Monday, September 14, 2015

“But what do you do all day?”

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Today is the first day I am home while all of my kids are at school. Last week, during the first two mornings my little guy was at pre-school, I ran errands. It may have been to accomplish the mile-long list of tasks that had been waiting for some “free time”, or it may have been to avoid this moment. I’m. Home. Alone. It seems fitting that today is also my oldest child’s 11th birthday… on the anniversary of another life-changing day, I am once again experiencing a major life transition.

“But what do you do all day?”

This weekend I was talking with another mom of an 11 year old. Her daughter is an only child, so she’s been dealing with the concrete reality of this question a lot longer than I have. No one has yet had the chance to ask me… impertinently… accusatorily… what they think is rhetorically… about my lifestyle. She says she hears it all the time. That feels so wrong to me, but… now I’m fair game too, right? And haven’t I asked myself this same question? What the heck am I going to with these hours now that the baby is in pre-school? What can I possibly do with this time, other than find employment outside the home, that won’t leave me feeling ashamed of myself when someone asks me that question?

Isn’t that sad? (Now that is a rhetorical question.)

Mothering doesn’t stop just because no one is home. And neither does being a human being, for that matter. There will always be parental involvement spanning the “off hours”, no matter how many or few of those hours there may be. And perhaps, after 11 years of necessarily trading self-care for childcare, it’s okay to take a few extra minutes in the shower, or eat a meal while it’s still warm, or smell the flippin’  roses. I happen to have 4 kids, but if I had more or fewer that would not be material to this question. Mothering is mothering… it is many things but it is NOT a part-time job.

I don’t think that I should feel compelled to frantically use this time to clean my refrigerator, or better myself through further education or guilt-induced exercise, or get a paying job, simply so I can answer to the satisfaction of strangers about what I choose to do with my time.

So, do you know what I’m going to do all the blessed day?

I’m going to use my time to take care of my family first, myself second, other people third, and - if I have any minutes leftover - I’m going to do whatever the hell I want and not care a bit what anyone else thinks.

I know this a is a good plan because anyone could ascribe to it and the world would still be better off. If you sum up the heart of what the most admirable people do, you’d find this to be true as well. It’s universalizable… a hallmark of moral decision-making. Just ask Kant. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to ice some dinosaur cupcakes…

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Maxi Skirt to Midi Dress Refashion

If this post had hashtags, they would be #desperatetimes #desperatemeasures.

I find myself in need of warm weather clothing even as the brisk weather of Fall approacheth. The fam is taking a trip to what is self-acclaimed to be the Happiest Place on Earth, and it’s going to be HOT and also humid.

The solution here is twofold:

a) Quick, find some shorts I don’t hate. ((I’ll work on my pants sewing skills another time))

b) Buy or whip up some skirt and/or dresses appropriate to the situation.

I have managed to solve a), but b) has not been as forthcoming. I just have not liked anything I am seeing in actual stores for actual money. Granted, it’s the end of the season, but still. I guess I am old since I can’t accept current fashion trends. Sigh. However, while hunting for some school necessities for my kids, I found a clearance maxi skirt at Kohls that I like. The problem? It was a size 3X.

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I am a medium sized person generally, so this was going to be a problem. But the $8 skirt had a lot of fabric, with pre-matched chevron stripes that I couldn’t resist. So… time for a quick refashion!

While holding it up to my own body to figure out if it would be long enough for a dress, I folded the waistband down and was inspired to flip the bodice upside down for a quilty, stripey diamond pattern. Here is what I did:

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My bodice pieces were made from a rub-off of a tank top I had. No darts… embrace the knit!

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The construction was basic… I sewed together the top (preserving the wide elastic waistband), then the skirt, then attached them and finished the neck and armhole edges.

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I preserved the original hem which caused the sides to be a tad longer than the front and back. That might have bothered me were I not quite so desperate, or if the skirt had been long enough to accommodate a new hem that would have still been long enough for my thirty-something sensibilities. As it is, I will call it “character” and leave it at that :)

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And, for posterity, a super awkward dress-in-action selfie. Yep… Hi. My name is Karen and I’m a dork :)

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I really do like the end result. This is a dress that is not completely pretty on the inside, but I don’t care. I like the stripes, I like the gray, and it is super comfy. It is far from perfect but who cares? It’s at least as well constructed as what is available ready-to-wear. I harbor secret desires to make another dress before we go, but I don’t know if that’ll happen because REALITY. But we’ll see :)

New dress? check.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Where did summer go?

School starts tomorrow! This summer has blown by, with a bazillion home improvement and d├ęcor projects (some lingering in various states of completion), some lovely trips (exhausting but memorable!), lots of good food and spending time with the many and varied people who enrich our lives. It has been truly truly a wonderful summer! But today is the very last little itty bitty bit and we’re trying to pull it together for a new school year adventure. The kids are ready. I still need the handful of short hours I have left…

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Summer in SE Michigan seems to be hanging on for dear life too… it’s beyond hot and muggy. Even my insulated cups are sweating in our no central AC lifestyle. But it’s good to feel like we really got all the summer out of summer this year… last year I felt a  little robbed with a back injury and recovering from the move.

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My baby (not really a baby anymore!) starts preschool this year. In addition to all the obvious good that he will get out of this deal (our school has an amazing preschool), I am really looking forward to having some solo time on a regular basis. I don’t have huge aspirations of getting my habitation objectively clean for the first time in over a decade – maybe next year when school is an everyday affair for all the kids - but I do hope to be able to get to a lot of tasks which, in my home and with my people, could easily have been exchanged for the eternal torment of Sisyphus. Tasks like organizing a bookshelf. Or laundry.

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Whatever the Fall will bring, I pray that you and I both have the confidence to meet all challenges with optimism, the willpower to let go of inevitable frustrations, and the ability to find a source of joy every day. Let’s get to it…

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