Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009!

Why doesn't THIS guy run for president?!?!

I hope you laughed as hard as I did!

Getting it out of my system

Okay, many of you know that I am really tolerant of most behaviors. I may raise an eyebrow but my personal mentality is that if it

a) Doesn't cost me money
b) Doesn't inhibit my own abilities
c) Doesn't harm anyone

then I'm pretty cool with what other people do in their own lives.

For example...

I don't care who you sleep with as long as they are two consenting adults. I really consider it none of my business. I'm not keen on public displays of affection though, so keep your tongue in your own mouth when you're out and about.

I don't care what religion you are. Are you a good person? About 20 years ago, I coined the phrase, "I don't care if you worship monkeys on the top of the capitol building - can you help others?" 'Nuff said.

But there are some things that try as I might, I cannot get past the judgment. So, I've decided to get it out of my system right now so that my New Year is free from my complaining.

Here goes:

1) In the immortal words of a friend of mine, "It's a vagina - not a clown car." Really, people. We're not an endangered species. Those parents with 8 and up children aren't raising their own children - their CHILDREN are raising the other children. When your eldest is 18 and your youngest is 2 weeks and there are 16 in between, it's a stretch to say you're parenting. I really feel it unfair to the other children to deprive their childhood by making them parent. It's not fair to them. One can quote all the scripture they want but no 9 year old will tell you they'd rather change a diaper than play. Let them be children. If you can't take care of 12 at a time - with just you and your significant other and without burdening your other children to babysit/nanny for free - rethink that whole overpopulating the Earth thing.

2) Public schools are all inherently evil and based on turning children into compliant factory workers. It's true. It's documented. It's a government run institution. That in itself should tell you it's FUBAR.

3) Quit quizzing my homeschooled children or I will start quizzing YOU *AND* YOURS! They're homeschooled - not retarded. Quite the opposite, really. My eldest child's IQ is over 165. Do you really want to argue philosophy with him? Quantum Physics? And I have a question for you since you publicly educate your children. "What about socialization?" Aren't you worried they won't know how to act around others?

4) While we're at it, quit asking me to donate money to your child's physical education - or even worse, have the child ask me to donate money for new uniforms for basketball. Do what WE (homeschoolers) do and PAY for them! Sports aren't an entitlement. They are a dessert. And if your child DOES ask me for money for basketball, rest assured that I will ask them a math problem first. If they fail it - no money. They shouldn't be playing sports if they can't figure out what 7 x 8 is.

5) Quit assuming I'm a Republican because I homeschool or that I'm a Democrat because my views are less Calvinistic than yours. Educate yourself this year that there are more than two parties. One of them actually reveres the Constitition and doesn't want Big Brother breathing over my shoulder nor do they believe that government is the answer to all of our problems but rather it's the creator of all of the problems.

6) WTF? What's with the dismembered baby signs on Little Creek Road? I'm all for right to choose or right to abstain from abortion. Your call. But my children aren't allowed to play violent video games because I abhor the images. Imagine the horror of my children as their delicate psyches are exposed to your idiotic signs based on procedures that are ILLEGAL in the United States. Shock and Duh. Do you really think that those violent pictures are helping your cause? You're as neurotic as PETA if you think those images are making a difference. And while we're on the subject - If you're a man, put down the damned sign! And PETA? It's hard to take you seriously when your staff wears leather Birks and carries leather handbags to go with the leather belts holding up their pants. Oh, and quit going to movies. The film is coated in gelatin - an animal product. And quit using antibiotics. I'm here to advocate for the virii you're killing who have a right to live - MURDERERS! (See how silly this can get?) I am the Lorax, I speak for the bacterium.

7) McMansions... Let me throw out a scenario - "HEY! Let's cut down all the trees to plant a McMansion that looks just like the other houses next to it! (Hamlet coming home drunk from a party to a McMansion farm - 2A or 2B THAT is the question... because all of them look alike!) THEN!!!! Let's plant more trees!" What moron thought this up? Someone who uses $20 bills to wipe their butt, I suppose. It's costly, it's environmentally unsound, and it's stupid. I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.

8) Control your pets! I am sick and tired of your cats spraying all around the neighborhood and my yard. The smell is atrocious. You should have to live in that smell as punishment.

LEASH YOUR DOG! Not everyone likes your pooch. It's not cute for them to shove their nose in my face totally unsolicited after they've licked their butt - or any other time for that matter. And clean up after your dog. "There's no such thing as the poop fairy." but apparently there is such a thing as a lazy callous jankrod.

9) TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE! For the love of God, people. I don't care how your colonoscopy went - especially when I'm trying to have a quiet dinner. I *will* answer your questions (intended for the other person on the phone) while you're talking. I *will* get my children to be REALLY loud so you can't hear your caller. If we're playing "Who can be the most obnoxious?" I'm really good at that game. Trust me. And seriously? If you're on the phone in a check out line, I *will* move in front of you. You're obviously not ready to check out if you're still on the phone. And cell phones in church? Are you serious? Are you expecting a call from God? My favorite pastor answered someone's phone in church by saying, "I'm sorry, Susie can't come to the phone right now. She's in church. Why aren't you?" Guffaws of laughter ensued to be sure.

Unless you're on an organ transplant list, nothing is that flipping important. Remember 10 years ago when no one HAD cell phones? You know what we did when we needed to be in touch with our children? WE PARENTED!!! We made sure they were around another responsible adult who had a land line. Cell phones are no more a babysitter/nanny than your 9 year old is.

10) Control your children! It's not a phase. It's not cute. It's irritating to those of us who have children who are well mannered and well behaved. I don't even have to spank mine. They understand the rules and they are expected to act HUMAN. Feed your children before you go shopping. Bring a drink for them. And for the love of God, don't buy them something when they act like animals. Whining and tantrums does not earn you a reward if you STOP. You are EXPECTED to be good. No bribe to make sure you are. What is up with THAT? Quit wussying out on parenting. And while I'm on the subject, if your child is screaming - TAKE THEM OUT OF THE STORE, RESTAURANT, SANCTUARY! We know YOU don't want to listen to it and you love them. Don't think that strangers that have no emotional investment in your child want to hear that EITHER. It's not a lack of compassion on the part of the strangers - it's lack of courtesy on the part of the PARENT!

I think that's it. I'll leave world hunger and poverty to the experts.

I am the Lorax, I speak for the impositioned.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What NOT to do...

Well, December was a great lesson in the best laid plans of mice and men.

Promising a daily posting when your father has surgery scheduled, your mother comes down with pneumonia, and other life things are there at Christmas time (like work, schooling, and mothering) was just... well, it was stupid.

Now, the Christmas tree skirt DID get finished and it was lovely. I sat on the waiting room floor of the surgery center waiting for news of how my father did and worked on the skirt. When the skirt bored me, I switched to knitting and actually taught a couple of nurses some knitting tips.

My mother thought this hilarious and was dubbing the small waiting room the "Craft Class 101". *I* tried to talk the nurses into leaving baskets of yarn and knitting needles and crochet hooks instead of pop-culture magazines like "Teen Beat" or magazines about Golf. (Are you kidding me? It's the only thing I can think of that's MORE boring than WATCHING golf - READING about it.)

Truth be told, I'm glad December is almost over. Whew. What a harried disarray of experiences.

OH! And one more thing. My scanner broke so I wasn't able to upload templates. Through 3 million updates, jury rigs, and finger crossings, it's finally working.

In fairness though, December isn't the end of the year's hectic schedule but rather the beginning. A week and a half after Christmas is my daughter's birthday. Two weeks after that is my eldest son's. Two weeks after that is Valentine's. Then three weeks until my sister and father's birthdays. Then Easter. April brings my grandfather's birthday. May - Mother's Day. June - Father's Day.

Really, my year is divvied up by spending money on birthdays or other family holidays. I said before that I don't have the type of family that appreciates hand made gifts. Christmas cost us a good grand. But you know, home made doesn't mean cheap either. Every year I watch as people spend hundreds of dollars on "supplies" to make things for Christmas when really, it'd be cheaper to buy it. Of course, the home made isn't there anymore but anyone deluding themselves into thinking that they're saving money on Christmas by making things needs a reality check.

I made over a dozen dozen of cookies this year. Some as gifts. The grocery bill for cookies was over $100. Case in point.

I decided this year that next Christmas will be spent away. In the mountains, in another state, something. I need to get away from the hectic pace of Christmas and take it back to basics.

Perhaps the Universe was telling me to slow down. Nah, I didn't think so either.

I'm a big fan of the "Law of Attraction" and am actively working on bringing positive things to our lives (my family's) this year. I would be remiss if I didn't also try to attract some serenity. LOTS of serenity.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Joy to the World

My eldest child, Jake, was asked to play with a church band on the 14th of December.  Knowing he'd be in physical pain if I said no because of his love of playing guitar, I gave permission.  He will be playing to a very upbeat almost gospel version of "Joy to the World."

It got me thinking about the joy I have in my life for things.

I didn't write any "What I'm Thankful For" on Thanksgiving because truthfully, I'm thankful for everything - good or bad.  The bad teaches me.  The good nourishes my soul.

What I want to do instead is write what brings me Joy.

My Joy List:

  • Listening to the girls laugh and guffaw and Mom's Night Out gives me so much joy.  I love that we get to go out and be "people" for a while instead of "wife" or "mom".  Watching the other ladies come out of their Mommy shells and be saucy and lively and even tearful is amazing.
  • Knowing that my children sing and dance, draw and write, design and dream brings me to a point of elation I never knew possible.  These little beings that I created growing into their own identies and filling their lives and mine with their music and talent is one of my biggest joys.
  • The thought that no matter how often I turn my back on God because I'm angry or hurt and that He/She is always there when I need Him/Her is a joy unto itself.  I often joke that I am God's problem child and I had a particularly huge serving of joy when the realization of not having to carry life's burdens alone finally sunk in.  I was often envious of people who could just say "Let go and let God" because I thought, "Okay, that's all fine and good but I have things to do and if I don't do them who will?"  Through a stroke of luck/misfortune I was unable to do my normal routine and Grace (and I do believe it was) made sure that we were taken care of when I just didn't have the strength (emotionally or physically) to go on.
  • A bigger joy was when my husband reiterated that to me.  "Honey, you know that God always takes care of us."  We don't talk about faith except to debate (in a healthy way) religion and our beliefs.  This was the first time faith was used by him to encourage and console me.
  • I am joyful that I am finding the happiness that I crave all around me.  I have cast off old relationships that I tried to force to fit.  I have surrounded myself with freer minds and souls.  I have found a community of artists that inspire me.  (Special hats off to Deva and Lydia here.)  At 40, I am finally becoming comfortable with who I am instead of who people want me to be.  And the more I accept that, the more Gifts I am given in my relationships and my life.
  • I am joyful that I'm not 20.  Really, I am.  20 was busy and harried and erratic.  40 is comfortable and contemplative.  It is reflective and inspirational.  It taught me about the world outlook instead of the *me* outlook.
  • I am joyful that I was not married to any of my ex boyfriends - even though many asked.  I could have said yes to money, travel, fame.  Instead, I said yes to love and my heart.  When I run across exes on Facebook or even in real life, I breathe a sigh of relief.  I was being looked out for even then and didn't realize it.
  • My biggest source of joy is my children and I know that sounds cheesey but they are so funny and so talented.  I couldn't imagine sending them away to school and letting someone else throw away the joy of being with them when they discover something new.  I can't understand looking forward to sending them away or "getting them out of the house." 

I chose to have them and be with them and they have brought me joy.

Today, find your joy and choose to embrace it.

Days 2 - 5 The Tree Skirt

This one is particularly close to my heart.

About 20 years ago, my grandmother (Nana) made a Christmas tree skirt for me.  It's vintage and adorable.  I don't usually do "cutesy" but this is cute and I love it.

Unfortunately, felt doesn't usually last through 20 years and attempts at spot cleaning it only proved disappointing and ineffective.

Still, I couldn't part with it.  Most of it is sentimentality.  I love that it's something she made for me.  I cherish it for that.

My only recourse was to remake it - exactly like she did.  Now at first, I wasn't too keen on this because it removed HER work on it.  It took away what SHE did but last night, I felt at peace with this decision for the first time because my mind opened to the possibility of sharing her work with others.  Suddenly, remaking her skirt was a testimony to my devotion to her craft work.  It was a partnership in sharing the love of art with others - even if it's "cutesy"

With that decided, I took apart the appliques on the skirt to reproduce them.  I traced each layer and made templates to share with all of you.  

I don't expect an onslaught of people making this skirt but knowing that I'm keeping a part of her alive by sharing her work with others is enough for me.

With your help, this will be done!

So, without further delay, here are the materials needed:

One sheet of felt in each of the following colors:

  • Yellow
  • Black
  • Red (try for a different shade than the skirt if using red for the skirt)
  • Light Blue
  • Flesh (caucasion, african american, latino, asian - you decide)
  • Tan
  • Dark Brown

TWO sheets of felt in these colors:

  • Dark Green
  • White
You will also need:
  • One sheet of gold metallic paper (sold with the posterboard)
  • One package of assorted sequin shapes
  • One package of assorted colored sequins
  • Wiggly Eyes in assorted sizes
  • 2 small white pompons
  • Fabric Tac glue
  • Gold rick-rack or brocade
  • 2 yards of 72 inch felt in color of your choice for the skirt.  (My original skirt was white but I opted for red for the remake.)
  • Ribbon for bow on reindeer
  • Small jingle bells (about 6)
  • Brown thread
  • Sewing needle
  • Embroidery scissors (because they are small and easily manipulated)

Below are the pictures of the skirt appliques.  I have put both "before" and "after" pictures on here so you can appreciate the need for redoing it.   You'll also notice that I added little extras where I was so inspired (maybe by Nana).  I wanted you to see what you could do and that there are many possibilities of decorating these.

Click on the hyperlinked pictures below (available tomorrow which will give you time to shop for supplies) to get the templates for these.  I traced mine on cardstock for durability in cutting.  If you don't have that, regular paper will do just fine but be gentle with it.

Santa - Before and After

Snowman - Before and After

Trees - Before and After

Reindeer - Now, this is only an "After" because the "Before" reindeer actually fell off of the skirt while it was hanging on the clothes line and I have no idea where it went.  We have searched and searched but my guess is that some little squirrel is using it for an area rug.

Wreaths - Before and After

Angels - Before and After  
(The original "Before" did have wings but they faded and ripped)

Technical Difficulties

It was my hope to have a different craft up here every day but we've had intermittent internet for the last few days so I am behind in posting.

Fear not!  I still have the crafts for each day and I will post them as soon as the computer (confusor) cooperates.

Monday, December 1, 2008

On the first day of Christmas...

Poinsettia barrettes

Our first day is a poinsettia barrette cute enough for a toddler to wear, fun enough for a tween to wear, and sparkly enough for an adult to wear.

This is easy enough for a child to do with adult supervision (especially where the glue gun is concerned) but the steps are very simple.

What you need:

Red Cardstock
Green Cardstock
Gold Metallic Marker
8 mm Gold Sequins
Quilt Clips
Hot Glue Gun and Glue
Alene's Clear Tacky Glue

There are two layers to the poinsettia. For the first layer, I used regular red cardstock but for the second layer (that goes on top), I used a transparent red paper.

Each layer takes 6 petals.

Cut six petals in a leaf shape. The size is up to you. Smaller petals make smaller flowers. Larger petals make larger flowers. (Yes, I know that the red "petals" on poinsettias are really leaves but bear with me here.)

The petals in the picture are about 1.5 inches.

No pattern is needed. Just cut them in natural leaf shapes.

Next, draw the veins on the petals.

Now you're going to glue the petals together using the Alene's clear tacky glue. I work in triangles which is to say, that I glue three together and then put three petals in between those petals.

Let dry.

Glue the second layer of petals together in the same fashion.

Let dry.

You can add green leaves if you'd like. I think it adds a little more dimension.

Once the layers are dry, stack them on top of each other and glue the layers together using the Alene's glue.

Glue green leaves to the bottom of the flower.

Let dry.

In the middle of the flower, glue 5 (or however many you wish) gold sequins. For a larger flower, use 8 mm sequins but if you're making a smaller flower, you may want to use smaller sequins or even gold seed beads.

When the flower is dry, hot glue it to the quilt clip.

There you have it!