Monday, December 30, 2013

What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self? Looking Back in the New Year

I know that during this end of year time, we tend to look forward. But I thought, for this new year, I would look back, see how much I had accomplished and what I have to continue to learn.

In 2006, a year before Dan was born, the book, What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins was published. I remembered thinking,  "what a cool concept! I would love to write a letter to my younger self!" I never actually did, but I shelved the idea, knowing that I might do it in the future.

Then, in May of 2012, I  bought this issue of Oprah simply because the cover caught my eye. Isn't it amazing? I wondered how I could do this, how could I put a picture of my older self embracing my younger self and combine it with a letter to a younger me. I never figured it out, (if any of you know, please tell me) but when I found this Ziggy doll, I got an idea. The doll was given to me in 6th grade by a group of friends before I had back surgery for scoliois at age 11. I remembered my mom had taken a picture of me with it so when I found it, I attempted to recreate it as an adult. Here is the result as well as 5 consejos (advice) I would give my younger Nellie. Bare with me as I am still learning these lessons and will carry them into the 2014.

1. Your father's alcoholism had nothing to do with you.  He didn't drink because you didn't get better grades, or because his family was not interesting enough. This is an important lesson, little Nellie, because you are going to have two kids with autism and you are going to refer back to what you know, blaming yourself. You are going to think that you ate something you shouldn't have or that you didn't play enough Mozart to your unborn children. Stop apologizing. Not everything is your fault. You are not that powerful.

2. Don't hide, don't be afraid to shine and celebrate yourself and your accomplishments. I know you like to give the spotlight over to others and that you're a great listener, but we need to hear your voice as well. Just as others are gifts to your life, you are a gift to others. People need you. You are going to have a blog where you will be able to celebrate your accomplishments. Opportunities will come from this. Please don't say no to them.  Stop second-guessing yourself.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for what you need! If you plan on being a healthy mom, you are going to have to take care of yourself, little Nellie. Just because you have needs does not make you needy. You are going to have to learn to ask for help. No one does it alone, we all need each other. If someone says no, just move on and ask the next person.

4. Don't be afraid to switch paths.  You are going to do a lot of schooling and have two degrees that you will not use for a while. You will then teach yourself some new skills. I know it sounds crazy but it will be okay. It's going to be a tough ride full of uncertainties but it will also be fun. You are not your career. Don't get stuck on one track. You are multi-faceted, embrace it.

5.  Little Nellie, please do not take yourself so seriously! Don't be afraid to be a goof, to make mistakes, to laugh at yourself. This is what makes you human, real, and relatable.

Whew! I am kind of glad it does not happen this way. That we don't get a sneak peek or a preview of the future. I think I would be totally overwhelmed. I am glad I am learning these lessons as I go and look forward to new ones in 2014. Happy New Year.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Show, Special Needs, and God with Us: Thank You Very Much Mr. Roboto

Patiently waiting for Dan's class to perform, this was two or three classes before his. 
On Wednesday, I got to my younger son's Winter Concert on time! I was so proud of myself. It's usually packed and I always end up sitting in the 5th or 6th row because, yes, I am usually late. Not this time. I got there extra early and landed a seat in the second row, square in the middle, with no big person in front of me! Also, after looking at the program and realizing that Dan's class was one of the last ones to perform, I saved all my iPhone's battery life for countless photos of his class performance, I was so excited!

I watched performance after performance and then, finally,  Dan's class was next. There I was, camera in hand, positioned motionless so I could capture the perfect shot the moment he hit the stage. My Dan is a ball of energy that jumps, runs, and fidgets at every moment. Many of my pictures of him are mere blurs so this preparation was quite calculated. I figured I would be able to get at least one good picture of him for me, and yes, Facebook.

Dan's class, sans Dan. You can see a little glimpse of the kids dressed as trains.
The music for his class performance started and I began to look for Dan. I looked, and looked, but there was no sign of him. I smiled, masking my anxiety, as the music kept playing and the kids kept coming out in their costumes. I wasn't sure what he was supposed to be so I didn't know what to look for.  First, kids dressed as trains, came out; then others dressed as rockets. The next batch were teddy bears, and lastly, the robot kids. The music ended, his class performance was over, and still no sign of Dan.

I couldn't understand it. Did I miscalculate? Was his class actually the next one to perform? Was he so well disguised that I had missed him? Didn't I see his class heading to the stage? Then I spotted him with his paraprofessional (para), heading back down off the platform. My heart sank. I knew something must have gone awry. I silently started to cry as the music started playing for the next act. Tears rolling down, I started to get in my head, "couldn't his para handle him?" I thought. "This is a special school, aren't they supposed to be able to deal with kids that have sensory issues and are hyper?" The show was not over but I just wanted to leave. I thought of how I could make a grand exit to show how pissed I was and then write an angry e-mail to his teacher about how they broke a mother's heart.

Photo courtesy of
Then I took a hold of myself as I felt a calming presence over me. I looked back and Dan was sitting nicely with his para. I decided I was going to go over to his class and find out what happened. When they laid eyes on me, both his para and teacher had these apologetic faces on them. Before I could say "What the hell happened? They started, "Ms.______, I am so sorry, we tried everything and Dan just refused to go on. He ripped his robot costume off and started to cry. We really tried!" Ah, so there it was, he was supposed to be a robot. That puzzle was solved. I could feel my anger melting away. I couldn't hold it against them. They have a very good track record with Dan. I truly believed they tried their best. I couldn't help, though, to continue to ruminate; this is a class of 6 year old autistic children, could they have placed them ahead of the middle schoolers? Couldn't his para pack some snacks to keep him calm? Aaah, if I was going to to salvage this day, I had to decide to let it go. There was no time for what-ifs and recalculations, I sat down with Dan, bopped him up and down on my lap to the rest of the musical numbers, and enjoyed him. He was smiling and laughing; clearly, he was happy to see me. 

Then I realized, "of course! Dan is not a robot!" I can't just press a button and expect him to perform at will. No wonder he ripped that robot costume off! It was his own little performance art piece speaking against the constraints of society. What an extraordinary act of defiance. The boy is genius! Lol.

That act of defiance spoke to me more than the planned performance. No, I have no picture to show off, and I don't have the "he looked so cuuuuute" story to tell my husband. What I do have is a boy who is his own person. A boy, I need to continue accepting and loving for who he is. A boy that teaches me not to be a robot myself, to live my life to the fullest (John 10:10).

Photo courtesy of Britton Church,
I love Christmas simply because it is a reminder that God is with us; Emmanuel. This is what this season is all about. God is with me in this journey. Through the tears, the pain, the joy, the lessons of life, He is with me. He became human to share in our struggles and experience what we go through. And because we are human, not robots, He gives us the choice to be with Him. He never pushes, but shows up, ever so gently, at the right moment. Like the moment I didn't see my son on stage. He is with me and I, also, choose to be with Him.

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sew and Tell: Leather Patch Artsy Print Dress

We have had three snow days this past week. This shot was taken right before the snow started sticking on Tuesday. I don't like snow but luckily the boys were able to go to school! lol. 

 I thought I'd bring you  little warmth by blogging about this leather patch dress I made during the summer. Although the summer was tough for me as I mentioned in this post, making this dress was a high point and I think I was subconsciously starting to work through the whole vulnerability/armor concept here.   

 First off, I LOVE this print. It's very abstract conceptual art reminding me of my days working in a museum. It's also colorful yet muted. I am trying to wear more color and not resort to the grey, black, and brown that I love. I do not like bright colors, I guess it's the New Yorker in me.  

 Although I consider myself a "refashion designer" there are times when working through a concept requires me to sew from scratch. The combination of leather with an artsy print make it edgy yet soft. I love that juxtaposition. 

 Back view of dress

 The waist of the dress is elasticized. The faux leather belt continues the leather theme.
 I also paired it with boots when I took these pics in September. During the summer, I mostly wore this dress to church with wedges. I will definitely continue to wear it during the winter with a bodysuit underneath or with a blazer.

What do you think? 

Okay, I think it's time to leave summer behind and get back to winter fashion: My next blog post will be a tutorial of an infinity scarf from a sweater. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I have not abandoned you! I have been swamped with Christmas orders and have not been able to blog. 

It snowed yesterday, here in New York, and I posted this pic in my Instagram; a summer dress I forgot to blog about. A little something to remind me of warmer days. The post will hopefully be up next week. In the meantime, please follow me on Instagram, I'll follow you too; @nelescdesigns. 

Oh, and if you want to order something from my shop, the mail clerk assures me it will be delivered in time for Christmas if I ship by December 20th, priority mail. So take a look see,

Monday, December 2, 2013

CYBER MONDAY SALE: The Sweater to Sleeved Scarf Tutorial Available for Purchase at Nelesc Designs

NELESC DESIGNS is happy to offer my second tutorial available for sale in my shop: THE SWEATER TO SLEEVED SCARF TUTORIAL.

You might remember that I offered the initial tutorial for free on this blog last year. I decided to revamp the original tutorial to include more photos and make it easier to understand.  This 13 page SWEATER TO SLEEVED SCARF tutorial includes color and b/w photographs, and step by step SIMPLE Tutorial instructions. 

Christmas is the perfect time to make hand-made gifts. This scarf is super warm. It wraps around your neck twice and stays put because it's designed with sleeves on each end. You can wear it underneath a coat or indoors during those cold, drafty days in the office or home. I love this scarf! It's a great autumn/winter wardrobe staple and, this tutorial, is available in my shop, for ONLY TODAY, CYBER MONDAY, for just $.99!  

The clothes from my pdf patterns and tutorials are intended to be made out of upcycled/recycled materials. As well as sweaters, I can easily envision this sleeved scarf made from sweatshirts, turtlenecks, and even t-shirts, if you use more than one. There are so many different options in terms of colors and fabric which make this sleeved scarf a great versatile piece.

While you are at my shop, you can buy a shirt as well. I know, shameless advertising! 

So there you have it, and, for only today, CYBER MONDAY, you will be able to get this pattern/tutorial for only $.99 in my shop.

If you decide to purchase it, please let me know what you think. I am also, always here to help if you need it.