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.

How to Occupy Your Children #1: The EpiPen Trainer

The Dad's last set of EpiPens came with a training pen.  It acts like the real thing but without the needle so you can practice and feel what that little kickback feels like.  Ella added it to the first aid kit she made at Girl Scouts.  She and Ollie spent an afternoon pretending they were injecting themselves with epinephrine.

Sometimes it's the little things that keep them the busiest.

Construction Zone

The problem with living in a house that is over 100 years old is that the work on the house is never done.  We bought this house believing that there was 20 years of work to do on it and that we would probably be here for 20 years.  Now we have been here for 5 (in two weeks!) and we are not so sure we want to be here for another 15.  So that 20 years of work?  We are trying to cram it into two.

 And you can never just do one thing.  We needed to have some sidewalk panels replaced - In Philadelphia, homeowners are responsible for the sidewalk that borders their property - and the end of our driveway repaired...  And why not replace the front steps that are starting to crumble?  Oh - and if we're replacing the front steps, this is probably the best time to replace the front door so that the steps can be finished without the old door in the way.

So the old door was pulled out yesterday.  And The Dad leaves town today for a work conference in Puerto Rico...  Which means we have fabulouly beautiful plywood in place of our front door until he comes back.  Ahhh...  Living in a construction site.  It will all be beautiful when it is done.  But it is never as easy as you first think it is going to be.

Our new door is slightly wider than the existing opening.  And the existing opening is made much more solidly than we expected.  So I see some serious wood planing in my future.  Hopefully we can get the new door in by the end of the week.  Until then, the kids are having a fun time drawing and writing on the plywood.

While the masonry crew is here, I am holed up in the house which is actually helping me get some work done!  I am participating the Philly Waldorf School Holiday Fair again in November - my first show in a year- and have really been able to get revved up in my studio.

I'm making some new things to add onto a smaller collection of my old favorites.  This show tends to be better for smaller gifty items.  I'm really liking this new pencil roll.  It needs a little tweaking but it is almost there!  Then back to my Treasure Totes (that made the Holiday Fair postcard!) and a larger version that I'm calling Library Bags.  It's funny how what I make evolves as my kids grow.  Two years ago, I made tons of the Treasure Totes.  They were the perfect size for my 4 and 6 year olds.  Now they are a little older and need something a little bigger (though they still use the Treasure Totes as their snack bags for school) so voila - the Library Bag is born.  What will I be making when the are 8 and 10?

Back in the Saddle

Thought I was gone for good?  So did I.  Yet something has been calling me back to this space over the last couple days.  It may be the change in season.  It may be that the kids are settled back in school, my studio is open again, and I feel like I have a little bit more breathing room...

I thought over the summer that I was done with eieio, with this space, and, honestly, with anything other than the kids, their school, and this house.  But that's not a very fulfilling life right now.  So I began to itch to get back into the studio.  I registered for a fall craft fair.  Last night I sat down and ordered fabric for the first time in a very long time.  I like to buy my quilting cottons locally, but for minkee fabric I need to order online.

And I am excited.  A little anxious that the fair is only about 6 weeks away, though.  I am approaching this one a bit differently.  A little more variety.  A little less mass production (read: much less than 60 Reversible Roundabout Dresses).

My days are busy.  But with some great things right now.  I'm even managing to fit in exercise!  For the first time in longer than I can remember.  All is good...

Forward Motion

I am getting re-energized.

Ollie's room is almost complete - with only curtains to be made and hung and photos to be framed.

Our bedroom is almost complete - with curtains to be made and hung and bookshelves to be stocked, organized, and 'prettified'. Oh, and walls to be adorned.

I just finished patching all of the nail holes and dings on Ella's walls.  Tomorrow I sand and start to prime. 

Operation: Home Decor Before Summer Vacation is in full swing...

The kids went back to school today after a week long Spring Break.  I loved having them home.  And not having to get everyone up and out the door at 730 every morning.  Only two months until Summer Vacation with two birthdays between now and then - one turning 6 this Wednesday and then the other turning 8 next month.  Oh how time flies...

There's been some shifting going on around here lately.  I've somehow stopped taking pictures.  I've barely been in my studio.  I've been getting some work done on the house.  Clearing out, spiffing up, and every day maintenance.  I've started baking bread again. 

I'm trying to figure out what to do with this little corner of the web of mine.  I thought I was ready to let it go but now I'm not so sure...

Yarn Bombing - Cold Comfort at the Schuylkill Center

We've been watching Melissa Maddonni Haims's installation of Cold Comfort take shape over the last couple weeks at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. I love yarnbombing.  The kids do, too.  There have been some great patches of this downtown and a couple around our neighborhood.  It is so fun to see something handmade (and colorful) like this crop up on parking meters, telephone poles, and bike racks.  But in the woods?  It is magical.

It's been amazing to watch her progress.  Tree by tree.  We ran into her one afternoon as she was wrapping up and the kids were fascinated.  We were able to see one of the 'sweaters' all rolled up and ready to go before it was stitched onto a tree.  It was massive. She told us she was aiming to do 30 trees.  30 trees!  It's like a fairy tale forest.

 They are just incredible.  One more thing to make me want to crochet.  Or knit.  Or do something with yarn.

And to watch which ones the kids were drawn to.
(It looks like recycled plastic bags were mixed into that one)

 So cool.

Candyland Lessons

In September of 1997, when I was 23 years old (woah...), I started my first Child Life Internship on the Neuroscience Unit at Boston Children's Hospital.  To begin, my job was to simply see what it was like to be a child in the hospital.  Meet the kids, play with them, get a feel for their experience...

I remember spending a morning with one child playing Candyland.  Opening the box.  Setting up the game.  "What are these picture cards?"  "This game has changed since I was a kid..."  "No", their mother told me.  "They have always been part of the game..."  Hmmm.

I went home that night and called my mom.  "When I was little and we played Candyland," - for I do remember playing Candyland. a lot. - "were there picture cards that jumped you forward and backward on the board?"

My mom was quiet for a moment.  And then laughed.  Yes, there were evidently picture card even way back in the seventies.  My mother took them out of our game and hid them.  They made the game last way too long, she told me.  As an early twenty-something, I was a little appalled. 

Fast forward fifteen years or so.  Ollie has finally discovered (and loves) Candyland.  It is out on our living room floor more often than not.  And those picture cards drive me nuts.  You see, my almost six year old is not a gracious loser.  And those picture cards?  They incite crying, whining, and board clearing swipes.  We don't even make it to the end to see who wins.  Just the anticipation of losing brings on the tears.  Oh dear, I drew Princess Frostina again.  I'm sorry!

So, I have recently thought about taking the picture cards out of our deck.  Ollie has even asked me to do so - at least he is self-aware, right?  But we keep them in.  Because there are lessons being learned here, right?  Instead, we talk about being a gracious loser.  And how Candyland is a game of chance.  And how you really don't know who is going to win until the very end.  And we take deep breaths.  And draw another card.  And hope that really that game of chance won't let me win for a third time in a row...

A Quilt

I am so happy to be back in the Studio right now - or more accurately on the living room floor...

Ollie's Kindergarten class has been studying fabric in Science - with the unit culminating in a class quilt.  Each child (and teacher) brought in an old T-Shirt from home and decorated a white quilt square.  I get to put them together into a quilt that will travel home with each kid for a night or two and be journaled about.  I love the meaning behind the fabric passing through my hands and under my iron right now.

The quilt is bigger than I have done before and has me motivated to do more after this.  Especially since my scrap pile is about three feet high.  The T-Shirts weren't as difficult to stitch as I thought they would be, thanks to Johanna at Cloth and Bobbin who reminded me that they each needed to be interfaced!  Exactly why I prefer to buy my fabric at a local shop...

So the quilt has been pieced and embroidered.  Next up, I need to make the back and then sandwich the quilt.  The quilting I have planned is a little non-traditional, I think.  Each of the white squares the kids used actually came from a kit made for tying the squares together instead of stitching them.  This means that all four corners of each square have holes cut into them.  My plan is to applique little squares over each intersection, quilting the quilt and covering the holes at the same time.  Let's hope the quilt will all fit through my machine!

Is It Really February Already?

So, somehow, January flew.  And now at the beginning of February, we are having Spring-like weather and everyone is a little confused.

But, my bedroom is coming along!  And there are some new projects coming down the pike.  While I had hoped that my room would be finished at this point, I underestimated how long the painting would really take.  Back before we had kids, I remember painting a room in a weekend.  But this room?  Oh, my, the woodwork.  Previously painted a darker color than I realized.  Three hours per coat.  One coat of primer (that should have been two) and then three coats of white paint (I told you there should have been 2 coats of primer).  But I love the look of it.

It's interesting - all of the natural light in the room actually makes it very difficult to photograph mid-day.  The color is actually this, Benjamin Moore's Serenata.

There just a little touch up to be done (I've learned to sand out the drips in between coats next time) and another coat of paint needed on the radiator cover and then I will be able to clear out all of the painting paraphernalia. 

Today I head out looking for curtains and curtain rods.  The big debate - Single rods with a heavier curtain?  Or double rods with drapes and shears.  It's that darn streetlight that shines right onto The Dad's face when we are sleeping...

January Goal #1

There are some big home improvement plans going on around here right now.  With a big push to finish them all over the next 6 months - the goal being that everything is done by the time the kids get out of school so we can just enjoy the summer without any of that hanging over our heads.

As I type, I listen to the now-less-disconcerting sound of the roofers up above.  Doing a total tear-off and installation of a new roof plus with skylights.  After the first one went in in the den, The Dad stopped for a moment and said "Really, why shouldn't we put in two (instead of one) in the office."  They really are a bit transforming...

But for January, taking no active role in the roofwork myself, my goal #1 is our bedroom re-do.  We replaced all of the windows longer ago than I can count, yet they still haven't been sanded and finished.  We installed built in bookcases even longer ago than that... Yet they still sit unfinished as well.

So, the sanding is done.  The wiping down comes next.  Then priming the whole room in prep for painting.  Oh yeah, we still have to pick just which green we want, too.  I keep coming back to this one but it may turn out just a bit too dark.  We'll decide this weekend and start splashing the color on next week.  There's also a plan for a photo wall...  And did I mention that one of the things needing to be painted in there is a fireplace?  With a detailed wood mantle?  Yes, let's hope the learning curve for painting woodwork isn't that steep...

Belated Happy New Year

We had such a nice break.  This was the first winter break in a long time that we didn't travel, and it was just so much simpler.  Some good hikes, a couple field trips, lots of time just playing at home, and the most perfect Christmas morning.  Simple.  The goal and the word that just keeps coming to mind.

And now somehow it is already January 9th, 2012.  2012!

 December was good.  And, looking back at that list of goals, pretty successful.  I cleared a bunch of extraneous crap stuff out of the house. Not all of it yet, but it just feels so much cleaner already.  The 100% plant-based diet kind of flew out the window mid-month, but it did make a big difference in how I felt so I haven't given up on that.  It may not be sustainable, but it is worth the effort.

I did sew a present or two for each of the kids.  Ollie's sheep pajamas and a Shirley (giant sheep) stuffed animal/cushion that is actually with him in school today for 'S' Share Day.  I made Ella a little bedding set for her doll bed and got most of the way through a silk velvet-y skirt (with one for her doll to match) before we realized that I had made the waistband too small.  That one needs to be revisited and finally finished.

And eieio?  Besides a couple custom orders last month I haven't even touched it.  But I've thought a lot about it and am getting ready to move forward again.  The first thing I need to do is some kind of lighting setup.  Soon...

And the goals for January?  They are already in full swing.  The house is getting picked up and cleaned on a more regular (even daily!) basis and I am getting ready to go downstairs to empty out my bedroom in preparation for painting.  There's more that I'll put into a list before the month is over.  I promise.