Monday, June 17, 2013

Poverty isn't funny(Rant Warning): I am about to get really real.


Last weekend I was heading up to the park for a hike when I walked past something that made me really angry. Well I was only angry for a second, it was quickly replaced by me fighting the tears that were starting to fill my eyes. I have a lump in my throat just thinking of it now.
 What I saw was a sign tacked to a tree left over from a child's lemonade stand. The lemonade stand was a part of one of a neighbors art sale and it read " Children of Starving Artists Lemonade Stand".
 I know the sign was meant to be a joke but it wasn't funny. Not to me. Not at all.
First of all, they are not starving. They have a beautiful home with attached art studio, something I can only dream of ever having. I also know it isn't the only home they own, they have rental homes as well.
Maybe I shouldn't share such private things, but it is my hope there are others out there who can relate. I am about to be brutally honest. Please check back another time for pretty pictures of Oregon and lighter topics, I assure you I don't go here often.
We have been down on our luck now for about five years. Three layoffs and an unexpected pregnancy and a huge rent increase on top of not having any savings at all and no credit cards to fall back on. It has been very hard to say the least on Ben and I, on our marriage and our children.Ben's unemployment for the last six months didn't even give us half of what we needed to meet out monthly bills. We had to rely on luck and odd jobs to fill the VERY large gap. I was really blessed for several weeks with  a really fun creative job that saved us for a brief moment.
 Just living paycheck to paycheck sounds pretty great right now, just having enough for once. Living in poverty is shameful and isolating.Ben and I are very used to doing without, we don't go one dates or buy gifts for each other for birthdays or holidays(we do for the children),I haven't seen my family in about 4 years due to the cost of airfare, we never turned the gas heat on last winter, we had to rely on space heaters and electric wall heaters. Our power bill gets turned off...quite often. The list goes on and on. Despite having a bachelor's degree I have not had any luck finding a job which I am sure is due to my lack of work experience. Being a stay at home mom for the majority of the last 12 years despite attending art college,having a costume design internship,  a job teaching a weekly craft time, and an Etsy shop, I don't have much else to show for it.
Things are looking up though. My husband was rehired by his old employer so that is good news. The only downfall is that he works away from home out of state for weeks at a time which leaves me to care for everyone alone which can be extremely overwhelming. But that is the sacrifice we have to make to get ourselves out of this hole.
 But back to the lemonade sign. We have been down on out luck, but we still have a place to live and we are able to eat everyday. We live in a pretty trendy neighborhood  that gets a lot of foot traffic. Many of the people who frequent our neighborhood are transients and folks who rely on collecting cans out of the garbage to get by. I can't even imagine how they would feel to walk by and read that sign and then look up to see the beautiful home behind it.
I am sensitive to the "starving artist" stereotype and guilty that I chose to go to art school rather than to pursue a more practical career. My husband went to school for sound recording and music and we often joke about our impractical career dreams, we were parents already even way back then.
I feel sad for all the things my children have to do without. My eldest daughter just finished 6th grade and after the last day of school I asked her why they didn't get a yearbook. Well the other kids did, she told me she was afraid to ask me for money for a yearbook because she thought I would say that $20.00 for a book was way too much. That really broke my heart. I would have made it happen if she would have asked me. It is just a little thing, but I still feel so bad.
I got a fortune cookie the other week that said "Quit worrying about money, the best things in life are free." Which I don't disagree with at all but it is easy to say when you have money for rent. A job layoff can happen to anyone, let us be sensitive to others in need. No one wants to live in poverty, to  let their families and children down and make them struggle.
Please fancy house with art studio, two cars, and a boat, please don't joke about your starving children.

I found a great blog post HERE that I think anyone can benefit from reading, despite your financial situation.Saving money and wasting less is good for all of us.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Yarn along: Teacher's gifts and a sock and a half...


Joining along with Ginny this week for the Yarn Along.

 I made a few more knit cacti as  thank you gifts for Solomon's preschool teachers. Yesterday was his last day of preschool. Bittersweet, but he will be back at the same school at the end of the summer for camp. I am so excited for because the camp is called box city and they plan and  build an entire city out of large cardboard boxes. If you only knew how much this little guy likes boxes, fort building is a daily event. So is tripping over them when trying to get from one room to another. Thanks Grandma Joan for making that happen for him!
This time I used super chunky yarn and size 10 dpn's so that the cactus would fit the bigger pots that I had on hand. Sollie ended up painting four pots because both sisters accidentally broke one when they were on the porch sitting out to dry. He was a really good sport about it and just kept painting one pot after another.I think they turned out cute. They were much bigger than the others I made back at Christmas time, they stood about 6 inches tall. You can find the super quick and easy pattern here.



Well I have made very little progress on my socks. When I have a little time to knit late at night when the wee ones are in bed the dark yarn and the tiny needles are just too hard to see so it has been slow going, a few rows here and there at nap time or waiting for water to boil for dinner. No rush, it is beyond wool sock weather anyway.

I am still reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I am about halfway through. I have a huge pile of novels to read for summer(thank you thrift store) so I better get a move on. Lately when I read at night my eyes cross instantly from exhaustion. Might have something to do with having three kids and a husband who works out of state. I have been fantasizing of a summer getaway, just me, a cabin near water, and a good book.....sigh. In my dreams.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fun little hair clips...


I am totally addicted to making these cute hair clips. I just wish I could make them as fast Nalah can lose them. She has some crazy bangs that are always hanging in her little face, but rips out ponytails and clips as soon as I put them in. I considered cutting her bangs a few weeks ago until I started making these. I have a ton of eco felt so I used that but once my embroidery skills improve and Nalah stops ripping them out and throwing them I will be ordering some wool.
This would be a fun craft-a-long party to do with other Mama's with little girls. Super quick and easy.  I love how portable this project is, no sitting in front of the sewing machine and you can even take a few supplies outside in your yard and craft in the sunshine.There are so many tutorials out there and I can find the specific one I used for the rose clip but if you just Google it there are ton of ideas out there! I found the rose tutorial on line and just made up the rest. I have a lot more ideas...




With the hot weather I have been trying to find new ways of getting my hair out of the way. My hair is literally down to my butt and it is too hot to wear down on super hot days. I am getting tired of the same old pigtail braids and pony tail so I have been finding some fun hairstyle ideas on Pinterest and Youtube.

Here is a braided side bun I tried last weekend. It turned out pretty well and lasted all day even after a pretty long hike. Know of any tutorials for super long hairstyles? Please share.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

12th Anniversary Hike...





 Ben and I have a tradition of hiking around the many waterfalls in Oregon on our Anniversaries. One of the best Anniversaries we had was our 5th,when we got to hike the Eagle Creek trail to Punchbowl Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, just the two of us. Ben's parents were visiting and took care of Sophie for the day and the following night. In our 12 years of marriage we have gone on only a handful of dates so when we do it is really a big deal to us.
This year we took our little tribe to the Silver Falls State Park to do some hiking and have a picnic lunch. The picnic didn't go so well with the two littlest kids refusing to eat anything, despite my warnings of a long hike ahead ,but they were troopers on the hike and we had a good time. It was a good hike for the kids and me too actually with a 25lb baby on my back the whole time and a pretty steep hill to climb up at the end of the loop. We found a bench to rest at in the middle of the hike and took a nursing and diaper change break, we met another family with a babe Nalah's size who was walking alongside her parents who had no backpack carrier for her along with them and they were going another 4 miles! Oh my goodness, that is hardcore!! Living in the city my kids can't handle that kind of hardcore hiking, not even my 12 year old who complained most of the way back. Me,I was happy as a clam I need to find a way to get out more. I am determined to find a local hiking group I can join this summer so I can do some real hiking on a regular basis without dragging the kids along or having to brave it alone. 
I am so grateful to live in this beautiful state. Being very  limited on our travels since flying a family of five anywhere is so ridiculously outside our budget, I think we are very fortunate to be "stuck" here.



Monday, June 3, 2013

12 Years.....

( back in 1999)
  We celebrated our 12th Anniversary yesterday. I thought I would share a picture from early on just for fun. We have been friends since High school and started dating only after Ben left for college and I was still finishing up my senior year. We survived two years of a long distance relationship and talked of getting married someday. Well that someday was sooner than we thought after we found out we were going to be parents. So at the young ages of 20 and 21 we got hitched, sort of in a shotgun- wedding- hey- we- have- a- two- month- old- baby kind of style, but I really believe it would have happened anyway.  We haven't had the easiest life with several lay offs in the last few years and poverty looming over our heads, it has been really hard on us and has tested our marriage, but I believe we go too far back to let money issues destroy us. He has been my best friend for the last 14 years and I couldn't ask for a better guy and Papa for my kids. I love you Ben.