yelling 'MINION' and hugging him...

Now we have a life size Minion sitting on our porch. Ollie wants to save it. I'm not sure he'll still fit in it next year. He wants to set it up in his room for decoration but the bottom is soft since the foam and fabric hang down below the can frame. After dedicating two days to it, I don't really just want to trash it. Any suggestions?

Six Years

Six Years. Six years ago today we drove into Philly and closed on our house. Our 100+ year old house. Our kids were 18 months and almost 3 1/2 years old.

I've been reading old posts over the last couple days from this blog and an older one I had. I've been thinking about why I don't write in this space any more even though I miss it.

I realized that part of it is because my kids are older. At 7 and 9 they are not 'cute' and 'little' anymore. My fourth grader has body odor. My 2nd grader has just realized that he and his sister are not actually equal - that she is older and gets to stay up later and do more things. And he doesn't like that one bit.

I read some posts to them last night and showed them some pictures. Ollie asked if I would keep writing about what he does so that when he's older he can look at it and remember.

I was reminded that every day is still a project. A process. This project of parenting. This house. Discovering who we are and who we want to be. Striving to live more simply and create some semblance of calm and peace in our home.

I haven't been making anything lately, either. Unless you count my first attempt at coconut macaroons last night. And I really miss it. eieio is going by the wayside - with just a few pieces left to post in the shop and give as gifts. I am not doing any craft shows this season. I love sewing but I don't always love making the same things over and over again. I miss sewing for my family. I look at those old pictures and the kids are wearing things I've made. I remember for a while whenever Ollie would get something new - no matter where it came from - he would ask me "Who made this?". As I have stepped away from creating, they think less of it in their every day lives. I don't like that.

So The Dad and I have a list of projects for the next couple months. Lots of work on the house - fun stuff like carpeting and painting. But also things like finally sewing Ollie's curtains (for which I've had the fabric for a year and a half).

And we're changing the way we are parenting. Growing with our kids. Teaching them to be more independent so that, some day, when they go off into the world without us they will have a little bit of an idea of what they are doing.

I'm going to try again to share some of that here. I'm not making any promises but I'm hopeful... We'll see.


We've had a rough month or two around here. Tempers are short. Kids are tired. No one is getting to bed on time very often.

And I've realized that as we are counting down to the last day of school (17 days!), I am also counting down the last days of all of the kids' various activities. One more Girl Scout Meeting, two more Circus classes, two more swimming lessons, one last baseball game...

Looking back, I can see the tipping point - where things went awry. That would be when baseball began. We did okay with a couple after school activities but adding Baseball to the mix did us in. Two practices per week. 1-2 games per week. Practices that run from 530-715 on a school night. When our kids are usually in bed by 730. For our just-turned-7-year-old it has been too much. And has rippled through the rest of the house.

So we are excited for summer to come, but we have also been re-examining our plans for the Fall and what the kids will be involved in. The problem is that there is SO MUCH they want to do. "If you get to choose TWO activites to do at a time..."  "Drama Club and Circus Class." "Oh and soccer - Dad wants to coach." That's not two...

How did we get here? With something every. single. day? And how do we pull back? So that I don't spend every afternoon rushing them to do their homework so we have time to read before bed? My kids - all kids, really - are so much happier when they have time to just play, or hang out, or read, or go to bed early...

So we are going to try that 'two activities at a time' in the fall. And we are going to cherish our unscheduled summer (with just a couple weeks of camp scattered in there) and see if we can't reclaim our balance. All of us.


I've started running. Before today, I would have more called it walk/running but today I feel like I can actually call what I am doing 'running'. And I feel like the more people I tell, the more I will be held accountable and the more likely I am to follow through with it. So I'm saying it here!

I have never been a runner. Even in elementary school, when we did laps around the gym? I walked as much as I ran. Organized sports? I usually played defense, partly so I didn't have to chase anyone. But I've always loved the idea of it. And I am really enjoying it so far.

I am fortunate to live near the largest urban park in the world. Why run on sidewalk and pavement when you can run on Forbidden Drive, along the Wissahickon Creek, in what feels like the middle of the woods? It is a beautiful way to start the day.

I'm following the Couch to 5K program and trying to choose a 5K to run in a couple months. The colorful ones (Color Me Rad, The Color Run) look really fun and laid back but I don't know how I feel about inhaling the gallons of colored cornstarch they bomb you with. The coolest one I've seen so far?  The Zombie Run. Unfortunately there's no way in hell I'm going to be ready for that in three weeks. Maybe next year...

All Kinds Of Awesomeness Around Here

As Ella is getting ready to turn 9, I see this shift happening.  To 'Tween'ness.  And sometimes it makes me sad. There are still moments of unbridled awesomeness around here, though, to be found and cultivated.
Following the extra-loud, nasally honkytonk singing through the house to the kitchen the other day, I found this:

And instead of telling her to get off the table, I laughed and told her I loved her.  And listened to her sing her crazy song about when she is an old woman, Playing the guitar cutting board that usually hangs on the kitchen wall...

Happy March - and the Tea Party Doll Dress

Somehow I've stopped carrying my camera around with me over the last couple months. And while I enjoy being in the moment a bit more and not behind the lens, I feel like I'm missing something. So I'm signing up for a photography class to see if I can do something about that. And paying for a photography class? Means I need to get back in the studio! Which I have also been neglecting since I finished the Waldorf Fair last November. What? It's March already? Okay, I'm ready for Spring. And clear skies, warm weather, and that feel of new beginnings.

I did at least get in the studio for long enough to sew a doll dress. Which of course then led to Ella asking for a matching one for her. In a different print - which means I need to make another doll one. They actually come together very easily. I love the way it flairs out a bit at the bottom.

  I'm going to make a muslin first to make sure Ella's fits before I go through making the whole thing. Ella is definitely not an off-the-rack size and is picky about how things fit - this girl who always wanted to wear twirly skirts and dresses now won't wear anything too 'baggy'. The doll dress was from Liesl Gibson's Little Things to Sew. She has a somewhat similar pattern out for girls - the Seashore Dress. With a similar line and pockets.  It's currently spread all over my studio floor for tracing. Now if I can just get it done in time for Easter...

Waiting for the Storm

We still have power while we wait for the brunt of Hurricane Sandy to hit.

For a moment, when I awoke this morning, I thought that the hurricane had passed us by...  that it was over.  The news, though, says otherwise.  So we have spent the day in a state of anticipation.  Waiting for this hurricane that is supposed to hit land tonight yet has already disabled our city.

The kids are out of school for what feels like indefinitely.  Unless, for some reason, the power outages and flooding don't happen, they will return Thursday at the earliest.

So we sit here in our house.  Waiting for the lights to go out.  Praying that our trees stay standing and our basement stays dry.  And that all those in more treacherous locations stay safe.

Our makeshift attempt to divert water away from our outside basement stairwell.
And we can't DO anything.  We can bake.  We can raise up our chest freezer in our basement, roll up the rug and place it on sawhorses, get things like mats and toys up off the floor and onto tables.  We keep the kids occupied and don't put on the news.  They get to watch movies and take over my studio - sewing baby sheep and doll clothes.  They eat pie for breakfast and brownies at 430.

We fill pitchers of water and stock the fridge with homemade pizza and apple crisp.

And wait...


I can make plans and resolutions and changes every day but what it really comes down to is: I just need to be happy with what I have.

Inspired by Habit.