Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm over it!

OK, it has been forever since I updated this thing, almost a year to be exact, but I have something to share, a confession, if you will.

Here goes:
My children go to public school, go to child care in the mornings, are only involved in one extra curricular activity (at the moment), come home in the afternoons and sometimes sit on the couch, watch the Disney channel and eat processed food and I AM NOT GOING TO FEEL BAD ABOUT IT ANYMORE!

They also play outside until it is way past dark when the weather is decent, refuse to eat fast food (because it is so bad for you), are super creative and excelling in school.

I have been so stressed over the past few years about were my kids in the right schools, were we in the right neighborhood, were they in enough activities, were they learning enough, are they eating healthy enough, blah, blah, blah. I have finally had enough. I am happy with our lives, I feel my children are getting what they need in all aspects of life and I am not going to stress anymore. This is the year for trusting my instincts, avoiding the haters (those who badmouth our school for every little thing) and trying to find balance instead of making sure everything is perfect.

Seeing the trailer for this movie: "Race to Nowhere" really helped me make peace with our life.

I don't want to push my kids so hard that they don't enjoy their childhoods, I don't want them to feel stressed out about what college to go to, I don't want them to feel so over-scheduled that they have no time for fun, and most of all I don't want them to lead the life they think WE want for them instead of the life THEY want for themselves. Success can be defined in many ways and isn't always about going to the best schools and making the most money. It is about doing what you love and being happy with your life.

Don't get me wrong, if I felt that the school wasn't offering my kids a good environment for learning or teaching them what they need to know, I would be the first one to try and change that. If my kids become too inactive/lazy, I will cut off the TV and get them moving more. I always balance the junk they eat with lots of healthy food, in fact they actually prefer to eat my cooking than eat out.

I mean really, do these kids look like they are missing out??

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Stuff I made

Here are some of the things I made for Christmas (and after for the sweater vest) this year. I forgot to take a pic of my mom's apron, some placemats for my sister and probably many other things.

Christmas pajamas for the girls, although I think this will be the last year for those. Lily refused to wear the shirt and they were only worn that night after all my hard work. I was informed by Chloe after I made these that she no longer likes nightgowns. UGH.

Hat and scarf for Alya from the book "Last Minute Knitted Gifts". The hat was way too big even though I made a smaller size. Bummer. He seemed to like them though and wore them a lot while he was here. For you knitting nerds, I made them with Lion Brand Wool Ease.

These are a couple of the 4 wallets that I made this year. The pattern was a combination of several tutorials. I was very pleased with these and the one on the left is in my purse right now.

I made this case for Lily's MP3 player. She no longer likes the fact that it is pink, so this hides that pretty well. She seems to like it and use it often.

I made 2 sets of each of these from a pattern that I got on sale for $.99. I did not make the boots, they were bought from etsy. Aren't they adorable? I can't wait to make more clothes for their dolls. Thanks to my mom for helping me to finish these up at the last minute!

This last one was just made from this pattern: jchandmade.typepad.com/jcasapatterns/2009/10/neighborly.html It was so fast and easy. The only modifications I made were to crochet a flower instead of a button and I crocheted around the armholes instead of knitting. She's pretty cute! (knitting nerd info: I used cheap acrylic yarn I had in my stash: Caron Simply Soft to make this. I know some of you are all about natural fibers, but it is soft and washable and CHEAP, so I am happy with it)
Now I am on to Wondermommy's Stash Busting contest. I have no illusions that I will win any prizes for most things made with a full time job and 2 small kids, but the prize will be to decrease my stash and make some things that I have had planned for ages. Speaking of stash, I spent last Sunday organizing my fabric and putting all of my projects into plastic bags so they are ready to go. First up: lunch bags for me and my girls!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Having 2 weeks off of work and time to just be with my family was incredible. My sister (Julia) and her husband (Alya) were also here for the 2 weeks and it was so great to just hang out with them and get to know my brother-in-law a little better. It was a lot of 'togetherness' with it being so cold and not a lot of room to spread out, but I think it went remarkably well and I didn't want it to end. I especially didn't want my sister to go back to Tacoma. I hate that they live so far away. Unfortunately, Alya got to experience a bit of the Wilkin family fighting (i.e. yelling), but we tried to keep it to a minimum.

Here is the recap of the break, hopefully it won't bore you to tears.

The girls, my mom and Alya made a snowman

And Alya had a snowball fight with the girls.

We also baked LOTS of cookies, which I don't have pics of, but the tightness of my pants is a testament to it.

On Sunday, our good friends came over for some African food (YUM) and pictionary, which was pretty hilarious. We didn't have the game so one team would pick words for the other team. Some highlights include 'bat mitzvah', 'sarcasm' and 'car on a bridge'. Good times.

The next week was a frenzy (for me) getting everything ready for Christmas morn, but it all came together nicely. (I will have another post for my handmade gifts):
Some of the favorite gifts include American Girl doll (Chloe), Playmobil hospital (Lily), The Pioneer Woman Cooks (me, but everyone is benefiting), Blu-ray player (Shawn). There were many other well-loved gifts, but these have gotten the most use so far.

In the week between Christmas and New Year's we made permanent indentations on the couch, watching movies, playing the Wii and eating A LOT. We did venture out one day to bowl 'for real', as opposed to Wii bowling (which doesn't translate well, I might add). It was Alya's first time and we all scored better than we should have because the bumpers were in use. I am sure I would have scored about a 45 without them.

For New Year's, we went to a friend's house and the kids ran around like lunatics while the grown-ups chatted, ate and played a few games.

On to another decade. I have a few resolutions for the new year, I hope I can keep:

1. Do not yell at my kids so much. (It is unrealistic to say it will end completely, but I am making a serious effort to cut down, it is not good for any of us.)

2. Step out of my comfort zone and try new things (I am taking Bollyfit where I am sure to make an ass of myself, but hopefully in a fun way)

3. Be more 'in the moment' with my kids especially but in general too.

4. Work through my craft stash before buying new stuff and in the process, complete many projects that have been on the back burner (some for years!) To accomplish this goal, I am joining Wondermommy's stash busting contest starting Feb 1. I have lots of ideas in my head!

I will leave you with our friend Stuart Hambleton (aka creepy guy) ruining a perfectly nice picture of my sis and bro-in-law (this pic had us cracking up for hours):

Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Giving thanks.

It was a quiet Thanksgiving this year, but that didn't stop me from making WAY too much food. Evidence:

Now the obligatory what I am thankful for:
My beautiful daughters who keep me laughing on a daily basis. I love to see how excited they are about Christmas this year.

My wonderful husband who found me such a perfect Christmas gift that he could not wait and already gave it to me (it was a new camera lens)!

My mother who inspired my craftiness. I am also thankful that she spent Thanksgiving with us and was able to help us decorate for Christmas. She is a Christmas junkie (wonder where I get it from???)

My sister Julia and that she found the love of her life, Alya, all the way in Africa.

My sister Patty who is a free spirit and has the kindest heart.

My wonderful friend since age 12, Kelley, who always listens to me complain about my kids, while longing for kids of her own. (and knows me better than most people in the world)

My great friend, Tina, who takes the most beautiful photos of my kids and inspires me to be a better photographer. (and loves the Twilight series as much, if not more than me)

The rest of my extended family, in-laws and friends. I am so grateful to have an awesome support system.

That my husband and I are employed in this difficult economic time.
That we have a president who wants to make sure everyone has access to affordable health care.
The internet for allowing me to be inspired my so many artists all over the world.
Pumpkin Pie.
Christmas, an excuse to get the whole family together every year.

I will leave you with these photos of my girls pretending to be high fashion models taken with my new lens. Forgive any blurriness because it is a manual focus lens and we haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet. (Also, don't mind the funky photo effects above, just messing around in photoshop)

Friday, November 13, 2009

hark the herald angels sing...

Now that we have gotten through Chloe's birthday, Christmas crafting is in full swing. Why is it that when I have tons of projects already on my plate, I get inspired to add more to the list?? Case in point, I haven't even started the Christmas PJ's and yet I am obsessed with making lunch boxes and reusable snack and sandwich bags for the family. Do we absolutely need this right now? No, but I can't seem to think of anything else. Luckily, there is an awesome thrift store in Ann Arbor that has TONS of craft supplies. It is a thrifty crafter's heaven. I found lots of scrap fabric and 3 different colors of rip stop nylon for the lining. And the prices can't be beat!

Anyone else have this crafting ADD? I have way too many unfinished projects, some from previous Christmases. I am embarrassed to admit that the quilt I started for my husband's gift last year is still not done (I suck) and there is a scarf and fingerless mitts on the needles from 2 years ago for my sister (double suck). (Anyone want to quilt a quilt for cheap?) I am hoping to finish everything on my list this year. Wish me luck! (BTW, it makes me sick to think that I made all of that stuff last year and didn't take any pics, I am going to try and be better about that too this year)

I did make a dent in my UFO (unfinished objects) pile when I made a doll for Chloe's birthday that has been cut out since 2 years ago! By the time I make Lily's she will be graduating from high school.

If you are inspired to make gifts this year, Sew Mama Sew has posts everyday in November on things to make, they also showcase handmade items for sale and recipes and have giveaways!

If you don't want to make anything, but want to give handmade, go to Etsy. There is some really amazing stuff, I could browse there all day.

Finally, if you don't want to make anything or buy anything, you can try to win something at Rae Gun Ramblings, she is having giveaways each day counting down to Christmas. Today's gingerbread skirt is too adorable!

Monday, November 2, 2009

My precious Chloe

Dear Chloe,
I am in shock that my baby is 4 years old! Wow, it seems like you were only born a short time ago. You were the sweetest baby ever. You slept constantly and rarely cried. I was in heaven.

You are growing up to be such an individual, you are truly a spirited child. Some of the characteristics that drive me nuts right now, like your stubbornness, you wanting to do everything yourself and your defiance will make you such a strong and independent woman. I think we will either be great friends or butt heads a lot.

You have such a sense of humor for a little girl and you keep us laughing all the time. You love to perform and like to have an audience. While you can definitely try my patience, you are usually such a love bug. You love to hug, kiss and snuggle and I am just savoring every moment of that.

You look up to your big sister so much, even though you like to drive her crazy at times (like cutting her American Girl doll's hair), but I think she is teaching you more than your dad and I ever could (hopefully not too many bad things:) You would sleep in her bed every night if you could.

You are making great strides academically. You know all of your letters and numbers and are starting to try and sound out words! You will definitely be ready for kindergarten next year, even though you will still be 4 when school starts.

It is a bit sad to see you growing up and you are not my baby anymore, but I am very excited for all the adventures yet to come.

You are such a joy and I am so happy to be your mama.

Love always,

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The wedding

So, last Christmas, my baby sister, Julia, (not really a baby anymore), decided to take a trip to Africa with a West African Dance school she had been going to. I thought the timing wasn't great, Christmas is a huge deal in our family, especially to our mom and she had had a rough year. Her partner and a very close friend both passed away and her mother was quite ill (she ended up passing on Christmas day) and I felt that our mom needed her girls home for Christmas.

Anyway, true to fashion, Julia didn't listen to me and went to Africa anyway. It is a good thing she did because she met the love of her life on her 3 week African adventure. This summer he was able to come to the states and they got married on September 6th.

Given the low budget nature of our family (grins) we pretty much did everything ourselves. The wedding was held in my mom's backyard, which required some work to get it ready. Julia had her dress and dresses for me, my girls, and our other sister, Patty, made while in Africa in the summer. She ordered the supplies and made all of the centerpieces herself, we cooked the majority of the food and decorated my mom's yard. The groom's brother, Karim, played beautiful music for the ceremony on an instrument he made himself (wish I could remember the name of it). But, the piece de resistance for me was that I got ordained online and officiated the ceremony, which was a great honor. I am going to tear up just thinking about it.

The weekend was a whirlwind of activity leading up to the wedding and I couldn't fathom how we would get it all done, but thanks to so many including Julia's wonderful new sister-in-law, Sarah Lee, Julia's friend, Janet, our cousins Brett and Eric, Julia's friends Wendy and Charles, the groom, Alya and his brother, Karim, we managed to get everything ready and it was beautiful.

This wedding was a magical experience and I am so happy I had such a big part in it (even though I was rather stressed leading up to it). Lily kept saying "This is the best wedding ever!"

Alya, bienvenue à notre famille, nous vous aimons. (Alya, welcome to our family, we love you.)
(Here is the French translation for Alya (not sure if it is correct):

Ainsi, dernier Noël, ma soeur de bébé, Julia, (pas vraiment un bébé plus), décidé pour la porter à un voyage en Afrique avec une école de danse africaine occidentale était allée à. J'ai pensé que la synchronisation n'était pas grande, Noël est une affaire énorme dans notre famille, particulièrement à notre maman et elle avait eu une année approximative. Son associé et un ami très étroit passé loin et sa mère étaient tout à fait défectuosité (elle ont fini vers le haut du dépassement le jour de Noël) et j'ai estimé que notre maman a eu besoin de ses filles à la maison pour Noël.

Quoi qu'il en soit, vrai à la mode, Julia n'a pas écouté moi et n'est pas allé en Afrique de toute façon. C'est une bonne chose qu'elle parce qu'elle a rencontré l'amour de sa vie sur sa aventure d'Africain de 3 semaines. Cet été il pouvait venir aux états et ils se sont mariés le 6 septembre.
Etant donné la basse nature de budget de notre famille (grimaces) nous avons assez beaucoup fait tout nous-mêmes. Le mariage a été tenu dans l'arrière-cour de ma maman, qui a exigé d'un certain travail de l'obtenir prêt. Julia a eu sa robe et les robes pour moi, mes filles, et notre autre soeur, pâté, ont fait tandis qu'en Afrique en été. Elle a commandé les approvisionnements et a fait toutes les pièces maîtresses elle-même, nous avons fait cuire la majorité de la nourriture et avons décoré la cour de ma maman. Le frère de toilettage, Karim, belle musique jouée pour la cérémonie sur un instrument il s'est fait (souhait je pourrais me rappeler le nom de lui). Mais, le morceau de resistance pour moi était que j'ai obtenu ordonné en ligne et officié la cérémonie, qui était un grand honneur. Je vais déchirer penser vers le haut juste cela.

Le week-end était un tourbillon d'activité amenant au mariage et je ne pourrais pas sonder comment nous lui obtiendrions tout le fait, mais grâce tellement à beaucoup comprenant soeur merveilleuse de Julia la nouvelle, l'ami de Sarah Lee, de Julia, le Janet, nos cousins Brett et les amis d'Eric, de Julia Wendy et Charles, le toilettage, Alya et son frère, Karim, nous sommes parvenus à obtenir tout prêt et il était beau.

Ce mariage était une expérience magique et je suis si heureux j'ai eu une si grande partie dans elle (quoique j'étais plutôt amener soumis à une contrainte à lui). Le lis continué dire « ceci est le meilleur mariage jamais ! »

Alya, bienvenue à notre famille, nous vous aimons.