Thursday, January 28, 2016

It Really Is Enough...

Over the past few years, I've watched as my children chart their adult courses, trying to determine what they'll want their adult lives to look like.  It's fascinating.  One dreams of wealth and one secretly dreams of writing the "Great American Novel"...pretty typical stuff.  But one of my kids wonders why modest dreams are discouraged.  Why is it that we can't aim to have a job that allows us to provide well enough?  Are dreams only worth pursuing if they're flashy?  Do we really have to "go big or go home"?

This blog post by A Life In Progress is bouncing around FB right now and this blogger tackles the same issue, far more eloquently than I. "What if I all I want is a small, slow, simple life? What if I am most happy in the space of in between. Where calm lives. What if I am mediocre and choose to be at peace with that?  But what if I just don’t have it in me. What if all the striving for excellence leaves me sad, worn out, depleted. Drained of joy. Am I simply not enough?" Interestingly, the comments on the post are as powerful as the post itself.  She is not alone.  There are a lot of us asking the same questions about life. 

It seems to me that we need to start asking ourselves what definition of excellence we're using?  What definition of successful are we measuring ourselves against?  What value judgment are we placing the adjectives we use to define our lives?  Why are words such as "small", "simple", "plain", and "humble" deemed negative?  When we flip a coin, one side is not inherently better than the other, so why are we judging our lives in such a manner? 

I have loved being a stay-at-home mom.  Seriously.  I love this simple, unexciting-to-many life.  I don't dream of huge purchases (although the carpet is pretty bad!) or a lavish lifestyle.  I can't even imagine myself living that way.  I love my old car, it does the job for me.  I love CrossFit, even though I suck at it.  I love sewing, even though I still haven't made my own wardrobe.  I love having all these animals (four dogs, two cats, three birds, and one hamster, at last count!), even though it feels chaotic at times.  I love having time for my family and friends (although my sister and I really need to live in the same time zone!) and for learning new things and making friends where I live and being part of the community.   I especially love my family, even though they're crazy making at times.  I love myself, even though I'm not young or beautiful or skinny or cellulite-free.    

Before I lived this life, I was a secretary.  I loved that job, too...I love being behind the scenes, helping everyone stay on track.  I never wanted to be the Big Boss...I just liked making the Big Boss's life easier.  I've always been this way, as far back as I can remember.  I liked working at McDonald's when I was 16, I liked being a receptionist when I was 17, I liked being a hostess at a restaurant when I was 19, and I liked being a dispatcher for small company when I was 22.  I like When I was a very little girl, I wanted to be a nurse, never a doctor, because doctor's rushed in and rushed out, while nurses stayed to take care of the patients.  I've always wanted to be the caretaker.  It's just who I am and it is good. 

When I remember I like who I am, and ignore the messages of "not enough" the world sends, life falls into place.  My family is happy, my household hums, my spirit sings, and I have joy and friendship to share.  

So, as I counsel my child who is going to be rich, I say, "May I have a small guest house on your estate?".   

When I talk with the one who is secretly dreams of writing something that will be received with worldwide acclaim, I say, "Keep've always loved it."   

And, as I counsel a child who wonders if modest is enough, I have to say, "Yes, it really is enough".  

We need the modest and we need the flashy.  We need the quiet and we need the loud.  We need the chaos and we need the calm.  And we need everything in between.  There is a place for each of us, if we're brave enough to fight for it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sleeve Garters-- Perfect for Your Baggy Sweaters

I'm sure we've all seen the images of a bygone era where men wore sleeve garters which looked something like this:

Photo Credit: Western Emporium
These were functional staples of a man's wardrobe, designed to customize the fit of his shirt and protect it from the grime of the day. 
Photo Credit: Norman Rockwell Museum Store

We don't see them often today, although even David Beckham gave them a try.  (Who knew?)   Having said that, this is NOT a post advocating you encourage your husband to adopt them.  Not even close.

It's sweater weather and I love oversized sweaters, but I don't like baggy cuffs and dangling sleeves.  From getting in the way to being a danger when I'm cooking, my sweater sleeves need to be kept off my hands.  Using a pony-tail holder has worked to keep my sleeves up and out of my way in a pinch, but cutting off the circulation in my arms really isn't fun, so I really needed a better alternative . I headed to my computer for inspiration.

Photo Credit: Quaint Street- Ebay
I remembered these mom had a pair or two in the 80s, and, while I loved the idea, they were too small for my forearms way back then, so they definitely might be a problem now (that whole circulation issue).  Still, I pulled up Amazon and gave them a quick search and you can still buy them here, if you're interested.  When I pulled up those bands, though, the sleeve garters for men came up, too, and an idea was born.

I decided to make my own sleeve garters out of ruffled elastic.  I could customize the length and the color to suit my needs, plus I could do this project really, really inexpensively.  Ruffled elastic comes in many colors at your local Hancock Fabric or any other fabric store.  It runs about $3.00 a package (use a 50% off coupon and it will be even better).  I have a lot of black sweaters, so I made my sleeve garters black to blend in.

 I cut two lengths of elastic each half an inch larger than the circumference of my forearm (where I wanted my sweater cuffs to rest).  Then I sewed the ends together to make a circle and a sleeve garter was born. (Be careful not to twist your want your bands to lay flat.)

After that, it was a five minute sewing project (no machine needed if you don't have one!) and I had sleeve garters.

Just slip the garter on the outside of your sweater sleeve and roll it into the cuff as you roll (or one fold and then push!) your sleeves up. 

They stay up all day without cutting off your circulation as long as you measured your elastic correctly.  (Honestly, it was much more difficult to take a picture of my own arm than it was to make the sleeve garters.)

You can use them for any kind of sleeve that you want to keep higher up on your arm...blazers, blouses, sweatshirts.  Super simple problem solver!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Neglected, but not forgotten...

My blog has been neglected for the past two years (at least!), while I got on with navigating this thing called life.  Before my eyes, my children went from children to adults (almost completely) and what they wanted and, importantly, needed from me changed drastically.  There were growing pains for us all.  Here's the thing:  I've loved being a stay-at-home mom.  I know not everyone does and that's okay, but for me, I've loved it.  I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be and where I wanted to be.   I never resented the opportunity costs associated with staying home. 

Change is inevitable and unavoidable and, if I'm honest, to be desired.  After all, if I've done my job correctly, my children will be independent, capable individuals who will not need me to wait in the wings, managing their lives from the shadows.  And, if the past few years have been any indication, I've done a terrific job.  My children are fascinating individuals, each charting a different path, as they wind their way toward adulthood.  I couldn't be more proud of them for bravely charting their courses (and I'm pretty proud of myself for letting go of the reins so they could!).  They've taught me so much...I continue to be transformed by the privilege of raising them.

A quick recap of the kids, and then they won't be here much (adult privacy and all that!):  Charming has been living out of the house for almost 6 years and will be 25 next month.  He's a terrific person who is teaching himself piano and programming in his free time...oh, and he's getting ready to run his first half-marathon.  Valiant is going to be 20 next month and is a Junior at EWU with a goal to finish with two degrees (one in Mechanical Engineering and one in Physics)...yeah, he didn't get that from me.  When he's not at school or work, he's contemplating Descarte or religion and is active in his church.  Buttercup will be 17 in two months...she's attending both the local junior college (through Running Start) and our local high school, where she throws javelin and does all sorts of creative things with pottery.  When she's not at school or work, she can be found tooling around in her little truck, most likely headed to or from one gym or another, or headed off to a sporting event.  (Oh, yeah, she's pretty darned pleased by the Carolina Panthers right now...she's a fan.)

So, back to my that you know where I've been, I hope you'll forgive my absence.  I have been doing so much, I'm eager to get back to sharing it with you.  Random thoughts, sewing projects (I'm pretty proud of my progress!), my CrossFit fails (a shoulder injury a few years ago seriously derailed me...still no pull-up, darn it!!), mostly grain-free recipes (Amish Baked Oatmeal is still a morning favorite--haven't given up oats entirely!), DIY, and anything else that occurs to my blogging mind.

Anyway, to the people who asked (last year!) where I got the wheels for my New Craft Table, my husband just found them at Home Depot.  They're nothing special, you could use any that will support the weight of your table.

That's it for now...have a great day!