Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bye Bye Baby Years

Since he could talk to tell me what he wanted baby Roy would ask, at the end of his bath, "Mama, hold me like baby.  Let me see."  I'd wrap him in his green monkey towel (or else he'd say "me cold!"), cradle him like a baby, and we'd stand in front of the mirror until we were both satisfied with the moment.  He'd say 'That me.  That mama," or recently, "There me is.  There you are."  Or he'd close his eyes and feign sleeping, nuzzling close to my chest, proving that he was, in fact, still my baby, still cuddle-able, still holdable.

This morning was the first time that, after his big boy shower, I took him out, dried him off, and he did not demand "Mama, hold me like a baby."  I thought he just forgot, in the excitement.  Hmmm.  So I said, "Hey - Do you want me to wrap you in the towel and hold you like a baby?"  "No," he said.  "Me walk by myself."  And after a quick toweling off, he and his naked little bottom sprinted to his room to get ready.  He still needs help with that.

I shrugged it off.  Just a fluke.  Surely he didn't mean it.  He just forgot.  We were in my bathroom, instead of his where we normally are post-bath.  He was out of his element.  No biggie.  He'll ask me next time to hold him like a baby, when we're in the normal scene of the kids' bathroom, or he'll acquiesce to my request.  I'll surely get to wrap him up and hold him like a baby, post-bath, again.

But one day I won't.  One day, without even noticing, because it will have happened less and less frequently, he'll towel himself off, run to his room, dress himself all by himself by then, and it will have happened.  I will have, at some point, held him post-bath like a baby for the last time.

Time marches on.  It marches right over this mother's heart and stomps on it.  That's what it feels like.  Most days, my heart interprets it as - I want another baby.  But when I'm honest with myself and the reality of, well, reality, there are no more babies in our future.  When my heart and head accept that, I may take a day off work or at least wear all black, in mourning.

But I need and want to avoid mourning the fact that my kids aren't babies any more because they are fantastic amazing little humans no matter their age or stage.  So, here's to celebrating, today, the first of a last.  It means my little boy is growing up and becoming more of the amazing human he is.  I may not always be able to wrap him in a towel and pick him up but I certainly plan to take those moments when I can hold onto him and we can look at each other or in a mirror, hug and say - There's me, there's you, until we're satisfied with the moment.

Monday, January 14, 2013

In Defense of Government Workers

I've worked for government organizations or agencies for.... hmmmm.... over 10 years.  Wow.  I never knew government employment had a bad rep, until I worked for a state agency.  After all, my dad was a career Air Force officer.  He was a government employee, right?  My mom was a teacher - a government employee, right?  I had never heard anybody talk disparagingly about their jobs or their employers.  Why was it that, now that I was a state employee, I was suddenly part of a culture that believed the general public thought poorly of them.
     Government workers are known by a myriad of names.  State officials.  Public employees.  State workers.  Civil servants.  All of these names seem to have gotten a bad rap, the face of bureaucracy, of government waste, of laziness and ineffectiveness.  I have to say, for the most part, my impression of government employees has been quite the opposite.
     I like to think of government workers of what they actually are:  teachers, health professionals, bridge builders, city developers, engineers, computer programmers, police and fire safety personnel, nurses, doctors, data analysts, child protective workers, educators, social workers, judges, lawyers, grant managers, and - yes - policy makers.  The government workers I know are smart, hard-working, dedicated people who do the job they've been given with heart.  They do it because they are part of a system that, at the end of the road, is meant to make peoples' lives better.  What's more, they are incredibly - sometimes painfully, acutely - aware of the fact that they are spending taxpayer money and go to great lengths to ensure financial accountability and fiscal responsibility.  I've never seen anybody purchase a $400 hammer.  I HAVE seen government employees who make less money than they should, refuse to submit reimbursement for their travel expenses because they didn't see it as a big deal.
     I'm not saying the system is perfect.  In fact, it is far from perfect - like any system is, simply because people are involved and people are imperfect.  Layers of bureaucracy can create gridlock.  I've seen this happen but despite the frustration of that, at the heart of it is people wanting to do the right thing.... unless they are intentionally trying to cause gridlock.  That's another issue....  of the tea party variety.
      What I'm trying to say is next time you go to the library, or interact with a state-funded university, or go to a health department, or read about a police officer injured on the job, or drive on a road or bridge or highway, or use 211 or 411 or 911, or enjoy some relief after a disaster, or thank our men and women in uniform, there was a government worker doing his or her job.  With heart and for the greater good.... not to create unnecessary bureaucracy, but in spite of it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Rapunzel Dress from Goodwill Clothes

I prepped for this post a little while ago.  It's late.  My camera broke, other life stuff happened, but now I have this awesome Chromebook computer to share how I made Ivy's treasured Rapunzel dress.  Yep, for Halloween, Ivy wanted to be Rapunzel.  I decided to make a dress for her that would be warmer and less commercial than a purchased Rapunzel dress.  Here's how I did it.

  • Skill level:  Easy/Beginner
  • What I used:  A sewing machine; 1 purple long-sleeve shirt (The Children's Place, found at Goodwill); 1 adult size Medium tube-top maxi dress (Old Navy, found at Goodwill).
  • Time commitment:  ~1 hour to go from A to Z:

First, I put the maxi dress on my daughter, up to her underarms.  I pinched the fabric at the seam until it seemed like it would be a comfortable fit.  Then I sewed from the top of the 'pinched' area the same width through the smocked section, and then slowly trailed it off about 1 foot down the dress (not the whole length of the dress).  Finally I cut off the excess.

Next, I laid out the maxi dress and the purple shirt together to create a vision of the final look.  I pinned the top of the smocked/blue dress to the purple shirt at ~1-inch intervals.  HINT:  It helped to line up the seam of the maxi-dress so it's in the middle of the back, because the way I cut off the excess made a nice train.
Then, I sewed (all still right sides out) the smocked dress to the purple shirt.  I used white thread and kept the seam at the very top of the smocked area, on top of another white-ish area so the thread would not stand out.  I sewed around the whole dress twice for strength.  Then I turned the dress inside out and cut off the excess purple t-shirt (the part below the smocked part that nobody would see... although you could leave it on for extra warmth.)

The last step was to cut off all the extra fabric at the base of the dress.  I had Ivy try the dress on, and just eyeball the level we liked.  Then I cut off the excess and hemmed the dress.  The maxi-dress had a lining, and I just hemmed the lining along with the dress.  The lining was not the same width, however, so it made it look a little wavy.  You  may want to hem the dress and lining separately.
Voila!  A long-sleeved, warm, thrift-store, up-cycled Rapunzel dress that my daughter loves, and still wears long after Halloween!  It's versatile enough that she occasionally wears it to school.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My Top Blog Posts

According to my blog history, I started Clip Clop mama on 1/28/11.  It's almost been 2 years!  Almost 77,000 hits later (Thank you!), I may not be the most consistent or visited blogger but I still have fun.  Plus I've branched out, writing regularly for Richmondmom.com and Liberating Working Moms.  Rock on!

I thought it would be fun to look at my most-visited posts.  So here you go!  Thanks for reading, y'all!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hodgepodge Organizing Ideas for a Multi-purpose Kitchen, Dining and Mudroom Space

I don't profess to be an any kind of interior design or organization guru.  But I do try to make our house and spaces functional for us, in unique ways - on the cheap.  In 2013, I plan to do a better job at loving my house and not wishing it were different.  In that spirit, I have decided to showcase some of the hodgepodge ways I have set up our house to work for us!

This post will focus on our kitchen/dinette area.  It's one big room, that has to meet the following purposes:  entry from the garage, storage of all kitchen stuff, cooking/dishes/fridge, eating, laundry room, and shoe/coat/mudroom for me, hubs, Ivy (4) and baby Roy (2).  All.In.One.Big.Room.  Argh!  Here are some of the things I've done to 'make it work':
1.  We do something funky every year with our Christmas cards.  I got a lot of flack the year I hung them on the window blinds!  This year we taped them all around our dinnette area wall and back door.  I love it and plan to leave it up until they start falling down!

2.  On the back door to the garage, we have magnetic 'cups' designed for school lockers (Target).... but we use them for extra keys, chalk, pens, and clips.  I got the dragonfly hook at a garden store.  We've added a few kid touches!  The dry/erase marker is for a d/e board hung on the wall beside the door.
3. I love this little hook I've had forever given to me by my aunt, and affixed it to the cabinet by the back door for hanging our car keys.
4.  [Not pictured]  Right when you walk in the back door, we have a large wooden book shelf that we use for extra storage.  Three large blue bins hold 'extra stuff' (like flash lights, twine, tape, etc.), onions/potatoes, and kid stuff (like the ballet bag).  We also use it to store our wine, paper towels, mail, and my purse.  Who needs new cabinets when you can use a $20 bookshelf?

5.  In total hodgepodge fashion, I took an old curtain rod and affixed it over the sink so I could hang a plant the kids gave me one mother's day, and some other special things - like a bouquet of flowers Ivy picked for me in the spring, and some dried roses a friend gave us.
6.  We don't have a mudroom and have devised a solution of hanging coats currently in use on the *outside* of the coat closet using an over-the-door hanger, with a little space on top for gloves and hats.  It's not the prettiest thing, but it's very functional, it gets used, and coats are not on the floor.
7.  This is our daycare/calendar 'command center'.  We use Google Calendar for the family calendar, but this calendar has family pictures (I made it using MyMemories) and helps us know what day it is :).  I affixed Command hooks to our 1940's era hutch, and the kids can hang their own lighter jackets and scarves up.  You can kind of see the little green storage ottomans too, where the kids can throw their shoes and hats inside.  Out of sight, but still accessible so the kids can get things themselves!

Stay tuned for the next installment when I focus on the play room.  The highlighted hodge podge continues!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My 20 '13 Resolutions

Will my resolutions stick?
Maybe you already caught some of my resolutions on Liberating Working Moms.  If you didn't, you should!  The other moms' resolutions are very interesting.  I made a longer list and thought I'd share.  Maybe by sharing I'll actually do some.  I realize not all are in 'resolution' type style.  Some are just things I want to do that will add little to no value to my life.  That's ok.
  1. Share more music with the kids.  Music I like and have liked.  I've lost touch with my music.  Let's start digging out my old CDs and playing them in the car.  Mr. Jones and me...
  2. Exercise 30 minutes 3 times per week.  This sounds do-able, except when I actually try to do it.  Yawn... boring!
  3. Love people more.  Purposefully and intentionally, try to actively love.  Actively empathize.  Treat them how they want to be treated.  Love them even if they won't love me back.  Love people without wanting or expecting anything in return.  Ruminate about what it really means to love people.
  4. Add new main-dish veggie dishes to my cooking repertoire.  A real challenge!  Also, stay vegetarian.
  5. Pursue more paid writing outlets.  Take at least 1 step towards branching into print material?  That may be a stretch.  But I do have the neverending book brewing in the back of my mind.... it changes purpose and title and theme and plot... but it's brewing I think.
  6. Limit social media.  Try to check Facebook only once per day.  It has added value to my life....  in ways that deserve another blog post unto themselves.... but it sucks time and more often than not makes me feel worse rather than better.
  7. Refresh my journaling for the kids.  I've kept a hand-written journal for them since they were born.  I need to routinely write to them, even if it's 1 page once a week.  It's a gift to us all.
  8. Bring lunch to work at least 4 out of 5 days.  Forgive myself if I slip up some times.  The salad bar at the cafeteria next door is really good.
  9. Call my parents more than once a week.  I love them and miss them very much.  They rock.
  10. Revisit date night.  Be ok with planning the whole thing myself.  Forgive my husband if he doesn't even think of doing that.  Enjoy the night regardless of who planned it or if anybody has a bad attitude.  Don't go to a movie.  It just pisses us off.... all the cell phones.
  11. Do something bold with my blog.  I'm thinking....  a daily tribute to a Facebook friend chosen at random.  It'd be like hosting my own social media funeral in reverse....  violating #6 but living #3.  A contradiction in resolutions!  I love it.  Another bold idea:  some kind of project to help others tell a story.  I love story telling, especially as it relates to challenging life issues.  [I'm open to ideas!]
  12. Find a church I actually like and want to go to regularly, or come up with a plan to 'home school' our kids on religious issues.  Seek guidance on this from smarter people than I on this subject.
  13. Let my hair grow.  Don't cut it.  Dye it.  Resist the urge to cut it.  Repeat to myself:  I want long hair again.  I never should have cut it.  Don't tame the mane.  Go wild, my inner free spirit child, go wild.  
  14. Don't garden.  Maybe a little, but don't spend more than like $25 on gardening crap.  I'm bad at gardening.  Other people are good at it.  Go buy food from them and hope the grocery-market apocalypse doesn't come so I am not forced to garden for survival.
  15. Don't stop trying to be bold and brave in the blogosphere just because I'm a government employee now.  Free speech and all.
  16. Cuss more.  It feels good.  Not in front of the kids.
  17. Be kind randomly more often, to more people.  I know this is kind of a fad right now.... but I don't care.  I want to do this.  It feels good and makes me happy and the other person happy.
  18. Don't allow people's comments to get to me. Believe the best about people.  Perhaps they did not mean it that way.  That said, I still need to defend myself, my kids and my family when appropriate.
  19. Knock a big hole in the wall between our kitchen and living room.  [May have to save 'repair the wall' for my 2014 resolutions.]
  20. Embrace that I am in the "over 35" category now.  Don't be sad.  Be glad.  I'm happier now than I've probably ever been.  98% of days.