Saturday, March 31, 2007

We don't drive a minivan - yet.

I just thought this was really funny.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Not quite finished

Yesterday I spent the better part of the day working on Elise's playroom. We recently moved the contents of my sewing room into the basement with the intention of turning the sewing room into a playroom. We had been playing with the idea for a while (no pun intended), and then some friends of ours gave Elise a tent. That's right, a tent. Or rather, a tent city. It consists of two pup tents, a tipi, and two tunnels to connect all three tents. It is huge, and there was no way it was going in the living room, nor was there room for it in Elise's bedroom. That sealed the deal. Elise was getting a playroom. We quickly got the room to a point where Elise could play it in without constant supervision, and then our efforts dwindled and we didn't get much else done. So yesterday I concentrated on the playroom, to the neglect of the rest of the house, I'm afraid. I am resisting the temptation to say that it's done. It's not done. There is still a pegboard of sewing notions on the wall, and the only child-friendly thing on the wall is a string of lights with colorful paper shades, purchased over two years ago with the intention of putting it up in the nursery, and then stuffed into a closet, where it remained until yesterday's excavation. Putting colorful, playful things on the walls is part of my plan for the playroom, so I cannot say that it is finished quite yet.

I try not to do that. To say something is finished when it is not. I am reminded of my college days - really not all that long ago. I did not have a car, so my friend Bob kindly gave me a ride to church on Sunday mornings. He would knock at my door and ask if I was ready to go, and almost inevitably I would say, "Yes, I just need to [find my coat/put on my shoes/get my Bible/tell my roommate I'm going/etc.]." At first Bob would say, humorously, "Well, then, you're not really ready to go, are you?" After a while, he didn't have to say anything. He would just stand in the doorway with an amused look on his face. It was funny, a bit of a joke, but it actually had quite an impact on me. It was a lesson in saying what I mean and meaning what I say.

Think about how often we do this. "Dinner's ready, I just have to set the table." "My paper is done, I just have to do the bibliography." "The laundry is done, I just have to fold it." Am I the only one who does this? It's a strange thing, to claim completion when we are oh so close to it. I think perhaps we deny ourselves that great, full sense of satisfaction that comes with a job well done when we try to experience that satisfaction prematurely. How much more satisfying is it to say, "Dinner's ready." "My paper is done." "The laundry is done." Last week Andy and I purchased a wedding gift for a friend, and we had the store gift wrap it for us. Now, granted, there wasn't a whole lot of satisfaction due to the work involved. How hard is it to find an item listed on a registry, carry it to the counter, hand the clerk a plastic card, and receive a beautifully wrapped gift in exchange? Not hard. But still, leaving the store with the gift all wrapped was extremely satisfying. (I realize I am greatly overusing that word.) To know that it was in our car, completely ready to go, and there was nothing more I had to do with it - it was great! I love that sense of completion. I am done. I am finished. What's next?

I'll let you know when I'm done with the playroom.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Keep your head up!

I haven't posted much lately, have I? I haven't really felt that I've had much to write about, which for me oftentimes means that I haven't been thinking critically about things as much as I should. Not always, of course. Sometimes the things on my mind or the events in my life, both good and bad, are just too personal to share on a blog. Frequently, though, I find that I make it my goal to "make it through" the day, and I take on a "put your head down and plough on through" mentality. There are times when such an attitude is necessary, I think. There are times when you need to focus on the task at hand and not allow yourself to be distracted. But I believe that should be an exception. You miss a lot when you have your head down. Beauty, the needs of others, insights, opportunities. I do not wish to aim for a life of no interruptions. That certainly isn't the example that Jesus gave. He lived His life with purpose, always moving towards the cross; but His daily life was characterized by interruptions, by people clamoring for His attention. It was also characterized by what most would consider petty mundanities. Dirty feet, quarreling friends, bad weather. I think of the events that have characterized my life over the last week - dirty diapers, demanding people, tulip-eating squirrels. It is hard to think of these experiences as meaningful, as more than annoyances and interruptions. But if I lift my head and look around me, I can see that these things are not just interruptions to my life - they are my life. And that might sound depressing, but it's not. It's not that the mundane and irritating things make life dull. It's that life makes the mundane and irritating things beautiful. Okay, so I still haven't seen the beauty in the squirrels eating my tulips. I'm working on it.

Well, I'd better not write more just now. There are some beautiful dirty dishes and meaningful laundry calling my name.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

And nothing to show for it

Lately I have been focusing on one particular WIP, but I cannot post any pictures of it because the expectant mommy/intended recipient reads this blog. She knows about it already, so it's okay for me to say that, but she doesn't know what it looks like, and I don't plan on letting her know until it's finished. So, I am sorry to say, I cannot share pictures. I will try to remember to take pictures along the way, though, so that I can post them later. It's sometimes hard to remember to do that when I'm working on something in snippets of time that I steal here and there. When my focus is "how much can I get done before Elise wakes up?", taking pictures does not usually cross my mind. And now I do my sewing in the basement, where the natural light is very, very poor, so taking pictures requires the added effort of taking the materials upstairs. I know, I know, that makes me sound really lazy.

Very little sewing has been done here recently. We're all under the weather, and for me that means that I spend Elise's naptime recuperating from the morning, and the hours after Elise goes to bed are spent recuperating from the rest of the day. I wish I had a crochet project underway right now, as that would be a nice thing to do while resting. All of the ripple blankets and granny square afghans that have been showing up on various blogs have tempted me, but I am determined to get my list of WIP projects completed - or at least significantly diminished - before taking on something so large.

Last weekend I found this book at an antique store. I had this book when I was a very young child. I received it for my first birthday, I think...or maybe as a gift when I was born. I had two nursery rhyme books, and I'm not sure which was gifted on which occasion. Regardless, I was thrilled when I found this one. I wasn't looking for it. So much for waiting to collect children's books, eh?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Quote and 100th Post

"Resentment is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die." - Unknown (I looked for a reference online and found several, and I am not going to guess which one is correct.)

My pastor quoted this in his sermon this morning. I thought it was a very good simile. He has been doing a series of sermons called "The Bible Guide to Relationships", based on 1 Corinthians 13. I haven't heard all of the sermons in the series so far, but the ones I have heard have been just about the most practical and applicable sermons I have ever heard. I really appreciate that.

On another note, this is the 100th post to this blog. The one year anniversary of this blog's beginning occurred last week. It would have been cool if the two events - one year and 100th post - had coincided, but they did not, and I felt that forcing them to do so would be too - well, forced. I have enjoyed blogging over this past year and see no reason why I should stop in the near future. I have especially enjoyed reading the blogs of my friends, as well as the blogs of some people that I do not know but who share either my recreational interests or my faith. In rare but wonderful cases, they share both. In fact, my husband will tell you, checking and reading these blogs has become a part of my daily routine. In some ways I feel that it allows me a bit of interaction with other adults, something that is sometimes (but not always) missing from my weekday life with a toddler. So thank you, all who read and comment on my musings, and all who allow me to read and comment on yours.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Favorite Artists

I really love children's books. Really. I love the simple stories, the unabashed sentimentality, and especially the beautiful illustrations. I realized recently that illustrators of children's books are among my favorite artists. I don't know much about current artists; I don't know who is "big" right now and who isn't; and I wouldn't have a clue which pieces were significant at an art auction or gallery. But I love the work of some illustrators. I guess this is because I am reading a lot of children's books these days, and they are pretty much all heavily illustrated. (I'm reading to a toddler.) In other words, that is the art that I am seeing the most of. And it is beautiful. Richard Scarry, Jan Brett, Eloise Wilkin (I think she is my favorite), Garth Williams...they are tremendous artists.

I recently learned that my pastor's wife collects children's books. I thought this was a great idea. (My husband will groan when he reads this.) What a fantastic thing to collect! Of course, for the next many years I'll be able to gather children's books for my own children, so I don't really need to "collect" them at this time. I am so delighted by the many sweet and beautiful books that are out there. Of course, as with all genres of books, there are a lot of trashy books out there as well. They're pretty easy to spot, though. Like this. And you have to be careful about what you buy, because a lot of children's books authors - especially celebrity authors - donate a portion (or all) of the sales proceeds to charities, which is great, but you want to be careful about what you're supporting with your purchase. Madonna's The English Roses proceeds, for example, benefit this.

These are two books that I have particularly enjoyed and admired lately:

You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano
How Do I Love You? by P.K. Hallinan

And here are a couple of Elise's favorites:

Crazy Caterpillars by Sue Whiting
God Bless by Stephanie Longfoot

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Proof That I Love My Daughter

I just gave her my last Thin Mint Girl Scout cookie.
Ah, the sacrifices mothers make for their children!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Now What?

Last night I wanted to sew, but all of my current projects seemed too daunting for the late hour. I spent some time just looking through my fabric bins, thinking what a nice such-and-such this or that fabric would make. Eventually I came to a small stack of blue and yellow squares. I bought them about a year ago, pre-cut. I don't remember if I had a particular project in mind for them, or if I just got them because I loved the blue and yellow combination. (I have always loved blue & yellow.) Naturally, I decided to sew them together. (Isn't that what you're supposed to do when you want to sew but are too tired to be creative? Sew random bits of fabric together?) Now I have this 8"x12" rectangle, and I think it's quite pretty, but I don't know what to do with it. I thought maybe placemats would be nice (I have red & green placemats in a patchwork pattern, and I really like them), but I couldn't make a matching set as I only had two of each fabric square. I could make a similar second placemat, but not an exact replica. Then I thought maybe a throw pillow. Then again, it could be a single placemat, and I could just use it in the center of the table, almost like a doily, or to line a tray with. Hmm.

Any ideas?
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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Book List

I don't know who originally came up with this list, but I am curious about how many of them I have actually read, so here goes:

In the list of books below, bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a ten-foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf , and asterisk (*) the ones you’ve never heard of.

1. +The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. +Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. +The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. +The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. +The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery)
9. *Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. *A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. *Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. *The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. +The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger)
23. +Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. +The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. *Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. *The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. *The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. *The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38.*I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. *The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. *The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. *The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. +Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. *She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. *Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. +Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. +The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. *The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. *The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. *The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. *Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. *One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. *Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. +The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. *The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. *The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. *The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. +Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. *Not Wanted On the Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. *Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. *Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. +Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. *The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. *Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. *Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. *In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. +Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. *The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. *A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. *The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Sad. I have only read 15 of the 100 books on this list. I didn't recognize 34% of the titles. And there are two that I wouldn't touch - Interview With The Vampire and The Stand - but I couldn't figure out how to cross them out.

P.S. Thanks for the strike tip, Bob. Since posting this list, I have watched (sort of) the movie The DaVinci Code, and I no longer want to read the book. It was a bit like National Treasure, only the humor, humanity, and honor were replaced by oppression, depravity, and heresy. Dan Brown's mind must be in the clutches of something very ugly.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I just read an interesting statement made by Albert Einstein. He wrote an essay entitled "Some Notes on my American Impressions". For the most part, his impressions were very flattering to Americans. He held our country in high regard in most areas, commenting on things such as the efficiency of our industries, the convenience of our buildings, and the limited (!) involvement of the State in private matters. (This was written, of course, many decades ago.) But one statement in particular caught my attention. He does not use a particularly negative tone, and I do not know whether he considered this characteristic to be positive or negative. Here it is:

"Great importance attaches to the material comforts of life, and peace, freedom from care, security are all sacrificed to them. The American lives for ambition, the future, more than the European. Life for him is always becoming, never being."

Always becoming, never being. No wonder medications for high blood pressure are so commonplace. Something to ponder.

American Soldier

Last December, I told you about my brother, Nathan. (fifth paragraph down) Just recently, I learned that he will indeed be deployed to Iraq, although we're not entirely sure when that will happen. Sometime between September and January, it sounds like. I am so proud of him for serving our country in this way, although naturally I am also concerned for his safety, and would appreciate your prayers in that regard.

Nathan's lovely wife, Laura, posted this photo tribute, and has graciously allowed me to share it with you. Turn your speakers on! (P.S. It takes a few seconds to get going.)

American Soldier

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Some Updates

I've just added a few features to this blog. You'll find links to the blogs of some friends of mine, as well as a list of books that I have read this year. I almost didn't include that list, because Bob's list just puts me to shame. But then I thought that may be a silly reason to not post my own.

Hopefully there will be more in the days to come. I hope to get some pictures posted soon.