It's so hard to be productive in the summer, isn't it?
It's a trade-off: wonderful outdoor lighting but no time to make anything to take photos of.
Just last week, I was thinking back over what we'd actually done this summer and I realized how different the last couple of years have been than the ones before. In the old days, when my kids were babies and toddlers and preschoolers, our summers were one big parent-centered entertainment fiesta. Or, for that matter, the other months were, too: every day is a No School Day for babies and toddlers, right? We'd wake up early (because the kids did) and fix everyone breakfast, and spoonfeed it to them. We'd pack everyone in strollers or wagons, along with all the sippy cups in the house and enough finger food to feed a small country, to take a short walk around the block, pausing to watch caterpillars crawl across the road or a dog sniff a bush. We'd strap everyone into backward-facing car seats and make mini-trips to mom haunts: the soft foam playground, the Open Gym For Small Feet, the Monday Mom Meetings at the park. We'd research all the free admission attractions and religiously memorize the schedule, and doggedly get in line because there was no way we were paying full price when our kids would need naps the minute we got in the door.
And then there were the Organized Crafts - buckets of markers and crayons and foam stickers and construction paper and glue sticks and pipe cleaners and tempera paint and macaroni and googly eyes. Our kitchen table was buried under them. Our floor was littered with them. And our sofa still vomits them out, indigestible mementos from a bygone era, when we turn out the cushions for vacuuming even now.
How I don't miss those days.
In the past two years, however, our summers have changed. We sleep in and let the kids make their own breakfast (and clear the table). We don't have bags of frozen chicken nuggets in our freezer for a never-changing lunch. The kids ride themselves around the block on their bikes, and visit the neighbors to invite them to ride themselves around the block with them. They plan their own playdates. They make their own schedules. They call and Facetime their friends to keep in touch. They plan their own birthday parties. They have extra-curricular activities that don't involve me as their instructor. We swim when we want, eat when we're hungry, read when we're bored, and entertain ourselves. We have conversations in sentences and paragraphs, literal and figurative, concrete and abstract.
And we pay the admission for museums and zoos and other attractions - because we actually spend enough time there to make it worth it.
Even their meltdowns and bickering - yes, those still happen - are different. They're eloquent and logical, more about my space vs. your space and my rights vs. your rights than I'm So Freaking Tired And Overstimulated That I Can't Stop Screaming.
Somehow, behind my back, the children have grown up.
When I was in my Weird Clothes years - you know, when you seem to be perpetually pregnant and/or nursing and for modesty's sake you just throw on whatever sack isn't in the dirty laundry hamper at the time - I was secretly afraid my babies would morph overnight into Children (uncute) and Tweens (uncouth). So I tried to savor their fuzzy peach heads and chubby wrists and grape toes and jellybean bodies and willed time to slow down, slow down, slow down. I will never get them back, I moaned. I will lose these years forever. I will forget what a baby smells like.
And I did.
But so what?
I'd never have believed it, back when I was tethered by strands of sentiment to my sweetly napping infants, but these Older Years are just as wonderful. And they take away some of the fear that the teenage years and the college years and the adult years will be weird and awful and somehow deficient. How can they be, I reason with myself, if they belong to these same children who are blossoming into fuller, richer human beings?
So we're coasting along now, enjoying these golden days of sunshine, choosing as-and-whens over must-dos. At some point, I will need to start planning Halloween costumes -at least one child already has an opinion of what she wants to be. And I am happy to say that at least one child has also decided not to have a birthday party, opting instead to spend a day out with a few close friends. And everyone has started ice-skating lessons because living in Minnesota and not knowing how to ice-skate is like living in Singapore and not knowing how to swim. But that's about as structured as our time out of school has been. I'll be honest and say that I do feel frustrated some days when it's suddenly midnight and the dishes are still in the sink and I haven't sewn anything for days or responded to the business emails in my inbox and I can't remember where the hours went. It's just that overly-focused part of me reacting to being carried away by the easy flow of summer.
I tell it to Chill, Already.
But sometimes, when the flow pauses long enough to sneak down into the sewing room, I make a bag.
This one was designed entirely to demonstrate the famed Recessed Zipper technique. No other reason.
And this is the penultimate Time Warp Bag.
If it were solids, I'd turn out a bag like this in a couple of days, max.
But when I work with print, it takes five times as long. It's scary how quickly your eye is drawn to misalignment; when everything lines up, your mind sweeps over it without noticing because that's the way it should be, but when it's off, you can't stop looking because somewhere in your brain, it's a disconnect, an anomaly in the natural order.
This bag was designed entirely to demonstrate the Zippered Expanding-Compartment technique.
But with all those different straps, it's also a bag that can be used in lots of fun ways.
I have one more to go, which is thankfully less fiddly than either of these two. And I can wrap up the sewing and begin the photo formatting. And then we shall have tutorials!