Thursday, April 21, 2016

{p,h,f,r} Our Never-Ending Renovation Project


The kids have been bringing me lots of weeds beautiful flowers from around the yard recently


I caught the boys enjoying some quality literature together on the couch.  Actually, Waldo is veritably enjoyable.  But the highlights magazine?....ugh.  Why did I like Highlights so much as a kid?  We currently get all three Highlights iterations (Hello, High Five, and Highlights) in the mail as gift subscriptions for the kids.  I don't like any of them.  The stories and the art are just *not* that great.


Flora's second-ever smile, caught on camera!  Also, I love love love little girls' vintage clothing.  I have lots of great outfits like this from our local flea market.


We have been working FOREVER on Stella's bedroom.  We started last May, expecting to be done by the end of the summer....not realizing that Tom's job would become incredibly demanding this past year, leaving us very little time or energy to spend on the room.  So for almost a year now, Linus has been sleeping in the playroom, and Stella in the spare room.  I'm SO ready for this project to be done so I can turn it into the girls' room, and we can finally move onto something new.

The to-do list for the room
Remove old shellac from trim and doors
Stain the trim and doors
Poly the trim and doors
Remove gross carpet
Sand floors
Stain floors
Poly floors
Replace lighting
Replace outlets
Repair wall around heating vent
Paint ceiling white
Choose wall color
Paint walls
Find dresser - Stella
Re-finish dresser - Stella
Find dresser - Flora
Re-finish dresser - Flora
Find nightstand - Stella
Paint nightstand - Stella
Find headboard - Stella
Paint headboard - Stella
Find area rug
Make curtains

Still a lot of work to do!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

On Truly Liking Your Kids

I follow Catholic All Year on Facebook.  The other day Kendra shared an article on there about parenting and included some personal commentary.  Towards the end, she said,
"All I hope is that at the end of the day, despite my failings, my kids know that I love them and I like them. No matter what."
That idea has been going through my head all day.  It contrasts with a line I know I have heard many times: "parents should always love their kids, but they can't always like their kids, and that's okay." And I've been telling myself for a few years now that this is true.  That as long as I love all my kids, work for their best interests, and carry out my duties as their mother, that everything will be fine.  After all, "liking" someone just comes down to feelings, which is not ultimately as important as loving, which is an act of the will.

Because I"ll be honest - I often have a very difficult time truly liking one of my kids in particular.  And that's my eldest, Sly*.

It pains me to say it.  But I really struggle with him.  Our personalities are fairly different, and I think neither of us understands the other very well.  Tom seems to have figured out how to "crack the Sly code" and fully win his little heart. There's no doubt in my mind that Sly likes Daddy better than Mommy these days.  And there's really no one to blame but myself.  While Tom feels frustrated by all the same personality traits and bad habits that I do, he is able to see past them and recognize how much it is outweighed by all Sly's good traits.  But I just don't have enough patience, and I haven't devoted enough time to actually trying to get to know Sly and understand him and like him for who he is....and I was hoping that maybe he just wouldn't ever be aware of it...

But of course kids know when you don't always like to be with them!

I started to think about my own situation.  I've suspected for a few years now that my dad doesn't actually enjoy my company all that much.  It took getting married to really bring this home for me.  Because when Tom and I get together with my dad, I can see such a contrast between how he responds to each of us.  He really likes Tom.  My dad and Tom have a lot in common (I think I followed the old "women tend to pick guys who remind them of their father" pattern), and my dad really enjoys talking with him.  I've noticed that when I talk with my dad, he either seems to not pay me much attention, or else he instantly "corrects" what I'm saying or tells me how my ideas are wrong.  I don't think he's conscious of it at all, but he ends up just shutting me down a lot of the time, and making me very hesitant to share any more thoughts with him.

Now don't get me wrong, I am certain that my dad truly loves me.  I could go to him with any problem, and he would help me without a second thought.  But I don't feel like he enjoys being with me a lot of the time, and it does hurt my feelings.

I don't want this for Sly.

I do certainly love all my kids.  And maybe I don't have to like them all the time, but darnit, I want to like all my kids!  I mean, we're stuck with each other for life, afterall.  Everyone in the family could be so much happier if we all really and truly liked one another and enjoyed each other's company, despite our individual faults.  I imagine how wonderful it would be if as the years go by, we all wanted to spend lots of time together, and couldn't think of much else that would be more pleasant.

So I'm resolving to make a serious effort to get to that point.

I've been brainstorming how to build my relationship with Sly.  Here are some ways I can start to understand my son better, respond to him better, and learn to like the person he is:
1. Make eye contact when he's talking to me
2. Say "yes" more often to his requests
3. Make a conscious effort to give him the quality time he always craves
4. React with firmness but not anger to his misbehavior
5. React with patience and not annoyance to his.....annoying behavior
6. Remember that even though he's my oldest child, he's still only five years old, and cut him some slack when he behaves like a normal - childish - five year old
7.  Tell him spontaneously that I love him (instead of just before bedtime or other partings), tell him that I like spending time with him, tell him the qualities I like about him

*I debated with myself about mentioning Sly by name, as this is a very personal post.  I mean, what if he comes across this one day?  Well, I'm hoping that if he does, he will not only be assured of the love I have for him, and also maybe think it's a little funny.  Because hopefully by then we will both have changed so much in our feelings towards one another that it will seem a little unbelievable that there was really a time when we struggled so much to always enjoy each other's company.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

{p,h,f,r,} Flora in Eastertide

I'm not sure if I've ever participated in this time-honored series that's hosted at Like Mother Like Daughter, but I do always enjoy seeing others' posts of this sort, so I'll throw in my own little contribution this time and see how it goes.


A plate of Easter eggs that I keep on the dinner table.  The fully painted ones are wooden eggs that I've collected from here and there.  The white ones are real blown eggs I made and decorated with colored wax.


Lots of happy things these past couple weeks.

We had our traditional wedding anniversary dinner late at night after the kids went to bed.  It's the one time a year we splurge on the really good steaks from the butcher's case.

Flora got baptized, and our good friends from college came into town to be her godparents.

 And....a baby in a lamb hat.  If that doesn't make you happy, nothing will :-)



Flora conked out on Tom's lap while he drinks a beer.


When a baby falls asleep on a Boppy pillow on your lap, but you have things to gotta do what you gotta do!  We've gotten pretty good at finding objects to slip in and substitute for our own bodies/arms/warmth, effectively tricking our babies into staying asleep when we need to put them down.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Recent Crafting Output

With all the time I spend doing laundry, preparing meals, wiping other people's bums, washing dishes, doing laundry, running errands, sweeping up messes, doing laundry, picking up toys, sopping up spilled milk - and did I mention doing laundry? -  I don't have much time for crafty pursuits these days.  But it's been a year since I last showed off any of my projects on here, so now I can post pictures of several all at once, and it will seem really impressive!  But trust me - I'm not a super-crafter.  EAch of these took me many many months to complete!

Ship Prototype Pillow

I had an ambitious quilt in mind (see below), and needed to practice making a ship for it.  I found the pattern for this 12x12 block online, and busted one out late one night using some scrap fabric.  It sat around for a few months, and then inspiration struck again.  I spent another late night and some more scrap fabric turning it into a pillow for the couch.  I think it adds a nice touch of color and whimsy.

Sly's Ship Quilt

I made this quilt for Sly's bed.  It's a twin size, which makes it the largest quilt I've made yet.  I wanted something he could grow with.  It matches his blue-colored ship-themed bedroom quite well.  The whole thing took me a little over a year to complete.

I'm so thankful for my weekly quilting group that I'm part of.  It holds me accountable and ensures that I have planned out-of-the-house time to make a tiny bit of progress on my quilting each week.  If I were trying to get any quilting done on my own at home, it would just never happen.  I'd always find something more important, or at least more enticing (I'm looking at you, Facebook) to work on instead.

I took the pattern I'd used for the smaller ship block and did the calculations to enlarge it to fit the larger size of this quilt.  The outer edges are alternating squares and a block called a "friendship star" - each of them is made up of nine separate pieces.  It took a long time to finish them all!

Flora's Blankie
I've always knit a blanket ("blankie" in our family) for each of my kids while I'm pregnant with them.   We start wrapping our babies in their blankets almost as soon as they are born, and they quickly come to develop a rather strong attachment to them - which I'm totally fine with.  In fact....I may still have my own baby blankie(s) stashed away in the linen closet for an occasional covert snuggle :-)

I never bother to block my knitting, which is why the edges are all wonky here

The pattern I used is this one, which you should be able to view if you are a member of Ravelry.  My favorite yarn to use is Knitpicks Comfy Worsted Yarn.  It's inexpensive, washable, and very soft.

I do my knitting almost exclusively in the evenings while watching a movie with my husband or while discussing a book with my Catholic Moms book group (we're reading Kristin Lavrandatter right now!  SO good!).  It's a good multi-tasking activity.  In fact, I don't think I would ever make the time to knit unless I could do it while also being involved in something's kind of boring, to be honest.

And if you happen to have children who also get attached to their blankets - or a daughter named Flora! - this is a pretty cute book to check out.  It's about a baby bunny who's supposed to go to bed, but can't find her blanket.