Friday, October 24, 2014

Dyed Bottle Brush Trees {DIYish}

I stumbled upon this little video last's lovely. 

And I've been waiting for the holidays to roll around ever since so I could make these myself.  For the most part I've followed her tutorial exactly.  I use the same little natural colored trees that she recommends.  I found some at Joannes, some on a scrap book website and bonus--I just discovered that at Jo-Ann's online they are on sale for 1/2 half; five trees for $4.79. 

I use a different brand of dye than she does. And really, the only reason for this was that when I was at Jo-Ann's I discovered fiber dye already in little spray bottles (she used dye in dropper bottles and then had to mix the colors herself in her own spray bottles). I understand that buying the dropper bottles of dye and mixing the colors yourself might save you money in the long run because you could make various shades of one color by adding more or less drops of dye to your mix but I figured out the cost of the dropper bottles of dye I'd need to buy plus all the different little spray bottles and in the end it really wasn't much more to just buy ready-to-spray dye. 

I used this brand (also on sale right now--and you can probably spray two trees per bottle with this brand), and this brand (on sale as well right now and hands down my favorite!). The second brand of dye has more color intensity, better quality pumps on the spray bottle so you don't get dye all over your hands, and you get more dye for the dollar.

Some tips for you if you're going to do this, and you totally should:

1.  Wear rubber gloves. I don't know how she doesn't in the video and not have dye all over.
2.  Bend your little trees around before you spray them and make sure they'll stand up.  You'll want them to stand up to dry once you dye them and messing around with getting them to stand up once you've sprayed them gets messy.
3. Even though you'll tape the bases of the trees (use washi tape) to keep them clean you'll still get dye on them--it will just seep through.  It's really no big deal and not that noticeable once you have them up and all together.
4.  Mix various shades of dye to get more colors.

Hope you have fun with this!  I'm thinking these little trees will have a place in my home for years to come!

My collection so far….I'm going to make about twenty more. 
Because I can't stop. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dressember Team {Join me won't you?!}.

I'm not a huge 'tout your cause on Facebook, twitter, and IG person'; save for adoption.  People who know me and interact with me on a daily basis in the 'real world' are aware of what I hold close to my heart and what makes me tick…..some of those people even being friends I've met on social media.  I believe that most causes are best discussed with those you actually have a relationship with to some degree; that you can have a rational and respectful conversation with.  I rarely see that happen on social media.  So I choose to refrain from a lot of involvement in those avenues online.

However, this one…..Dressember….is worth breaking my "rule" for.  Dressember issues a challenge to women to wear a dress every day in December as a way to advocate for women all over the world whose basic freedoms are taken away because of their gender and may be victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression.
From their site…..


Dressember is a collaborative movement leveraging fashion and creativity to restore dignity to all women. 

Dressember uses fashion to advocate for women who've been exploited for their femininity. As women take on the creative challenge of wearing a dress for the 31 days of December, they are advocating for the inherent dignity of all women. 

Dressember exists to inspire and empower a global community of like-minded women who are locking arms to face one of the greatest injustices of our time.

The heart of Dressember is freedom-- that every woman has the right to live a vibrant and autonomous life.

What began in 2009 as a quirky style challenge with a clever name spread like wildfire. Dressember is a month of wearing dresses, but it is so much more. At its core, Dressember is an embracing of the inherent freedom and femininity of all women.

In 2013, Dressember took on new meaning: opposing the worldwide trafficking and exploitation of women. In its first year as a fundraising campaign, Dressember aligned with International Justice Missiona human rights organization that works to rescue victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression. Those who participate in Dressember are supporting the abolition of modern day slavery. In its first year of fundraising, Dressember had 1,233 registered participants in 32 countries across 6 continents who collectively raised over $165,000. 100% of the funds raised in 2013 went directly to International Justice Mission.

In 2014, the thousands of woman that participate in Dressember will again be advocates for the work of International Justice Mission.

So here's the deal…….

Just simply wearing a dress everyday in December, while a nice gesture, doesn't get the job done.  Raising money as a result that will be used to fund rescue missions, facilitate education and job skill training for survivors, training for local police forces all over the world, and everything else that the International Justice Mission does to provide justice for the poor around the world is what makes Dressember successful.  

Do most of us (any of us?) have 31, 21, 15, 10? dresses that we can wear?  I'm guessing the answer is no.  The point is not to showcase all of our dresses.  The point is that when you leave the house to go to work, volunteer at school, have dessert with a friend, go Christmas shopping, or buy groceries and you run into people you know or are just meeting and they make a comment about your dress (because you know people do--especially if you don't normally wear them, it seems odd that you're wearing so many--or the same five or six over and over, or there's a blizzard outside) it's that you can mention WHY you're wearing a dress, providing them with the opportunity to donate money to a cause or to just be aware of a cause that they might not have known about.  

Here are the rules: 

 --Commit to wearing a dress every day for the entire month of December  
- Tell your friends what you're doing and why, and invite them to sponsor you

Helpful loopholes:
- You can repeat dresses---clearly. (Get creative!) 
- You can wear pants when you're working out, cleaning and staying in the house, sleeping, or if you have a job that requires you to wear pants.
- You can wear skirts, but only over dresses.
- You can wear pants, but only under dresses.

Dressember's fund-raising goal is $500,000.  

Mine is $500.  And I think that doing it as a team would be a lot easier and bring together way more people.  To join my team you can click here, then click on the teal button that says "Become an Advocate." Follow the steps to create an individual campaign page (it's super easy). Right below the field that allows a customizable URL there is a drop down menu to join an existing team……find my team and select it!  My team is called 'We Dress Up. For all the girls.' And then you're in!  Share it with friends on Facebook, IG, Twitter--if you want to--and let's see how much money we can raise together; pooling all of our resources!  

Or, if joining a team and committing to dresses for December is not something you can do at this time but you'd still like to contribute to the cause you can head to my team page and make a one time tax deductible donation. And a thousand thanks to you if you do! 

So what do you think?  Are you in?  My first thought……it's a little intimidating to put this post out there--to commit to something like wearing a dress every day for December--because now you all know.  But you know what?  I have the freedom to wear a dress, that I choose, from my own closet, in my safe house, in a free place, where I am shown more respect and dignity on a daily basis than many other women around the world will ever experience in their lifetime.  Dressemeber is not for everyone--and that is okay.  

But if it's for you---I'd love to do it with you.  Let me know!  You've got a good month to decide! You can leave a comment below that you've joined my team or shoot me an e-mail (link in the sidebar).  

December always was my favorite month.  At least this year it will be!  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pacifist Parenting.

Yesterday morning didn't start amazing.  Georgia came downstairs having done her hair herself…..again.  And it wasn't pretty.  And I had this internal debate, "Should I fight this battle?  Should I just let her go to school looking like Medusa?  I know how this is going to end if I do and I. Just. Don't. Have.The. Energy." 

But in the end I told her calmly that I needed to help her comb the knots out of her hair and I appreciated that she wanted to do a good job on her hair but most of the time five year old girls need help with their hair and it's okay to need help.  She cried, like I knew she would, but we got through it and I realized that this was not so much about doing her own hair as it was her not wanting to ask for help--because she wanted to be big.  A noble thing.  But the lesson I needed her to learn is that IT'S OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP.  That's a life lesson that everyone needs repeated.  Forever.  And I'd rather have her learn it over hair than something bigger.  

I asked my mom later on in the day if I'd been wrong--if I shouldn't have fought that battle.  She told me, "No.  You did the right thing. Sure, Georgia can tell you she tried really hard--but I can try really hard to be brain surgeon--doesn't mean I can do it or that I'm good at it. Just because we might want to do something doesn't mean we can or should. There's other things that five year olds can well on their own--hair for school isn't one of them."  

I love my mom.  

"And so I just decided…..I'm not going to fight that battle." 
"Good for you….you're a smart mom." 

I can't tell you the number of times I've heard this exchange between moms at the park, moms at school, moms at church, moms at the grocery store, moms talking back and forth over their driveways, probably coming out of my own mouth….moms everywhere. 

It's become my generations new, "Say 'no' as little possible."  

It's sounds pretty myopic (sorry about that--my opinion got in the way) good in theory, right?  The follow up always being, 'Bottom line--I want my children to be kind, hard-working, honest, and productive so I'm not going to squabble with them over un-made beds, messy rooms, eating what's for dinner, or what they want to wear.' 

And I challenge you to find a mom who wouldn't say the end goal for her children wasn't kind, hard-working, honest, and productive in some capacity.  But somewhere along the way a lot of Parenting magazines, educators, therapists, mom bloggers, and friends have lost sight of how we get kids to be kind, hard-working, honest, and productive individuals.  

I think we've forgotten that most lessons kids need to learn come from little battles….little battles that we don't like fighting as moms…..because….uh…..they're so taxing, and to give in is so easy and in the moment doesn't seem like a big deal.  Our day goes on, the tears stop, and peace is restored, and we come to the conclusion that, "Hey.  That's just a battle not worth fighting. I mean…why do I care……really…... if they want to change their clothes seven times today?" 

Here's why I care:
1.  It's not necessary. 
2.  My three, four, five year old doesn't really have the ability to hang up, fold neatly, and place back in the closet or dresser all seven outfits that she's decided to race through in the course of a day and for me to expect her to is an unreasonable expectation for a three, four, or five year old.  
3.  Therefore, a lot of those clean clothes (that I washed and put away) end up in ball on the floor, stepped all over, and most likely shoved in the dirty clothes basket in my five year olds effort to clean up.  
4.  When I let her tear through her dresser and closet and change her clothes over and over without being able to properly clean everything up I'm teaching her that the time I've taken to do her laundry (even though I'm more than thrilled and obligated to do it) and put it away doesn't matter.  It's disposable.  She doesn't have to respect and be thankful for the time that someone has spent on her….and that it's actually okay to make more work for them.  That lesson will translate and compound….out of our home……in how she reacts to the time teachers have spent on her, friends, co-workers, and on and on.  

Learning how to be a kind and considerate person… starts with really small battles that are exhausting and seem trivial.  But I would rather have her learn how to respect someones time and energy over something small like changing her clothes too many times than something huge that has a lasting impact on someone and that could cost her an important relationship.  

Am I saying that we should fight every battle our kids present to us?  Of course not.  We'd all go crazy. But I am saying we should fight some.  Even some that seem trivial because it's hard to see the ultimate life lesson in them? Yes. 

All this pacifist parenting--where we pretend that we're only focusing on the big stuff….that really matters….and ignoring the little trivial picky things…..because we don't want to fight those battles?  It's not doing our kids any favors.  

Because big stuff…..that really matters……is often learned best….through little things that make us feel petty, obnoxious, and too controlling.  We need to stop believing that lie.  We're throwing away built in life lessons in those little things if we always decide it's just not worth the battle.  And that is such a waste. 
So G and I made an agreement.  Every Saturday--you can go bananas on your hair.  I won't say one word about it. Saturday is ballet day--you can style those hairs up like Lady Gaga all day long.  But the rest of the days--you're going to need some help for now.  And that's okay.  Getting help is a normal part of being alive.  

This morning?  She walked over to me, handed me her brush, and asked me for some help.  

If all battles could be won so easy right? 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

It's Friday…..I'm in Love {With Camo}

So, camo's like the new leopard print, but leopard print isn't going anywhere either….so bonus….we can play both sides of this game.  I love a lot of this stuff below…..true enough, the trucker hat is my fav. A close second would be the soft jeans by Land's End.  I kid you not.  Sometimes Land's End does it right.  

1….shoulder bag / 2…….skinny cargo pants / 3….trucker hat / 4…..surplus jacket / 5….pony hair belt / 6….New Balance kicks / 7…..pencil skirt / 8…..boyfriend cardi / 9…..skater slip-ons…or here / 10…..soft jeans

Last spring….

I'm wearing the Old Navy coat from above and I had to talk G into believing that camo isn't just for boys and it's totally fancy.  She was mildly convinced.  Coincidentally, her camo coat is her first sacrificial lamb to the lost and found at school.  She swears she'll find it.  I have my doubts. I knew I should have bedazzled that thing for her.

Happy weekending friends!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Pledge of Allegiance & Math vs. Home.

Earlier this week Georgia told me she had this kindergarten thing down.  I mean after all, mastering the Pledge of Allegiance was her barometer for success and she was way beyond that.

Yesterday she told me she'd been wrong.  While she could recite the pledge like no one else, now she had to do math--and kindergarten might be harder than she thought.  I exercised appropriate parental discretion and did not tell her that math would most likely ruin many days to come.  (First time I ever got in trouble at school was for cheating in first grade; on a subtraction test.  It's seared into my psyche.)

But overall--we're doing well with this school thing.  As I suspected the hardest part for Georgia is the realization that she has to go everyday.  Everyday is hard for her--not because she's tired, not because she doesn't like it, not because she isn't making new friends (Paizlee & Ainsley & Kate; I hear about them everyday), and not because school is too hard….but because she LOVES to be at home.  She told me yesterday that she feels confused because she likes school a lot, "It's terrific," but she likes to be home so much too.

I get this girl.

I genuinely liked school.  I chose to keep going to school for my career. I live and breathe school.  I think being in a school is amazing.  AMAZING.

But I love being at home.  Everything about home I love.  And it's always been that way.  We lived in a red house on Bishop street growing up and I can tell you everything about that house even though my parents moved out of it almost twenty years ago.  The way it smelled, the sea green floral wallpaper in the upstairs bathroom, the window seat in my bedroom, where my favorite sweater hung in my closet, the little peach and brown floral stencils around the top of my sisters room, the secret passage-way that connected my mom and dads closet (the best spot during hide and seek games), and the TV cart with the antennaed TV that my parents would roll into our rooms if we were sick.

One of the things I was the most sad about when it came to Georgia going to school is the amount of time she'd be away from me.  The idea that the memories that would become fore-front in her mind might not be about our family and our time together.  But then I started thinking about myself….and I realized that's not really true.  School can be great--and we can love school…..but if home is great too--and we love being there as well………..home will always win out--even when it might feel like the minority of our day.

I can name you countless memories from school when I really think about it.  But, without thinking, when I just recall life in general, it's family vacations, family dinners, TGIF, shopping with my mom, baking cookies with my dad, building elaborate block houses for our little ponies with my sister, and doing crafts on the back patio all summer long that are just there……filling in the biggest spots in my mind…..edging out even the best memories of school for the makeup of my life.

And that's what I'm banking on for Georgia too.  She'll love school--the pledge, art class, Spanish, journal writing, PE (even though she's cried during PE both times so far), and maybe even math…..but I'll never let it beat out being at home.  And I think….if us moms can help our kids love school…..and love being at home…..we're doing okay.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Necessary Losses {The First Day of School}

We had a delayed start to our school year.  Georgia came down with a pretty bad case of pink-eye (she's never had it before…so of course….yesterday made sense for it to visit us) and wasn't able to attend school on her very first day of kindergarten.  She was fairly ambivalent to the whole thing. I, of course, felt like I'd instantly become "that" parent in one fell swoop.  My husband assured me that in the grand scheme of life this was a '0' on the scale of tough stuff.  And in the end, it truly was.

Today, however, was the day. First day of school…..Take 2.

And I cried.  Like I knew I would.  But not until she was climbing the stairs to the bus.  She'd gotten quiet waiting in line with her friends to get on and I hugged her and could feel her little heart beating so hard.  But she smiled, and got on, and had a seat with a few of her other neighborhood friends, and waved to me, and I could just make out her little hair bow through the tinted windows and knew she was okay.

And they drove off.  With my world.
And it's 10:30 now and she's been in school for about two hours and I wonder what she's doing and how it's going and if she's laughing or taking inventory of everyone who isn't following the rules (let's be honest here) or, or, or.  And it's the strangest feeling I've had in five years.

My moms friend said that sending your kids to school (or really anywhere on their own) was one of life's necessary losses.  I like that.  It makes this school transition bearable for me.  Not enjoyable mind you--just bearable right now.  I'm sad that on my days off the house is empty; I don't have her to run errands with me, beg to go to Target, ask to make cupcakes or a made up recipe, brainstorm a craft with, watch a movie with, or just hear her playing upstairs talking to her dolls.  It definitely feels like a loss for me.  Walking back from the bus stop this morning another mom described it as "feeling like you lost an appendage." It's true.  It feels like a loss.  For me.

For her though…..she's gaining independence, growing her confidence, learning how to love education, honing her work ethic, relating to other people, making new friends, cultivating the fine art of give and take with other people, and realizing how capable she is without mom and dad always right there next to her because we've provided her so many tools with which to work.  She's gaining where I might feel like I'm losing.

But it's that necessary loss idea.  Without me feeling sad, and getting used to this years new normal she won't gain some of the incredible things I know come with a fantastic kindergarten environment.  My pastor always says…..we aren't raising kids….we're raising life-giving, productive adults…..and sometimes that hurts.

We'll be good, I'll be okay, and she'll be amazing.
Happy first day of school…..or, er…..second…..wherever this days finds you!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

When the shoe is on the other foot.

Teachers.  I love you guys.  I was one for almost a decade, and I still work in education.  I mean--you're truly the best.  But some of you want to steal my five year old.  And it's making me hate my former self.  

Georgia's headed to kindergarten (all day, every day here in Michigan…..#ridiculous) in about a week and I just can't……..

even put into accurate words how that makes me feel.  I've cried in the middle of the grocery store this summer on a Tuesday morning while she asked me for another My Little Pony realizing that she won't be around to go to the grocery store with me on a weekday until  the first time I let her skip school  a school break.  I've panicked almost every night during August when I've checked on her one last time before I go to bed because I worry that we haven't sucked every last thing we could have out of this summer.  And my husband has had to tell me on more than occasion this summer to "get a grip."  

I will never be that mom who thinks the goobery dad in the Staples commercial gallivanting down the aisles singing "It's the most wonderful time of the year, " as he throws school supplies into his cart is right on.  I just won't.  I'll be the mom who is even more excited about a snow day from here on out--not really because it means I get to stay home from work--but because it means Georgia will be here too.  

My friend sent me an article about kids going to kindergarten a couple weeks ago that talked about how great it was when kids could walk confidently into their classrooms, introduce themselves to their teacher, and have a good time………it meant they were secure, self-assured, strong, and that they felt safe in what mom and dad were asking them to do because mom and dad had proven to them over and over already that they only cared about their child's best interest.  My friend, in her wisdom, knew Georgia would be that kid.  I, of course, spent the next week worrying about whether that would happen….and if it didn't what that said about me as a parent.  I'm truly neurotic.  

Tonight at kindergarten orientation when Georgia's teacher asked all the kids who were in her class to follow her to the classroom my one week old five year old walked right up to her teacher, introduced herself, turned around and gave me a smile and wave and disappeared around the corner.  When we rejoined her in her classroom 1/2 hour later she was great.  Happy to see us, but happy to be right where she was too.  

Sometimes I get a little tired of the 'rejoicing in the streets' memes, videos, and advertisements about back-to-school. Right now--I honestly can't relate and I don't think I need to. I love this girl more than I ever knew it was possible to love another human being.  I'll miss her like crazy, but I'm so proud of the person she's becoming.   

On the way to orientation….she has a dreadful cold and an ear infection.  She can rally like no one I know. 

So here's to our first  year of 'real' school.  
Here's to hoping I don't get a truancy letter in the mail by mid-October.  
Sort of.  
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