Monday, April 23, 2012

Batter Up: 2nd Inning

Thing 2's baseball quilt is now all pieced together.

Next step: quilting both quilts.

Warning: this is going to take a while. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Batter Up: Update

After seeing the first draft (pre-quilted) version of Thing 1's quilt, Superman insisted I make one addition.

And when I say he insisted, I mean he insisted.

At first, I just thought he was kidding.  But then he made it very clear that he was 100% dead serious.

So I made the addition.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Batter up!

Most of my craft projects lately seem to be projects I'm doing for somebody else.  Either because they are paying me to do it (Yay!) or because I'm making it as a gift.

So I'm happy to take a break and work on a project for me (well, really for my kids, but still...).

My twin sons will be turning 5 in June.  And their room is still decorated using the theme we chose for their nursery.

We have finally decided the time has come to update their room to a little more mature theme.  We (with their help) chose: baseball.

A few months ago, I started looking for baseball linens for their bed, but I was disappointed that I could only find either a specific team or general sports together (baseball, basketball and football).  But I wanted something that was just general baseball.

It was also around this time that I started making t-shirt quilts.  So Superman, being the brainiac he is, suggested I make them t-shirt quilts using all baseball shirts.


I started by raiding his closet.  Then surveying shirts that Thing 1 and Thing 2 had almost outgrown (unfortunately I'd already given away all of their smaller size shirts).  Then, I hit up our local Goodwills.  Multiple times.

And finally, I had enough t-shirts to make two twin size quilts.  So this past week, after I finished Laya's quilt, I started cutting and laying out both quilts.

So far I have only sewn together the top for Thing 1's quilt:

Next I will work on Thing 2s.

And then, my favorite (for creativity) and least favorite (time-consuming) step: quilting.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I love my job

While evaluating some text books yesterday, I came across an excerpt in a chapter dealing with working/careers in the United States.  The main point of the article was that more and more Americans choose careers not based on how much money they'll make, but rather jobs that interest them and make them feel personally fulfilled.

According to the author's study, the following are the most important things most Americans say they value in a job:

1. I'm treated with respect and shown confidence in my abilities.
2. There is variety in my daily work.
3. I find challenge in my work.
4. There is an opportunity for advancement.
5. The work I do contributes to society.

Reading through this list, I was reminded once again why I hate my job. When complaining to Superman or my best friends about why I hate my job, I tend to focus on the little monotonous issues I have with my colleagues.  But really, it is these broader issues that have nothing to do with anyone else (well I guess except #1, which feeds into the issues I have with my colleagues) which are the real heart of my problems.  Of everything on that list, the only one I can say I have at my current job is #5.  And even that I feel is a stretch.

I'm still hopeful that 2012 brings a change for me.  I know it's possible to love your job.  I have had jobs that I loved.  And I hope to one day (SOON!) be again able to say "My name is Amber, and I love my job."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My name is Amber

There are few things more precious in the world to me than hearing my sons call for me.  Thing 1 calls me "Mom".  Thing 2 calls me "Mommy".

But for 27+ years, I was not "Mom" or "Mommy" or "Ma-ma" or "Thing 1 & Thing 2's mom", I was just Amber.

For the first few years of my sons' lives, I think I was fairly typical of many of today's parents, allowing my whole life to be consumed by loving my kids.  I worked full time, but when I wasn't at work, I was at home with my kids. Taking care of my kids.  Loving my kids. Playing with my kids.

My scrapbooking supplies went untouched.  My sewing machine gathered dust.  My softball mitt languished somewhere in a box in the garage.  Forgotten.  Probably more than 75% of my Facebook posts had something to do with my kids or parenting.  (Much to the annoyance of I'm sure about 99% of my Facebook friends.)

It makes sense in many ways really.  Becoming a parent truly changes your life.  The who you were before becomes transformed.  Suddenly things that seemed important before no longer seem important.  You have new priorities.  A new identity.  New prerogatives.  Add that to a hearty dose of working mother's guilt, and you have a recipe for a woman who begins to spend every spare moment with or about her children, not feeling she deserves any time for herself.

But now my boys are older.  They will be 5 soon.  They attend preschool.  They have friends.  They are incredibly more independent.  I can see that they are slowly developing lives outside of me, outside of my husband, and our little family.

And this is a good thing.  Watching their independence reassures to me that they deserve their little lives away from me, away from being the sons.  And that I deserve some time away from them, away from being the mom.

Over the last year, I have started scrapbooking again.  I have started sewing again.  I have gone to crafting workshops on a Saturday.  I've even looked into weekend long scrapbook retreats.  I joined a co-ed softball team.  I have un-apologetically been getting involved with activities that are just for me. Me.

And on a sunny afternoon when Superman takes the boys over to the baseball game, and he calls and asks if I want to meet them there on my way home from work.  And then he tries to guilty me into saying yes by putting Thing 2 on the phone and saying "Please mommy, we want you to come watch baseball with us."  I feel perfectly fine saying "No thanks.  Maybe next time honey." And maybe next time I will go.  But this time, I will use that free time to do something I want to do instead.

Because while I'm still Thing 1's "Mom" and Thing 2's "Mommy", I'm also Amber. And I can't forget about her.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What do you do when you don't like a kid?

Yesterday one of my favorite bloggers posted a blog about having a nanny.  And one of the things I thought was interesting about her justification for being a stay-at-home-mom with a nanny is that only in the United States do we have this "my child, my problems" mentality.  Almost everywhere else still lives by the "it takes a village approach."

It got me thinking: As an American, I am very careful about reprimanding other people's children, because you never know when a parent will go ape-shit on you.

"Oh no you didn't just tell my child to stop kicking that kid!"

The next thing I know I'd be in a youtube video titled "Moms get in cat fight at playground."

So what do you do when a little kid is being a jerk?  

Really, at a playground is the easiest place to deal with this situation.  Tell your kid to stay away from the kid that is hitting/pushing/calling names/spitting/acting a fool.  If he doesn't, just leave.  You will most likely never see that little jerk again.

And while all kids can be little jerks once in a while, what do you do when there is a kid you know that is just generally a little jerk most of the time?

If it is a friend's kid, we just stop hanging out with that friend when the kids are involved.

But what do you do when the kid, the one that you see as a negative influence, is a more permanent fixture in your child's life that you can't simply weed out? What do you do if they are in their class at school, or go to the same church, or are on the same tee-ball team, or live on the same block.  Are you going to have them change classes?  Switch churches?  Transfer leagues?  Move!?!?  Even if you would/could do any of those things, in all likelihood, you'd just run into a new, different problem kid there, too.  You can't just keep moving.

And let me interrupt for a second to say that we in no way think our kids are perfect. All you have to do is read my blog to know that I know my kids can be loud and unruly. They can be mean (but usually only to each other).  But #1 we acknowledge our children's imperfections, and we are constantly working on positive reinforcement and constructive discipline to curb these behaviors. But most parents with the kids I can't stand think that their kid wears a halo and poops rainbows.  (You can't fix it if you can't/won't admit there is something wrong.) #2 I don't want them picking up any more bad behaviors while we are trying to correct the ones they already have!

Am I the only one with these dilemmas?  Are other parents facing similar situations?  What do you do???

Or am I just a jerk for thinking little kids can be jerks?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Process of Becoming a Mom (Guest Blogger)

A few weeks ago, I asked one of my best friends if she would be willing to write a guest blog. She'd never written a blog before, and didn't really know what to write about. I said "Just write about a hard aspect of parenting. Something you think another mother in your shoes could relate to."  I suggested she tackle what it was like to be a Navy wife. Or why she longs for a big family (she is currently a mom of three and she wants one more!)  But she felt something else in her heart, and I think you'll love the topic she picked.  Even if you can't exactly relate, it's a touching, inspiring, and moving story.  Let's welcome Christie...

“Wow! That guy is hot!”  That is what I thought when I first saw my husband.

There was definitely an instant physical attraction, but there was also great conversation. His ability to make me laugh was unstoppable. We were practically inseparable from the moment we met.

From very early on, I knew in my heart he was my future, no matter what my friends said or the warnings from my parents.

My friends thought we argued too much, but I saw it as our passion for each other.

My parents said to stay away from Navy guys, because they leave you for months at a time.  But I knew I could handle it, since I had grown up watching my mom go through it with my dad always being deployed as a naval captain.

And it turned out that none of those things were what I struggled with. No, I struggled with the fact that I wasn’t the only girl in his life...and never would be.

She was beautiful, sweet, and at 2 years old, already very determined.  Zoë was his daughter, and I adored her the moment I met her.

Phil had just separated from his wife of two years and was moving to Virginia to stay. Zoë would be joining him as soon as he was settled in, and she would be living with him the majority of the time.

I was only 24, and still used to being a carefree party girl.  It was going to be a major adjustment.  And fast.  But I knew in my heart that my future was with Phil.  And I knew that if my future was with him, then it was also with her, and I needed to find a way to make it work.

It wasn’t easy.

And not only did I have an instant daughter, but I also now had an ex-wife to deal with. I put my mind to it to make it work, and decided the only thing to do was make nice with his ex. I figured the least I could do was be friendly and compassionate towards her.  Because she wasn't just Phil's ex, she was also Zoë's mother.  I tried putting myself in her shoes. I tried to imagine what she was probably going through. I knew losing her husband and her baby girl must have been devastating.

Making the effort to be nice and understanding with Zoë's mother one of the best decisions I ever made.  It really does make things so much easier for Zoë, and she is the one who matters. We continue to have a very friendly relationship to this day. I really do like who she is and respect her for what she has been through and persevered.

Nearly a year and a half after we met, Phil proposed to me on Christmas Day. I didn't have to pause for even 1 second.  I immediately said Yes! I had known for a good while that he was the one, I was just waiting patiently for him to figure it out, too! Luckily, he didn’t make me too wait long.

We married 8 months later and moved into our first place together. Less than a month after our wedding, he left for his first deployment of our marriage. He also left behind Zoë. She only stayed with me a short while before she left to stay with her mom for the rest of the deployment. I went from a family of three to being a single woman again. I couldn't believe how much I missed them both, and anxiously awaited their return.

It seemed like an eternity, but after a few months they both came back and I fell right back into my roles as wife and mother.

It wasn't easy.  I often struggled, to say the least, and questioned myself many times. But I realized that I struggled most because I was jealous of her. She got all of his attention, and I had to fight for a simple moment alone with my newly wed husband. I felt cheated that here I was wanting to be a normal newlywed, but my role as mom took precedence. I started to resent her and take it out on her.

Looking back now, I am sorry that in those days I was too quick to anger, yelled a lot, and forgot how to just have fun and love her. I was hard on her to eat perfectly, clean up after herself, behave in daycare, etc. I know now that I was being very unrealistic.

I didn't have that maternal bond with her, and I desperately wanted it. I prayed every night that I could let my frustration go and just love her. I couldn’t vent about my feelings to my husband either because it seemed he always defended her, and I needed his support. He couldn’t understand what I was going through.  He had never been a stepparent. I felt love for her, but knew I’d never be able to love her like he did.

Or so I thought at the time.

As the years went by, I found that with time and lots of patience that I did indeed grow to love her more than anything.

I now have two of my own biological children, two little boys. And I can say with certainty that my love for my daughter is no different than my love for my sons.

And I'm so thankful to Zoë.  Because she taught me more than I could have ever learned on my own about patience and unconditional love. She helped me learn when to put my foot down and when I needed to stop and just enjoy the moment. She helped me loosen up about the house. Helped me see that it's okay to let it be messy sometimes, because it can always be cleaned up later. In fact, she will help. She really is an amazing little person and I feel so blessed to have her in my life.

Zoë taught me how to be a mom.

And be a better person in general.

I can't even express how much I LOVE being a mom.  I feel like it's been my true calling all along. And I credit a lot of the kind of mom I am now to this little girl. Even though we struggled at first, and she didn’t deserve my short comings in those early years, she still loved me back unconditionally.

And I have realized that she didn’t ask for me either, but she made the most of it as well. She grew with me as I did with her. She makes my life complete and I wouldn’t want to imagine my life without her in it.

Now that my oldest son is 3 years old, I can remember back to many of the struggles I had when she was 3, and I am having the same struggles with him today. I see so clearly now that it's just the way 3 year olds are, and I was the one setting unrealistic demands on her.

But thanks to her, and the amazing relationship we now have, I know that this too shall pass and that these struggles are all worth it!

Can I just add that I am so glad Phil brought this little girl into our lives!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I need some Spring Fever

So, you can probably tell by yesterday's post that I was a little cranky.  Some days I just feel like a time bomb about to explode with anger and sadness. Yesterday was just one of those days. I felt on the verge of tears almost all late morning and afternoon.

But I felt much better after going home and talking with Superman. He really is my rock. He really can make me feel better like no one else can.

I think that a large part of my problem is stress at work. I just wish I could force myself to not let my work stress and worry affect my interactions with my kids. Because I hate my job and I love my kids.

Monday, April 2, 2012


So, this morning I signed Thing 1 and Thing 2 up for Kindergarten.

First, can I just say I had this little daydream about how perfect our morning would go...  Them dressed cutely in shorts and tshirts, with their hair side swept, and smiling and laughing excitedly about getting to visit their "kindergarten school."

But instead, they were little spawns of Satan. Running around.  Running into glass walls.  Being WAY too loud for a school environment (yes, they spent a lot of time singing a cute song they'd made up, but there is a time and place boys!).  Thing 2 swinging his dog purse around, even after swearing to me that if I let him bring it in that he would not misbehave with it ("Mom, it's not a toy.").  Then throwing said dog purse at each other.  Me trying to fill out gads of paperwork in between "boys stop that" "boys inside voices"  "boys quit throwing" "are you two too little to come to kindergarten?  You aren't acting like big boys right now, maybe you need to stay in preschool with the little kids."  I didn't dare look around to see the looks I must have been receiving as the other parents sat with their single children sitting quietly.

Am I a bad mother that I obviously lose my cool in said situations and just can't seem to control them?  Or am I a good mother because at least I have the good sense to know they are being hellions and am embarrassed about it, instead of being completely oblivious or just shrugging my shoulders and saying "kids will be kids"?

Either way, this mother was relieved when I was finally ready to walk out the door.  But right before I left, their soon-to-be-principle came out and introduced herself (and tried calming the boys down with her calm, hushed tones).  And since she was right there, and since there had not been a place for it on any of the forms,  I asked her about putting Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the same kindergarten class.  To my surprise, she said no, that as a rule, they do not put siblings in the same class.

I was a little shaken by this since Superman and I had discussed wanting to keep them in the same class through Kindergarten at least, but I was too exasperated from dealing with the tornado twins for the last 45 minutes, so I decided just to leave, tell Superman, talk it over, and then decide if we needed to readdress the issue with her.

A little while later I called Superman to #1 say "we must do something about the boys' discipline...I feel like their behavior is getting more wild" (he for the record doesn't think there is a problem, which is a problem for me).  And #2 let him know what the principal said about the two classrooms.

His answer, "Well then we will send them to a different school."  What now?  NO.

First of all, I did all of the research, preparation, and work to get them registered in THIS school.  Second, this is where their neighborhood friends will go.  And third, this is the school where the school bus will take them.  Just WHO does he think will be taking them to this out of zone school every morning?  Not me!!  I'm counting the days until my school drop off duties are over.  I can only take so many morning mornings of yelling "will you just buckle your freaking seatbelts!" while two kids are fighting and/or playing behind me and we are all running late because they were fighting and/or playing when they were supposed to be dressing, eating breakfast, or picking up...I'm going to lose my shit!

This is what I say: I QUIT!  I'm tired.  I have no fight left in me.  My energy will go towards something that affects my day positively, like figuring out how to put the fear of god in my kids (that does not involve spanking them in to submission) so that they will shape up and start behaving in public like children and not orangutans.  If Superman wants to fight the principal...let him do it.  I'll support him, but I am NOT doing the leg work on this one.  And if she still won't back down, he'll have to get over it, because I'm not sending the kids out of zone just because he has dreams of them growing up not only as brothers but best friends attached at the hip, doing everything together, and one day moving off to college and being roommates together.  Then marrying twin sisters and living next door to each other with their red and blue houses and matching SUVs.

Sorry...I'm just feeling stressed and this morning hasn't helped any.