My own little super reader.
Easy pumpkin applique bag
I've never been one much for Halloween (I loved it as a kid, but as an adult, I've never gotten that into it). But it was fun to see Max sort-of understand what Halloween was this year. Of course, after we put on his costume and went outside, it took me 10 minutes to convince him to get off the swing-set and go trick-or-treating. But once he got the hang of (and saw candy bars getting dropped into his bag), he was into it.

I'm happy with how the SuperWhy costume turned out, except the mask (which I couldn't even get him to wear anyway). And as an added bonus, while searching for inspiration for the various parts of the costume I discovered a T-shirt pattern (Simplicity 5317) that I really love and will definitely use again (sans cape and SuperWhy logo). I've been struggling to find a good T-shirt pattern for Max all summer (my own attempts to draft one from existing shirts never worked, and the few patterns I tried weren't quite right in the neck). But I love how this one fits.

I also whipped up a fun pumpkin trick-or-treat bag (made from denim, with orange pin dots for the pumpkin and craft felt for the face). It reminded me that sometimes it's okay to just make a cute little bag without lining or finished seams or fancy details.

So I've declared tomorrow the start of my baby-weight-reduction plan. But the bowl of leftover candy begs to differ . . .
I really like what I do--love it most of the time. And in the first few weeks after having Georgia, I desperately wanted to get back to my normal work schedule. But this week, I can't for the life of me figure out why! I just Don't. Want. To. Work. I want to coo with the baby, make Halloween crafts, take long walks, rake leaves, watch Ellen, go to the fabric store and dream up new sewing projects--anything but browse press releases for story ideas, interview sources, and drum up more work.

But alas, the bills must be paid (apparently, magazines won't keep sending you checks unless you keep filing stories). So, it's back to work. Bleh.
  I love October madly, except for one thing: it signals the end of our awesome local vintage market circuit. And since I was ridiculously pregnant this summer, and it was 300 degrees most weekends, I only got to hit up a few flea markets. Sure, there are antique stores to tide me over for the winter, but it’s just not the same.

My sister, Laura, and I love to scour places like the Springfield Antique Show and Flea Market (if you are anywhere near Springfield, Ohio, clear your schedule now for their May 2011 extravaganza—it’s that good!). This past year, I got an adorable 1950s diner table that I just wrote about on Shelterpop.
  (I got to interview Elyse Luray, which was really cool.)

  So, this is what I had as a table before . . .

And this is what I found at Springfield. Much better, don’t you think? The reproduction diner chairs are from Richardson Seating, but we ordered them through Target.

 The only bad thing is that the table is bit rickety, so you have to be careful about hitting the legs when you scoot the chairs in and out (otherwise, the water glasses start spilling over). And it’s a bit narrow. But I still love the way it looks in our kitchen. Since our little Cape Cod was built in 1949, this table feels like something that the original owners very well may have bought.

Who knows what next spring will bring? I, for one, can’t wait to hit the flea markets, sans swollen ankles.

 This morning, a lovely woman emailed me to tell me that she was moved by my essay about running a marathon with my sisters after the sudden death of my brother last November. I held my breath for a minute when I got her email, not realizing the piece was out just yet (it’s in the November issue of Whole Living magazine and online here). I knew it was coming out, and I had approved the final PDF, but still, the thought of seeing it in print sort of scares the bejesus out of me. It is, undoubtedly, the most personal thing I’ve ever written because it involves not just me, but my whole family. Writing it was one matter, but seeing it on a magazine page is quite another.  

I pondered this during my run this morning. I thought back to one year ago, when I was in the home stretch of training for the Philadelphia Marathon—a marathon I would never get to do. But I didn’t know that then, as I pounded out an 18-mile-run one October morning, feeling so confident and so ready. I didn’t know that in a few weeks, I’d get a terrible, confused call from my sister, Laura, telling me that our brother, Paul, was dead. I didn’t know that five days before the marathon, my family would be dealt this strange—though not exactly surprising—blow. I won’t rehash the whole essay here because I already wrote it as well as I could for the magazine (you can read a PDF of it here), but the story ends with my sisters and I doing our own homemade marathon on the Sunday morning we were supposed to do Philadelphia—the day after Paul’s funeral.
Sisters & me at mile 8
At my wedding (ponytail is Paul)
With our collages
 As my (very jiggly) postpartum body trudged along the pavement this morning, I also thought about what a year it’s been since he died. How my siblings and I have drawn closer together, and how I’ve stopped kidding myself with the idea that people live forever. I thought about how we were all together at my wedding a few years ago, and how--even then--I wondered how many more times we would all be lucky enough to be together to celebrate something happy.

I thought about how a few months after he died, my sisters and I made these collages to remember the day of the marathon. I thought about how therapeutic crafting actually is, and I know that's one of the main reasons I spend so much time doing it.

I thought about how last year at this time, I had just one baby, and now I have two (I got pregnant with Georgia about two weeks after our marathon). I thought about how much I need my family and how much I need running and how lucky I am to know what I need, and to get it. And I thought about Paul, and how it all should have been different, but wasn’t.  

That’s what’s on my mind today. Thanks for listening.
 For the last several weeks, Max and I have been talking about what he is going to be for Halloween. Last year, I made him a doggy costume (Butterick 6695) which was a big hit, although getting him to stand still for five seconds to admire his doggy cuteness (or even take a picture) was challenging.
Daddy holding the wild doggy
 This year, he was sort of enamored of the idea of a ghost (since Clifford was a ghost in the Clifford Halloween book). And that would have been an easy costume. We were almost going to do that, until I struck on the idea of him being Wyatt the Super Reader, from his favorite show, SuperWhy! (on PBS). He talks about SuperWhy! non-stop (everything is a Super Big Problem) and was immediately smitten. We gathered supplies for his costume yesterday at Jo-Ann’s (along with the 16,000 other parents there buying supplies for Halloween costumes). I don’t have any sort of pattern, but I’m pretty sure I can pull it off. I already have some green jammy pants I made a few months ago that are going to serve as the bottom, and then I’ll make a close-fitting green T-shirt for the top. I’m skipping the blue briefs, and just making a yellow belt. I’ll have to fake the eye mask a little. I bought some fabric sheets that can run through my printer (and then fuse to fabric) to create and fuse the SuperWhy! logo. I’ve never tried using the printable fabric sheets, so we’ll see. But if nothing else, I’m pretty sure no other kid out there will have the same costume!  

Georgia, in all her baby portliness, would make a great pumpkin. But I have a feeling I’m going to wimp out this year on that. I barely have time to tie my shoes before I go out the door, so I’m guessing that making two Halloween costumes just isn’t going to happen. I’ll make her something really special next year though, when she actually has a clue what’s going on.

Let the costume-making begin!
First, thanks for the great shout out on the Sew Retro blog!  She said such nice things about my book. I admit, when I discovered this blog (after the book was already named), I was a little nervous. But I’m glad that she saw that my Sew Retro wasn’t meant in any way to compete or steal thunder from her awesome blog (which I absolutely love, by the way!).

Okay, it’s the start of week four with the baby, and things are settling into a sort-of routine. I’ve been able to work for a few hours each morning and afternoon, which is just enough to keep up with the half-dozen or so story assignments I have. My body is getting used to functioning on less sleep, too, though I’m hoping that Georgia follows in the footsteps of her brother, Max, and sleeps through the night around six weeks.

All of this working my schedule around my kids’ schedule has got me thinking about how crafty women have been doing this for years, and how finding the balance between family and work has replayed itself again and again in each generation. Today, we have fabulously successful bloggers, fabric and pattern designers, and Etsy sellers, who also devote equal time to taking care of their families. It makes me think about the Women’s Domestic Institute, a correspondence school in Scranton, Pennsylvania that began sometime in the 19-teens, and was led for many years by Mary Brooks Picken (I have a bio sketch of her in the book).
Mary Brooks Picken
 Through the Institute, women received sewing lessons through the mail and learned the basics of making hats, garments, and accessories. Picken (1886 – 1981) was really a visionary: she saw that ready-made garment sales were picking up steam and that fewer women were sewing. She really helped to re-brand sewing: instead of sewing being old-fashioned, she showed that it was a viable way for a woman to run a lucrative and fulfilling home-based business. Picken promoted the work-at-home seamstress lifestyle as a way for women who took care of the home and kids to make their own money. An Institute brochure from 1923 says: “Through the Women’s Institute, the way is open for any women to fit herself right in her own home, without interrupting her daily duties, to become financially successful and independent as a dressmaker.” Picken helped women see that sewing could be empowering, not just from an artistic perspective, but also financially (and many women did report making good money putting their seamstress skills to work). Picken is an inspiration all around: she was incredibly prolific, writing 96 books about all manner of domestic arts, but mostly about sewing.

It’s really not much different than what this generation of mommy-preneurs is doing, as we find the balance between family and career. It’s challenging and frustrating and rewarding, but I take comfort in knowing that scores of women before me have figured it out!