Thursday, August 9, 2012

These Days...

These days, my evenings are filled with laundry, hot tea, audiobooks, a stolen moment for knitting or sewing, and oh, such comforting and hysterical conversations with husband. I think maybe my favorite times with him are when we are up late together, evenings stretching long into the night, working and talking about this or that or nothing at all. That reminds me of a quote I read in a book once. I cannot quote it exactly, and I can't seem to find it again anywhere, but it goes something like this:

To love, to be understood, that is the thing.

Oh, yes. That is certainly the thing.

These days, my mornings are filled with precious moments with Pumpkin. He and I are the early risers, and I am relishing every moment with him, just the two of us. It has become our habit to rock together and read every issue of Your Big Backyard and Ranger Rick laid out on the coffee table (of which there are many) at least three times each before we move outside to water the flowers together. First, we water the flowerbeds in the front, and then the potted plants in the back. He always drenches himself completely when he tries to drink from the water hose.

These days, my crockpot is working overtime as I make tons of homemade stock from scraps.  As I pour up the rich broth into quart containers for the freezer, I say a prayer of thanks at the opportunity to feed my children so well. My hope is that this foundation of good nutrition (as difficult and inconvenient as it is sometimes) will bless them with a whole lifetime of good health.

These days, our weeks are filled with get-togethers with groups large and small, with friends old and new. Almost every week we have a play date or group get-together or church potluck to attend. I see my children beginning to forge friendships that I hope they will learn to nurture and care for. They are growing up so fast.

These days life is good, and I am happy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Life Got In the Way

So, it probably doesn't matter if I say that I always intended to start blogging again. I have lots of post titles stored away in the back of my mind. I thought about it all the time. I missed it terribly.

No. None of that matters because it didn't actually get done. And the truth is, I just couldn't fit it in. And then I didn't feel like it. And then I did, but I couldn't fit it in again. In the past few months, so much has happened that it feels like I've been caught up in a big whirlwind. Why is life like that? My life goes through wonderful periods of peace. I'll be going along, have everything in a nice, comfy routine, and BAM! I get smacked upside the head with complete and total life change.

The big news is that I got re-married. I know, right? How did that happen? That came with moving into his house, getting the kids settled and adjusted, schedules changing, etc. Then we went through summer traveling and camps, and well, there just hasn't been a minute to breathe.

Oh, and I'm pregnant again. So if there was a minute, I slept through it.

But now I'm feeling good again. For a while, anyway. I've hit the second-trimester stride and feel back to my old self. Nausea and fatigue are gone, and there's nothing but blue skies. I know that the tiredness will return, and the bustle and go of having a new baby this winter will mean many times that the blog will go unfilled again. But right now, I'm just enjoying each moment.

Honestly, that's another reason I haven't blogged: I've just been living life instead of writing about it. As crazy and hectic and difficult as everything has been, it's been better than ever. I'm so excited about what this season of my life has in store.

So, I guess what happened is that life got in the way.

Hey, that was a song I used to listen to a lot in high school! Remember these guys?

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Well-Loved Rocking Chair

In the process of cleaning out Someone Special's basement, I found an old, very dusty rocking chair. It was love at first sight.

"What's the story on that rocking chair?"

"It was my grandmother's."


"Yeah, my parents were going to get rid of it, and I said that I wanted it, but I have nowhere to put it. Why, do you want to rid of it?"

"No, I love it. I want to find a place for it in our house."

Flash forward about a week, and I finally got around to hauling it upstairs and giving it a little love. All it needed was a good rub down to give it new life. I want to sew a cushion for it, but it's comfortable even without one. It's very wide and low--perfect for little children to crawl up into with a book, and luckily I have three of those! (Three children. We have way more than three books.)

We have since found out from Someone Special's mom that this was not actually his grandmother's rocking chair, it was his great-grandmother's rocking chair. How cool is that?

The 100-year-old rocker looks very comfortable in Someone Special's 100-year-old home. It looks wonderful in the kids' bedroom. I love all of the simple details, but my absolute favorite part is the worn finish on the arm rests--A sign that it was been well-worn and well-loved.

I wonder how many babies have been rocked to sleep in this sweet chair? God willing, it will rock a few more.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Impulse Buy

Greenhouse tomatoes: local, organic, and grown in the ground. In February. How was I supposed to resist?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Just Enough

Today I wanted to share one of our favorite books with you: Just Enough, by Terri Daniels, illustrated by Harley Jessup. You may not have heard of it. I had never heard of it, either. My ex-husband's family knows the illustrator, and that is how I first came to know about this precious picture book. Just Enough follows a young boy through his day as he discovers all the things that he is old enough to do by himself. This book reminds me so much of my life with my children at home: simple, quiet, unseen, and oh, so rich with everyday experiences.

First of all, I love the illustrations. I love the bright colors, and the wonderful, warm feel of the setting: The handmade quilt, the braided rug, the boy's artwork on the walls....The details in this book are extraordinary. Every time we read it, we find something new. I love the flow of the pictures, and how the scale of the artwork emphasizes the words. I love the sense of movement, and wonder, and whimsy. One of my favorite pictures is of the little boy pounding away at the pizza dough. Just like a little boy-- full of exuberance!

And then, there is the simplest, sweetest story, told through a series of poetic vignettes. I love the sound of the words together as I read them aloud. I love the activities of the day: feeding the fish, eating breakfast, swinging high to the sky, chasing fireflies, splashing in the tub...All the usual adventures of a young boy home for the day with Mommy and Daddy.

It's a shame that this delightful book is out of print. It's work seeking out, though, and you can still find copies easily on Amazon. I can't recommend it enough. It's one of our favorites.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Things I Love This Week: The Merry Goes 'Round

Ok, I have a confession: I love Jewel. The girls and I are thoroughly enjoying her latest children's album, The Merry Goes 'Round. We're obsessed. I mean, obsessed. And you know what? I would be obsessed with it even if I didn't have kids. My favorite song on the album is Give Me the Rainbow. 

Darling and I cannot stop singing this song as we go about our day! It's infections without being annoying. Our other favorites are Bucky the Bull, And the Green Grass Grew All Around, and Sammy the Spider. There is something about the combination of words with the melody that makes these songs so charming. I'm obsessed, I tell you! Obsessed!

Well, maybe not obsessed. Not like this, anyway:

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nature Fix

The kids and I recently needed a day of running wild. After finishing up a week of early mornings, late nights, missed naps, and long trips in the car, we just needed to move.

We took a picnic to our local botanical gardens. We played chase and explored and threw rocks in the pond. Homeschooling gives us the freedom to go when most other people can't: weekday winter mornings. Except for the occasional retired couple, we had the place entirely to ourselves.

What I love about the Gardens is that it is different every time we go. We see new and exciting things with each visit, and learn more and more about animals and plants that are local to us. We discover all kinds of things that we want to Google when we get home. Every time we leave, we have an exciting story that we want to share. And after an hour or two or non-stop running, my kids are calm and ready for a nap.

Oh, the wonders of God's creation!

Here are some of the pictures I took that day. I always take too many.
Whenever we visit the Gardens, the kids run,

and run,

and run!

The kids love to throw rocks in the fish pond.

There were signs of spring everywhere!

While we were busy playing by the pond,

our picnic was attacked by wild dogs!

We had an impromptu lesson on camouflage.

Can you spot the frog?


I see you!

Hey, what's that in the bushes?


One of the peacocks decided to pose for the camera!

Darling decided to pose for the camera, too.

We feel so refreshed after our picnic. It's like we got our nature fix, and it's carrying us through the week.  I'm hoping to squeeze in another visit to the Gardens soon, if the weather is good. We go so often that many of the volunteers know us by name. We're blessed to live close enough that it feels like it's our own special place.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Quality Time

How does the after dinner routine go at your house? At my house, it usually went something like this:

The kids take their plates to the sink for me, then run off to make mayhem. I try desperately to get the food put away and clear the table. Children run wild, play chase in the house, crash into each other, scream and generally make life very noisy. If there is no immediate crisis, I might get the the dishes in the dish washer before it's time to start their bath water, but more often than not I have to abandon the kitchen as soon as the leftovers are in the fridge to coral my three hyenas up to get ready for bed. Once the kids are asleep, I trudge back downstairs and somehow manage to overcome the exhaustion to finish up. It is controlled chaos, but just barely controlled. Mostly it's just chaos.

And it wasn't any fun

Enter Someone Special who, after we finish up dinner, says, "Darling, can you take these things to your mother? Doodlebug, you can dry the place mats. Wait, you can't leave the kitchen until your mother says you are done!"

I jumped right on this bandwagon.

"Pumpkin, can you take these dirty dish towels to the laundry room for Mommy?"

We found all kinds of jobs that a kindergartener, a preschooler, and a toddler could confidently handle. They rinsed, dried, and put away placemats. They cleared the table, helped me sweep the floor, and put clean cutlery away. The kids were engaged. There were no crises. Darling literally danced as she helped, saying, "What else can I help you with, Mama?" We talked, and I explained how we are a family, and so we all have to pitch in together to get things done. There's no, "It's not my responsibility because it's your turn to do that". We can all take pride in how we care for our home. When we went upstairs to start our nighttime routine, the kitchen was spotless. I dare say it was even enjoyable!

I am still in awe of how one person can take one of the most difficult and dreaded hours of the day, and turn it into quality time together. Will every night together go as smoothly as this one? Of course not. That wouldn't be real life. But what I'm learning is that quality time together can happen any time, even during the drudgery of cleaning the kitchen or folding laundry. It does not have to planned, or organized, or "special". It's not an event. It's anytime Dad makes a silly joke and Mom laughs appreciably, or kids say something precious and Mommy's heart melts a little bit. Quality time evolves  naturally during every day, and the most unexpected moments can bring you together.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Karate: Train Your Body

This 1980's video of "Karate Rap" is awesome* on so many levels. It blows my mind!

*and by "awesome" I mean, "pee your pants funny"

Friday, February 3, 2012


Did you know the Barenaked Ladies made a children's album, called Snacktime? I found it at my local library. I love it as much as the kids do. The lyrics are hysterical. Check out their song, 7 8 9.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Good for What Ails You Chicken Soup

I have a recipe to share today that's perfect for winter weather, and is a good follow up to my chicken post from earlier.  One morning, Someone Special and I had a conversation that went more or less like this:

Someone Special: "I feel terrible, baby. Do you know a place where I could get some chicken soup for lunch today?"
Me: "Why don't I just make you some chicken soup?"
Someone Special (hopefully): "Would that be easier for you than packing up all the kids and going somewhere?"

Isn't it amazing how men can ask you to do something for them under the guise of making your life easier?
(Don't freak out, baby. I'm just teasing)

Anyway, I set out to make a homemade chicken soup, and it turned out good. I mean, really good. The kids all gave it their approval by gobbling it up. Someone Special ate several helpings and claimed that he really did feel better. (Grandma was a medical genius: there's actual science behind why we always eat chicken soup when we're sick. You can read about the wonders of broth here.) He called me the next day, "Do you still have any chicken soup leftover? Could I come over and have some?"

Apparently, the way to a man's heart is still through his stomach.

I think the secret to making good homemade chicken soup is to use homemade chicken stock. The broth is the absolute star: rich, creamy, not-thick-not-thin and just right. Also, I used carrots two ways in this soup: I added regular diced carrots with the vegetables the way you normally would, but I also sauteed some carrots with the onions and celery until they were good and caramelized to really bring out their sweetness. I think this added another layer of flavor. I also used butter, rather than olive oil, to saute the vegetables in to add an extra layer of richness to the broth. The result is a soup that warms you to your bones and tastes like home.  Campbell's who?

The following Sunday, after church, we went out to eat at a favorite local restaurant, and the soup of the day was chicken and rice. After our waitress bounced away, pony tail swinging, Someone Special snickered.

"You've ruined me for all other chicken soups, baby. Why do they even bother?"

Good for What Ails You Chicken Soup

10 cups homemade chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups cooked, cubed chicken breast
2 cups plus 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
3 celery ribs, diced
2 tbsp flour
1 bag frozen lima beans
1 tsp dried thyme
1 handful chopped, fresh Italian parsley
salt to taste*
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To add rice:
1/2 cup uncooked, medium-grain white rice
1 tbsp butter
1 1/3 cups water
**or simply cook to package instructions

Get your  chicken stock ready by warming it in a pot, or as I did, in the microwave in the tupperware container it had been frozen in. In another large soup pot, melt 4 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and the 1/2 cup of carrots. Stirring occasionally, saute until carrots are good and caramelized. They should be soft and browned but not burned, about 10-12 minutes. This next part takes some coordination, so read carefully. Add the flour to the butter-vegetable pot, stirring constantly with one hand, and begin slowly adding chicken stock, one ladle-full at a time, with the other hand. When all the stock is added, I like to take my handy dandy immersion blender and puree all the vegetables, because someone doesn't like the texture of cooked onions and celery. This step is not necessary, though, if you don't have picky eaters in your household. Add the chicken, lima beans, and the rest of the carrots, salt, pepper, and thyme and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat to low, and let it simmer away.

Now cook your rice.

In a separate medium-size pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add the rice and stir constantly, gently toasting the grains until they are golden brown. Turn the heat to low. Carefully add the water and cover, stirring occasionally, and let cook until rice is soft and fluffy, about 20 minutes.

When vegetables are soft in your soup, add the cooked rice and parsley.
Serve with crusty bread.

Enjoy ;)

*I do not salt my stock at all when I make it, as I prefer to salt each individual dish. So my soup needed a lot of salt, almost 1 tbsp. If you use store bought stock, you will not need nearly so much, even if you use the low sodium variety. I would start with 1 tsp and go from there.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Doctor Hoo or Doctor Hoot?

Who knew that there was a gap in my wardrobe that only a Doctor Who shirt could fill?

And speaking of owls (were we speaking of owls?), check out Brian Regan's insightful comedy about animal noises in children's literature. I mean, have you ever heard an owl say "hoot"?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Never a Dull Moment

Someone Special (still have to think up an appropriate nickname for him) and I were having one of those conversations. You know...the queasy, mushy kind that only newly-in-love couples have:  So, when did you realize that I was "the one"?

Me: "Actually, I was convinced that it couldn't possibly work out. I knew one day you'd figure out how much smarter you are than me and that would be it."

Someone Special: "Really? So when did you finally decide that I was dumb enough that this was going to work out?"

And I had a sudden vision of what our life together is going to be like:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Make Now, Bake Later

Someone Special, who prefers to be called "Sexy, Hot Hunk of Manhood" from now on, has a friend who writes on his blog that you should always keep slice and bake cookies in the fridge. You know, for serious cookie emergencies.

I agree completely.

The problem, though, is that I don't trust packaged cookie dough because they are, by necessity for shelf life, packed with preservatives. One of my little goals is to find whole food ways to enjoy typical convenience foods, but cookies are a bit tricky. How can you enjoy homemade cookies without having to lug out the mixer or bribe a grandma every time you want some? The proverbial light bulb went off above my head when I recalled a memory from my childhood:

When we were little, my dad coached my brothers' little league baseball team, and my mom was expected to have homemade chocolate chip cookies ready for after practice.  She would mix up tons of chocolate chip cookie dough ahead of time, freeze spoonfuls of dough on cookie sheets, then transfer said dough to a baggie and store in the freezer. She could pull a few out whenever the boys on the team were over.


As our emergency cookie stash was running low, the girls and I whipped out our aprons and got right to work.

Everyone knows homemade cookies taste better when children stick their fingers in the dough.

Make the spoonfuls roughly the same size so that your cookies will bake evenly

I just place the cookie sheets in the freezer for an hour or so. 

Ready for the freezer, to be baked another day

So, with just a little bit of extra up-front effort, it is possible to have the convenience of slice and bake cookies with none of the additives. And to kill two birds with one stone, you can make the actual dough-mixing your math lesson for the day. Older kids can be challenged with a lesson on, say, fractions, while toddlers can develop motor skills by mixing, pouring, and stirring. Preschoolers can count out chocolate chips, kindergarteners can arrange the dough in groups of fives or twos to build the foundations of multiplication later on. And they're all learning to be helpful. It's a win-win-win-win-win situation.

That's the best kind.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Things I Love This Week: An Ode to Flannel

When we were buried in snow last year, I invested in some flannel sheets on final clearance at Pottery Barn Kids. While this winter has been strangely mild and our our days have been warm (in the 60's!), our nights have been crisp and I've taken to sleeping with the window open. It's been rainy and cold the last couple of nights, and my flannel sheets have made my bed so cozy to crawl into. When I wake up in the wee sma's, my room is icy cold and I am toasty warm. I can't get enough. I love it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Who's It For?

I am done with kids' birthday parties. I have never been one for over-the-top birthday parties, but I've always tried to do "something special" for the kids. I tried to do cutesy crafts and decorations, and spent way too much money on an intricately decorated bakery cake that appropriately complimented our party theme. I spent too many hours thinking up age-appropriate games and cut peanut butter sandwiches into butterflies and all kinds of crap. And all the while, I kept telling myself that I was doing it for my kids.


Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.

(and one more for emphasis)


I was doing it for me.

What exactly this was fulfilling in me, I don't know. Was I trying to show off how creative I am? Was I seeking the approval (or, let's be honest: the jealousy) of other parents? Was I seeking to perpetuate the lie that I have it all together, that I am so organized and on top of everything that I have hours to spend planning a superfluous, ridiculous birthday party which makes no difference in the grand scheme of things? Or worse, was I trying to manipulate my child into thinking they had the coolest mother ever? I still haven't decided. Probably all of those things. The salt in the wound is that I operated totally for myself under the lie of doing it out of love for my children. This is a lie I sold to myself so that I could feel like a wonderful, selfless mother.

But I'm not. I'm the most selfish person I know. I can take a day that should be entirely about celebrating the life of one of God's most precious gifts, my child, and make it entirely about me.

Do I think that spectacularly planned children's birthday parties can only be thrown by desperate, selfish parents? No. But I had to evaluate my own motives. Was I having a party as a way to fellowship and share the day with loved ones? Or was I hoping to show off what a perfect life I've made for myself? What I found lurking in the darkest corners of my heart was truly disturbing to me. And it all seemed perfectly normal and reasonable on the outside.

That is what makes it a great lie.

It sounded perfectly reasonable, sweet even, to throw a big party so that we could have "special memories". But what about the other memories that I made in the process? What about the cranky-short-tempered-drill-sergeant-mess-up-the-house-and-you'll-get-it-I-can't-believe-you-spilled-that-on-your-party-dress-No!-don't-eat-that-it's-for-the-party! memories that I made for days, or even weeks, before hand? And what the hell was it all for?

What I found was that I was inspiring a lust for presents and attention in my children. It has built up to the point where every time we enter a store, my children find something that they want "for their birthday." There is not a day that goes by where they don't mention what they want for their next party. They are always craving bigger, better, more. They developed the attitude that they deserved presents and parties, not an attitude of graciousness and gratitude for what they received. And how could I expect any different when I have modeled selfishness and discontent for them?

I think what disturbs me so much is that in all that we do, even when we believe that we are operating out of good, we are actually being selfish and arrogant. It has been pressed upon my heart this year to celebrate birthdays in a way unseen by the world. To build memories of quiet moments instead of one big party. To spend my time actually being present with my children mentally, physically, and spiritually instead of spending my time planning one big hurrah while they entertain themselves. To model peace and contentment instead of a desire for more.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Walking My Baby Back Home

You know what I consider to be the mark of a great song? When it gets stuck in your head and it doesn't drive you crazy. It just makes you love it more.

What an appropriate song after the weekend.
Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Intimacy in a Song

Have you ever witnessed a moment between two people-- a look, a small gesture, a laugh-- and the depth of tenderness and feeling behind it was so stirring that you had to look away? It will make you blush, even though you have no reason to. Chris Carrabba captured that kind of moment in a song. Some people think it's a sad song, others think it's a happy song. I find it deeply moving either way.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Video to Prevent Chicken Back-Up

We signed up for a CSA last year through which we could get pastured, whole chickens. My mom went a little overboard and ordered us eight chickens a month. Eight chickens a month. Now, this isn't unreasonable to meet all the monthly chicken needs of six omnivores. The problem is that I was used to just going to the grocery store and buying six individual chicken breasts for dinner. Now if I wanted six breasts, I had to defrost and cut up three whole chickens. And then I had to use six legs, six thighs, six wings and not let the rest of the carcass go to waste. That bird, after all, was a happy free-range bird. She had a job eating bugs and scratching through manure, helping to both prevent parasites and fertilize the soil. She was a successful career chicken, an important member of the farm community. A chicken with a dream. I can't let a chicken with a dream die in vain!

But habits are hard to break, and needless to say, I still went to the grocery store and bought chicken breasts. This led to some serious pastured chicken back-up in my freezer.

I'm a little wiser now, having learned how to plan a little better. One way that I'm making things a bit easier is by picking up batches of whole chickens fresh on the farm the day of processing. I can then cut them up and freeze individual pieces, so it's more like going to the grocery store. I think there will be less waste this way, of both chickens and money. Here's hoping!

Even if you just go to the grocery store, you can save a lot of money by buying a whole bird and butchering it yourself. Here's the video that I watched countless times, my laptop on the counter as I stood next to my cooler full of chickens on ice, pushing the spacebar with my elbow to pause every now and then as I followed along. It's by far the best one I've found at explaining where to put the knife and it's pretty clear to see how she does everything in the video. And I think that it's awesome how she gives you homework at the end. I feel like writing and telling her that we cut up ten chickens, so could I have some extra credit? I know, I'm a total over-achiever. ;)

I hope you're having a great week!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pine Cone Bird Feeder Craft

Do you remember making bird feeders with pine cone and peanut butter when you were a child? I remember making them in kindergarten. I thought of this as an easy craft when we were desperate for something to do one afternoon while Pumpkin napped. The girls were wild and I had to get them out of the house so they wouldn't wake up their brother. It soon became one of the best afternoons we've spent together in a while. Being outdoors and exploring has a way of doing that to you: taking ordinary moments and making them extraordinary. The bird feeders were a big hit with Darling and Doodlebug, and ended up being free for us to make because I already had all the items on hand. Pine trees are so prolific here that they might as well be our state weed. Seriously, they are everywhere.

We started by exploring the vacant lot next door for pine cones. This ended up being 45 minutes of running, jumping, and general merry making. It was wonderful!

They gathered up tons of pine cones, and we made kind of a counting game out of it. See? You can squeeze some school in just about anywhere. We made quite a pile:

Then we had to separate the worthy pine cones from the unworthy:

Now for the messy part: the peanut butter! I found an unopened jar of Jiff peanut butter in the pantry that my mom bought an untold number of months (or possibly, years) ago. It has never been opened because I am a peanut butter snob and am particularly picky about peanut butters (and I'm comfortable okay with that label), so what better way to use it up than for crafting? I opened the jar, gave each girl a spoon, and let them go to town. It was a job which they took very seriously:

Next, we rolled the coated cones in bird seed.

It was pretty messy, but that's part of the fun!

Did I mention that it was messy?

And last of all, I used some crafting twine and my trusty hot glue gun to make hangers and, voila!

We hung them in a tree for the birds:

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Blessed Beyond Measure

As we begin to blend our lives together, the kids and I have been spending more time at Someone Special's house (I need to think up a good nickname for him....hhhmmm) in order for them to feel comfortable there. Last night we went over so I could give the kitchen a test run i.e. cook dinner. After we all sat down at the table, I realized I had forgotten the kids' sippy cups in the kitchen and jumped up to get them. When I came back, Someone Special was saying, "Now what do you tell Mommy?" to which a three little voices replied in turn, "Thank you for cooking dinner, Mommy."

I think my heart grew three sizes that day.

I remember when I was a child, my brothers and I all had to thank our mother for cooking dinner every single night. My dad was a strict enforcer of this policy. Sometimes, my thanks would be very genuine (if I liked the meal she had cooked), and sometimes it was a rote reply, uttered only to avoid the wrath of Dad. But it impressed a couple of things upon me. First, it taught me that when people do something for you, they deserve to be thanked no matter what. Second, it taught me that Mom cooking and caring for me was a blessing, and that I should not take that for granted.  More specifically, it was her job to care for me, yes, but it was my job to not only feel appreciation for her, but to verbalize it, and that I was out of line if I just expected her to do it for me. A good mother is a blessing beyond measure, and I was damn lucky to have such a fine one. I didn't come to that realization on my own: my father taught me to recognize it. And it started first with him saying himself, "That sure was a good meal, honey. Thank you" and followed with, "Kids, what do you tell your mother?" Even though I could not realize it at the time, watching my father love and appreciate my mother defined the parameters of not just my own marriage, but my friendships and work relationships, and my relationships with my children, too.

Someone Special and I have not had a conversation about how important I think it is for children to be made to say "thank you" to their mother when she cares for them. To hear those words come out of their mouths, without me having to first lay out the rules for him to follow, makes me feel important and special and thought about in a way that I haven't ever experienced  before. These are the little things that you can't fake. These are the little things that you either get, or are oblivious to. That make us in sync. That make him my best friend. That make him a real man, and that make me blessed beyond measure all over again.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Morning Snuggles

I had a little visitor come crawl into my bed this morning:
We cuddled up in my cozy flannel sheets- which make it extra hard to get out of bed in the morning- and shared lots of snuggles and kisses, read stories and sang songs. What a great way to start a new day and a new week.

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Project Update: Yemma's Dress

A while ago, I wrote about a dress that I was making for Darling. Well, I finally got around to finishing it and taking some pictures!

I'm very pleased with how it turned out! Darling picked out the fabric, which came from Hobby Lobby. The yarn is Knit Picks Shine Sport in the Cosmopolitan colorway, and I used about 1 1/2 skeins to make the 5T. The pattern is called Yemma's Dress. I happened to be on a Ravelry discussion board and noticed a thread asking for test knitters with basic sewing skills. As soon as I saw a picture of the dress, I knew I had to make it.

What I love so much about this pattern is that it uses the simplest techniques of two crafts: the skirt is a simple rectangle, cut to size and then gathered at the top and hemmed on the bottom. It's so simple, it's hard to mess up! I love the top is a scoop-neck, knit in the round so there are no buttons to mess with.  The bodice and skirt are sewn together by top stitching around, hiding the seam in the garter stitch rows. Genius. The pattern is available for $5.00 on Ravelry, and I highly recommend that you check it out. If you have any crafty people in your life, please spread the word about this great pattern. Yemma, the little girl for whom the pattern is named, has been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, and all the proceeds from the pattern sales will go to her family to help with her care.

I did have an issue with the yarn growing through wear and washing. The dress I made was a size 3T for Doodlebug, which seemed to grow larger with every wearing! After making a new swatch and measuring my gauge before and after washing, I compensated for this growth on Darling's dress by making a size smaller- she wears a 6T normally, and I made a size 5T per the pattern- AND I went down a needle size. It fits her beautifully.

You can see in the picture above that the bodice of Doodlebug's dress is almost as wide as Darling's, even though it's two sizes smaller. I guess that means I will have to make Doodlebug another one! Oh, darn!

What will you be working on this weekend?