What are my WIPs telling me?

Elliot and Clementine are back to school as of yesterday. Woooooohoo. I crave the beginning of school not because I want to see less of my kiddos, but because I love the feeling of turning over a new leaf (I do miss them, but honestly I think the structure of the school schedule is good for all of us after the many many weeks of vacation). The start of the school year is a chance for a new start. Forget New Year’s. A set of resolutions in the dead of winter when you’re still full from Christmas cookies. Who came up with that dumb idea? September is the time for new beginnings, I say!!! Even if I am at the same time sentimental about the end of summer.

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I knew I would have a few days this summer when all three of my children would miraculously end up in camps or daycare at the same time when I would have a chance to work, and my goal for the summer was mainly to work on finishing up a long list of my unfinished projects. My assistant Tashina finished college and moved away at the end of July (waaah!!!), and Karen, the other person who works with me in Ann Arbor was home with her daughter for the summer, so it was a fine chance to work by myself for a bit. Sadly, that list of things to finish seems only to have grown. I think I just completely lack the ability to hunker down and focus on anything anymore. At any rate, I managed to take a few pictures of the WIPs (works in progress) I have lingering on my sewing table that are still taunting me as this school year begins. I was thinking that maybe if I had them visually in one place, I would be motivated to finish them, but…

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What really is the point of trying to cajole myself into finishing things I’m dragging my heels on? I don’t like to waste time or fabric, so that part of me hates to just give up on something, even if it goes to the thrift store so someone else can repurpose it. But from an artistic standpoint I feel like I should intuit some meaning from the things that cause the most serious procrastination. If I’m not passionate about it then should I even be wasting time on it at all? Maybe I should just move on to the things I really truly want to do. I always liked Nancy Pearl’s approach to books: read the first 50 pages and if you’re not hooked, walk away. And that Magic Art of Tidying Up lady has a similar philosophy: rid yourself of the things in your home that don’t make you happy, seriously just throw it all away. That axe-it-all attitude is awfully appealing to me, as a philosophy for life in general as well as around my house (of course I’m only about half way through that book so the question of what happens if it doesn’t make me happy but I need it anyway, like my toothbrush or the toilet plunger? hasn’t been covered yet, hopefully she will address that because that’s my biggest question so far). When you’re a creative person, the non-passion-inducing projects are things like “why did I just lose an entire afternoon rooting around Quickbooks because it won’t freaking sync with my Paypal properly #?@!?!” Unfortunately, it can’t all be fondling fabrics and sewing the beautiful things. I can’t toss stupid dum dum Quickbooks out the window. Much as I might like to. But I could definitely be better about tossing away sewing projects that induce malaise.

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Moving on. I have some fun ideas planned for this new season, but it’s like a suspense novel over here, even I have no idea which ones if any will come to fruition. I’m keenly aware that even with Hugo in daycare two days a week, my life as a mother of three will always be somewhat of a hindrance to professional progress. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not whining, I choose it, and love it, it just is what it is. I’m just saying, it’s still fair for me to feel mildly jealous of the sewing bloggers who prolifically post lined jackets and trendy rayon jumpsuits betwixt fun updates on their latest pair of handmade Ginger Jeans. Meanwhile, I’ll be dutifully plugging away at my humble pile of WIPs. Maybe you can guess what some of them will become? And what do you think, is it better to power through and finish the things you start on principle, or just pursue the projects you love?

Snapshots from Silver Lake

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Back this week after a lovely cottage vacation! We stayed on Silver Lake, Michigan last week with Mr Rae’s side of the family: his mom and dad and sister and brother and their families. Our rental cottage was big enough for all 15 of us, even if it was a bit outdated. Yet there’s something I will always love about the lake cottage rental with the wood paneling and the plaid couches, though it does mean the allergy meds are mandatory. We had a lovely week, even if it was the coldest week of the summer (this happened last summer too??). The kids had a fabulous time swimming and playing and going on the Mac Dune rides (twice); we figured out plenty to do on the cold days as well: we climbed up the Little Sable Point light house, Country Dairy Farm Tour, the Lewis Farm Market petting zoo, and the Oceana County Fair.

Other than the cold weather and a minor fruit fly infestation, it was a good vacation. I tried hard not to work at all. I intentionally did not open my email (resulting in an inbox that had roughly 439 emails when I logged on at the beginning of this week…GAH) and that felt like a real mental break. I put up a few Instagram pics, but that was my only line to the outside world. I read a book, chased Hugo around, sat on the beach while the kids motored around on their mini-jetskis, and had another birthday (38, for those of you who are wondering). It was a good vacation.

Clementine and Elliot are starting 1st and 3rd grade next week. Hugo is looking and acting more like a little boy — rather than a baby — each day. They are growing up so fast. The end of summer always seems to hit me hard. I want to slow time down and have more summer, or maybe just more time. I’d better end this now, before things get too melancholy. Anyone else have a good vacation this summer? I always love to hear your experiences and get new ideas.

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Days for Girls

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Today is my mom’s birthday. In addition to being smart and beautiful, she also happens to sew. Despite my supreme obstinance as a child, she also managed to teach me to sew, so obviously I appreciate what was I’m sure an admirable effort on her part.

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(my mom, sporting an awesome handmade dress, above. we can discuss my dad’s bow tie or why she matches the curtains some other time)

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Lately, my mom has been using her sewing skills to sew for an international non-profit organization called Days for Girls that provides girls with handmade, reusable feminine hygiene kits so they can go to school instead of staying home when they’re having their periods. Without access to feminine supplies, girls in impoverished communities are missing significant portions (the estimate is about 5 lost days per month) of their education each year; the overall goal is to break the cycle of poverty by providing supplies and education to girls in over 75 countries around the world so they can stay in school. If you want to read more about what they do and how they do it, the Days for Girls website is quite informative.

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Mom’s been working toward her goal of making 63 reusable shields by her 63rd birthday (today!) to send along with her church group to El Salvador. As you can see, at the time of these photos she was making good progress. These shields will get snaps so they’ll stay put and then go in a kit along with a bunch of other stuff including panties and reusable pads that fit inside the shields. Pretty nifty right?

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I’m super proud of my mom for getting involved in such an awesome cause. Days for Girls can always use more volunteers, fabric, or funds, so if you’re interested getting involved, either by sewing for or donating fabric, you can get in touch with your local chapter. There’s quite an impressive number of volunteer chapters around the world (my mom’s one of the Snohomish, WA team leaders *looks proud*). You can also donate directly to Days for Girls or sign up for their newsletter if you like.

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Happy Birthday, Mumsy!!!

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11 months old gaaaah!!

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He’s actually already 11 1/2 months because his birthday is March 22 which is now less than two weeks away *freaks out a little bit.* I know all parents say this, but where did that year go? It’s so weird to be staring down that milestone. Meanwhile, this past month has been better than the last; we’ve all been healthier overall and Hugo seems to be getting the hang of eating finger foods (video clip here) and even taking a bottle now, which is nice.

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Hugo goes to daycare a couple days a week now, and he seems to really like it. It’s great for me to have some baby-free time to get some work done, and at the same time still feel like I have plenty of time at home with him. I’m still just trying to keep my mindset in Baby Mode and work priorities as low-commitment as I possibly can. I’m trying to protect these baby days as much as possible, so it doesn’t bother me too much that work stuff keeps piling up like crazy. I just don’t have much time for it right now. Oh darn. Peeps are gonna have to chill if they need something. The only thing that makes me a little sad is that I have no new fabric collections in the works right now; I would love to do another one and I’ve been sketching a little but not enough to really put a collection together. Art is really fun.

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Oh was this post supposed to be about Hugo?? Right. OK, so the word of the month for this little guy: SCOOT. He can’t crawl yet but he’s figured out how to do a funny little seated butt-scoot that is getting him around the floor quite nicely. I discovered rug burn on his ankles and the sides of his lower legs the other day and realized it’s because he’s scooting so much. It’s time to put up the baby gates and go around the house and put stuff away. Yesterday he ate a bunch of bright pink Play-Doh when I wasn’t looking. I have no idea how much he actually managed to get down before I got to him, though I’m guessing I’ll be able to tell just how much once it comes out the other end in beautiful glowing pink terds. I am going to need to keep a better eye on him. and thank goodness it was just Play-Doh.

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I printed out the first eleven months of “month-by-month” photos the other day — just one more and we’ll have a set of twelve! Crazytown.

please don’t pin or reuse photos of Hugo! Thanks!

PS. The squirrel pull toy is by Kid O / Orange diaper by BumGenius

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10 months!

Our little Hugo-bugo is 10 months old!

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It’s been a bit of a rough month, to be honest. It seems like he’s been out of sorts more than the usual amount, but it’s hard to separate whether that’s teething issues, or feeding issues (the child seems ambivalent towards solid food), or the fact that he’s been sick a few times in the past month. I always find it a bit annoying when parents say “he’s TEETHING” as if that explains everything, because aren’t they pretty much teething for two years straight? But…he’s teething.

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I’m also trying not to get angsty over the fact that he isn’t crawling yet, or even really trying to crawl yet. He’s just happy sitting and watching his brother and sister run around like Crazy People, like he really couldn’t care less if he ever moves or not. I tried the thing the doctor suggested at his last checkup where you put them on their belly and put a toy just out of reach to motivate them to crawl, but he just gets really pissed off. And…I don’t want to come off as overly critical here, but his pincer grasp could use some work, so we are just now to the point where he can pick up a Cheerio. I keep comparing him to my other kids (“wasn’t Clementine doing that at eight months?”). For some reason it seemed easier with them. Not exactly sure why.

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On the plus side, Hugo has such a sweet little personality. He plays peekaboo with his blanket, and “so big” and he can clap, and he’s got this mischievous little grin that just kills me. I probably just need to chill the heck out a little bit over his motor skills, because if he ever does start to move it’s going to be Trouble.

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Also new this month: his first haircut!! It was seriously starting to resemble a bad combover on the top of his head. I’m not sure why I waited this long, but now it’s so cute!! He was a total champ for the haircut too; he was so mesmerized by the little kiddy salon we took him to that he sat quietly the whole five minutes it took to cut his hair. It was pretty amazing.

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Please don’t pin or repost photos of Hugo. Thanks!

See Hugo’s previous month-by-months posts: 1-2 months / 3 months / 4-9 months

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What I made in 2014: Hugo!

I’m just cracking myself up over here with this one. I MADE A BABY THIS YEAR! This week my blog feed (Bloglovin is my favorite way to read blogs now, I love the daily email digest) is loaded with sewing blogs posting their “what I made in 2014” roundups. So I started to look for projects that I’d sewn this past year to maybe do a similar post, something like my 2013 or 2012 end-of-year roundups (which, by the way, are both quite impressive and started to make me feel a little bad about this year), and then started to realize hmmmm…why was I less productive, what DID I do this year? OH YES THAT’S RIGHT I MADE A BABY. And then I realized it’s been forever since I posted any Hugo pics. So without further ado, my big “project” of 2014…HUGO!

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Truly though, I can’t believe that the last time I posted a monthly Hugo pic he was three months old! He is now 9.5 months old. UM WHERE DID THAT HALF YEAR GO?!? I would also like to know how other fecund bloggers have managed to post month-by-month photos of their babies, seriously, because it is ridiculously hard. I’m starting to suspect they just take ONE photo, put it through a magic Photoshop-baby-aging-filter, and then set it to autopost each month. So let’s start where I left off and see what he looked like at 4 months:

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OK. So definitely not the BEST baby-propping skills here. And then Clementine stepped into the photos so that was the end of that…

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Here’s what he looked like at 5 months:

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and at 6 months:

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Here he is at 7 months:

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And at 8 months:

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and now, my baby boy is NINE. months. old. WOW!

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I want to say more about this guy, how easy and happy he is, how he is at the bottom of the percentiles for weight so we keep having to go back to the Dr for weight checks ARRRG, how he just got over a month of chest colds and croup that made me sick with worry, how his brother and sister just think he’s the bees knees and how much he lights up when they are around…but if I try to be comprehensive I’m never going to get this post finished, and then it will be ten months, so I’m just going to post this thang so you can enjoy the pics. Let me leave you with another favorite, Hugo in his Halloween costume:

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GAAAAH! I know I am hopelessly biased but I just think he is SO. stinking. CUTE!! Sorry that’s probably really annoying. The baby lobster costume just cracks me up.

Please do not pin or repost pictures of Hugo — the one exception is that I don’t mind if you pin the mosaic (1st image). Thanks!

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Pink hair, don’t care

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I got my hair done last weekend and got some pink (woot!) extensions. It had been such a looong time since I even had a haircut. I figured if I was going to make an appointment I might as well make it worth my time. Adding color is something I would have never done when I was teaching high school; most of the time I was trying hard as a young twenty-something to be taken seriously. It didn’t help that I was mistaken for a student by a parent my first year (I looked about 16 when I started teaching). I guess it took me a while to get to the point where the thought of adding color to my hair even occurred to me. But now, why NOT? It doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks of me; might as well do something fun!!

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Mr Rae raised a single eyebrow and made an 80’s rockstar reference when I announced I would be coming home with pink in my hair. It ended up being much more subtle than either one of us guessed (I had to bump up the color saturation on the top photo to make the pink easier to see; the photo above is more realistic), and honestly this barely counts as “coloring my hair” since the extensions aren’t permanent and they’ll fall out after a couple months. Anyway, it’s a fun and easy way to try out a bit of color without a permanent change. It’s probably just going to get crazier from here on out.

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if you need me I’m the one curled up in a ball under the bed

I found the past couple weeks to be pretty overwhelming for many reasons, most of which were predictable when you have a busy life with three kids (traveling with an infant, sick kids, husband with a start-up), but one or two things in particular threw off my orbit and it began to feel like I’d bit off more than I could chew with this whole working-mom-of-three gig. I posted this photo earlier this week on Instagram with a caption that pretty much summed it up:

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“Toothbrushing with my babies, who both got haircuts today. Tomorrow I will clip their fingernails. Lately I feel like I can’t quite stay on top of things with three kids. Appointments, homework, travel, sickness, solid foods, laundry, weight checks…feels like I’m on the brink of chaos. Guess I just have to try to keep it together, one day at a time.

I thought I should share it here too, just gotta keep it real. I still haven’t clipped their fingernails. I too only have 24 hours in my day just like everyone else and surprise surprise there’s really only so many plates I can keep in the air at any given time. It’s fine; the fact that I’m posting today is probably evidence of that, I’m not really on the floor in the fetal position. And honestly I knew it was going to be like this when I decided to have a third child, and it will probably be this way for a while yet, and that is going to have to be OK. But still. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t sometimes frustrating.

Occasionally when I meet people who have been following my blog for awhile they’ll say things like “I just wonder how you do it all” or “wow you’ve really been busy lately!” when I feel like I’ve been doing zilch. It’s a good reminder to me that people both see ALL of my collective work at the same time here AND see only a very small glimpse into my real life at any given time. So if I only ever share awesome projects! new fabric lines! and wowee zowee stuff, it can look (unintentionally) like I’ve somehow got my shit more together than anyone else. I’ve tried to blog about  balancing work life and home life at various times in the past, so I hope I’ve been somewhat transparent about how I fit everything in, but my kids are young and things change all the time, so I’m constantly readjusting my priorities and how I spend my time. And sometimes it just feels crazy no matter how hard I try.

Also: the feeling of “I just can’t keep it together” isn’t exactly unique to this phase of my life; it has been something I’ve felt on and off all of my life, it’s just that now instead of comparing myself to those annoying classmates in high school who seemed to be good at everything and feeling a sense of despair, or getting frustrated when I bounced a check or forgot to pay my bills back when I was first working after college, it’s now all about figuring out what things I need to focus on and what things to let slide. Like for instance right now there are three little people who need most of my attention most of the time, so that’s really priority numero uno. Jess runs the MBR show work-wise, just in case you were wondering, and THANK GOODNESS for that because otherwise I would really go off the deep end. I’m lucky to have someone so capable.

Anyway, it’s no bigs, just wanted to share. So many of you are also “in the trenches” — whatever that may mean for you — and I reckon many of you know how that feels. I hope you have a fun and relaxing weekend!!!

 

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Welcome to the world little Penelope!

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We (as in, Hugo and myself, we come as a package deal now that he has decided not to take a bottle…waaaah!!! But that is another topic for another time) are back after a few weeks of vacation. Or sort of vacation. First, we went to Texas. I flew out last-minute last week to go help my sister Elli and her husband Joe with her newly hatched and unexpectedly early Penelope Wren!!! See my cute new little niece??? Sidenote for those who are just joining: Elli works as Chief Officer of Pattern Production (COPP, yes I just made that title up) here at Made By Rae. You can see more posts about her here and here.

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She is such a cute little button.

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Penelope was born four weeks early and weighed 5 pounds 5 oz so there were some concerns with jaundice for the first week and now she has some reflux issues, but otherwise she has been healthy and fine. She eats like a champ and is gaining weight swimmingly. The birth was smooth (and drug-free, go Elli!!!) — it helped that Elli was in labor denial and wrote off her contractions as intense Braxton-Hicks for the better part of a day. One just doesn’t expect to be a month early, so that was understandable, but then it was kind of intense when she finally realized she was having a baby roughly an hour before she had the baby. Penelope is Elli and Joe’s first baby so they’ve had the usual crash-course in sleepless nights and paranoia, but they are settling in and are already fantastic parents.

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Elli and Penelope!

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I thought Hugo was small, but then I picked up Penelope and nearly threw her at the ceiling because she was so light by comparison. I’m now of the opinion that he’s a bit of a chunk. A cute little chunk.

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So then, after Texas, we came back and our family went and stayed at a beach house on Lake Michigan for a week. That was last week. It was so ridiculously cold for a week at the beach in August; usually in Michigan it is so oppressively hot and humid that the Lake is just the ticket. I found our rental on Craigslist and it had some issues but overall it was beautiful and gorgeous and brand new and the perfect thing to get our family together for a nice stay-in-one-place vacation. You can see some pics from the lake in my Instagram feed, @madebyrae. It’s really nice to be back home now though.

PS. Please don’t pin or use photos of Penelope, thanks!

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