Oct 16, 2014

Changing Leaves...

Beyond "back to school" and the switch from hot muggy summer to crisp, cool autumn, fall has historically been a time of change for Paul and I.  We were married in October, bought our first house together the following October, and had LP in November the year after that.   This year we're adding another big autumnal change to our family archives- a move across the country to Las Vegas!

Over the past few years Paul's work situation has become more and more stressful and we were feeling as though we had less and less good quality family time as he went to work before the children were up in the morning, came home at dinner time, and was exhausted on the weekends.   His parents used to live nearby but retired out to Las Vegas almost two years ago, leaving us with no family closer than a six hour drive.   Although we've loved living in Massachusetts, we decided to start looking to relocate to be closer to either my parents in Pennsylvania or Paul's parents in Nevada as we really wanted our children to grow up close to family.

After months and months of looking for jobs, applying for jobs, interviewing for positions that weren't quite right or for positions that were fantastic but not in the right location, Paul was offered a position working for the county out in Las Vegas.  We mulled it over for a while, and decided that although we'll be a lot farther from my family in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington, DC, we'll be in the same town as Paul's parents, one of his brothers and his daughter, and an aunt.  And we'll be 4-5 hours driving from one of my brothers and Paul's other brother who are in California.   Add in a much lower cost of living, better year-round weather (yes, it's brutally hot there in the summer- but dry heat is more bearable than humid and it's warm enough most of the winter to hit the playground, even in January and February), and we decided to go for it.   We've visited Las Vegas a dozen times or so and know that it's not just strippers and casinos- in fact, the suburbs of Las Vegas are just like any other suburbs- full of schools, libraries, shopping centers, parks, and regular, every day people.

This decision wasn't made with ease- we're both very nervous about such a big change for all of us.   Las Vegas is pretty much the polar opposite of Massachusetts.  We know we'll miss the change of seasons (although I doubt very much that we'll miss snowblowing at 5 a.m so that Paul can get to work), our friends, and the home we've worked so hard to create here.    Paul has lived in Massachusetts for thirty years and I've been here for fourteen so it's a huge portion of our lives.   And I'm sad about being so much farther from my parents.  Even though it's a six hour drive to see them, it's a drive, not a plane trip, so we can be a bit more flexible about visits and things.

But we're confident that after an initial adjustment period we'll be happy with the change.  And we know that if, in a few years, we decide that Las Vegas isn't right for us, the children will still be young enough that it won't be too hard to relocate and change schools again.

We're excited to be near family, we're excited to be moving into a neighborhood where there are block parties and trick-or-treat, where we can walk to school and to several large parks, where the neighbors up and down the street have children the same age as ours.   We're excited to be able to explore the western part of the country more- trips to California, the Grand Canyon, and other amazing national parks.  We're excited to more than double the size of our house- we'll have plenty of room for guests now- no one will be relegated to a pull-out sofa in our spidery basement any more.  And we're excited for Paul to be in a job were he gets home by 4 pm and isn't so stressed out and exhausted so that we can spend more time enjoying our children and our family.

And so, for now, as the moving truck arrived today and we're loading it tomorrow before the kids and I had to Pennsylvania for a visit with Nana and Pappy while Paul and the dog drive with a buddy across the country, I sign off with:

"Viva, Las Vegas!"

Sep 2, 2014

Things to Remember: Eliza Rose, Age Two!

It seems like just yesterday that we were counting down the days until the arrival of "Baby Sister." The scheduled c-section was on the calendar more than a month ahead of time unless she decided to make an early appearance, giving us the chance to do a final countdown as our family of three became a family of four. We were anxious and nervous, thrilled that Paul would finally be a big brother and so excited to have a baby girl in the house. While we thought we knew what to expect since we weren't first time parents, we really had no clue how much this little one would change our lives.  

Right from the start Paul and Eliza have had an indescribable bond that makes us so happy to see. They love each other completely and totally, even when tussling over a favorite toy.  LP is always watching out for Eliza- telling her he's the big brother and will take care of her forever. He even told me that one day he's going to marry her... When I told him he couldn't marry his sister he said, "well, then I'll marry someone else and have a baby girl and name her Eliza." True love at it's best!

Eliza was an easy baby, much like Paul was. She ate well, slept well, and was never terribly fussy.   

She learned to sit,

to crawl,

and to walk, all on the same timeline as her brother...

As Eliza has gotten older though, her personality has grown faster than the rest of her. She's still a teeny tiny little thing with big drama, huge smiles, and even larger tantrums.  

At two, Eliza is happiest when she's playing with Paul. Their favorite game is to chase each other around the house, yelling "I got you!  I got you!" She's the only one who can get away with calling LP "Paulie," and he knows how to get her to do things that we can't get her to do (like get dressed in certain "unapproved by Eliza" outfits).

If Paul isn't at her side, her lovies are. We've graduated from one lovie to two identical ones, both equally bedraggled and beloved. They are chewed on at times but usually held in one fist while the thumb of the other hand is in her mouth.

Eliza adores playing outside. "Run!  Run!" she yells as the kids streak back and forth across the yard.  She loves the swing and the slide and has bravely conquered the "big slide" at the playground.

She's a spitfire, full of sugar and spice. If you ask her if she's sweet or spicy, she now responds with, "EXTRA spicy!!" She's extremely stubborn and can easily throw a tantrum for twenty minutes at a time over the littlest of things. Unlike her brother who was quick to snap out of a bad mood or tantrum, Eliza prefers to carry on until her nose is running, her eyes are red, and she's completely exhausted herself with all the yelling and screaming. While Paul would sit nicely in timeout on the steps and pop up after a minute with a smile and an apology, Eliza throws herself on the floor and screams, never giving in.

Like her brother, Eliza is a chatterbox. Unlike Paul though, she's really only a chatterbox at home. Out in public she's pretty quiet, not talking to people, even friends she's known her whole life. When it's just us though she's pretty much non-stop. She talks to herself, to us, and to the dog. Her current favorite phrase is "What's that Mom?" as she points to something. "Where'd it go?" and "I want more juice Mom!" are other favorites. On special occasions where she gets to have chocolate milk she insists on calling it "chicken milk."

Eliza loves Minnie Mouse, Paw Patrol, and Cookie Monster. She likes to play Lego with Paul (they're all called Lego Ninjago according to her) and with her play kitchen. She loves to help with chores and has her own little broom and dustpan for sweeping. When putting laundry in the washer she labels each piece of clothing: Paul's Sock! Daddy's pants!

The master of the stinkeye and the dirty look- Eliza knows what she wants and how to get it (as long as Daddy is around- he's more of a sucker than Mommy is). She's quick tempered but also as sweet as can be, full of hugs and kisses.  At bedtime she kisses Daddy, Paul, Gabby, all her stuffed animals, some of her books, and Mommy goodnight.

Two years ago we had no idea what this little one had up her teeny tiny sleeves. She's spiced up our easygoing household big time- and we love her more and more every day...

Happy second birthday to our beautiful girl!

Jul 8, 2014

Things to Remember: Paul Thomas, 5.5

I haven’t blogged in more than a month which is just terrible.  Our June ended up being a little crazier than expected.   Right after LP finished school we headed to my parents’ house in Pennsylvania for a week-long trip.  LP was going to attend Vacation Bible School for a week and I was headed to NYC with some friends for the weekend.   Our trip was extended due to a death in the family and we didn't get back home until July 3.   We’re leaving again this Friday for a vacation (Disney!) and so have been trying to recover from travelling and prepare for the next round!

Seems like lately I've mostly been posting sewing photos on this blog, and I definitely have more to post but want to do a little LP update as I missed doing his 5.5 update (and I owe one for Eliza’s 22 month!).
Paul finished up his year of pre-K and will be an official kindergartner in the fall!

Here's LP on his very last day of school!

Of course, there was a "graduation" ceremony and a family picnic.  The teacher shared a video she'd taken of all of the kids talking about their favorite part of school.  LP's was "snack time."   That drew a lot of snickers from the crowd of parents!

Here he is with his teacher, Miss P.   LP LOVED school- he's such a social kid and he really enjoyed being with the other students and all of the activity.   We had a lot of great reports from his teacher and he's already looking forward to kindergarten.

LP also did T-Ball for the first time this spring.   Since his father and all 4 of his uncles played ball we wanted him to try it.  I wouldn't say he's a natural but there is some natural ability in there if he'd stop chattering to all the players and coaches and focus on the ball!

This spring was the busiest we've ever been as far as activities for Paul- we usually keep things quiet with a little yoga class at the library.  But we'd heard that karate can be really good for helping kids develop strength and signed him up.   Paul's large motor and fine motor skills are a little lagging behind other kids his age and we're seeing a difference already.  He's learned to jump with both feet at once and his hands are now strong enough that he can open and close the car door himself and put on his seatbelt which is huge (and was rewarded with an ice cream cone lunch!).   He LOVES karate and will start classes back up in the fall.  

As usual, LP is always there to hug his sister- and his cousin!  He just can't control himself and hugs, hugs, hugs!

Some funny LP quotes:

LP went to Vacation Bible School while we were visiting my parents.  The first two nights he asked to be put to bed early (VERY rare for a kid who is almost always still awake 2 hours after bedtime!).  After telling us about all of the activities at VBS he said, "I don't know why they call it a vacation!"  

While signing a song at VBS about Noah and the flood he wanted to know why the animals went into the Ark by "twosies" and came out by "threesies."   Pastor wasn't quite expecting to have to get into that!

After a story about Adam and Eve and the serpent Paul raised his hand and told everyone that "the serpent is really the Devil and he's QUITE villainous!"   

At our local grocery store they have photos of all of the store managers hanging on the wall by the cash registers.  LP likes to check them out and ask their names.   A few weeks ago I was paying for our groceries when he turned to the cashier and said, "So, I see you have some new managers!  How's that working out for you so far?"   She stared at him for a moment before cracking up.

You just never know what he might say next!

Jun 6, 2014

E+M Patterns, Boy’s No. 7 Shirt Review and GIVEAWAY!

ETA- Congrats to comment # 6, Laura who wins her choice of pattern from E+M Patterns!  I'll be in touch!

Recently I was chosen to test out a boy’s shirt pattern by a new to me designer, E+M Patterns.  Well folks, I have to say that this pattern is fantastic! 
The Boy’s No. 7 Shirt is designed for woven fabrics.  It has fabulous details like a boat neck style neckline, button closures at the shoulder seams, side seam hip vents at the hem, a simple pocket to hold treasures and the option of full-length sleeves or 3/4-length sleeves.  I was asked to test the shirt in a size 6 with long sleeves for LP which ended up being a perfect fit for my tall and skinny guy.
For fabric I finally broke into my hoarded stash of Sarah Jane Designs fabrics and pulled out a fat quarter of the “A Pirates Life” from her Out to Sea line.  Sarah Jane is my all time favorite children’s illustrator and I adore all of her fabrics… This seemed like the perfect shirt to really showcase this adorable print.  I had just enough to squeeze out the front bodice.
I love to upcycle clothing so I dug into my bin of castoffs and used an old button-down shirt that was Paul’s.   I had to get a little creative (my favorite part!) when cutting out my pieces and ended up using the front of the button-down, buttons and all, for the back bodice of the No. 7 shirt.  I used the extra buttons for the shoulder closures so that all the buttons would match.
The shirt went together very quickly- I’d say it took me about an hour and a half start to finish (not that I got to sit down for an hour and a half straight!), including cutting out the pattern, cutting the fabric, and doing the buttonholes.  I mostly used my serger for the shirt but Alison of E+M Patterns also includes directions for using your regular machine- and all of the seams are finished so there’s nothing rubbing up against sensitive skin.
I also really love when I learn a new technique from a pattern.  I’d never used seam binding to finish off the collar of a shirt before.   While reading through the instructions I couldn’t quite see how it would work out but I took it step by step and all of a sudden I had a perfect collar!  An “aha!” moment!
It turned out so cute that I couldn’t wait to get it on LP.  
LP says it’s “very cool” and comfortable too.  It’s loose fitting enough that he can run and play in it but structured enough to look nice and tailored.   I think it will be adorable with khaki shorts and sandals this summer….
I love this pattern so much that I decided to make a girl version for Eliza.   I haven’t been able to get photos of her wearing it yet as it’s been so rainy but here are a few photos.   For the “girl” version I added some width to the bottom part of the shirt and stitched in some pintucks.  I used the same pirate fabric on the front of the bodice and chose a blue calico with tiny white flowers for the rest- my Aunt Sue had passed this fabric along to me. I love how the shirts coordinate but aren’t totally matchy-matchy.   Hopefully soon I’ll get some photos of both kids at the same time in their cool new No. 7 shirts.
I am participating in a blog tour showing off the latest release from E+M Patterns!  The schedule is posted below. At each stop on the tour, you have a chance to check out the new pattern, funky variations and hacks, and reviews. Each blogger will also be giving away a pattern as well. So check out the itinerary below:
Each stop on the tour includes an opportunity for you to win a copy of an E+M Pattern!  So come tour with us as we check out this cool little shirt!

And if you just can't wait for the giveaways to end for you to win, you can purchase them.  The E+M Boy's Shirt No. 7 can be purchased in any of Allison's online pattern stores: E+M Patterns official website, Craftsy, and Etsy.

If you’ve read through this far you’re in luck- E+M Patterns is giving away a pattern of your choice!  Just leave a comment between now and midnight EST Sunday night about what you like most about this pattern.  I’ll use a random number picker to choose one of you on Monday to win! 
Be sure to visit E+M Patterns at one of the following links:
Also be sure to like the E+M Patterns Facebook page!
Good luck!


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