Thursday, August 28, 2014

Choosing Lilies

So if you've read my previous post, you know I recently suffered a miscarriage.  I could write pages on the pain, the guilt, the feelings of helplessness, but that is not what I am choosing to do.  One day I popped in a mixed CD of songs I found meaningful and some that were suggested to me by others.  A song caught my attention while I was driving.  Sometimes, I would skip this song because I felt being Held was not enough.  

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
~Held sung by Natalie Grant, written by Christa Wells

But this day, when I had left a party because I hold back tears that burst from my eyes when I saw a newborn baby and my mind automatically went to "I might never have that again" (yes, I know I am lucky to have ever had that at all), the words spoke to me. This was about 2 weeks after surgery, and for a long time I was numb, but suddenly I could feel everything again.  

This is my second miscarriage.  I had to make  a choice, would I let this make me bitter or make me better?  That's exactly what the words were saying to me.  It would be easy to choose anger and let it consume me.  Why were my babies lives taken from me?  Why is having children so easy for some people?  I could let the bitterness suppress the sadness, but what would that mean for my life?  I don't want to be that person.  Sometimes bad things happen, and we may never know the reason, perhaps, sometimes there is no reason.  But if we let those bad experiences shape our lives in such a negative way, then we lose.  I will not allow this to be my child's legacy.

The second part of that verse made think.  If I am not going to hang onto the bitterness, what is in store, what would that mean for my life?  The songwriter chose to be more symbolic here.  Obviously it was hopeful, but not being an expert on the meaning of flowers, I had to look it up.  Lillies of the Valley are the one of the first flowers of spring and represent--wait for it--the return to happiness.  Despite how much I was hurting, yes, someday I would be happy again.  I am actively choosing those lilies.  

To try to return to happiness, I'm taking some steps.  Because of the pregnancy, I'd stopped working out-which is a source of happiness for me-- in addition I was concerned about returning to work looking heavier after I'd been doing so well.  So before surgery, as my anniversary gift, my husband bought me PiYo.  I am loving it!  Almost 3 weeks in and 4-6 pounds down!  We do want to try to conceive again so I wanted something that was a little less intense than T-25 for the time being.  We have a referral to see a reproductive endocrinologist, so hopefully that will help.  Family and friends have shown their love in a variety of ways, one of which is just listening and letting me talk about this.  I'm also following the lean eating plan that came with it.  To help get in all the veggies the plan call for, I bought a NutriBullet.  There will be a later post with some recipes, I'm sure.  I'm working on getting some things in order around the house.  

Now for a little bit of randomness... Lilies of the Valley happen to be the birth month flower for May--which is when my grandmother(Erma) was born.  We used to walk in her backyard sometimes and in the back, beneath this big old tree, was a patch of lilies of the valley.  I'm going to have to look for them this spring.  I  hadn't thought of that for a long time until I was looking up the meaning of that flower.  Here is the story behind the song.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Crochet for Cancer: Free Beanie Pattern

As part of our One Book-One School Initiative, we read The Fault in Our Stars. Our school will be doing various activities centered around the book.  I was approached to help student crochet items to donate to cancer patients.  This led me to discover a charity called Crochet for Cancer.  I wrote this basic pattern (which I actually use as the base for many of the patterns in my shop) to share with my students.

I've decided to share it with the community at large in hopes that it will be used for more donations.  If you use this pattern for hats you sell, please give me credit and provide a link to this pattern.  

If you choose to donate caps, guidelines are proved here along with contact information for making your donation.  They also have a large collection of free chemo cap patterns.

Erma’s Inspiration Basic Double Crochet Beanie for all sizes

Height in inches
Circumference in inches
Newborn (0-3 months)
3-6 months
6-12 Months
Teen/Adult Female
Teen/Adult Male
Worsted Weight Yarn

DC- double crochet
SC- Single Crochet
SL ST- Slipstitch
STS- stitches

1.        Begin by making a magic circle.  Chain 3, 10 DC in ring. Pull magic ring tight SL ST into top of CH 3 (10 STS)
a.       There are tutorials on YouTube for a magic ring if you are unfamiliar or you can:
CH 4.  SL ST into 1st CH.  CH3, DC 10 in ring, SLST into top of CH 3
Here's a tutorial for the Magic Circle using Double Crochet, this tutorial is a little better             BUT she is using single crochet
2.       CH3, 2 DC in each DC.  SL ST into top of CH 3 (20 STS)
3.       CH 3. [2 DC in next DC, DC in next DC] repeat to end. SL ST into top of CH 3  (30 STS)
4.       CH 3. [2 DC in next DC, DC in next 2 DC] repeat to end. SL ST into top of CH 3 (40 STS) For Newborn size skip to #9
5.       CH 3. [2 DC in next DC, DC in next 3 DC] repeat to end. SL ST into top of CH 3  (50 STS) For 6-12 month skip to step #9
****FOR 3-6 MONTH SIZE ONLY CH 3 [2 DC  in next SC, DC in next  9DC] repeat to end. SL ST into top of CH 3.  (55 STS) skip to step #9****
6.       CH 3. [2 DC in next DC, DC in next 4 DC] repeat to end. SL ST into top of CH 3 (60 STS) for Toddler size skip to step #9
****FOR CHILD SIZE ONLY CH 3. [2 DC in next DC, DC in next 11 DC] repeat to end. SL ST into top of CH 3 (65 STS) skip to step #9****
7.       CH 3. [2 DC in next DC, DC in next 5 DC] repeat to end. SL ST into top of CH 3 (70 STS)  for Teen/Adult Female size skip to step #9
8.       CH 3. [2 DC in next DC, DC in next 13 DC] repeat to end. SL ST into top of CH 3 (75 STS) (Only for Teen/Adult Male)
9.       CH3, DC in each DC around. SL ST into top of CH 3. Repeat until the proper number of rows is achieved. 
a.       For Newborn- repeat 6 times  for a total of 10 rows
b.      For 3-6  months-repeat for a total of 11 rows
c.       For 6-12 months- repeat 7 times for a total of 12 rows
d.      For Toddlers- repeat 7 times for a total of 13 rows
e.      For Children- repeat 7  times for a total of 14 rows
f.        For Teen/Adult Females- repeat 8 times for a total of 15 rows
g.       For Teen/Adult Males- repeat 8 times for a total of 16 rows
*always measure to make sure your hat falls into the proper size range. See Size chart at the top of pattern

10.   CH 1.  SC in each DC around. SLST into CH1.  Tie off and weave in ends.

Optional: Change colors during row changes for stripes.  Embellish with appliques.  

Here are some examples of hats I've created using this pattern: 

Monday, August 4, 2014

The M Word

Where have I been?

Well first there was the end of the school year. 
Then I stopped making progress with my workouts
In hopes of something better
And, if I am honest, because I was scared.
Which in the end didn't matter 
Because it happened

We were ecstatic with our little secret.  We tested positive at the end of June.  There were visions of little hats with shamrocks I'd be creating for our March baby. I went in for my ultrasound at 9 weeks 2 days. There was no heart beat. The baby is too small. 

And now I am in limbo again, awaiting some tests and a long talk with the doctor about my options.  I already know my options.  I have been down this road before.  Miscarry naturally (could wait for weeks--and having been through this before a miscarriage at 10+weeks is more painful than delivering a full term baby in a variety of ways) or have surgery (which I have never had and it's the same procedure as an abortion but my baby is already dead).

So this is where I am at.  A little depressed, a little scared, and a little bit in denial.  Uncertain of whether or not my hopes of having another child will ever be realized. It feels too familiar. 

I need to share this because I know I am not the only one.  1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage (2/3 for me--lucky I am not in The Hunger Games--you know, odds not being in my favor and all).  Yet few women talk about it openly.  I know I will miss and wonder about my babies the rest of my life.  I dream about them.  I'll picture them with my dad and grandma.  And I'll always wonder, Why?

But I'll bounce back.  That's what I do.  I'll keep moving with one more scar on my heart. 

Sending love to all the moms have faced pregnancy and child loss. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

So long for now CDs

Well it seems our little guy is getting bigger once again.  He's potty trained (both day and night).  This milestone comes with a little break in my chores-- no more Cloth Diaper laundry! Not that I minded it, but hey one or two less loads a week is nice.  Truthfully, I'd hoped I wouldn't have to pack them up for a long time because in my perfect world we'd be welcoming another baby into our home right about the time Josh was done with diapers.  Unfortunately, the path to baby #2 is proving to be a bit more difficult than expected.

But onto the real story here.  We attempted potty training over Christmas break, but Josh just was not ready.  He could hold it a long time but then he would release the flood.  At that point he was not using more than a few words together, so in my humble opinion communication was the biggest obstacle then.

So we thought we'd try again at spring break.  Then I got sick and Josh followed suit, so I just figured we'd save it for summer.  Then one fateful day, (the Thursday before Good Friday) at Target, Josh found the Gup X.  My husband was with me and it was way too expensive.  Then the words came out of my husband's mouth.  "You can have it if you go on the potty."  Ok--we had not discussed that one.  So I got down on eye level with Josh and clarified.  He could have the Gup X  if he gave up his diapers.  Boy, did we sucker him into that deal!

We got home and he immediately wanted to take the Gup-X out of the package.  I stuck to my guns and told him we had to put away his diapers first.  So he did it.  He took them all out of his diaper drawer and put them a bag that we put away in the closet.  We did keep out his Overnight diapers, but really we did not need to because he hadn't been wetting overnight for months, it's just that first go of the morning that got him.

If my son were a puppy up for adoption, you would see the phase "Reward Motivated" on his info sheet.  We started with a sticker chart for pee pee.  Once he got to 5 stickers he got a prize.  Poop was a bit more messy.  After a few accidents and grandma buying some pull ups (we used regular undies and gerber trainers), it was time for another incentive.  We made another star chart for poop.  We have now been a week without a #2 accident, and only one mess the previous week.  Tomorrow I will take him out to get his Bumble Bee Transformer.

We've cleared out two drawers in his dresser, eliminated 2 loads of laundry, and my son is potty trained before age three.  I'm a little sad to say goodbye for now to his cute little BG's and Charlie Bananas, but now we have Thomas the Train underpants.  Oh and a forewarning to other moms, the Thomas underpants do not include Emily.  Josh pointed that out and was quite upset after checking each pair to see if Emily was on them.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

T-25 Beta Results

Well I finished Beta, and was quickly met by a virus going through my family.  It was one that liked to hang on.  I missed an entire week of working out, but I'm back in the game now, actually 2 weeks and 2 days into Gamma!

I finally took some pictures, too.  I got sick right when I finished Beta, and then I did not want to do after shots when I hadn't worked out, so I put them off.  I am 10 pounds down and feeling much better about myself.  In fact, I believe in my self and my ability to change my body.  That's huge for me.

Without further ado,

Getting Toned!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My "Skinny" Jeans Fit

With one week left of T-25 Beta, I mustered the courage to try them on.  They've been put into and pulled out of the donation bags at least three times, and worn one time since my son was born.  He was three months old and I was taking him to the zoo with a girlfriend.  I was rocking a muffin top but I blamed most of that on skin that was still recovering from 9 months of stretching.  My mom saw me getting changed and commented about how much flatter my stomach looked.  Filled with new found bravery, I reached into the back of my closet and pulled them out, carefully inserted one leg at a time, pulled them up, did a quick squat, and grabbed that zipper.  And it went up. And the buttons buttoned. While they were still tight--to be fair they are A&E stretch jeans--they were looser than they were when I squeezed into them to go to the zoo, when I was the lightest I've been since J was born.  I'm pretty sure that's how it feels to make it to the top of Mount Everest.

All of this makes me very curious about what the scale will say next week.  I know that my lightest postpartum weight was about 20 lbs lighter than what I was at the beginning of this journey, but  I really don't think that I have lost that much.  I guess we'll see.  A few other pairs were tried on, and while they don't quite fit, I now have hope that they will.

I've talked about T-25 here but not too much about the diet changes I've made.  Since my beachbody coach made us take some pictures of the food we ate sometime for our challenge, I figured I'd share some.  I'm not the most committed dieter, and I allow myself to cheat on the weekends, but this challenge has definitely cleansed my palate.  Mainly I've been swapping processed foods for more whole food options, eating more small meals, eating more veggies, and I started to eat nuts as a snack--who knew!

My favorite mid-morning snack, craisins and almonds.  I put 1/4 cup of each in a container almost everyday and snack when hunger strikes.  If I eat it all, that's about 300 calories.  

 This I do as lunch or a snack.  Snap peas and hummus.  I like to have carrots with them too.  Carrots and Snap peas, practically no calories.  I measure out a serving of hummus which is about 130 calories.  If I pack that for lunch I usually add a Greek yogurt and an apple.  Both of these snacks take a long time to eat for a relatively small amount of calories, which is what really helps me, because I can house like 10 cookies in them amount of time it would take me to eat either of these and possibly not even feel full.
 Finally here's a dinner I cooked.  What's missing?  That's right, carbs.  I have tried to minimize the amount of carbs I eat after my workout.  Can you believe as a kid I refused to try things like asparagus!?!?  I'm so ashamed of myself.  I really just started to cook it this year thanks to pinterest, and I'm sort of obsessed.  Mix 1.5 TBSP of olive oil with one clove of grated garlic, some salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven at 425 for 20 minutes.  SO GOOD!!  Soon we will be grilling it! I can't wait
If I'm hungry after a workout I'll often have a rice cake with peanut butter and a small cup of milk  to hold me over until dinner.  Finally, I take this drink to get some apple cider vinegar goodness in which, among other things, helps your body break down fat and get it off your belly.

See ya in one week  with my T-25 10 week results!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thanks Coach

Today marks the end of the 60 Day Challenge I've been doing with Coach Bendel.  She created a facebook group to keep us accountable, and that really helped me stick to my commitments.  It was fun to participate, and of course Steph had some *creative* assignments. I lost one more pound this week.  Clearly, I have not yet mastered the art of the selfie, but I think you may be able to see some progress!  Working out and eating better will continue to be a part of my EVERYDAY life.  Thanks for helping me to make this change!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

T-25 Progress

Here are my progress pictures as promised in my previous post.  The first one is from this summer because I did not take a before picture.  At then end of Alpha I am down 8 pounds and feeling a lot better.   The scale has wobbled back and forth a little which I attribute to muscle gain; I feel much stronger. Beta is fun so far and I feel a lot more sore on the day we use weights.  I have some more revealing pictures, but I'm not comfortable sharing that with the world wide web at this time. 

In addition to exercise , eating cleaner has been another priority.  I've been trying to focus on getting a protein and veggies at lunch and dinner (breakfast is on the go in my car, usually toast, a banana, and coffee), reducing my carb intake, and eating more small meals through out the day.  I definitely have and enjoy a cheat sometimes, but it has really helped to cut out the overindulging I would do.  

I am proud of myself for sticking to this and thankful for friends who encourage me and keep me accountable.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Go, Dogs. GO!

This post in in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday, one of my son's current favorite books (though it's actually P.D. Eastman and not Dr. Seuss), some recently received client pictures, and the fact there was not another catchy snood blog post title in me.

See Dog.
     Dog has big ears.  
          See Hat.
               Hat has big ears
                    See Dog in Hat with big ears.

Dog sitting and wearing a tan reindeer snood.

A grey reindeer snood on a small Dog.

Dogs like snoods from Erma's Inspiration.

Not the Usual Post

Recently I've resumed trying to read a devotional everyday--much easier to do now with an app on my i-phone.  Today's really touched me. It was a reminder to slow down and observe life and its beauty, even in the everyday things like sunrise.  So I thought I'd share this. Here's the link

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fate, Friends, and T-25

Well, I've been rather absent lately.  Don't worry I have been crocheting!  However, I've also been busy with something else.  Something I've been meaning to do, but lacked commitment and support.

That all changed because of inspiration and encouragement from my friend, Stephanie.  Since my son's birth, I've yo-yo'd with my weight and exercise.  I lost a lot when he was born, even got into my pre-pregnancy jeans before he was 4 months old (please note, I did not say they were comfortable).  Then I began to pump to save up milk for him and did what ever I could to increase milk production (this meant lots of oatmeal cookies), then the added stress of getting back to work.  In the struggle to do it all,  I found myself eating--and craving-- all kinds of processed junk.  If Chips-A-Hoy were around and my husband wasn't, well guess what was for dinner.  I just did not make myself a priority, and when I tried to I caught the mom guilt.

Maybe I should call it the mom-daughter-wife guilt, because to go to the gym I had to leave my precious baby and either get my husband to watch him (which was unlikely because we have opposing hours most days) or get my mom to watch him, which I felt guilty for because she also watches him during the day.  Then I had to drive to the gym, try to get a work out in, and get back home as quickly as possible so I could have more time with my son before bed.  Just to be clear, my husband and mom never complained about watching him, it was totally my feelings.  In order to avoid leaving I tried working out at home, but I wasn't consistent for a variety of reasons.

I've been trying to do better for about a year now.  I've limited sweets, when it was warm I'd take Josh on a walk or to the park everyday.  And then we had a messed up summer and I was thrown off track.  Then I got busy working on my crochet business in addition to all the new NJ SGO and evaluation requirements.  Excuses, excuses...

Then, I noticed my friend Stephanie, who'd just had her second baby in the spring, posting some awesome pics of healthy meals and then some pictures she posted about how her body changed.  I was amazed.  In my mind I never believed my body could be great again, but then I looked at her.  The next thing I knew, she was announcing her new career as a beach body coach!

I was interested, but not sold, mostly because I did not believe in myself.  I messaged her a couple times about it, and then she made me an offer I couldn't refuse.  Part of her job is running challenge groups.  She started a group called "Moms on the Move" just for moms who were friends with her.  There was no cost, except for whatever workouts we chose to follow (I started with Jillian's Yoga Meltdown which I already had), and any supplements (like shakeology) you wanted. So for me it was free.   There was a points system and we were supposed to check in daily.  It started on January 6th.  My first two weeks were rough because of going on a conference at Hershey Lodge that first weekend, but I kept with it.

I committed to eating cleaner (mainly giving up carbs at lunch, soda, and dessert--I have a huge sweet tooth) and working out at least 3 times a week.  Baby steps.

Then one fateful Wednesday morning, during a content team meeting, that just happened to be two of us that week,  I mentioned this challenge group I was in. It had to be predestined, because my co-worker, Neshea, had the T-25 videos but really needed an accountability partner.  So we began to work out everyday afterschool.  January 27th was the day we started and I am happy to say, over three weeks in, we have not missed a day (yep, even with all the snow days--we both did them at home), and I've done doubles every Friday!

The changes in my body amaze me.  Every time I look in the mirror I think "Change can't happen this fast," but it has!  My stomach is  WAY tighter, my legs feel and look stronger, and I have so much more energy.  My attitude has done a 180.  I finally feel like this IS something I can do!  I've lost 8lbs so far.  There's a week and a half until I finish T-25 Alpha, and I'm so excited to share the results.

Sorry to sound like an infomercial, but this has made such a big difference in my life, I just had to share.  Thank you to my friends, Steph and Neshea, who have helped me get here, and my family for supporting me and watching J-man for a bit so I could sneak in my workouts!

You can check out Stephanie's Blog Here
Stay tuned for a follow up post around March 1st with my 30 day results.  Pictures included ;)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Who Wore it Best? Reindeer Snood Edition

So many of my customers have been kind enough to send me pictures of their dogs in my creations, I feel compelled to share them with the world (or at least the blogosphere).   I don't think anyone can really answer the title question, so just enjoy the cuteness coming at you!
Here's the original pair, Enzo and Lola

Here's the lovely Sun.

Danielle's Peanut

 And I can't leave out Ellen's niecedog and nephdog in their custom Green Hornet Snoods

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What do Violet, Princeton, the Green Hornet, and Dog Ears have in Common?

They were all part of the custom orders I completed this month.

Here is a collection I made for a little girl name Violet expected to arrive in April.  There is a set for her arrival and a set for her when it gets cold in the winter.  The hat is a variation of my Penny hat, one of my first creations!  The cowboy boots I've made before but never listed in my shop--that will have to go on my to do list.  I customized them by doing her initial in a lasso style font.

  Here's another custom baby shower gift.  This time for a little guy who's mom works at Princeton.  Too bad I didn't have a tiger to model it on. This is the first time I made a letter of the alphabet that wasn't embroidered or just a chain.

A friend's brother is OBSESSED with the Green Hornet; he even has the car to prove it.  His sister ordered these snoods for him and his wife.  (the flower is much prettier and less blurry in person.  It came out that way every time :/) The boy is based on Green Hornet colors and the girl's snood was made to coordinate.  

And finally, one more custom snood.  A customer contacted me through Etsy to see if I could make a snood with ears like her chihuahua, Bijou.  How did I do?