Friday, January 22, 2010

Remembering a Little of Life BC (Before Children)

I was a lot of things in my past life: daughter, wife, teacher, friend, seamstress, bookworm...

And then I had a baby.

And then another.

And another.

And yes, another.

Obviously I'm still a few of the things I once was, as my parents haven't disowned me (to my knowledge) and my husband hasn't left me (would I notice if he did?). But now that I've added "Mother" to the list, there's just not much time left in the day to teach, read, sew, or pursue friendships.

Until this week anyway, which reminded me a little of the woman I was BC (Before Children).

So first things first: I'm a teacher again!!!

Can I tell you what a shock it is to type those words? Just two weeks ago, my husband and I were praying about school for next year. We knew our budget wouldn't allow all four kids to attend private pre-school, but we really felt led to enroll them anyway. The day after I delivered their applications to the school, I got a call from a principal I used to work for who now runs a homeschool program. One of their teachers is having some health problems, and he was wondering if I would be willing to finish out the year for her. It's one day a week of teaching 7-8 grade English - an my salary is the exact cost of the kids' pre-school.

Isn't God good?

I've had the best time this week buying my school supplies and writing up lessons plans. It's refreshing to be doing something I love so passionately, without feeling like I'm neglecting the needs of my family. Of course, I'm totally terrified of not being able to balance everything, but that's another blog for another day.

Since I'm back in the classroom again, it only seemed appropriate to get a new "teacher bag". Convenient timing, since my dear friend Rachel and I had a sewing retreat planned for this past weekend. It was a wonderful three days of friendship-building, sewing, reading, and sleeping in. And I thought you all might like to see the results (because people in blogland seem to love posts like this). Anyway...

Ta-da! My new teacher bag:

Excuse the poor photo quality. I took some quickie shots just to give you an idea of what we did.

These are the 3 dresses I made for my three little girls:

This one is Evie's, with the green panel in the center:

This one is Ella's - I kept it solid pink all the way around, to make hers a little different from the twins':

This one is Emily's - it's the reverse of Evie's, so the skirt panels are swapped, and the bodice and strap fabric's are reversed:

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
OK, enough of that now.
They did turn out a little big, but they actually look really cute worn as smocks over shirts and jeans. That should get us through the cold weather, anyway. By summer, they should be just right as sundresses the girls can run around in at church.
It was so much fun to finally start - and finish - some sewing projects, and Rachel and I are hoping to do it again soon. My hubby is on his way to the Grand Canyon tomorrow for a week of mountain-man backpacking, soI figure he owes me big. Plus, he knows that it feeds my soul to re-connect with that BC woman every once in awhile.
It gives me the strength to spend a whole week, alone, with my four children.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Diary Excerpts: The Making of a Christmas Card

November 26, 2009
Dear Diary,
Wow! Where did the month go? I can't believe it's Thanksgiving already, and I haven't started on our Christmas cards. I don't even have a family picture yet. I mean, I guess we could use that one of us at the beach, but none of the kids are looking at the camera and Ella's eyes are all puffy and red from crying and the hubby's smile looks a little forced and... Yeah. It was a bad hair day. Maybe I should give Andrea a call and see if she can shoot our family portrait this weekend. Speaking of which, I should give her another shameless plug on my blog - if I ever actually post again, that is. Man, the holidays are crazy...

November 29, 2009
Dear Diary,
Well, we had our family pictures taken today. Actually, in the interest of expediency, we had our family pictures taken, our 10-year anniversary pictures taken, Ty's 2-year old pictures taken, and the twins' 4-year old pictures taken. Too bad we ran out of time; I really want to get the Halloween pictures taken before the girls ruin their fairy costumes. Although judging by the condition those fairy wings, it's probably too late anyway. (Note to self: Figure out if that is dirt or mold...)

Anyway, the process didn't go as smoothly as one might imagine. For starters, I forgot to do the laundry last night, so the twins' sweaters were dirty. And Ella's sweater was too small. And Ty's outfit didn't match. And neither did mine. And we were totally running late. Which is the only reason we didn't stop at the store to buy new matching outfits for the six of us. Well that, and the fact that my husband was looking at me as if I'd gone certifiably insane. Frankly, I don't think it's insane to want everybody to match exactly, but whatever.

Even with a photographer and two assistants, the shoot was more torturous that an afternoon of waterboarding. Apparently, the phrase "Look at the camera and smile!" is understood in a child's brain as "Look anywhere but here, and tears would be great if you've got 'em". Seriously, someone should do a study...

Of course, it didn't help that there were like ten other families in the park getting their Christmas pictures done at the same time. I'd like to think that they're all just procrastinators like me. But since everybody matched, they'd probably just spent the last two weeks coordinating their outfits. Not looking so insane now, am I Diary?

December 9, 2009
Dear Diary,
Andrea got our family pictures edited and turned around in no time. She's a miracle worker. Apparently children can look away from the camera making odd faces, and a pro can still come up with pictures like these:

The "We've-Been-Married-Almost-10-Years-and-the-Kids-Haven't-Killed-Us-Yet" Shot

Emily and Evie's 4-Year Old Picture
(They turned 4 on December 6, 2009!)

Ty's 2-Year Old Picture
(He turned 2 on December 11, 2009!)

Ella's 5 1/2-Year Old Picture (She turned 5 on July 14, 2009, because once upon a time I actually PLANNED my pregnancies!)

I'm surprised I can say it after that hideous afternoon in the park, but I'm really happy with our family pictures. In fact, I've got one picked out for our Christmas card! I'm taking it in tomorrow to get it printed up.

December 10, 2009

Dear Diary,

In the letters of this texting generation: O... M... G... I'm never going back to that camera store again.

It started out fine. I found a parking spot right out front - though in the interest of keeping the sheriff's department happy, I had to drag everybody out of the car and into the store with me.

Which is when things started to fall apart...

I do not make quick decisions. I'm a perfectionist. You know that, Diary - I write about it all the time. It's just who I am. So chaining me to a computer with 3 of 4 my kids running around, and telling me to pick out my own picture and card design? Stress-FULL. First of all, there were 435 pictures on my disk. And I couldn't remember which one I'd picked. Of course within the first 2 minutes of my hunting and pecking, the kids had knocked over no less than 3 picture frames and a stool. In a panic (and with no sheriff's car in sight), I hauled everybody back out the van, gave them some books to look at, and locked them in. Luckily, my great parking spot kept them in my line of sight.

I ran back in, picked a random picture, and then started flipping through the designs. Would you believe I found a design that matched our brown, red, cream, and light blue attire? Yeah, neither would I - but I actually did! That was the only thing that went right, though, since as I was printing off my order I happened to look outside and notice Evie in the front seat of the car.


I grabbed the receipt and ran out the car, where my naked child greeted me with a shriek of, "I HAVE TO GO POTTY!" Why this required her nudity, I have no idea. But her sister was not about to be left behind and started stripping down as well. As soon as everyone was re-clothed, I hauled them back into the camera shop and asked if we could use the bathroom.

It turns out that the bathroom is also their storage closet. Or vice versa. Either way, kill me now.

I HATE public restrooms.

As if all that wasn't enough, Emily needed help getting her seat belt fastened. Or she did until I climbed back there to help her - by then she'd already clipped it. Being the ballerina that I am, though, I tripped over my own feet and fell out of the car, landing on my sciatic nerve. No big deal, though. I just had to lay in a crumpled heap on the parking lot until the feeling came back to my right leg.

(Seriously, kill me now.)

December 11, 2009

Dear Diary,

I had to go back to pick up my pictures today. I hope nobody recognized me.

December 15, 2009

Dear Diary,

It's nearly midnight, but all of my Christmas cards are stuffed, addressed, and stamped. Well actually, I ran out of stamps half-way through, but I'll get around to picking up more. Whew. Feels good to have that done.

December 16, 2009

Dear Diary,

Emily un-stuffed all the envelopes.

December 17, 2009

Dear Diary,

I sent out the stamped half of my cards today. I wish I'd had time to write a letter this year, but the hubby put his foot down and actually said "no". He seems to think this project is is consuming me.


January 4, 2010

Dear Diary,

I found a stack of Christmas cards this morning when I was cleaning out the office. Did I forget to buy stamps?

January 5, 2010

Dear Diary,

I'm posting a blog today if it kills me. If people didn't get a Christmas card from me this year, the least I can do is post a picture.

On second thought, maybe I'll get around to it tomorrow.