Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I read an article

I stumbled across this article on the internet.

Obviously, we are not 'kid-free' but having struggled with the stay-home/work outside the home question for years myself, I have a few thoughts about it.

First is, you have to be able to clean (including clean up after other people) and cook (including for other people) and do laundry (including other people's laundry) without feeling angry, really really angry. If you are a stay-at-home homemaker, and identify yourself as such, then you will be doing a lot (and I mean a lot) of cooking, cleaning and cleaning. And did I mention cleaning? I am not able to do this without anger--at least not for more than a few months at a time.

Second, if keeping home becomes your occupation, then it really helps of the person or people who share your home really really really appreciates it. Otherwise problems with step one (see above) may arise. I think it is almost inevitable that the working outside the home partner will start to take certain things for granted. He or she may come home one day and leave his or her muddy shoes right on the carpet that you just vacuumed, put his or her feet up on the table that you just wiped off and tell you that he or she is not hungry for the labor-intensive meal that you just set on the table with pre-warmed plates and candles ready for lighting. Of course, you can eat by yourself in that situation, enjoying the meal and the nice clean kitchen alone, but again, there is the potential for anger. Great anger.

That's basically it. If it weren't for those two issues (plus the loneliness issue, which I think may have more to do with being outnumbered by little kids in my family so perhaps not applicable to the kidless homemaking issue), I could be a happy stay-at-home homemaker. I like cooking. I don't mind cleaning (occasionally). I like making spaces cozy and beautiful. Lord knows I like crafting. But somehow, doing it all for myself isn't enough. I think I would need a team of deeply admiring appreciators standing by at all times. I haven't been able to find such a team...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Halloween and house update

Diego was a vampire bat. Penelope--well I'm not sure what she was but it involved both wings and a cape as well as a tutu. Claudia followed suit but omitted the wings and wore rain boots in stead of sneakers...
And, a finished room. I believe that Penelope's room is the only one in the house that is actually 'done' as in I don't have plans to move any furniture or hang any more pictures or anything.
The color of the walls is "bed of roses by Benjamin Moore and it is PINK. I had read that pink, more than other colors, appears much stronger on the wall than on the chip, and in this case, that was true. But the princess likes it, so that's okay with me.
The curtains were in Claudia's room at the old house and matched the pink walls nicely as well as P's new birthday quilt. The bed and bedside table, Al and I got at an antique shop in Chester County--the bed is one of a pair and the other is in Claudia's room (she calls it Daddy's bed because that's where Al lies while putting her to bed and usually falls asleep himself).
The art work is a combination of old stuff that my dad and I have picked up at various flea markets over the years as well as paintings by my grandmother and friend Sarah (like almost all the art in our house). The hooks on the wall are from Anthropologie and hold some tutu's and her nightgowns and robe (homemade polar fleece from our awesome friend Christine). The rug is from Ikea and the chair my mom got at a kid's store in NY.

The whole room is about 8x10 (which probably explains why it's the only rooms that's done!).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Giving Thanks

I know it's a little early in the season, but I was inspired by this post to start trying to be more conscious of all the blessings in my life.

As anyone whose been around me recently knows, I've been in a funk. I assume it was precipitated by Al's injury and subsequent (ongoing) convalescence, just when I was starting to think that we would be able to emerge from the fog and chaos of moving/construction (torn achilles tendon, in case you missed it). It's weird for me to be in a funk this time of year though as they usually correspond with the worst weather in Philly (February and August).

The fall is my favorite time of year though, and the colder weather brings with it new energy for my craft projects (we need mittens damnit!), cooking (soups and pies) and spending time together.

A certain someone turned 2 yesterday. I've left the laundry to pile up and the sink full of dishes in order to spend time with dear friends--both close by and further away.

My kids love books as much as I do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What I love...

Well this girl of course, with her new home-cut hair-do.
The light in our new house. After 8 years of living in row houses, I'm enchanted. Morning light...afternoon light...What a wonder.

The kitchen, all cleaned up at the end of the day and ready for everybody tomorrow morning...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Diego on the first day of school---above in the school yard with what seemed like a thousand other kids (see the nervous smile), and below hiding behind the stroller and not letting me take his picture.

The girls and I went with my mom to the New Jersey Sheep and Wool festival last weekend.

Belated pictures of Penelope's birthday party--which mostly consisted of P and her friends huddled in this tent playing 'sleeping baby animals'--her current favorite game.

And some belated house pictures....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Finally some pictures

What can I say. It's been a busy few months.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

That girl

Claudia on her way to music class (she's taking a Music Together class).  Even though she looks confident, striding down the street in her hippy-chic ensemble, she spent the whole class pulling on my shirt saying "Mo" (ie milk) and saying "Nah" to the teacher and hitting me if things weren't going generally how she wanted them too...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Some crafty goodness and the house...

Here is a picture of the refinished floors in the new house--we used English Chestnut by minwax which looks beautiful here in one of the bedrooms, but a little darker and redder than I had expected on the stairs.  Also, you totally can''t tell from this picture, but the water-based polyurethane that he used on top had a very matte finish that you could easily scratch with a fingernail (uh--not gonna work for this crew).  Wesley (our awesome painter/handyman extraordinaire) is going to put a final coat on with a more durable finish when all the wall painting is finished.
Speaking of painting, can I just say that I'm in color selection hell and totally overwhelmed and carry approximately 300 paint chips with me everywhere I go.  If you have any strategies for narrowing down paint colors/creating a cohesive palate thoughout the house/stopping the madness, well let's just say, I'm taking suggestions.  Whoever is reading this, when you come to see us at the new house when it's all painted--just tell me you like the colors, okay?

Since I was just praising the glory of spring, a picture to illustrate.  Although the tulips have mostly come and gone (apparently 90 degrees really doesn't suit them), lots of spring loveliness still to be enjoyed around here.
Here is P in the new Oliver and S Music Class skirt and blouse.  This is actually a sample that I sewed for Cloth and Bobbin.  These Oliver and S patterns are uniformly awesome.  Even though it's probably not the best way to follow a sewing pattern (or any patter/instructions for that matter), I can totally turn my brain off when sewing from these.  Just follow the instructions blindly and methodically, step by step, without thinking too hard about what she (Liesl the pattern designer) is getting at, and voila, a perfect, perfectly finished garment.  

This was my first time sewing a sample and I'm glad I did with this particular garment as it turns out that P is way taller and skinnier than the patterns are sized for, so I didn't mind giving it up so much..  Above is a size 5 and while the skirt fits fine, the blouse wouldn't last more than a few months--and the pattern doesn't allow any extra in the hem for letting down (which I didn't figure out until I was done since I was blindly following the pattern...).
Finally, a new quilt I've been working on for P.  (Why all the crafting for her, I don't know.  New stuff for Diego to follow soon).  I didn't buy a single piece of fabric for this quilt--it's all scraps from my stash.  I'm pretty happy about that.  What's scary is that I could make this entire quilt again with the exact same fabrics and STILL not have to buy anything.  Yes, I hoard fabric.  So sue me.  Pleasingly (to me) the outer border is a "shabby chic" shower curtain (from Target) that I picked up at a thrift store a few years ago thinking it was beautiful fabric.  Although its white is way whiter than the creamy off-whites in the rest of the quilt, I still like it.

I'm hand quilting it while Al and I watch Heroes at night (crazy weird show--very entertaining).  This project has totally reaffirmed my preference for handquilting over machine.  I really enjoy the process more (wrestling Claudia's monster of a quilt through my cheap-o sewing machine with no walking foot in August while 9 months pregnant may have killed the joy of machine quilting for me once and for all).  But really, I think the main thing is I like hand-quilted quilts so much more--I think they drape much more nicely and that the handquilting creates a softness that you don't see with machine.

So that's that.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Diego, on Claudia: "First comes the crying, then comes the screaming, then comes the head-banging."  He pretty much has her nailed.  

The girls and I did some gardening over at the new house today: pruning an enormous rhododendron, chopping away at a massive rose of sharon, yanking out about 5 miles of ivy and dumping 40 pounds of leaf compost all over everything.  The work on the house is coming along, although it seems slower now.  The walls have lost all of their faux-wood paneling and are nice and smooth.  The ceilings and trim (or 'trims' as our painter calls them) have all been painted.  The floors on the 2nd and 3rd floor have all been sanded, stained and coated with water-based polyurethane.  I think colors have been chosen for our bedroom, Claudia's room, the guest/sewing room, the living room and the dining room.  The big kids' room is still in process, although my talented friend Sarah has agreed to paint a tree and some pink flowers on the wall, as per their requests.  Al and I found a vintage Chambers stove on craigslist and snatched it up for the kitchen.  The kitchen cabinets have been ordered.  Things are definitely moving along.  

I'm feeling less and less settled here at our old house.  Somehow, once I get my mind around the idea of moving, all of a sudden our existing space, which has worked fine for the past 5 years, seems intolerable--too small, too cluttered, too wide open...I don't feel like doing any work in the garden here, which is a mess.  Luckily, since the weather turned this week to beautiful ephemeral Philadelphia spring, we are spending as much time as possible out: where cherry blossoms and daffodils and  forsythia are blooming, and Clark Park soccer has started again, and little vincas and buttercups are everywhere at Woodland Cemetery.  It's like the most perfect reward for surviving the long, snowy winter this year.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Argh the torture of waiting for the new Oliver and S patterns.  It is wrong of them to make me wait so long!

Because I really don't have enough to do to fill my days...ha ha.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A little catch up

So first of all, does everyone know that Penelope is taking flute lessons?  And Diego is taking piano?  Below is a picture that P's teacher took for her classroom bulletin board.  The dress, I got at a flea market in Clark Park.  It had belonged to a woman my age when she was a little's showing it's age a little, but my girl loves it.  I don't have any pictures of Diego at the piano, but he's doing really well with it--much better than I might have expected.  We have a fairly complex incentive system for practicing, but he actually seems to be getting a little bit of reinforcement just out of seeing his improvement himself.
And here are some before pictures of the new house:

The second floor landing:
The 'sunroom'--not so sunny because of the dark paneling and the windows that have been 'smallened' and (in one case) bricked over...
The dining room, looking towards the kitchen.
The kitchen.  Ahem.

Some in progress pictures: 
third floor bedroom, formerly paneled in dark faux wood. 
Leaded glass in one of the bathrooms...
Windows and french doors in the living room...
Oh, Penelope is taking ballet too...


Friday, February 12, 2010

Every now and then I find out that more people than I expect actually read my blog, and then I feel bad for these long absences where I totally give up the blog (often along with exercise, home-cooked meals and some basic hygiene) when I get overwhelmed with something or other that is going on in my life.

As usual, Al and I have veered from a long period of normal every day humdrum to a million things happening all at once.  I've started my new job at CHOP (did I mention I walk to work every day--how awesome is that!), our house is for sale, we're buying the big monster of a project house down the street (closing on the 19th) and we're buried under 2 feet of snow with no likelihood of getting plowed out or the kids going back to school ever in the near future.

Hence my lack of blogging.

Sorry for the loyal few readers...

Hopefully I'll be back soon with pictures, house renovation news, gossip, crafts, etc.