The list – It’s long. It’s crafty. It’s AWESOME!

I love to sew, to craft, to be creative, to design, to photograph…the list goes on! I have a list about a mile long of projects that I am expecting to get done in the next month or two and and really hoping that I can photograph the process and put together tutorials for many of them. Some of these projects are a first attempt and can, of course, end in a not so beautiful final product. That being said, it’s important to remember that “with failure comes knowledge” and in the event of a failed project I can at the least issue some “what not to do” tips.

I am going to attempt to list everything that I have in the works right now. THE LIST is going to start with the highest priority projects and works it’s way down through all of the things I want to get done. These high priority projects primarily consist of all of the things I have to finish before Merrick’s birthday on  February 29. All he wants is a bounce house and a new Star Wars bedroom, and being the super mom that I am, I plan on making his room AWESOME! (and yes, he’s getting a bounce house for a day thanks to his Nana) I am lucky that he is still young enough to really appreciate the things that I make for him.

THE LIST

  1. Sew: Star Wars bedding (toddler fitted sheet, comforter, sham & throw pillow)
  2. Sew: Star Wars curtain panels w/blackout lining
  3. Sand and refinish toddler bed
  4. Transform the McQueen table & stools into Star Wars (prime, paint, decoupage w/fabric, seal)
  5. Make a sign that reads “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” Unsure how I want to do this as of right now and I would love to hear ideas from anyone who has one!
  6. Sew: slip cover for the chair and foot stool in his room. Headrest must have “Jedi” appliqued on it. Once again not sure how I’m going to do this one. The chair is from Ikea and it’s read so it would match technically…I’m not sure how to make it where it won’t sag around the current cushion…ideas?
  7. Repaint room
  8. Turn ceiling into a glowing planetarium!
  9. Sew: mei tei baby carrier for my bestest friend Sara, man, she needs one!
  10. Hand sew: finish my grandmothers sock lion
  11. Hand sew: a super cute sock bear for Hassan
  12. Mount my new owl photos on canvas – first decorate/paint canvas to match
  13. Sew: 3 ring slings for Chase’s 3 pregnant cousins
  14. Sew: apron I’ve been promising my Grandma since Christmas. This is going to be retro and based off of a 50s pattern I have! I can’t wait for this one!
  15. Sew: matching pot holders
  16. Sew: myself a table cloth & bar runner to match new kitchen decor
  17. Sew: FINALLY get my super hero theme ankle length skirt made…I’ve been excited about this for a couple of months now 🙂

I also HAVE to get the kids down to the park and take some new pictures. I just need a warm, sunny day to do it…preferably when Dada is home to help keep these crazy boys under control!

Man, I didn’t ever think I was going to get to the end of this list! I feel like I could get this done a lot faster if there were about 10 extra hours of mama time in each day!

I can’t wait to sharing my crafting adventures!

Thanks for the inspiration, Ruth

I should really be going to bed, or at least trying since I’m not really sleepy…but after writing an article today I am inspired to write a blog post instead.

The article is about the story of Ruth from the Old Testament of the Bible.Now, I have never read the Bible other than select verses here and there that seemed to be printed on just about everything imaginable. However, I found this story to interesting and inspiring. I’m not going to retell the story, so if you haven’t read it you should (READ IT HERE).

Sometimes we feel like we can’t possibly handle what is being thrown at us. I know that I often feel like I am being pulled in a hundred different directions at once and wonder how I am going to make it through. I admit that I whine and complain and am generally unpleasant when I get stressed out. I assume that the great majority of people have this same affliction toward stresses. In my latest blog post I talked about all the issues I have been facing in my conversion to Islam. These things have caused some internal conflict within myself that I think has been resolved by reading and understanding the meaning of this Bible story.

Ruth was able to handle everything that was put in her path. Not only did she handle it, she didn’t complain about it either. She knew what she had to do for herself and for Naomi and she did it without doubt or question. The path may have been hard, but there were shards of hope thrown in to keep her looking up and on track. God was letting her know that she just had to keep going to reach the end of her journey and not to give up along the way.

“God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength but with your testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it”
– 1 Corinthians 10:13

This verse is pretty much the definition of what Ruth and Naomi were going through. Just like it says, God provided for them a way out they only had to endure the journey in order to find it.

Another major theme in the story is the devotion and commitment of Ruth toward Naomi. This is a dedication that should be put toward everyone we love. We should be ready to act selflessly in order to protect our loved ones and keep them safe. These are the people who will be there for us when we have problems, the people who we will turn to for help. It only makes sense that we should treat them in such a devoted manner.

This is another thing that I desperately need to work on. I know that I am horrible at showing my gratitude, it’s just not something that I have ever been good at. I am so gracious for everything that my husband does, he is an excellent father, a wonderful husband and a great provider. All of that being said, I get mad over the smallest things and in the end the fight just isn’t worth it. My mother, as mentioned in other posts, is a point of contention for me. We fight over things that she says to me. I have been trying hard to not let them bother me, but sometimes the anger just comes out before I realize it. I want to change that. Life is too short to let such things bother me.

Now, with this new found inspiration, I am going to try my best to deal with all the things that are thrown my directions that would normally get me down. I am going to try and remember that at the end of this test, the way out will be revealed and I will be blessed immensely for my journey. I am also going to strive to treat my loved ones with a higher regard, especially my husband and my mother. Afterall, I owe my life to one and the other blessed me with a beautiful family.

This may not be the most well written post, I just wanted to get this out before I forgot what I wanted to say. I am rushing because Silas is ready for a bottle…so, no revisions! Forgive my sloppy writing and I’m sure my many misspellings & grammatical errors! Peace & Love! Cassie

The hard thing about changing directions

I have always been someone who takes their own path. I don’t follow along with other people if I don’t agree and I’m also not afraid to voice my personal views on any situation. The way I lead my life has posed problems for me in the past, mostly with my family and their not approving of my decisions or stance on an issue. My decision to become a Muslim is no different, it may actually be one of the hardest things I have had to deal with in terms of my family, particularly my mom.

I remember when I told my mom that I didn’t believe in God. I think I was probably 16 years old and honestly probably told her more to make her mad then for any other reason. The truth was that it wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God, it’s that I didn’t consider myself a Christian and that I didn’t want to be associate with any religion. I didn’t know much, if anything, about any other religion and I also didn’t know much about Christianity. All I did know was that I didn’t agree with what I heard and how the Christians I knew behaved.

Now, why would I tell my mother something like that to make her mad you ask…

How about a little back story? My mother and I lived together, just the two of us for several years after her and my father were divorced. The divorce was something I had wanted for a long time and so had she. My father was a real jerk, and that’s putting it nicely. He was what you might call emotionally abusive to me and my mother and living with him felt like living in hell.

I was a good kid, didn’t stay out past my curfew, didn’t make stupid decisions and get myself into trouble, had great grades in school, etc. I did, however, start dating a boy who was 4 years older than me and my mom hated him. We fought about our relationship constantly. I know that I told her my disbelief in the middle of a fight one day, probably to get her off of my back about my boyfriend, and it worked.

Since then I tried to explain, on many occasions, that it wasn’t really that I didn’t believe in God, but more that I wasn’t sure what I believed. I knew that there was a higher being but I didn’t really know what to call him or what to believe about him. I ended up labeling myself Agnostic. Over the last 11 years she has brought this up more times then I care to remember, and always with negativity.

Last October, when my husband and I made the decision to convert, I really didn’t want to tell her. I knew that telling her would mean that I would forever have to hear how she disagreed with me and how stupid my decision was. After talking it over with Chase he convinced me to tell her. So I did.

I expressed my concerns to her and told her that I didn’t really want to tell her in the first place. She acted like I had no reason to feel that way and she promised that she would not act any different toward me or say anything negative, especially since she knew nothing about it. That didn’t last long, not that I ever really believed it would.

My mom mentioned little things here and there. She asked me ridiculous questions about things that didn’t even make sense. For example, she asked me to make brownies for my aunts birthday party, then decided it would be hilarious to ask “There’s nothing in brownies that you’re not allowed to eat anymore, right?”. She has asked similar questions about almost anything I was going to eat at her house. I can deal with it, it’s annoying, but I can deal.

Then, a couple of days  before Christmas, she informed me that everyone would appreciate it if we didn’t mention anything about “our new found beliefs” while everyone was there for Christmas. She told me that it would just start problems and potentially start fights. I didn’t say anything, even though it kind of upset me that she would even say that to me. She could tell that it upset me so she went on about how “oh no, now I’ve pissed her off.” I wasn’t mad, I was upset that she would say such a thing to me. I would never ask anyone not to mention things like that, ever. I don’t get offended when people talk to me about their religious beliefs and I expect the same courtesy in return. Although, I never mention it unless I’m asked a question which is very rare outside of the bantering.

I asked her what happened to not being negative about my decision? Hadn’t she told me that she would respect it and respect me? That’s when she told me that she had been doing research about it online and she just can’t agree with any of it. I guess that whatever she read made her decide that our relationship was less important then her narrow minded, likely misinformed, views. That’s when I asked her to please not talk like that in front of my children and we left.

I called Chase on the way home and just lost it. Crying is just not something that I do, especially not without good reason. My mom had officially upset me enough to make me doubt that I had made the right decision. My family has always been my safe place. We get together all the time and talk about anything and everything. It felt like they had started to not include me in things that they used to include me in, like shopping trips. I told Chase what was going on and how they way they were acting was making me feel. I also told him that I just wanted things to go back to “normal”.

I guess I am just a really lucky person. My husband stopped by my mom’s on his way home and talked to her about the whole thing. He was able to convey to her how she was making me feel and she actually listened to him.  I have never been able to make her listen to me about such things but he did.

Overall, things have been much better with my family since then. She still says little things every now and then, but they usually are much less condescending. Her main issue right now is that she is convinced that I am letting my hair grow out and not bleaching it anymore because I “have to”, not because I want to. I can live with that, it’s much less ridiculous then so many other things that she has said.She’ll be happy to know that my hair is driving me crazy and is about to get chopped back off and bleached again! 🙂

There have been other challenges, but this has probably been the hardest for me. When you are so accustomed to talking to your family about anything and being accepted for who you are it’s hard for all of that to change so abruptly.

 

Oh the joys of being a “mama”

my boysI want to start by saying that my world pretty much revolves around my 2 beautiful boys, Merrick and Silas. They mean more to me than anything else on this earth and I can’t even begin to imagine my life without either of them. Simply hearing the word “mama” from either of them reaffirms my desire to be a mother and have more children.

The joys of raising a 3 year old “monster butt”
Merrick has the unique ability to make everything difficult. He seems to think that he doesn’t have to do anything that anyone tells him too and it’s getting a little beyond frustrating. Discipline doesn’t work with him, and I’ve tried! Right now we are trying “putting his nose on the wall” and it’s working better than anything else for the time being. My mother used to make us stand with our nose in the corner, but we don’t really have a corner without a nearby distraction so the wall in the hall it is. He’s not a fan of this discipline at all.

Just an example of him not wanting to do anything that I ask of him: Last week I told him that he had to clean his room or he would be taking a nap, which he hates. I gave him 30 minutes on a timer and he refused, so it was naptime. When he woke up I gave him the same option – clean or naptime. He promptly went to his room and laid back down and asked me to turn off the light.

My son, who hates naps, would rather take a nap then do what I ask him to do…seriously? Same thing happened a few days later. He wanted to play outside and I told him to clean his room first. He cocked his head over, looked at me and said “Maybe I no want to play outside.” Then he sat down to play with his Batcave. This is the norm for us.

Oh, the fits, the horrible fits
In the last week or so he has also decided that it’s a good idea to throw crazy fits. I’m not sure what made him decide to do this, but he’s doing it at home as well as at Grandmom’s house. She says over there that when he get’s mad he lays down in the floor and kicks and screams…I haven’t witnessed this one yet, thank God. However, yesterday, he got mad because he wanted to watch a movie on my iPad and our internet was down so it wouldn’t work. The fit started with an angry whining scream and then he started banging his head on the iPad. Now, my general rule for dealing with such things is to ignore them, however I don’t want him messing up the iPad (I know it’s highly unlikely for him to hurt himself doing this, I was a kid once too). I made him stop and put his nose on the wall and he started banging his head on the wall. Ugh.

Saying potty training is difficult is a SERIOUS understatement
We have been working on potty training for almost a year now. Have we gotten anywhere? Yes and no.

Merrick is a very busy little man. In his mind he doesn’t have time to go to the potty, it’s interrupting his day. This is not to say that he doesn’t know how to use the potty or when he needs to go, because he does. If I let him stay naked all day when we are home he will use the potty every single time. I don’t have to ask or tell him to, he just goes and takes care of his business. The catch with this situation is clothing. If he has anything on his bottom then it is over, he will not use the potty. We have tried pull-ups, cloth trainers, big boy undies…nothing works. I will make him go try to potty and he will tell me he doesn’t need to (I still make him try), 10 minutes later he has gone in his clothes. He knows that if he is wearing clothes they will hold in the accident and there won’t be a mess in the floor.

I just can’t figure out how to bridge the gap between clothed and unclothed. I do make him put his own dirty clothes in our diaper pail. I have tried rewards. I’m getting to a point where if he poops in his pants while we are at home he has to take a nap (usually means him laying in his bed for a little while).

Now, Merrick isn’t all bad!
He loves to help me do dishes, clean up the bathroom, pick up the living room, etc. He is such a great helper with these things and he feels so accomplished when we do them together. He is also so sweet! He loves to sit on the couch and snuggle while we watch a movie or listen to music and dance around the living room with me. He loves to give hugs and sugars to me and his brother and he always talks about how awesome people are. He really has a huge little heart!

The joys of raising an 8 month old “monster butt jr.”
Silas is such a happy baby. It’s so easy to get him to smile or laugh. He is saying mama, dada, hi and bye bye and waves. It’s amazing to watch him grow and learn. He absolutely adores his big brother and follows him around the house as much as Merrick will let him. I’m calling him monster butt jr. because I think he wants to be just like his big brother!

Hold me mama! Hold me!
Merrick was significantly more independent than Silas is. He wanted to be down and exploring, not being held. Silas on the other hand wants me to hold him a good 50% of the day. I don’t mind so much, except when I really need to get something done. It’s nice to spend so much close time with him. (My heart melts every time that little man falls asleep on my chest).

The only time that I really find this “hold me” issue to be a problem is when he insists that I am standing up. He will cry and cry by my feet until I pick him up and strap him too me. At this point he is perfectly content…that is until I sit down. Once I am sitting the crying starts again. I usually try to make him happy by humming or singing to him or patting his butt, but this doesn’t always work and we end up standing up. This is usually when the thumb goes in the mouth and the head goes on my shoulder and we are happy. I am human though and I can’t stand with a baby strapped to me all day long!

Can’t dada make you happy?
Since dada goes to work at 5am and doesn’t return home until around 7pm both kids don’t spend much time with him before their 8:30 bedtime. It is awesome when dada walks in the door because Silas gets super excited and wants dada instead of mama (woo hoo short break for mama!). The problem here is that the “new” excitement only lasts about 10 or 15 minutes before he’s back crying at mama’s feet.

I think that for the most part my husband thought that I was exaggerating about how much he wants to be held. He’s jokingly given me a ton of grief over buying and making several different types of baby carriers (he really doesn’t understand the need to have more than one). This past weekend, however, he got to witness firsthand how upset Silas gets if mama isn’t holding him. Sunday was a particularly bad “hold me” day and I think that my husband was a little overwhelmed by it. He even insisted on going to the fabric store with me because he was afraid Silas would freak out if mama was gone that long. I think he gets it now!

All of this said, I can’t imagine my life any differently. I am blessed to be able to stay home and raise my children, even if they are a handful at times. I know that I will figure out a way to solve our behavior issues with Merrick, we’ve just got to find the right combination. I also know that there will come a day when Silas doesn’t want to be held anymore and the thought of that is almost heart breaking. Being a mama is hard work, but I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to experience the love that a child brings to their life.

 

On a quest for motivation

I am on a quest to regain my will power and motivation to eat healthy.

“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice. ”
~ Wayne Dyer

Two and a half years ago I went on a 1200 calorie diet and began taking the diet pill Phentermine. I was able to lose 70 pounds in approximately 8 months and I felt so much better than I had in a long time. Shortly after stopping the pills I became pregnant and, of course, gained weight back quite fast as is normal for someone who had recently lost so much prior to pregnancy.

I am including this photo that show me at my lowest weight, when I was exactly one month from having my youngest (just to show how huge I get when I’m prego so you’ll understand why I end up gaining so much) and the only recent pic I have of myself. Please excuse my chest hanging out, this was at Scarborough Renaissance Festival and I was mighty proud of my accomplishment at the time. Keep in mind that in the most recent pic I have a baby strapped to the front of me!

Since having my baby I was prescribed anti-depressants for postpartum depression and they have caused me to gain over 20 pounds since the birth of my son. I have tried eating better and nothing seems to help, even looking at food makes me gain right now.

After seeing a new doctor today I was informed that Lexapro and other anti-depressants are notorious for causing weight gain and I am going to try to do without them in hopes of getting back down to a healthy weight. She also prescribed the Phentermine for me so that  can get started. In order to remain on the pills I have to lose 10 pounds per month and go in every 30 days to be weighed.

Now, to get myself back down to a 1200 calorie diet…I am in desperate need of getting my motivation and will power back! I also need some new recipes and easy meal ideas. How did I do this before? How did I get myself into the mindset? I seem to have forgotten what motivated me to dedicate myself to it.

“Always continue the climb. It is possible for you to do whatever you choose, if you first get to know who you are and are willing to work with a power that is greater than ourselves to do it.”
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I am praying that I will find the motivation to succeed and that I can find the will power to stick with it! With the many diseases associated with obesity that run in my family this is something that I need to do for myself and my family.

Growing up so fast

I’ve read a few blog posts lately that talk about the tragedy of losing a child and also about the fear that comes with the next pregnancy. I wanted to tell a brief story about my own experiences with this as well as the emotional turmoil of having a baby daddy who could care less. The point of this isn’t a pity party but to show what good can come from so much strife.

I look at my oldest and I realize that he’s not a baby anymore. He’s still my baby, but he is getting older. He can communicate his needs and man is he independent. The last 3.5 years have flown by and looking back I can see that having him is where my life truly began.

The situation around his conception and birth was far from ideal. I was living with my ex husband hoping to work things out when I found out I was pregnant. He, of course, wanted nothing to do with me or the baby and I found myself totally and completely depressed. He and I had been pregnant once before right after we had got married and it ended in a miscarriage early in the pregnancy. This misfortune marked the beginning of a failing relationship. It left an emotional scar that will never be completely healed that resurfaces in the form of fear and unease during each subsequent pregnancy.

I openly admit that I have struggled with depression and anxiety disorders my entire life but during my pregnancy with Merrick they reached their pentacle. I felt totally lost. Here I was, living with a man who I deeply loved and was once loved by in return and who could now care less about me or our unborn child. Not to mention that I was in constant fear of another miscarriage. It was devastating. Since we were no longer married, people asked me if I even knew who the father was which only made me feel worse. Of course I knew and so did he. Parts of his family still deny he is their kin because of the situation.

I was pretty sure that my life was falling apart around me at this point and I distinctly remember feeling like I couldn’t go on.

Then it happened. He was born.

I remember the day he was born. I remember the long labor before his arrival. I remember my arms being to weak to hold him when they finally handed him to me. I remember him laying on my chest and looking at me with those beautiful innocent little eyes. I remember it all like it was yesterday.

Having him turned my world around. Holding him in my arms made my problems disappear. It was a cure for all the depression and worries that had built up inside of me. It was an intense feeling of relief and hope that washed over me.

Now I look at this little boy and it amazes me that he has grown so much. I can’t believe Merrick is almost 4. Not a day goes by that I am not overwhelmed by my love for him and Silas. I am continually amazed at his abilities and skills. He’s growing up so fast and I want nothing more than to raise him so that he will be a good person full of compassion and love.

After all of this is said…I can’t see how anyone could deny the existence of God if they have ever comforted a sick child or looked into their child’s eyes for the first time and felt true, unconditional love. How can you deny it when this precious gift has been handed to you? I, of course, doubted the existence of any great and supreme being after my miscarriage, I couldn’t understand why God would want anyone who wanted a child so badly to endure so much pain. After holding my sons there is no way I could ever deny it again and I am thankful everyday for the opportunity to be a part of something so beautiful. Experiencing the pain that came with the miscarriage made the birth of my son that much more amazing to me. It forced me to see the miracle that lay before me in a different light. I only wish I could have realized this sooner and I hope that people going through a bad situation can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that things will get better.

Merrick Mama loves you and your brother more than you could ever possibly know. I look forward to seeing the people you both become.

The things we do for our family

My family may not be perfect, but whose is? Mine is judgmental, stubborn, irritating, infuriating at times…and of course loving, caring, inspirational, forgiving and nurturing. Overall, I love them all unconditionally and can’t imagine life without any of them, especially my mommy.

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.
            ~ Desmond Tutu

When I first told my mother that we were becoming Muslims she acted totally rational and didn’t understand why I would be scared to tell her about it. For the first little while she didn’t seem at all freaked out or angry about it at all. It was great. However, that understanding attitude didn’t last long.

Over the last several weeks she has gotten more negative about the whole thing and seems irritated if we mention anything about it. It seems that she is now particularly irritated that we are dragging her grandkids into this. Christmas has become a particular point of contention. I decided that we would not put up a Christmas tree or do Santa Claus this year for the kids. This would be the first year in my life without a tree; it just seemed like the right thing to do. My husband wasn’t so sure about not having a tree but he supported my decision and we thought that was the end of it.

When my mom realized we weren’t going to have a tree (after asking me about it every single day for two weeks and me telling her I wasn’t sure) she finally decided to ask if it was for religious reasons. I, of course, told her yes and that we wouldn’t be doing Santa either. She stopped talking after that. I knew I had hit a sore spot which is why I wasn’t going to mention that we didn’t have a tree or that we had decided against Santa.

I decided that we should go to lunch. She needs to see that I am still the same person. I don’t know what she thinks that I am now or why the tree and Santa are such a big deal to her. We have never celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday, after all it’s actually a pagan holiday that the Catholic Church through a Christian name on to get pagans to convert. Christmas has always been about giving and spending time with our loved ones. This was the reason she believed that we should still be able to celebrate.
I would like to clarify that we were still planning to participate in all of the family get-togethers as well as exchanging gifts

christmas treMom, this is for you

So after a long discussion with her and my grandmother I conceded and agreed to put up a small tree. (We are still not doing Santa, I wouldn’t budge on that.) Now, in the corner of my living room is a small, yet to be decorated, tree. My husband is worried that I am unhappy that we have it. He kind of wanted one anyway, but he knew that I had decided against it. He is also agrees that since we don’t celebrate for religious reasons that it should be fine. I just am not sure about the whole thing. I am, however, not doing it for myself but instead to keep the peace and to make my mother happy. I pray that one day she will be able to accept me and my decisions, but until then I will do what I need to in order to maintain peace and happiness.

I am hoping that in the future we will be able to slowly remove ourselves from these traditions. I am hoping that a gradual change will be easier for everyone to understand. After all, this is our first Christmas as Muslims; we only signed the Bai’at a couple of weeks ago.

I guess that we will see what happens…