A week or two ago a Facebook friend of mine posted a link to one of my favorite late-Beatles songs, Across The Universe, which I quoted in my last post. Since my friend posted that, the song has been rolling around in my head, with me “jai”-ing Guru Dev in my head over and over, despite the fact that I have no particular affinity for the Guru or the Maharishi. Interesting only because I coincidentally began reading a book that talks about brain structure and spends a chapter talking about how a meditative mindfulness practice can have a vastly positive impact on anxiety, depression and stress, on being aware of negative feelings, but regarding them with curiosity rather than allowing them to overwhelm you.
Which is why I’ve been annoying the crap out of H lately, jokingly telling him to take the negative emotions and “put them in a bubble”, loudly saying “OM, SHANTI, OM” when he gets irritated with another driver on the road, etc. I think I’m mostly joking, but in truth, there have been some interesting discussions at our house lately. I make no secret of the fact that I am not religious, but I don’t know that H is necessarily in agreement with me. Which is fine. I don’t deny him the feelings he has about spirituality, I just don’t feel them myself. And he recently brought up to me that he feels like part of his unhappiness might be due to the fact that he feels this spiritual void. And I can understand that. Life can feel hard to handle without a cosmic “parent” to rely on, to have no one to blame but yourself and the beautiful randomness of our world. It’s hard to feel like there’s no one to appeal to for some relief when life gets crappy. But to me, it fundamentally doesn’t make sense.
But anyhow, the point of my lengthy tangent is that I think H could benefit from the ideas found in mindfulness meditating, and I think I could, too. He makes fun of me, because I declare myself to be so separate from religion, but find myself mindlessly repeating mantras, and ribbing him to “give peace a chance” when he calls the other driver a dick.
So yes. I keep finding myself lately in a place of feeling very tra-la-la about the world. H is ridiculously late coming home from work again? Tra-la-la. I haven’t had a decent, uninterrupted night of sleep in well over a year? Tra-la-la. The adorable, hand-dyed green onesie just bled all over the rest of the laundry, including the one new, non-maternity article of clothing I’ve bought myself in the last year? Tra-la-la.
There’s something to be said for seeing the bad stuff, tasting it, feeling it, and just letting it wash on down the drain. Bye-bye! You’ll be back, but you’re just temporary, anyway!
In other news, we are broke. Broke like ridiculously broke. We’ve been here before, and I know how to resolve it, but basic needs are being met, no one’s going hungry, so really, it’s not that bad (tra-la-la!). I have a bunch of stuff to be sent various places (ahem. Like to Rachel.), but I just can’t seem to budget well enough to afford to spend the money on postage, which is kinda sad. Thus, I was APPALLED today when I received two matching Christmas one-piece things that my mom had spent nearly $30 EACH on, and had then spent $26 to overnight them to me, so that we’d have them to wear on our plane trip home next week. I mean, they’re cute (a puppy in a Christmas box with a train around the base), but they’ll wear them once or twice, and then be… what? Sold? I don’t know. I just looked at it and thought how nice it would have been to have had that $86+ dollars to spend otherwise. I mean, I wouldn’t even have had to try hard to have bought a TON of really nice stuff for them for that amount. I’m glad I have a mother who wants to spoil her grandkids, and I love that she thinks of them and finds such cute stuff, but eesh. It’s hard when you’re skimming by to see that sort of thing.
I can’t help but notice that since the Great Blog Outing Debacle of this past summer, I’ve been noticeably less willing to write about many things in my life. Part of that is good– I hate looking back at my posts and seeing so much negativity regarding people in my life–, but part of that kind of sucks, because there’s not much to talk about here that isn’t directly related to me or the boys, which makes for a boring read for my not-yet or non- parent readers. But, I will take this opportunity to just brush the edge of a topic here and ask: How do you politely decline a nice gift? My mother would like to take me shopping while I’m home for Christmas, would like to make a day of it, have H or my dad or other family watch the boys while she takes me out to have a nice day. And I really get the intention, and I really appreciate someone thinking of me and wanting to give me some time to myself, some time to focus on me, etc.
But honestly, I don’t want to shop for clothes for myself right now. I’m still sitting about 10 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight, and I imagine I will be until I stop nursing, which I hope will not be for a while. I’m not entirely happy with my body right now, and I know that (hopefully) by this time next year, I won’t still be so lumpy, so it makes very little sense to buy nice clothes. Especially since I don’t wear nice clothes. I don’t go anywhere that requires more than jeans, and I don’t imagine that I will any time soon (see above re. broke, etc.).
Additionally, I don’t know how to repeat myself (again) without sounding like a broken record or a harping, bossy, know-it-all, but I can’t be away from the boys that long, because I’m still nursing. (And seriously, WHAT IS IT??? Do I just seem like… I don’t know, someone who desperately needs to be told that it’s okay to stop nursing? I don’t want to stop! I must really look like it, because everyone seems to be surprised that I’m still nursing and feels the need to follow that comment up with how I don’t need to feel bad if I can’t make it a year. Really? I’m not breast feeding them out of some sort of guilt trip. It’s easier for me, it’s better for them, and -gasp- I kind of like it.) And I can’t seem to appropriately convey the physics of nursing to anyone, because, even though it would be lovely to have a day to myself, it just doesn’t work like that, not now, at least.
Anyhow, how do I politely decline the gift without repeating (again…) that I can’t be away from the boys that long, because they need to eat and I need to feed them, AND that I don’t want to buy clothing for myself right now, that I have plenty of clothes, that I just don’t have the occasion to wear much other than jeans and tees (which I already have), and that it almost nauseates me to waste money on clothes that I will wear maaaybe once (to church on xmas, or the like) especially when we have such financial need in other places right now? Honestly, were it not for the nursing issue, I’d probably just politely accept and silently cringe while thinking about how much of our winter power bill could be paid with the amount we’re spending on clothes. But, with the added factor of negotiating an eating-every-three-or-four-hours schedule (oh, AND boys who get seriously fussy and won’t nap without Mama), I just don’t know that this is possible.
Oh, and I’d suggest that I just bring the boys with me, but I know, I can just tell, that it annoys the crap out of my mom to have to take so much time out of our schedule when they’re with us to handle their needs. Their crying exhausts her– it exhausts me, too, but I can tune it out long enough to get us to an appropriate stopping point to address whatever need they have. And hassling with the stroller irritates her (and she can’t handle them in a sling or carrier because she has bad knees). And ultimately, I know that she just wants to do something nice and special for me, but instead, I’m worrying about how to deal with it all. Sigh.
Lastly, I’ve finally finished making quilts for the boys for their Christmas gifts. Initially, I thought I’d make two cut chenille quilts (tutorials found here: Made and here: Aesthetic Nest), but after making one of them, while I like it, the result didn’t really seem worth the effort. Besides, different boys, different likes, different quilts, right?
I used a grey corduroy for the backing (super soft) and three layers of recycled flannel receiving blankets for the front.
Here are the basics, if you don’t want to dig through either tutorial:
1) sew several layers of cotton fabric onto a layer of backing in half-inch lines on the diagonal
2) cut between the lines
3) put edging of some kind around edges
4) wash and dry to fray the cut fabric
My notes/issues with this project:
1) it is seriously time consuming. It takes for-frickin’-ever to sew and cut all those lines. On the upside, I’m really good at quickly winding a bobbin and rethreading my machine now. In the future, were I to do another quilt like this, I’d probably start the project by winding ten or so bobbins so I could just pop in a new one when the old one ran out, rather than stopping to wind a new one each time. And if I made a bigger one (see #2 below…), I would LOVE to have a chenille cutter to do the cutting. It wasn’t terrible with scissors, but it would have been way, way faster with a chenille cutter.
2) while I’m all for recycling, it should be noted that if you think flannel receiving blankets are too small, if you use them whole for the front of the quilt, it, too, will feel too small (duh. duh, duh, duh). It really just is a little bit too small. It will work for a lovey, or a play mat, but it won’t do much to cover him for much longer.
3) the flannel hasn’t softened up as much as I thought it would, but I’m hoping it will with use.
4) neither tutorial mentions this, but on the Olfa website (quilting product maker…), their cut-chenille tutorial notes that one should sew lines in opposing directions to avoid some of the wrinkling that can occur with the natural drifting of the layers of fabric. Made suggests using spray adhesive between the layers before sewing, but still ends up with quite a bit of crinkling. I’m a terrible sew-er, and I had not one bit of wrinkling, and I think this is because I sewed the rows in opposing directions.
All in all, it was a nice mindless project, but too time-consuming to do with little ones who need attention. It’s good in that you can put it down and pick it back up without requiring much concentration to remember where you were/what you were doing before, etc., but I like to get in a rhythm with these kinds of things (there’s that meditative nonsense again…), and that was difficult with the boys needs (even with Papa watching them, they still needed me for eating, etc.).
So, instead of making the same quilt for Jack, I decided that Mr. Barracuda Mouth (attack!) might like to have a quilt with ribbon tags to suck on. So here is his quilt:
It has the same grey corduroy backing as his brother’s quilt, but the facing is made out of a Loteria print fabric. Loteria is a Mexican game, similar to Bingo, but with pictures instead of number/letter combos. Yeah, some of the pictures are a bit morbid (La Muerte, anyone?), but the colors are so cheery. By the time he’s old enough to think it weird that his mom gave him a quilt with skulls and spiders on it, he’ll hopefully think it’s cool instead.
Basic instructions for this quilt (from my head… no tutorials here, sorry):
1) cut various lengths of various sizes and colors of ribbon and pin them into place on the right side of either the backing or the facing fabric, and then baste into place.
2) put backing/facing fabric right-sides together, and add batting. Sew around all four sides, leaving a small gap in one side to turn the quilt right side out.
3) turn the quilt right side out and stitch the gap closed (hand stitch if you’re super tidy, or just fold it and sew it with the machine if you don’t mind a small rough-ish spot on the edge of the quilt.
4) press, and then stitch again a half-inch in from the edge on the face of the quilt
5) add hand ties with a chenille needle (sew down and up through the top layer, then cut both ends two inches long and tie in a square knot, then cut down to desired length– mine were about an inch long after trimming). I used a double thickness of embroidery floss and placed about 9 ties for a quilt this size (about 31 inches square).
And that’s it! As I was doing some work on the quilt, Jack was next to me on the floor and I turned my attention elsewhere for a second and turned back and he had grabbed the quilt and was sucking on one of the ribbon tags. I knew he’d do that! Here’s to Mama knowing her baby!
Anyhow, I’m glad I did this for them. It will be something special for them to have from their first Christmas, something that they’ll hopefully have for a long time to come.
AND, for those patient enough to make it this far, here are some photos as reward:
adorable hats courtesy of Rachel.
SO CUTE. GAH.
Alien pajamas courtesy of Internet Auntie Io (come back, Io! We miss you!). They cut a dashing figure on my tall, skinny Jack.
And so. Advice? Ideas? What are you doing for the holidays?