Re-thinking Christmas

I'm not rethinking ALL of Christmas. Just the tree.  Though it could be argued that the tree is the symbol of Christmas in your home, so maybe rethinking the tree will sort of ripple out and effect all the other parts of my Christmas too.  That would be ok.

For your viewing enjoyment here are some pictures of Christmas trees we have had over the years.

Those trees were fine.  But I always wanted something GRAND.  Beautiful and sophisticated and Glamorous and Breathtaking.  And I couldn't ever do it.  My favorite trees at the Festival of Trees were always the ones with huge ornaments and beauty and grace and a touch of whimsy.  And I bought a few huge ornaments, but it was never good enough.  I just couldn't accomplish what I envisioned.   And it seemed to be made worse by my unfinished Family Room, which made me very angry at the room for not being done yet. Stupid Room!  It was ruining Christmas!

Richard has long preferred colored lights on a tree.  And as inflexible as I am, I finally gave in, even though they are neither sophisticated nor grand.  We have adopted this new method of compromise when it comes to our tastes and opinions, since we both have them.  We take turns.  This year we’ll decorate the tree the way HE likes it, and next year it is my turn again, etc., etc.

So we put colored lights on the tree.  And then started hanging some of our many Christmas balls, but after just one bag full Richard said that was enough.  Really?  I've got a giant box full of these things.  That is all you want?  Yeah, he said.  They are all just too fancy for him.   

So then we pulled out the little box of ornaments from down at the bottom of the Christmas tub, the ones that never get used.  The ones that didn't fit into any style or color theme I ever had going on.  The ones I got from people on my mission.  The ones Harrison made in school and in church.  The ones that have been given to us as gifts in Christmas past.  And as we hung them I realized how sad it is that I've never used them before.  I've never even hung my own son’s handmade ornaments on the tree because they didn't match.  My dumb stuck-up tree was always too full of itself to let those who were different into its little clique.  What an arrogant, elitist tree!  

Then I started thinking how fun it would be to finally make some of those great handmade ornaments I've seen on pinterest.  And how cool it would be to give the boys an ornament each Christmas as a memento of the year.  And with all these personalized, unique ornaments, our tree could grow with our family and act as a cone-shaped scrapbook of our life together.  Maybe, just maybe, my tree shouldn't be a symbol of style and sophistication, but of our family.

This feels very right to me.  And was probably obvious to everyone else, but it has taken me 10 years to get here.  And I like it.   It sits warm deep in my belly and makes the coming holiday feel simple and exciting.  So now I’m thinking the colored lights might stay. 

But now I’m also stuck with Richard having the ultimate say of what goes on the tree for the rest of the year.  Do you think I could talk him into letting us put a paper chain on it?  Maybe a string of popcorn?

Colored lights are pretty homey, aren't they? 

And sometimes they make your house look like a Sci-Fi Disco Party. 


A Single Act of Kindess

I want to say 2 things.

1. SNOW.

Right?  Do you ever think, “Oh, its snowing.  I guess I'm not going anywhere till Spring.”  Yeah.  Me too.  Snow should be enjoyed from inside the house sitting in front of a fire holding a mug of hot cocoa.  If that means I am turning into an old lady then fine by me. 

2. Sundays are rough.  I was gonna make a joke about how maybe that is just me and all of you probably find it very easy and relaxing, but what is the point?  Sundays are rough sometimes and everybody knows it.

My husband is in meetings all morning so I’m getting the kids ready by myself.  Which is fine.  Except that I’m still not that good at it.  And even with church starting at 11:00, and even if I give myself plenty of time to get ready, just getting my boys dressed and out the door is harrowing, at best.  

This particular snowy morning as I tried to get my boys clothed in a timely fashion my 2-year-old was furious with me because I insisted on putting his socks on his feet, instead of on his hands where he wanted them.  How can they be Batman gloves if they are on his feet?  And THEN I had to go and put his belt on his pants, of all the horrendous places, instead of around his head like a Batman mask.  How could I be so cruel? 

Fighting with him is exhausting, and all the while I was still trying to get the 5 year old to put his own clothes on which was only made difficult by the fact that he wouldn't stop jumping on the couch.  YOU try to get dressed while jumping on a trampoline sometime.  It isn't easy.  When they were finally dressed and it was time to put my own shoes on I was ready to crawl into bed. 

Knowing that I've first got to scrape the snow off my car so that I can head to church to wrestle with my boys for over an hour isn't a really strong motivator, so I was just trying to bear myself up for the battle ahead as I grabbed my bag and keys.  Then I heard Harrison shout from outside, “Mommy!  Someone’s helping us!”

I stepped outside to see the man who lives across the street cleaning the snow off my car.  He had been out shoveling his driveway, had seen that we were getting ready to leave and had simply helped. 

I was very touched, and thanked him and he said, “Aw, you shouldn't have to do this in your church clothes.”   He finished cleaning off the car while I loaded the kids into their seats.  And then I thanked him several times again and we were off. 

Obviously I had not been in the best mood.  Obviously I was going to be horrible company and was not going to get anything out of church and everyone was going to end the day miserable.  But my friendly neighbor changed everything when he decided to do something nice for me, just for the heck of it.  

The power of a single act of kindness.  It is huge.  More far reaching than we are capable of seeing.  I could say lots of other things now about its hugeness and far-reachingness, but I want you all to go home and think of your own things to say, and then find someone to say them to, cuz I have to go to bed.

Thanks again nice neighbor!  I'm still in a good mood.  I think you brightened my whole winter.  

The no toys follow up.

Did you notice in the post about my boys room that there was no toy organizer? No giant shelf to put all the crappy toys in?  Because after the Great Toy Confiscation of 2012, I never went back.

I took all their toys away and put them in plastic bags and they just didn't seem to care.  And I realized that they just don't need that many toys.   So did I get rid of them all?  Nope.  They stayed tied up in their huge black garbage bags for about a month.  It took that long for me to be prepared to really face getting rid of them.

So I took those garbage bags and sorted.  Without my kids around, cuz you know every broken toy they've never shown the least interest in is suddenly their favorite if you want to get rid of it.  I sorted out the stuff they never play with or the toys that drive me crazy.  It was hard, cuz I have the toys I like, you know, which they may not care that much about.  I weeded out about half of the toys.  Then I had to run them by my husband, because he really hates getting rid of stuff, and he wanted to verify that I wasn't throwing too many memories away.  Even so, I know he thinks I am cold-hearted because I don't get sentimental about stuff the way he does.

I got rid of the throw aways and put the rest in tubs and left those in my room for another month.

The beauty of this process is that getting rid of toys doesn't have to mean Getting Rid of ALl Your Kid's Toys.  You don't have to get rid of anything.  Just take them out of the picture for a little while.  Or a long while.  As long as you want.  If  you can't bring yourself to get rid of your kid's toys, then don't.  Just hide them in the garage for a couple of months and then see how you feel about it.

I finally paired it all down to two tubs.  One tub with toys that they just don't play with much, but I couldn't quite bring myself to get rid of, and I stuck them in the attic.  The other tub would be their very favorites, but after a couple months of no toys, with them never asking for one of them, it was a little hard to decide.   That tub gets shut away someone they can't get to, but is really easy to pull out whenever we want.  Most of the time it just stays in their closet.

So now it is several months later, and I haven't looked back.  I LOVE not picking up toys.  My house is cleaner, their is more peace.  A few toys have managed to surface over time and they are just kept in a drawer in the living room where they can get to whenever they want.  And they still pull those out and leave them on the floor, but there just aren't that many, so it isn't a big deal.

I wish I could tell you that my children have a greater appreciation for what they have, and are more grateful for what I give them, and more respectful of our things, but none of those things is true.  I think that all required more wisdom and skill as a mother than I possess.  There really is no discernible difference in my children now, and my children when they were wading through toys up to their ankles.   So if there is no difference, what the heck did I buy all those toys for?

The real difference is me.  There are no more toys to make me crazy.  The messes are always manageable so telling my kids to pick up their toys doesn't overwhelm them.

Sleeping Dogs Lie

Sometimes what they show on TV or in the movies isn't real.  Did you know that?  Sorry to drop a bomb on you like that, but it's better that you knew.  Things just don't always work out like they do in the movies.  You know, like when the CSI lab gets their results back in just a few hours because a hot field agent asked for it.  Or when they show hot field agents working in a CSI lab.   Or when girls who have been stranded on a desert island, or who are traveling through the wilderness always seem to have beautiful hair no matter what they have to go through.

Or when they show people sleeping like this:

Just pretend like her hair is cascading beautifully down the pillow and she isn't suffering from balloon head and see how peacefully they are sleeping mere inches from each other faces?


That sleeping position is a lie perpetrated by the media!

Maybe it is just me, but in my relationship, that DOES NOT HAPPEN.  I don't like breathing reconstituted air.  I don't like hot air blowing in my face.

And mostly, my husband and I don't want to smell each other's face wind.

They show couples sleeping that way, so sweetly all night long, waking up in that position to smile lovingly at each other, and then maybe kiss oh so chastely (that is the kind of shows I watch, ok) but in reality, even if a couple managed to stay in that position all night (not in a million years), that little pocket of air between them would be like a cloud of toxic fumes.

It seems like the older I get, the worse my morning breath gets.  These days my breath in the morning is like a weapon.  I could incapacitate an enemy at 10 paces just by blowing them a kiss.  Which I guess could come in handy sometimes.  Maybe that is my super power.  A blessing and a curse.

Remember when you were a kid and your breath and your armpits always smelled sweet?  (not to mention the way your body DIDN'T hurt all the time) I knew getting older was going to be rough, but I just never bargained for this.  If my breath is this bad NOW, what is it going to be like when I am 80?  I'm only 34.  That is like 50 more years of stink collecting in the back of my throat!

And once again I feel it necessary to remind you that I really am quite a lovely person, despite the breath threat.  Just don't sleep in my face.  Something bad might happen to you.

The Living Room

I'm supposed to be cleaning my kitchen.  But I sat down in front of my computer and I can't get up again.  It is just as well though, because I'm sure you are all dying to know what is up with my living room floor.  So I'm gonna tell you.  But let's start at the beginning, shall we?  Come with me on a Journey in Pictures, while we watch this room grow from a tiny bud into the great big ol' blossom of a room that it is now.  You should maybe turn on some Kenny G. or something.

Here is the living room before we bought the house.  And that is my husband checking for a body, or very large rodents:

Then after buying the house the living room was filled with lots of junk for a while:

and one very depressed plant.

Then we cleared it out.  And I got lots of dust in my camera.

We tore out the ceiling so we could run the wiring:

and then removed the wallpaper, the chimney and then the carpet.

 After putting drywall up and patching all the plaster

we painted the walls and finished the floor.

And then we filled it up with furniture.

That picture was taken in 2005.  And besides a few minor changes, that is how the room stayed until labor day weekend, 2012

when the floor came flying right out of the room!

And at this point you may be asking Why?  Why did you tear out your floor?  Was it really on the whim of a deranged lazy woman who just didn't want to clean it?  Or was it something more?

Well folks, I'll tell you, since you asked.  But please don't call me deranged again.  1) the floor that we spent so much time sanding down, staining and finishing, while pretty, was only ever meant to be a subfloor, and the wood was just too soft.  It dinged and scratched like nobody's business.  2) the joists holding the floor up were rotting and falling apart.  A Minor detail maybe, but my husband was concerned, so I humored him.    3) to more easily insulate the heat ducts (as seen above) and install the very fancy new piece my husband built out of sheet metal for the air return.  This is the best picture I got of it

Which doesn't even show you that it bends backwards under the floor in a tricky L shape and we never could have gotten it in with the floor there.  This picture just doesn't do it justice.  My husband is a flipping genius.

4) As a bonus, after tearing up the floor we found this joist that had secretly quit its job as floor-holder-upper  and was just hanging out in arcades and stuff.  I think the duct work was the only thing holding it up at this point:

 Can you see?  See how it is just floating there?  Fun Stuff.

Finally, we got the new floor down.  And by new floor I don't mean flooring, I just mean floor, that we can walk on and stand on and not fall through.

And here is how the room looks today:

Ah.  Breath taking.  There is something about pink flowers paired with orange stripes that just resonates with me, you know?  Wait.  I don't think resonates is the right word.  More like. . . nauseates.  yeah.  That is more like it.  This room is the perfect example of how certain pieces combined with other certain peices just don't work.

I have a very clear picture in my mind of how I want this room to look.  But I find I have no idea how to make it happen.  Even with different furniture, I can't figure out how to use the stuff I have that I like and create the room I want.  Do I have to throw everything out and start over?  That sounds pretty expensive.  What is a cheapskate to do?

Fish My Wish!

That's Right! We tore out the floor!

Except the joke is on me because now there is dirt EVERYWHERE.  

Dust in Time

One of the fun parts of remodeling is demolition.  It is fun because you get to smash things, and a couple hours work yields such huge results.  And because you get smash things.

However, if you LIVE in the house while you are demolishing part of it, some of that fun is diminished.  By the dust.  And I really don't know how else to put this.  I HATE IT.  I hate to dust under normal circumstances.  So normally I just pretend the dust isn't there.  But after knocking down a brick wall, or tearing out some lathe and plaster, the layer of dust over everything in my house is so thick my only choice is to break down and clean it.

We finished all the demo a while ago though, thank the heavens.  And now I am back to just having regular amounts of dust on all my furniture and ignoring it like every red-blooded American should.  That is until Richard recently decided he needed to knock a small hole in the brick wall in the living room for the air return.  It is very complicated.  Don't ask.

So he pulled out his air compressor and his little jack hammer attachment and knocked a hole in the wall and got dust all over the place and I dutifully cleaned it up like the dutiful wife I am.  I dusted the whole house and mopped and polished the wood floor in the living room and the room looked great.  A few days later he decided the hole was a little too small so he got out the jack hammer and knocked out some more bricks until the hole was just right.

Awe.  Such a pretty hole in the wall.  I looks like the entrance to an ancient tomb full of junk.

And now everything is covered in dust again, just for me.  Which is great!  Only I really don't want to mop the floor again.  I swept the best I could, but here is the floor after sweeping:

Honestly I'd rather tear the floor out than have to mop it again.

I can't remember now why I am telling you this.  If anyone can think of a reason, please clue me in.

Observations From Life On the Trail.

Well, I did it again.  I went out to Wyoming and pretended to be a pioneer for a few days with the youth in our ward.  And it was good.  Really good.  And I'd like to share with you a few observations I made along the way.

1.  Getting Older is the Pits.

The first day we pushed handcarts 14 miles over Rocky Ridge.  Which is more than I walk in an average year.  And I managed to hurt my back the day BEFORE we left.  HOW did I hurt my back you ask?  What impressive feat of strength was I performing that caused me such injury?  Well I'll tell you, since we are friends and all.  I hurt my back while I was standing up.  I had been sitting, and then I stood, and somewhere in the process something went wrong and boom, Back Hurty.  So, yeah, that totally happens all the time.  When you are old.  And I remembered that when you are old the ways you can hurt yourself are increased exponentially.  You might hurt any one of  your necessary body parts unexpectedly while:
drinking some water
going to the bathroom
waving at your neighbor
watching MASH reruns
eating a a slice of cheesy pizza
Calling your granddaughter
Doing the Roger Rabbit

Those are just a few examples.  I believe I've already mentioned how easy it is to hurt yourself, and that is just compounded when your body starts to actively fall apart.  It will betray you.  Don't trust it.

2. Walking a lot is a lot like life.

After we'd been walking for a while, my feet started to hurt.  But I kept going.  And then it was ok.  Not that my feet stopped hurting, I just go used to the fact that they hurt.  After we'd been walking a while longer, I suddenly realized how tired my legs were.  But I kept going.  And after a while it was ok.  Not that my legs stopped being tired, I just got used to the fact that they were.  And the next day we walked a few more miles.  And the next day we walked some more.  So that when we got home, besides the blisters on my toes, I wasn't sore at all. Quitting after 14 miles and laying perfectly still in my bed for a week sounded really nice, but I probably would have been hobbling around for days afterward.  Because we just kept going, I am fine.

Life is like that sometimes.  Things are good, and sometimes something crappy comes along and even though you don't want to you just have to keep going.  Keep waking up every morning and being a person and after a while (sometimes after a long while) you suddenly realize that things are ok.  Not that the crappy thing is gone, you just got used to it.  You just got strong enough to bear it.  Sometimes the best way to overcome our trials is just to keep going.

3. I'm not as bad at talking to people as I always thought.

I've never considered myself much of a conversationalist.  But it isn't so much that I'm bad at it, it's just that it takes me about 5 hours to warm up to someone enough to have an actual conversation with them, and most days there just isn't enough time to squeeze that in.

4.  The best way to show someone how strong they are is to give them a chance to prove it.

On Day 2 they let the women push their handcarts by themselves.  Up a very steep and very sandy hill.  And the men just had to stand there and watch.  I love to see what that does for the girls:  Realizing how hard it is - because sand has got to be 10 times worse for pushing through than rocks - and then realizing that they can do it anyway.  Realizing how hard it is for people who care about them to stand there and watch them struggle and not be able to do anything to help.  Realizing how much they need each other.  Realizing how strong they are.

5.  Teenagers don't complain as much as we think they do.

Everybody is always all "Teenagers are the worst!  Blah Blah Blah"  But they really aren't.  In fact, they are pretty awesome.  They can be nice and reverent and kind and hardworking and responsible and wonderful and funny, just like real people!

6. White is a BAD choice for an apron.

Day one.  White.
Day two: Holy cow this apron is crazy dirty!
Day three:  Stroke of Genius! I'm gonna turn my apron over so it only looks almost crazy dirty.
Day four:  Barbecue sauce?  Really?  Chocolate pudding?  Where did that even come from?

7. You don't need to see yourself in the mirror to know you look bad.

If you are walking around in full pioneer dress in 100 degree weather, sweating like a horse, through dust and cow pies with no shower for days and chocolate pudding on your apron, you will probably start thinking that you look pretty bad.  And even if there are no mirrors anywhere to confirm your suspicions (and there weren't) just take my word for it now.  You are right.  You DO look bad.  You are filthy and you smell.  Get used to it.

8. 50 stinky people on a bus don't smell too bad when you are one of them.

But a bathroom on a bus, used by even a couple teenage boys who apparently have bladders the size of children, can just about knock even the stinkiest of us over with its bouquet.

9.  I really, really, really, like my husband.  But nobody knows, so don't tell, OK?

I want to tell you how spiritual it all was.  I want to talk about how walking a few miles in the shoes of the pioneers - and that being my comfortable, well-fed shoes - has made me better appreciate the sacrifices they made and understand how much it meant to them to get to Utah where they could be with other members of the church and be sealed to their families for eternity.  I want to tell you how much I learned about enduring through trials and being faithful no matter what, how we are all stronger than we think we are and that the Lord has big things planned for us and getting us ready for them really hurts sometimes.

But I won't.  This is, as you know, primarily a Health and Fitness blog, and I don't want to mess with that.  I might lose my Health And Fitness Blog Certificate, and none of us want that.

Don't forget to eat your vegetables?

-a special Thank You to Lynsie from whom I stole the pictures.  Thanks!

More than You Ever Wanted to Know about my Kitchen

As you have probably guessed, you are going to be hearing a lot more about what is happening with our house in the coming months.  Because, HOPEFULLY, in the coming months, something is going to start happening with our house.  Hopefully a lot of somethings.   We have really just put everything on hold for a while so we could save up to tackle the big stuff, and I just can't wait until we start making progress again. Mostly, I can't wait until all the progress is over and we are just DONE.  But, seriously, is that ever going to happen?  It is a little hard to imagine.  I haven't lived in very many "finished" homes in my life, so this would really be a new thing for me.

Still, until the HAPPENINGS begin, maybe it will be good for us to just take stock of where we are in our home remodel to this point.  So you can all see what I live with everyday and feel really sorry for me.  So let's begin a new series I'm going to call "Crappy Pictures From Every Room in My House."

Let's start with the Kitchen, shall we?

There it is.  All Kitcheny and what not.  We always planned that it would be temporary so we put as little money into it as possible, but it has still been a good little kitchen that has served me well.  Even though it is SO YELLOW.

I bought all but 2 of the cabinets used for $100 and painted them white.  (The other 2 were stock cabinets from Home Depot that I painted white as well.)  And the countertops are just plain black tile we paid $1 a square foot for.  I thought the tile countertop would drive me crazy, but I actually haven't minded it at all. They are chipping along the front edge, but I love how shiny they are.  Here is a better shot.

And I love that brick wall behind the cabinets.  The kitchen was built as an addition onto the original brick house, and this was one of the outside walls.  So pretty.  There was a window right behind where we put the oven, so I did this kind of mosaic tile thing to cover it up:

That was pretty fun.  Even though it has been this way for 8 years, I still like the white cabinets and black countertops enough that I will do it again in my next kitchen.  I like the size of the kitchen too.  Everything is close and accessible without being cramped or crowded.  It is a little too small to hold all our stuff though.  Or rather, we have a little more junk than we have room for.

AND, most importantly of all, this addition that was added onto the original brick house was built without a foundation.  Just 2x4's stuck strait into the ground.  When we bought the house the addition was literally falling off the back of the house.  The lady who lived here before tried to hold it on with tape:

So we jacked the addition up, and stuck some concrete piers under there, but it was never meant to be permanent.  Eventually we are going to have to tear the whole addition down and build it over again.

Wanna see some more Before pictures?  Here is how the kitchen looked when we bought it.

Looking at that picture, I can't believe we bought this house.  Obviously we had no kids.  Obviously we were young and energetic and delusional.  Honestly, I think I must have just been bored.  Why else would buying that kitchen seem like a good idea?

What I WON'T Miss About My Kitchen

1) The Faucet

See that state-of-the-art spray feature?  Yeah, it does that all the time.  The faucet is maybe 3 years old.  After we'd had it for a year or so, while I was using it one day, the nozzle just fell apart in my hands.  I tried to put it back together, and later my husband fixed my attempt at putting it back together, but now it sprays all the time, no matter what.  The finish on it is all cracking and soon to flake off too, which just adds to the overall Piece-of-Hud feel I am going for in here.

2) The Floor

I did that floor myself.  I did not do a great job.  After we pulled up the corroded linoleum that was in there we first tried to refinish the wood floor underneath.  It did not go well.  Then we tried laying down a sheet of linoleum.  That didn't go well either.  (I would go into detail, but I don't remember any.)  So I put down these linoleum tiles.  They looked pretty good when I first did them, besides being slightly off square, but now several of them are loose and there are gaps between them and the section in front of the heater vent is very yellowed and sad looking.  I can't wait to get rid of this ugly floor.

3) The Space Above the Cabinets

I like the pottery I stuck up there, (though it is looking a little crowdy now) but really all that space is is just one more spot that I am never gonna dust.   But I feel like I SHOULD dust it.  And it gets pretty bad.  So once a year or so the Dust Guilt gets so bad that I finally have to climb up on top of my counters and kind of bend over in the space there and dust all those vases I stuck up there to look pretty and every time I finish I'm convinced that it isn't worth it and I'm never doing it again.  And I won't.  My solution is to remove the whole problem by removing the space.  My ceiling will be lower or my cabinets will be higher or whatever needs to happen so that the space simply doesn't exist.  

4)  The Pantry

Yep.  That is my pantry.  A Bookshelf painted white.  It worked surprisingly well for a while.  But not with kids.  When Harrison was very little  I used to try to organize it and make it look nice.  Ha ha ha.  What a silly goose I was.

5) This

This is a perfect example of more junk than space.  We have this handy little cabinet for stacking cookie sheets.  But half of them fell out recently when my husband was fishing for a muffin tin, and, being an engineer, this is how he put them back.  I haven't had the energy to reorganize it again.

6) The Dining Room

I'm hanging out, in my Yellow of All Yellows kitchen, I turn around and BAM!  There it is.  My Dining Room.  Laughing at me.  Reminding me that, although there are 3 different types of flooring in there, it really is a part of the kitchen, basically, and there is nothing I can do about it.  Hardy Har Har.

With its exposed insulation, ugly wallpaper, tools on the floor, stacks of lumber and cardboard boxes, and broken water heater it mocks me.  And, let's not forget, my dining room floor is covered with what is probably the ugliest linoleum the world has ever seen.

It seems like a factory accident, doesn't it?  I just can't imagine anyone would make that on purpose.  

That is all.  That is all the pictures I got.  Unless you want to see the Before BEFORE pictures.  

The dining room when we bought the house:

That picture is looking from the opposite direction of the ones above it.  That room you see through the doorway there is the kitchen.  And behind that wall with the tinfoiled window is a skinny little closet.

We knocked out the wall between the closet and the dining room and the kitchen and opened the whole space up.  So even as it is now, it is a whole lot better than it was.  

And that is it.  I'm out.

Make a Baby Tie from a Man's Tie

Folks, the time has come.  I am going to let you in on my greatest secret.  I guard this secret with the dedication of the Last Centurion gaurding the Pandorica.  Though I did teach it at Super Saturday last year. But it isn't like I've ever tweeted it before, or told my Aunt Linda.  Man that lady can talk.

There are probably other tutorials online for how to do this.  I intentionally didn't look because I don't want to know.  I didn't find this on pinterest or learn how to do it on anyone's blog or anything.  I actually figured out how to make these baby ties with my own brain and everything.  And so, without further ado. . .

Start with a full sized Man's tie.  The best way to get your hands on one of those is by closet raiding.  Raid your husband's, your brother's, your dad's.  You could even snatch one from your neighbor, if you are fast enough.  The lengths you will go to to get your hands on what you want are totally up to you.   Also, I find polyester ties work the best.  Mostly because they are machine washable.  I know we aren't the only people in the world who don't get things dry cleaned.  Sure, my hubs can get away with wearing a tie for years without ever cleaning it, but just imagine if he drooled like the baby does.  (Why I feel it is necessary to explain to you the importance of washing a baby's tie is anyone's guess.)  The other reason I prefer polyester is this: I once put a silk tie on a baby.  A charming little red, white, and blue number.  he sucked on it all church long.  By the end of the day  the colors had all bled into a bloody gray. So now you know.  Your actions are your own responsibility.

Enough Gab!

Grab your snazzy 80's tie.  Don't worry that it is a little ratty or stained.  Drape it over one of your dining room room chairs and take a picture

Think to yourself, "Holy Moly, my chairs are dirty!"  Promise yourself that you will wash them later.  And then forget.

Now, lay the men's tie out on the table.  Cut the skinny end about 14 inches from the tip.  This should work for newborns to about 1 year old.  Or cut it 18 inches from the tip for 1 to 3 years old.  Once they get much older than that it doesn't really work anymore.  A man's tie isn't really long enough, and it looks too skinny on your little boy.  From then on, you are on your own.

I didn't want to walk into the next room to get my sewing scissors, so I used these instead:

They're fun.  They make me feel like a giant.

Next, measure 13-14 inches on the remaining tie. A little less for a baby, a little more for a 3 year old.  This will be used as the neck band.  So you can decide if you need more or less length than this.  If your kid has a fat neck, use more. Ya shee?

On this piece you just cut, remove the stitching, which should be pretty easy to do.  If you are lucky, you should just be able to pull one magic thread and have the whole thing come out.  Then remove that piece of mystery fabric from inside.  Cuz you just don't need it.

Throw it at the closest available person while yelling "It's Alive!"

Take the tie piece that is left and fold it in half over the seam that was, pinning it in place.  

Fold the raw edges on the ends in about 1/4 inch and pin those too.  (Good thing I've included pictures of pinning.  That part can get TRICKY.)

If your anal side ever starts to come out and you start thinking that it doesn't look perfect enough, just remember that it is for a baby, and they don't care.

Sew very close to the edge around the whole thing.  Attach some velcro to each end, making sure you do one piece of velcro to the front, and one piece of velcro to the back.  It doesn't actually matter which is the front or the back, just make sure you attach the velcro to opposite sides.  Got it?

Now pick up the main tie piece that has just been sitting over there on the table all this time.  Open up the raw edge and fold it back a little bit so that you can get to that stiff bit of fabric in the middle, and cut off about 1/4 inch of it.  

Then fold all those raw edges of polyester in and pin it and then sew across the edge.

Now put it all together!

THEN Do a couple stitches on the back here 

to keep it all together, and a few more stitches here

to keep the tail end from waving all over the place.    The beauty is, you can take these stitches out and re-tie it to make it longer or shorter as your baby grows, or shrinks.  

And you are finished.  BUT. . .

You've got options!  You could make the process even faster by making the neck band out of elastic.  Cut a length of elastic 14 inches long (1/2 wide elastic works great).  Tie your tie around it in the same way as above.  

Sew the ends together like so:

Or you can sew it so it looks nice.  If you want.  And there you have it.  A baby tie in no time.  And his shirt collar will cover up the elastic so know one ever has to know.

This is my new favorite neck band because it is so hard for a boy to get the tie off.  And the tie can now be used as a weapon when your kid won't be quiet in church.
And there you have it:  BABY TIE!

Your baby will have a Ph.D in Adorableness with this thing round his neck.  But let's not restrict ourselves here.  These don't just have to be for babies. A fashion conscious man might find a tiny tie could really complement his wardrobe. A tiny tie would definitely  make your shoulders look broader.  And accentuate your jawline.  Or maybe you are a clown, but are tired of paying specialty store prices for all your clown attire?  Now you can make your own!  The possibilities truly are limited.

Thanks!  And if you have any questions, just ask!