Married to the Empire

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Crafting Success and a Bit of a Fail

I have a fabulous book called The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts.  It's a really great resource for making all sorts of things out of ribbon.  I tried one of the jewelry crafts out of it this weekend, and it was a total success!  All it takes is a piece of ribbon, some beads, needle, and thread.  It's totally customizable, as you can make it any length you want and use any size beads and ribbon.

I wore it to church on Sunday and received several compliments.  I know something is a success when other people like it!

The fail was in my attempt to dye pearls with a natural dye--in my case, red onion skins.  Martha Stewart has a really great project for dyeing pearls with Rit Dye, but I found a thing online listing ways to do it with natural materials.  I opted to try red onions because I didn't particularly want to go out and buy bottles of dye.  That was just me being cheap thrifty. 

Back in my bridesmaid days, it seems like the brides were always giving strings of pearls to me to wear in the wedding.  They've all just sat in my jewelry box ever since because I'm an admitted jewelry snob who would rather wear my real pearls.  I decided to put these fakes to use by attempting to dye them and use them in new pieces of jewelry.  Part of crafting is finding new uses for old things, after all!

Well, here's the thing.  Martha Stewart's instructions call for glass pearls.  I assume you really need glass pearls for the natural dyes, too.  But I have no idea what these fake pearls are made of.  I was just experimenting. 

Pearls placed in double boiler

Red onion skins added to make a nice purplish dye
The pearls didn't seem to be taking the dye in a timely manner, so I let them sit overnight.  And this is the end result:

The bracelet I threw in didn't really pick up any color at all. (And bits of the beads are flaking off now.)  The necklace took on a greenish-yellow tint.  It's actually not a terrible color, but against my skin tone, it will make me look sick.  Now, I could probably make a necklace out of it like the turquoise one in the first picture, but I would definitely have to give it to someone who doesn't have my fair, pink skin tone.

Bit of a craft fail?  Yes.  But I did enjoy trying it out, and I wasn't out any money for it, which is a good thing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Trusting God Through Pregnancy

Psalm 62:1-2
Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
The above has been my cling-to passage in pregnancy.  It's been a rollercoaster of emotions, which is probably normal, but I've had more worries than the average woman.  Being of advanced maternal age and having various health problems has turned pregnancy into something of an emergency.  I had to see a high-risk OB for a while, and my specialists are freaking out about various things.  My rheumatologist recently ran all the Lupus panels on me again, and instead of seeing me once a year, I'm now seeing him monthly. 

And yet, I mostly feel fine. 

My last visit with the high-risk OB had me leaving in tears.  The nice thing is that she always did a sonogram at every single visit.  The bad thing is, she always did a sonogram.  With lots of measurements.  My last visit took forever because she was examining the baby and doing measurements for a very long time.  Finally, I was told that everything looked fine, except his nuchal fold measured too big.  That could indicate chromosomal abnormalities.  Then I was told she didn't need to see me anymore, please call after I have the baby to let her know how things turn out, try not to worry, and nice to meet me. 

I really hate to cry in front of people.  I mean, I hate it.  But there I was, sitting on the exam table, sucking back tears because I knew I had to walk through the waiting room full of other expectant couples.  Then down the hall, to the elevator, and eventually through the hospital's main entrance.  I mostly held it together until I got to my car, where I let loose with wracking sobs I couldn't control.  I remember screaming at God, "WHY?!"  And I'll even confess to telling him the utter unfairness of giving my sister 4 healthy children, and then giving me, the girl who was perfectly happy without kids, a messed-up one. 

Because, of course, my mind had already gone to the surety that my baby isn't perfect. 

My husband has been my rock throughout all of this.  He didn't jump to the conclusions that I did when I phoned him, then couldn't even talk for the first few minutes.  After I explained the situation, he reminded me of something I'd just told him, but hadn't paid a lick of attention to: the nuchal fold measured just fine a month earlier.  The doctor had said that.  Babies don't suddenly develop chromosomal abnormalities; they start out that way.  So it was probably just a fluke.  But even if it wasn't, we'd still love this baby just as much. 

I really, really love that man.  Thirteen years of marriage, and it just gets better and better. 

It also helps that friends started telling me their own stories of bad sonogram readings, then all was fine when baby was born.  I desperately needed to hear that. 

Thing is, I'm scared.  I'm scared of everything having to do with having babies.  I'm not a baby person.  At all.  If you have a baby, truthfully, I don't want to hold it.  It's not personal; I'm just not interested.  I don't care if people judge me for that.  I'm being honest.  Yet here I am, having a baby of my own.  This little, helpless person is being given to me.  And he's a gift.  I know in my heart that he's a gift from God.  I have high hopes for this little person, and I'm so scared of screwing things up.  I already harbor incredible guilt that I have to take migraine meds every single day.  I've never truly been angry with God, but that... that sent me over the edge, with pleading to him, begging him to take the pain away so I wouldn't risk damaging this small child inside me. 

God has chosen not to answer that prayer.  I don't know why.  And I finally came to that point that I just have to trust him.  For everything.  He knows I need my meds and can't function through the pain without them.  So I have to simply believe that he'll protect this child within me.  And if he doesn't, well, I won't understand it, but I'll know that somehow it was part of his plan.  Same for if our son turns out to have chromosomal abnormalities.  His plan is always good, even when we can't see far enough ahead to know it for ourselves. 

But I won't lie.  Trusting God is really, really hard sometimes.  However, when you're at that helpless state where there's nothing you can do but worry or trust, trust is always the better, the somewhat-easier option. 

The latest health scare is the potential for gestational diabetes.  I failed the glucose screening by a mere 3 points.  I went in this morning for the 3-hour fasting test, then was sent home after things had gotten started because all the glucose drinks were expired.  Every single one.  *sigh*  It's never easy.  But again, I just have to believe that whatever the outcome, God will lead me through it. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Clearing Out: Sadness

Once I got the closets done last week, I took a break from cleaning.  At this point, I really need Steven's assistance to go any further.  (Meaning, I didn't touch any of his stuff last week.)  But I'm still tossing stuff here and there when I run across it. 

I didn't expect the tears that came when I pulled this from the bottom of my laundry basket:

It's the cover of Calvin's first (and favorite) bed.  The bed itself was tossed several months ago after he'd peed on it, and it couldn't be salvaged, but I'd washed the cover, then it got buried in my laundry basket.  I think the tears fell because I knew I'd be throwing it away.  It wouldn't have hurt me if I'd thrown it away while he was still alive, but now that he's gone, I feel as if I'm trashing a piece of him.  I know that's probably all kinds of silly, but emotions are funny things. 

I'm thinking I may cut a piece of it to put in his scrapbook. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Clearing Out: Success!

If only I'd thought to take "before" pictures. 

The guest room closet once contained:
  • Gifts to be given
  • Boxes and packaging for gifts and mailings
  • Overflow linens
  • Costumes
  • Letterman jackets
  • Games
  • Halloween decor
  • General junk
It now looks like this:

I'm left with empty hangers, empty plastic shelving, a laundry basket, and 3 stuffed animals.  My ancient and well-loved Cookie Monster and the Bunny my aunt made when I was probably 2 years old will become the baby's.  The stuffed turtle (that you probably can't really see) is still mine.  I use it on car trips behind my back. Weird, I know, but it helps with pain. 

So where did everything go?  This took movement between 4 closets.  Here's the breakdown:

  • Steven's and my letter jackets are now in the master closet.  My sister's jackets are at my mom's house.
  • The overflow linens from the guest closet are now in space bags in the master closet.  I also moved the sheets for our bed from the linen closet into the master. 
  • All Halloween decor, which was in both the guest and linen closets, is now in the master.
  • Steven's costumes are now in the closet in the weight room (former Star Wars room).  My costumes (all 2 of them) are in the master, hanging with my dresses.
  • The games are now in the linen closet.
  • I moved all medications and such from the linen closet to the master.  This helped create room in that closet for the baby's sheets and stuff, and also put meds in a more child-safe area.
  • Gifts and packaging are all in the craft room closet.
The craft room closet got a major overhaul and cleaning out during this process.  I didn't realize just how much extra space I had in there! 

I took 5 bags and 1 big box of junk to Christian Community Action.  I'm still collecting more, I'm sure, as I still need to go through the guest room itself.  I'll need to move the cats' beds out of the guest room and into the weight room so they'll get used to sleeping elsewhere.  (That might be hard for Doogie, as he's spent 12 years sleeping in the guest room!) 

There's still a ton to do, but this was the worst of it, I think.  We've already received several gifts for the baby, and I've had no place to put them.  Now I have an empty closet just waiting for his things.  Being able to move stuff in there is a tremendous help when it comes to cleaning up the guest room in order to turn it into a nursery.  Living childless in a house for 12 years makes for some colossal shifting of stuff when Baby comes along! 

I can hardly wait to show my husband how much I've done in his week away.  He comes home from camp tomorrow! 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Clearing Out: Part 2

The Great Purge is more like the Great Messing Up.  My house is now officially a disaster.  I thought the hallway was bad:

It's lined with stuff to be given away or thrown out. 

But then I got started on the closet in the craft room, which meant pulling a bunch of stuff out.  Here's what I'm facing now:

I pulled out some plastic shelves that have never been terribly accessible.  I cleared everything off of them, so I figured I didn't need them anymore.  The bonus would be a nice big space for my wedding dress!  Or so I thought.  With the makeshift shelves that are still in there, I can't get the giant dress box in there.  It gets wedged.  *sigh*  So now the wedding dress is sitting in the hallway, just waiting to find a new home.  This is hard!

The master bedroom is a bit of a mess, too, but at least it's nothing like the disaster I created in the craft room:

The vacuum cleaner is out like that because I bought some Space Bags today.  Yes, I succumbed to infomercials.  But you know what?  They work!  They're not all neat and pretty and perfectly cubed like on TV, but it'll do.  These 2 bags contain a down comforter and 4 pillows:

This makes storage a lot easier now with the airy bulk sucked out.  Every little bit helps at this point!  The guest room was the catch-all for overflow linens, boxes, gifts, games, etc., so this is some serious reshifting of stuff going on. 

I'm also having to clear out some space in the linen closet for towels and sheets for Baby, so that meant clearing out space in the master bedroom closet.  And I did it!!!  At least in the midst of all the mess, there's some degree of success that I'm able to see.  Even better, when I posted on Facebook about the oodles of jeans I'm getting rid of, a friend who is originally from the Philippines said she'd take them.  She sends boxes of stuff back home to help those in need, and that includes jeans.  So it's nice to know that some of my cast-offs are going to a good cause. 

Hopefully I can get all this mess cleaned up before Steven returns home from camp.  I'd hate for him to walk into a disaster after a week of hard labor.  What a nice surprise it would be for him to come home to a clean and reorganized house, instead.  I've got 2 days...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Clearing Out

Oh my.  I posted about needing the nesting instinct to kick in so that I can clean out the mess of a guest room in order to make it into the baby's room.  Well, that instinct has not kicked in.  But determination has.  My husband is out of town this week at youth camp, and I'm home alone, so it seemed a good time to just dive in and begin to tackle the wreck. 

This is a highly-involved process, I think.  Our house isn't terribly big, I'll have to clean out several closets in order to make room for the things that are currently occupying the guest room/closet, and I'll need to create space for all the new baby things that will be coming in soon.  I'm already overwhelmed. 

Going through the closet in the soon-to-be-baby's room, I found things like this:

Time to suck it up and just toss the old high school drill team uniform in the giveaway pile.  Not really sure why I still have it.  It's not as if I still fit into it, and even if I did, why on earth would I wear it? 

This is trickier, though:

After my wedding, my mother had my wedding dress cleaned and heirloom-boxed for me.  It's a wonderful thing.  But it's big.  Really big.  I have no idea where to put this now!  There is literally no room in any of our other closets for something this large, and the attic is out of the question.  This is Texas, and the temps up there would destroy my beautiful dress.  We're having a son, so you might wonder why I don't just get rid of it.  Well, I have four nieces.  I can't help but think that one of them might want to wear my dress someday. 

I'm thinking I'm going to have to be ruthless in getting rid of other things in order to make room for what's most important to me.  Have I mentioned that I'm overwhelmed?!

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Our youth group leaves tomorrow after church for camp.  I didn't get to go last year because of a sick pet, and now I can't go this year because of pregnancy.  I hate missing out, but it can't be helped.

The next best thing to going to camp is adopting a camper.  We do this every year, and the students really look forward to it.  They fill out a form with things like hobbies and favorite snacks listed, and whoever "adopts" them sends them off to camp with a bag full of goodies and the promise to pray.  I've really enjoyed putting together a bag for my camper this year. 

I wound up making her bag in 3 of her 4 listed favorite colors.  I filled it with her favorite snacks, a water bottle, a water gun (as I heard a rumor that she may be needing it this year), gum, a bag of quarters for buying drinks at vending machines, a pack of multi-colored pens, and some homemade things. 

A flower pin/hair thingy made with a new die I bought for the Sizzix my cousin gave me.  LOVE the Sizzix!

A doctored up composition book

Close-up of the bible verse on the composition book

Stamped-velvet bookmark with her initial on it and a paper bookmark

Close-up of the bible verse on the paper bookmark

I just hope she likes it all!  More importantly, I hope she has a wonderful, spiritual-growth-filled week at camp!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day

This 4th of July is less eventful than last year's. No feline humiliation this time.  But I did make a banner using the Pledge of Allegiance rubber stamp a reader gave me a while back and a Sizzix passed on to me by my cousin.  Y'all rock! 

Hope everyone has a blessed day, as we celebrate our freedom!