babyloss awareness

October 18th, 2011

October is babyloss awareness month. So I’ve spent a great deal of time overhauling the HOPING site, and reading and being inspired (and moved to tears) finding stories of women all over the world. Blogging was relatively new when I started in 2004, so there weren’t very many. Now there are zillions – and many of them devoted to the loss and remembrance of their children. And so many are doing wonderful things for other parents, just like we do through HOPING. But this month, probably more than any other – is a hard one. I was pregnant every time in October – either starting or ending one, or both.

Tonight I was reading a blogger who lost a baby to incompetent cervix. She posted “one tiny ultrasound would have saved your life”, and I think back to the nurse/receptionist at the doctor’s office “well, three weeks is better than five” and I agreed. Thank God, I agreed. because had we waited one more day beyond three weeks to have that ultrasound, we’d have lost our little girl, and I doubt we’d have ever tried again. But as it were, that little peanut is asleep in her bed, and her brother, asleep in ours. And I am blessed far beyond measure for their presence in my life.

Today we started the 10 hugs days. We have to give 10 hugs to each other each day (we’ll start with ten and go up from there.) I think my girl was missing my touch, and she seemed genuinely better behaved and more loving. It’s working.

I am so unbelievably blessed, really. Pinch me!

stealing a weekend from Old Man Winter

October 10th, 2011

So I just posted last month that we wouldn’t have another beach weekend! And lo, what did we get? Sunny and 80 degrees! No kidding!! It was my birthday weekend, so it’s extra special. Gorgeous, sunny, tank top and shorts weather ON the beach, IN the water, barefoot on the sand, it was glorious. Yes, I know Fall is coming (not here yet…) but boy, to have this weekend, on my birthday no less, well. that was somethin’.

I know I don’t post here nearly as often as I used to. Mainly on my sewing blog or on my paper journal (I know, I know, I lost a lot in that journal – losing incident this summer). But I am going to try to post regularly.

This weekend, Christian’s words are: mama, zuzu, all done, apple (mainly said as bapple?) milk, nur-nur (nursing), down, no (of course) ,ball, and pup (for up). He might know a few more words. He’s thinking more in words too, I can tell. He wakes in the night and asks “nur nur?” and the other night, after the dog was squeaking, rustling her collar and being generally annoying at 4am, he woke and said “Zuzu!” Indeed. We laughed.

I swear he said nur-nur, no, tonight, as he squiggled to get down from my lap, clearly intent on a toy, not nur-nur. his first two-word sentence.

He can nearly run, he loves balls, the toy cars he rides on and of course, his mama.

It sneaks up on you

August 31st, 2011

Fall, that is. First, it’s a few cool mornings. Then it’s a blast of summer heat, then a few more cool days. It’s coming, but it is not here yet.

All summer long I’ve been dealing with an extreme case of dry and straw-like hair. I chalked it up to a visit to the salon for highlights and full color in June. But the reality is, right around this time with my first baby, about 12-15 months, it’s as if all the life goes out of my hair! I was lamenting this, even wondering if this was just my hair, in my 40s, but decided, no, this very same thing happened.

So I”m loading up on vitamins for my last weekend at the beach for summer (I’ll be back, but it will not be summer when I return). And I’m taking advantage of it. I’m leaving sewing behind (I am bringing patterns to trace, though), bringing a few magazines, a book, a journal, and my yoga mat. And I’m spending every bit of time I can in the last hot days of summer, up north, on the beach.

Because fall is lurking.

It was a quintessentially perfect summer weekend

August 28th, 2011

The kind of weekend that you want to bottle up and crack open deep in February when winter is digging in it’s heels. Pure blue sky, with puffy white clouds. 78 degrees. A nice breeze. Working in the garden, harvesting our bounty of tomatoes and basil. I dyed the Megan Nielsen Pina Nursing dress a dark blue, using some Rit Dye that I had hanging around. Usually I’d mix up a batch of procion dye, but had this in my laundry room. The dress did not dye perfectly even, even though I wet it first and swooshed it around a bunch. However like all dyeing, the genius is not knowing how it will turn out and being surprised. In this case, ever so slightly lighter marks on the fabric of the dress look like an all-over texture, it’s quite nice.  I’ll post a photo when I’m not wearing it (hubby is not always accommodating of the photo session).

As a navy dress, I like this much better. though I love the pale blue Jalie 2787 top I made from the same fabric, and I love a RTW cream knit dress I bought two years ago (so it’s not the ‘light’ factor), this blue just reminded me of a nightie, I Never felt totally comfortable in it as a dress. The navy is much better.

I often forget about dye as a solution to a wardrobe challenge, but I should. It’s versatile. Easy. Fast.

I also took the liberty of hanging the cloth diapers out to dry, a very good solution to get them white.


August 23rd, 2011

It’s always like this, the week we come back from the bike ride. All that work, all that passion for the cause, the foundation and the excitement of it all. Then poof! it’s over, summer’s almost done and I feel more than a bit ungrounded today. Like things are shifting and I have to be ready to move with them. It’s not nearly as ungrounded as LAST August though, but in some ways, restarting a company is exciting and energizing. I’m not yet sure what the next few months are going to take, but they’re going to take whatever I have to give, whatever I put my mind to, so I must keep on keeping on!


August 11th, 2011

I never did find the journal. Bought a new one. I still hold out  hope it will return. In the new one, I wrote my  name, phone number and reward for return.

As I tackle a challenging day at work, I think how easy it would be to imagine a different life. But then I remember that, too, has it’s own challenges, and in many ways those are harder challenges for me to face. Funny that a preschooler could be harder than clients, servers and technology, but it’s true. Preschoolers are wiley ;D I think I’m making a go of motherhood, volunteer work and professional work. I think I find time to do the things I need for me – exercise, read, sew, knit, though the time that’s there is very small and I have to take advantage of it. More important I have to recognize that I can’t beat myself up if at 10:30pm when my children are at last in bed, that I don’t have to sew – maybe that’s a knitting or reading time, instead.

And I’ve provided for my family now for a year. That feels pretty good. We’ve even had a few luxuries along the way – a trip to Florida. I’ll still post here (and offline, too) and still hold out hope the journal finds it’s way back to me.


August 2nd, 2011

I have an offline journal, one that I have been writing in daily for almost a year. The second one (or is it third now) is missing. A beautiful black spiral bound book, with thick creamy sheets of art-quality paper. Sketches. Journal entries about my babies. The last six months of Christian’s life, recorded so I could remember it. Gone. I’m just beside myself. I think I left it in the motel room, but they can’t find it. It’s not in the car, we’ve searched every bag, even the dog’s bag (in case I slipped it in there in a fit of madness trying to get everyone and their stuff out the door). So I don’t know what to do. I had to write it down somewhere, here is as good as any. I used to write here the same, and lo, it’s backed up and saved daily. But the paper journal, there’s something about that. I page back through the entries, reliving this special time.

I’m not sure what is worse, that it’s gone, or that someone else might have it and be reading it! I try to be positive in it – it’s not a diatribe of every worst-case scenario and bad experience. Quite the contrary, I try to evoke a gratitude journal (there are a few rants in there, of course, as well as some fears, oh a lot of those too).  But that it’s gone, ugh. Sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, really. I am hoping, holding out hope it shows up, someone kindly turns it in and the motel calls me.

Getting every drop out

July 12th, 2011

Business has been both great and challenging at the same time. Working harder than ever before, but sometimes it still seems like we can’t make enough money to pay everyone what they should be. My clients would, I think, be shocked at how little I make (and what I manage to live on!) Or maybe they see me driving the one car with the missing foglight and the cracked lower trim, (the ‘good’ car) or maybe even the rusty Explorer with no a/c! And they wonder about me that way, too. Either way, we live simply, and we over give, waaaay over give to our clients. I like to think it’s karma, that it comes back to me. It hasn’t always. I’ve gotten seriously burned a bunch of times. We’re getting better, more efficient at work, better at time tracking, and I am able to lower prices for some, and price things at value for others.

Still, it helps to be frugal.  We wash out plastic bags (within reason, not the ones the family pack of thigh and drumsticks were separated into). We buy cheaper cuts of meat (hence the thigh and drumsticks –man you can get a giant pack of those for $5!) or we eat more beans. I’m not making it out like we’re starving. We buy organic produce and almond milk as well. But we have to economize. I’m not sure how it all shakes up – the cheaper chicken and the organic produce, but I hope it does anyway. I have an espresso maker. So you know life’s not poor over here. Just lean.

I guess I look at this way, we get every drop out of life. My father in law is a child of the depression. They save EVERYTHING. Nails, screws, a part you don’t know what it was for and probably don’t have it anyway – I do mean everything. They wear their clothes for years and years and years. (I swear they’re still wearing things they wore when we married 20 years ago). My mom saves everything. So even if it’s worn out, she’ll save it. I get my DIY upcycling from her, literally. My handbag design business is built around formal dresses 40 years old that she saved. Maybe almost 50 now.

So we come from these frugal parents, and we can’t help but want to do the same. We try to buy good quality so it lasts, and it helps that I am a fairly classic dresser. Modern classics, I would describe myself as wearing. Our daughter, now 4, always asks “mama can you make me some?” rather than “can we buy….”

i love that. Of course we can make that. We can make anything.

Living within our means

June 29th, 2011

Eight months ago I started my business anew, without partners. I have taken almost all of my (full) paychecks since January, and half of them October –  December last year. That’s good, because almost a year ago my husband lost his job (again, 2nd time in two years). But he’s joined me in the business and soon we expect we may be able to pay HIM some money too (right now he’s working for free).

All this is working because we live within our means. By living, I’ll outline what we have: a 2400 sf new house (almost two years old now), two cars, one is a 1997 Ford Explorer held together with duct tape and bailing wire (kidding, but the doors may rust off soon). And a 2003 Subaru WRX wagon. Both paid off (long since paid off). We also own a nearly paid off 1200 sf house that we rent to college students, about four blocks away. Once we pay that off (2013), it will spin off enough cash every month to nearly cover THIS mortgage payment, for the house that I’m sitting in. And then we will be sitting pretty!

But in the mean time, and for the last 19 years (except for a brief blip in the mid 2000s when we were funding our first child’s conception to the tune of forty grand) we have not carried any consumer debt. No credit cards, and cars that were paid off as soon as we could.

We also managed to save enough to put away a good start on retirement and college savings for both children, though we must be vigilant. We have to save for months to pay our five-figure property tax bills (two houses!) But we are frugal in other ways:

We eat at home almost every day. And we make enough to take lunches to work almost every day. We eat out at a cheap local bar which has a Monday night burger and beer special. Not every Monday, but some of them.

We buy almost everything for our children used. Mom 2 Mom sales are our friends.

I buy almost all of my clothing, shoes and accessories at secondhand boutiques. We have a few of them, competitors, who really do a nice job of making it boutique-y and I can then enjoy shopping AND afford it.

I sew a good percentage of my wardrobe and some of my kids’ stuff. I get a lot of fabric in trade from a sewing pattern designer for whom I do marketing work or a fabric store for whom I do web work. Otherwise I get gift certificates when I can from my favorite fabric stores (online usually).

We don’t buy stuff we don’t need. I used to have a shoe habit. I now am getting rid of a lot of that stock of shoes that I bought when I was childfree, before I knew having kids was going to take me a good chunk of my savings and four years to attempt. That’s a long time ago. But now I rarely feel the need to do much, and when I do, I try to buy secondhand (not always good for shoes – most people only get rid of the uncomfortable ones) or at least on sale. And failing that, at clients’ businesses or local businesses.

We vacation up north at my parent’s house, or my in laws in Chicago. Big city or beach, we’ve got it covered! We do take a winter vacation to Florida or somewhere warm, but we usually try to do that on the cheap (or with grandparents willing to contribute).  We used to do an annual European vacation but we’ve not been able to do that since 2007. It’ll come again, I’m sure of it.

But mainly we live simply – a fun night is a beer on the porch, watching our kids play. Or sailing at our sailing club. Or bicycling as a family.

We take advantage of free music concerts, art festivals, and other happenings in our city, which are numerous. We could go out a couple of times a week for free doing this.

But I feel good that we live within our means. We are not yet saving where we used to be, but we’ll get there as soon as those property taxes are paid.

being gentle today

June 23rd, 2011

Today I dropped off all my maternity and my extra office baby gear to the Greenhouse Birth Center sale (as a donation). Upon leaving, I felt like crying. It’s hard to let something go – especially something so hard fought and so loved – and close the door on a phase of your life. It’s a big thing. Granted, it’s not THE big decision (such as one of us gets fixed) but it’s a big step. By the time I got through grocery shopping at Meijer with both kids – who were very well behaved – I felt better, and by the time I got to work and dived right in, I forgot about it entirely.

It is a chapter of my life that’s closing, and there is some sadness with it, so I need to acknowledge that I feel this way, that it’s OK and that I will take gentle care with myself. Tonight I will do yoga – I will concentrate on this now no longer to ever be pregnant again body and strengthen it. Still, that feeling of sadness, of, well, wrongness is there. I know, I know, I’m trying to listen to what my body is saying and my heart, and still make them both understand that I will be 42 in a few months, that my 1 yo son is still nursing and still a baby. And that they are both healthy and pushing ahead into something else means opening up a huge amount of risk for me, for us as a family.

And it’s important, too, that I focus on this phase – the nursing phase – of my life and do some sewing for it, too. Eventually that door will close too. I will be sad then, as well.

But on the flipside, my baby girl got into Montessori magnet school and we have that new bright big phase to begin in the fall!