Saturday, September 29, 2012

Super Heroes!

We had two super heroes move into our house today.  I feel so much safer with these two watch dogs under my roof!  

Truth is these capes have been a long time coming.  A friend made some capes for her kids a while back and when Will saw the pictures he freaked!  "I need one!"  He actually forgot about it for a long time then for some reason all of a sudden capes were all the rage again.  He didn't mention the super cool capes he had seen online, though...just started making a cape out of his blanket or jacket or anything else that remotely resembled one.  It was me who decided that I needed to make him one.  "Why not just buy him one?" you ask.  Psssh.  Why make things easy?

You may recall that I don't sew.  I've always wanted to...just never had the time or patience to learn.  Oh, and I didn't have the extra cash lying around to just go out and buy a machine.  Enter my mother-in-law.  It was either Gregg or I who mentioned to her in passing that I might want to learn at some point.  Well, this was apparently her cue.  Sewing...well, quilting really is something near and dear to her heart.  So long story short, within six months she had me set up with not only my own machine but also most of the tools I needed to begin my career as a seamstress.  (Totally not what I expected nor was this my ever my intent, but thanks, Rita!)

Of course that one small detail still remained unaddressed.  I didn't know the first thing about sewing...seriously...what's a bobbin?  She offered to give me a tutorial but we were in the middle of a move and it fell by the wayside.  Okay, this is only half true.  I wanted to actually learn a little about sewing before I sat down with her because I didn't want to look completely lost...or really completely stupid.  We're being honest here, right?  Kind of like giving yourself a mini-pedicure before going to the salon to get your full-blown, pamper yourself pedicure.  You don't want the lady giving you a foot massage and painting your toes to know how dry and neglected your feet really are...right? I'm not the only one, am I?

So I found this basic and pretty thorough tutorial guessed it...Pinterest!!!  It was supposed to be a four week tutorial but as soon as Will found out what I was doing the game changed a bit.  Now I don't know how well you know Will, but he can be pretty persistent.  I was constantly being asked when I'm going to learn to make his cape and it was always in this incredibly sweet and innocent sounding "what's so hard about it?" tone.  Okay, buddy...but only 'cuz I love ya!

So I sped up my lesson schedule and maybe even skipped a few (*cough*- half) of the lessons I thought might be irrelevant to my project.  And then to buy fabric.  Holy cow that's a whole different world!  I knew they had to be shiny because what self-respecting super hero has a felt cape, right?  No offense if you wear a felt cape...I'm sure you're totally legit.  Anyway, as I was shopping all these satiny materials were slipping out of my arms and I knew I was in waaaay over my head.  First sewing project AND satin.  Idiot.  But I'm stubborn, I mean, determined, so I pressed on.  And finally after a lot of hours of pressing and cutting (the material and my fingers...ouch!) and stitching (I can thread my own machine...yay!...and take it apart...long story) and well, (still being honest?) a few not so choice words (under my breath...I've got a couple of parrots in the house...super hero parrots, that is) the capes were born!!!

And they are a HUGE hit!  Well, not so much with Micah at first.  It took some coaxing to get him to put it on.  There was a lot of high pitched squealing and screeching (ugh, all too common lately), but I finally told him he could fly off the couch and that sold him.

And this is how we spent our night.  Super T-Bone (aka Will - he gave himself this name...what?) and The Incredible Crotch-Grabbing Nose Picker (aka Micah...scroll through the pics and you'll see what I'm talking about).  Jumping, oh sorry, flying off the couch over and over and over and overandoverandoverandover again.  This house hasn't been full of that many giggles in a long time, and giggles are pretty frequent around here.

So all this hard work was worth it.  Two crazy boys running around in capes is just reassurance to me that I'd do it all over again if they asked me...or maybe even it they don't.  So I'll sleep peacefully tonight knowing that in the other room there are two crime-fighting, bad-guy stopping, booger-flicking (sorry, I'll stop) supers ready to take on the world.  In the words of Will...I mean Super T-Bone, "Super heroes to the rescue!!!"

Monday, September 24, 2012

Memory Lane

Please tell me this isn't happening. How could this be happening?  He just turned two.  His independence just began to emerge.  He just learned how to walk...oh, wait.  That was like over a year ago.  How come I remember it like it was yesterday?  

But alas, it is happening.  After putting on more than one pair of 2T pants that barely skimmed the top of his shoes, I succumbed to the fact that it was time to pull out the 3T clothes for my littlest man.  Oh, Micah can this be?  Well, he is a hoss.  I'm always kind of puzzled at his well child check-ups when they tell me he's only in like the 75th percentile for weight...then why does my arm feel like it's on fire and about to fall off after holding him for 30 seconds?  Are you sure you're not looking at the four-year-old growth charts?  Okay, just checking....

So I expected a full morning of pulling totes out of storage (YAY!!!!), and sorting, and washing, and Micah unsorting.  What I didn't expect was the all-too-vivid stroll down Memory Lane that I got.  I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I'm not a super-sentimental person.  I don't save much from special events.  Sure there are a few things, like every card or letter Gregg's ever given me.  Go ahead...say it...."Awwwww!"  But I don't keep every single craft project the boys have ever done.  Will's baby book is half (maybe) done.  Micah's baby book?  MIA.  Wait...did I ever get one for him?  Oops.  Sorry, buddy!  And I definitely don't have any locks of hair from their first hair cuts.  Looks like I'll be out of luck if I ever need to clone them.  Too weird?  Sorry.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, yes.  Memory Lane.  Strollin'.  I pulled out all these clothes that were attached to so many memories.  Some things I hadn't thought about in years.  When Will was wearing these clothes, we were just finding out about his developmental delays and flashbacks of his first evaluation came to my mind.  Kind of an emotional time...he was crying, ipso facto I was in front of perfect strangers.  Can I forget about this?  Please?  Going through these clothes made me grieve that "normal" life and "normal" child I had dreamed of and hoped for. 

And then I opened the second tote and there were some things in there that were apparently even too significant for my unsappy self to throw away.  Like baby shirts with the names of our alma maters reminding me that I was still in school when we had our first.  A plan that seemed to make perfect sense at the time, but...can I offer some advice here?  DON'T PLAN ON HAVING A KID IN PHARMACY SCHOOL!!!!  It's just not smart.  I can remember having our birth control lectures while I was pregnant and my professor saying, "Now you all know about birth control so there won't be any unplanned pregnancies next year, right?"  Although I wasn't the only one pregnant in my class, I felt like all eyes turned toward me.  I wanted to stand up and shout, "Hey! This was planned.  Maybe it's stupid, but it was planned!"  I decided to keep my mouth shut. :)

Oh, and how about this one?  I'm pretty sure I bought it before Micah was born.  I may have even bought it when I was pregnant before Micah...the time I miscarried.  That miscarriage put me on guard.  Helped me to put up a wall around my heart that I'm still working on tearing down.  It taught me never to buy for the new little one before they arrive, because you never know what's going to happen.  But eventually it did get worn and as you can see in the picture, it was well-loved.  Those spit up and blow-out stains prove it! 

Aren't those puppy dog eyes too much?
And then there was one of my maternity shirts that a friend gave me for Christmas when I was pregnant with Will.  Just a white t-shirt with the word "boy" in baby blue on the front.  When she gave me the shirt it made me laugh (and cry a little...stupid hormones) because we were in the midst of a bit of a sex mix-up.  One ultra-sound said for SURE boy...see the turtle?  The other?  99% positive it's a girl...there's the hamburger right there.  Don't worry, you "I don't have any kids yet"'ll know what I'm talking about when you have your 20 week ultrasound with your first.  When I pulled the shirt out this time it made me a little sad because it reminded me that I will never be pregnant again and will most likely never hold a baby of my own again.  With my RA and the drugs I'm taking, Gregg and I decided we won't be having any more kids...not bios anyway.  We're going to leave the option of adoption (nice ring, right?) open and pray that God gives us the wisdom to know if and when the time is right.

And then this one...

Sorry for the crooked pics.  My computer's freaking out on me and I don't have the time to figure out the problem.  Anyway, for those that don't want to strain their necks trying to read this it says, "Life is good when you've got an uncle like mine!"  This was one of Eric's first presents for Will.  He was crazy about that kid and it pains me that he won't get to do all the fun uncle stuff with Will and Micah as they grow up.  But this is only a fraction of the pain felt when I think that he won't get to do all the fun daddy stuff with Landon as he grows up. 

So many painful memories.  So many things I'd like to forget.  All these reminders that life happens and it almost never turns out how we thought it would.  But these clothes were attached to some pretty good memories, too.  

Like the wonderful team at Birth to Three that helped us learn more about Will and his delays and more importantly how we could start to work through them and possibly eventually overcome them.  It led to Will learning how to communicate with us and us being able to watch as he turned into a pretty cool, fun-loving kid. 

Like how much love we were shown from those around us as we started our family.  A lot of the clothes I pulled out today were hand-me-downs or gifts and I was humbled by how God has used our friends and families in our lives.  It also reminded me that those 2T clothes that I'm pulling out of Micah's closet should be given to a family that looks a lot like ours did five years ago.

Like how we have a bunch of great memories with Uncle Eric and pictures for the boys to remember him by.  And even though we may not ever be able to understand God's ways and why He took Eric when He did, we are confident and have seen evidence that Laura and Landon will be taken care of.  His plan is perfect even when we can't see it.

So many harsh memories and yet so many reminders that God is sufficient for us.  He alone is enough, despite all the crap (for lack of a better word) that seems to be going on around us.  This life will always be full of disappointments and heartaches, but He is with us through all of it.  He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  That is, if you have put your trust Him.  If you have put your faith in Him.  If you have proclaimed Him as Lord of your life.  So have you?

Oh, yeah...I also found Micah's Halloween costume for this year.  Fitting because his M.O. lately has been walking around grabbing his - ahem - crotch and growling... "I a wion!!!"  Super cute!  Aside from the crotch-grabbing thing.  We'll work on that. 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." 
 ~Matthew 11:28

Monday, September 10, 2012

The DIY Monster

DIY: the art of doing it yourself

I'm not an artsy, creative person.  Problem is I want to be.  My mom is long-standing cross-stitch extraordinaire and card maker.  My mother-in-law has crazy quilting skills.  I have friends that are stellar in the cake-making arena or those that can whip out a, well, picture-perfect scrapbook without even thinking about it.  Every once in a while I see something they've done and I think, "Hey...I can do that!"

And then I try.  And inevitably whatever it was I set out to do just doesn't turn out how it looked in my head.  And I crawl back into my not-so-crafty hole and I'm content for a while longer.  Until I found the catalyst.  This catalyst can in one instance turn me from the cool, calm, and collected "I don't care if I'm crafty or not" Dr. Bruce Banner into the ultra-aggressive, out of control "I can DIY this place to the ground" Incredible Hulk.  Now you may be asking yourself, "What's this catalyst you speak of?"  Oh, I'll tell you...

...Pinterest.  I first heard of this Pinterest about a year ago and after learning the premise I told myself, "Nope...not gonna do it."  I know myself too well and I knew that once I got started, it would be too hard to stop.  But I'm only human and I give in to peer pressure so easily (dang it!).  "It's awesome" they said.  "There are so many great ideas" they said.  Huh. Well, I caved and unfortunately they were right.

This whole new world of DIY was before me with the luring "You don't have to buy that. You can make it and it will be so much cheaper and you'll feel like you accomplished something and...."  HULK SMASH!!!  The DIY Monster was born.

Notice I don't say Queen.  Queen would imply I have some sort of rule over the DIY world.  No, this is more of an involuntary reaction to too much Pinterest.  I'm just browsing along, then all of a sudden I have to make a cape for my boys when I don't even know how to sew a hem, redecorate each and every one of my various living spaces, paint every piece of furniture in my house...or better yet make some furniture so I get exactly what I want.  Enter Gregg.

"You took shop class in high school, right? Why can't you make me an entertainment center that looks exactly like it does in my head?  What do you mean you need to research furniture making...the plans are right here on Joe Schmoe's blog?  What do you mean you need tools...we have a hacksaw, don't we?"  Slowly back away, Gregg...the green monster is about to make an appearance. 

But he's so sweet.  He appeases me and my want to be creative.  He has those encouraging phrases like, "Don't worry,'s not going to be perfect the first time you try it."  Oh, really?  (Here's where my stubbornness comes into the picture.)  Well, then...I'm just going to keep trying until it is perfect.  He sighs and goes right along with it...although he has mentioned the need for a Pinterest Intervention once or twice...

My latest project?  We need some end tables for the family room.  Our house has been monochromatic for so long that I thought something with a little color would be just what my home-decorating soul needed. So when I saw these bad boys at the local thrift store during Happy Hour (half off the entire store at Cornerstone Thrift Store every day from noon to one!), I thought, "Hey!  I can spiff these up with a fresh coat of paint and they'll be perfect!"

My thrift store gems
Gregg had a slightly different reaction when he saw 'em.  I don't remember the exact words, but it was somewhere along the lines of, "Hope you didn't pay too much for those ugly things."  Supportive, huh?  Can't a girl pick up some homely end tables for half price at the local thrift store without catching a bunch of flack for it?  Geesh!  Anyway, then I got this bright idea (from I don't know where) to do a stenciled design on them as well.  So I cut out some stencils on my Cricut and voila!

The original stencil job...actually a lot easier than I was picturing
Well, not quite "voila" yet...still quite a few steps to go from here.  Including a mishap.  Now one of the things that makes me a horrible DIYer is I'm impatient and sometimes lazy.  I like to cut corners even when I know the results can cost me more time (and sometimes money) in the end.  I learned the hard way that when you're painting some sort of design over another previously painted surface, it's best to lay your tape/stencil/whatever then paint a light coat of the base coat over it....kind of seals the deal sort of thing.  I painted some super cool stripes around the perimeter of Will's old bedroom and it ended up taking me two tries over three plus weeks because of this little omitted step.  But again...lazy.  I thought, "It'll be okay."  Was it?  Well...

And I botched it!
Now don't go thinking this blog is going to turn into one of those DIY tutorial blogs that are so popular these days (and frankly that I'm thankful for and my husband loathes).  No you won't find that here...far be it from me to steer fellow DIY monsters down the wrong path.  For all of you who thought I might be offering some advice, here's some: don't take any DIY advice I might think I have to offer.  It'll only cost you time and money and create frustration. 

Anyway, attempt #1 obviously didn't turn out as it should've.  Almost every individual design would've needed some touch up that I wasn't willing to execute.  But this does bring me to another Pinterest point...maybe I do have some advice to offer.  So you see the close up of the botched stencil job?  Here's a more bird's eye view.

Doesn't look so bad, does it?  It's a little harder to see all those imperfections from up here.  So here's that bit of advice for all of you that have been lured into a Pinterest project only to be disappointed in your sub-par performance: pictures can be deceiving.  That out-of focus, from far off documentation of their perfect project may not be so perfect.  That finish might not be as smooth, hem not as straight, upholstery not as tight as it appears to be...and then again it might be.

Anyway, my stubborn self and inability to wrangle the Hulk in me didn't let this be the end of way.  So I re-sanded, re-primed, re-based-coated, re-stenciled, seal coated (no "re" here since I skipped this step the first time around), and re-painted.  I liked the original stencil pattern better, but I had to get a little creative here since I didn't want to use anymore of my vinyl up on this project...that stuff's expensive!

Attempt #2

The previously omitted step

And surprisingly they didn't turn out half bad.  Not what I originally pictured, but then again it never is. Oh, well.  At this point I have too much time invested to throw 'em out now.  So they're going to stay, and they're going to matter how ugly Gregg might think they are...he hasn't seen the finished product yet...ha!  You can't see the rest of the family's not done yet.  Give me a few more project days, then we'll talk!

The final product
Still needs more color...I can feel another project coming on!

  Hulk smash!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hard Transitions

You may be wondering how Will's first day at school went...and you may not be, but I'm going to tell you anyway!  It went great!  Well, for the most part it went great, aside from him thinking the day was just too darn long and a bus/grandma pick-up mix up on the second day (sorry, mom!)...but nonetheless we all survived and he's actually still excited about going - yay!  But I can also tell there are going to be some tough transitions and routines that will need to be established to really get this school year off to a good homework.

Will had his first homework assignment tonight and it really wasn't a tough one.  Good thing because we promised him we could go fishing after dinner (mistake number one...ha!...rookie parents).  An easy assignment is just what we needed tonight so we could finish up before eating and not interfere with our after dinner plans.  He had to come up with some items for a "Me Bag."  Just some things he enjoys that he could share with his teacher and friends to help them learn a little more about him.  Easy, right?

Geesh, I should know by now that when I have everything planned out perfectly and to the minute for me and my five-year-old (and don't forget to throw in the Crazy Micah-Man) things absolutely won't go according to that all.  As soon as we got in the door it was, "Mom, can I watch TV?"  Me, without thinking, "Sure."  Five minutes later realizing what I'd done, "Uh, no, buddy...we have homework."

Now every time...every single time I've said this to him in the past the response has been an over enthusiastic, "Okay, mom!  What do we have to do?"  I didn't quite get that reaction this time.  Maybe it was the fact that he'd been at school all day and was in brain-overload or maybe that he had just turned on The Incredibles (an all-out fave in the Schmidt house) or maybe the stars were aligned just right to cause a meltdown.  I don't know, but the reaction I got was, "Nooooooooo!!!!!!" accompanied by hysteric crying.

Now I don't know if you're a planner, but I'm a planner, and as we've already discussed our tight schedule for the evening, you know this wasn't part of the plan.  Not in the slightest.  First reaction?  Get up here and do your homework!!!!!!  The right reaction?  Don't think so.  It just led to more hysterics and crying which usually pushes me closer to the edge.  Usually, but for some reason I actually stopped to think about this whole scenario that was playing out here (and again that which was totally not in accordance to the plan).  He's five.  He's never really had to do homework in his life.  Not on a regular basis and certainly not homework that there were consequences if he didn't do it.  He's never had to go somewhere where he's required to have an actively engaged brain for almost seven hours straight. He's probably tired.

Something in me decided to empathize with him, but then level with him.  "Buddy, we've got to do this homework.  If we want to do the things we planned to do, we have to do this first."  Did he sit down right away and do it?  Unfortunately no. But he did sit down and he did do it, but with quite a bit of coaxing and trying to get him actively engaged on my part.  I think I got my first little glimpse into what homeschooling him might be like, and honestly I'm still quite unsure I'm equipped to do that.  It took every bit of effort I had to try and keep him interested and (quite ridiculously) to try and keep myself from doing it for him.

Ugh, sometimes I'm such a perfectionist that it makes me sick...only when it comes to some things,  mind you.  Dusting my house? Well, that falls on the Stuff I Could Care Less About list...unless someone's coming over.  Know what I'm talkin' about?  But I digress....  Case in point:  Will wants to put something about bike riding in his bag because in the past few months since we've been at this house he's become somewhat of biking extraordinaire.  So I think, 'Hmmm...we don't have a little toy bike to put in there.  Why don't I make him a super-cute, super-perfect little bicycle with my handy-dandy Cricut and all the other kids at Kindergarten will be in awe of our homework completing skills.'  Or will they?  Okay, I didn't think this exactly, but I was going to do the Cricut thing.

Again for some odd reason, I stepped outside of myself and thought, 'Seriously, Martha. How does that help Will?'  Well, I could get everything set up and he could push the "cut" button.  Really, Martha?  Really?  This isn't about you.

"Hey Will, how 'bout we look through all our Hi Five mags to find a picture of a bicycle that you can cut out and put in your bag?"  He had so much fun searching the pages of those magazines to find the perfect picture to add to his bag and was then so excited to have the task of cutting the picture out.  He was concentrating so hard to cut ever-so-carefully to stay on that thin white line.  Result: super-captivated kindergartner and super-humbled momma who got a small break from narcissism and realized how cool it is to be an active part of my boy's learning experience.

I tried to get him to smile to tell everyone, "Hey, we're having fun here!"  Ha! His response?  "Mom, leave me alone." O-kaaay!
So we're all learning here.  Learning that it's best to get our homework out of the way first so we can go fishing.  Learning it's best not to do stuff like fishing on a school night when bedtime is still 8 o'clock.  Learning it's best to step aside and assist your child rahter than trying to be perfect for them (or through them) and have them miss out on a learning adventure.  (Still) learning that things almost never go exactly as planned...especially not with kids in the picture. Learning that if you keep writing insanely long posts on homework you'll lose half your readers (sorry, guys).  On that note...I'm out!  Catch you on the flip-side!