Friday, December 23, 2011

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

Today was the first morning that I woke up and didn't have to get ready for work or take the kids to school. It was bliss. I opened my eyes and immediately felt jazzed about the day, and the next ten to come. No work, no school. I guess one of the truest perks of working (beyond income) is that it really makes you appreciate spending time with family.

The morning started with cookies being made, honey labelled with ribbons for gifts,and last minute wrappings of some felted ornaments that we have been making in the afternoons and evenings.

We met with friends for lunch at their home, and enjoyed spending time and exchanging gifts. This was one of the handmade gifts from my friend (above.) Isn't she so talented?! It is one of the most beautiful ornaments I have ever received. Today we took pictures of our children in front of the tree for their ninth year together. We have done this every year since they were born, and it is something that is a hallmark of Christmas for me now.

Every year, I remember the years before when they were all so much smaller, when somebody fell apart, when the picture was less than perfect, and we shook our heads and took the picture anyway. It is such a lovely way to capture each year as it passes in a tradition of being together and being who we are.

Presents aren't under the tree in our home yet, but there have been many closed doors in the house though out the past couple of weeks, with whispering and planning. Tomorrow is the day. Things will be wrapped and placed. There will be inspections by the 5 and 8 year old. What has their name on it and does it rattle when shaken?

A gift for our solstice this year from my parents. It is an heirloom that will be cherished. We grew up with one of these on our table every winter, and the candles were always lit for Christmas dinner. I was so touched, and we have lit it each night since the solstice. It has been an unspoken dream of mine to have one for our family, and now we do.

So.... I'd like to wish you all Happy Holidays. It's my hope that they are filled with peace, joy, and love where ever you are in this world. Many blessings.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving thanks

wreath my husband made

So many things to be thankful for in my life. I am looking forward to slowing down over the holiday and snuggling in with my family. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Survivor's Day

Today is Dia De Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. I am not Latin American, but found myself contemplating the holiday on this morning's run. Leaves littered the trail, and more were falling in the bright sunlight. The transition to winter was occurring before my eyes. I thought about those that have died in my life. That mixture of emotions that always accompanies such thoughts flowed through me, left behind with each stride. Then, I started thinking about parts of myself that have died, and been reborn. I started thinking in terms of all the seasons of change in my life, the many things that I have survived whether it was trauma from a dog attack, or my sister's suicide. I visualized all people in the world, and thought about how each of us is a survivor. We've all had struggles, illnesses, traumas, abuses, losses, defeats, challenges, heart break .... things that we have survived. I started thinking, "why don't we have a day that we call 'Survivor's Day?'" You know.... a day that we all celebrate being resilient, being strong, being hopeful, and nurturing every person's ability to rise above life's challenges. So, for me, every year, November 1, Dia De Los Muertos will be the day of the dead in which I celebrate the resilience of the human spirit and the beauty of living.... Survivor's Day.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

These days...

I'm clinging to the last flowers of summer....

More than a little bummed that I couldn't do the Asheville Half Marathon with my running partner this weekend due to plantar fascitis that just will not go away....

Sewing tons for the November show because it hurts to be on my feet too much....
excuses, excuses, excuses.

Feeling pretty grateful and content, all things considered.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Goodbye, summer.

I can feel the long summer days sliding into fall.

This year, it went by so quickly.

I'm going to miss these beauties.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A quilt for my sweet boy

In the last two weeks, my little guy turned 5 and started Kindergarten! I can just barely wrap my mind around this. When we arrived at the door of his classroom on the first day, he stopped and said, "mom... I don't need you anymore." My heart did a flip flop, but I quickly recovered, knelt down and said, "okay, buddy, so you don't want me to come in the classroom with you?" He replied, "Nope... I got it." So... I gave him a huge hug, and watched him walk into his first elementary classroom (that was filled with the other parents and their kids.) I walked about halfway down the hill from the school before my thoughtful smile turned into tears. My baby is in Kindergarten, and he is soooo ready. I felt many different emotions just as I had when my first went to Kindergarten. This time, though, it was mostly a feeling of excitement for him.

A few days later, I got to bring Popsicles to the classroom for his birthday. The teacher greeted me and told me she couldn't believe that he was the youngest in the class. She told me that he was one of "the most with it" kids in the class and that he was doing awesome. Maybe teachers say this to parents all the time, but it meant so much to me. I have agonized about the decision to send him to Kindergarten when he would turn 5 after it started. The thing is, all indicators in every area point to the fact that he is completely ready. I can't tell you though, how strongly the majority of public opinion is slanted towards delayed start for our boys, ready or not. Everybody and their brother has expressed this opinion to me, which really is too bad. It's none of their business and it is hurtful. So I've held my head high, listened to my inner voice, watched for any signs that I got it wrong, and cheered him as he bounces in and out of the door to school each day.

I had hoped to have this quilt done by his birthday, but you know how it is. Instead, I gave him a stack of 20 improv log cabin squares that I've constructed over the past year. It was really so sweet to watch him carefully look at each one with his sister. He was over the moon that I'm making him a twin quilt for his bed. Now, I'm in the process of sewing on the sashing... Kona snow cotton. I'll explain that process when I get the top completely done and show it to you. My friend, Katie at sewkatiedid gave me the suggestion. (She's so smart!)

So this morning is really the first morning I've had to myself since they both started school. I decided to give myself a few hours for what I'm calling a mini-vacation since I never really had one this summer. It feels so good to let go and sew just for fun. I think I could definitely get used to this!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Camp Mommy

She only gets one camp during the summer.... it's been that way since she was old enough to attend a program. Our little guy? Next year will be his time. It's what we can afford, so the onus has always fallen on me to stimulate their creative minds and meet their needs. We have a pool membership and that gets lots of energy out in the first part of the day. (That we've done for 6 years... no regrets and $ well spent.) So what do we do every afternoon? There are play dates here and there, but then there's "Camp Heather."

This summer it has been playing board/card games, sewing, artwork, reading, building with Lego's. My little guy still gets some quiet time most days, which often results in him falling asleep. (We all need a break from his exuberance.) It's funny how now that I'm working and putting my energy towards other people's children (doing therapy), I'm valuing this time with my own kids so much more this summer. There was a time, not too long ago, when big chunks of summer were grueling for me. I was often short tempered with two young kids for long hours, and sorely in need of some time to myself. I find myself stressed by different things now.... work, schedules, logistics. I make time for myself by rising at 5:30 a.m. and running. I crave time at home with just our family. I sometimes don't want to talk to anybody; I just want to escape from the problems and business of the world. I have to take deep breaths even more often these days, but it's in an effort to keep up with the pace of our busy schedule.

When did it all shift? I missed the delineating moment. Here we are, eight years later, and time spent with her in the afternoons is what can be so settling for me. Swimming in the pool with him can be the thing that brings joy to my day. Pinch me. It's all going too fast. Still, I'm far from perfect and one exhausted mommy at the end of every day. I want to hang on to it all and I'm driven to live every moment, even the difficult ones. My, what full moments they have been. How lucky I am to be at home with them, working part-time and not full-time. I remind myself every time I feel tired, stressed, or envious of others. I have a good life, indeed.... yes, I do.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summertime sewing

In between eating from our garden, working part-time, pool visits, running, and bike riding with the kids, I've been fitting in a smidgen of quilting here and there. This one's for my niece who turns 1 in a couple of months. I've got some other's that I'm working on.... really three, but who's counting?! They'll get done eventually and it's all about therapy for me if you get right down to it.

I straight line quilted this one and kept it nice and light for that sweet girl. The better to mush between her teeny tiny fingers as she's falling asleep.

I had a ball doing straight line quilting! I always use free motion because I so love drawing with the thread. I like the way it came together though, and the quilting fit the look of the quilt. There's squares from the clothing of my kids in there because every baby quilt needs that "I heart you history part." Really, lots of the fabrics in the quilt hold different memories for me. It was a lovely way to share a chunk of us with this spirited, beautiful, not-so-new addition to our family.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Honey and bees

Oh... they keep us busy (the bees, I mean.) I've lost track of the number of swarms since this spring. I've also lost track of the number of gallons of honey we've harvested... 30, maybe? (Note that 4 year old ever so gently running his finger down the swarm of bees. Being raised with honey bees = complete comfort with them.)

It's just the busy time of year around here. Maybe it always is. Hmmm. Maybe that's not changing any day soon. Still, I love it.

All I need now is their infinite energy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Food for thought

Our daughter made this appetizer all on her own and surprised us with her creation. She went to the garden, picked the peas and basil, brought them to the kitchen, and created a dip with olive oil and sea salt. She displayed all of this with her usual artistic flair. I was completely surprised, but I shouldn't have been. She has been raised with parents who love sharing good food, and she is an incredible artist.

That got me to thinking. Is it just who she is, or how we've raised her? If I'm honest with myself, it's probably a bit of both. When it comes to parenting, the whole thing is largely an intuitive process for me. Some days I have it, some days I don't. My husband and I are good parents who make mistakes. Despite the mistakes, it's gratifying to realize that some of the things we've done along the way have affected our children positively. For our kids, raising food and having honey bees is one of those things.

My first vegetable garden was one that I planted was 15 years ago. I remember then, that it seemed like some mystery. How could people grown such an abundance of food from a few packets of seeds? A couple of friends gave me advice, I read "Square Foot Gardening," and I dug up the grass in the back of our rental to create my vege patch. I was completely awed that we had so much zucchini that summer, I didn't know what to do with it all. (I made a whole heck of a lot of zucchini bread.) Suddenly, raising vegetables was no longer something other people did; it became what I did.

I've had vegetable gardens every summer since. Some gardens have been more prolific than others, and I've learned a ton along the way. My biggest advice would be"just do it!" It's really not that difficult and there is plenty of room for error. Plants are miraculous in their ability to grow. You don't have to do everything perfectly the way some gardening books make it sound. Just put a plant or seed in the ground or a pot. See what happens. See if it changes the rhythm of your days, or the way you view the world. Maybe it becomes the center of your summers with your children.

But, back to that parenting part. I often notice parents who spend a great deal of time reading parenting books, or planning the activities that will enhance their children's future abilities. I worry sometimes, if we are meeting our children's needs. Perhaps I need to read a book or two. Maybe they should be enrolled in more activities. I have times where I question myself as a parent relentlessly. Then there is some small moment that reminds me that as a family, we're on the right track. We have a rhythm that works well for us. Naturally setting an example for our children by the way we live is one of the greatest things we could teach them. So the fact that our lives are infused by our vegetable garden and our honeybees is an incredible education. We didn't necessarily plan that, but it's an extension of who we are. Our children know where there food comes from. They are a part of putting the seed in the ground. They understand the importance of bees in the pollination of their food. They are in the garden several times a day, observing, picking, and playing. Without realizing it, we have given them a lifestyle that meets their needs.

So how, you might ask, does one plate of appetizers generate all that thought in this mama? I don't really know. That's me, I guess. I wanted to write it down so that I could look back and remember how right this all feels... how perfect the presentation of her appetizer was in my life on that June evening when she was eight. I wanted to have a written reference for those days when my head gets going and I lose sight of my inner peace. That plate of sugar snap peas and basil gave me a sense of serenity.... a reminder that I need to stop worrying, let go, and enjoy the abundance that we have. Living in the moment, rather than worrying about the future, is all about relishing that plate of food that my daughter picked from our garden and beautifully prepared for her family. Really. For me... it is.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Turning 40!

I swear, 40 is the new 30, but it was a big deal for me. I'm not apologizing one bit. I went through a process with this one. It was something that I will value for years to come. A cliff notes version would be, "do I want to the next 4o years to replicate any/all of the same behaviors/choices as the first 4o years?" In the weeks leading up to the event of my birthday, I found myself feeling shaky, critical of myself, and low. It was kind of interesting. A month or so before that I had been feeling genuinely excited. Why the up and down?

In the end, my actual birthday weekend was just lovely. It was filled with my friends and family. There were sweet surprises, and caring gestures. It was everything that I could have hoped for. But there was more. I felt a shift within myself. I celebrated last weekend with another half marathon in the woods, this time by myself. It was equally as exhilarating as the last. I realized that I feel strong, loved, and I know where I want to go. In the last year, I have worked through a lot. In my lifetime.... well, I am proud of my accomplishments. They have all been hard earned, and I am graced by beauty and profound love almost every day.

So... the picture above? A mystery to you until now. That's me in the boat a mere 15 years ago, while my husband (friend at the time) watches me run a class V creek rapid on the narrows of the Green River in Western North Carolina. I have seen and done so much.... come so far. If you knew me today at the kids' schools, or at work, or in the grocery, you may never have guessed all there is to know about me in the past 40 years. The same is true for every single one of us in a variety of different ways. We all have pasts, we all have extraordinary moments, and we all have struggles. Living in the present is a constant mantra for me. But what if you dared to look deep into some one's eyes to know them more fully? If you did that with me, you would know the strength, feisty determination, and kindness all wrapped into one mama who turned 40 just a few short weeks ago.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Being a mama....

How does it happen? Eight years can fly by. I still remember the absolute awe I felt at the swelling of my belly. Now, here she is. Eight years later. So much has changed. She has. I have. We have. I now know love that extends from the crown of my head to the tip of my toes. Being a mother challenges me and simultaneously completes me.

I've got this beautiful, intelligent, extraordinary eight year old who still loves to wear the clothes her mama makes her on her birthday. She wears them every day with leggings and t-shirts. As long as she's into it, I'm making her clothes!

There are so many things about being a mama that I never could have imagined. Sometimes I'm tired and ordinary, sometimes I'm awesome. Once I had one, then there came two; that changed everything. It's a struggle at times to juggle it all. Kids have more energy than adults... that is a fact that I dare you to dispute. Hands down, the blog, comes last. But can I just tell you that in some way, all of it makes me who I am? And in the very same breath, I can tell you that I am a better mama thanks to the eight year old and four year old who have graced my life. So... skirts for my girl, as long as she wants them, and blog posts every so once in a while!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I've shared so many of our family traditions that it's hard to believe this one has never made it to my blog. One of the things that designates Spring for us is Morel hunting. It's an amazing thing to gather your food from the woods... food, might I add, that sells for over a $100 per pound. Lovely, earthy incredible morel mushrooms. (And I'm not the biggest mushroom fan on the planet.) In one haul this spring, my husband brought home 7 pounds! I have to tell you, it's kind of like Easter egg hunting, but on a much grander, more satisfying scale.

Friends of ours were here this weekend and they all went hunting. The kids were so excited to see what they brought home. We ate omelettes with Morel sauce, fish with Morels coating it, and a Morel white pizza with greek olives and roasted peppers. I'm still salivating over that pizza.

A quick recipe is to saute the morels in butter and olive oil with fresh chopped garlic and onions. Add in some white wine and reduce. Add in some sea salt, or truffle salt to taste. If you want a cream sauce, add half and half, or cream. If you want a clear sauce, add broth. You can skip both the broth and the cream sauce if you just want some sauteed morels to put over a dish. Have fun with it. You can't go wrong. It is oh, so good! (This approximation of a recipe is compliments of our friend who owns a pasta and wine shop.)

There are plenty of online sites that describe morels, how to find them, hunting with kids, and recipes. One is here. Maybe a new family tradition is waiting for you.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day and Easter!

taken from a Tasha Tudor book that was a part of my childhood

I have so much to show and tell, but it's that time of year isn't it? We're busy planting whenever we can, and life just keeps on clipping along. I have some sewing projects and a quilt to share. Just now, though, we're boiling eggs after quite the Earth Day celebration. Have a wonderful weekend with your family and friends! See you back in this space soon.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Friendship and Running

I never post pictures of myself on my blog, so why I would start doing so with a picture taken after 13.1 miles is beyond me. I must still be on a runner's high. It was just so amazing. I loved every minute of the run. Running is something I started doing in junior high. I remember seeing my friend's mom jogging around the block. My brain went "click." "Oh," I thought. "I could do that too." I was already a soccer player, but it had never occurred to me that you could go running in your neighborhood with no other purpose than to make it from point A to point B. I was hooked. It became my therapy, and it still is today. It just makes me feel sooooo good. I signed up for this Half Marathon back in January. The run took place on my sister's death date and I figured it would be a way to celebrate instead of feeling sad. I didn't know another soul running it, but I signed up anyway. I have run by myself for years. I haven't had a running partner since my last one left the country more than a dozen years ago. (Don't raise your eyebrows. She didn't leave because of me!) The thing is, due to my fear of dogs thanks to this, I was running whenever I thought no one else would be on the trails. For instance, when it was 25 degrees early in the morning instead of a balmy 5o degrees in the afternoons. I was determined to keep running no matter how bad my fears were. All that changed when Liz and I started running together. She became the one who boosted my confidence about dog encounters and literally shielded me with her body by passing between the dogs and me. I was initially ashamed and embarassed that she had become a witness to my panicked encounters with dogs. Always, she made me feel normal as I struggled to work through the PTSD from the dog attack. Now, can you ask more from a friend and running partner than that? I am so grateful.
So, you can read all about her account of the Half Marathon and our friendship here on her blog. Just know, though, that I'm counting my lucky stars that she's been with me on all those training runs. She's one of the reasons I'm able to pass a dog without shaking uncontrollably, crying, or hiding behind trees. She's been a part of helping me to do something that has been bigger and harder than a Half Marathon (because the PTSD was really that bad for me a few short months ago.) She's been the friend that I couldn't have done it without. Thank YOU, Liz. Here's to years of friendship and running.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Here it is! My latest quilt. It took me almost a year to complete, but who's counting. It's funny how hesitant I am to share any of my quilts on my blog. I am not prolific, nor extremely accomplished, but I do so love patchwork and free motion quilting.

This one is for close friends. In memory of their son, Alexander Oak. I quilted a tree in the middle and leaves throughout.

A quilt is the one way I know how to extend comfort to friends whose loss is beyond my imagination. Quilts are made to provide healing and happiness in my mind.

I fell in love with the backing. Lonni Rossi. She is so talented. This print seemed to embrace the cycle of life. I used fabrics predominantly by her with the exception of a few batiks and Aboriginal prints.

So, I've sewn the sleeve on the back for a wall hanging and the threads are snipped. Now, it's just ready to be delivered to it's new home. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy First Day of Spring!

My sister was here for a week. She was the laundry fairy that I have always dreamed of having. Well, actually, you will be incredibly jealous to hear that she also cooked, cleaned, and helped with kids. It was a dream come true, and really, words can not express the gratitude I feel.

I greeted this day with a sense of excitement, hope in my heart, and laundry conquered. I love spring.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Prayers for healing and comfort

(Bloodroot blooming in March, a Western North Carolina native)

I'm sending healing thoughts to all those suffering in Japan today.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

March... you know what they say

"In like a lion, out like a lamb." Okay, okay. It wasn't quite the winter scene below. That was a couple of months ago. However, it was a wintry mix all day, and I just couldn't drag my butt out for a run. Snow coating the hillside and rhododendron leaves, in between sheets of rain? No big deal. I'll wait till tomorrow to fit in a run, thank you.

We meant to craft, but it never really happened. There was cleaning, forts built (destroying the sense of cleanliness), quite a long period of imaginary play, "Go Fish" negotiated between a 4 and an almost 8 year old, and then basil seeds planted (just about the time I thought I might lose my mind.)
Finally, yes, finally. I got to work on my projects. Birthday secrets for my big girl... I was completely content cutting up and combining fabrics. It's quicker than a quilt, but with all the satisfaction of patchwork. I was happy to give up my plans of planting strawberries, greens, and new potatoes. There was no way I was going outside today. On days like this, bliss is drinking tea and eating my mother in-law's cookies. I'll run it off tomorrow while I piece fabrics in my head.

Wouldn't it be something to achieve that state of contentment and bliss all week? Alright, I know, it's a non-reality. I always have the highest aspirations. I am the horse that starts out of the gate, spirited head held high. Somehow, though, I always finish in a lack luster position of not-so-noticeable standing. Does anybody else get that? So, I remind myself to think happiness with a modicum of grace mixed in. Sound good? Alright then, I'm headed for Monday with enthusiasm (and the knowledge that my sweet sister is arriving in just 6 days.) Maybe she can conquer the laundry.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

First blooms

Is there anything more extraordinary than watching the first blooms pop out of the ground? These are the crocus bulbs that we handed out to friends and family at our wedding. My mom gifted these to me to plant in the ground at Thanksgiving for our new home. My dad and I were out there for a couple of hours that weekend, planting about 250 daffodils and crocus bulbs. He, shoveling the frosted dirt, and me on my knees, jamming the bulbs into the ground. I look at these crocus and it feels like a piece of our past transported to the canvas of this new nest. Two weeks from now will mark the first year of living here.... time has flown.