Writing Our Future

I’ve been second guessing myself lately.  I’ve been reconsidering decisions I made several years ago, knowing there is no way to go back and change them.  Even if I could, it probably wouldn’t be wise.  Worrying over the past is counter-productive no matter what the situation because it simply cannot be changed.

We often make the best decisions we can with the information we have at the time.  We have no way of knowing what will happen in the future so we plan for the here and now.  Hindsight is often 20/20 because we forget that we didn’t have knowledge of what would happen a few months or years down the line.  I have absolutely no knowledge of what my life will be like even a year from now but I’m planning for the parts that I believe to be true and doing the best with the information I have.  It’s easy to be critical of your past self when you’ve already seen what will play out.  It’s also easy to forget that this knowledge of the here and now is new.  This knowledge wasn’t in your possession as you were planning for the future.  You were simply oblivious to what would be.

In my youth I was never one to believe that people actually change as they grow older.  I never understood why people left relationships because their partner changed – I always thought it was an excuse to wave the get out of jail free card.  Perhaps they were just tired and didn’t want to make it work.  The younger version of me hadn’t experienced enough of life to see how time and events can mold us – for better or worse.

Writing Our FutureTime has taught me that change is good.  Life’s events bring knowledge, patience, and the ability to make more clear-headed decisions.  Time heralds change.  We can fight change and find ourselves becoming bitter, even angry.  We can accept change and allow time to mold us into better versions of ourselves.  Change won’t bring all the answers – nor will time.  We have to learn to sort out all of life’s little nuances into things that will matter and things that won’t.

I believe that who we are at birth is intrinsically related to who we have become at death.  There are small personality traits that we’ll likely carry throughout our lives.  Those little quirks and traits are what make up our basic essence – without them we’d all be shells.  There are other traits that we pick up over time or traits that are changed by all that life throws at us.  There are things that we can learn to do and be – patient, caring, forgiving.  There are traits we may lose – innocence, optimism, even hope.  While we’ll never control what comes our way, we can always do our best to control how it changes us.  If we want to grow and be better – we can.  If we’re scared and we can’t find a way to carry forward with hope we have the right to feel stuck and react negatively.

As I sit and wish I could go back and make changes so my life would be easier I forget that taking the road I did has brought me to where I am.  If I had changed one little detail I might have an entirely different life.  It could be better, it could be worse.  Yet it wouldn’t be my life.  I like my life and I think my energy would best be spent changing the here and now instead of worrying about the past or events that I can’t change.

This is my beautiful life…  This is my story and while I don’t get to write the future, I get to edit all the details that make it worth reading.

Graphic Art Freebies: Trick or Treat

More Halloween cover photos for you this week!  Trick or treat!

Trick or Treat

 

HappyHalloween

Harris Teeter Super Doubles Week of 10/15/14

It’s Super Doubles week at Harris Teeter again!  Which means a whole lot of savings if you coupon.  Below is a list of deals that can be had this week as well as a picture and breakdown of my first trip of the week.  It’s definitely a week where you want to visit your local store more than once if you can because you can only double 20 coupons per day per household.  They also do not typically allow overage UNLESS it comes from a ZVR.  Happy couponing!

HTDeals10-15 copy

 

HT Super Doubles 10/15

 

Harris Teeter Super Doubles 10/15

 

HT10-15BD

Sewing Inspiration: Halloween Felt Crafts

A little sewing inspiration for today.  Each of the pieces for these Halloween felt crafts can easily be free-form cut or you can cut the pieces on a piece of paper then trace them onto your felt.  The witch’s hat pattern can be found here.  I stuff my little candy corns, pumpkins, witch hats, and Frankensteins with some polyfil and often attach a craft stick so they can be easily slid into wreaths or Halloween baskets for decor.  My children also like to play with them.  You can use craft glue or your sewing machine to attach the pieces.  Even throw in a bit of fabric paint for more detail and fun!

Halloween Felt Crafts

Basket

Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month

Infant and Pregnancy LossThis is going to be a hard week for me.  It’s a week of remembrance and fresh starts which are never easy.

October is National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month.  And October 15th is the annual wave of light where candles across the world burn in memory of lost babies.  I cry even as I write this because no matter how many years go between me and a loss, or how many losses get piled on, the truth is that it still hurts.  While acceptance comes, peace is not always swift to follow.

There’s been an October 15th decal on the back of my car for many years now.  It stays there year round and in some ways it gives me comfort.  I was surprised to see someone with the same decal while I was at a gas station this weekend.  I so wanted to reach out to this person and tell them that it touched my heart to see someone else remembering – someone else not afraid to say that they lost and loved a baby.

I will always be the mother to angels, they are not something I care to sweep under a rug or forget about.  While I never got to sweep the hair off their temples or kiss their tiny foreheads, I had dreams and hopes for them that I never got to see fulfilled.  I had lists of names that went unused and baby items packed away or placed in a memory book.  With their passing my spirit was temporarily broken, my heart markedly changed.

Miscarriage is a loss that haunts one’s soul.  Seized by what ifs and what could have been it is very easy to lose oneself to the past and forget what we have in a future.  Through other’s remembrance of our babies and their recognition that this wasn’t all a dream, we can start to heal.  I believe that people are often scared to mention my losses to me, but I always remember either way and I’d prefer the recognition to having the loss forgotten.

If you know someone who’s lost a child, let them know you remember and that you reserve this month, or at least this day as a day of remembrance.  They may cry, but they are not doing so entirely out of pain and grief.  They’ll likely be quite touched and comforted to know that someone out there remembers their baby – the one they never got to bring home.

This month I remember dates – February 2006; April 28, 2006; December 14, 2006; June 2009; and September 2014.  I will remember that I was supposed to bring home a baby November 11, 2006 – that I carried my baby for thirteen weeks and then he was gone.  My eyes will often be distant and vacant this month and on those days.  I will remember that I would’ve been finding out my baby’s sex the week before Christmas this year.  I was so excited to wrap up a pink or blue outfit and reveal it on Christmas day.  I’m angry that these hopes and dreams were stolen from me and despite my best efforts, I am often bitter.

This month, light a candle, say a prayer, just offer a silent hug.  Accept that we can be sad, yet hopeful.  We can miss what should have been and still have happiness in what will be.

Sewing Tutorial: Mama Cloth Wet/Dry Bag

Wet/Dry Bag TutorialThis tutorial is a simple no measurements needed sewing project that will enable you to create a wet bag to hold both clean and dirty mama cloth.  Wet/dry bags are nice when you are on the go because you have one convenient place to store both your used and unused menstrual products while you’re out.

The mama cloth wet/dry bag we are creating in this tutorial has one large opening at the top that is secured shut with hook and loop tape.  You could also alter the pattern and install a zipper here.  The large top opening is designed to hold your dirty items.  There is a large pocket on the front with snap closures designed to hold your clean items.  There is also a handle that has a snap closure so that it can be hung not only on door knobs or hooks, but also towel racks or even the toilet paper holder.

You can choose whatever fabric design you like, the bag just looks like any other clutch so no one would ever know what is inside unless you showed them.

Materials Needed

  • Waterproof PUL fabric – amount will vary based on how large or small you want your bag to be.
  • Hook and loop tape (or zipper if you prefer a top zipper closure)
  • Snaps and Snap Pliers or Press
  • Sewing Machine
  • Polyester Thread
  • Scissors
  • The PDF tutorial with fully detailed and illustrated instructions.  Print the file as fit to page or follow along on-screen.  Click here to download file:  Mama Cloth Wet Dry Bag.

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Felt Witch’s Hat

Witch's HatAs much as I love creating a one of a kind sewing pattern, I also love the convenience of printing one and devoting all my creativity to making the actual finished project.

I happened across this mini witch’s hat pattern a few years ago and have used it in some form every Halloween since.  I have always used regular craft felt for this pattern and skipped the interfacing pieces altogether.  I have also used one brim piece and find that one piece works almost as well, if not better than, using two pieces.

Felt is wonderful for this project because it stands on its own and eliminates the need for interfacing altogether.  You can use ribbon, buttons, or any embellishment that suites your fancy for these hats.  You can add ribbon to the sides to tie them on or pin them to your head with bobby pins.  They are also ideal for Halloween decor and my kids have even popped them on their stuffed animals.  You can even scale the pattern to make larger, or smaller, hats.

Enjoy!  And feel free to share a few of your own witchy creations.  My hat this year is for a witch who’s a super hero villain.  Idea courtesy of my three-year-old ;) .

The Pursuit Of Happiness

Validate my lifeEverything happens for a reason…it’s a cliché I often loathe.  Rarely, if ever, spoken in times of happiness it’s meant to offer comfort.  More often it incites anger when one’s nerves are still raw.  Given time to heal, time to breath and let life fill one’s soul again, there is truth to be found in those words.

When unsavory things happen in our lives it is easy to brush them aside and move along forgetting to take note of what the event has to teach us.  Dwelling on the event is hard, letting the emotions in to feel is painful.  If we want life to go on, we must see the lessons it has placed before us.  Brushing off hard events as bad luck or simple mistakes is far easier, yet I feel as though the events often carry lessons we were ignoring.  Little snippets of knowledge placed into events so that some good comes from the pain.

I was certain of the path my life was set upon a few months ago.  Precise plans and goals laid before me, a concise timeline to the road my life was to take.  I had plans mapped out and still I felt restless, as I always have.  Then life was placed in my womb, only to be taken away a short time later.  The bitterness and anger ensued.  As is often the case I questioned all I had planned and wondered if there was a better path to be set upon.  Over the course of a few weeks, my plans were altered beyond my control and then thrown back on course.

Perhaps the seeds of life planted into my womb were never meant to grow into a child, but an idea.  Perhaps that tiny growing soul was sacrificed to teach a lesson that I have long sought after but never found.  While I mourn the loss of the precious baby that never got to experience life and all the wonders it entails, I am grateful for the awakening it provided.  Once I stopped searching for what I was meant to do, life presented its answers on its own.

While I have been ever-present in my children’s lives, leaving behind work and school so that I could care for them full-time, I feel like I may have missed the mark in some ways.  I’ve performed all the motherly tasks, loved them without condition, but I have spent many hours wondering what I would do when I was ‘done’.  What would I return to when they were in school?  Would a career, or a new educational path be waiting on me?  I’ve rethought my career choices many times and I dare say that I have often sacrificed these valuable years with my young children by planning a future that always felt so uncertain.  My reason for uncertainty was, and always has been, that I am doing what I was meant to do.  There is no reason to constantly reconsider my choices.

At one point in all this soul-searching and life questioning I decided to checkout.  It was all more than I wanted to handle when I was already emotionally lost and reeling from the departure of a soul I’d never get to meet.  Sleepless nights spent staring at a dark wall, tears burning hot on my cheeks before I’d even knew they fell – they took their toll.  Mind and body weary, I decided to just let it go and not think about careers or college paths.  Then the magic happened.

I sat down to play with my boys, fully immersed in their world of super heroes, race tracks, and stroller races around the kitchen island.  I soaked up their crayoned projects and I joined in their silly dances and dress up masquerades.  I laughed with true happiness as we rolled around on pillow forts and fed baby dolls with wild hair.  I cried tears of true joy as my toddler curled up upon my lap to nap.  I watched, truly watched him, as he slept.  The long eyelashes void of earthly cares.  The innocence that surrounded his play and slumber slowly seeping into my own veins and reviving me from the life I had been physically present in, but emotionally absent.   Seeing myself finally at peace and at ease in the life I had unknowingly been fighting brought back the calm we all needed.

I’ve often felt judged for my decision to stay at home with my children.  I have always felt a need to explain myself, to justify my reasons for staying home and not returning to work.  Perhaps it’s because we live in a society where women are so often taught that they can do whatever men can do.  Perhaps it’s because we live in a world where monetary gains take center stage in the worlds of success and apparent happiness.  We pay entertainers, athletes, and brokers large sums of money while many child care workers and teachers barely make enough to scrape by.  It’s a message that even when unspoken is quite clear in today’s modern world.

Whatever the reason, I have spelled out my financial reasons to stay home more often than I can count.  Rarely have I spoken to or justified the emotional needs that I am meeting or the bonds I am fostering.  Rarely have a referenced the moral obligations I feel I am meeting or the motherly bonds that I am enriching.  While I spend my days feeding my children’s bodies, nourishing them for life outside my home, I am also fostering their hearts.  I am teaching them right from wrong, compassion, empathy, love, and how to apologize.  I am not opposed to women, or men, who work to support their children.  I support them, I admire them.  I am also finally giving myself permission to validate my life and recognize that it is okay and acceptable to be content (and happy) in this simple way of life.

I don’t need to explain or justify my life as ‘just’ a mother.  I don’t need an answer for, “What will you do when they start school?”.  My life as their mother does not end when they depart my home for a few hours each day.  My life as their mother and their support will not end when they move from my home.  I don’t need to serve some greater goal to feel like my life has meant something.  My children, and my husband, are my greater goal.  The work I do in my home truly makes me happy, it is that missing puzzle piece that has left me so restless all these years.  Upon recognizing that I am doing what I want to do and that I am happy, truly happy, my restless soul has found peace.

I am not lazy.  I am not without goals.  I do not need to be rich.  I do not need a larger home, a nicer car.  I do not need society to accept my lifestyle.  I am in no need of ‘saving’ nor have I been brainwashed into believing that ‘a woman’s place is at home’.  My husband would support my desires to do whatever I chose.  A woman’s, or a man’s, place is wherever they find happiness. The pursuit of happiness is grand in that it can mean many things.  I have found happiness in life’s simpler pleasures and its everyday tasks.  For me, that is enough.

Mama Cloth as a Gift

Mama Cloth As A GiftI often get asked by friends and online acquaintances about natural, green living products.  Whether it be cloth diapers or mama cloth, friends sometimes refer others to me for more information.  I’m happy to share the knowledge I’ve gained about these products and am always glad to convert someone to a greener life.

What is the easiest way to get someone to try something new?  Give it to them for free.  I’ve found that some women are interested in mama cloth, but they are not interested in the higher cost associated with the transition to using it.  Sure, a disposable pack of pads is cheaper in the short-term, but any cloth pads you buy can normally be used for years and are actually cheaper.  The same goes for tampons vs. cups.

As an avid sewer I often do ‘fabric cleanups’ to use up scraps from past projects.  Cloth pads are fantastic for using up flannel, fleece, hemp, and bamboo scraps as they’re small and even lend themselves quite well to piecework when needed.  Now I’ve probably got you wondering if I really give cloth pads as a gift for birthdays and Christmas.  And I don’t.  Whenever I do a scrap cleanup I let my friends know and surprisingly, I usually have more people interested than I have pads so some of them go on a little ‘waiting list’ for the next time while others receive their pads.

When I gift these pads I prefer to do so as a starter kit so that the person can get a feel of what using cloth is really like.  I usually include five shells with about ten inserts and this will be enough for someone to get a decent feel of what using cloth is all about.  It’s also important to provide education with the pads.  Information on how to use, store, and wash pads is important.  Information on how much absorbency is generally needed is also quite helpful.

If you sew, you can easily make your own pads from our free patterns:
Adjustable Absorbency and Liners
Hidden Contoured Core, Overcast Edge
Exposed Contoured Core, Overcast Edge
Exposed Core, Overcast Edge

If you’re an avid sewer who wants to advocate for the use of cloth menstrual pads, you can use your scraps to make cloth pads for curious friends.  I never suggest giving cloth pads to someone who hasn’t expressed an interest, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of friends who do have an interest and a desire to try something new.

Below you’ll find a two-page informational sheet that I include with my mama cloth gift packs.  This sheet is written for sets with the adjustable absorbency pads as I find these are the most versatile and fit a wider array of menstrual flows.  I normally include different toppers so that the new user can get a feel of stray-dry toppers and flannel toppers to find what they like best.  I even fold the top pad and do a different array of inserts to show the new user how they work.  This is detailed in the sheet and can give you a guide on how to present the gift.  However, you can also use the sheets as a guide to create your own informational cards if your gifted sets differ from those detailed in the sheet.

Feel free to print them and use them, just please don’t sell them.

Mama Cloth Information Sheet:  Mama Cloth Starter Kit.