Thursday, July 5, 2012

My Apron for Haiti

Hi Angel!

Have you seen the recent New York Times article about the "Busy" trap? It's been circulating on Facebook and really spoke to me, both because it confirms my intent to value time spent with loved ones and loved activities over money AND because it made me feel guilty for constantly over-committing myself.

I admit it, I like feeling busy. With 2 small children at home, I am busy by nature. It never ends -- as you know all too well! But when you add to this constantly bustling and interrupted life of a stay-at-home mommy a whole bunch of blogging, crafting and sewing commitments (including custom work and Etsy stuff), you end up feeling crazed, there's no two ways about it. I need to come up with a better balance, starting with writing out a schedule, organizing my desk and craft supplies, prioritizing activities with the kids, etc. It's hard!

But, the point to which I'm getting in all this rambling, in a post titled "My Apron for Haiti", is that part of my busy-ness is committing to making projects for charity -- alongside the aforementioned responsibilities. I want to be a good person, and I want to contribute and help, but often feel like this part of my life gets side-swept due to the rest of my busy-ness. I had set out to make 3 aprons for Craft Hope's Project 17, and only ended up making 1 (in time for the extended deadline) which made me feel disappointed in myself and like I should have better prioritized my time.

Sigh. I don't even know what my point is, really. I guess I feel like I should give more, to my children and to others. I am making a point of focusing on quality time with the kids this summer. And my goal before fall and Kindergarten is to get organized so that I can prioritize this focus on others without feeling crazed. Does that sound doable? I see so many others out there who make it happen. Tips and advice are appreciated! How do you fit in charity work along your regular work and busy-ness -- be it stay-at-home, work-at-home, work-outside-of-the-home...?

I hope all this makes sense...

Here is the ONE and only apron I made for Craft Hope's Project 17.

Jenny: Apron for Craft Hope

I used the adult pattern from the Mother & Daughter Apron Set from Stash Happy: Applique by Cynthia Shaffer. I simplified the applique work and only did one bird. I also skipped the ruffle because I'm not a ruffle kind of gal.

Jenny: Apron for Craft Hope

Jenny: Apron for Craft Hope

This was a perfect way to use up some of my stash and the pattern came together quite well. I wish I had ironed the apron more thoroughly before taking pics, woops! I was in a rush to get it mailed off while packing for our camping trip and wrestling 2 kids (See? Busy!!).

Jenny: Apron for Craft Hope

I think it turned out pretty cute and felt pretty sturdy and good quality. I hope the recipient likes it!!! It is always emotional to make something for someone who really deserves and needs it, you know?

Did you make some aprons for Craft Hope? I'd love to see! While I am not looking for pats on the back or commiseration, I would love any tips you have for fitting in charity work and better prioritizing one's home, work and craft life. Looking forward to chatting in the comments!


  1. Jenny, the apron is so cute! I love the bird applique. As far as the time/productivity balance, I would suggest two things: set more realistic goals and don't compare yourself to others. (Easy for me to say, right?)

    If you look at your post, you say that you want to make more time to do things for others, and you feel bad you didn't make more aprons. A quick flick through the last few months of posts on the blog reveals that almost EVERY SINGLE PROJECT you have shared has been for a gift. I think you do more for others than you are giving yourself credit for!

    By anyone's standards you are so productive, and so generous, but I know that in "blogland" it always seems like there is someone else posting that has done more, or done it better, or looked better doing it, etc. It's a slippery slope to go down, for me. Do you think that has anything to do with it?

    I love you, and thank you so much for all the hard work you put into Stumbles and Stitches.

    1. Thank you Angel. You are so kind.

      I think you're right on with setting realistic goals, it is my biggest issue. I just *think* I can get it all done, and it's just not true. I kind of have this fantasy vision of how flexible or expansive my life is, because there's so much I want to do or try or experience, but the reality does not permit so much activity.

      I also do compare myself to others sometimes, usually in the "what's wrong with me that I can't achieve as much" way... but I try to keep those comparisons in check... As you and I have discussed before, they're just not productive or good for the soul. I am who I am and I do what I can do.

      I think I mainly need to accept that this is the time in my life, with little children being my main job and responsibility, that a lot of other stuff is not going to be doable or match my expectations. That includes having a clean and clutter-free house, meeting certain deadlines, contributing to exciting and/or charitable projects, and more.

      I really do need to get organized and make a schedule (kind of like I had when Ben was 2-ish) so that what *needs* to happen happens, and then there are free spots in which to accomplish whatever is more flexible.

      Sigh. Food for thought, for sure.

  2. I write this not to boast, but to encourage, and give you ideas as to how to COMBINE family life and "charity life." I was recently inspired by what this woman did for her 35th birthday. So my kids and I had our own Random Acts of Kindness Day. Through our acts (and my posts on FB about it) another friend was encouraged and did the same thing, only she spread out her acts over 2 days. Well, one of her friends was encouraged, and took it a step further. Here is what she is doing with her kids. Let me know if you want to know more. "Charity work" does not have to be big, just printing an extra coupon to take to the craft store and hand to someone is giving to others, and brings a smile to their face.
    Faith & family

    1. Faith, I LOVE this idea! It is so wonderful. I think this has taken off around the web, I saw some a similar thing a few weeks back.

      I'll definitely be thinking of how to include that in our family life. Maybe every Friday could be the day for a not-so-random act of kindness that we plan that week. That seems manageable...

      Thanks for the inspiration!

    2. I have pinned some easy ideas here:
      For me, the challenge was to do find and do inexpensive or free Random Acts of Kindness.

  3. I forgot to tell you that your apron is incredible. I love all the details, and the end of your ties look perfect. (And, sorry, I "saved time" but not reading your whole post. Haha.) Now onto the laundry!

  4. Jen, I need to do that too! Let's brainstorm behind the scenes, I bet we could encourage each other along the way.....

  5. Jenny, I don't think I have any good advice about the charity aspect (that's one area in which my own activities are sorely lacking), but I definitely endorse making a schedule and/or to-do list. I've noticed that for me, just taking the time to make a to-do list makes my day about 300% more productive. (I'm not currently juggling care of little ones and other activities the way you are, but after 10+ years trying to self-motivate as a freelancer...I have some opinions about to-do lists!) It helps me to make my to-do items very small and specific, no more than 15-20 minutes each (e.g., not "emails re: guest posts" but "email X person," "email Y person," etc.) Maybe a similar strategy would help you take advantage of small bits of time as they arise over the course of the day?

    I also wanted to pick up on what you said about having "this fantasy vision of how flexible or expansive my life is," because that word "flexibility" has really been a double-edged sword in thinking about my own work life, especially since I've had a child. Sometimes, thinking about my schedule as "flexible" becomes a trap where I feel like I should be doing EVERYTHING, and ALL AT THE SAME TIME. And--no. It's just not possible. Sometimes doing just the one thing is all that should be expected of anyone. It's enough and it's important, you know?

  6. This is a pretty apron, I wouldn't mind having one like that! Nice pics too!


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