In Case I Didn’t Mention it, The Last Few Months Have Been Hard

Yesterday I did something out of the ordinary. I took some time off.

I have a history of trying to work something productive into every moment of everyday. I am constantly cooking or tidying (not that you’d notice), writing, reading, knitting, etc. I don’t sit still very well. It’s part of the reason yoga is such an important part of my day. It’s the only time I try to decompress, and most days, I don’t do that very well.

Since Felix was born, and especially since we had Rufus, I haven’t been away from my kids (outside of work) for more than a couple of hours at a time. Mostly, I didn’t want to be. I like my kids, and I don’t like interrupting their routine, but since January, when I became a stay-at-home mom, I have been with my kids All. The. Time. And I needed a break. So did Brock.

Anniversary celebrations well under way. 4 years with @hashtagphysics. ????

A post shared by Marla Dawn Holt (@tinydinostudios) on

For our fourth anniversary, Brock and I made it happen. We left the kids at home with grandma went out. We drank our coffee hot, we ate too much Indian food, we saw a movie. Then, after all of that, instead of going home and putting the kids to bed, we went to a hotel for a little peace and quiet.

At our first movie since Rufus was born. We'll be seeing Wonder Woman.

A post shared by Marla Dawn Holt (@tinydinostudios) on

It might have been too quiet. We’re used to the hubbub of 2.5 boys and the near constant sounds of traffic and sirens and neighbors. And even though this hotel is probably less than two miles from our house, there was none of that. The suite was a cocoon of silence and privacy. I have had a baby living in my bedroom for the last three years, I don’t get a lot of privacy. I was so out of my element, I was unnerved enough to dig out my white noise app and think about turning on a thunderstorm just to have something to listen to–because apparently the music we had playing wasn’t enough for me.

Our home for the night has three rooms. And a hot tub. Because this is the first night we've ever spent away together. Ever.

A post shared by Marla Dawn Holt (@tinydinostudios) on

While the quiet was surreal, having an evening with my husband without a baby waking up in the middle of the movie and then again just as we’re going to bed was just as magically restorative as I wanted it to be.

Helping Felix make the transition to starting pre-school no longer feels so daunting, even though it means establishing a new daily routine for everyone, and dealing with some intense three year-old emotions. And there are other things I have been putting off (writing synopses, querying agents, finishing drafts, etc.) that don’t seem so scary today as they did yesterday, even though yesterday they felt a helluva lot more doable than they did six months ago.

I want to hang onto this feeling. I want to capture this sense of renewal and invigoration and seal it into capsule somewhere inside me where I can open it up whenever I feel bogged down by endless to-do lists, or when the baby wakes up an hour after I finally got to sleep, or when I have to be an extrovert at my service industry job and all I want to do is sit in a corner and read a book.

I know I can’t. But I can be better about taking care of myself. When I feel peaceful, it’s better for my family, it’s better for my writing.

Even though Felix’s school doesn’t start for two more weeks, tomorrow morning we’re all getting up early so we can practice getting out of the house by 8. That means my alarm goes off at 5:45. Despite opening the coffee shop for years, I am still not good at getting up in the morning. But I am getting up this early so I have time to do yoga. Because if I take care of myself first, maybe I can maintain a little bit of this energy.

Continue Reading

What I did on my Summer Vacation

Last week, I was on vacation. The week before that I kind of took a vacation from the blog as well, and I have been kind of slow getting back to it. I have been thinking of you all, but things like farmers markets and Harry Potter movie marathon have got in the way. (Did I mention I made an Athrun-friendly version of Butterbeer?) Since we have no extra money to speak of, and I generally find travelling stressful enough to need a second vacation, I stayed home, slept in, probably drank too much wine, and made things.

catinasweater
Minerva in a baby Sweater

As mentioned in the previous post, I knit a baby sweater, and as promised, Brock put it on the cat. She is asleep in this picture, so deeply so that she allowed herself to be posed.

catinababysweater
I do think magenta and orange are her colors, don’t you?

While that was a fun little lark and it kept my hands busy in the evenings, in reality, I really spent the better part of three days sewing. The first project was the cute little tote bag in the previous post. The second was another handbag, for me to actually use.

reversiblebucketbag
The Reversible Bucket Bag

This is the second pattern in The Bag Making Bible and the bag featured on the cover–a big part of the reason I wanted to buy the book. I am very smug with myself that I finally managed to sew it. It’s not perfect. The seams are a little more crooked than I used to sew, and I pretty much made up how to attach the bias tape because the instructions in the book were too dense, but I really like how it came out. I especially like the fabric–the perfect mood and combination of patterns. I generally find pattern combinations (like the one on the cover-ay yi yi yi) in books like these to be a bit to bold for my taste, but I was able to find some patterns that I though complimented each other instead of fought for space. (They were all quilting cotton from JoAnn.)

insidethereversiblebucketbag

I am especially in love with the silver calico I chose for the lining. It’s so special, it’s only for me. (Yes, while the bag is technically reversible, I don’t plan to use it that way.)

Spending some time sewing this past week, I learned something important about myself. While knitting and spinning are productive, enjoyable ways to spend my time, I can perform them while doing other things: listening to an audio book, watching tv, socializing. Those fiber arts don’t take my full attention (most of the time). When I sew, however, I jump head first into a deep, dark tunnel from which I may not emerge hours, days, or weeks, and if anyone comes in looking to find me, they are likely to get bitten. Seriously, hours passed in what seemed like minutes, and I had no idea. As I shake the rust off my old sewing hinges, I think it unlikely that this mindset will change. Hopefully it will take me fewer hours overall, but I seem to be capable of sewing with a single-mindedness I seldom spare for any other activity–and it scares me enough that I realize I won’t be allowing myself to descend into that sort of madness too often. But don’t expect this handbag to the last sewing project you see on this blog.

And a teaser:

weddinginvitationenvelope
Wedding invitations have been produced, assembled, and mailed. Next time, what’s in the envelope and how we made them.

Continue Reading