crafty eco girl finally makes more fabric gift bags

I'm not as ecologically sensitive as I once was, which is amusing as the entire world seems to have finally caught up with the furor that was afflicting me back in 1991-1996 or so (with aftershocks felt to this day, but I'm not as cutting edge as I was then...).

Flashback to a young junior in high school, moving bags of used paper to our new house, because my Dad offhandedly remarked that someday we'd be able to recycle paper. I saved it under my bed until I found a place to recycle it (college...once they started recycling paper at U of M in the computer labs.) This same girl saved paper from her apartment in Chicago years later, and forced her poor boyfriend to bring them back to Michigan to recycle them for her! Poor boyfriend/husband. He's getting me back, though...whenever he is mad at me, he throws paper into the trash can (when he is certain I'll see it.)

Yes, I compost. Yes, I garden organically. I even compost my stupid guinea pig's waste...and did the same with my rabbits for years (now that I have a giant yard, this isn't so difficult as it once was). I even once bought a worm composter to compost my dog and cat waste, but that was too yucky, even for me...and so that experiment was very short-lived. I try to pack my children's lunches in all-reusable items, I bring bags with me to all stores almost maniacally, etc.

But I'm not as ecologically sensitive as I once was...I take too many showers. I wash too much laundry. I use too much electricity. I drive my children everywhere when they could just as easily take the bus, just to save them 15 minutes here or there. I feel a little guilty, esp. when I consider how crazy I used to be. I'm chalking my slippage up to motherhood, the accumulation of stuff, and maybe even the fact that it's all so mainstream and in-my-face now that I have to give myself a break or the sheer guilt would be too much.

However, I do have a crazy adoration of my fabric gift bags. They are easily one of my favorite parts of the holidays (thus, crazy). I just love pulling them out every year, shoving the gifts for my family inside, not needing to buy gift wrap, not needing to worry about wasting tons of paper, seeing the cuteness under the tree...and every year I wish I had more of them so that I could use them for every gift I give.

Life with 3 children during the holiday season doesn't always permit such luxuries as pulling out my sewing machine and crafting. Even after the holiday season, I never seemed to find the time...but with my youngest now 4 years old, I have a bit more autonomy in what I do when we are all hanging around the house at home.

And thus, finally, after wanting to do this again since the winter of 2002 (when Katie was so little, she could sit in a chair while I sewed...the last time I really made bags...) - yay! I made some more.

I use remnants, or fabric I have collected over the years, and ribbons I save from wherever I find them...and my sisters have been saving me things, too (navy/white bags are remnants of my sister's curtains):

**I make them big, I make them small, I make them medium-sized, I make them giant-sized. I only have pictures of the smaller ones so far as I am not a skilled photographer of bags!
And by the way, I'm still teaching myself how to sew...but this is an easy way to figure it all out!


I am giving myself an award...a really big one

This was a huge day for a girl who can go comatose, occasionally, when faced with too much to do:

  • 8:45am -Take kids to school, remember "Tacky Day" for Nathan, drop off cleaned toys (who just volunteered to start a "toy washing program for her son's preschool...oh yes, that was me)
  • 9:00am - 10am -Come home, quickly clean house, including guinea pig cages (yes, cages...a friend came to school all allergic and so I volunteered to take her guinea pig until she found a new home for it. So I was cleaning a cage of a guinea pig that wasn't even mine...)
  • 10am - Drop off deposit for Nathan's new school next year
  • 10:10am - Return library books
  • 10:15am - 10:55am - Drive to the mall, buy gift certificate for Emma's teacher who is going on maternity leave
  • 10: 55am - 11:25am - Rush to Emma's classroom, throw "you are going to be leaving for maternity leave" party for her teacher, complete with scrapbook, coordinated by some crazy woman (me), with baby and big kid pictures, notes from all the kids, pieces of advice for parents, etc. (Yes, I worked on that for a week straight)
  • 11:25am - Walk Emma to her friends' Dad's car...she's off to a playdate
  • 11:40am - 11:55am - Pick up Nathan from school, along with a whole bucket of new toys to clean
  • 12:05pm - Pick up Katie from the bus stop (half day)
  • 12:10pm - Feed kids
  • 12: 45pm - Answer phone, it's Katie's friend. Does Katie want to come for a playdate? Well, how about you come here?
  • 1pm - Put on clothes to walk and get Katie's friend
  • 1pm - 3pm - Supervise playdate, while cleaning toys for preschool and monitoring dumb dog
  • 3pm - Into the car, drop of Katie's playdate
  • 3:10pm - Drop off Katie at Julie's house for "movie Fridays"
  • 3:20pm - 4:30pm - Drive to Pick up Emma, socialize with her friend's lovely mother
  • 4:35 - 5:30pm - Drive home, home for 4o minutes
  • 5: 35pm - 8:05pm - Take Nathan to new friend's movie watching party
  • 8:05pm - 8:35pm - Leave, drive to pick up Katie
  • 8: 54pm - Write this
  • 9pm - Put kids to bed
I can't even believe the amount of activity and socializing for this basically antisocial girl. I must really, really, really, really, really love my kids.

p.s. - I think this tetanus shot hurts more than my bilateral mastectomy. Just kidding...but that gives me an idea...don't I have some vicodin around here? ha ha


Today by the numbers

Minutes spent driving family members around (Emma to school, to car dealership to pick up Bill, dropping off Bill at work, picking up Nathan, picking up Katie and Emma): 243 minutes

Piles of dog poo picked up in the yard (since the snow has melted, before new snow comes): 49

Kisses bestowed upon a 4 year old: 100

Hugs bestowed upon same 4 year old: 20

Times same 4 year old was lovingly thrown onto the bed: 12

Times I said, "OFF, HOPE!" - unable to count that high

Brownies that were sent in the mail: 12

Brownies eaten by me: 2

# of Brownies I wanted to eat: 5

Hours I spent working on a teacher gift today: 3

# of girls from Emma's class who helped me with the teacher gift today: 6

# of parents who offered help today with teacher gift: 4

Exercise, in minutes: zero :(

Family dinners, and brownies in the mail

Let me just, right here and right now, say how wonderful it is to have my little sister situated so conveniently close by, here in grey old Michigan.

I remember dreaming about our future lives, and telling her, 10 years ago when she was packing up to move to California, to find a good place for us to live. It was always my dream to have all of my loved ones right down the street from me...and I have always been willing to make that dream a reality, as much as I could. (Thus, settling here with our little ones, despite a rabid desire to live somewhere else...so they could know their grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins...)

11 years ago, I SO thought we would be relocating, me somewhere with my sister to follow, or the other way around...and then came Emma and so we stayed put...and now...HOW AMAZING that after moving away, here comes Julie back to Michigan with her little ones in tow, and dear Tyler, too, of course.

Can I say how wonderful it is to see my little sidekick running to the door to open it for us? To have to monitor fights between my sidekick (Natalie) and Nathan, because now they are growing up together and don't always want to share (the novelty of each other's presence is gone)? How much I love going to Costco and picking something up for Jules...and how much I love impromptu family dinners?

I may not be all back to my most cheerful and sunshiney self, but I am here enough to know how lucky I am to have the Gibbs family living in Michigan.***

(And I'm lucky they chose my favorite real estate agent to help them find a house, because she sent brownies in the mail to me today. How can a person not love brownies in the mail?)

***and we're lucky to have our guest "suite" empty again, for impromptu visits from my other most wonderful sister and darling nephew!


Loving new friends...and old

Tonight I went on the greatest walk, with a new(ish) friend...and what fun! She knows the neighborhoods even better than I do, having grown up around here, and had lots of good tips and pointers. A cut-through here, pre-school advice there, where they took their daughter skiing, etc.

I am positive that walking with friends is one of my favorite activities. The time just flies by, I learn so much, we spend so much time laughing. Now if only I could get my 3-day friends to start walking in the middle of winter like this wonderful new(ish) friend...

AND...I think I have another new friend in the making - how lucky am I? The circumstances of this new friend-in-the-making are going to make any of my walking friends of the past 3-ish years laugh - she emailed to see if anyone wanted to start a girl scout troop for Katie's grade. This is HYSTERICAL to me...I have spent about hundreds of hours of my life agonizing over this decision, trying to find a co-leader, whining about the girl scouts and their rules which prevented me from doing this without a co-leader...and here she has been all along! Our daughters were never in the same class, so we never crossed paths the right way until this week/this email. (I've seen her around plenty, though...she's one of the handful of moms I ALWAYS see volunteering at grade-wide events.) So, I can pretty safely say, with all the time we are going to be spending together, I either have a friend-in-the-making, or an enemy-in-the-making (not that I would ever mind her, she is such a darling of a person...she may just find me a little annoying after awhile).

Now, to gush about my old friends...it feels like some 3-day fever is starting, and I am so excited to have some of my old teammates signing back up. The 3-day is my very favorite weekend of the year, and to spend the weekend with some of my very favorite friends is my dream. I could go into paragraphs of rapture and exclamation points for each one of the women who are walking (again, for the 4th, or 3rd, or 2nd time...and for the women who are walking for the first time)...it is going to be so, so, so wonderful. Spending time with those women is worth every fundraising moment, every training mile (which as you can maybe tell, is one of my favorite parts of the 3 day, too). Just imagine my happiness if I could get a few of the other favorites to sign up...hmmm...how can I bribe them? :)


Catching up...and resolutions

I'm resolving to spend less time being sad...not necessarily as a New Year's Resolution, but more as an I-am-wasting-my-life-being-sad-and-that-is-stupid-resolution.

So, I'm trying my best to catch up on some of my emails, my procrastinations, my responsibilities, my cleaning, my organizing (the latter two because it makes me feel so good, clears my mind and helps me focus), and my pictures.

As such, I thought I would share a picture which is making me laugh today - my insane dog tried to get into the garbage, and look what happened to her (notice wagging tail):

It didn't stop her from trying to get snacks from Noah's high chair/lunch:

And now, off to my Impromptu Trip of the Day: the Zoo. (Yesterday's Impromptu Trip of the Day was sledding...twice! Once, with Nathan, and then again later with the girls and Nathan.)


A love story

My sisters and I have spent quite a few moments over the past few days reading love letters that my parents wrote to each other throughout the years of their marriage. One can totally get lost in the history there...and it is fascinating to read both how things were, and how things are the same. Here is my Dad, writing to my Mom in the early 70s when he was in Basic Training as an Army Reservist; so much of it is history, but so much of it feels like the present too. I recognize so much of myself in those letters - here is my young mom, freaking out on the phone because my young dad had to leave things a mess to get to basic training(how many times have I had that same phone conversation with my boyfriend-turned-husband, made a big fuss over something because I missed him?). Here is my young dad, pining away for his young wife with the intensity of young love that I remember so well as a 23 or 24 year old, when a love like that was the whole world, or all I wanted from it.

It just all makes me wonder...how much of who you are is determined already by your own biology? Here are my knees, showing up in the 1940s under my grandmother's dress. Here's my hair color (and of course, though you can't see it, here's my mutation, too). Here's my crazy mood swings, showing up in letters before I was even born. Here's the same way I love, and argue, and the things that I worry about... (though I know so much of this is probably universal...I just recognize it so much in my Dad's prose, or my Mom's.)

It's been enlightening, reading their letters, and hearing them talk once again. I see my Dad's handwriting being formed...hear his signature phrases...and my Mom's as well. It's kind of nice, but I'm also a little afraid to really pour myself into those boxes and those letters. It makes me miss them...and though I BELIEVE that they are happy, and complete now, and together, I feel sorry for what they lost. How sad to love so hard and then to lose your young wife! And then also, how sad to miss the opportunity to spend time with these guys, the 2nd generation of your love:

And I know...how lucky to have found that love at all. How lucky to have been that happy...and yes, they are still with us in a way. But I know that for at least one of these grandchildren, it's not enough to just believe they are still with us. She'd rather have those grandparents on this earth with her - and I have a feeling that the other 5 will feel that way someday, too.