Friday, August 29, 2008

End of August

My sweet husband gave these to me last Sunday and this is still how they're looking this morning. I'm headed out tomorrow morning for a three day weekend with my sisters at the beach. It's "kid free" and my husband will be holding down the fort. He is so good to me. I am one lucky woman! I can barely wait... it feels kind of like the anticipation of Christmas morning when I was little, but even better. Hope that you all have a wonderful and relaxing weekend.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

masterpiece, in my mind

There is so much I could say about this sweater. It is made of the softest cotton and the happiest combination of colors. It fits my little guy perfectly, I mean, everything about it. The size AND the brightness of it. Plus, I have a secret fetish for all things striped (and polka dotted.) However, the extraordinary thing about it is how very special it is. My mom made it for my son. It was incredibly precious the moment he opened it with her, and they put it on together.

I feel guilty about the gifts that have been made by hand for me or my children which I may not have fully appreciated. There have been many times I did not understand the hours and hours of work that went into a handmade gift (like the sweaters my mom and mother-in-law made for my daughter when she was born, or the hickory nuts my dad meticulously picked out with a needle for gifts every Christmas.) Other times I was just too busy to slow down and properly thank someone. (Sorry Margie that I never sent a thank you note for that beautiful scarf!)

This time, though, I got it. I understand that my mom choose to make something very elaborate by any of my knitting standards. I understood that this meant alot to her. It was fun to watch this sweater come together over time and anticipate my little guy wearing it.

When I was pregnant the first time, my mom gave me a children's book along with the sweater she knit for my daughter. It's a favorite around here.... Eileen Spinelli's "Sophie's Masterpiece." The spider knits a blanket for a baby and incorporates "moonlight," "snippets of fragrant pine," and "old lullabies" into the weaving. As she finished, "Sophie wove into the blanket her very own heart."

For me, that pretty much sums the experience of making something by hand for someone. It is more than just a combination of materials and time. A part of me alway goes into every project. The greater my love for that person, the greater my emotion in the making of that object. It is ultimately what seperates an object that is industrially produced from that which is crafted by hand... emotion and time.

I can see love woven throughout this sweater. I don't think I'm imagining it. I'm pretty sure my little guy can feel it too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A blessing

I really want to share this excerpt from Stefani at Blue Yonder. She wrote the following in her August 25, 2008 about kids and school:

"And I have a few butterflies too. I think whether you are waving goodbye to your little ones as they board the big yellow bus, or you're stirring Irish porridge as your homeschooler comes sleepy-eyed into the kitchen, fully expecting you to walk with him down this day's learning path, a little worry comes with the territory.

Will he have what he needs?
Will the world be kind to him?
Will he grow to love learning?
Will he be a good friend?
Will he handle adversity well?
Will he remember who he is?
Will he learn and laugh and carry my love with him?

So, whether you navigated the carpool line this morning, or whether you're a new homeschool mama, with her lists and painstakingly researched curriculum, or whether you're an unschooler waiting for your kids to wake up with the flood of questions that will inspire lots of new learning adventures, or even if your "schooling" is some combination of all of the above, bless you.
Bless you for the heart and soul, love and concern, time and energy that you are investing in the young minds that are next in line for great things.
Bless you, and bless the little ones (and not so little ones) in your care. May they inherit all the magic and wonder of the world."

Isn't that just perfect? This meant so much to me. I needed this blessing.

I thought she so eloquently included all of the parents in this world and honored their decisions. I struggle with these decisions about schooling and I know so many parents who do. One of the beautiful things about our country is it's diversity, I think. I also believe our children will benefit the most if we embrace one another, openly acknowledging our differences, and take pleasure in the fact that it is this incredible tapestry of difference which strenghtens us as a whole.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another first...

My little guy started Montessori today. Dropping him off this morning went so smoothly. A wonderful friend of ours (a dad that my little guy knows well) held his hand and walked with us part of the way. I think it set the tone. Then his amazing teacher greeted us and looked at the pictures of him that we had brought for class. My two year old is just as adventurous as his big sister. I shouldn't have worried, but of course, I did. I'm struggling to remind myself that it is o.k. to being doing some part-time work, and that my kids are still being nurtured even when I'm not present.

It was nice this weekend to slow down. We had no commitments and the relaxed pace was something our whole family needed. I made a bag for my little guy to take his snack and water in to school. So much fun to make things for my kids. I got the animal print a while ago from Superbuzzy. It's a Japanese twill and was fun to combine with the Kaffe Fassett orange. Now, I really need to sew a few more bags for the etsy shop. Soon, soon... I promise.

Friday, August 22, 2008

They're 2!!!

So much fun today. These two were born within hours of one another and I swear, they know it. Of course, I had to make our sweet friend a bag. She started toting it around immediately. And my little guy? He got a special shirt that my talented friend made. Can you see the #2 on both of their shirts? Skip on over to olliekate to find one for yourself. These two women make amazingly adorable stuff for kids. And they're both such lovely people.

The weather for our party was perfect, so much like a fall day. There was painting and lots of play. My little guy taught his best friend how to slide down face first. They're partners in crime, these two!

When I had a chance to sit down, I couldn't help but reflect upon how many simply awesome women I know. This group of mamas was no exception. I am one lucky camper.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Butterfly Whisperer

This is my little butterfly whisperer. While her brother is both fascinated and terrified by butterflies, she coaxes them to rest awhile.

fire trucks

This was my sweet girl's card for her little brother. It's a fire truck, of course! We have alot of those around here. Our kids have been to visit many stations in the area. Each one is different and both of our kids can tell you lots about fire trucks, fighters, and stations (should you ever need to know.) Even our little guy will rattle off all of the things fire fighters wear... hats, boots, coats, masks. Pretty funny.

We had a nice birthday, just family, and now it's time to slow down for the next few days. If possible.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Has it really been two years?

Our little guy turns two today. I've been savoring the day, remembering my labor and his birth. Two years ago, I sat during the first contractions, sewing the binding on his quilt. He came earlier than expected, but he waited till that quilt was completely done. And now, here he is, gracing us all with his exuberance and joy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

first day of school

I really can't believe that my little girl started kindergarten this week. I'll spare you the details, but I've felt anxious and uncertain. There are parts of me that cheered her on as she opened this door, and other parts of me that wanted to slam it shut, grab her hand, and run. I did leave the first day crying. It seems like such a huge chunk of the day, five days a week, not to be in her life. She, on the other hand, is handling it all with her usual enthusiasm.

This girl has never napped at a program so I made her a quilt for naptime. I know, I know. Many would say that's over the top, but for me it was not. It was a part of the right of passage. She and I selected fabrics from my stash, many of them are ones that I have had in waiting since she was a baby. A couple more were added by her when she went to the fabric store on a special outing with my mom. I cut up old clothes of hers and some of mine. I loved creating it over time and anticipating her transition. When I quilted all of those patched pieces I felt as if I had sewn a part of my heart into the quilt so that I could wrap her in love, protecting her even when I am not with her. Yes, I know, such tendancies in this day and age are way too over the top, but it is who I am. And really, it is how she knows me. She derives comfort, I think, from knowing me in this way. So of course, her mom would make her a naptime quilt for kindergarten because that is how our family is; quilts are a part of our solar system. It is all that she has known since she was born.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

from seed to flower

These Nicotainia bloom every year in our garden, always in a different spot. I scattered the seed years ago and since that, the flower bed has been dug up to relay a septic. It doesn't matter, though. They have survived. Every spring I watch for their new leaves to poke through the ground. It's kind of like an Easter egg hunt because I never know where they will turn up. The seed just keeps migrating and I keep looking for my little bits of hope.

I am grieving for dear friends during this past week and have had a difficult time writing or creating. My friends welcomed their sweet little boy into this world on Friday and said their goodbyes to him on that same day. It has been incredible to be a part of their close circle of support. Never have I experienced such a welcome space for grief. Over the past several years it has become so apparent to me that within our culture, grief is not openly embraced. I embrace you my friends, and even now am sending you my light.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


One of the things I struggle with the most is being present. It is difficult for me to still my mind, stop my activity, and be present. Yesterday was a whirlwind day and right before dinner, I was spending time with my kids outside watching them play. I was finally fully present. It was wonderful. It struck me that I need to simply this week. I have too much going on right now. So for starts, I'm taking a break from the blog for a couple of days. I will see you soon.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

This much I know...

I love where I live. We are living a life of our choosing. We live in an area that does not have the job opportunities and salary base of others. I am living in this teeny tiny old house with three other humans on one person's salary. Believe me, at times I have my doubts. I wonder if I will have a career left when I return to the "paying" work force full time. But then I look at my kids and I see the things they're doing and learning. I'm glad that I've gotten to be such a part of their early years. I'm happy to live simply. I look around me and am awed daily by the beauty of the area we live in. And here's the amazing thing. It's the thing I could have never predicted. I am changing and growing too, in ways that I could have never imagined. A precious thing indeed.

These pictures are one last one from the quilt show. You can see I was blown away by what I saw there. I can't quit showing you the pictures!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I know, I know...

It's been a while since I heard a "why?" question around here. She's been firmly entrenched in the "know-it-all" mode for a while. Often, though, she asks, "what does that mean?" I don't mind answering this one as much as the "why's" for some reason. Maybe I'm just grateful to hear her ask for my input at all these days. Yesterday, in the car caught me off guard, but not in a bad way. It's just made me reflect on how quickly our kids are growing. The question was, "why do the trees wave to us when there's wind?" Oh, okay, I can handle that. I said, "trees bend, or they'd break." My next thought was, "I'm pretty sure I'm reciting a line from a Jewel song to my little girl." Oh, well, it was probably the best lyric she ever came up with and should be repeated. Little did I know, this answer would lead to a longgggg discussion about how much trees could bend before they'd break. In the end, I smiled and said, "why don't we ask your dad about it... he knows alot about trees!" Yep. I threw in the towel. I remember those "why" questions now.

So, in honor of the "tree why's" here's one more quilt from the show. It was exquisite in it's detail.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quilt Show entitled "Piece for Peace"

So while the kids are consuming their smoothies (made from peaches from just over the state line), I'm going to share some exquistite work with you. These quilts are from the Asheville Quilt Show last weekend. I had a chance to go and was just in awe and completely inspired by the work of so many talented artists. My pictures really can not do justice to the beauty and magnificence of each of these pieces. The detailing with thread alone was awe inspiring. I've gotten pretty good at free motion quilting on the machine, but I want to be able to do some of what I saw at the show. It was just incredible the depth that some quilters could create with thread alone.

Alas, the smoothies are over and my little natives are always restless. Time to go. I had really meant to look up the names and artists of each of these quilts so as to give each person their much deserved credit. Maybe I will have more time later, or if it's important to you, contact me and I'll look it up. Have a great day, everyone! It's going to be a hot one here.

Oh, and about those peaches. They're to die for this year. You really can't eat just one.

Monday, August 4, 2008


I tell you, this girl astounds me nearly every day with her creativity. I know it is a mother's pride, and I know that children everywhere are wonderfully creative. It's not that I'm comparing. She just blows me away. The painting is of our dog. He's black and he looks exactly that happy. She captured his essence.

The "quilt" was a complete surprise. One of the many that pops up during the day around here. The box of scraps is always out and nearly always being filled up by me. It is emptied out nearly as quickly by my kids, for all sorts of things. Tape is not safe from our big girl. If you want to wrap a present in this house, you'd better depend on glue.
She's always using up all the tape. This quilt is for her horse "to keep him safe" she told me.

This morning marked the first time I have seen my kids work on a picture together. Often there are squabbles, sometimes there's cooperation, and every once in a while there are too short moments of kind play. This was different, though. They were both so purposeful and intent. I wish I had a picture of it to show you right now. To me, it is amazing. I am often grateful that my mom made art and the creation of art such a focus in our home. I am loving providing that for my kids now.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I've opened my shop door at Etsy!

I'm pinching myself. I've been mulling over selling my work on etsy for about a year now. Such an adventure I've embarked upon. I feel anxious and excited, but mostly terribly afraid of failure. When I stop to recognize this in myself it amazes me how cautious I have become over the last several years. This, from a girl who has paddled class V creeks, climbed mountains, consumed books like they were chocolate, ridden my bike across state, taught myself to sew, and most noteworthy... birthed children! Fear is a tricky little monster.

This collection of bags is one I first designed for my daughter and niece three years ago. It has turned out to be, what I consider, the perfect bag. It is washable, and just the right size for everything she likes to cart around. It fits over her shoulder or can be carried in hand. As it turns out, it is also terrific for a snack bag. A Sigg bottle and food sit down in the bag with just enough room left for any little fairy or rock that she needs to make it through the day. I have made many of these bags for birthday gifts, much to the excitement of moms and kids alike. I plan to make one for my little guy to haul around with more "boy-like" fabrics. He's having trouble hanging on to all his matchbox cars these days.

So click on the link at the top right of my page under Brown Robin's etsy shop, and pass it along to anyone whom you think might be interested. I'm pleased to share with you the things that I've been working on and plan to add more each day next week.

Friday, August 1, 2008


What a busy week it was! I owe a huge thanks to my mom and my mother-in-law. My big girl was at an art camp this week (a special gift from my in-laws.) My mom took the little guy each morning. I couldn't believe how much I accomplished and there is so much more I need to get done. You are soooo appreciated moms!
I have been piecing together all kinds of things. This picture is a quilt that I keep cutting up one square or so a day for. I am also in the process of putting together a syllabus for a course that I will teach this fall. AND, I have been working on some bags to post in an etsy shop! You do not want to see what my house looks like; it is a total hazard zone. PLUS, I get to go to a quilt show today! Life is good. Wish my house looked a little better, but life is good!