Thursday, April 9, 2015

Gimme All the Pillowcases

I do most of my best blog writing in my head while rocking and nursing my boob addicted almost two year old to sleep each night. The problem is that since each of my children was born without the go to/stay asleep sleep gene, it oftentimes takes me nearly an hour to get this maniacal breast-is-best beast to sleep. And after rocking in the dark for hours on end, holding a human heating pad across my chest, as soon as he nods off I typically grab a blanket, throw that rocker into recline and spend the rest of the night swatting at little hands and feet.

So the stories...they stay in my head. They roll around as words or a few sentences, occasionally a loosely formed paragraph. But come morning when I hobble out of bed (the recliner) and am faced with the morning routing (pleas to not go to school and screaming down the street to make the bus), followed by errands, laundry, groceries, Instagram, Facebook, Target and more Instagram, dinner prep, lunch, laundry, homework, afternoon snack, laundry, the pre-witching hour, the witching hour, the bitching hour, and the post witching hour...and finally bedtime; those paragraphs, sentences, and words have been drowned out by the minutia of my everyday life. The minutia of my everyday life basically sums up my bloggy absence.

You may remember that it was about this time last year that I tried to force myself to be a better blogger by giving myself something meaningful to write about every month. I donned my goody-two-shoes and was going to stick to my plan of researching and then highlighting here a non profit organization. 

That lasted until November.  And even then I cheated and tried to get two months out of one post. Shameful.  With Springs come rebirth. So I'm renewing my promise to myself and hope to round things out over the next 3 or so months so I can at least pat myself on the back for making it a year....albeit not a contiguous one (don't even get me started on the pathetic-ness that was my 2015 52 Project).

Since I tend to get my news from Facebook and headlines and sometimes a Tweeter these days, I feel like sometimes I show up a little behind the times with these amazing organizations. But oh well...we can't all be cutting edge trend setters now can we?

That being said, I think it was Facebook that first led me to look up this month's organization; it's likely that some of you saw the same story that I did. A story about a very old (turning 100 in May!), beautiful woman who has sewn nearly 1000 pillow case dresses for an organization called Little Dresses for Africa.

Little Dresses for Africa: “We’re not just sending dresses, we’re sending HOPE!”

Little Dresses for Africa was founded by one woman,  Rachel O’Neill, (LOVE THAT, and IT CAN BE DONE!) in 2008 and is a registered  non-profit 501c3 Christian organization. The mission of this organization is to "provide relief to children throughout the Continent of Africa and beyond." (all ldfa information from the Little Dresses for Africa blog).

They currently have a volunteer base spanning all 50 US States, as well as international sewing/donation volunteers. "Little Dresses for Africa makes all the arrangements, through missions teams, mailing directly to verified communities and we take them ourselves with a team at least once a year."

Through their delivery of the dresses (as well as shorts for boys) the dresses are distributed via orphanages, schools and churches. (Dresses have been donated to numerous countries including Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, and some have even been donated here in the United States).

Little Dresses for Africa is a Christian organization. They go in the name of Jesus (and will distribute Bibles via their "Buckets of Hope" and will also hold informal Bible classes. However, every little girl or boy they come into contact with at distribution receives a dress/britches, regardless of their religious affiliation.

What Else:

Not only is Little Dresses for Africa able to clothe young girls and boys hoping to instill the idea that these kiddos are worthy, they also work to increase each child's knowledge of good nutrition, clean water and sanitation to name a few areas. Through the distribution of these dresses and britches they are also able to identify other special financial projects...they have helped build a primary school!
How You Can Help:
  1. You can sew little dresses!! So the pillowcases are used because they are ridiculously easy to use. The bottom hem is already sewn, as are the sides. Simply cut off the sewn edge, cut some arm holes and sew rough edges making a spot for the elastic at the top front and back, and then use double sided bias tape (where have YOU been all my life!!??) to finish off the arm holes and make a tie at the top. Done. If I weren't interrupted fifty-billion times, I think they'd each take me (a well below average seamstress!) less than 30 minutes. Pillowcases are also relatively inexpensive to purchase, though gently used ones are acceptable to use as well.  Here is a link to the pattern (they accept any simple dress pattern if pillowcases aren't your jam) Pillowcase Pattern They also need boys shorts desperately.
  2. You can make a donation to help cover shipping costs ensuring these little dresses get to the little girls that so desperately need them! You can also make donations to help fund other special projects.(Donate Here)
  3. If you have mad sewing skills, there is a special need for something called sani-panties. The issue of menstruation, and the rate at which these older girls drop out of school and are sexually harassed is heartbreaking. (From Little Dresses for Africa site): "According to UNICEF, one in ten schoolgirls in Africa miss classes or drop out completely due to their period, and substitute pads or tampons for less safe and less absorbent materials such as rags, newspaper or bark." If you think you might be able to tackle sewing these sani-panties, please click Sani-panties instructions Even if you don't think you could tackle this project, please take a moment to read about what other menstruating girls and women face in rural Africa.
I hope you consider trying to sew one of these dresses. Or at least get your older kid to do it. I'm going to try a few more myself, and then hand over the reigns to my almost 12 year old. This is right up her ally. Well...if we were sewing dresses for dolphins...THAT would be right up her ally, but she'll dig this too! Here are two I have made so far. One last night, and one this morning. Not too bad for a complete mess such as myself. Also...gimme all the pillowcases.

To find Little Dresses for Africa on Instagram, click HERE. Little Dresses for Africa is also on Facebook, click HERE.

This dress will not be shipped to Little Dresses for Africa. Because I would have to pry it off of her cold, dead body in order to do so.
This one's not going either...cause once she sees it...same dead body situation as above.

So here's a funny thing that has NOTHING to do with this post. I have no fricking idea how I did this. Went to upload a picture from my phone and I found this instead....

And Sweet Calico Cats there's this too....drives me batty when people say "I can't even"...but seriously....I can't even with this one...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Two For One...Like Cheating

The 52 Project:
I've missed a few 52 Project weeks lately. But ya know what? Oh well. I’m finding that sometimes it’s just easier to shove the camera phone back into my pocket, or leave the DSLR home altogether and just be present. I’ve learned being behind the camera can sometimes take away from being in front of my kids, or whatever else is going on. Halloween is a great example. All of the pictures that I did take suck. They are blurry and dimly lit and the faces are all squinty and shadowy and creepy! It was so aggravating to try and take a good picture of the baby as he toddled up to and right past many a front door. But it was so fun to just watch him do it. I became far less frustrated with the whole damned exhausting affair when I just gave up and burned the most important images into my soggy brain.

That being said…there are one or two pictures that I did salvage this week and while they are not perfect they’ll do for week Forty-Four of Fifty-Two...the week of increased and increasingly hilarious temper tantrums. The never ending squishy face. Wearing the wonky hat and walking with his eyes closed. His happy feet, rapid foot fire marching dance move. The best. I mean at this stage in the game even the temper tantrums are the best. This little guy has so much personality...

Monthly Non-Profit Highlight:
So the conundrum here is that these next couple of months are all about extreme giving and gratitude. There are so many tremendous and meaningful ways that we each can give back to our local, national or global communities and the months of November and December seem to be the months where we are most interested in giving, volunteering, donating, helping…generally doing good {I may be way off here, but I suspect this is a relatively true statement}.

So, given the extra generosity that permeates the air, one would think that I could come up with a really phenomenal post about a spectacular non-profit that so deserves and needs help. However. The months of November and December, on the heels of that hellish holiday Halloween, are also when I tend to turn inward to my family. I become far more interested in, and maybe even a bit obsessed with, baking and decorating and memory making and crappy holiday movie watching and shopping and visiting and traveling and list making and crafting. Holy shit with the crafting. Anyway, each of these elements is amped up a bit for me and I tend to neglect other areas. And I can wholeheartedly tell ya that right now this here little blog, and the little {hopefully somewhat impactful} project is going to be at the top of the list of things to neglect in the next few weeks. Third only to laundry and cleaning the house.
Also I kind of feel like with the culture of generosity and giving that flows a little easier around these bigger holidays; the people who are going to give, they kinda have a thing going on already with an organization, or something that has become a tradition for their family. I feel like you all probably have this season of giving all mapped out with who and what and when already.

For example, each year before Thanksgiving we donate a crap load of dry cat and dog food to our local animal shelter and do our part to stuff each and every bus we come across. Those two things happen regardless. And then there are years where we sponsor a family through church. There are years where we hear of a friend struggling to make Christmas happen and buy extra for them. There are years where we pull angel tags off a tree and give that way. There are years that our intent is to wrap our gift giving up with our giving to non-profits {a win-win if you ask me}.

My point is that we have our tried and true giving traditions, and we have our opportunity-arises-might-be-different-each-year giving. And I’m sure you do too. All of this to say…I’ve rounded up a few easy opportunities for giving this month…and holy Christmas Cats I hope to be back with another blog post before the new year.
Stuff the Bus/Buy a Meal/Thanksgiving Baskets via the multitude of local grocery stores, schools, food pantries, churches, Girl Scout or Boy Scout troops, media outlets or businesses who participate in these drives. Click HERE for a link to a Portland, Maine area Stuff the Bus Food Drive happening later this month.  

Donate Blood via The American Red Cross. To find a blood drive in your area click HERE and follow instructions.

Sponsoring a Family via your church/religious organization. For us, while the opportunity to do so is plentiful each year, it requires actually GOING to church. We are pathetic when it comes to attending Mass on weekends.
Donating goods/supplies/food to local animal shelters via your local Humane Society, Animal Refuge League or the ASPCA (click HERE to find local ASPCA chapters). Don’t forget the large animal shelters in your area as well…nothing is more fun than bringing carrots to rescued horses at this time of year!

Toys, toys and more toys via local Santa funds, toy drives or the Marine's Toys for Tots (click HERE to visit the Toys for Tots website and find links to local drop off locations)

Save a Life via Be The Match or Donate Life America! Join extensive Be The Match Bone Marrow Registry and truly make a difference in someone's life! Click HERE to learn about the match program and how you can help! Also, take a minute to register as an organ donor at Donate Life America (click HERE for link); indicating to family or via a driver's license your wish to donate your organs is often not enough!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lollipop, Lollipop

Week Forty-One/Fifty-Two
"A portrait of my child(ren) once a week, every week, in 2014"
Let's not view it as what I have resorted to doing in order to keep my baby quiet for five minutes. Instead let's view it as a celebration of him turning 17 months this week. Okay? Okay.

Also. He giggles when he farts. So there's that.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

This Week

Week Forty/Fifty-Two
"A portrait of my child(ren) once a week, every week, in 2014"
This week he and I survived a day with no nap.
This week I survived signing my son up for band.
This week he and I survived an epic "help Mom with the cat" event.
This week I survived a Kindergarten field trip.
This week we survived football, barely.
And all I have to show for it is this...staring out the window.
Forehead and sweaty palms pressed against the cool glass.
And the realization that screens can ruin a great picture.

{Note to self...remove screens}