Monday, July 28, 2008

Weekend Craftavaganza!

I don't know about you, but I had a very productive weekend. It's not often that I get to write that. Most Mondays, I look back fondly on a weekend where the most active thing I did was order pizza. But not this weekend. Oh no. This weekend, I crafted.

Actually, it was a family weekend of crafting. Richard's kickball team, the Awesome Helicopter Ninjas, is beginning its fall season tonight, and and Richard wanted to do something special. He decided that the Ninjas needed and official mascot, along the lines of the San Diego Chicken or the Phillie Phanatic. So, I give you the Naughty Ninja

It's a paper-mache Ninja head! Richard used a beach ball to build the paper-mache and and I think he did a great job. We glued some black fabric inside the mouth (actually for Richard's eyes so he can see out), and we have foam inside to make sure it fits. I can't wait to see action shots of the Naughty Ninja at tonight's game.

Another craft project on the weekend's to-do list was the create a doormat for our apartment. We haven't had one in more than a year. When we moved in, I wanted a really cool mat, like one of these. But I just couldn't bring myself to spend $40 on a doormat. So we made due with a crappy plastic one until it blew away in a storm last year. I didn't know what I wanted to do until I saw this post on which showed how one member created a river rock doormat, inspired by one at Crate & Barrel (and also now available here). So easy!

Richard bought a black rubber doormat from OSH, and I bought a bag of river rock and some rubber cement from Home Depot. Here is a shot of the work in progress:

The rocks I used are smaller than the ones in the Curbly mat, and it took me a bit longer than expected. But I finally finished on Saturday. And here it is in its place of honor:

I had to move the mat out a bit from the door, as it is too tall to pass under the door if it is too close. But it still looks cool, and cost about a grand total of $12!

My other big project of the weekend was stripping the varnish off of a neo-Victorian occasional table that my dad gave us a while back. The varnish was chipped and had several drink rings, so I'm going to paint it a bright glossy turquoise and place it in our bedroom. I had never stripped furniture before, and while it was messy, it actually wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. I used Citri-stripper, which I had seen recommended on Apartment Therapy. I don't have a photo, but believe me that the table is now stripped. I have to put some primer on it (maybe I'll do that tonight after Vivian goes to sleep), and then I'll start painting next weekend.

I've been working on a long-term knitting project that I'm pretty close to finishing, but I'm a little sick o fit right now, so I needed a quick-fix project that would just be something different. Looking through Ravelry, I found just what I needed: a crocheted slouchy beret. It worked up in just a couple of hours (I finished while watching last night's 2nd season premiere of "Mad Men"), and I'm really happy with it.

There is one good reason to look forward to the end of summer: the opportunity to wear all your fun knitted/crocheted items!

And one final craft projected started over the weekend -- a quilt for Baby Marta, daughter of Allison & Iggy, and little sister to Maggie. She was born earlier this month, and I'm beating myself up for not starting this earlier. Oh well. I am loving the very girly fabric I chose, and I can't wait to complete this.

So, all in all, a very productive weekend. Now, if only I could be as productive every weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Shades of grey

Parenting is hard.  

There.  I've said it.  This news isn't really news to anyone who has taken even a tangential role in raising a child, but it does seem that many people don't want to admit it.  Like somehow, if we talk/write about the things that suck about parenthood, it means we are ungrateful, spoiled and pampered princesses who don't appreciate our good fortune.  Believe me, I know exactly how lucky I am.  And even when I'm complaining about anything in my life as a mother, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Ok, that's out of the way.

The mommy-blogosphere seems particularly touchy lately when it comes to discussing parenting choices and the normal venting that goes along with raising a child.  It seems to me that many people forget how to have a polite disagreement behind the "veil of anonymity" of the internet.  Can't we all just get along?

I am a firm believer in the tenet that there is no one right way to raise a child.  I've read books and blogs, attended classes and support groups, and have decided that my parenting style, which comes pretty naturally to me, may not work for everyone.  That's fine.  I try not to criticize other parents' decisions just because they are not the ones I would make.  But if I have questions or disagreements, I would hope that, as adults, we could have a worthwhile discussion about our differences.  Unfortunately, the internet doesn't seem to be a venue for moderate and intelligent discussion about parenting.

Maybe it's because parenting is such a personal job.  How we raise our kids reflects so much about us and our values.  Is that why so many of us get defensive when we disagree?  Feeding on-demand vs. schedules, breast-feeding vs. bottles, daycare vs. SAHM, I think as parents, we have so much of our self-worth tied into every decision that when someone questions those decisions, we often interpret that question as a personal attack.

There are a lot of decisions that Richard & I have made about how we parent Vivian that probably wouldn't work for other parents.  At just over a year-old, Vivian is still breast feeding at home.  It works for us.  And I think we'll keep doing it while it works for us.  When she is at daycare, she is taking bottles of formula.  And that works, too (I was pumping at work, but it got to be too tedious, and when I got the new job, I decided it was time to stop).  

Vivian goes to sleep in her crib (although most nights, she actually falls asleep while nursing, and then I transfer her into her crib), and when she wakes up, Richard brings her into our bed, where she'll nurse and then go back to sleep.  I know this situation wouldn't work for many parents.  But we like it.  And Vivian is sleeping longer and longer in her crib all the time (she actually slept in the crib until 6:00 a.m. the other day!), so we know that eventually she will go all night on her own.  

Mostly my parenting philosophy has been "whatever works" (obviously within reason -- for health and safety considerations).  I try to keep an open mind about parenting so that I can learn about other styles and maybe even adopt new techniques.  I don't know that I could be a good stay-at-home-mom, but then maybe I could.  I don't really have the financial option right now, but down the road, who knows?  The same thing goes for home schooling, private schooling, etc.  I'm keeping my options open.

Before I became a parent, I think I had much firmer stances on parenting, and many things were black or white, good or bad, right or wrong.  But now that I'm in the trenches, so to speak, I can see that there is a whole lot of grey out there, and a whole range of acceptable and workable decisions.  To steal a phrase from the Peace Corps., parenting is the toughest job you'll ever love.