I’m a knitter, not a quitter (but seriously, ruining a project is so sad)

I have been working on knitting a ballet sweater for Abbey (5 1/2) to wear at her Friday ballet and tap class at the local dance school. Their class meets in the downstairs room, and it gets very cold down there due to a secondary entryway to the building that is used by another business, and wafts brisk, cold, alaskan winter air into the hall and dance room.

For weeks, Abbey had been complaining about it being cold, but wearing a hoodie or sweatshirt didn’t work out well. So, the question was asked:

Mommy, can you knit me a ballet sweater?

We looked at patterns, picked one out together, and I ordered a nice fingering weight yarn. While I waited for the yarn to arrive, I practiced the pattern to make sure my gauge was good and that I understood the cabling part of the pattern, in order not to make a mistake with the real yarn. And when the real yarn arrived, Abbey and I both squee-ed together at how pretty and soft it was and I set out knitting the sweater for her.

Amywilla.com: I'm a Knitter, not a Quitter

Amywilla.com: I’m a Knitter, not a Quitter

For weeks, I worked on it. Every Friday she would ask if it would be done in time for ballet class, but she continued to wait, while I finished it. And when I finished it, she was so excited! Except, of course, there was something the matter: the sleeves were too tight under the arms. *doh!*

I promised her that I would try to fix it, and I did try, but I failed. Thankfully I had warned her that if I tried to take it apart, it may not work out, and I might not be able to salvage the sweater. I say thankfully I warned her, because of COURSE that is exactly what happened when I tried to take the sleeves apart from the bodice (which fit great!) and fix the size of the cap sleeves.

When I realized that I had ruined the sweater beyond repair, I lost it. Abbey was at school, Joseph was in his room playing, and Hubs had just arrived home from a busy day, and fallen asleep on the sofa. So, thankfully, only Hubs witnessed what I did. I had a major, giant, massive adult fit. I pitched this fit like a pro. I cried. Vehemently. Profusely. I cried like a little girl, and then I screamed like a sailor, and then I bawled like a baby. And then I repeated those things again, with body language added.

Hubs woke up very confused as I flailed about, sobbing and throwing knitting around. I was not very proud of myself at all when it was all over, but I was so distraught over the work and time and beautiful yarn that was lost by my inability to separate the sleeves without unraveling the whole thing beyond salvage. And more, I prayed that I wouldn’t break Abbey’s heart when I told her I had failed and she would have to wait longer for a ballet sweater knitted by mommy.

What I learned

Gauge is SO IMPORTANT in the sleeve area. The slightest tightness in your knitting in sections like the sleeves will make the sleeve too small.

There are different types of sleeves and ways of adding them in knitting. I am currently starting a new attempt at a ballet sweater, with raglan sleeves instead of sewn in cap sleeves. Adding sleeves by knitting raglan can help to ensure that the sleeve openings are large enough and somewhat stretchy.

I’m a knitter, not a quitter. At a certain point in my grief-stricken mommy-fit that I threw when I realized I had ruined the first sweater attempt, I screamed “I will NEVER EVER knit anything EVER again!” Yeah, that’s not true. As soon as I had calmed down, I was googling and messaging knitting friends on Facebook to find out the reason that I had made a mistake and made small sleeve holes, even though I followed the pattern exactly. Hubs was in the middle of reassuring me that it was okay to be upset and a little irrational about my mistake and the loss of Abbey’s sweater- and I was already trying to figure out what had gone wrong and how I could make sure that I could try again with better results.

Behind her strong-willed, intense personality, Abbey is incredibly forgiving and compassionate. Her response to my somber explanation that her sweater had to be thrown out?

“It’s okay mommy. If you want, you can try again, but it’s okay to be sad. You worked really hard on that sweater, and it hurts that its gone”

Amywilla.com: Abbey

Amywilla.com: Abbey

Seriously: what a sweetie. She might be catty at times (okay, a lot of the time.. . . )

but with a compassionate reply like that, I guess I really am doing something right.

Mamatography August 2013

Yep, it’s that time again: When Amy gets so busy that her Mamatography posts go from weekly to monthly.

That happen to any of you other mamas out there? I hope it’s not just me!

Since we finished our BIG PCS from Maine to Kodiak Island Alaska, I have been busy busy busy setting up our home, caring for our kids, meeting new friends, getting used to the island, training a new dog, starting my new semester of Public Health classes, and mapping out my classes left until graduation and cheering with joy that I’ll have a BS in Public Health in 2015! Yippee!

I have also been seeking out and enrolling Abbey in a preschool, enrolling myself in an online lactation conference (to continue my lactation-specific education for the IBCLC requirements), figuring out what toddler experiences there are available for Joe here on the island. . . and consequently remembering that Joe will be 3 this coming Spring. O – M – G. How is that happening.

What else. . .

I’ve also been planning Abbey’s birthday party, trying to wring out of the Silly Bears what they would like to be for Halloween (so that I can order in the required materials and get to planning and sewing) . . . oh, and I’m trying to set up a La Leche League meeting for the area AND re-establish my Silly Bear Handmade shop after the move.

And Hubs has been gone to school in VA for 3 weeks.

*Deep Breath*

But I have been taking pictures!


I have now finished this knitting project – - – a cotton hoodie from Toddler Hoodie pattern on Etsy for a special family member who turns one in a few weeks!


And this lovely project is now hanging in my kitchen window – - – used up some scraps on this one (that seems to be a theme with my sewing lately. . . you’ll see later)


Aha! More scrap busting going on in this photo – - – see if you can spot what this eventually became in one of the other August photos as you scroll down!


Abbey, who is turning 5 in September, has celebrated quite a few milestones recently: She weaned from the breast at the end of her full-term breastfeeding experience, she moved all the way across the country with us, and she started swimming lessons! I love this girl. So Much.


Joseph wasn’t such a fan of Abbey getting to swim and him not being able to (gotta be four to take swim classes, buddy! His response: “I AM four!” LOL).

But his new love interest, one of my new Coastie Wife friends, pepped him up with a surprise visit during Abbey’s swim class one day. He was very pleased.


Our handsome man modeling the fleece-crotched training pants I made him. Like Abbey, he is now having less interest in using the potty, but I’m hoping with gentle reminders, we’ll be out of diapers and potty learned around 3, like she was.

They’re super cute though – the trainers. I’m loving them. His little knees and cinnamon roll belly button are to die for too, though.


We’ve been doing lots of baking on rainy days. . . It’s easier to bake in our new kitchen. It’s about the same size as our kitchen in Maine, but not galley-shaped, and not a walk through area (unless you’re coming in the back door) . . . I like the space and Abbey likes being in it with me!


Blueberry Biscuits. Yummy.


Super easy (and sooooo delicious french bread)


And on a sunny day, we have lots of park time and coloring with sidewalk chalk!


Oh, and hiking.



And salmonberry picking.


Thankfully for my husband’s psyche, Abbey hasn’t dressed up Joseph as a girl in quite a few weeks. Glad I snapped this jewel when I did then!



We love dress up, but we love coloring more.


And we love our new puppy, Mya.


Raven stayed behind at Nana and Papas house because we weren’t positive that we wouldn’t harm her physically or emotionally by driving her (or shipping her) all the way to Kodiak. She is enjoying being spoiled rotten by her “grand-people” and though we miss her, we know she is happy and healthy and that is all that matters!

Abbey constantly tells Mya stories about “our other dog Raven”



I couldn’t help but post this picture of Joseph in a classic toddler moment. The “I refused to take a nap, so then we went on a hike to pass the time, and I fell asleep on the sofa when we got back.” One of many classic toddler moments. IMG_3671

Another knitting project. I can’t ever just do one thing at a time – - – can I?


Mya again.


Abbey being a puppy with Mya under my desk in my sewing room/office. Love my work buddies.

Have you seen the completed project yet? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, scroll back up the top. . .


My human work buddy brought me her rainbow bear to sit in my sofa pin cushion. So sweet.



Ah, there she is! My work buddy and my little mermaid!


Joe lined up all the ducks he could steal from the lifeguard’s basket and set them all up looking out the window.

I wonder what he was wishing about while Abbey was having her lesson? LOL



Oh yeah. . . park time!!!!!!!!!


And my post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of wild-caught fresh alaskan salmon. One of the perks of being up here on this isolated Alaskan island! Yum!


That was our August. How was YOURS?

mtbadge2This post is part of the Mamatography 2013 Project with Diary of a First Child and Momma Jorje.

We are taking (at least) a photo a day to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

Creating for the Family: Crafty Mama Monday

I have been a busy volunteer-Ombudsman, full-time-student mama lately. . . and crafty mama has not disappeared, but she’s been slowed down a bit.

Projects have gone on the back burner. Only the really vital projects that I’m creating for my family lately have actually gotten done. And I have a growing short-list of Silly Bear Handmade custom orders from friends. Plus baby and big sister/big brother gifts that I made for my family members that I have neglected to ship. Whoops!

I have, however, still been making progress at being crafty!

Here’s what I have been up to lately.

Knitted Wristwarmers

I have been enjoying knitting these wristwarmers (aka fingerless gloves) for about a month now, and they are finally finished! I started and ripped out the project three or four times before I chose a pattern that I loved and made the correct alterations to it to make it work for me.

I ended up using the Fetching knitting pattern to make these wrist warmers, and I added a few inches to the cabling portion to extend the length of them. I have long arms and none of my coats hit my wrist where they should. This used to not matter when I lived in Texas, but now that I am a transplanted New Englander, it matters so much! Cold wrists and blustery wind going up your coat sleeves . . . yikes! Not ok!

Next, I’m planning on knitting a coordinating hat for the winter ahead, using the same yarn that I used for the wristwarmers. Now, I am knitting a coordinating slouchy cabled hat. More on that in my next Crafty Mama Monday.

I’m also planning on knitting the Silly Bears and nieces and nephews some wool gloves using the Easily Adjustable Knitted Glove Pattern from They Are All Of Me.

But for now, $1 mittens from the Joann’s dollar section work just fine.


Night Time Diapers

This summer, I ordered some Maiden Mills Windpro fleece from a destash album on Facebook, with the intention of finally taking the advice of my fellow diaper sewers and making Joseph a FLEECE night time diaper instead of one waterproofed by PUL or using wool at night (neither of which were working for us).


The diapers I made work fabulously through the night, and I fully intend to make more and list them for sale in my Silly Bear Handmade shop. (Stocking is coming SOON and there will be a $10 diaper sale for the first 24 hours. . . so watch the SBH Facebook Page for sneak peeks and updates!)

Joseph used to wake up smelling like ammonia and having wet PJs and a red butt from contact with all the pee during the night. The fleece night time diapers I created for him eliminate these problems. It’s so wonderful!


I am in the process of writing a photo tutorial on how I made these fleece night time pocket diapers, so that those of you who would like to sew one for a Silly Bear in your life can do so with ease and enjoy the benefits.

They are wonderful! It’s one of those “why didn’t I do this sooner!?” moments. You can view a detailed description and all the photos of the diaper here –> Introducing the Silly Bear Handmade Night Time Fleece Pocket Diaper!!!!!!

I am so thrilled that I finally have a diaper that hands down works for nights. Wish I could have sewn it sooner!

Bedroom Curtains

Back in the summer, I made blackout curtains for Abbey and Joseph’s room, and wrote a photo tutorial to teach you how to make them yourself.

A dear friend asked me to help her with curtains for her 7-year-old’s room. She couldn’t find anything in the stores that thrilled her, so she gave me the free reign to come up with what I could to please her daughter’s taste and coordinate with the quilt that she had. She didn’t need black out curtains, so I sewed some simple cotton curtains for her that her daughter loves!

What have YOU been creating for YOUR family recently? 

Is there anything you have been eye-ing or keeping on a Pinterest page that you’d love to create, but you’re slightly timid to try? 

I’d love to connect with you about sewing, knitting, and creating for the family. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


Crafty Mama Monday

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Crafty Mama update!

Recently, I have been in a bit of a sewing rut, with my sewing machine in the repair shop, and the part that’s needed BACKORDERED for 6-8 weeks. . . the repair shop finally offered me a loaner machine, so I’ve been catching up on sewing projects that have been sitting around for a while, cut out but not sewn up.
To the left, you can see my growing pile of cloth napkins from scrap fabric. This has been an on-going project, and I’m planning on sewing napkins and un-paper towels for my Silly Bear Handmade shop after I finish the ones for our house. 
I’ve also finished the “subway art” project that I started back a few months ago. 
I decided to go with the “paint over” method after all. . . but I didn’t want to lose the pretty background that I had painstakingly created – so I decided to go with a slightly transparent cover layer, and I think it actually turned out pretty cool. I like the fact that it’s not super easy to read. What do you think?
I finally made a Toadstool Baby Rattle, but I knitted it with larger needles and yarn that I had in my stash, so it is one big rattle! I plan on making some more soon, though. They are super cute and fun to knit! Joseph loves his.  
I’m also still in the process of knitting and sewing up beanbags for my niece and nephew in Texas. . . this was supposed to be a Christmas present (ha!) so I really do want to get that finished as soon as possible.
And of course, I’m still sewing diapers. 
Right now, I am working on AIO (all in one) versions of my pattern, which so far are turning out great and working really well. I’m also learning to use Lastin clear elastic. It’s wonderful because it’s really stretchy and makes fora  good fit and it’s resistant to pee so it won’t wear out over time in a diaper. BUT it has a learning curve for sure. You can’t just do the easy-peasy tack and topstitch a casing with Lastin. More on that later!
Do you have any Crafty projects going on right now?

Do you need some inspiration or moral support to start a project that you’ve been wanting to try?


I have been busy lately. Busy keeping the house, mothering, and getting over a cold (plus getting the kiddos over their colds). I’ve also been knitting hand warmers/mitts for the three of us, to keep us from freezing our knuckles when we venture out to the park on there chilly fall afternoons.

Keeping me super busy on top of all of this is the quickly oncoming holiday season! I have so many projects going on that I haven’t had time to blog about yet. Don’t worry – I’m documenting them on film and in photos!

My projects include:

- Knitted Mitts for Joseph, Abbey, and myself: Abbey and Joseph’s are completed (and adorable). I am halfway through making mine. I used a free pattern download from Marianne Cant available on Ravelry. The original pattern is for infant “Sucky Thumb Mitts” but I adapted the pattern to fit Abbey’s hands, and mine too.

Here’s pictures of the kids’ finished mitts in action!

- Secondly, I’m working on a pair of mitts for myself. I can tell that they are not going to be as long as I’d like, but they’ll work to keep my knuckles warm while I’m working on a different pattern for mitts for myself :) I’m planning on knitting Susie’s Reading Mitts (also available for FREE on Ravelry) . . . my first venture into the realm of lace.

- After all that crazy mitt-knitting is over, I need to get back to my diaper sewing, and finish up a cloth napkin project that I started months (count them! months. . . ) ago. But I also have a knitting project (this one’s pretty easy) slash sewing project making a gift for my niece and nephew in Houston. 
- And there are more photo projects on Shutterfly that I’m in the middle of, too.
I’m hoping to be finished knitting, sewing, crafting, buying, designing, and ordering (oh, and wrapping and mailing) all of my gift-giving and card-sending nonsense by the time Hubs returns from patrol. I’ll give myself an extra-special pat on the back if I finish a week before we’re expecting the boat back. 
Hopefully small bouts of goal setting will keep me from getting too stressy.
What kind of projects are you tackling right now?

Care to share your inspiration for your projects this holiday season?

Finger Knitting and Finger Crochet

Oh, I am SO learning how to finger-knit and finger-crochet.

Alyssa Lynn shows on her Youtube video How to Finger-Crochet the beautiful blanket she made. . . with her fingers and yarn.

I’m VERY inspired!

I’m also thinking this is a good way to let Abbey get her hands on yarn in a creative way. . . without involving knitting needles. If you’d have seen Abbey at our neighbor’s yesterday wielding a skewer for fondue. . . you’d know why knitting needles might not be the best thing for Abbey to have just yet!

I first learned about finger knitting in the comments section of Rachel’s post on how to make paper lanterns on her blog Clean. (The Lusa Organics Blog) . . . and then Googled finger-knitting to see what it was all about. It’s super simple, and I’m excited to teach Abbey.

I myself am really excited about finger-chrocheting a blanket. I mean, how cool is that blanket Alyssa Lynn made? Neat.

Have you ever finger-knitted or used your fingers to crochet? 

What activities do you like to do with your preschoolers to engage their creative and constructive side?

The Green Stuff

Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Money Matters
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how finances affect their parenting choices. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


The Green Stuff.

Yes, I’m talking about money (and a little bit about saving trees).

Yikes. I don’t talk very much about money on the blog, but anybody who is familiar with military enlisted pay knows that it’s just enough to get by on, and nothing more than that. We’re hovering . . . right around the national poverty line.

I don’t fret too much over money, though, even though there is not a lot to go around every pay-day – mainly because I know that as long as my husband is in the Coast Guard, we are blessed with medical coverage and an affordable dental plan that he earns through his service. I know that there are those who are out of work all over this country that have much more to fret over and worry about than I do. So instead of fretting, I just make sure to stretch every dollar to its maximum potential.

Becoming a natural parenting family has influenced our budget in positive ways. Cloth diapering is the most money-saving practice in our house, followed closely by using reusable towels in the kitchen and bathrooms and using cloth napkins except for parties and gatherings. Another huge money-saver is my inspiration to cook whole foods and shy away from convenience meals and take-out. I started to do this to avoid contaminates and preservatives and excess sugar. But I find myself really really loving the extra savings on my grocery bill. Natural parenting has also led me to embrace and enjoy making things – sewing and knitting items that I would never be able to splurge on otherwise (and being able to practice cloth diapering and fill my house with reusable linens for a fraction of the price).

We no longer spend money on diapers, since we are fully cloth diapering our son, and our little girl is recently potty learned. I bought my last large box of sensitive disposable wipes a few months ago – knowing that after Abbey was done using baby wipes for pull-up changes, we would be fully converting to cloth wipes for Joe. Cloth diapering alone saves us at least $50 per month, if not more. Sewing my own cloth diapers has saved us 75% more than that since I can make them much more affordably.

Re-usable Household Linens
Using reusable linens is not only friendly to our environment (saving trees and cutting down on waste) but it’s friendly to my pocketbook as well. When my friends and I get together for our weekly couponing pow-wow, I have no need for paper goods besides toilet paper – unless I can get paper towels or napkins for FREE. . . in which case, I’ll stash them for the next birthday or holiday party. (Yes, I am becoming one of those krazy coupon ladies. . . more about that in another post) Besides. . . using cloth napkins makes it more fun for my little girl to set the table – choosing which color napkins to use, and folding them corner to corner to place them by our plates.

Cooking Smart and Using Whole Foods
Using whole foods (and using them to their maximum potential) is a natural parenting practice that I have recently become more aware of and somewhat committed to. Basically, this means that when I shop and cook, I don’t waste anything if I can help it, and I use the best quality, freshest, least processed foods that I can afford. Jennifer over at Hybrid Rasta Mama is an excellent resource and one of my foodie mentors. Her article on whole baby foods and baby-led weaning has been particularly interesting to me lately as Joe is beginning to reach for table food! But, really, planning meals and cooking with whole foods with a waste-not-want-not mentality has been a huge life-saver for our family’s budget and our health. I’m slowly trying to move from the level of avoiding processed foods to buying organic and even growing our own produce. . . but no matter how “green” you get with your cooking, cooking smart is a money saver for sure, and it keeps your family healthy and happy!

Creating For the Family
And to my very favorite money-saving perk of being a natural parent: I have been inspired to create – via my sewing machine, and my knitting needles, and my craft closet. Three years ago, I barely knew how to sew a straight line or load a bobbin. I thought knitting was silly. But now, I make diapers and relish the feeling of wool yarn between my fingers. I know that the wool soaker (diaper cover) or hat or piece of clothing or toy will be held and used with joy and that it was made with love.

I make diapers, diaper covers, hats, scarves, mittens, household linens, clothes, dog-beds, playthings, and more (for a fraction of the price that I would pay for something comparable in the store). It is so wonderful to produce things for my family as versus buying them. There’s something special about saying “I made this for you” – and when I sew and knit and craft, I find myself feeling somehow connected to all of the mothers and caregivers through past generations who provided for their families’ needs with their hands.

If I hadn’t become a natural parent, I never would have made these:

. . . or these. . .

or this. . .

. . . and I definitely would be a LOT more stressed about helping my husband provide for our lovely family on a military salary. Parenting authentically and naturally definitely made a positive impact on our household financially, in addition to the other positive changes we’ve experienced during our parenting journey so far. Because of my learning to cloth diaper, shop and cook smart, and create things for my family, we are able to save enough aside per month even on a super-small, single salary budget to do things that we know are smart money-wise. . . like invest for retirement and pay off credit cards. And we wouldn’t be doing these money-saving, natural living things if it weren’t for my fall into the arms of the natural parenting community!


How do you feel about your finances?

Have you ever thought about how your lifestyle or parenting preferences influence your relationship with money?



Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon October 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • Money Matter$ — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares her experiences on several ways to save money as a parent.
  • A different kind of life… — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares her utopian life and how it differs from her current one!
  • Show Me The Money! — Arpita of Up, Down & Natural shares her experience of planning for parenting costs while also balancing the financial aspect of infertility treatments.
  • Material v Spiritual Wealth – Living a Very Frugal Life with Kids — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares her family’s realizations about the differences between material and spiritual wealth.
  • If I Had a Money Tree — Sheila at A Gift Universe lists the things she would buy for her children if money were no object.
  • Financial Sacrifices, Budgets, and the Single Income Family — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of living within your means, the basics of crafting a budget, and the “real cost” of working outside of the home.
  • Overcoming My Fear of All Things Financial — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares how she is currently overcoming her fear of money and trying to rectify her ignorance of all things financial.
  • Confessions of a Cheapskate — Adrienne at Mommying My Way admits that her cheapskate tendencies that were present pre-motherhood only compounded post-baby.
  • Money MattersWitch Mom hates money; here’s why.
  • Money? What Money?! — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts describes how decisions she’s made have resulted in little income, yet a green lifestyle for her and her family.
  • What matters. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life might worry about spending too much money on the grocery budget, but she will not sacrifice quality to save a dollar.
  • Making Ends Meet — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares about being a working mom and natural parent.
  • Poor People, Wealthy Ways — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses how existing on very little money allows her to set an example of how to live conscientiously and with love.
  • The Green Stuff — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares how natural parenting has bettered her budget – and her perspective on creating and mothering.
  • Jemma’s Money — Take a sneak peek at That Mama Gretchen’s monthly budget and how Jemma fits into it.
  • 5 Tips for How to Save Time and Money by Eating Healthier — Family meal prep can be expensive and time-consuming without a plan! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares five easy tips for how to make your cooking life (and budget) easier.
  • Belonging in the Countryside — Lack of money led Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales towards natural parenting, but it also hinders her from realizing her dream.
  • Total Disclosure and Total Reform — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl gets down to the nitty gritty of her money problems with hopes that you all can help her get her budget under control.
  • Save Money by Using What You Have — Gaby at Tmuffin is only good with money because she’s lazy, has trouble throwing things away, and is indecisive. Here are some money-saving tips that helped her manage to quit her job and save enough money to become a WAHM.
  • Two Hippos & Ten Euros: A Lesson in BudgetingMudpieMama shares all about how her boys managed a tight budget at a recent zoo outing.
  • ABBA said it — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen ponders where her family has come from, where they are now and her hopes for her children’s financial future.
  • Money vs. TimeMomma Jorje writes about cutting back on junk, bills, and then ultimately on income as well ~ to gain something of greater value: Time.
  • An Unexpected Cost of Parenting — Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood.
  • 5 Ways This Stay at Home Mom Saves Money — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares 5 self-imposed guidelines that help her spend as little money as possible.
  • Frugal Parenting — Lisa at My World Edenwild shares 8 ways she saves money and enriches her family’s lives at the same time.
  • Conscious Cash Conscious — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares her 5 money-conscious considerations that balance her family’s joy with their eco-friendly ideals.
  • Money, Sex and Having it All — Patti at Jazzy Mama explains how she’s willing to give up one thing to get another. (And just for fun, she pretends to give advice on how to build capital in the bedroom.)
  • Money could buy me … a clone? — With no local family to help out, Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wants childcare so she can take care of her health.
  • Spending IntentionallyCatholicMommy loves to budget! Join her to learn what to buy, what not to buy, and, most importantly, where to buy.
  • New lessons from an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a follow-up guest post from Sam about the latest lessons their four-year-old’s learned from having his own spending money.
  • How to Homeschool without Spending a Fortune — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares tips and links to many resources for saving money while homeschooling from preschool through high school.
  • It’s Not a Baby Crisis. It’s Not Even a Professional Crisis. — Why paid maternity leave, you may ask? Rachael at The Variegated Life has some answers.
  • “Making” Money — Do you like to do-it-yourself? Amy at Anktangle uses her crafty skills to save her family money and live a little greener.
  • Money On My Mind — Luschka at Diary of a First Child has been thinking about money and her relationship with it, specifically how it impacts on her parenting, her parenting choices, and ultimately her lifestyle.
  • Spending, Saving, and Finding a Balance — Melissa at The New Mommy Files discusses the various choices she and her family have made that affect their finances, and finds it all to be worth it in the end.
  • Accounting for Taste — Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares their budget and talks about how they decided food is the most important item to budget for.
  • Money Matters… But Not Too Much — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting shares how her family approaches money without putting too much of a focus onto it.
  • Parenting While Owning a Home Business — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the pros and cons of balancing parenting with working from home.
  • Crunchy Living is SO Expensive…Or Is It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about her biggest objection to natural living – and her surprise at what she learned.
  • Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems — Sarah at Parenting God’s Children shares how a financial accountability partner changed her family’s finances.
  • The Importance of Food Planning — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro discusses how food budgeting and planning has helped her, even if she doesn’t always do it.
  • Kids & Money: Starting an Allowance for Preschoolers — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses her family’s approach and experiences with starting an allowance for preschoolers.

DIY Love

I just LOVE to Do It Yourself.

There’s such a sense of accomplishment in making something with your hands, and using the final product. Whether it’s something for yourself, or something to give away to another. . . the action of making things is just – powerful. empowering. enjoyable. consuming. prayerful, even.
I ♥

More DIY love comes from Lauren over at her blog, ladaisi.

I think her affection for whites, ambers, and natural wood is wonderful. Oh, how I wish that I could imagine that decor in my home and style! Beautiful! I hope she posts if and when she gets around to making some of these items that inspire her!

My Pinterest boards are much more colorful. I guess that comes along with being a mama of increasingly realistic expectations.

My personal style is reflected in the things I am inspired by. . . but I fear I’ve become a bit too practical. . . I’ll have to set up a dream board with all of my not-so-kid-friendly color choices and fashion items, to drool over from time to time.

Mamas, are your inspirations colored by your role as mommy, like me? Or are you still really true to your own personal style, like Lauren?

What kinds of things are calling you to ♥ DIY?

Nurturing Creativity

Welcome to the August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Creating With Kids

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Creativity has always been a part of my life. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have access to some method of using creativity – since I can remember, my mind has been actively creative. . . playing with markers and fingerpaints as a toddler, making up dances and plays and stories when I was young, creating elaborately decorated school projects. . . I even wrote a few really interesting stories as an elementary school student – and illustrated them (though I really wasn’t the most gifted artist). Dancing through my youth and adolescence, learning ballet, tap, musical theater and eventually enjoying modern dance disciplines. . . even while competing in speech competitions in middle and high school, which are judged on an objective scale. . . I was drawn to be incredibly creative and interpretive. And now, all (well, mostly) grown up, I sing, dance, sew, knit, craft, and adapt my way through motherhood.

It doesn’t matter what I’m doing . . . I’m pretty much always creative about it. When there’s a need for a tight budget, I make it work. I can see an alternative solution to a problem. I tend to make up rhymes and songs to sing to my lovelies. Creativity is absolutely a blessing. But I daydream, too. I get lost in thought. Sometimes, my mind is so full of inspiration and ideas that I feel a but jumbled. . . and as a friend recently reminded me to do, I have to let it all go into a sketchbook in order to come back to reality (but save those fantastic ideas for another more appropriate time). So sometimes it can be a bit of a frustration, too.

But creativity is something I definitely enjoy nurturing in my children, and something that I think is incredibly important to remember to make time for. In a world that is pretty crazy, nurturing creativity, even in the simplest ways, encourages a child to honor the beauty and meaning in themselves, and in everything around them. I was blessed as a child with an incredibly supportive set of parents who allowed me to follow my interests, and made available the resources that I needed to indulge them. And now, I’m a creative mother in turn. This doesn’t mean that I do elaborate crafts with my kids, or expect them to learn to color between the lines of a coloring book. This also doesn’t mean that if Abbey ends up more interested in soccer than dance or likes math more than music that I’ll stress the importance of art to a fault.

It just means that I keep materials on hand to let Abbey be creative with (artistically) when she wants to, and I nurture that desire to create by allowing her to do it on her own time, in her own way, with her own hands, at her own speed. It means that when Abbey comes up to me with some crazy made up story about her little pig needing to find his mommy, and the assertion that I MUST don daddy’s shoes and a fireman hat and wave her fairy wand to help out, I do. When Joseph makes noises, I repeat them back to him in different tones and volumes. We sing songs together. Sometimes without words. Just repeating the sounds and facial expressions he makes. Abbey usually reaches for her markers, her dress up clothes, and her books before she wants to watch a movie – and even when she does ask to watch TV, it’s always something with songs she can sing (and dance) along to. She probably knows over thirty songs. That girl loves to sing, and picks up melodies so quickly! Both children watch me knit. They see the things I sew for them. To Abbey, something “made” is a precious item. She even pretends to make things for her baby brother out of scraps of fabric and her very own “knitting” (which at this point, is just a bundle of acrylic yarn out of my stash, and my least used knitting needles). Recently, she drew this picture specifically “for daddy” on her own after breakfast one day. It’s “the ocean for daddy’s boat.”

Being creative with my children is not hard. But it is important. And as an adult, it takes some dedication and attentiveness. Like remembering not to interrupt a wild, fantastical story – or only intervening in a craft in order to prevent an injury or encourage cooperation

(and just let messes happen as they will)

It’s not hard. It doesn’t cost a lot of money. It only results in a bit more clean up

But it has immense rewards.

Nurturing creativity allows me to really truly enjoy my children’s childhoods – and to see the individual beauty in each of them.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: