Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor…

…well you know the thing they say about the USPS. The same could be said of the boys and soccer.

Their tournament this weekend in Alexandria (a smallish town 3 hours from NOLA) was cancelled at the last minute, but me being the cheapo that I am, booked our hotel room via hotels.com instead of the team travel agency. And of course it was non refundable. So we decided to make a road trip of it!

And so I find myself sitting in the car while the boys play in the rain (only a mist right now, but it had better get worse later since they ended the season early for this, breaking little hearts all over the state) at a park that Ren found for us. THANKS RENNY!

The exciting part of the trip for me comes tomorrow when we head an hour north to Natchitoches, the small town where I went to boarding school for nerds (LSMSA) for two years. I am hoping it will spark an interest in the boys, like when my sixth grade science teacher told me about it. (Thanks Mrs. Schucker!)

We’ll be getting a tour of the school on Monday morning but tomorrow we’ll wander around town and I’ll tell them about all some of the hijinks we got up to. And we’ll eat meat pies and get drive through daiquiris, just like the old days. Well, maybe Sonic slushes for the boys.

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Sewing clothes for myself again!

I feel like it’s been forever since I made something for myself (not counting the pink satin shorts I made for Mardi Gras, even though they are now in use as the most comfy pajama shorts ever) but I finally finished my first Ellis Skirt by Cashmerette.

The day the pattern came out, I ordered a kit complete with this beautiful dark blue stretch denim and the rivets and topstitching thread and all that good stuff. But there was no way I was going to cut right into it without practicing on a less precious fabric first. So I found some inexpensive gray stretch denim at Joann’s, and set to work.

Well. I mean, it’s an intermediate-level pattern, so it wasn’t easy. But it was fun. I set up two sewing machines (thank goodness I got another one!) as suggested – one with regular thread, and one with topstitching thread. That way, you’re not constantly changing out the thread.

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The pattern comes with two size variations, one for apple shapes, and one for pear shapes. I always assumed I was a pear, but after scrutinizing the measurements, I decided to go with the apple. (In all honestly, I’m more like a slice of bread. Kind of square.) And you can choose between two styles – one is a traditional jeans look with rivets and a jeans button and all that, but is knee-length with a slit up the front. The other has different details on top – it uses a slide fastener, and there’s some topstitching on the pocket area, but it’s short.

I wanted the jeans-style of the first style with the length of the second, so that’s what I made.

I could wait to blog about this after I finish the second skirt, but I learned a lot while making this, and I want to write it all down so I remember.

  1. The zipper. Oops. This is a big one. I somehow misread the instructions and it’s somehow shifted to the side a bit. It’s actually fine, it works, and when the skirt is all closed up, you can’t really tell. I don’t think. Maybe it looks off-center, but it’s not immediately obvious. I’ve since watched tutorials on installing the zipper, so I’m fairly confident I’ll get it right next time.
  2. Topstitching. There are a few things here I need to think about for the next time. First, I need to really figure out what the tension settings should be for each area of the skirt. In some parts, especially around the waistband, you’re sewing down several layers of denim and lining, and the stitches don’t look quite right. But it would probably need to be adjusted for other areas where you’re only sewing through one or two layers (pockets, hem, etc.) And for this skirt, I didn’t think too much about the pattern I stitched onto the pockets, but this is an area where you can really have fun! So I want to think harder about what I put on the pockets. Maybe a different thread color? Some kind of pattern? We’ll see.
  3. The dang button. I bought a pack of five or six jeans buttons from Joann’s and I destroyed three of them trying to hammer them in. What’s up with that? Why can’t they just screw in? Hmmph. I ended up having to repair the hole and just sew on a regular button. I hope rivets aren’t as difficult.

I guess those are the big things – doing a neater job with topstitching will go a long way towards making the next skirt a bit more polished. But if anyone has any tips for the button, please let me know.

Now for the awkward pics! I swear I wasn’t trying to make any particular face in any of these.

Detail shots:

PS This is random, but just a demonstration of what a small world this is…the model wearing the longer skirt is Meg, who is a prolific and awesome sewist I have been following ever since I started sewing. The crazy thing is, she is also good friends with George’s cousin! We were even at the same wedding a couple of years ago (before I started sewing, sadly.) Isn’t that random? So awesome.

Well that was a weekend

Lots of things going on.

Let’s see, Saturday started out early with an hour plus drive in dense fog to Houma, a small town with a vicious soccer team. The boys played well, but alas, their team lost. It was only their third loss (the first was a friendly, so that doesn’t really count, right? and the second was in a tournament that they ultimately won so I don’t count that either, heh.) Anyway, whatever. Onward!

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Once we got home, I got to rest for about half an hour before I had to head across town to the girls’ tournament to be a field marshall, to fulfil my volunteer requirement since we get financial aid. And I got a sunburn. Ugh.

Sunday was better. We went to the World War II museum for the first time (well, it was George’s and my first time. The boys had been with camp a few years ago.) I probably should be somewhat ashamed to admit how much I learned – it helped me understand a lot about the different parts of the war and how it all happened in various parts of the world.

And I got to launch some torpedos, which is always fun.

We didn’t get to see it all, but hopefully we can go back before too long. We got a free pass from the library, which was invaluable – the tickets for everything we saw would have cost us nearly $200 if we’d had to pay. Yikes.

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After that, Terry and I took the kids to get crawfish. Yum! We somehow missed eating crawfish last year completely, which is a travesty, and I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again. We took them to a restaurant that was lined with taxidermied animals. And not just any animals. There was a lion. And a monkey. It was creepy and weird and I won’t be going back there, that’s for sure. Eeek. But the crawfish was good, at least.

Yesterday was also the 15th anniversary of owning our house, which is crazy! 15 years! I know I complain about it being too small (I mean, to be fair, we weren’t expecting to stuff it with boys when we bought it.) but I hope we stay in it long enough for the boys to bring their kids one day. 😀

It’s times like this I’m glad I’ve been blogging forever. Here’s my post about our super fun closing!

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Ziggy, meanwhile, is obsessed with this squeaky ball that lights up that we caught at Mardi Gras. He very carefully carries it around in his mouth, and GOD FORBID it squeaks. And don’t try to take it from him. If you even go near it when he doesn’t have it, he’ll grab it so you can’t get it. It definitely seems like a love/hate relationship. It’s the cutest thing.

 

Back to reality

I’ve been at work for a week now, and I’m starting to remember how to do it. Ha! Things changed a lot while I was gone, and also I’m very forgetful so yeah. It took me the whole first week just to get reacclimated. Thankfully I have very kind teammates who have already taken their sabbaticals so they know what it’s like.

And then, of course, soccer has filled in all the gaps. The boys had their first tournament of the spring season this weekend, and it was in Gulfport, Mississippi. ROAD TRIP! I mean, tiny road trip. It’s only a little over an hour away. Closer than Baton Rouge, even. But it sure was nice to take in the new car! Even though she got muddy on the outside and dirty on the inside. Sniff, sniff. (Don’t worry, she’s all clean now.)

They had a game late Saturday morning, so we left bright and early. It was chilly. I took pictures. They won the first game, hurrah!

The second game should have been an easy win – the team they played had lost their previous game something like 8-1. But alas, they must have been tired and sluggish from lunch because it was a 1-1 tie.

We went to the hotel after that and rested for a bit, then met up with their friend Joseph and his family for dinner at a restaurant on the water. After that, even though I was exhausted (and surely so were they) I let them run around a park nearby for a little while.

Then we slept and woke up early, ate breakfast, met up with Joseph and his mom and sister at a school playground and they kicked a ball around for a little while, then headed to game #3. If they won this game, they’d win the tournament.

And they did! It was a nail-biter, but our goalie kicked the ball all the way across the field and scored a goal in the final minutes of the game. That was exciting!

I got a bit artsy with the pics from this game.

On the way home, we listened to a podcast about soccer, and I think I finally understand offsides now. Though I probably still won’t be able to identify it during a game. We’ll see.

This week should be fairly quiet. A couple of soccer practices, followed by a game this weekend and finally a visit to the World War II museum (scored a pass from the library!)

Wrapping up my sabbatical

The last time I wrote about what I was up to was in late January, at the mid-point of my sabbatical. Oops. Today is actually a bonus day off – I have thought for the entire three months that I was going back to work today, but I’m actually going back tomorrow. My last day off is today. Score! I sure was smart way back when I requested my time off. I was pretty bummed when I realized I was going to be going back to work right after Mardi Gras break, with no down time from the boys being home from school for a week and a half. So it’s nice to have some quiet time today to straighten up the house and get some things done and just to chill.

SO. What have we been up to?

A lot, actually.

Let’s see if I can remember it all.

First, I want to say that I really thought my sabbatical would fly by. I guess to everyone else it has, but to me, it really hasn’t. It felt like three months. It felt like a nice long stretch of time. Mid-December feels like a long time ago. I think maybe it’s because I didn’t try to fill it with too much stuff. I really did relax and laze around a bunch. 😀 Continue reading

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It turned chilly again (probably our last gasp of winter) and I had to get these fast before their toesies froze. The sword was from a parade we went to last week. Miles didn’t turn into a knight or anything.

I have so much to blog about, it’s pathetic. But I go back to work one week from today, so you’ll have to wait until I’m used to sitting in front of a computer again. But I mean, I have to cover:

  • days out with each boys individually
  • the other two snorkeling at the aquarium
  • stuff I did on my sabbatical
  • stuff I didn’t do on my sabbatical
  • Mardi Gras
  • other random things I’ll remember once I get started

Until then, I have some lazing to do!

One year sewiversary!

One year ago I walked into Joann’s, picked out a pattern and some whale fabric and painstakingly sewed a skirt.

Backing up a little…a few days earlier, I posted on Facebook somewhat reluctantly looking for recommendations for an inexpensive sewing machine. I was reluctant because I knew my mom was going to bring up the old machine she had given me years ago. That machine scared me. It was old! It needed oil and stuff. I wanted something shiny and new that would have videos on YouTube and lots on online resources.

But I’m also impatient and cheap so I figured I’d just pull out the machine and give it one more try, and this time with the manual, before ordering something online.

Okay, this story is getting too long and I have a feeling I told it all before. So let me just cut to the chase. On February 18, 2018, I sewed my first item of clothing, and an obsession began. It didn’t turn out all that great. I didn’t know about finishing seams, so after I washed it, they all started fraying. Oops.

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Derp.

I made shirts, more skirts, pajama pants for the boys. I was pretty fearless. I discovered the world of indie sewing patterns and bought a serger off Facebook Marketplace so my seams stopped unraveling. In May, I participated in Me Made May and wore an item of clothing I sewed every day for the whole month. And I kind of never stopped. Even now I try to wear something every day that I sewed. Sometimes I forget, but it’s not a big deal. My wardrobe is probably 80% handmade by now, so it’s almost inevitable.

Back to that old sewing machine – I love it. I now realize that any sewing machine I could have afforded would have been a cheap plastic wobbly thing compared to this tank. Sure, it has its issues – I have to special order bobbins, and it doesn’t do fancy things like automatic buttonholes and it gets cranky when the bobbin thread runs low, but I’ve learned to deal with its quirks.

So what are my favorite things I’ve sewn so far?

 

But those are just the things I’ve made for myself. I’ve also enjoyed sewing for other people.

And I’ve had fun sewing bags and scarves and scrunchies and pillowcases too. Why not?

So what’s next? I have bins and bins of fabric and probably a dozen patterns that are waiting to be used. I’m most excited about the Cashmerette Ellis denim miniskirt – I even have rivets! And a bathing suit pattern that I’ve been sitting on, but definitely want to make it for this summer. And a pretty border pattern fabric that’s probably destined for a skirt, but I kind of want to make something more unexpected with it, but I’m just not sure yet. And that pink art deco sequin fabric that I bought almost a year ago but I’m terrified to mess up, oh and there’s the silk brocade that I bought in Singapore…and on and on.

So yeah, I think I have plenty to keep me busy for another year of sewing at least!

All in all, I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come in a year. I’m not scared of knits or zippers. I have come to embrace my shape instead of being ashamed of it. Instead of dreading trying to find a dress or a skirt, I can just make one! It’s incredibly freeing. I was in Real Simple! I helped bring attention to an amazing online community! It’s been so great, and I can’t wait to see how much I can do in the upcoming year. (Let’s see if I can tackle that bathing suit…)

11 years, 2 months

Because the fourth fell on a Monday, the boys (especially one in particular) were especially not excited about taking the monthly picture. So they said, “can’t we just keep it real for once and not smile?” In the end I got one with fake smiles and one “real” one. In the afternoon, in better moods, they said we should use the smiley one. So here you go. But of course I will post the “real” one too.

I know! They look so enthused, don’t they? Maybe overly enthused in Linus’s case.

That’s more how Oliver really felt. I can’t really blame him, really. Who wants to force a smile when it’s gray outside and you have to go to school?

Next month it’s on Lundi Gras so they’ll be out of school, so the smiles should be bigger and real!

Mid-sabbatical update

(Is is the middle of my sabbatical? The exact middle? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. If it’s more than halfway done, I’ll be sad. Okay, I don’t think it is. But it’s close. That’s okay! As long as it’s not actually halfway over. It’s not. Whew.)

I want to open with this really exciting work thing – I know, I’m not even working! But I haven’t been able to talk about it until this month. Ages ago, I mentioned to our marketing team that sewists use WordPress.com for blogging about sewing a lot. And they paid attention, particularly my friend Michelle, who is on the editorial team and is one of the most amazing and funny and coolest people I know. We chatted a bunch about it at a lunch at the GM, and then she brought it up at one of their meetings. And things led to things and I told her about The Sewcialists website, and then they created this really amazing list called the Anything is Possible list, and look, I don’t want to take too much credit, but I mean, I want to take a little credit, but who ended up on the list but The Sewcialists! And check out this video, which gets me choked up every.single.time!

 

On the other hand, yesterday was a horrible, terrible, not good, very bad day. The van has been not wanting to start sometimes for a while, but it always would start after a little while with some prodding. (I feel bad now that I never named it.) Yesterday, it just wouldn’t. After some coaxing and sweet talking and banging on some parts, and trying to jumpstart it, I finally gave in and had it towed to the mechanic. Fingers crossed it’s not too expensive. I’d just like one more year out of it. At least. George’s car only has one more payment, and it sure would be nice to have no payments for a while, eh?

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When I came home from bringing the boys to the bus stop (where it died, which was not convenient) I found that Ziggy had snuck into my bedroom and was curled up on my bed, which was cute. But the puddle of pee on my bedskirt, where he has peed a few times now, was most decidedly NOT CUTE. Taking the bedskirt off a king bed to wash is not fun, but I’m looking forward to putting it back on even less. Argh.

One positive part of the day was taking the ferry across the river to the aquarium to see Linus giving a presentation with a group of his classmates on the Gulf of Mexico. Thank goodness we got in for free again. The aquarium costs THIRTY DOLLARS if you don’t have a membership. Ridiculous.

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Anyway, while I was at the aquarium, the school nurse called. Of course. Because Miles’s asthma was flaring up. Of course. Fortunately, she was able to get it under control. But I stressed hard about that for the next several hours.

But that’s enough about yesterday. Today I’m stuck at home so I’m going to tackle the reorganization of the upstairs bathroom. Time to throw out the makeup from my wedding, finally. Ha ha! I kid! Um yeah! For sure, totally kidding!

What else has happened? Well, the Saints game. I’m not even going to talk about that. I made some scarves with pockets and sold them to neighborhood moms and, well, I guess I won’t be selling any more until next fall. But they are super cute. I’m going to try some Mardi Gras prints next. The pockets are super handy!

Also.

Linus had a disgusting bump on his arm and we had to get it…dealt with. (Any other words I could use in conjunction with that are too gross.)

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Soccer started back up for the spring.

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gotta tackle the dining room next. eek

We went to visit Granny and Grandpa, and the boys are very very very close to being as tall as them.img_1803

My kitchen is still clean from Kiki’s visit! And yes, I have cooked!!! (and yes, that is clean!)

I ordered new glasses.

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Okay, no more procrastinating via blog post. Gotta go tackle the bathroom!

Swimming with the fishes (part 1)

Every year at the boys’ school, they spend time outside of the school building doing cool stuff and learning and whatnot. For instance, a month at the zoo in first and third grades,  a couple of weeks at an art museum in second grade, a few weeks at the French Quarter in fourth grade, and now in fifth grade, four weeks (spread throughout the year) at the aquarium. And in the final week, they get to snorkel in the giant tank! HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!? I mean, when I went to elementary school, we went to like, the state capitol building. And that’s only because we lived in the state capital. Snooze.

(And yes, they go to public school, so you can’t say it’s because we spend a ton of money on tuition.)

The tank is full of piranha and sharks and other dangerous and deadly creatures, which just adds to the excitement. Naw, just kidding. But it’s got a big coral reef and a tunnel you can walk through, which gave us a good view of the snorkelers from below, and plenty of smiling stingrays (but not the kind that kill you, presumably. And if they do, don’t tell me until the other two have their snorkeling trips later this year.)

Before the kids got in – just what the lower part of the tank looks like. LOOK IT’S MISTER RAY, THE TEACHER!
I love this picture of Linus floating.

Okay, now just a bunch more.

Some video – sadly, I didn’t get anything of Linus and his pal flossing underwater. SORRY.

And yes, you will get two see two more identical posts in the coming months. Complete with unidentifiable children that I will assure you are mine, even though I’m not 100% sure because in wetsuits and masks, all kids basically look the same.