Friday, July 30, 2010

Thoroughly Modern Woman

My mom always said “If you’re going to do something, do it right.” It used to REALLY annoy me when I had to clean the bathroom. But it was good advice that sank in and echoes in my head often.

I grew up KNOWING that I could do anything in life that I wanted. Work hard, make good decisions and dreams can come true. My dreams of the future revolved around job possibilities, amazing places to live and a fantastic wardrobe with awesome shoes. I didn’t really think about, much less dream about, what my house would be like, having kids or balancing my life around anyone other than myself. Of course, I’d have a great husband but we would be equals in everything. No slaving around the house for me, we’d keep it up together and spend our free time doing things together and pursuing our own individual interests.

I found a husband who was exactly that. No fighting over meal prep. If I cooked, great; if not, he’d have burritos, I’d have popcorn and we both were happy. We sorted and did laundry together on the weekends when we’d finally run out of underwear. I cleaned the bathrooms but he ALWAYS emptied the dishwasher; the job that I absolutely refused to do. It was easy and equal and oh so enlightened in our 21st century world!

I loved my job and although I didn’t have to wear high fashion I could dress how I liked, even if it meant that I was the most dressed up of anyone on any day. The work was interesting, fulfilling and sure to provide myriads of new things to learn in the years to come. I was rapidly rising in job status and responsibility and loved all the new information and skills I was accumulating.

Then The Princess arrived…

Now I work part-time but leave the house only one day a week. This means that my job responsibilities have been turned on their head. My view is that much of a job is dependent on who available when the work in question needs to be done. Even if you’re sharing an office (or a lab) with co-workers and everyone is working 40 hours a week there are going to be things that don’t necessarily use your education and expertise to its full extent. But, the job still needs to be done and proximity is often the deciding factor for who’s lap it ends up in.

So…here I am at home with a baby more often than not. Look around, what kind of jobs do you see in your immediate vicinity that need to be done? You got it! Laundry, vacuuming, dusting, cooking and kitchen floor washing.

So what have I become in the past three years? I’m a housewife; albeit a housewife with a husband who pitches in even when he shouldn’t have to; after all, he works hard at his job so that I CAN work at home. I’m a working mom who doesn’t make dinner on the night that she’s been in the lab all day – that’s burrito night. I’m also a writer and mother and soccer player, quilter, sewer and reader extraordinaire. But my JOB, the work that I expect myself to do because I’m the one that is there to do it, is more often around the house than not.

If I’m going to do the job I’m figuring out how to do it right. After struggling to consistently have dinners figured out and at least in preparation stages when Steve gets home I finally decided to use my great organizational skills to do some menu and grocery shopping planning. BINGO! I get to make calendars and lists and plans! Suddenly getting dinner on the table is easier and doable and I actually feel a sense of satisfaction over it!

Why not break down and buy those Clorox wipes so that I can quickly wipe down the bathroom and keep it clean? After all, at the lab I look for the most efficient way to get the job done correctly so that I can fit more into my day. Refusing to use anything but rags and Comet because it’s cheaper doesn’t make any sense if I’m not actually cleaning the bathroom because it’s a pain to pull out and scrub the dirt that’s been sitting there too long!

I’m developing laundry skills that go beyond being able to sort the colors from the whites. I’ve used bleach on my white towels. I’m getting better at putting a little Zout on the myriad of spots on The Princesses dresses before letting them sit in the basket. I started using the soak function on my machine! I had no idea it was even there!

Please don’t get me wrong. If you stop by my house you’re not going to find a pristine “palace”. It’s clean, it’s relatively neat – or at least in the process of getting there; I’m well known for having a pile of “yet to be folded” laundry sitting on the living room floor for my evening TV viewing pleasure. I have many other things going on in my life that are just as, or even more important than, my housekeeping skills. But, I’m trying to find balance and provide an example to The Princess on doing a job well while still allowing time to focus on the things that make you sing, both inside and out. (I interrupted my vacuuming twice to make notes for this post!)

So no, being a “housewife” wasn’t my dream career. But, being successful in my job WAS part of the dream and I’m doing my best to be successful in this season of my career.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Show and Tell #3

I bought this fabric for a diaper bag.

Remind me to read the instructions carefully before I buy fabric for a specific project... You'd think I'd learn - this isn't the first time I've done this...

Anyway, the fabric was too light to make the bag so what to do??  I figured The Princess wouldn't mind a new little skirt and then I found this super easy and super cute pattern!

That settled it. New Clothes!! Can't go wrong with that!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Show and Tell #2

I had a little nephew born in May. The first boy on my side! It was so exciting! BUT, my brother and sister-in-law kept us in suspense by not finding out what they were having ahead of time! Torturous and mean, right?

Knowing that I wasn't going to have a lot of time to make something for the new and as yet unknown addition once he was born I new I needed to get started on something...

This lovely book, full of so many projects that I want to work on (!), gave me the inspiration and pattern.

Anna Maria Horner

I took a chance on the "gender neutral" thing. I totally lucked out that it was a boy - I mean, it would of worked for a girl but it's pretty obvious what I was betting on!

Welcome Baby! We're so thrilled that you've arrived!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Show and Tell #1

The frantic sewing days are behind me for now... It was a short but intense burst of frenzied activity but I got the important things done!

This beautiful package was combined with this:

To make this finished product!

A cheerful and pretty place for a little girl to sleep.

She'd better SLEEP!!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blueberry Daze

Blueberry Season!

The first summer I lived on the west coast I was invited to go blueberry picking. There's nothing like hiking the mountains of Maine, where I'd previously done some picking, eating the wild blueberries and savoring their sweet and tart flavor. You're already watching the ground in order not to trip and sprawl flat out on the hard rock surface so keeping an eye out for the little indigo berries is really just an added bonus to the whole experience. With that in mind I eagerly said yes to the blueberry expedition.

We pulled up to a nice meadow right in the city and everyone climbed out with multiple gallon buckets - extremely optimistic about how many blueberries we were going to pick and bring home with us!

We headed out into the meadow, my head firmly down trying to find the blueberries hidden in the tall meadow grass. Picking was definitely going to be harder than on the rock faces of the Maine mountains!  We walked for 10 minutes without a blueberry in sight and no one seemed phased or concerned even though they had yet to put one tiny, minuscule berry in their buckets.

Suddenly everyone stopped with exclamations of "We're here!", "Oh, they look great!", "Let's get picking!". I frantically scoured the ground wondering how they were peering through the grass to find these elusive berries! Finally I looked up in confusion hoping to discover their secret... But, these strange people weren't looking down at the ground. They were elbow deep in bushes! And when I looked closer I realized that these bushes WERE where the blueberries were growing! And the blueberries themselves...They were obviously on steroids. Overgrown grapes were dragging the branches down until they were practically resting on the ground!

No wonder I was confused! It was an entirely new blueberry world! That confusion quickly moved to elation as I grabbed handfuls of berries off the the bush in one sweep and the bottom of my gallon bucket disappeared in minutes! Talk about almost instant gratification!

We now buy our berries at the farmers market, maybe in a few years we'll head back out to pick our own. Either way, it's a special summer treat that The Princess inhales leaving a few berries for to freeze as a winter staple. We really should invest in a freezer for just the blueberry stockpile.

I wouldn't turn down a hike up a Maine mountain or reject a surprise package in the mail of those little Maine berries though. They're still to die for!