Friday, July 22, 2016

Current thoughts

The announcement of my resignation at work spurred various predictions from co-workers and friends, including that of new employment by the time school begins in the fall.  I wasn't annoyed with the conversations regarding my future as most were aware of my need to be involved in 75 projects at once.  A good friend at work with younger children herself and a complete understanding of where I was coming from, was one of the few that truly "got it."  Raising three kids, one with special needs, with two full time (and often more than full time) working parents is no joke.

We are seven weeks into this new world and it is somewhat unbelievable to me how easy it is to fill a day, and this is summer with no school and one dance class per week.  Our days are starting slightly later because the girls and I have been sleeping in.  For the most part, at least one kid is awake before 8:00 but they are old enough to read or play quietly.  Years and years ago, when three toddlers were awake and ready to tear it up at six o'clock in the morning, I dreamed of these days.  I never wanted to wish time away but life marches forward whether we want it to or not.

In the past seven weeks, I have not once ever been bored or thought, "Hmmm, what should I do now?"  Currently, I'm very much in my season of sewing, which will be replaced with my season of cleaning when the girls return to school.  Speaking of sewing, I haven't had time to touch my most recent project all week.  The days zoom by in a blur of activity.          

I've mentioned before how familiarity is comforting and anxiety-free for me, but I find routines to be frustrating.  We do have basic routines for the kids when it comes to mealtimes, bedtimes, etc.  It's more the day to day and doing the same things over and over that get to me.  I was slightly fearful that being at home all the time would create the same Groundhog Day feelings I had about work but so far, that hasn't been the case.  I know seven weeks in is still extremely fresh but I think the key is for life to not remain static.    

Temperatures of 90+ degrees  are forecasted for the next five days so we have pool time, indoor play and Cape outings planned.  The weather impacts my life in such a different way now that I don't have that commute.  I knew winters would be so much tolerable but I didn't expect to notice such a difference in summer.  My work/commuting bag remained on its perch in the front hall for a month before I finally cleaned it out and stored it away in the back of the bedroom closet.  This is really happening.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A beautiful beach day on the Cape (finally!)

I'm happy the weather as of late has been that of a typical New England summer.  Some hot days, some humid days, some cooler days.  The ocean was calling so we packed up and headed to the Cape, landing at Corporation Beach in Dennis.  If you have little ones, this is a fantastic beach.  There are clean restrooms, calm waters, tide pools for exploring at low tide and a tasty snack bar.      

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(A tiny, somewhat creepy looking crab)

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summer Days

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We visited the library twice last week.  I will never turn down a library visit request.  Emily's arms could barely contain all the books she had picked out.  She told me that she just couldn't help herself.  There were too many interesting books out there.  I completely understand.  I've tried to keep the weekdays on the lazy side so we don't have a completely scheduled summer.

I've been spending what feels like a ton of time in the kitchen.  You want a breakfast sandwich?  Sure, I'll cook that for you.  Dinner is the meal that takes the most time.  But that's what I want to do.  I want us to have home cooked family meals.  The girls have become more interested in cooking and have been helping me out, which translates into me teaching them.  It's all good.  They need to learn somehow.  I wasn't quite sure if they even appreciated my cooking until this conversation last week.
 
Allie:  "What's for dinner tonight?"

Me:  "I think frozen pizza."

Allie:  "Oh."

Me:  "What's wrong?"

Emily:  "Well, we like when you cook meals for us.  Sometimes they're gross though."

So sweet.

I make them try everything and she was referring to roasted sweet potatoes.  I admit that they didn't come out all that well but I did find a good recipe for sweet potato fries that were tasty.  Allie inhaled them.  Emily ate the one I insisted she eat and told me that it was better than the previous version but she wouldn't eat more.

I'm finally on Instagram under thegreatumbrellaheist.  If you have an account, please leave me a comment over there so I can follow you!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The project that almost made me hate sewing

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Pink cinderella dress.  You know.  The one the stepsisters destroyed.

Our Disney vacation is rapidly approaching and my mental list of sewing projects remains almost completely unfinished.  Fortunately, many of the outfits from our last trip two years ago still fit so all hope isn't lost.  I thought that maybe the girls would insist upon shorts instead of skirts or dresses but when I polled them, they voted for skirts over shorts.  Why?  "Skirts are prettier."  Who knew?  I have a pattern for shorts that I may still try out.

If you are connected to any Disney sewing groups or forums, you already know that the Simply Sweet pattern is commonly used for princess inspired dresses as it's easy to manipulate.  My one complaint with the pattern is the boxy, loose shape of the dress top when used as a sundress.  In my opinion, with older girls, it just doesn't look appropriate.  So I changed the pattern, elongating the back so I could add elastic casing.  I'm making it sound so simple but there was some trial and error involved.  This made the dress top a fitted top without the constriction of a zipper.  I cropped a spinning photo in attempt to show the back.  I was so done with the dress at this point, I couldn't even properly photograph it.

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So why the hate?  This silky fabric is a nightmare to work with.  I can deal with the slippery feeling, that's not the issue.  This fabric just does not hold it's shape.  You can cut out a rectangle and the next thing you know, it's a parallelogram.  I don't know if this is weird or not but instead of placing it on the back burner and working on a new project, I felt like I had to finish it before I moved on.  And then I may have procrastinated.  I say "may" because life is different now.  It's interesting how your day can easily fill up with tasks such as cooking homemade meatballs and then cleaning the kitchen and then going for a run and then having to take a shower because it's 85 degrees with 85% humidity.  But it's all good because that kind of day is better than what most of my days were like before.

I'm currently working on a fun Chef Mickey's custom outfit.  Cotton, I love you.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Our stop at Niagara Falls (the American side)

Our return trip from Michigan was supposed to be one day of driving but Rich suggested we spread it out over two, for the sake of the children.  Buffalo is just about the halfway point if we drive solely through the U.S. so we obviously opted to stay near Niagara Falls.  We didn't have our passports, or birth certificates for the kids and we had a kid who didn't belong to any of us so we were "stuck" experiencing the Falls strictly on the American side.  Now, I'm going to go out there and say that it feels like the American side of the Falls has picked up a negative reputation.  Mention Niagara Falls and inevitably you'll be told that you absolutely have to cross over to Canada for the best views.  I can't deny that if you want a hotel room with a direct view of the Falls, you'll need to room in Canada.  That is true.  But you can still have wonderful views and a great experience on the American side.  We did!

Our first order of business after we checked into our hotel rooms was to eat dinner.  The restaurant I suggested was quickly replaced by the children with a Rainforest Cafe.  After all the tummies were full, we headed over to the walkways near the American Falls.

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The Maid of the Mist boat tours are located in this area.  We vow to take this boat tour the next time we visit as we were a bit rushed for time this year.  There's a massive observation deck at the Maid of Mist tower that provides wonderful views of the American and Horseshoe Falls.  The admission sign stated a cost of $1.25 per person for the observation deck.  As we were reading the sign, attendants began calling for anyone who had a ticket for or wanted to get on the last boat.  A guy was trying to rush us until I told him that we simply wanted to go up on the deck.  He opened the gate and let us in (without paying) and asked Rich how he ended up with so many pretty ladies.  So I'm not sure if you are supposed to pay but it would definitely be worth the minimal price.  The views were amazing.

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The girls had seen a sign for a (short) movie about the history of the Falls (in the state park building) so on our way out, we popped into the theater.  We missed the first few minutes but that didn't really matter.  They all enjoyed the film and I was impressed that they had expressed an interest in it.

The next morning, after breakfast at the hotel and packing up the van, we drove back to the Falls, this time heading to Goat Island, which is next to Horseshoe Falls.  Last year, from the Canadian side, I could see that the viewing area had been removed and replaced with dirt and bulldozers.  Apparently, this area has undergone a massive revitalization, including a new viewing area incredibly close the Falls.

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I had to zoom in on the above photo because that selfie shot is so freaking cute.

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(The obligatory squinty-eyed even though it's five minutes from raining family photo.)

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The American side of the Falls has state parks and doesn't feel as commercialized as the Canadian side.  They both bring differences to the table and I wouldn't necessarily say that one is better than the other, unless you want a room with a view.  Even if you can't cross over to Canada, you can still thoroughly enjoy the Falls.

Hotels, even those of the budget chain variety, located on the American side near the Falls can be pricey, even though the majority of them offer no views of the Falls.  You are paying for location.  I looked for an alternative and found a Four Points by Sheraton five miles (a ten minute drive) down the river.  Because of its location, this hotel was priced below the ones closer to the Falls, saving us some money.

The hotel was newer, clean and located in a quiet residential area on the river.  The rooms themselves, however, were not quiet as we could hear Grammy and some of the girls talking (in normal voices) in the room next to us through the wall.  Another thing to keep in mind is parking at the Falls.  If you need to drive there from your hotel, the parking lots have a flat rate of $10.  Many of the hotels located near the Falls are within walking distance.  This Sheraton included a restaurant, where we paid to eat breakfast for convenience.  So there are definitely some costs to keep in mind when pricing out hotels in that area but I thought this hotel was a great alternative and wanted to share.

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Views of the river from the back of the hotel.

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