Monday, April 26, 2010

Quarter Life (I hope!) Crisis...

We took a family trip to Barnes and Noble this weekend to pick out books. We headed back to the kids section, where my husband helped my son quickly pick out two superguy books, and then let me know he was going to look for a book for him. My son wanted to stay in the kids books, so he came over by my daughter and I.

As hubs looked for books, I was trying to keep a 1 year old from pulling books off the shelves while trying to keep my son from picking out 20 more books to buy. I am so excited they love to read, but it was completely frustrating trying to keep track of them both in there. (If you've met my 1 year old, you'd understand -- she's a fireball!)

Anywho, once we had books for them, we headed to find hubs. My son spotted him and ran over to him, and I began to peruse the adult books. After 5 or 6 rows, I realized something: I have no idea what I'd even want to read. Even more embarrasing? I haven't read an actual book since probably last summer. So disappointing to myself!

It's not that I don't read - I read everything I can get my hands on, but it seems to be mostly magazines, newspapers, the internet. With the kids, and cooking dinner, and cleaning house, and giving baths, and reading bedtime stories (I don't count these as books I've read, lol), and after working on a computer all day, the last thing my mind thinks about at night is sitting down on something else I have to focus my eyes so intently on. I'd probably fall asleep.

That's not the sad part though. The saddest part to me was not knowing what I'd want to read. I'm interested in a lot. Decorating, fashion, home repair, dance, history, ghosts. But to be honest, I don't think I'd sit down to read a book on any of those. Somewhere between taking care of mom and then having kids, raising kids, working full time, being a wife...I've found that my interests have faded and been replaced with finding what would interest everyone else.

I don't buy books for me; I buy books for the kids. I don't buy recipe books to cook; I buy them to make my husband think I WANT to cook (I don't, but I want to appear interested). I don't go to concerts because honestly, I'm not a music fanatic. I like whatever might be on the radio, and there are a few groups I like, but not to the point where I need an IPOD. If I had an IPOD, I'd probably never listen to it. I have a few favorite tv shows, but hate that I spend so much time in front of the television. I like hockey the best out of all sports, but I don't feel a need to watch every game. I only grew to like it because it was the only sport my husband didn't watch and therefore wasn't on television constantly, but now he's taken to liking hockey this year and so my love for that has dwindled.

It really made me think though: What do I, Allie, like? Who am I now? Somewhere along the line I started settling for, "this is okay" and quit trying to find what interests me. So what is that?

I started making lists in my head. I'm tired of being who everyone else wants me to be. I just want to be me, and I want everyone to be okay with that. I don't think that's asking too much. I'm 30. I think it's about time I found myself and started being myself. Especially in front of myself!

So here goes:

  • I hate being called Allison. Not at work, not anywhere. Yes, Allie sounds like a little kid, but it's better than feeling like I'm being summoned or yelled at all the time. Even better - call me Al. I like Al.
  • I like ghosts - books about ghosts, pictures of ghosts, ghost stories, haunted places, ghost shows. I don't care if people think it's stupid - maybe I think you're stupid for not liking it. But I wouldn't say that, because everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect yours. So leave me alone!
  • On that topic, I go to a psychic. I don't care what you think of it, so don't roll your eyes or preach to me about religion. I don't go to find out my future. I go (maybe once a year) so that I can feel like my mom is there talking to me. So what if you think it's all a bunch of garbage? If that $40 is going to give me some sort of semblance of peace about the situation, then who are you to tell me that it's stupider than going out and spending $40 getting drunk? How exactly did that help? To me, that's about as stupid as what you think I do is. So let me have my peace. If I want to believe in something, just let me believe. Maybe it helps me get through the day.
  • I like ballet. I hated it growing up, I thought it was stupid when I was dancing it for the first 12 of the 16 years I danced. But I like it now. And I've never been to an actual ballet production by a professional company. I really want to go though. Ballet would be like baseball is to a man: I think the mechanics behind it are amazing, and I wish I was on the stage performing it.
  • I don't like huge crowds. I'm sorry, but I don't. Call me claustraphobic or germaphobic or whatever, but crowds like those at a concert or a crowded, tiny bar do not appeal to me. I don't have a good time there, and I would rather do anything else but that.
  • I drink Dr. Pepper. Alot. But it's really not my favorite pop. I don't even know why I drink it most often. Even hubs buys it for me at the store, because he thinks it's my favorite because I drink it. I don't even really like the taste.
  • I love my birthday. I really do. It's not about gifts or cakes or anything like that - I just like celebrating it. Call me narcissistic, but I like one day a year being about ME. Yes, mother's day happens to but let's be honest - that's really for our moms (grandmas) and our mother-in-laws, which is okay, because my mother-in-law TOTALLY deserves to be the queen on mother's day. I adore her. The rest of the days in the year are about what the kids want for dinner, what hubs feels like doing this weekend, when I have to work or what I need to get done around the house. I love having a me day, and a birthday is the perfect day. So live with it. Remember that I love it and remember you better wish me happy birthday on that day. No gifts necessary. Just the words.
  • Similarly, I love holidays, especially Christmas. I don't like to decorate, because I dislike taking everything down, but I looooovvveeee the present giving. My mom was the queen of gifts to me. She would remember something I said in January, and I'd be getting it that Christmas. I love the traditions behind it. I prepare all year, buying and stowing gifts, and I know that sounds a little insane, but I love Christmas.
  • I like fashion. I think the ideas behind what people find "in" and "out" are interesting, and I like to wear what's in style for the season - and make last season's clothing work again. I like accessories and pretty things, and learning to pair new things together. I like clothing and fashion design.
  • And because I like fashion, I like to shop. It is my psychiatrist, my girlfriend, my yoga, my exercise. I don't always buy things. I like to look though. Things for the kids, the hubs, home, me - it doesn't matter, I just like to find good deals. It really is a stress reliever, and I can admit it - I'm a shopaholic.
  • I like to work. I like to be creative and have the ability to use the skills that I've developed. I would not be a good stay-at-home mom, because I know I could not do with them what my daycare provider (and best friend) does. I could be okay at it, and the kids and I would have fun, but they wouldn't be as smart as they are if I were home all the time. Plus, I'd miss using my skills and having adult interaction. And I wish I would quit reading in the news about people bashing working parents (and experiencing it in real life) because we chose or have to live this way. I respect and admire stay-at-home mom's, and I wish I could do what they do but I cannot. So please quit trashing me for feeling the way I feel. It doesn't mean I don't love my kids, it just means I'm a better mom to them this way. And I'm sorry, but don't say my kids will be missing out - my mom was a SAHM, and guess what? I don't remember the daily things with my mom from when I was younger. I remember her coming to sports games and taking us places, but the normal, everyday stuff? I don't. I think what's important is that my kids are surrounded by people who love them, and I know for a fact that happens each and every day.
  • I don't know what my favorite type of food is. I like Totino's pizza and pizza rolls though, and I would be sad if they stopped making them. But otherwise, I don't have a favorite fast food, or a favorite cultural food. There's good things and bad things from all of them, and I like them all okay. But I don't think there is a food (other than the Totino's) that I would not be able to live without. I'm wishy-washy, I know. And I'm okay with that.
  • I love to write. I write any chance I can. This blog, a novel, a short story. I make story books for the kids. I just love to write. I miss that part of my job, but I've found other ways to compensate.
  • I like to sew, purely for the fact that I like to show that I can. I don't want to do it to make money, or to build my child's entire wardrobe. I simply like to challenge myself. I don't use patterns, I don't use measurements. I guesstimate things, and look at blogs and items in the stores, and see how I can do the same thing at home without step-by-step guidelines. It's fun. And I learn from my mistakes, and sometimes the coolest things I do come out of making mistakes. It's just fun and relaxing for me. None of my projects (except the quilt) has taken more than an hour or two to complete, and that's how I like it - none of this drawn out over weeks stuff.
  • I like romance. I don't usually get it, because hubs lacks the romantic gene, but I love it. I like to read about it, write about it, and do it for other people. (Romance isn't just lovey dovey stuff, it's the nice stuff for others like friends, too).
  • I have a total fear that something will happen to me and my kids won't know me. Deal with it, people. I will always have this fear. Hence, I write them montly letters in journals that I keep by my bed. I want them to always be sure of how much I love them, and tell them little words of wisdom or little tidbits about me, and how proud I am of them and what they do. It's not creepy to me to do this -- it makes me feel better.
  • I don't like cleaning. I don't. I like organizing, but I'm terrible at it. Most of the time, I make a bigger mess when I try to organize, and then I just don't finish. Let me live with my organized chaos, because I function well that way. As long as it isn't hurting anyone, what should anyone care if my dining room table has papers on it? And to add to that, a little dust isn't going to ruin my life. At the end of the day, I find that spending time with the kids and then relaxing are far more important than dusting every few days. Someday maybe I won't feel that way, but today I do. And it's my house, and as long as I'm not keeping things dirty and germy and gross (which I do not), then it's not a big deal.
  • I want to do something to really help the fight against brain cancer, mostly for caregivers. I don't know what yet, but I will find something. I know an idea will come to me.
  • I want to be a published author. I'm working on it, and it's frustrating. But I really believe it will happen someday.
  • I feel horrible after I've made a comment about someone in a gossipy way, which I'm working on not doing. I know how much it hurts to be the one talked about, and I don't like knowing I'm making someone else feel like that. No one has a right to mock others, and I have been really guilty of that in the past. We all have choices and opinions and we should be respected for having the courage to make choices and opinions.
Oh, I'm sure there is much, much more, but that's it for now. I'm going to focus on learning who I am and actually liking that person.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sewing...dress, aprons and hairbows, oh my!

Yay, sewing! With the hubs out with friends, the kids asleep by 7 (the only benefit of not getting a nap today!) and no good TV on (and of course, my blatent need to avoid any and all housework), I was able to sit down and get in almost 5 hours of relaxing sewing!

Sadly, towards the end I did break something on my 1957 sewing machine (sniffle sniffle), and I am dreading trying to find someone who can/will fix it for less than it would cost to buy a new one. I'm sorry, but I like the vintage machine!!

Anywho, I am so excited about what I got down. Two outfits for my daughter (with a new idea for ruffles I've been wanting to try), an apron for my son (who loves to cook), my vintage-looking apron for when I'm not avoiding housework/cooking (haha), and an apron for my daughter. If you want a step by step, just let me know and I can post it.

Whew!

But it was so fun to see everything come together.

Here are the aprons:

And here are the outfit's for my daughter. First, a ladybug tank tunic with a flower embellishment, and pants (I bought the actual pants for $2.50 at Target) with ruffles sewn on the bottom. Total cost was about $6 for the material and ribbon (the material is all from the scrap bin or clearance section at JoAnn fabrics, and the ribbon was $1 per spool at Michael's.
 

And a dress I made for her. The green top was a t-shirt I bought from Target that she had just about outgrown the sleeves on (it was an 18 month, she wears a 24 month/2T), and it was a little short - but it is stretchy and still fits around her. I cut off the sleeves, made it a tank, sewed 4 layers of ruffles on the bottom, and a matching fan/flower like embellishment on the top with a little heart button to top it off. Believe it or not, the decoration on the front was supposed to be the start of a ruffled sleeve before my machine broke and I couldn't make the sleeve I wanted. I instead was able to turn it into a fan-like decoration.



And let's not forget hairbows - we all love them!

All in all, a fun, relaxing evening. :)

Have a good weekend, everyone!



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cute Wall Hanger for Girls

I stopped by Goodwill this weekend (as mentioned in my previous post!) and managed to pick up a few great items: two beautiful, perfect, brown candlestick holders from Pier One ($4.99 and $2.99 each), a wooden plaque with knobs on it (sort of like a hanging coat rack) for a wall for $4.99, and a tray for my coffee table for $2.99 (I will show this in the next post).

The candlesticks were perfect - no need for me to alter anything. No scratches, dents - just a perfect brown color made to look slightly vintage. I put them on my dining room table - a perfect touch!

Since the wood plaque/hanger thingy (I'm so good at descriptions, right??) was a mess already, I knew it could only get better from there. When I bought it, it was covered (half-heartedly) in white paint. One of the worst paint jobs ever! But I got it for $4.99 so I couldn't complain. (The picture below is sort of what the wood plaque thingy looked like, just bigger. Sorry - again, I forgot to take "before" pictures! I found this picture online. Just imagine it bigger with a horrible white paint job).

I had GRAND ideas for this, after seeing blogger's posts about hand painting words and then making them look vintage/used/antiqued. Wow! I was going to paint my daughter's name on it, and make it look vintage like this:


Yes, those were my hopes and dreams. Unfortunately, it looked AWFUL. I cannot hand paint a word to save my life. It looked like I had drunk 10 gallons of coffee and tried to paint a straight line. Then I looked at it in deep frustration and thought of all the work it was going to take to undo it and start again. Blah.


Well, a thought suddenly hit me - why not put fabric over it (I had this idea thanks to just reading Isabella and Max Rooms blog, where she is recovering some chairs). It was perfect! It would hide the hideous word paint I had done, I wouldn't have to redo, and it would match her gingham room perfectly. (Haha, see me hiding the evidence of my bad paint job????)



I took some scrap fabric I had - a pink smocked material from JoAnn fabrics - and covered the board. I loved the ruffle it had on the bottom, which would touch right above the knob hangers, giving it a cute, girly frill. After placing some glue along the areas in the back the fabric would touch (I didn't glue the front, because I figured the paint would already be a pain to get off when I wanted to change it around again in a year or two), I used a staple gun to put the fabric into place.

Once that was done, I took a purple gingham ribbon and used fabric glue to place that on top of the pink fabric, around the entire board, coming to a cute bow in the front. For an added touch, I glued on a heart shaped button I had in my sewing scrap bin. (It's sitting on my chair - I haven't hung it up yet.)



I love the finished product. Total, it was under $10 to make (board $2.99, fabric $1.50 in the scrab bin at JoAnn's, ribbon $1 in the sale bin at Michael's, and button, glue, staple gun I already had.) Not bad - and it will look very cute in her room with some of her princess dress up clothes hanging off of it. Yay!


Monday, April 19, 2010

Handmade Flower Hairbows

After going on a little outing with two of my girlfriends this weekend, I wanted to make a flower hairbow that looked like one I saw in a little shop we went to. (This shop was a gorgeous little boutique, with mostly handmade items. I would have bought one of everything if I could have afforded it. So cute.)

She had a ton of little flower items where she had singed the edges. It was so cute! I thought, hmmmm, I bet I can do that! So with some of my scrap material, I cut out circles (Scrap material cost me $1.39 at the fabric store last week). (I didn't take pictures of all the steps, I'm sorry - I was so excited about it, I just got ahead of myself!) I used two different sizes of circles, and cut out 4 of each shape.

When I had them cut out, I singed the edges carefully using a candle. Here is a picture from when they were all completed. After singing the edges, I took clear nail polish and ran it around the edges to keep any of the burned area from chipping off or smudging on the rest of the circle.
From there, I took all the circles and placed them on top of eachother. Pinching the bottom center of the grouping, I was able to make the "petals" wavy/wrinkly (not sure of the best word). I took a needle and thread, and threaded it through a few areas to wrinkle the material to look like petals.
After this was done, I sewed a button right in the middle for decoration. I already had the buttons from my daughter's quilt project last November. I placed it on an alligator clip ($1.99 at Michaels for 8) and found a stretchy crocheted headband to attach it to. It turned out really cute I think, and I want to make a couple more. It was really simple, cost less than $0.75 each to make, and only took about a half hour total (which I am sure could be cut down as I get better at it). The best part is that I can buy bigger cuts of fabric and make a dress or shirt out of it, and a matching bow with the same material.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A simple jewelry holder...$0.99 at your local thrift store!

So I stopped on over at Goodwill this weekend to take a gander at what was new. Overwhelmed by all the costume jewelry I've accumulated, and inspired by an idea from a blog (I'm so sorry, I can't remember which one!) I decided to seek out something I've had ten of in the past but never needed for their actual use - a mug holder.

I found one - just a simple, tan, varnished mug holder for $0.99 - very nice price. Combined with my $1.00 can of black spray paint, I was able to lightly sand it and turn it into a fashionable jewelry holder.

I love it - it's perfect for all of my bracelets! Two coats of black paint covered it very well. I'm thinking of asking Jaime to take some bright paints (pink, yellow, blue and green) and paint flowers and curvey vines on it. I think that would make it pretty cute and girly.

All in all - not a bad project for $2.00 - especially since to buy one of these costs about $10 at a jewelry store. Now I have to find something to put the rest of my necklaces on. Geez - I never realized how many jewelry parties I attend and buy stuff at - I have a small collection of costume jewelry! My husband says I have a shopping problem ;)

But I love it all - nothing adds to an outfit like a great accessory. Speaking of which - check out these shoes! I love funky shoes. Polka dots, fun patterns, bright colors - and especially when they are $13.99 at Kohls before the coupon - yay shopping!


Maybe hubs is right...oh well!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wow, I'm becoming handy!

Well, I took the morning off work to take the dog to the vet. Fun! Actually not really. Poor pup had to get shots - yuck!

Since I had the morning off and the vet wasn't until 10:30, I thought I'd get some errands done. Stopped by HOBO and picked up some spray paint in different colors (black, heirloom white and metallic), a new shower liner, a tension rod for my daughter's closet, and some hooks for my son's closet. I had a master plan in mind ... I really wanted to redo the doorknobs in the house. They are beautiful antique doorknobs that have been painted over, and painted over, and painted over. Sometimes, they were only halfway painted, and then another color layered over it - so ugly!!!!! Plus they were all chipping, and it just looks awful.

Why not just get new doorknobs? I hear you, I hear you ... but I LOVE the antique ones - the originals from when the house was built. So much character and I'm a sucker for antiques.

So, with my brilliant plan in mind, I got home from work and with the help of my hubby (I think he was a little worried about me using HIS drill), we got the plates off the bathroom door and balcony door. I brought them downstairs, cleaned them, layed them out, let them dry, and then began spraypainting. Fun!

Again, not fun. I don't like the smell of paint, but thankfully I was outside. As my husband yelled out the back door, "Don't paint too many layers right away, or it won't dry," I yelled my infamous, "I knooooowwwww!" and then I went back and layered on too much paint ;) I did let him tell me "I told you so" later. :)

After taking FOREVER to dry (they still aren't completely dry) I put them back up on the doors. I love them!!! The black looks FANTASTIC against the white doors. Please ignore the paint job on the doors in the pictures - it's awful. The people before us just sort of painted everything white/cream but didn't tape anything off or do a good job. There's drips and chips and it just looks awful. I'll be fixing that next. For now, I'm just excited to start on all the other doorknobs tomorrow.

And one of my favorite parts? The skeleton key! I love this. Of course, we have a better lock on the door than the skeleton key one ;) But I'm keeping it just for decoration. I don't know why, but I love it.

Now, I have to figure out what I'm going to do with these built-in bookshelves that I love (part of the reason I wanted the house). I bought these two wooden words (believe (and imagine) from Marshall's for $10 each (below), but they only had cream (and yes, I know I cut off the "I" in imagine in the picture - I'm tired!). I could paint them black, perhaps, or a tan that matches the room. Or paint the backs of each of the shelf areas. What are your thoughts? I need opinions. (You can see the whole built-in here.)


I'm off to bed to dream about my next endeavor. Maybe by the end of this year, I'll start to feel like this is home again.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I don't like the day after Easter...

I don't like the day after Easter, but starting today I might (read more about why in the middle of this post). It was six years ago today, almost to the hour, that my mom called me at work crying and told me that she had two brain tumors (later we found out it was only one that had a branch off of it). I was in total disbelief because 1) it just couldn't be possible and 2) I knew it was bad if my mom had actually called me at work about it and was crying on the phone - two things she never would normally do.

I remember sitting at my desk, the phone to my ear, repeating over and over again, "No, that can't be true mom. This can't be happening. This can't be true." I guess I thought maybe if I said it enough I'd wake up from the nightmare and find life was normal. I bolted out of there that day, the first day of a completely different version of life. I rushed home to find her on the couch at her house, crying so hard. Despite the tears, she looked so beautiful - hair perfectly curled, wearing a very beautiful dress. I knew she had anticipated leaving the Dr.'s office that morning and going to work because surely nothing would be wrong.

We just hugged each other, and I reassured her we were going to get through it. And after about a hundred phone calls and being told there was nothing we could do that day, but we could schedule and appointment to see an oncologist in the next week, we made our own plans and drove her up to the ER at a city hospital well-known for cancer treatment. She had been going numb on her right side already for days, and it was getting worse - we used that to get her into the ER, they then admitted her, and an oncologist saw her the next day. Might not have been what they said we "should" have done, but we weren't waiting.

It makes me sick just to remember it all. My whole world changed that day. I dread this day every year, almost as much as I do the day she passed. I try and find things that are going to make the day easier, to distract me. This morning, I decided to treat myself to a rare breakfast - McDonald's sausage mcgriddle. They are not healthy at all, which is why it's rare - but I really enjoy that sandwhich! As I pulled in, I saw a little old man looking around the ground on the parking lot and wondered if he had lost something - but too busy with getting to where I needed to be, I pulled up to the drive through. I ordered, and as I was pulling around to the window there was a car in front of me, and this man was standing right next to us looking at the ground. As the other car was paying, I saw his eyes light up as he was looking at the ground, and he went over and picked up a coin. Then he went back to standing right next to the window.

He didn't ask for money, or anything else. He smiled, waved, told me he found a penny. As I looked closer, you could see his face was scarred, yet he was just so happy to be standing there. He wasn't bothering anyone, and I felt bad that my first thought had been, "Why are there always the strange ones around when I am?" This man wasn't bugging anyone - he was looking for coins, excited to have found a penny.

I got my food and pulled forward, and all I could think about was him. I wondered how long he'd stand there before he collected enough for something to eat or drink. I thought about how that could be anyone, how fast food is probably cheaper than making food at home, or how maybe he just enjoyed being around people. A friend told me this morning that he probably was just too stingy to spend his own money. Well, so what if he was? He's standing, collecting pennies. Doesn't everyone deserve a little compassion?

I pulled some money out of my purse, drove around, and handed it to him. It wasn't much, but he looked at it and then looked at me and just smiled ear to ear, his scarred mouth making the brightest smile I've seen in days. He told me "God bless you" and said that now he could get something to eat, and to have a nice day. I just told him to have a nice day, and got back in my car.

And on my way to work I thought, God already has blessed me. I have a wonderful husband, two beautiful healthy kids, some great family and friends. I have a roof over my head and food for my family, and I woke up again this morning (always a good thing!). Mom might not be here with me physically, but I'm sure she's still here with me in heart. So why not take one of the worst days of the year for me, and turn it into a great day for others?

For the first year in the last six, I think today might turn out to be an okay day, all thanks to the smile and words of a stranger.

My lesson learned today is to take advantage of the opportunities we can to better our lives and those of others. There's thousands of opportunities every day, but most of the time we just look (or in my case, drive) right past because we can't be bothered with the loss of time. I think if we took a moment to stop, we'd find the time isn't really lost after all.

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