Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A secret project

I'm working on a special project. It may take me a while to finish it since we aren't sure if we have the space to complete it. But I'm stupidly excited because IKEA had a $1 hardware bin where you could fill a small ziploc bag up with as much as you want for $1.

ziploc bag of goodies
Only partially full
 I ended up with a ton of things to use on my project that would have run me about $30 otherwise.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A towel bag

It's been in the 80s for the past few days so we've fished the beach towels out of the closet. Garrett is a big lover of all things water so we decided it made sense to keep a spare swim suit and towel in the car for him.  I have this great Paul Frank towel that came in a matching back pack tote made from the same fabric.  The bag had a draw string at the top that helps to keep things contained.  It was perfect for the beach because I could toss my sunscreen, flip flops, water bottle and a book and head out to sit on the beach and read.
 Similar to this, but with Julius on it
I decided I wanted to make my own towel messenger bag for taking to the beach or pool this summer.

I started by picking out a fun towel that was fun but not a dark color (so it wouldn't make everything in the bag hot).  Make sure your towel is large enough for what you want to make.  If you just want to make a small bag you could always use and old bath towel. I used a large beach towel and was able to make 2 bags.
polka dot towel
I love the bright colors

I cut out my pieces. One bag I use the already sewn edge for my cord.  On the other I cut by the fold so I didn't have to seam the bottom.  I also cut 2 strips to use for handles.
cut pieces
A rotary cutter makes this much faster

For the bag with the hem already done on top you just need to sew the 3 sides together. Lay the pieces wrong side together, pin and sew.
If you used the fold of the bag for the bottom sew up both sides and then turn down the top and hem.  Make sure the hem is wide enough to accommodate the draw string you'll be adding.

hem all the way around
 Chose a cord.  I have a bunch to choose from because I saw them from old pants, shirts and pajamas.
Just a few of my choices
Thread through the bag.  I used a safety pin to help guide everything through. Tie the ends in a knot.
pulling the cord through
Just pull the cord to tighten everything up
All that's left to do it sew the handle.  Lay the piece flat with the right side up, fold the strip in half width wise (keeping right side to right side) and sew up the long edge leaving a little open at the top.  Turn the strip right side out and pin to the bag.  I turned the unfinished edges under and then sewed.
pin straps
Pin the straps where ever you want them to go.
Now you have a great beach tote.  You can adjust the shape of the bags and length of the strap to make a bag that suits you.
all finished
Can you take a picture hun?  "Only if I don't have to get off the couch"

Friday, May 27, 2011

It's been 13 years..

On May 27, 1998 at 4:25pm my father passed away from Acute Myeloid Leukemia 9 months after he was diagnosed. I know, I was there.  I can tell you the death certificate is 5 minutes off because the nurses couldn't get the EKG to stick to his skin it was so dry.  I can tell you that eyes don't close so easily once someone dies, nor does the light instantly go out of them. You can see the pain and the heart break etched in to them. I can even tell you that to this day I feel guilty that I could not utter "I love you" one more time because I was embarrassed (which explains why I say things...good or bad...because I'd rather deal with the consequences than be haunted by not saying what I feel).

I got the call in the afternoon and my Aunt and Uncle (my father's identical twin) drove me to the hospital. When I got there my mother leaned in to him and said "She's here, you can fly away now." Within a few minutes he was gone. I was the last person he saw.

There was a file left on the computer at home (a Macintosh LC2) that my father had written before he went into the hospital for his last round of treatments.  He wasn't a religious man but he said that if there was a god he hoped that he judged not by if a person prayed enough to the "right" god, but rather by the good things they have done in their life. It was at that point I lost a lot of my religion. 

Garrett, my amazing little son.  His name was chosen shortly after my father's death, any man I had married wouldn't have had a choice of names for our first child. Garret is another word for an attic, my father spent a great deal of time in the attic grading his school papers. So much so that the story goes: when I went to my grandmother's house and realized she had an attic I exclaimed "Oh, does grandma have a daddy too?" So Garrett it was.

Some days are easier than others.  There isn't a day when I don't miss him. He touched the lives of so many people during his 30+ years as a biology teacher.  There is even an award named after him "The Gordon R Gilbert Award for excellence in Environmental Sciences".
I wonder how he'd feel about my cloth diapering. I wonder what things he would have done with Garrett. I wonder if he'd like Ben.  I wonder why my father and not his brother (who has no children).  While that may seem horrible I think he wonders sometimes himself.

But most of all I wonder what I would have been like if he was alive.  Would I have Garrett? Would I be as strong as I am now? Would he have been proud of me? That last one kills me...I would give anything to hear my father tell me he's proud of me just one more time.

I miss you dad.  And I can't ever say enough how much I love you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

5 Things I Wish I Had Space to Craft

Something fun for Nice to Tweet you Thursday!

Ever see some great crafts and say "man, I wish I had a place to put something like that"?  I do all the time.  Here are my 5 favorites that I wish I had the space for:

5: Making my own chalkboard paint to make a chalkboard wall.  How cool would this be in a play area?

 4: A nifty rug. I'd love to make my own personalized rug for each room to match the personality of each room.  There just isn't space for it.  But they sure are cute.

3: Painted upholstery furnitire.  It sounds weird but looks really cool.  What a great conversation piece.

2: Floor cushions.  I swear I would cover the floor in these.  They would also be perfect for a play area because they are good for sitting, climbing and jumping on.

1: Re-purposed play kitchen.   This is so amazingly awesome and I really want to make one for Garrett.
From this:

To this:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A humbling experience

I'm pretty sure I'm not the first person to burst in to tears in the WIC office and I'm positive I won't be the last.  The past 2 months have been hard on us and June holds a new hurdle for us, paying completely out of pocket for our health insurance.  If we use COBRA we'll be paying $1600 a month.  If we go through BCBS we could save $400.  It's still expensive and not easy to do when you have a mortgage and other bills to pay.  Especially in Massachusetts where we are required to have health insurance.

Last week we broke down and applied for SNAP (food stamps).  Today we applied for (and received) WIC and well as sent off our Mass Health applications.  The woman at the WIC office assured me it was ok to be on WIC and need assistance.  I just kept apologizing.  For Ben and I it's very hard to get to this point.  Ben was laid off during my pregnancy and despite having to declare bankruptcy we managed to make sure there was enough money (with some help from the family).  Now it's different, we have Garrett and his needs have to be met.
our little guy
The reason we do this

And we sit there and look at our little guy, our reason for everything and we know we are doing this for him.  Because it's hard for anyone to be on these programs.  I'm not saying anyone should be ashamed, there is no way in hell I would be ashamed of doing the best for my child.  But again it's hard because we want to give him the best without relying on programs to help us.

Edited to add:  We went to the grocery store to use the prorated checks (our period starts on the 28th of each month because of Garrett's DOB).  We got $26 worth of groceries and only ended up spending 45cents.  It's going to take us some time to get used to our guidelines and weigh all our produce because we have to stick to our allotted amount.   Ben and I both felt a little mortified going through the store and checking our WIC checks to see what was covered.  But the truth is we got a lot of food that will make sure that Garrett has a full tummy and in the end that's the most important thing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Best teething toy ever

 And it's not really a teething toy.

Garrett is getting his second molars and suddenly wants to chew on everything. It's not so bad when he chews on his toys but a big problem when I pull things like my Zombie Tiki USB drive out of his mouth. 
tiki zombie usb drive
Do NOT anger the Zombie Tiki!

I also had to tell him that Adipose is for squishing and not for chewing.
Doctor Who Adipose
"I'm waving at fat"

We were going to give him a freezer pack to chew on when Ben realized we have a bag full of reusable ice cubes shaped like citrus wedges. Garrett took to them right away.  They were the perfect size for him and the cold has really helped his gums.
reusable ice cubes
Reusable ice cubes

And he looks hysterical.
Garrett and ice cubes
Garrett being silly with ice cubes
and the perfect size for his little mouth

Monday, May 23, 2011

20 minute toddler pants

Or in this case shorts.  I've already made Garrett a pair of pants but I wanted to make him some shorts.  I found a great cotton print and didn't really want to line them.  There's a super simple pattern for making pants/shorts that I found.  Even easier if you make them from an old shirt.
Garrett in his shorts
Check out those abs

Since I didn't want to use an old shirt I had to hem the bottoms as well as the waist.  They look adorable on him and Ben calls them his "golf shorts".   Now if only it would stop raining here so he can wear them.

Garrett and daddy playing
Playing with daddy

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A new bag for an old bag.

And I swear my mom is going to kill me for that title. But at least she has a spiffy new bag.  I found a great home decor fabric in the remnant bin, I couldn't pass it up and had an idea for a bag.  When my mom visited for Mother's Day I showed her what I wanted to make her and she loved the idea.  The pattern is from One Yard Wonders, a great book that has given me tons of projects.

bag on chair
Finished bag wrapped around the chair
The catch was that mom wanted a different fabric for the interior which meant a trip to the fabric store (twist my arm) for the remaining items needed for the bag.  I'm glad I was able to go with mom to get everything else we needed so she could pick out the zipper and the webbing.  This way I knew she'd really love everything on the bag.
interior of bag
The lining fabric and pocket

The pattern was really simple and didn't take a long time.   I'll admit that I hope mom gets lots of compliments so she can reply "My daughter made it for me."

Friday, May 20, 2011

A blog hop to kick off the weekend


Hoping everyone is having a lovely weekend.

The winner of our magazine giveaway!

I know this was supposed to be posted earlier but we got caught up in crafting stuff. With no further adieu here is the winner:

Corey Bartlett!  Congratulations Corey you really worked for your entries.  I've contacted you on Twitter as well.  Make sure to email me so I know which subscription you'd like and your info.

We'll be doing another giveaway when we reach 100 blog followers.

Everyone else is using the potty so why can't we?

I'm seeing it now, all the parents of children in the same age group as Garrett are posting about how their children are using the potty.
Here I am still trying to get my son to communicate to me that he wants a drink or food and other kids his age are on the potty?

Sometimes it does get to me, I have that moment that I'm doing something wrong.  Garrett used to follow us in to the bathroom when we went.  He has a potty in there and we'd sit him on it while he was in with us and tell him what we were doing (which meant poor Ben had to sit down every time Garrett joined him in the bathroom).
red IKEA potty
Garrett's lonely red potty

Then I remember Garrett is different.  He'll get it when he's ready because he's a smart kid.  Heck, I'll take a happy, good in restaurants, self sufficient toddler who doesn't have huge issues when mommy and daddy aren't there over a child using the potty before 3. I remind myself that Garrett is just now learning how to communicate with us and expecting him to use the potty is just unfair. I am learning to be more realistic of my expectations of him. He already does things like brush his own teeth.

Garrett brushing his teeth
Brusha, brusha. brusha

And we never know, he could decide he's interested in it but with everything else we're working on we don't feel the need to push it.  For Garrett that's the best choice.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Marriage and Autism

"Hun, how do you think your autism affects our marriage?"
"It doesn't, we have issues like any other married couple."
"You don't think that most of our issues stem from the autism?"
"What about your inability to ask for help, or your lack of communication?  Or even the tone you use without realizing it?"
"Ok, I get it, I didn't think we were that different."

And the truth is we aren't that different.  I spent the first few years of our marriage not knowing about Ben's Asperger's.  It came out just before Garrett was born when we were at counseling. Yes, we did marriage counseling and it was the best damned thing we did.  We aren't ashamed of it and it has really helped us.

Before Ben told me I didn't really know what autism was. (It also wasn't a diagnosis when he was a child so he wasn't diagnosed until his 20s) Like many people I thought autism meant I was stupid and unable to interact with society on any level. (It also didn't help that as a child my brother used to chase me around the house calling me autistic just to upset me.)

A lot of changes have been mine.  I had to learn how to communicate with Ben differently than I communicate with others. I made to make sure to tell him that it's ok if he needs time to himself or help and give him lots of opportunities to ask for help and basically reminding him that he can ask for help. With Asperger's it just doesn't occur to him to ask for help so I've learned to plant the suggestion.

Ben does have a problem with tone.  Using in or distinguishing it in others. He'll often respond to people in the tone he perceived they were using. This has caused a few problems, especially online. He also gets defensive very easily but I find that reminding him that I was just asking him a question and he was not under and sort of attack seems to help.

It really isn't the different.  Like any other marriage it will only really work if both parties are willing to put the effort in to it. Since Ben and I both want to be together we both work on this.

I just remind myself that Ben needs a little more patience because it's harder for him to completely change the way he thinks.

Don't forget to enter our magazine giveaway. A winner will be chosen this Friday 5/20 at noon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A blogworthy request

Thursday I was supposed to get together with Ali over at The Craning Gap.  Sadly she had a migraine and had to cancel, as one who suffers from migraines I completely understood. 
This was what she tweeted me:
"please do something fun so i don't feel sad. something blogworthy so i can read about it. "

So here you go Ali, we had some simple fun on Thursday.  I just didn't have a chance to get the pictures off the camera sooner.
Old school wagon

The weather was lovely and Nana (Ben's mom) said she had a surprise for Garrett.  We went out in the yard to find an old fashioned wagon.  The bottom was a bit rusty so we cleaned it and put a blanket down for him to sit on.  Garrett then made sure that I got lots of exercise running him around their yard.
mommy pulling Garrett
Run, Mommy, Run!

Then Nana pulled him for a bit.
Nana pulling Garrett
Chillin' with Nana

And of course he had to push the wagon himself.

Garrett pushing the wagon
Garrett's turn

After that I decided to leave Garrett with his grandparents and take some time to myself.  I haven't really done this and usually don't know what to do with myself but I figured I need to get used to doing things without Garrett.  Especially since if we move out to Pittsfield we'll have several available baby sitters.
So I get in the car, start driving.  Garrett is playing with Nana and doesn't seem to care that I left.  Ben was at his interview so it was just Garrett and his grandparents.

I get about 15 minutes down the road, realized I had forgotten my wallet and had to turn around to go get it.  I guess it's going to take time to get used to going out without a diaper bag. 

Don't forget to enter our magazine giveaway. A winner will be chosen this Friday 5/20 at noon.

Wordless Wednesdays - Last Year's Halloween Costume

Can you guess who he went as?
Garrett as Mal Reynolds

Garrett as Mal Reynolds

Don't forget to enter our magazine giveaway. A winner will be chosen this Friday 5/20 at noon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blog it Forward Tuesday

Introducing Blog It Forward Tuesday!  A blog hop and giveaway linky hosted by Just Married with Coupons and Sweep Tight.
The concept of this blog hop is the same as any other – to meet new bloggers and gain more followers.  But, what if we took it a step further?
The idea of the Blog It Forward theme is to not only gain more followers, but also do something a little extra for each other (pay it forward).
Instead of just following each blog, take an extra minute to do a little more.  Some examples could be…referring them to your facebook friends, tweet about them, stumble a post, add their giveaway to a linky…get creative.  We all know how busy us bloggers can be, so little things like this are really appreciated! Here are the simple rules:
  1. Follow both hostsJust Married with Coupons and Sweep Tight – via Google Friend Connect.  Make sure you leave a comment and we will follow back.
  2. We would love it if you could grab our button to spread the word!  The more people who know, the more fun!
  3. Follow any other blogs that may interest you.
  4. Blog it forward!  Just one random act of niceness to another blogger can go a long way.  If you get a second, give it a try!
  5. Don't forget to add your giveaways to the second linky, too!
The linkys will open every Monday at 7:00pm CST.  You only need to add your link to one linky for it to show up on all participating blogs.

Enter Your Giveaway Links Here:
Don't forget to enter our magazine giveaway. A winner will be chosen this Friday 5/20 at noon.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It just isn't the same Sesame Street.

I was watching "Play with me Sesame" with Garrett and he seems so enthralled.  Burt and Ernie came on.  Burt was the same but Burt was...happy.  I remember the days when Burt was grumpy and Oscar really was a grouch.
What happened?  Did they pass out Prozac on Sesame Street?  Was it so bad that children were exposed to characters that weren't always the happiest?  I was always taught that Oscar was a grouch because he was so dirty and Burt was frustrated because Ernie was a little bit of a pain.  And adults still couldn't see Snuffalupagus so I felt special that I could see him because may parents would play along and leave the room before he came on.
Does it really make it better for children to show only happy characters? I end up worrying that it's because parents don't want the responsibility of teaching their children so now Cookie Monster is in danger of becoming Veggie Monster. We watch TV together here so we can interact with Garrett while he watches.  I'm sure when he's a little older he may watch on his own but we still plan to talk to him about what he sees on TV.

I guess it's time to buy the DVDs of the original Sesame Street.  Maybe even some Shalom Sesame.

Magazine Giveaway

Don't forget to enter our magazine giveaway. A winner will be chosen this Friday at noon.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I never get my own bubble bath...but it's ok.

I decided to take a relaxing bubble bath but I made too many bubbles.  I called Ben in to the bathroom to ask him how I could get rid of some when Garrett followed him in.  He's never seen so many bubbles and smiled so widely that I couldn't make him leave.  Hilarity ensued as you can see.

These things are nifty.

They stick to my hands

And my head

At this point Garrett decided he wanted to climb in and join me

So daddy stripped him down and he got in the tub

Bam! right in the kisser

We all had a good laugh

And Garrett gave me a snuggle because he didn't want to get out

Wazzup!  I'm taking a bubble bath

The (very clean) End!

Sunday Funday Blog Hop

It's a rainy Sunday here so why not participate in a blog hop.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday Blog Hop with the Mom Pledge Blog

Every Saturday on The Mom Pledge Blog (beginning in April), they host a blog hop for their members. Participants must be:
  • Displaying the Pledge button prominently on their blog
  • Linked up on The Mom Pledge Community page
  • Following The Mom Pledge Blog
"It's a great way for our members to get to know each other better! We are a community, after all."

BWS tips button

Friday, May 13, 2011

We reached 30 likes on Facebook magazine giveaway!

So what do you have to do to get an entry?
Just follow my blog and comment on this entry.

Want even more chances to win?  Here's how:
1: Follow me on Twitter and Tweet about the giveaway
2: Follow me on Facebook and post about the giveaway
3: Post about it on your own blog or website
4: Add my button to your blog or add me to your blogroll

Make sure to leave a comment (with a link) for each entry so I make sure you get all your chances to win.  Make sure there is an email attached to your comment where I can reach you if you win.
I use the Random Number Generator to pick the winner, if you notice comments are numbered. 

In case you forgot here is the lovely prize you are all playing for:

You choice of a subscription to:
Good Housekeeping
Family Circle (15 issues)
Wired Magazine
Everyday Food
Better Homes and Gardens
Country Living
Traditional Home
Ready Made (6 issues, the magazine comes out every 2 months)
Smart Money
Whole Living
All subscriptions are for 1 year/12 months unless otherwise noted. 

This giveaway will run for a week to give people lots of time to enter.  It is open to the US residents.  The winner will be picked Friday May 20th at 12 noon EST so get your entries in before then.

My next giveaway will be open to residents of both the US and Canada (unfortunately Coke Rewards only allows me to send things to US residents)

Being a Stay at home mom and keeping a good house just doesn't count as work.

"Will you ever be going back to work do you think?" I was asked by a friend. I know she didn't mean anything by it (being a mom herself) but it was a little insulting.  Even other mothers don't appreciate what they do.  
I love being home with Garrett.  Before he was born I worked customer service/tech support jobs and while I liked what I did I most often spent my day getting screamed at by people who didn't understand and didn't want to calm down enough to let me explain anything to them.  

While being with Garrett all day can be frazzling sometimes I also find it very rewards.  After he cries he wants a hug, he never asks to speak to my supervisor and he has yet to call me a bitch because his Valium was not covered by Medicare.  
And it is work, I don't stop.  Garrett is non stop all day.  Add laundry (ours, Garrett's and diapers), dishes, cleaning, making the bed, walking the dog, crafting projects and cooking and I'm not left with much time.  At least when I worked "full time" (because we all know parenting is a part time job /sarcasm) I had time to shower and do my hair and makeup every morning.  I had personal time for knitting, crafting, going out with Ben, hanging out with friends and even time to go shopping for myself without being rushed.  

It's a little frustrating that so many people in the world don't think being a mom is "work".  I know I don't get paid.  The benefits are very different from what I would get from a "recognized" job.  As I was typing that last line Garrett decided to show me some of the amazing benefits I get at my  "job"

Garrett giving mommy a kiss
Kisses without getting in trouble with HR
Will I continue to stay at home when Garrett is in school full time?  I don't know.  I like the idea of being an involved PTA mom who crafts and write a blog.  Ben and I are also working on our GranolaStrolla business and I'd really love to spend time working on that as well.  
Anyone who thinks being a stay at home parent isn't a job/career is wrong.  I work just as other people do, I just get different pros and cons.  Work is work and the pay isn't always monetary but the bonuses and rewards are just as sweet to me.