Monday, August 31, 2009

How much can you cram into two days?

A busy, busy weekend including lots of good family time, a dear friend to dinner, swimming, fishing, a yard sale, sewing, and a nice hike with a friend. I really feel this morning as if I need a weekend to recover from the weekend. Somehow the whole school schedule has things feeling a little bit more harried around here. I guess we're just getting into our rhythm.

I found this little wooden shelf at a yard sale for a $1. I brought it home and asked my husband to dig out a dowel from his shop and drill a hole on either end. (I could have done it, but he does it soooo much faster.) Presto! My new ribbon holder... I love it when a thrifted item becomes a new invention. Plus, it's another spot for me to display the kids' artwork. Each kid created one of the works (in the picture above) on freebie matte board from a framing shop. It's tempera paint with objects used to scrap through the paint. Have you ever done it? So much fun for kids.

Then there was the "daddy project." What I love about my guy (the adult one) is he's always getting into something. This weekend they made a worm farm. I'm not exactly sure about the entire procedure. I know there was lots of "you tube" watching for research beforehand, followed by a visit to the hardware store, then a whole lot of romping around outside digging up worms.
The digging up worms part went on for most of the day. Seriously. It was perfect! I wish I'd thought of it. They probably found about 200 worms which now reside in a worm farm. The most fascinating part to me was that by the end of yesterday, the three of them were picking out worms and identifying them. Do you have any idea how many different kinds of worms there are? I didn't. Apparently all that research paid off because we now have a household full of experts. Come on over if you need some good worm lovin'.

I saved the best part for last. We harvested our honey!!!! Locust honey, so light in flavor and color, it's like drinking flowers. We were able to jar about 35 half pints from our harvest. It is exquisite. Our daughter took some to school today to share with the class. This I can hardly believe. Our own honey! You never know where life's paths may lead.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

School time equals sewing time....

It cracks me up how quickly I move through the sadness about summer ending and school starting. Blink, blink. That's it. I've adjusted. A friend emailed me last night and told me to go for a run and sew during my free time... skip the cleaning and laundry. Thank you, dear friend. That is exactly what I did.

I've had this custom order to fill and got it done and shipped today. It's amazing how much I can accomplish when I'm not tripping over my kids. The best part is that I still get 2 mornings a week and every afternoon with my little guy. Then walks and dinner when my big girl gets home. I'm feeling like one lucky mama.

I think this may be one of my favorite bags I've ever made. It's o.k. to say that, isn't it? I didn't want to give this bag up. But, then, it was nice to earn some money. Plus, the young woman who is the recipient just happens to be a person who chattered away to me in the car as I drove her to Kindergarten. Now she's starting her first year at high school. Wow. I'm sure it's only her that's getting older. Definitely not me.

I taught myself how to do a covered zip pocket for this bag. I was so excited. It's streamlined, nifty, and attractive. Patagonia, eat your heart out. You should have me as one of your designers.

Always, my favorite part of all was doing the free motion quilting. I sometimes dream about "drawing" with thread. That's seriously messed up, isn't it? Now I just need to make one for myself.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My big first grader

When she and I went to her new school together, this was the first thing she found. The lavender. She buried her head in it, and her hands. I joined her and we delighted in the shared joy. If I have a far away look in my eyes today it's because I am reveling in that precise instance and feeling so much peace within.

It would be hard for me to tell you what a journey the last year has been for us in our public school experience. I tried to handle it with grace, but the whole thing fell so far below my expectations that I often felt sad and anxious. That amazing part of the whole saga is that our daughter continued to thrive despite a rigidly strict and punitive teacher. What I learned is that her parents and loved ones are still her biggest teachers despite the influence of an 6 hour a day, 5 day a week commandant/teacher.

Her teacher this year sews and gardens in her free time. She has a worm farm and snails in the room, and in the first week, the class will be making their own napkins to use at school. I could go on and on about how amazing this new school is, but I will just sum it up to say that today, on her first day, I left the school beaming. Last year, on her first day, I left the school sobbing.

So many times in my life, what I have visualized has eventually come to fruition. It is not easy for me to be patient. Today lavender became my hallmark for continuing to believe in my long list of dreams. The scent of it saturated our hands as we walked into my daughter's brand new adventure. How can I ever forget that?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Handmade goodness

One of the things I love about birthdays is the opportunity to make a gift and give it to that special someone. Celebrating their day of birth and the richness of having that person in my life is an awesome thing. And of course, it's an excellent excuse for me to get to make something. So this is what I gave my little guy for his birthday, and he was thrilled to finally receive his own art set. (His big sister has so many which she often shares, but still it's just not the same as having your very own when you're the second kid.)

And then something happened. I just couldn't stop making them. So I made one, two three, four more. Two went to special friends for their birthdays and two went to my shop. So you can have one too, if you want!

An owl one went to my friend's daughter. Her youngest and my youngest have a birthday on the very same day. By the end of the summer, they've gotten to spend plenty of time together so for the past two years we've had a joint birthday party for them. It's always so sweet to see them together and we know that these shared parties may not be every year, but for now it's so very fun and sweet.
I've been so lucky to have several good friends who are crafty mamas. They inspire me and buoy me up through the hum drum days. (You know who you are, girls. Thank you.) So that mama of the same day birthday girl? Look at what she made my little guy! She made a shirt for him last year too, and each year he wears his number with pride and points to it on his shirt. Liz is one talented lady, and if you need an extra cute t-shirt from someone special, olliekate is the place to get it.

Seriously cute, isn't it? Check out the one she made for her little girl. I do love birthdays, sewing, and good friends.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Just for a moment

Take a deep breath... let it all go. There. Feel better? Me too.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My sweet boy's birthday

I vividly remember the moment this picture was taken. It was days before my sweet boy arrived. We have no a/c and it was the hottest summer we've had in a while. I spent as much time floating my big belly in the pool as I could. I remember crying the night that I went into labor (before it started.) I just didn't think I would make it. Running after my three year old daughter, with my swollen body in the incredible heat, was more than I thought I had in me. Then my labor began; he was a couple of weeks early and I was so grateful.

It feels silly now, to write all of that. Every minute of that heat and discomfort was worth the unbelievable little spirit who fills our lives now. He is amazing... a source of joy and constant activity. He has been a water child since the day he arrived. Each summer at the pool, he pitches himself in. Before he ever turned one, he was enthusiastically going under water. At Montessori they chuckled constantly about his choice for water play; every day that boy was drenched. This summer, he has begun swimming underwater to me now. I marvel at how quickly he is growing and changing. Now he is three, and it is just so apparent that he's not my little baby anymore. He still seeks me out, but his independance is clear. And to think that just three years ago, I was desperate for him to "hurry up" and come on out. What I wouldn't give now for him to slow down just a little bit.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Big Stuff. You are our little buddy and we are so glad that you're here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Early Morning Art

I was recently lamenting to my sister that I could remember during toddler years of my first, I was filled with spontaneous crafty kid ideas. This was jokingly said on my part because I had checked a book out from the library, "The Preschooler's Busy Book" by Trish Kuffner. It's good and full of things that I often just busted out with in the earlier years of parenting. It's not rocket science, after all. But it does take a few extra brain cells and a light heart to "be fun" with kids when you're overwhelmed with life's details. So this morning (before 7 a.m., mind you) I broke out with my child-like heart, and these are what we made for breakfast. A "monkey face" for my boy, and an "I love you" for my girl.

Have yourselves a good one, friends!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Is it really mid August?

This summer is soaring by. I had such a wonderful time this weekend with my sisters. I've been looking forward to this visit; now the time has come and gone. The entire summer seems like that to me this year. There just haven't been enough lazy days around here lately. My mantra has become "when the kids go back to school..." That's when I intend to knock a few things out on my list. In the meantime, every day is filled with the busy energy of an almost 3 and 6 year old.

These are the bags I'm making up for my daughter's school. I love that her new public school gives each of the Kindergarten and First graders one to carry their folder and lunch. No back packs. They are reused in the following years if they're still in one piece. I donated fabrics; the one above uses a truck crib sheet that was my little guy's.

Of course, my daughter requested the Heather Ross horses for her bag. This is her very most favorite fabric, and I must say, she has excellent taste. I hate to tell her that I can't afford what it would cost to get more, but I'm saving that last half yard just for her.

So, it occurs to me that I didn't share our good news last week. My daughter finally got into the school we've been dreaming of for our children. We've participated in the lottery for the last two years, and just last week she rose to the top of the wait list. I cried when they called and offered us the spot. This means her brother gets to attend as well when he's ready for Kindergarten. It feels, finally, like we will be a part of a public school community that feels comfortable for us and mirrors many of our values. Things do indeed, eventually work out.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Asheville Quilt Show

Just exquisite, isn't it? I was so inspired, and this is only a tiny sampling, of course. Go check out Liz's post with a bunch more!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Word Wednesday

I've always maintained that one of the cheapest ways to momentarily escape or relax is a hot bath. It's my poor woman's spa treatment. When I worked as a therapist, I would often encourage stressed mothers to get in the bath after kids were in bed, instead of zoning out in front of the t.v. Every once in a while I hand out good advice, and I've been using it even more lately. It's important to turn out the light so you can't see the grunge, using a candle for ambiance instead. Now if you have an especially wonderful sugar scrub to add to your spa experience... well, now, that's just the cat's pajamas, isn't it?
Lucky me, I had the good fortune to receive something really terrific in the mail last week. It felt like Christmas as we unpacked the box. Goat milk soaps and sugar scrubs from Old Red Barn Co. I knew I would like her products, but I had no idea how heavenly they would be. I seriously don't think I can continue without having a regular supply of the sugar scrubs. They are just that fantastic! She's right when she advertises that you won't need lotion anymore. We've been using the soaps too. My little guy's picky sensitive skin? No problem. Lovely, lovely stuff.

So, for today the word I'm focusing on following in whatever healthy ways I can...


Monday, August 10, 2009

Gettin' by with Miyazaki...

It feels so good to write a post again. I know you all don't come around looking for advice about what to let your kids watch. I'm the "queen of unwanted advice." I often make myself cringe. Anywho... I'm also the parent that will sit down and watch the entire movie with the kids although I should be getting stuff done. You know, like laundry, dinner... small details. Even when I'm flat out "plugging them in" to get stuff done for an hour, I check in. I really think that popping in to say, "wow.... she feels really sad about that..." makes all the difference. I may be justifying, but I think that occasionally participating seems to help them process what they see. They're too active too become addicts or zombies, so I'm not too worried.

We don't have t.v. so we check out videos from the library and this one is at our local. "My Neighbor, Totoro" is now my all-time favorite children's movie. Maybe everybody else has heard of this one since it's certainly not new, but I never had. It helped us make it through the "daddy down" days. It's just a beautiful animated film. Totoro is a big-bodied, loud voiced forest spirit; he's the grey guy underneath the crying girl above. There are many moments focused on the quiet simplicity of nature, as well as the magic of childhood, and the love of an extended community. The director is Japanese, and the story is set in post-war Japan. It is a wonderful cultural window for children.
One of the other things I loved about the film is the sibling relationship the girls have with one another, as well as the one they have with their dad. Over and over again it reminded me of my kids. I should warn you that the driving force behind the drama is that their mom is away at a hospital, but getting better. I looked it up to better understand, and the screenplay inferred that mom had T.B. and was recovering. By the end, it is pretty clear to the girls that mom is o.k. and will be coming home soon.

So... if you're on the hunt for a good children's film that introduces cultural elements which your children might not otherwise experience, as well as the animation of nature and magic, this is your film. It is so incredibly sweet. We... ahem... owe some overdue fines on this one.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Word Wednesday


Detailing the last six days would take pages. There is nothing like a crisis to get you counting all your blessings. We have so many. The support that we got from family and friends was truly amazing. Child care, meals, emails, phone calls.... it was pretty astounding how many people care about us. It makes you realize who your closest friends are when bad things happen.

The other thing I'm feeling grateful for is my husband. Having him "absent" on narcotics/muscle relaxers and flat in bed made me realize what a team we are. He is the only adult I talk to every day. He is an amazing father, and without him the kids were adrift. Somehow, everything was out of balance, and I struggled to get my footing. I felt lonely and exhausted many times during those days; I never want to parent without him. It really puts "for better or for worse" in perspective.

So today, I am focusing on being grateful. Grateful that he is recovering, grateful that we have so much love in our lives, and grateful that although we are experiencing a temporary loss in income, we are not destitute. Grateful, grateful, grateful. I'm going to hang on to the fullness of that word as much as I can today.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Winner of the giveaway...

Thanks so much for your well wishes. I'll be honest and tell you that it's been tough. My husband is still bed ridden, and not recovering very rapidly. I'm going to sign out for the next week, as I'm struggling to deal with all of this. Keep sending good thoughts our way, and I'll check back in when things ease up a bit.

So I asked my daughter to choose a number between one and twenty-two. She choose "six." "Well, of course", I thought," she's six years old." Then I went to the random number generator and plugged in the numbers, intending to do it the "right" way. Guess what it gave me? Six! So it was meant to be... Dana at Old Red Barn Co. ! I truely think it's just karma coming back to Dana because she hosted a quilt along for seven weeks and gave generously of her time as well as prizes all along the way. Now, if anyone else is just dying to have some of my potholders there's more in my shop.