Sunday, June 29, 2014

How to Recover Your Couches the Amateur Way (part 3)

Now...we sew.  You have your pieces all cut and ready to go.  This is the order I sew mine in.
 
I always start by sewing the base to the arms.  It's a super simple straight stitch.  I take my pieces and place them right side down in place and make pins.  A few tips on this:
1) Put your pins EXACTLY where you want to sew, starting them where you want your stitch to start and ending them where you want it to end.
2) Trust your pins.  If you've placed them where you want to sew, sew exactly where they are.  That sounds self-explanatory but after the 12th time you've pinned and removed the cover to sew, you will question your pins.  You will be going cross-eyed, y'all.
3) Do not, for the love, pull too hard on your fabric to make your cover crazy tight.  By all means, make it fit, but if you make it too tight, you will end up with a cover you can't put back on after you wash it.  I made this mistake the first time I made a cover and ended up having to re-do it.  Whomp, whomp...
 
This is the part that's the hardest to explain, because it greatly depends on your couch's shape.  You can see the order that I connect my pieces above and copy that if it works for your couch.  You will be working with your cover inside out as you pin and sew.  After you sew each piece, be sure to look at it right side out to make sure you didn't sew an awkward bunch or make a mistake on the shape.
 
This is us a few steps in.  You can see we have sewn pieces 1-5 in and are working on pining on the front arms.  This step is one of the hardest because it involves a tricky curve AND piping.  I like to pin the pieces together first and then go back and put the piping in.  I just take out a couple pins at a time, put the piping in (make sure the raw edge is facing out and the cord is on the right side of your fabric) right along where my seam will be, and put the pins back in place.
You can see my pins along the shape of the curve here and alllllll the extra fabric I will go back and trim later.

My sister is going back and placing her piping along the seam here (you can see the end of it curled up in the chair waiting to be pinned/trimmed).
 
One big huge piping tip: make SURE you leave about an inch of piping BEFORE you start and about an inch AFTER you finish.  You will need to put this little extra piping through your seam so that it looks finished or it will be tucked under in the couch's hem. 
This will make more sense as you sew, but make sure the cut end of your piping is tucked through the back and you sew through it to hold it that way.  I had no idea how to finish my piping the first time I made a cover and did realize until I was finished how I should have done it.
 
After you sew your piping in, the rest is downhill from there.  Next, I sew the front of the back (#9).  This is where your couch will start to take shape. 
 
The last pieces I always put on are the back pieces.  I use two pieces that close with Velcro in the back.  I first sew the Velcro on the two pieces and connect the two pieces with the Velcro so that when I pin it to the rest of the couch, I am working with it as one piece.

 
When you pin the back on, be sure to pull your side pieces to that the couch takes shape but don't pull too hard.  The back of my couches was kind of tricky because of the arms.  What I ended up doing was folding the fabric around the curve to create pleats.
 
Once you have finished sewing on all of the pieces, go back and trim your extra fabric.  Make sure to place your cover right side out on your couch or chair BEFORE this step.  You would hate to find a huge mistake (like the unfinished end of piping poking out the front or a weird bunch in the your fabric) after you've cut the extra off.  It's almost impossible to fix without that extra seam allowance. 
 
The final step is to hem your couch.  With all of the couches I have done, I have hemmed the edge to fold just under the chair and added Velcro to hold it in place.  This isn't absolutely necessary but I think it has given my chairs a finished look and keeps the covers in place.

(this is the underside of our ottoman)
 
After I fold and pin my hem, I attach a strip of Velcro all around my cover.  I then staple the other side of the Velcro to the underside of my couch.  It's worked like a charm!
 
I hate to be a Debbie Downer...even though you feel SO good, you still have a long way to go.  The cushions are beasts.  Of course you could stop here and leave your couch like this (or at least something like this).
 
Next, we'll talk cushions.  But take heart...that's the last step!





(Psst...miss part 1 and 2? Find them here and here.)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

How to Recover Couches the Amateur Way (Part 2)

In the last post I mentioned I used cotton canvas fabric.  If you are using a washable fabric, be sure to wash and dry it before you start.  This is not breaking news if you have ever sewn before but it's super important in this case.  Canvas (sometimes you'll hear it referred to as cotton duck or canvas duck) shrinks a ton when you wash and dry it.  I wanted my couches to be washable, so I washed it the first time with hot water and dried it hot.  When I wash my finished covers, I wash them on delicate/cold and dry them in the sun.  I don't want to take any risks by washing them in warm water or drying them completely in the dryer because it takes so. much. time. to make them.  You will feel like they are your babies.

Before you start, you need to fill at least a billion bobbins with thread.  Okay, maybe 3-4. Easily the most frustrating thing ever in the history of the world is to be sewing away, not realizing that your bobbin thread is out.  This is tip numero uno: fill lots of bobbins.

The first sewing I always tackle is making piping.  I've seen a lot of tutorials for this but I figured I'd add my two cents.  Cord for piping is sold for around 30 cents a yard so I do a rough measure of how much I need and then buy a couple extra yards.  Cushions take a ton of piping and a whole chair can take around 10 yards or so (depending on the size).  The first thing I do is cut strips of fabric that are about 1.5 inches wide (I like to have plenty of extra fabric on the edge of the piping for pining--it can always be trimmed later).  I do a simple seam to connect each piece and make a giant train of strips.  There is an "official" way to do it that is not this way, but I didn't have any issues nor do I think anyone would notice my piping seams.
I just line my pieces up...

and sew.  Connect all of your pieces together and make sure that your seam allowance on each piece is facing one way--this will be hidden on the inside with your cord after you sew.  You can see that I am not to worried about cutting straight lines when I cut my strips.  They will be hidden/trimmed so don't waste too much time making them perfect.  You can also see the bare cord behind it on the table.  The next thing you do is take the cord and fold it in your fabric train.

I always start it a bit back from the edge of my fabric (you will probably utilize that later as you use the piping). I don't bother with pinning the piping.  I just fold as I go--it doesn't need to be perfect and it ain't rocket science.



Using a zipper foot, sew as close to your cord as you can.  Just use a simple straight stitch.  You also don't need to use your heavy duty thread here--it's more expensive than regular thread and this stitch doesn't have to be strong.  It will be reinforced when you sew it on the cover.  Sewing piping isn't complicated but when you need 10 yards, it can take a while.  It feels very unproductive so I like to have it all finished before I start doing my real sewing.  That way I don't have to stop and sew more when I'm on a roll.
 
Next is cutting.  I have made tons of things lately and have stupidly not taken a picture of this step. A professional blogger I am not.  The first thing you need to do before you cut, though, is make a plan for where you will have seams on your chair.  This is a chair I covered with my sister a few weeks ago and we did it very similarly to how I did my couches.

This is with the cushions removed.  I got all fancy with photoshop (not) to show you where I have seams and I have numbered my pieces.  The first step to cutting is to determine where you want to have your seams and how many pieces you want.  One tip: if you have curves on the arms like these chairs do, cut another piece (here it would be my #4 and #5 pieces) and connect them to your curve pieces with a straight seam right where the curve of the arm meets the straight part of the side of the chair.  This will limit the sag you have on the sides. 
 
The very not professional way that I cut my pieces is to take my fabric, drape it over the part of the chair I am cutting it for, give myself at least 2 inches extra at every future seam (just trust me...give yourself a ton of extra), and cut a rough shape.  I always go back and trim it later as needed.  This picture is actually as we started to pin but you can see that I don't cut my pieces very close to the "pattern" of the chair.  I have found it's so much faster to just give yourself a lot of extra than to get a perfect shape or seam allowance as you cut. 

(front of the arm--as you can see I just cut a square and I trim after I sew)
 
 As I cut, I put post its on each piece to label where it goes.  Once this is done, go give your sewing machine a loving pat and a pep talk because it's about to do the sewing machine equivalent of running a marathon.  While you're at it, give the same pep talk to your fingertips...because you are definitely about to poke them with any number of pins and you will (I repeat: WILL) draw blood.

Next up...sew sew sew sew sew!

(Psst...miss part 1? Find it here.)
 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to Recover Your Couches Amateur Style (part 1)

I haven't blogged since...oh, look at that picture of Easton up there.  I haven't blogged since he was that old.  Crazy.  Since then I've had a new kid...also crazy.  I had a friend request a how-to on how I've recovered my couches, so I decided to dust this old blog off and write one (or a few) up.  Since that new baby doesn't have any shout outs, I'll let her (and her brother) demonstrate my new couch covers.
 
 

Adorable, right? But back to the couches.  A few years ago our couches looked like this.

 
Not good.  We were given these couches by my aunt and uncle when we got married.  They are super well made and crazy comfortable, but they were looking well loved.  I wanted a change in the look (the flower pattern was pretty dated) but we were so attached to the quality of the couches and we knew that our budget wouldn't allow us to replace them with equally nice couches at that point in our lives (I had just started staying home with Easton).  So I decided to give recovering them a chance. 
 
I am going to do a few posts about this so I will start with the preliminary stuff here.
 
Let me preface this by saying I am a self-taught sewer (I can't even use the word seamstress).  I got a sewing machine for Christmas in 2009 and learned how to sew a straight line.  I have sewn curtains, pillows, crib skirts, nursing covers, and other super simple things like that.  Everything I learned I have learned from the internet.
 
I started by watching/reading a few tutorials. This one gave me the idea and then these videos were super helpful.  I also googled how to sew piping. I have a very "I can figure it out once I get started" type of personality, so I decided just to go for it.  I essentially made very well fitted, custom, removable, washable (can I get an amen from the mommas?) slipcovers.
 
Supplies
I decided to go with thick white canvas material from Hobby Lobby for a few reasons.  It's super durable, soft, easy to work with, and CHEAP compared to true upholstery.  It was $9.99 a yard but no one ever enters Hobby Lobby without a 40% off coupon in tow so it was more like $6 a yard.  I chose white because A) I LOVE white and B) white means it is super bleach-able.  I have had the couches covered for almost 2 years and have yet to have a stain that doesn't wash out.  They have held up fantastically.
 
Our wide chair took 7 yards, the love seat was surprisingly about the same, and the couch took around 10 yards.  I also bought the cord for my piping at hobby lobby. 
 
In addition to fabric and cording, I also bought heavy needles (the canvas is pretty thick and you will be sewing through 4 -5 layers of it at points) and heavy thread.  My covers Velcro in the back to close and are also attached to the bottom of our couches with Velcro.  Joann's sells Velcro by the yard so I hit them up with a coupon after measuring how much each couch would need.

(check out that flower pattern living under there...bless its heart)

(this is the underside of our ottoman)
 
 
Before you start, make sure you have tons of pins and tons of patience.  I got REALLY fast by the third couch but the first two took me several hours a day for almost a week.  The tips of my fingers hurt just thinking about how many times I stabbed them with pins in the late night hours while my baby slept away.
 
In the end, the couches cost us under $300 and some blood from my fingertips.  I'd say that's a win because an Ikea couch is around the same price but not nearly as comfortable. 
 
Stay tuned...next up: piping and fabric prep!
 

 

Friday, February 8, 2013

That time I ran a lot and random thoughts

So this one time, I ran a half marathon.  Now, I know, that's not crazy impressive.  Literally, millions of people do it every day (that is not a researched stat and is not a proper use of the word literally) and some people even run 26.2 (loonies).  And my time wasn't crazy impressive by any means.  My goal was to run the race the whole time and only walk through the water stations (because I apparently haven't been running enough to drink a glass of water and run at the same time...is that a learned skill?), which I did!  My sister, brother's girlfriend/sister's roommate/my friend (that is one super cool person named Monica or Caca if you ask Easton), and I all ran the half in Galveston a couple weeks ago.  It was a blast in retrospect (although it started sucking around mile 9 and didn't stop until they gave me free pizza at the finish line).  I am pretty sure running a half is like giving birth--you have to forget the pain and then that crazy person in you decides that you should run another one.

(don't they do that at the Olympics?)
(proof I actually crossed the finish line)
(Thanks, bud.  Other funny signs that our husbands/boyfriends/friends made: "I thought this was a 5K, hurry up!" "I trained for 4 months to make this sign" "You're beating people!")
So that's my not-so-major accomplishment that I've taken on in the last few months.  I have been training since the end of October.  It was great timing because my training fell during Justin's off-season chunk of the year so he was able to watch Easton on my long runs.  Let me remind you: I was not a runner.  Like not at all.  But now I love it.  I have no idea what I am doing and felt so out of place among the real runners, but I would totally do another one.
 
Baseball season has since started so I've dusted off the trusty old jogging stroller.  If you've never run with a jogging stroller...don't.  It stinks.  Luckily, training to run 13.1 miles makes it little easier to run 3 or 4 with that beast.  Easton loves that I take him along on my runs.  He barks at all the dogs and quacks at the ducks in the ponds along our neighborhood trails.  It's quite entertaining.

(it's a rough life when someone pushes you while they run 4 miles)
 
Other random thoughts:
 
I am wondering if maybe we missed our window for wanting more children.  See, Easton was a breeze from about 9 months until, oh, about 15 months.  Then he decided he has opinions and thinks that he has the right to enforce his will on situations.  Ugh.  I feel like my entire day is spent just trying to get him to eat something other than peanut butter banana sandwiches and cheese and take naps. It's exhausting.  Don't worry mom and mom-in-law, I'm joking.  You'll get more grandkids. After Easton graduates, maybe.  (okay...so I'm kidding...but can I just say it is so hard to say that this mom thing is hard some days because every other mom seems to be rocking it at their house.  Their kids never misbehave, always eat everything they are given, take 3 hour naps every day, and never, ever, ever, ever throw fits when their mom takes the remote away from them.  Some days I feel like a rock star, I-could-be-Mrs.-Duggar type mom.  Other days I feel like a sit-com mom--you know, covered in food and worn out all the time.  Only it's not funny and doesn't end in 30 minutes.)
(this was today at lunch...apparently he didn't want to eat his broccoli bites.  At least that's what I think he was trying to tell me)
 
I am loving Beth Moore's Beloved Disciple.
 
I am experiencing a super sweet time of growth in my relationship with the Lord.  The kind of time where I crave every second I can get with Him.  I have a renewed love for his Word and his people.  He's doing big things in me...I'm just trying to let him.
 
I am enjoying watching my husband fulfill his purpose in this stage of our life by coaching baseball at school.  Easton loves going to watch him, too.  He sits and points at Justin on the field and says "Daddy! Bay-ball!" and points to the bleachers and says "chair" to every.single.bench. 

 
I learned that if a sports bra says that it's "compression", it ain't joking.  Great for running...but sheesh.
 
I love watching my son idolize my husband.  Can't blame my baby at all for loving him as much as he does.
 
I am thankful to establishments that have double seater shopping carts. I spend my days with two boys (and, no, EVERYONE in the grocery store, they aren't twins) that are under the age of 1.5 years.  One can walk but is too young to walk anywhere in public without holding my hand, which is too hard when you are carrying a giant 8 month old (seriously...he's giant...like 96% for height. Such a sweet chunk!).  Unfortunately, this is Target's solution for needing to cart around more than one kid.  It's seriously like driving a bus.  Damon (the sweet boy I babysit) was at least a million feet away from me.
 
 I am curious as to how a 1.5 year old and an 8 month old (who can't crawl yet) can make this much of a mess in a morning.  Seriously?
 


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Brag on my hubster

As you might recall, I am a stay-at-home mom as of this school year.  We are so blessed that Justin has a job that more than covers our needs PLUS he is a coach and team leader which earn him a bit extra cash.  I have also been given the opportunity to watch a friend's sweet baby while she is at work to gain a bit extra cha-ching for the bank account.  When we sat down to look at the budget the other night, I was in tears as Justin told me that his base salary alone covered every bit of our expenses and savings PLUS extra that he didn't know what to do with.  And on top of that we have his stipends and my extra earnings. God is good all the time, ya'll.

Anyways, because I stay-at-home, I'm, well...at home a lot.  I'm still in the adjustment phase of the whole "I wipe rear ends for a living" stage of my life.  Some days I love it, some days I tolerate it.  I miss my students like crazy but love being with my little one.  I spend a lot of my days at our kitchen table with Easton saying "no, no throwing food on the floor" or "no, no hiding food in your lap".  While we sit, this is what I see:
I guess I'm giving a bit away about my husband here...but this is where he comes early in the morning while I am still pressing the snooze button every 9 minutes and Little Bit is (praise the Lord) still in dreamland to pray and spend time with the Lord.  One day when I was alone at home, I walked into the kitchen and caught a glimpse of this and it struck me differently than it does on most days.  I have a fantastic husband.  Fantastic.  This is obviously a glimpse at the main reason: his love for Christ comes first.  I have lots of others so the rest of this post is dedicated to that.

1. He can't touch anything in the kitchen or bathroom without needing to at least rinse his hands.  It's hilarious and so cute.  I make fun of him for it but it's actually one of my favorite quirks of his.

2. Yesterday, he came home and Easton went straight for him.  I love it.  Justin then spent his first chunk of time crawling around on the floor chasing Easton and making him give those sweet baby giggles.

3. He takes care of the yard, finances, and dishes.  I cook, he washes.  I couldn't even tell you how we pay our bills.  I don't touch em.  In the game of life, I win.

4. Last year during baseball, a mom came up to me to tell me how much she appreciated Justin.  Justin's grandfather passed away on a game day and Justin spent his team huddle talking about a scripture he had read that morning and how it had affected him when he heard the news.  The mom said her son came home talking about how great Coach Nichols is and she just wanted to thank him for being a man of integrity.  Sadly, most athletes (especially male athletes) don't know what it's like to have a coach that doesn't cuss at them or scream and humiliate them.  He's EXACTLY the type of man that should be teaching and coaching high school kids.
5. He knows more about Aggie football and Astros baseball than ANYONE.  Quiz him.  He's a beast.

6. He is the perfect height for me.  He can kiss me on the forehead without looking up or looking down.  This was a middle school dream of mine.  Seriously.  (and that's why I don't teach middle school...that's the age when everyone is dumb as rocks)
7. He loves my cooking--almost everything, at least.  There was a homemade marinara sauce disaster and a beef and broccoli mishap that he tried to get through for me.  But everything else, he's so appreciative for.  I love to cook him something special because he gets so excited. 

8. He likes me.  He actually likes me.  Do you ever feel totally unloveable?  I do.  But he loves me.  He chooses to spend time as a family over almost anything else.  I definitely think that's a characteristic of a strong man and my man's got it.

9. He watches Downton Abbey with me.  And is just as obsessed as me.  (omg...have you seen the new season preview?!  Too much greatness for me to handle.)

10.  He always complements my housework.  Ya'll, my life is lame now.  I spend the day playing with babies, trying to keep them asleep, and cleaning.  I feel worthless a lot of time...but he notices what I do.  That's such a blessing.  He even complements me when I come back exhausted from a run.  He's actually proud of me for the lame things I do all day.

11.  He makes me laugh.  All. the. time.

12.  He prays diligently.  For me, for Easton, for our friends.  For example, we recently had friends tell us they were pregnant after giving up on the idea of ever conceiving after doctors told them it couldn't happen.  It still brings tears to my eyes to think about it.  After they told us the news, Justin congratulated them and said "I was thinking about y'all today."  I knew what he meant.  He meant he'd been praying for them that day.  In fact, he's prayed that same prayer for a co-worker of mine and her husband and friends from church.  He's so incredibly diligent and thoughtful even in his prayer life.

13.  He's an Aggie.  Laugh all you want but we take our school seriously down in College Station, Texas.  Aggies breed other Aggies...and I can not imagine being married to a Tiger (bleh) or a Raider (double bleh) or, heaven help us, a Longhorn (blehhhhhhhhhh).  I'm only partially kidding on this one...
Senior year at A&M...look how young we look
14.  He's soooo fine.  He is definitely my cup of tea.  (remember those same old dumb middle school days when you said things like "fine" and "hott" in your perfectly folded and decorated notes??)


I hate it when people say "my husband's the BEST" on facebook because I know there are LOTS of great men out there and each one is a fit for his wife.  What I will say about my husband is he is IT for me.  There's no one better for me and he's my forever.  I love that kid.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I'm a mom of a one year old??


This time last year, I had just held my little one for the first time.  I'm still amazed at what the Lord has done through this last year.  But, I'm saving the sappy post for when I have the pictures of his part-ay to show you.  But looking back on this year there are two rather selfish things I wanted to mention:

1) I have officially nursed my son for one. whole. year.  Anyone who has nursed, even for a shorter time frame, knows that that is a miracle.  I pumped for 9 months while I was working and was fortunate enough to meet Easton's needs every day.  I loved every second of nursing (and hated every second of pumping).  For some mothers, it just isn't their thing or it just doesn't go smoothly.  I TOTALLY understand that whatever works for your family is what is best for your kid.  My mom formula-fed us for most of our first year and I think I turned out okay (I guess I shouldn't really be the judge of that, though).  But for us, nursing was just our cup of tea.  Easton was a pro from the time he first tried and he loved the slow pace it gave us.  And by slow I mean sssllllooowww.  I don't know if it was him or me, but we enjoyed LOTS of mommy-Easton time during our extremely long nursing sessions.  I'm no expert because I've just had the one little goober, but I am going to write a post on what worked for us sometime soon.

2) I have also officially lost the baby weight.  Miracle.  The thing that saved my body is that I didn't let myself go nuts while I was pregnant.  That whole eat for two thing?  Lies.  You only need 300 more calories a day than normal in your second and third trimester (and no extra calories in your first).  That's a candy bar extra a day.  I definitely did not watch my calories, but I ate when I was hungry, controlled my cravings, and snacked on healthier options (most times). 

I am not going to lie--I did splurge here and there and let those extra calories come and more.  Have you ever had a hamburger that has grilled cheese sandwiches (yes, plural) instead of buns?  Get pregnant and go find you one.  It will change your life.  What I was careful to do, though, is to only consume meals like that once in a blue moon.  I ate like I normally did, still exercised, and gained a healthy amount of weight (doctors suggest between 25-35 pounds if you are at a healthy weight pre-pregnancy, a little less if you are  overweight). 

As I say that, please know that some women can watch what they eat and still gain more than 35 pounds.  Each body is different and knows how much extra cushion you need.  There is way too much judgement in the world towards women and it only heightens when you become a mother.  Trust me, no judgement here.  If you want to gain 60 pounds and eat what you want, please do.  And eat some macaroni and cheese for me.  Here's me 4 days before Easton decided he was done cooking:
Whenever I look at these pictures, I remember how dang hard it was to breath at that point.  Everything felt squished inside and I couldn't get around.  I was a freakin tank.  I feel tired just thinking about it.

The day before my delivery, I weighed in at 182 at the doctor's office, which was 28 pounds above my starting weight of 142.  Four weeks postpartum, the same scale marked me in at 146.  And the best part about that?  I did nothing to drop the weight but breastfeed.  The most exercise I got was sweeping the floor, and even that felt like running a marathon.  I am lucky to have a body that took care of it for me because I sure was not about to do anything more than was necessary for survival at that point in my life. 

Unfortunately, I hung around 146-148 for the next 10 months.  I couldn't seem to get rid of the ugly extra softness that had gathered around my waist.  I ran off and on but it is so hard to work-out when you are working mom of an infant.  Too hard.  Every time I looked in the mirror, I felt gross (even though I know it wasn't as bad as I thought) and would get frustrated that I couldn't lose the weight.  I just wanted to get back to 142.

Can I be honest for a second?  I shouldn't weigh 142 normally.  I love food.  Like, I LOVE food.  And the food I love is cheesy burritos, peperoni pizza, mac-n-cheese, and anything with at least a bazillion grams of fat.  I ALWAYS keep the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies in my pantry just in case I need (yes, need) to make some.  I wasn't blessed with that "eat like a bird" gene that most women have that makes them love salads and things like cherry tomatoes.  I have never watched what I ate (is that grammatically correct? eaten? Whatevs).  If I craved something, I ate it.  I didn't go nuts with my portions, but I ate as much as a wanted.  Most of the time, I ate the same amount of food that Justin would eat.  And he's 6'2".  I've always known that I could weigh less if I just watched what and how much I put in my pie hole.

I feel like a little kid for this (be honest...you all went out and were determined to be a gymnast after 1996 and the famous one-leg vault), but the Olympics were what spurred me on.  I was watching these amazing athletes and thinking about my cushion-y self, and knew I had to change.  I started running at least two miles at least 3 times a week and following that run with a pilates video.  I also finally started using the MyFitnessPal app to track what I ate.  I watched my calories for the first time EVER and in the first week, saw my waist line change.  My abs decided to be less floppy and my extra hip cushion finally realized it was not needed and started to shrink. 

Four weeks later, I was down to 140 from 148.  Woohoo.  I feel better about myself than I have in a long, long time.  My clothes fit well, my legs look more muscular, and I've already seen that I am satisfied with smaller portions.  I choose things like raisins, fruit, and healthy nuts for snacks.  I have never been able to keep up with my "healthy eating" kicks as long as I have this time.  There are certain food that still make my mouth water like the thought of a slice of pizza, but other things that I loved (like the grilled cheese sandwich heart attack burger) just don't sound appetizing anymore.  I haven't weight myself in a while, but I am hoping to drop another 5 pounds.  That may not be realistic for me because I have weighed 140ish since 10th grade.  We shall see--I will be content with 140 as long as that means that I am healthy.

Anyways, how's that for a ridiculously "tooting my own horn" type of post?  I promise I'll be less obnoxious from here on out and only brag about my son.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Working motherhood

So what's new with me?

Well... I quit my job. Sorta. I declined my contract for next year officially today. I am now a stay at home mom! On a teacher's salary...a leap of faith for us but one we know is right. I finally worked up the courage to tell all of my students so it's finally official in my heart, too. I could write a post on how heavy my heart is to leave the opportunity to hang out with 150 kids on a daily basis (because it's heavy) or how much I hate to give up my fantastic job. But the post on my students would be a MILLION times longer. They are the only good thing about teaching. And if one more person who is not a teacher has a conversation with me about how jealous they are of my summer, I may punch them in the face. Yes it's awesome, but until you teach, you will never realize how you can't live without it and continue to come back every year.

But none of that is what I want to post about. I want to talk about being a working mom. And not being a working mom. In the past year, I have learned so much about mothering and about working moms. The biggest thing I have discovered is

 You feel guilty if you do AND guilty if you don't.

Society has us trained to look over our shoulders at every turn as we parent.  Is my kid eating like hers? No. Is my kid crawling like hers? No. Look how much better our child behaves than theirs. Riiight. Should I breastfeed? Should I use a pacifier? Should I put him in a crib? Should I? What if? Ugh.  Nothing you ever do is right to everyone.  And every mother can admit they have fallen victim to the judgment bug as you watch other mothers.  We're part of the problem.

And the absolute BIGGEST guilt trip you can be placed on is whether or not to work.  And no matter what your decision, you feel guilty.  When you choose to work, it's the constant desire to be with your child mixed with the looks from mom's who stay at home and teach their kid to read at age 2 and long division at 3.  And their kid always: sleeps through the night, eats their veggies, listens the first time, shares, and never writes on the walls in crayons.  When you choose to stay at home, you watch the other mothers who work and think "Am I pulling my weight with our family finances?  Does anyone even notice my contribution?  What good is my degree when I use it to wipe dirty faces and pick up legos? How far behind will I be when I chose to go back to work?" 

But do you know the OTHER biggest thing I learned this year?

It's okay.

The Lord calls us to different paths.  And. that. is. okay.

Some of us are called to serve our families within our home on a daily basis.  Some of us are called to work a bit outside the home.  Some of us are called to wake up every morning and leave our home to fulfill another calling.  And you know what?  It's okay for any of those mothers to LOVE their calling
 but sometimes long for what they are missing.  Feeding their child lunch or having lunch meetings.  Sweatpants or pantsuits.  I have learned that God can call you to what you are supposed to do and you should trust that calling.

I know, without a minute hesitation, that I was called to work this year.  And I hated it and loved it every day.  We prayed over that decision for months and months and the Lord revealed to us what I was supposed to do in many ways.  And now, He has revealed a new path for me to take.

Whatever your decision, trust the Lord has you in that for a reason and take full pleasure in that role.  Only a mother knows that your heart can be torn even as you do take full pleasure in your role, whichever it may be. 

And to those of us who are watching that mother and her family make that difficult choice, save your judgment and support.  Encourage her decision to work by telling her she can do it, it's not that difficult, and I will be here to help you whenever you need.  Encourage her decision to stay home by telling her congratulations and the Lord will provide.

Now back to grading papers.  Only 6 more days.  Then I am d.o.n.e.  But in 6 days I won't be around kid like these anymore.  Who am I kidding?  I'm sure I'll be back to write the post about how much I'll miss them.  I even had a student make a video for me, interviewing tons of my old and current students about how much they'll miss me.  I am going to miss the heck out of them.