Saturday, December 31, 2016

Grief, Stress, Heartache, and Hope

Hello Readers,

It's been awhile since we have spoken- and honestly I am not quite sure where to start. 2016 has been a year of ups and downs- and more downs for that matter. Life has been overwhelming and hard to put into words. In an attempt to say goodbye to 2016, I think it's important to give it a shot. 

The year started out pretty well- school was stressful, but I was working hard and making it work. We had a ton of beautiful snow, fun family "field trips", and lots of cute photo shoots with Cordelia. I got the opportunity to have my cousin visit- which was really cool because this was our first time hanging out in well over ten years and it was cool to connect. I also took my first road trip all by myself- ten hours all by myself in fact! Luckily I had company for the drive back (my dear Aunt Alice) because ten hours not talking was hard on me.    

Shortly after that trip is when life hit it's first speed bump of the year. After almost two years of hard work- and nonstop studying, I applied to the training program I was working towards- and I didn't get in. Studying science and the human body was humbling, and in ways totally exciting. I am glad to have learned all the things I did, but not getting in felt more then a little soul crushing. It may not seem like it- but I always have a goal and a direction, something to work towards, and this has left me floating and more then a little confused about what to do now. There are a multitude of articles on the internet about how children who see their parents fail and keep going are more resilient- so hopefully Cordelia is at least getting something out of this. 

Cordelia helped keep me smiling, and planning and throwing her birthday party, and a surprise baby shower for my best friend kept me busy.

and then life flung a curve ball our direction- we found out we were pregnant. I've wanted a second baby for a long time now, there was no doubt in my heart that Cordelia should have a sibling- I love my brother and sisters so much and they are such a part of my identity I wanted that for her too. However, months passed, then over two years passed. So many hopeful moments turned into tears over negative pregnancy tests I figured it just wasn't in the cards for us. I had reached a level of acceptance and started giving away all our baby things- who knew finally letting go of the crib would have been what did it for us. It made not getting into school seem like it happened for a good reason too because I wouldn't have been able to start while pregnant. 

   Then the saddest day of my life (up until this point) came, the day we had to put Pig to sleep. He gave me fourteen years of companionship. He watched me put on twelve coats of eyeliner and lace up my combat boots before leaving the house when I was a teenager, he sat with me while I cried about whatever dumb boy broke my heart. He moved out of my parent's house with me when I left to "become a grown-up". He studied for thousands of exams and sat with me while I wrote multitudes of term papers (the night before they were due). He used to sit on my sewing desk and watch me sew for hours. And after all that he loved my daughter with all his heart. They batted toys back and forth and cuddled while watching cartoons together. He was our constant companion, and I still cry because he is gone. 

Shortly after, we got the news that my Granddad had passed. My Grandmother passed away about eight or nine years ago and Granddad missed her more than anything, so I try to remind myself how happy he must be to be with her again, but it's strange to think that I will never hear him tell the same off color jokes again. My Granddad loved to tinker- he could make or fix anything and he spent hours working in his shop. He loved nature, the woods, and hunting- and he celebrated his 60th birthday by shimming up the tree into his tree stand and doing a jig. Granddad was a character and I'm glad I was able to spend so much time getting to know him.

And during all of this I spent morning, noon, and night throwing up while expanding mightily in the midsection. 

In August Cordelia started Kindergarten! She was more than ready for this change- but I cried and cried and cried. Unfortunately, she also cried almost every day after school for two months because she was so exhausted. Despite the exhaustion she is doing great- she loves the work, she loves her teacher, she has made a bunch of friends, and every day of winter break she has been annoyed because there is no school. 

Then, one morning in September I got the worst phone call I've ever received. My Dad had passed away. My Dad wasn't in the peak of health- but I would have sworn we would have had a couple more years with him at least, I never would have imagined that one day he would just be gone, and that I wouldn't get to say goodbye. 

My dad was a big man with a big personality and a big heart. He never met a stranger, and would (and did) talk to anyone. He could sell snow in the middle of a blizzard. He was a very jolly Santa with his very own beard and enjoyed playing the part for countless children and families for 28 years. This year was the first year I went to see a stranger dressed as Santa- and it just wasn't the same. My Dad used to take me out of school to go to the movies (most importantly all three remastered Star Wars films), we went shooting, biking, and every year we went camping- I really hate camping, but camping with Dad are still my best childhood memories. 

I'm not sure how you move past the loss of your dad, I can't manage to write these words without sobbing. Dad was so excited to meet my new baby, he felt so strongly that I needed to have a second child, and he loved his grandchildren. As a working Dad he didn't get to see as much of the fun baby things as he would have liked, and he loved getting the chance to experience it all again. It;s hard to know that my baby will never get to know him in this world. Even harder knowing that I will never hear his voice again, I will never hear his stories, and I will never fight about politics with him again. 

After my Dad passed my blood pressure started spiking. I'm not sure if it was the stress and grief, or if I was bound towards preeclampsia anyways with this pregnancy but I kept getting sicker. My dr's appointments became weekly (then twice weekly), I had to monitor my blood pressure at home, and I got put on bed rest.

One day, unsure of how to cheer me up, Brendon took me to "look at cats". We came home with a tiny grey, female, kitten whom I named Tula. Tula is a little ball of happiness, she was the last of her litter left and she soo badly wanted a home. She loves to cuddle and play, and she has the loudest purr. 

I wasn't able to go trick or treating with them- but I want to just say that I still managed a homemade costume for Cordelia. She was Batgirl and Brendon was Inspector Gordon (Batgirl's father of course). I'm sure sewing a Halloween costume doesn't count as bed rest- but I wasn't prepared to let this go, and neither was Cordelia. 

I spent the last couple months of the year going back and forth to the doctor, feeling really sick, and trying to keep up with Cordelia while not actually doing anything. We got sent to the hospital five times, and admitted three times, and then on December 7th the doctors decided it was time and we finally got to meet our little Adeline. I love every bit of her, and she was worth all the discomfort and all the times I had to clean glitter off of the cat because Cordelia decided that was how she would spend her time while I was throwing up. 

It's a little insane how much a year changes life. 2016 has left me feeling like I need to find myself again. I've spent so much time grieving, or sick I'm almost not sure of who I am at the moment. 
There has been so much change, so much loss, so much heartache, but we are ending the year with a little bit of hope. I'm not sure where 2017 will lead us, or what I'll be doing, but right now I'm not going to worry about it- because the baby needs feeding. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

10 Good Things About Pig

On Monday the Pinkham family lost a member. We had to put our precious Pig to sleep. He was a part of my life for 14 years and I feel lost and sad  without him. I know our pets do not live forever- and I thought I had been preparing myself for the end, but the end is always so final. 

After finding out about Pig's passing a friend mailed me a copy of the book "The Tenth Good Thing About Barney". It got me to thinking about the best things about Pig. Most of my favorite parts of  him are memories and not things, but I felt I need to write them down (so I might ramble a bit in this post). 

I was fifteen when I adopted Pig, My cat of ten years passed away out of the blue and I didn't actually think I wanted another cat yet. My sister saw this little skinny gray cat in one of the cages at the adoption place and made me pull him out to take a closer look. Pig put both paws on my shoulder and rubbed his face all over my face. That was it, he had to come home with us. Pig loved everyone, and he greeted most people by rubbing all over their faces- in fact that's how we found out my best friend was allergic to cats... 

For the record, I didn't actually name him Pig, I named him "Tomo". My dad renamed him Pig after we discovered his desire to eat everything- he would even get in your lap and try to steal food out of your mouth. His first Christmas with us he ate the Christmas cookies right off the table- and some of the plastic wrap covering them. He slowed down as he got older, but at the end he would steal McDonald's french fries, and he might just bite your fingers trying to take them. 

I know this isn't totally unique for a cat, but Pig loved laundry baskets. He would attack your fingers through the holes, I hated this particular laundry basket but I held on to it for a long time just because he loved it. 

Pig drank his water by dipping his front paw into the bowl and then licking his paw. He also did this to any waiting water glass. I now don't trust cups that have been left out. 

He humored us in everything, absolutely everything. 

When Cordelia was first born Pig pretty much ignored her- once she started moving around he always wanted to be doing what she was doing. He let her dress him up, he played with her toys, they argued over who really owned the pink princess couch. She would squish him and accidentally yank his fur- but he always kept following her.  

When you pet his cheeks he made this silly face
(We called it skinny Pig)

Pig made the best Pillow. He had the softest fur. 

He was always there. He studied with me, he sat on my sewing desk when I sewed, he greeted us at the door, he would watch me exercise, when I was sad and crying he would find me and purr and kneed me until I calmed down. He was always there. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

It's Raining Cats...and Fish?

It seems like so many of Cordelia's dresses had been in rotation for about two years or so. Sure they kept getting shorter, but they still fit on her torso, so they stayed in the closet. Well Miss C must have gone through another growth spurt because it seems like all of a sudden none of her old dresses would button. 

Luckily, I love sewing dresses. This is my second Vintage Grace Flutter  Dress- I reviewed the pattern and showed off the pictures of the first one in my last post. 

The second dress went together even smoother than the first, and this is the final length of the size six dress- just for reference.

I only made two changes to the pattern when I made this Dress. First change was that I lined the flutter sleeve because the backside of this fabric was very underwhelming. Lining the piece was super simple, I cut two pieces of black fabric the same size of the flutter sleeve, then I placed them right sides together and sewed along the bottom edge. Then I trimmed the curve, flipped right side out, and sewed like normal. 

My second change was to add side pockets. I personally love having pockets in my skirts and dresses, and Cordelia has become accustomed to them as well- which I guess is a perk of having mommy made clothing. Jess from Craftiness is Not Optional has a great tutorial on how to add side pockets HERE.  Its a really simple addition to any project. 

Normally I avoid letting Cordelia pick fabric for things- that might make me sound terrible, but you can end up spending hours sewing fabric you hate when your five year old picks it out. However, I gave Cordelia full choice in the fabric store on fabric for a new dress and she picked this darling cat fabric. 

The best part was that her choice gave me the perfect opportunity to use these little fish bowl buttons my sister found at a yard sale last year. 

Thanks for stopping by- and do us a favor and cross your fingers for sunshine for us- well yesterday we were lucky enough to see the sun, but we had been hammered with rain for days and we are back to rain again! Rain is beautiful and wonderful but It sure is making for a cranky mamma and a cranky kid. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Vintage Grace Flutter Dress- Pattern Review

Pattern testing has given me the opportunity to get to know the style of some really great PDF pattern designers. One designer I can recommend without even knowing what pattern you are talking about it Melissa from Bella Sunshine Designs. Every pattern I have worked on from her has just been totally top notch- and I am a big fan of how thorough her testing process is.  

The Vintage Grace Flutter Dress is Melissa's latest pattern (and one I had the pleasure to test). This pattern is sized six months to girls size 12, and features a great flutter sleeve with optional lace trim. The bodice has a great wide, flat, simple, front which makes for a great place to feature some super special fabric, or you could decorate it with a heat transfer design or applique. I love that the bodice is also lined so all of the seems are inside and not left where they can be itchy- which would especially be a plus if you appliqued the front!   

This is my first version of the new Vintage Grace Flutter Dress- It is also from one of the early stages of the pattern, so keep in mind that two inches were added to the length of the dress on the final version. I made this dress using my favorite black and white stripe cotton, and super awesome blue octopus fabric from Cotton and Steel.  I have been really obsessed with all things black and white- a trend that Cordelia hates, but the blue in the Cotton and Steel fabric made my fabric choices  five year old approved. Instead of opting for lace on the flutter sleeve I used black bias tape on the edge to repeat the black and white theme. 

The dress went together quickly- probably about an hour and a half not counting the cut out time (I take FOREVER to cut things out). The instructions are very straightforward and great for any confidant beginner. I like that Melissa includes cutting instructions for the skirt so you don't have to print and tape the entire pattern - you can just print the bodice and sleeve and then measure and cut your pattern. She also includes helpful tips on blending sizes and adjusting for length- and her size lines are marked with the size on them which makes it easier if you have to print multiple sizes at once.   

The last dress feature I want to mention is the adorable button back. I love a good button back, and I have such a large stash of buttons! I love buttons because it is such a nice extra touch in a little girl's dress- and Melissa's instructions on the buttons and the skirt placket get an A+.  So now that I am done gushing (for now) I want to mention that the Vintage Grace Flutter dress is on sale until Thursday!  

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dear Cordelia

Dear Cordelia,

And just like that you are five. Last night I was thinking about the night before your birth- It is a powerful thing to know that the next day your family of two will become a family of three- to know that you are spending your last night as non parents. It's  hard to imagine parenthood; sure you can make lists of your parenting "dos and don'ts" - many of which drastically change once you are in the thick of things, and you can imagine yourself pushing a stroller or going to the park- but you really cannot imagine being a parent. Once your Papa and I held you in our arms our world changed, its a fuller, more joyess, and at times more sleepless, world. 

In the past five years we have learned just how strong the emotions of love, fear, and pride can be. The first time I held you and marveled at your tiny tiny fingers and your perfect little nose I learned what it is for a mother to love her child. Over the next few days we learned what fear really feels like- and as we have watched you grow we have learned to be truly proud. 

Cordelia, I am amazed, and proud, by your empathy towards others. Your concern for the comforts of your baby dolls, your interest in the feelings of our cats, the time you take to try to understand and help your shy friends, and your deep compassion for me when I am sad or overwhelmed. I will never forget the time that I was overwhelmed and sad and you told me that you would help if I could tell you the instructions because we are family and family helps each other. I am often struck by how grown up your feelings seem to be and as your mother I try my best to help you understand them. You are soo excited by people, you love with all your heart and you enjoy making friends.  I hope you will always confide in me and allow me to help. 

This year we have continued to watch your interests grow! Batman, Barbies, Princesses, bugs, fairies, and space- you love it all. You watch Miss Fischer's Murder Mysteries, Blacksmith shows, How's it Made, and Bones with just as much enthusiasm as you do Doc McStuffins and Berenstain Bears. As I spent hours studying for school you sat with me learning the names of the bones and asking detailed questions about the inner workings of the body. Poor Pig gets check ups on a regular basis because you love to listen to his heart, and often when we eat chicken you ask me to name the bones for you.  

You like to try new foods, your favorite vegetable is asparagus, and you eat tomatoes by the handful. You love sushi, cucumbers, pickles, dried seaweed, shrimp, chicken wings, salmon, and all the fruit. You delighted in every picking adventure you went on with Shauna- you still love the funny shaped strawberries the best. 

This year we made it a priority to visit Museums. We have sat in art galleries drawing our own interpretations of  the art on the walls, we have practiced the poses of the statues, and we have learned about the natural world and it's wonders. 

You started asking to sew- in fact you helped make this skirt. We can only do a little at a time before you get frustrated, but you always ask to do more later. 

I am amazed that you have started building memories- this year you told me all about things we did last year. You wanted to recreate events as traditions and you were soo much more excited for holidays and birthdays because you remembered the ones before. As your Mama I feel soo much more pressure to make sure we build good traditions now! 

 You are the funniest kid I know. You have started telling bad knock knock jokes, your favorite number is 1800 (and there are always "like 1800" of anything). You enjoy saying words like "actually" and you say them all the time. Sentences like "Ah, I got you" come out of your mouth, and sometimes your stuffed animals really like to swear- but I am not allowed to laugh at that.

I hope that you always know how important creativity is. You put together costumes, and  tell me wild and detailed stories, you sing (you have even started remembering the words to songs on the radio- especially this one) and dance- I hope that is always you, and that you never change. 

Watching you grow is my greatest adventure. I am learning just as much about myself- my own strengths and weaknesses- as I am learning about you, but I have to say it's more fun to learn about you then it is to learn about me! 

I have no doubt that this upcoming year will be just as big as the last five, that we will grow and change as a family in ways we cannot imagine- just like we could't imagine what it would be like to be your parents. I love you and I look forward to this adventure with you and your Papa.