Monday, December 19, 2011

topsy turvy

Making Christmas simple is a priority for me. We don't lavish gifts. I buy thing at anywhere but the mall. I make as many gifts as I can. But this year, despite all my efforts to keep it simple, I got to that overwhelmed place, the I-can't-wait-for-this-to-end feeling.
Not exactly a heart that is reflecting on the birth of our Lord. More like a mind that can't juggle all the details of the holidays.

Two things helped me get over that stressed out place.
1) I let go of expectations. I don't really feel like I have to give the best gift ever, but I do worry that it will be a total flop. I just got to the point where I really really didn't care if the recipient jumped up and down or mumbled "thank you". I let it go.

2) I asked for help. My husband has been sooooo busy lately that I didn't dare ask for any help in the shopping department. But his schedule has lightened up lately, and when I found myself with a dining room table full of gifts that needed wrapping and packaging and mailing, I let him help out. He wrapped and put labels on and taped up packages and took the ones to be mailed to the post office this morning. And just asking for help lightened my emotional load.

One more thing that is just an irritation, but it does contribute to my holiday stress is a case of vertigo that is hanging on. I had this last year and it was related to my sinus congestion, so I have been trying to deal with that, but the veritgo is still there. I don't have a severe case, I can still drive and don't feel sick, but it is an annoyance to have that just-got-off-a-boat feeling while I try to do the normal day to day tasks. Pray that it goes away soon.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

pondered in the heart

Sometimes its good to talk, to flesh things out, to bounce ideas.

Sometimes its better to be quiet, to ponder, to pray.

The blog has been quiet since Thanksgiving. But that time of silence was needed.

Now I'm back.

The bedroom was cleaned and it actually was not as hard as I thought. There is still the problem with what to do with medicines. We have them in the drawers of a night stand, and spread out on the top of my chest of drawers, but what we need is a cabinet to put them in, where they are still easy to see, but can be hidden away.

Project for today is finishing Christmas gifts. Well, some of them. I have some photo presents that need to be ordered. Today I need to wrap some gifts and do some cards.

The family Christmas newsletter is waiting until hubby finds out about his new job. Pray for that one. The job, not the newsletter. I could probably get the envelopes addressed and ready.

Thats the news from here, folks.

Friday, November 25, 2011

my room: bring it on

Well, I dont have to climb a mountain to clean my room, but I do have to do some ironing to start with. I have that chair that everyone has in their room. The chair that holds the to-be-ironed, the to-be-handwashed, the to-be-put-away-when-I-feel-like-it. So today the ironing is getting done. Two shirts done before lunch (one being a no-iron Lands End oxford- oh the irony!). I think I can get another couple done during rest time and finish the rest tonight.

It is in the low 60's, and may be our last day for the park for a while, so i am going to seize the day and go out, leaving the rest of the room for tomorrow, when it is going to be rainy and the boys will be with their grandmother.

Go me!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

cultivate gratitude for all things

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude. - Emerson

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

spices: done (pretty much), recipes: in progress, bedroom: dont ask

well, the spices are done. How i forgot to get dill when I was at the grocery and it right there on my list is beyond me.

the recipes are spread on the dining room table. who knew how many recipes i had torn from magazines? Tons. And i seem to have a lot of salad recipes. The continual quest to get my children to eat vegetables.

my room? still the center of chaos. It will need a solid chunk of undivided attention, so it probably wont happen until Joel is home or mom takes the boys for an afternoon.

goal today: finish recipes

Monday, November 21, 2011

progress on the plans

today's accomplishment toward my goals:
bought the necessary spices for my jars.

tomorrow's goal: fill them

Saturday, November 19, 2011

thanksgiving to do list

I am fortunate to not have to cook 15 different dishes for Thanksgiving. But I do have a list of things I would really like to get done around the house with this week off.

-- fill up my spice jars. I have a cutesy little spice rack by my stove in which about half of the jars are empty. I have replacements to fill them with, I just never take the time too and I just use the spices straight from the refills. This will take me half an hour tops if I have all the necessary spices, but it is one of those things that just dont get done around here.

-- clean my room. I make the boys clean theirs every day, well at least pick up the floor. But my room is the final resting place for all the homeless items around here. Things to go to Goodwill, clothes that need ironing, old magazines, mismatched socks. They are all there, waiting for me to put them where they belong. This may take a couple days if I have to get stuff to Goodwill and with interruptions.

-- organize my cookbooks and recipes. This is really a pitiful thing to behold. The shelf that houses my cookbooks is full of cards, printed off recipes and little scraps of paper with cryptic things written that made sense for some recipe at some time. I have a recipe box, I have a binder to keep my printed off ones. If I can lay it all out and not get off task, I think I can tackle it in an hour or two.

So, there it is. I hope to post my progress on these things and include before and after shots, just for accountability's sake.

Monday, November 14, 2011

calling all seamstresses! I need your help!

Please pass on this post to anyone you know who knows a thing or two about sewing clothes.

A couple years ago a woman who was moving gave me a bunch of fabric. She was a real seamstress, not a play around craftster like me. I think she went to fashion school or something.

Anyway, I thought she had given me several kinds of regular jersey knit fabric, but yesterday I realized that one piece she gave me is actually seamless tubular CVC jersey knit fabric. (I had to look it up because I didnt even know what it was called.)

Basically it is a big old tube of black knit jersey fabric. I think it is used to make dresses or tshirts or something.

The problem is : I have no idea what to do with it. I thought about making a black dress or swimsuit cover up, but it is super wide, like the tube itself is one yard wide, so I could basically fit two of me in it. But then it seems a waste to cut up a seamless thing, only to make more seams. But then I dont really even know if I can cut it up or would it all unravel?

Anyway, if you know what can be done with this strange beast, especially something within the abilities of a novice, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

preparing to prepare

You know the Nativity fast is near when your grocery list looks like this:

almond milk
peanut butter
black beans
veggie burger

Thursday, November 10, 2011

the upside to poverty

the logic of a five year old boy:

"You know there is one good thing about being poor. Poor people get to have clothes like pirates all the time!"

Monday, November 7, 2011

thinking about friendship

I am in a book club with some wonderful women. We are reading Sacred Companions which has me thinking a lot about friendships.

One revelation I had was that someone who was once a friend can stop acting like a friend and become just a co-worker, a neighbor or a fellow parishioner. That has happened to me and I can look back and see that the hurt I felt was a mourning for the lost relationship.

We moved to this community over two years ago and I feel that I am still constructing a network of good friendships. It is not easy and because of past hurts, I feel like I am always testing the ice to see if the new friendships are real and strong enough to support me.

Being a mother, a homeschooling mother at that, doesn't always help. My house always has projects and books out. There are rhythms that we have established that don't lend easily to spontenaety. But my need for friendships is real and true and needs nurturing.

Elizabeth wrote a wonderful post a while ago that keeps going through my mind as I contemplate the gift of friendship.

Dear Friend, Please come visit.

I promise you that I will not spend days and days cleaning my house before you arrive. I will not stuff the evidence of life lived here into far recesses of closet corners you will never see. I will not pretend that the life we live here is always ever perfectly ordered. I will not seek to impress you. Instead, I will endeavor to befriend you.

I will make sure that nothing gross will surprise you in the bathroom. I'll probably plump the cushions on the couch. I'll make you something good to eat and share with you endless of pitchers of green tea lemonade. Instead of coaxing my children to scour and shine, I will share with them the fun of expecting company.

I tell you all this--I'm doing it this way--because I trust you. And I want to be your friend. I trust that you are coming to spend time with me, not to judge me or take notes or compare me to anyone else. And I promise you that when I come to your house, I'm coming for you--your company and that alone. I trust you with who I really am, imperfect though that may be. I trust that the half-finished paint job will make you smile in ready recognition that you have been there, done that, too. I'm going to throw open my doors--and my heart--and be real with you.

Because that's what friends do.

And you're my friend, in every sense of the word.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

being the tool of the tool

This is a wonderful column. Go read it. Let it help you think about how technology is NOT helping you.

I don't have an iphone, though I have coveted them. This article makes me reconsider the ways I am already enslaved by the thing that are supposed to "help" me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A letter to myself on my 36th birthday

This is the summer of your life. Your days are full and busy and beautiful. Though money can be tight, you are rich beyond imagination. You have two wondrous, bright, zest-filled boys and part of the credit for the miracle of their lives goes to you. Yes, there are dust bunnies and clutter and laundry baskets in your home, but there is abounding love and joy and the music of life.

You work hard. You fail, you fall short, you have weaknesses that you give into, but you try. You are pointed in the right direction and aim to be faithful to the gifts you have been given.

The days are long, but the time is short. Breathe in the goodness, the life, the glory of these days. Each day ask God for strength and mercy and give thanks for what goes right and let go of what goes wrong.

Hold tight to the truth.

Celebrate and cultivate life.

Friday, October 21, 2011

i heart fall

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

I loved this wreath and wanted to make myself one. Hobby Lobby cooperated by having some Martha Stewart glitter on sale. It is very fine glitter, not what I would use with kids, but it has a really nice look, and I am not even a glitzy kind of person.

We have closed up shop on the garden and brought in the still green tomatoes. There are over 100 sitting in our window sills. We will see how many of them ripen.

I will be having a few parties here in the next few weeks and I wanted a little something to bring the autumn feel to our house. I had a few scraps of fall colors and bought a couple fat quarters to fill them out and made a little bunting for our fireplace.

I hope you are finding beauty around every corner this fall.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

good prayers said with lying lips

I have been a grumbler lately. From work to laundry, I have been complaining about it. . . in my heart.
I somehow thought that if I kept it inside, then it didn't count. Kind of like internal bleeding.
And it is good that I am not voicing every little grievance with the world as my audience, but keeping it inside still counts.
Then I listened again to the words we pray every morning-

". . . in all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. . ."

Even if I keep my grumblings on the insides, am I letting God guide my words and my thoughts?

Am I living a life of joy and gratitude?

Am I looking at this beautiful crisp fall day and inwardly moaning about housecleaning, or rejoicing in the glow of pumpkins and mums on my porch?

God, lift my eyes from my petty frustrations to see you and your glory surrounding me. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

God's secrets

Just heard from my beautiful 5 year old:

"Mom, even if you read the Bible 100 times, you would never know all the secrets of God."

ah, yes.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

the great dilemma. . .

Mothers are usually the ones behind the camera, so it is so hard to find a good picture of myself. I think I like this profile pic better.

Friday, September 30, 2011

wailing and keening

Wednesday night, my little one faced the pain of grief. His little fish, bought with his own money, died. It's a fish, right? We all know this happens to fish, sometimes sooner, sometimes later.
But to a five year old, this was a great tragedy. Red Goldie Fin was in a bowl next to his bed. He was a companion at naps and at night. And this week my son had to attempt to understand the fact that musicians and poets and philosophers all attempt to grasp- death. Burying his head in his pillow, he wailed. It broke our hearts just to hear him.
I was taken back to the other deaths I have been near. And the sound is the same. The great keen that comes from the guts of someone who stands on one side while one they love has crossed over. That pain, that raw agony of the heart.
I so much wanted to take away my little boy's pain, to quench the burn of mourning. But it couldn't, and even if I could, should I? For the short-lived grief he experienced was a primer for the losses he will inevitably face in life.
We sing of Christ "conquering death by death" and see icons of the harrowing of Hell. The one who is in us and around us has looked at death square in the face. He has wailed, mourned and keened with us. And He has gone through death and brought life out on the other side.

** The picture above was taken at my 5 year olds insistence. He has a printed copy of this on his wallet to carry around with him.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Why I go to church

I have always been behind the times. I just got my first ipod last year, I'm still not on facebook, I haven't caught on to sushi.

But there is one trend I am seeing among many friends and family and all over the nation that I will just sit out. People are giving up on church.

USA today went over the latest statistics and they are pretty telling. (Boo to the USA today editor that missed the use of "their" instead of "there") But I don't want to talk about the numbers, I want to give my own manifesto on why I get up, get us ready and go to church each Sunday.

There are a hundred things I love about church and some days I love some more than others. Some days I am comforted by the conversation with friends. Some days those same people are making me pull my hair out. Some days the prayers and hymns lift me from my struggles and point me to heaven. Some days the choir is very off tune and grates on my nerves. Some days the sermon is the exact thing I needed to hear and some days I am planning out our weekly menu in my mind and don't hear a thing.

But the one reason I go and tell my children we must go is. . . God is there. This is where sometimes protestants just can't get it. For somewhere along the way the sense of sacred space has been lost. God is not just in the four walls of a church, indeed He is "everywhere filling all things". But in this set apart place with an altar, the blood, the body and the multitude of saints bearing witness- God is there.

Growing up in the Bible belt with well-known Christians all around, I have heard just about every controversy there is. People within the church have committed every kind of sin and atrocity and have left lives in shambles in their wake. But fundamentally, the church is about more than the sum total of the people in it. If it were just about being with the "right" people, we would be better off at a rotary club meeting.

But church is about One who is above us and in us and around us. We go like the woman at the well, for we are thirsty and this is the source of water. We can take the water with us anywhere we go, but this is where we can receive it from the wellspring.

I am writing this not to condemn anyone who has been turned off from church. I needed to remind myself today as most of the liturgy I was grumbling in my heart. But ultimately, our healing from the hurts from those in the church comes from the Great Physician who's hospital is the church.

Friday, September 16, 2011

a plug for parenthood

If you havent seen this show, go see it now.
Season 3 started this week.
It does something that I dont know if any other show does right now.
It celebrates marriage and family while at the same time it is very very real. No sappy sweet dialogues here. It has very real people that mess up then try to do the right thing. It has parents worrying over what is best for their child. It has teenagers trying to grow up too quickly. It has grandparents being there as the rock and listening ear without interfering too much. You will find that you genuinely like each character and likely empahise with the one that reflects your stage in life. It is not a show about a christian family, so there will be things you dont agree with. But, it is a great show to show how we can love others more than ourselves in the everyday choices of life.

Plus, you get to experience Zeke, the grandfather, who has wonderful lines like "Never flip another man's burger."

Friday, September 9, 2011

greiving again for the first time

I was not here when 9/11 happened.

I was living overseas, in a country where life went on much the same as before.

When I first heard the news, I was in a meeting and a friend called and told me in a mix of languages that planes had crashed into two tall buildings in New York. I thought she was mistaken, that the news hadn't gotten it right.

We had no television, so the images I saw were still photos that looked like the old movies with pie pans on string for UFOs.

It wasn't until December 2001 that I was back in the states and saw real video of the planes crashing into the towers. Unreal. That was the word that stuck in my head.

So now, living in the USA, I feel like the truth of what happened that day is hitting me for the first time.

I am figuring out how to tell my child who is old enough to know, even though he wasn't yet born that day. How do you say that something worse than a nightmare actually happened? How do you make him feel safe and secure while telling of such horrors?

For my memorial service, I will be baking a pan of brownies for our local firefighters. In some way it is a remembrance and a prayer as I grieve.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

the dreams God gives

One son is the bookworm. He devours information, jumps up and down with glee at a turn in the plot of a favorite story. He will shock you with his knowledge of animals. He is learning Spanish for his trip (someday) to the Galapagos Islands. He is contemplating what National Geographic would like for him to study in college so he can work for them.

The other son is poetry in motion. The first time he held a bat, he knew how to swing it like a pro. If he wants his body to do something, he usually can make it do it. He never just walks- he runs, skips, rolls. He has decided he wants to be an expert in a sport when he grows up. He doesn't know what sport, but he whatever it is, he will be an expert in it.

I look at my sons and I am reminded that God gives us gifts and with those gifts he gives us dreams. He shows us a bit of what he sees in us and in our future. And even though I often feel I am living a dream with my wonderful family, I know there are things I cannot see that God has planned. Sometimes I need to look at myself again and see what He has put in me and what He dreams for me.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

new years eve

tomorrow we welcome in the new church year. And I love that it is timed like this, as being a student or a teacher for most of my life has conditioned me to see September as a time of beginnings. January doesn't quite have that feel for me. But this time of year we have new packages of pencils, paper, markers and get clothes that fit and are without holes. It is exciting.

I enter this new year with hopes of things we can do better but knowing that I also bring a lot of old with me too. My old bad habits are with me, my muddled thoughts follow me even as I turn the calendar page.

So I look at the coming months, and attempt to chart a course to do all the things we need. Time for study, time for play, time for new skills, time to just be together.

One thing I am doing new for myself is to begin going to a women's bible study. I haven't ever done this kind of thing before, and it is a time commitment I haven't given for something just for my own benefit. But as a wise woman told me- "Feed your soul first".

Friday, August 26, 2011

if this story didnt make you cry, then i'm sorry, but you have no heart

I am still on the fence about whether Im a dog person or not, but this story just might have pushed me over.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

skirt success!

Ok, so i am really bad at getting a good photo of myself in clothes. This one is with a timer, and it still got part of me cut off. Oh well. And I could have probably straightened up the porch before I took pictures too. The boy across the street was mowing the lawn and I was getting kind of embarrased to be taking so many pictures of myself.

This skirt was actually a practice skirt for another skirt. I was given all these large pieces of fabric and this is an inexpensive muslin that you usually use for a practice with a new pattern. Well, I liked the weight of it and decided to make it into a skirt. I dont know if you can tell, but the big white flower is a doily and the smaller blue ones are just embroidered.

It was supposed to be with an elastic waist, but the bunchiness of elastic does no favors for my waistline, so i put in a side zipper (didnt do it right, i will look up the right way to put in a zipper next time) and added 4 darts. Those were great because I could make it custom fit my very pear shaped body.

The real skirt is in the works and I will try to do a proper zipper this time and take some better photos to share.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

a good summer read and serendipitous connections

After trudging through some mediocre books (why cant I just quit a book when I dont like it?), I found a good one. A short, fun but well written book. You may have read it as I dont ever get things when they first come out. Its title is a mouthful: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
I am a bit of an anglophile, having a mild addiction to any BBC costume drama and this was the equivalent of reading through one of those dramas, complete with dry wit, harrowing tales from "the war", and suppressed emotions that finally come to light. I love it. It is a quick, easy read but with some substance to it.

The plot of that book begins with two people finding each other by chance. That connecting with another person or place is so interesting to me and has probably made these two sites fascinating for me:

message in a bottle
- one man who finds bottles with messages in them and attempts to get back in touch with the sender. Its amazing how many he has found and how many people he has made contact with.

dear photograph- get out the kleenex! this site is almost magical. To see how things change yet are the same and how we love so much those people that are from another time. Its great

Monday, August 15, 2011

bless God for it and in it

A good thing to read while sitting on my porch taking in the incredible flowers coming up in my yard:

To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it. And in the Bible to bless God is not a "religious" act, but the very way of life. God blessed the world, blessed man, blessed the seventh day (that is, time), and this means that He filled all that exists with His love and goodness, made all this "very good." . . . All rational, spiritual and other qualities of man, distinguishing him from other creatures, have their focus and ultimate fulfillment in this capacity to bless God, to know, so to speak, the meaning of the thirst and hunger that constitutes his life.

- Alexander Schmemman, For the Life of the World

Friday, August 12, 2011


We went out of town last weekend and the vacation from blogging didn't end. Here are some sights from this week.

Lycoris squamigera, also known as the surprise lily is greeting us everywhere. It is really an amazing plant. We have planted dozens of types of plants in our front yard and this is the third summer we have lived here, but I never have seen this many surprise lilies. We must have a dozen clumps out there and we didn't plant even one of them. They are elegant and beautiful and interestingly, have no leaves at the time they bloom, the leaves come out in the spring and die back. I am wondering if some of the daffodils that came up but never bloomed were really surprise lilies.
This fawn and her siblings were literally 5 feet from our cottage last weekend. I think there was a path nearby leading to their sleeping place.

I finished my first shirt/ blouse. The pattern came from Seams to Me, though I had to make it much larger for my size. I like how it turned out, though it is that babydoll/ maternity look, which gives me lots of misunderstandings with others.
20 tomatoes in one day! It is that time of year that I have sores in my mouth from eating tomatoes on everything I can. Tomato and mayo on toast is my favorite. The green beans haven't produced anything yet, but the tomatoes have done great. I have canned some, but tomatoes are discouraging to can as they are mostly juice and very little pulp, so you can spend a lot of time and just get a few jars out of it. But I will do some freezer spaghetti sauce before I get totally sick of canning.

As we approach the end of summer here are my goals:
- make soap with the boys
- make pickles with the boys
- get my room from disaster to liveable
- finish planning for the year
- go hiking

What has surprised you lately?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. Berry

Never forget: We are alive within mysteries. - Wendell Berry

Dear Wendell Berry,
Since you don't have a computer, I can safely write this letter of appreciation without the fear of what you would think were you to actually read it. Please, no one print this and send it to him.

I want to thank you for the ways you have shown me that all of life is sacred. From the hawk in the sky to the baby in the womb, you have revealed that miracles abound if we could just get our eyes off ourselves long enough to see them.

You have connected the dots for me of themes of marriage, community, creation and friendship. Through the stories of Port William and the beauty and tragedy found there, I have seen love manifest in the lives of Hannah, Andy and blessed ol' Burley. As my husband says, for the people who don't get your message through fiction writing, you have also written countless essays that lead us to a better way of living. A way that cares for each other and lifts others needs before our own greed.

Thank you for taking time in the early mornings, after the chores but before breakfast, to write a little. Your little has multiplied over the years and become loaves and fishes that feed so many.

As you celebrate with friends and family today, I hope you have a warm sense of the lives you have touched with your words.

Happy Birthday.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

have you prayed?

Yesterday was a grumbly day. The weather was rainy (though I should have been thankful for that). My kids were less than angelic. I spent the day doing little things, but not feeling a sense of accomplishment from getting any one thing done completely. Finally the weather cleared up and I went outside to make some attempt at weeding. All the while I was thinking of the things in my life that weren't going how I wanted them to. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Yesterday evening my husband had the boys out and I was left with a Wednesday night free. A rare treat. I decided to do the "one thing needful" and go to church. It was like a bath for my grimy heart. The hymns and prayers and just being there helped me remember what is true and what is just my bad attitude.

As I was walking last night, I was trying to figure out what to do on my grumpy days. The question came to mind- "Have you prayed?"

It is like the reboot button to my bad temper. It doesn't make the problems go away, but it puts them all in perspective and lets mercy come in.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

still the one

It's sad, but today, on our 14th anniversary, I have a cheesy Shania Twain song stuck in my head. The lyrics don't even apply to us, except for that chorus.

Fourteen years ago we took a big step, completely sure of what we were doing, confident that our future was bright and beautiful. I dont have any photos from that day scanned to post, but I look at our framed photo on the fireplace and see the radiance of our smiles.

It has been beautiful, and our relationship has always been a source of healing and security. You have been a safe place for me and I hope I have been that for you.

It is only in the past few years, as I have seen marriages around us crumble, that I have been in awe of this gift we have been given. We can talk so honestly and lean on each other so heavily, it is hard to imagine how others live with such broken relationships.

Our marriage is truly a gift of grace. We each come together with our own issues and weaknesses, and somehow this third thing, this relationship is created and we live in a holy, sacred place despite our earthiness.

I love you. You are still the one.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

holding on, but not too tight

Yesterday I got scared.

Not the ghost story kind of scared, not the someone startled me kind, not the global warming kind of scared.

The worst kind- the something terrible almost happened to my children kind of scared.

Nothing happened, everything is fine in our family.

But there are hurting, wounded children outside this home that lay heavy on my heart.

And I am struggling with how to love and protect my children without locking them up from the world.

I think of Mary, the mother of Christ and how she carried him in her body for a time and always in her heart. How she followed Him to the the darkest of all places and stayed by His side even at her point of deepest grief. She held onto him, but also let Him go where the Father sent him.

How to do that?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

montessori style applique placemats

and I must have been bitten by the same bug. No, not the mosquito, but I have plenty of those bites too.

The sewing bug has me making things at my machine. I am generally a very slow knitter, but I really enjoy it. I am much quicker at sewing and my projects come out with much fewer mistakes, but I do feel more stress at the machine than sitting with a pair of knitting needles. There is probably some life lesson to learn through each one.

I am almost finished with a project i have had in my head for years. As I attempt to teach table manners to my boys, setting the table has become one of their daily responsibilities. I thought it would be great to have an attractive placemat that would give them reminders of where each item belongs. I found the plain placemats at the grocery store on sale for 25cents each, after thanksgiving. The fabric came from scraps in my stash. I used iron on applique adhesive. I used both wonder under and steam-a-seam. I would recommend the steam-a-seam as it was much easier to work with, but it does come in small packets, but the wonder under comes by the yard. I also didnt try the wonder under heavy duty weight, it may be much better.

After attaching my applique pieces, I zigzagged (is that a word?) the edges with a contrasting thread color. This is both for decoration and as a back up to the applique adhesives, because lets face it, my boys are not delicate with tableware. :)

I finished it off by handsewing with embroidery floss a fork, knife, and spoon. This is honestly the hardest part and the part I have yet to finish. The placemats are stiff and thick and it takes some muscle to get the thread through. Another option would be to use fabric markers or to just not put the cutlery pictures on the placemat.

I hope to finish soon, but this one has been bumped back in the queue by another fun summer sewing project that I am so excited to finish. More on that later. . .

Monday, July 25, 2011

just get up

So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”
Then the man got up and went home.

Matthew 9:6-7

The guys are gone to a baseball game and I am left with an incredibly huge chunk of time to do whatever I want with. It boggles the mind.

First, I will blog.

Second, I will pay bills. (eat your vegetables!)

Third, I will sew, with this post as my inspiration. (dessert!)

Yesterday we read the wonderful story of the healing of the paralyzed man. As it has many times, the words "Get up and walk" really struck me. I just find it so perfect that Jesus healed but also gave the paralyzed man a command he had to obey to really live in the fullness of his healing. If he had just sat back down and not walked, he would have still been healed, but not received the fulfillment of that miracle.

Earlier this week, I heard about a friend who has fallen. There is brokeness and pain in their life and in some degree, a kind of paralysis. So as I heard this familiar story, I found myself praying the command that Jesus gave.

Get up.
Get up.
Get up and walk.
Healing is available, its right there, but you have to live it out.
You have to get up and walk.
Home is waiting for you.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

take time for wonder

Purchase artworks of Sand grains under the microscope microscopic sand photography art photo microscopy artwork

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
Albert Einstein

For more amazing photos of grains of sand, go to

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I pity the fool

Today the theme is foolishness.

It is the day of Venerable Simeon fool-for-Christ. To read about his remarkable life, you can look here.

The scripture of the day included:
"If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is the foolishness with God." 1 Corinthians 3:18-19

I am not unfamiliar with foolishness. I have been an insecure teenager, doing every goofy thing for attention and really glad I did all before facebook. I have traveled in foreign countries and attempted to communicate in other languages enough that my embarrassment tolerance is pretty high. I have had two children which means I have dealt with just about every kind of bodily fluid in a public place and had to just plaster on a sweet mommy smile to get through it.

But those aren't the things that really seem foolish to me now, just embarrassing. I think of the money I have wasted that I wish I had saved. I think of the hours given to worry instead of prayer. I think of the dozens of woulda coulda shoulda opportunities I missed. Then I feel foolish.

Then there is mercy.

And I start to look at my life through the eyes of a loving God. I see someone trying their best, attempting faithfulness each day. And I begin to see that some things I thought were foolish were actually wise.

Staying at home with my kids isn't just decreasing my income potential, its investing in the stability of my family and future of my children. Living simply (cheaply :) isn't just making me out of style, its placing my resources in what really matters. Lingering over a meal to discuss our feelings isn't inefficiency, its treasuring the gift of a strong marriage.

Lord, may I follow the path of your wisdom, though it may seem like foolishness.

Monday, July 18, 2011

when life gives you lemons...

More accurately titled: When you are a clutz, and spill salad dressing on your shirt. . . redo your shirt!

I am always getting something on me. Usually something oily that leaves a stain. So when I ruined this shirt which was fairly new and nice, I sighed. Then I stumbled upon this piece of knit fabric that I had gotten at a craft swap like 2 years ago (pack rats rock!) that was the exact same color. With the wonder of google (how did we use the internet before it?), I found this great tutorial.
Of course, the location of my stain didnt fit with the around the collar look, so i had to go with the winding flowers motif. There are some other great t-shirt modifications on that site that I want to try. I have attempted this tshirt flower look before and I have found that the key to it looking good is to make the flowers the same color as the underlying tshirt or lighter or darker hue of the same color.

Stay tuned for more creative endeavors I have in the works.

PS. you gotta love the double chin+ biting my lip with concentration look. can you believe this was the best picture of the bunch? sigh

Friday, July 15, 2011

remembering the pleasure of gardening

Love that volunteer basil!

the pumpkin vine that took over the world!

bean pole teepee

these tomatoes are going to be huge!
At the end of last years gardening season, I was discouraged and frustrated. I can't remember why, but I think I had many grand plans and few of them came to fruition. As I faced this coming year, I wanted to get back to the pleasure that gardening brings me. And I think I have found it again. Here is how :

1) Low expectations. I knew this summer would involve lots of travel and that my children would need special attention with their needs. I didn't set out to grow more or bigger or lusher anything. I just wanted to get something in the ground, throw a little water on it and let whatever happened happen. So I didnt buy plants with grand expectations that I would feed our entire family with one small plot.

2) Plan for beauty. As I laid out out the garden plan, I decided to try a little of the idea of edible landscape idea. I planned the paths to go in a diamond shape, not my usual 4 block. I made our bean pole teepee the center of the diamond and lined the paths with onions. It never became the amazing gardens you find in this book, but they did look nicer than normal gardens.

3)Make it child friendly. I want the garden to be a place where the boys come to see whats growing and where I can send them to help out too. As they get older, they can tell most weeds from veggies (clover abounds in our garden), but I have found that using cardboard or newspaper as a mulch between plants helps them know where it is OK to step. The know and tell their friends, "Only step on the stones or the cardboard." This has made me much less stressed to have them out there with me.

4) Volunteer appreciation. At the end of the gardening season, I just pull out as many weeds as i can and dig under all the other plant matter. I add in some compost and manure and park the chicken coop over the garden as it sleeps in the winter. This lazy-boy system resulted in a ton of volunteers, or plants that just come up on their own from seeds fallen to the ground. I have 3-4 tomato plants that I never planted and a HUGE pumpkin/ gourd/ something taking over the back part. It is great. No work and all the fruits of labor.

So this year I go out in my garden when the weather is not too hot and I pull some weeds. I dont fret about bugs or yields, I just inhale that magical basil and tomato fragrance. I enjoy the shadows dancing on the plants and give thanks for my little square of paradise.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

recently heard around these parts

last night. . .

the boys have been tucked in. all is quiet...
S.-- " A. got water on me!"
me-- (thinking of all available water sources) "from where? the fish bowl?"
S.-- "From his mouth!"

this morning. . .

upon finding a garbage bag the cat (maybe dog?) had wet on. . .
me-- "Buttons, why did you do that?
A.-- "That is a question we will never know the answer to."

Monday, July 11, 2011

when facing darkness

Yesterday we remembered St. Joseph of Damascus. His life story is wonderful, but it was the story of his final days that I keep coming back to.

The year is 1860. Conflict in what is now Lebanon and Syria comes to a head and erupts into a wholesale massacre with Christians as the target. Saint Joseph knows the mobs are marching towards Damascus, killing Christians and burning churches, both Catholic and Orthodox.

What do you do when great evil is coming? When the darkness surrounds?
Following the tradition of the priests in Damascus, Father Joseph used to keep the Communion kit at his house. During the massacre of 1860 he hid his communion kit under his sleeves, and went jumping from one roof to another toward the Cathedral. He spent the whole night strengthening and encouraging the Christians
When faced with darkness, we hold onto the Light of the World. When death seems imminent, we receive the Life. It is crazy, but we don't run, we face what comes with hope and faith.
As he walked on the streets, a religious scholar-, who was one of the attackers, recognized Joseph, because the latter had confuted him in a debate between them. Seeing him he shouted: "This is the leader- of Christians. If we kill him, we will kill all the Christians!" When he heard these words, Father Joseph knew that his end had come. He took out his communion kit, and partook of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
I will spare you the details of the end of St. Joseph's life. It is not reading for the faint hearted.

A little girl at our church is facing another round of chemo and a transplant. For such a young one to suffer so is just unimaginable. Yet here it is, as real as the history of St. Joseph. And what do we do when faced with such pain? As Christians, we take the Light of Christ with us and go in the darkest of places. We know that the love of God conquered death. We can walk with this family in the most fearful of places and know that Christ is walking with us.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

work in progress

If you are crafty-minded like me, you are probably familiar with WIPs. You probably have some (several?) laying around your house. When I open my sewing machine cabinet, WIPs fall down on me, begging for my attention.

A WIP is a work-in-progress. A project begun, but not completed. Need some examples?

a collection of old t-shirts and hula hoop that someday will make a rug
a knitted washcloth
an felt ABC book (stopped at about letter R)
a knitted throw blanket
a skirt that needs taking in
another skirt that needs something to make it work, but I don't know what.

I dont know what kind of person has this many projects waiting in the wings but I see her every time I look in the mirror. And those were the ones I can think of just sitting here in the computer. A little searching would produce even more, I'm sure.

In the side bar, I will be adding links to favorite blogs. Some will be friends blogs. Some will be homeschool ones. Some will be Orthodox ones. But today I am going to start with crafty ones. Why? Because they inspire me. They feed a part of me that loves to make something from nothing. When the boys are in bed, I make things and it helps keep me sane. I don't know why, but it does. Strangely, I don't even get upset when they don't turn out as I had hoped. I just try to learn from my mistakes and go on. The process is the fulfilling part for me.

The beautiful thing is, we are all works in progress. None of us has arrived. God has more planned for each of us and is revealing it day by day. Even if our daily routine stays the same, the spiritual journey never ends for us.

I recently had a friend graduate from a program that has helped her begin to overcome many personal struggles. She has been a mother to many and is full of wisdom and strength, yet she still sees the areas God has for her to work on. She sees in herself the need for growth and healing. She doesn't rest on what God has done in her life, but looks ahead to what He wants to do next.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Today I read in Matthew where Jesus gets in trouble with the Pharisees for healing on the sabbath.

I love the idea of sabbath. I love the idea of rhythm to our week and rest in honor of the work done during the week and in acknowledging the supremacy of God.

But for a mother, the sabbath can easily look just like any other day.

Like Jesus, we are presented with pressing needs around us every day. We can't say no to scratched knees and teething babies.

I have read about observant Jews that prepare for the sabbath. They cook a day ahead, make sure laundry it all done before sunset and make it a point to create a home that needs as little care as possible. I so admire the dedication to making a space for sabbath in their week.

The closest I have come to sabbath is this time of the day. The boys are having rest time. The house is quiet and my mind is awake enough to read scripture and pray. Its short, not usually more than a half hour, but it gives structure and rhythm to my day. I can come down to land and catch my breath. I can listen for what God is saying and receive strength for the rest of the day.

It is so short a time, I hate to call it sabbath, but it is a resting, quiet space that helps me to be rooted in what is true.

As I leave this space I go to pay bills and make frustrating phone calls with insurance companies and the tightness in my chest indicates that I am leaving this safe place and being launched into the rough of the world.

May the peace I find here sustain me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

what this blog will be

The fresh feeling of a new school year with a brand new notebook.
Like Ramona and her precious pink pearl eraser.

This blog will be a place where I write about things I need to work out in my mind. Sometimes it will be deep reflections on following Christ. Sometimes it will be the ups and downs of a homeschooling mom. Sometimes it will just be things that I want to share like a recipe, book or craft project.

This will be a space to breath in the quiet hour of my day.

This will be a place where I talk with old and new friends.

This will be plot of land in which I can cultivate relationships, beauty and goodness.