Crochet Style: Review

 

Every Christmas I receive a generous Amazon gift card from work. I am an admitted autodidact, so I spend a good amount of the gift card on “continuing education” for myself. This year I purchased some books on writing, and specifically, copy writing. I also picked up an updated version of a book on non-profit fundraising. With a bit of money left over at the end, I decided to focus on my new favorite hobby–crocheting.

If you have read here, or  have been hanging around my Facebook or Instagram–or even following me on Pinterest, you can’t help but noticed that I fell down a crochet rabbit hole.

Crocheting was a great diversion when my oldest went off to Basic Training last spring, and I found, over the course of the year that it has had a fabulous effect on my stress levels.

I made several blankets–all multicolored stripes, with mixed stitches, which was a great way to learn to crochet. Crochet is an incredibly forgiving craft. And the community of crocheters is always willing to help.

Here in North Dakota we have notoriously long winters. I have made some cold weather gear with patterns that I have found online–which is hit or miss in regards to pattern quality. As a relative beginner, I like a well-written pattern, and as someone with a few miles of yarn in my stitch history, I appreciate a more complicated design.

I hit the jackpot when I ordered Crochet Style, Over 30 Trendy, Classic and Sporty Accessories for All Ages, by Jennifer Dougherty. Jennifer has several crochet patterns for sale at both Ravelry and Etsy, and this collection of more than 30 patterns is a great bargain–and will keep me busy for many more weeks!

Dougherty  is a very skilled artist and writes crystal clear patterns. This book is chock full of cold weather gear for the family–and each pattern has sizing for several different sizes–all written as a separate pattern.

I’ve made several hats from the book so far, including this cute cabled beanie that I made for myself (I never get a chance to make things for myself!)–Never mind the awkward office selfie–a working mom has to do what she has to do! Cabled beanie

I’ve made several hats for the girls using this book. These are not necessarily quick projects, as they are almost all highly textured (which does add warmth for these North Dakota winters).

Most designs call for worsted weight or bulky yarn, and a very few call for super bulky yarn.

The photos in the book are gorgeous. Each design has a really good summary page at the beginning with suggested weights of yarn, hooks and special supplies needed.

Another great feature is the lay flat binding. This softcover book is stitched such that I can have it open on my lap while working and not lose my place.

While there are a few projects that would suit a beginner, I think this book would be best enjoyed by an intermediate crocheter.

I’ve really enjoyed working on projects from this book during my daily Morning Make time after dropping a kid off at swim practice and before the other kids wake up.

 

Working Mom Challenge: Margin

Working mom challenge Remember when you had your first baby? Do you remember the most ANNOYING bit of advice that the church ladies gave you? I’m going to guess that it was this: “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” I’m certain that they meant well, but my first baby did not sleep. Ever. Like, not even in the hospital. I spent much of his first year trying to find him interesting things to look at. He did eventually learn to sleep–sometime between his 18th and 20th birthdays, and he now can successfully sleep through any home project that is going on, such as vacuuming, laundry, or lawn mowing.

This advice was well-meaning. And perhaps, if that kid had slept, I MIGHT have taken it. But probably not. I was young, and I had a lot less need of what I need so much now in my 40s. Margin.

Margin and balance are the self-care elements that I crave so much more now that I work full-time. While I still want to do all the things, I know that if I try, I will end up burnt out and resentful.

So, as I get busier at work, I learn to at least try to say no more outside of work. My busiest time at work is in the fall, when the kids also seem to be busiest with school and sports. There are class parties, and cross country team trips, and PTO fundraisers. Meanwhile I am super nose-down all day at work trying to make three major events to run smoothly. In the fall, I am the mom who sends napkins for the class party. And I no longer feel guilty about it. To me, it is the working mom equivalent of sleeping when the baby sleeps.

This time of year is much more routine and “regular” at work. This is when I can say yes to more things. This is when I can  send a cute snack to school for the Twins’ birthday (they are going to be SEVEN on Saturday!!!!!) Tune in later this week for my working Mom cute Snack Tutorial!  This time of year I can consider helping out with sporting events.

Saturday I had a rare, unscheduled weekend day. IT WAS FABULOUS! I did really sexy, exciting things–like do all of the laundry, vacuum the living room, and clean the kitchen. But I also had the joy of reading for hours with the girls, binge watching Little House on the Prairie, and crocheting (another) hat.

I encourage you to leave an unscheduled weekend day for yourself every few months–resist the temptation to add something in. You might have to (gasp) say no to someone to get such a day, but I assure you, it will leave you refreshed and renewed!

I’m doing a few other things to insure some margin in my day to day life. My freshman is on the swim team this year (which makes me indescribably happy!) and has 6 am practices 4 or 5 days a week. I am NOT a morning person, but I crave alone time. So, I have begun spending an hour each morning after dropping him off in a “morning make”. I brew my pot of coffee, turn on the news, and crochet for a solid, quiet, blessed hour!!!By the time I have to wake the other kids, I am caffeinated, un-stressed (crochet is SO zen for me), and ready to face the day. As a side benefit, I am then tired enough to get to bed at a decent hour at night! I do NOT check texts or social media during this time. As a matter of fact, I don’t log in to anything until I am at work and even then, not until after I do my daily reading.

Adopting one laundry day a week has given me some space in my week as well. Laundry day may be busy–but I only have to fold and put away clothes one day a week! Somehow that reduces my stress the rest of the week. I no longer feel like I have laundry looming over me. Now, this did take getting all of my laundry caught up at once–blizzard to the rescue!!!

I’m also sticking to my plan of meeting up with girlfriends for lunch regularly. As much as I crave alone-time, I also crave time with friends!

Chime in! How do you create margin in your working mom life?

#MomWinWednesday: Frazzled Mom Edition

#MomWinWednesday

#MomWinWednesday

 

 

On Wednesdays we share our prayer requests over on the Facebook page, and we share our #MomWins big and small here on the blog.

On Tuesday I had to be a grown up and go back to work after 11 glorious days at home with the family. I did not fuss or cry. #MomWin.

Today I forgot to put food in the slow cooker for dinner tonight AND we had a rehearsal at church. I resisted the urge to hit the drive through and made bacon and eggs instead. #MomWin.

And that, friends, is really all I have on this busy week. I’m in survival mode, y’all! (Also, my husband bought a new humidifier for our duty winter air house. It works, but it is so much white noise! I hate white noise. #MomWhine (or wine?)

 

please share your #MomWins in the comments!

Our Cozy Little Christmas

Snow
The view from our house Monday morning–halfway through the blizzard,

One of the odd parts about being a clergy family is holidays. While the rest of the world seems to be heading out on exciting vacations,or visiting far-flung relatives, our family is tied to the church. Don’t get me wrong, I love our family and the traditions we have formed over the years, but there is always a little bit of a tug–a what if. 

This year was already shaping up to be different. With both Christmas and New Years Day falling on Sundays, I was guaranteed two four-day weekends off from work–and so, I decided to take the middle days off as well, netting me over a week of vacation time. I was picturing days of blissfully crocheting. I even brought home some books from work–a bit of continuing ed, if you wish.

I no sooner got home on Thursday night that the wether reports were becoming more and more dire. we were going to have a blizzard of epic proportions–on Christmas. It would be our third blizzard in as many weeks. We were not even sure if we would be able to hold Christmas Day services at church. I spent Friday–along with all of Bismarck–at Target, stocking up on essentials, and junk food, and festive food, and extra milk–just in case. 

And then we waited. And waited. And waited. I was certain we would wake up to a new blanket of snow on Christmas morning–but instead, the sun shone brightly–so off to church we went. It was a lovely service that we enjoyed–and we also enjoyed watching our anxious children squirm in anticipation of the gift opening that would follow church. On our way home it began raining and sleeting, but no snow. 

By 1 PM, our promised snow began–and continued to fall and blow for about 24 hours straight. We were officially snowed in. As a mom to six, I was delighted! it was the best Christmas gift I could ever ask for! Just our little family of eight, all home alone–with no outside distractions or work or coming and going for three whole days. 

Perhaps the teens would argue that it was too much togetherness–but for me–it was perfect! 

By Thursday our road was finally plowed, and I was ready to go into town again. 

And now on New Year’s Day, guess what we are watching for? You guessed it! Another storm! I’m not sure where we will put all of this snow, but I must say, I LOVE this! I feel like I live in a lovely snow globe, and I am enjoying every minute of togetherness with the ones I love most!

Looking Back–Looking Ahead

It is amazing to see how far this little space has come. When I began blogging, I was a homeschooling mom of 4. Now I am a working mom of 6-but with one of those six fully-grown and another who will reach adulthood this coming year.

Navigating the changes of motherhood is rewarding, challenging, and sometimes, downright scary. And yet, through it, I have had this space to hash things out, get advice, and share some of my joys and burdens with you. And for that, I am forever thankful.

And because of that, I resolve to nurture this place a little more. This space,  that has given me so much (including lasting friendships), deserves some more of my time.

Here is some of what I hope to share with you all in the coming year:

  1. More Working Mom Wisdom and #MomWin Wednesdays.  We moms need to celebrate our successes, and the joys and obstacles of the modern working mom are still some things I am working through in my brain.
  2. I want to share more of my crocheting with you. It has been one of the most fun changes in my life in 2016. Through some yarn and hooks, I feel connected to my childhood with my grandma, I work through stress, and create beautiful things for friends and family. If all goes well, perhaps a Dakotapam Etsy shop may be in the works.
  3. Homemaking Tips–21 years of marriage in, and I’m still learning, but I have picked up a few helpful things along the way (hint–less stuff is a GREAT starting point!)
  4. More Cooking for 8! Keeping my growing family well fed has always been a kind of fun challenge. I tend to strike a balance between from-scratch and convenience foods, and sometimes, for fun, I just cook from a box–sadly, these meals are a HUGE hit–likely due to the novelty factor.
  5. I hope to share a book a month with you–some fun, some meaty, and some for the kiddos! I love to read–but my crocheting tends to get in the way! I hope to use YOU as my motivation.

Mostly, I just want to spend more time with you, and I hope you are all up for coming along for the ride. Please feel free to share those things that you find helpful–I love making new friends too!  And please, don’t be a stranger in the comment section! I love to hear from you all!

And now, a quick question for you: What do YOU want to see more of in this space? Leave me a comment or pop over to our Facebook page to let me know!