Sunday, September 25, 2022

Catching Up

     I seem to be finding less and less time to post these days. And it's not that I don't have things going on, it's that I have a lot going on, and a lot of it I can't talk about in great detail. For instance, I can tell you I am having a really great time at school these days, but I can't tell you specifics of the really cool things because of privacy laws. So here is a very vague post to say that things have school have been amazing and we have had some pretty big breakthroughs with all of the kids. We have also had some struggles at times, since learning new things can be really challenging. In more me-centered news about school, I basically get paid to work out. I am moving all day long, or just about all day long. We dance, we sing, we run around in PE, it's a really good time. And really, it is a workout I am getting paid for. I am so happy I don't come home trying to talk myself out of having a drink at 2:30 in the afternoon, because I just don't want or need one. I am already content and calm. I still love Fridays and the weekends, who doesn't? But I no longer wake up with the feeling of dread that it's almost time to go to work again. I sometimes wake up a little bummed that I can't sleep just a little bit more, but I always have such a good time at work. It's been great.
     In other really positive news, I have not had time at work to be hungry, I have been bringing healthy stuff for lunch, and not tons, because I don't need it. I also am not coming home and eating tons of things. So I have also managed to lose a few pounds, in a fairly effortless way. My clothes are starting to fit more comfortably again, I have energy a lot more often. It's all really positive. It's amazing what can happen to you, mentally and physically, when you are not miserable for large portions of the day. 
     What have I struggled with lately? I have struggled with getting dolls made. Sometimes when I get home from school I have things I need to do that are not doll work. Sometimes I just want to hang out with Ethan (if it's a Tuesday and he is home). Sometimes I just want to not be working. Not that I actually work all that much. I have a lot going on, but really, I only work 30 hours a week, do not live far from the school, and I am not killing myself to make dolls. So I am occasionally feeling like a doll slacker. Though I did manage to get this lady done... a couple of weeks ago. I also discovered that I am a super slacker when it comes to updating my doll book. I had not done it since December of last year! And in fact I had 3 December dolls that didn't make it into the book! So yesterday I spent a bunch of time updating the book. I have already forgotten how many dolls I have made currently, but I did find that I have now made over 1600 dolls. I think it was something like 1630. Anyway, I have made a lot of dolls over the years. Not nearly as many as normal this year, but still a lot of dolls have happened. 
     I am still on the getting rid of stuff kick. I have a lot of things, even with the near-constant purging. Part of that is that I am really good at getting and collecting more things. These days I have way too many books. I do let some of them go (though books are one of the hardest things to get rid of if you are not just giving them away) but I have been buying them faster than I can read them. I do read pretty fast, but I don't have all day to read. Some days I don't have more than a few minutes, if that. I need longer days. 
    Part of the purge are these really awesome horses. The pair of flying horses are the 2021 subscriber exclusive models from Maggie's Monthly Micros, are for sale. The horse on the right, whose name I have forgotten (I have cards for everyone) is also for sale. I still have a bunch of other micros for sale, and some more that I need to list somewhere. I have way too many micros and no time, or desire to paint all of them.
    So another thing I have been thinking of for a bit, is working on my custom horse some more. Have I already talked about this? I can't remember. I am pretty sure I need to finish smoothing the neck join. And hair needs to happen once the neck is smoothed. The horse is also missing a tail. I think I have a support, but I need more tail and details. And time. I need that too. I have so many projects I want to work on. If I could just take a month off of all work, and still get paid, I could potentially finish all my projects. But maybe not. And since no one is going to pay me just for staying home and working on my projects, I guess I will just have to keep on working, and trying to balance all of my responsibilities and projects. Sooner or later maybe I will figure it all out. 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Free Rein

      Doing custom work can be really nice at times. You get some direction, or a ton of direction, in what to make and don't have to figure out every detail yourself. Sometimes it's good to have direction. If I get an order with ALL the details sometimes it's hard to remember to keep track of ALL the details and make sure they actually end up on the doll. I have goofed and done the wrong hair color, the wrong style, the wrong hat color, and probably messed up many other details as well. It is really nice when someone gives you a bit of direction and a lot of artistic license. It is also mildly terrifying. Some people really are super easy to please and when they say that they want a western pleasure doll with something like "these colors" (reference pic for color was included) they mean it. And sometimes people say that they are not picky, use these colors and go wild... and they don't mean it at all. Some people are incredibly particular and they don't really want you to do whatever comes to you, they want a particular vision, which they may or may not share with you. They may or may not actually know what they want, they just know what they don't want when they see it. 
     Lucky for me, my last order was amazing. I was given artistic license, and it was real. I had a reference for color and I followed it, though the reference really had much more white than the finished doll. I started working on layering the different colors in a way that ended up pleasing to look at. I don't design dolls ahead of time. I just sometimes take some basic ideas and then start work and see what happens. I really like how this doll came out. 
    I like the front more than the back, which is different than my usual. I often end up liking the back more, though I always like one side more than the other. I don't dislike the back, and once there is a shower number on the doll, which would be good for accuracy, some of the design will be covered anyway, so I really like that I like the front more. Will I ever be able to repeat that? Maybe, I do make a lot of dolls. Even though I have been making a lot fewer dolls than in the past 12 or so really productive years. 
     That brings me to my life update of the post. I really love my job again. I don't mean doll making, I am a little bit tired of doll making. I don't hate it, I don't even dislike it, I just don't want to always do it. But after 17 years of making dolls, making some mystery number of dolls (I really need to update my book and figure that out!) and doing dolls full-time for several years, I am a little tired. A lot of the dolls are very similar because they are rider dolls. There are not all that many different riding disciplines when you get right down to it. So things are a bit redundant at times. So what I mean is, I love my school job again. I have not found my job at the school fulfilling all that often in the last 4 years. But we had two years of covid mess that resulted in shutdown/quarantine, then a year of remote, then remote hybrid, and then last year... which was a hot mess across the country. That was a surprise because I think everyone was figuring now that we were all going to be back in person, without piles of restrictions and social distancing rules, that things would be more normal. And across the board we were wrong. So yeah, 3 years of mess, but I have not felt useful in at least 4 years. I was helping kids learn back then. And then I was made a scribe. Some of that was the fault of my situation. They wanted to move me to preschool (ew) to work with a high needs non-verbal child. OK, that sounded intriguing, but I couldn't work the hours. I need to be home when Travis is home. And he had high school hours, so that restricted me to high school hours. So yes, some of my situation was because of my restriction to only being able to work in the high school. The rest was... for other reasons. I work hard no matter what class they stick me in. I am also smart enough to pick up on gen-ed grade level work, if I don't already happen to remember it. (let's be real, I can pick up MOST of it. High level math and languages are not a thing I can do). So I ended up in a lot of the higher level classes. I ended up in mixed classes of behavioral and low level kids. I realized that I really wanted to work with high needs kids. I wanted to do work that made a difference. I didn't want to be the note taker, or the person who had to try to wake up the kid who just didn't want to work. I didn't want to be required to take verbal abuse from kids (and literally, that was expected for some of them). It is very draining to put so much time and effort into helping a kid and have them not even remember my name 5 minutes after they walk out of the room. Please don't think I am exaggerating, because I am not. It is very draining to ask a kid multiple times if they need help (because they clearly do) and be told over and over in a furtive voice that they don't. It's hard to help kids who are ashamed to need help. 
     So now I have kids that don't always have words, might mix me up with someone else, and need a lot of help. But they ask for help. They want the help. They work hard at the level they are at. They try the new and challenging things you ask of them. And they are genuine. They are not trying to impress their friends, they are just being themselves. That means that sometimes they are frustrated, and they show it. But I can work with that. I can help them learn to have a calm body, to try again, to learn a new skill. I can work on standing in line quietly (over and over and over if needed). And I can give praise for honest effort. And it brings me joy. 
     My biggest issue now is finding time to do all the things I need and want to do. I don't want to have a fully scheduled life, but I spent 45 minutes this morning catching up on blog reading because I was close to a month behind. I just don't have time. We have only had 11 days, or 3 weeks of school, so consciously, I know I am still adjusting to a school schedule. Going to bed early again, getting up early again, all of that. I am figuring out that maybe I can swing staying up just a little bit later. I always went to bed at 9:00 because I had to get up just after 5:00. But now I don't have to get up until 6:00 (and can maybe push that a tiny bit). So why can't I go to bed at 9:30 or 10:00? I might try it out and see how I feel. But I am also adjusting to working a half hour later. Now I get home at about 2:45. And Travis gets home at 3:00. So I don't have time to stop and do an errand on the way home. And when he gets home at about 3:00, I can either jump right into doll work or slack off for a bit (or have a nap) and then I feel like I have no time left for dolls. Mondays are laundry days, Fridays are for visiting with a friend, which leaves me Tuesday-Thursday for doll work. And I try not to work after supper... so now I am down to MAYBE having 9 hours a week to work on dolls. I don't think that is enough. I need to make dolls so I can afford my life. We already live very modestly, so I can't really just stop making the dolls. And I also need time for all the other things, like cooking, cleaning things, and so on. I am still working on the balance. I am doing less, but now it feels like I am still super busy and also still not doing quite enough. The cost of everything is some of the issue. For sure.
     So I will keep on working at it. We are only into the beginning of the school year, which is different time-wise than the last 6 years. I will find the balance, sooner or later. At least at this point I am not forcing myself to work every second of every day. And I am happy. That's a big deal for me. But finding the right work-life balance in this new school year is definitely something I need to work on. 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Weekend Fun

     Apparently my life has not gotten any busier. I put the photos into this post this past weekend and it's now Thursday morning, and the first chance I have gotten to start putting some words in it. Will I have time to write the whole thing before I go to school? We just don't know. 
     So this past weekend was super busy for me, but in totally fun ways. Friday afternoon I spent some time with my friend in her shop and I delivered most of her very large order of earrings. I have been having a really excellent time making jewelry, though mostly earrings, they seem incredibly popular at the moment, and now officially have them in two shops, not including my super quiet Etsy store, and I have another shop with an order in that I need to fill. Making jewelry fits nicely into my phone calls from Ethan. He calls me on his lunch break from work and jewelry making gives me something to do with my hands while we talk. I hate just sitting on the phone and not doing something. And there is not a lot of things you can do that don't need much brain power to work on. 
     Saturday morning, Travis and I went to the Brimfield Flea Market. Well, first we tried to find a store out in Spencer, and that didn't happen, so it just turned into a very long way to get to the Brimfield Flea Market. Mostly, we go to visit my aunts, Yvonne and Deb, but we do also like to look around. Travis said he wanted Marvel's The Thing, so we went looking for toys. I found this GIANT Proud Arabian foal. I am sure there is some story behind this that some collector knows. I know several molds were not originally Breyer, and things were made in different sizes. I also know that there are total knock offs of things out in the world. I did think though that this would be of vague interest to someone at least. 
     While Travis and I were visiting, Deb told me about a new-to-me crystal shop, which was in Sturbridge (just down the street) so I clearly had to go and check it out. It was a nice place, lots of plants (which I tried not to look at for too long, in case my gaze killed them), and a nice variety of crystals. All sorts of crystals. I had to pick up this piece of rainbow fluorite, since it is my favorite stone and this is such an excellent piece. It's chilling out on the windowsill above my kitchen sink, with my fluorite and opalite towers.  
     When we got home I spent the rest of the day out in the yard with Ethan. We did some target shooting with different pellet guns and I was pleased to see I hadn't lost my touch completely. These targets are only a couple of inches across. Not perfect, but I can work on it. I had forgotten how much I like target shooting. I wish I didn't rediscover that so far into the year. It will get cold soon. 
     Speaking of cold, we also stayed outside and had a fire (and it was actually not cold out at all). This heart-shaped log amused me quite a bit, so I had to take several photos of it. 

     A few weeks ago we had another fire and I got a bunch of photos that came out much better than this one. I love that fire is so endlessly changing. It's like watching flowing water. Though fire usually dances a lot more than water does. Unless you are watching ocean waves. 
     Sunday I spent the day visiting friends in other shops and I had a great time, but I feel like the weekend was very full and I didn't get a whole lot done. I need to see if I can adjust my attitude so I feel that visiting is just as important as work. Because visiting can actually be so much more important than work. 
     Speaking of work, my job is so very busy these days. In a different way than last year. Last year I was tied to a desk trying to plan out four different subjects and get all the accompanying teacher stuff done. This year I am super busy working with the kids constantly. The job is highly active, which I love so much. I go between moving around a lot to thinking a lot. I am teaching in the way that I always taught Travis. And I feel useful again as a para, which is something I have not felt much in the last 4 years. I am still working on having a good balance of work at school, doll work, house work, Travis things, life things, and doing nothing. I am not there yet. Which is why I am writing a post about my weekend on Thursday morning. But I made it! I need to leave for work within the next 3 minutes, but I made it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Customer Photos- Mary Hanson

     Mary Hanson sent me these photos a long while ago. Today I am extremely glad I have them. It's been almost a week since I posted anything and while I might have some things to chat about every now and then, I don't have any photos. I have not been working on dolls. Some of that is not being allowed to lift over 10 pounds, which makes taking out my sewing machine a challenge. Some of it is I don't always feel like making dolls. It happens. 
     Another issue, besides not being allowed to lift things just yet (soon!) is Ethan got hurt at work. He ended up dislocating and relocating his shoulder all in one go. So now he has some swelling and tenderness for sure. And while his only issue with lifting is overhead, I am trying not to make things worse. So no sewing for me this week. I don't really like sewing anyway. I like that I CAN sew, not the actual doing of it. Though every once in a while I am excited about a sewing project. 
     Last week was the first week of school, which was only 3 days. We are still working on organizing the classroom and figuring out some routines. We had an assembly Friday that we didn't know about (I didn't anyway) and then a fire drill that surprised us at a bad time. It did show that we can handle actual emergency situations that are not perfectly choreographed, but it was weird. We managed and made it through the day. The middle school has a rotating schedule, which the high school did not, so knowing exactly what is happening when and on what day, is going to be tricky. We'll probably get used to it. 
    Isn't this a stunning photo? I think this one might be my favorite! School was so fun last week that I was bound to have a bad day sooner or later. Well, most of this weekend was a bad day. Or definitely parts of it. Saturday, Travis and I went to Walmart. Everything about it was horrible. Too many people, too much stock in the way so it was hard to even navigate the store, the registers kept messing up and the person who was supposed to help when needed was actually making is so much worse. Then yesterday, I was at a different Walmart, the line was insanely long, and then the register was a mess again. I am thinking that Walmart is the problem. 
     Today starts our short 4 day week at school and the time when we start doing data collection. Which I have done bits of so I am not overly concerned about it. It is supposed to rain all day, which is likely to just make me extra tired. I am going to try to talk myself into doing some doll work later. I can cut out clothes and hair heads at the very least. There are a couple of dolls I need to make, and even if I can't sew just yet, I can work on some of the pieces. So maybe I can get some doll work done later. We'll see how I feel after school.