Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Today.... seam ripper is my best friend. My sewing station has been transferred to the dining room so I can sew while Elise plays (normally I sew only when she is asleep). Apparently adding a 1/4" seam allowance is too complicated for my non-mathematically-inclined brain. I ended up with six squares that were significantly smaller than the rest of the squares. My husband suggested I add a border to the squares to bring them up to size. Great idea! So I did. Did I remember to add the seam allowance to the border? NO! Ugh. My new motto is, "Measure 87 times, cut once."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

We Interrupt This Quilt...

Elise is napping and I am out of thread, so quilting has been put on hold for at least an hour. I have been sewing like mad this week. Baby Boy Tindall will be here within a few weeks, and the shower to honor him and his mama is in four days! And I'm still piecing...please don't tell me it's impossible to finish by Saturday, I already know that, and I'm going for it anyway! In the meantime, I welcome this forced break. There is plenty of other work, albeit less enjoyable, to be done. My mother-in-law just emailed to say that she has been cleaning out her garage, doing laundry, sewing, and cleaning her counters all day. She has just started a dose of steroid treatment. I'm not a big fan of steroids, but if you must take them, you might as well enjoy the energy!

Speaking of my MIL...this past weekend marked my in-laws' 40th wedding anniversary. Forty years! Andy and his sister threw a surprise party for them. We were all in their living room watching old family movies when people started pouring in. There were about 65 people in all, I think, everyone from their next door neighbors to the pastor that married them 40 years ago to relatives from the other side of the state. The first few walked in and Andy's parents were surprised and pleased to see their friends; then we told them that there were at least 50 more people coming, and Andy's mom said, "Get the dust mop!" Ha! Hers is the only house I know to which I would be comfortable inviting dozens of people without first warning the people who live in the house. It's just that clean. Andy and his sister did a great job. Right about the time that Andy's mom started to worry about feeding all those people, Andy's sister took a huge cake out of her car, and the caterer arrived. It was a really nice time.

Andy's mom, Susan, had a surprise of her own, too. On Sunday we all showed up at their church, to the surprise and confusion of Andy's dad. I don't know what he thought we were doing there. The service seemed normal, until the very end when the pastor asked Andy's folks to come up front. We all, save his dad, knew what was going on, and his dad is such an easy going fellow that he just went right up, not knowing what was happening. Well, Susan had arranged for them to renew their wedding vows. It was so sweet. When the pastor asked if there was a ring, Andy's dad looked flustered and said which point Andy walked up and gave him a ring to give to his bride. (Susan's wedding ring doesn't fit due to a hand injury, so this ring was new.) It was a lovely surprise.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Sometimes I wish there had been a time when I didn't know about God, because I would love to have been able to read the Bible for myself, just once, without knowing what was going to happen next.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Wise Man Once Said...

On Sunday we had a guest speaker at church, a missionary to Mexico who has been home on sabbatical for the last several months. He and his family went back to Mexico on Monday. He was talking about their work there, how he has recently turned the pastoral duties of his church over to a Mexican pastor, and how he and his wife are now focusing on teaching local pastors how to teach, how to lead a Bible study, how to counsel, etc. He said many of the pastors in central Mexico are young men who have traveled to "the big city" in search of work, were introduced to the Gospel while there, and felt called to return to their hometowns to bring the Gospel to their family and neighbors. But most of these young men have very limited education, the equivalent to having finished elementary school, and even reading the Bible can be challenging for them. So the missionaries are now working on training the pastors.

The missionary made a comment that really struck me. He said that here in the States, he would be considered an average teacher, just another teacher. But in Mexico, where the majority of people are deprived of what most Americans would consider a basic education, his teaching is phenomenal. The new Christians in central Mexico are so hungry for knowledge of God, for education of any kind, that the missionary's willingness to teach basic reading, basic Bible classes, and basic leadership skills makes a tremendous impact.

So that got me thinking about the United States. I started to think about how saturated our culture is. We are so saturated with education, knowledge, skill. Resources that are normal here would save lives elsewhere. Food, water, medical care. A nurse who gives 25 vaccinations in the United States does valuable work, to be sure. A nurse who gives 25 vaccinations in Congo saves 25 people from imminent death. We are so wealthy. Do we know how wealthy we are? We have virtually unlimited resources available to us. I can see seven Bibles in five different versions on my bookshelf right now, and that does not even include the two that I use most often, which are elsewhere in the house right now. Seven. Not only that, but with just a few keystrokes and clicks, I can access biblical commentaries written by noteworthy scholars. I know of at least half a dozen Christian colleges within driving distance of my house. Finding a church here means trying church after church after church until finding one that makes you comfortable; it does not mean literally searching for a group of people, any group of people, who worship God. If I devoted my life to it, I still would not have enough time on this earth to read all the Christian books that are available to me for free through the local library system.

I think education is very important. I think we should "transform ourselves by the renewing of our minds", as Paul instructed us to do. And I don't really think that education is ever wasted, at least not in the way that that phrase is usually used. For example, I don't believe that I am wasting my education by being a stay-at-home mom. I think education is pretty much always worth pursuing, not necessarily in a formal sense, but definitely in a lifelong learning sense. But I wonder...are we making the best use of the tremendous blessings we've been given? Our missionary friend saw that he could make a bigger impact with his gifts in Mexico than he could here. I don't think that we all are supposed to up and move to Mexico or Africa or India, but I do think that those of us who remain in overdeveloped countries should look hard for opportunities to put our gifts and resources to good use. I guess I just mean that here in the U.S., we have so much that we have become numb to the immensity of it all. We take it for granted and even belittle it.

A favorite professor of mine once asked his students to consider "what is in your hands?" In other words, what opportunities are right here, right where you are? What gifts have you been given that can benefit another person right now? I think about that sometimes. It's easy to deceive myself into thinking that by belittling the gifts I have been given, I am showing humility. (Note: I think it's pretty safe to assume that whenever I think I am being humble, I most definitely am not.) Seattle is the most educated city in the country. My formal education is small fry here. Does that mean it is worthless? Because there are so many people, millions of people, around me who have greater knowledge, greater education, who are better suited to tackle the problems of our area....does that mean I don't have to? No. Ignorance doesn't let me off the hook. My efforts here in western Washington may not have the impact that the same efforts would have in central Mexico, but that doesn't give me the right to simply not expend the effort.

I know I'm rambling, and that is because I haven't really sorted through all of my thoughts on this subject. I've just been thinking a lot about using the gifts we've been given, being good stewards and all. Sometimes it's hard to know where to help, since I can't help everywhere. How are we to choose? But I guess one of the most important things is that we are helping. Somewhere. Anywhere. It would be wrong to not help at all simply because we don't know where to start.

I almost don't want to post this because I feel like I'm not making sense. But I'll post it anyway, and you can read it if you want, and you can think, "Gee, that post totally didn't make sense", and that will be that.

The Emerald City

We really had a great time during our short stay in Seattle. We live less than an hour from downtown, but after talking about what to do for our anniversary, downtown just seemed like the best choice. It is a very different environment than our daily suburbia, but it is an environment with which we are very familiar. I like it.

So anyway, we ate dinner Friday night at an English pub. We spent much of the meal reminiscing about college as we watched the large group of people at the table next to us. They all acted as though they were not quite used to the privileges that come with being 21. They were loud, they laughed at jokes that weren't really funny, they flirted shamelessly with each other, the girls poked fun at the guys for being guys, and the guys poked fun at the girls for being girls. And Andy and I decided that we are now old.

After dinner, we ordered Music and Lyrics on pay-per-view. It wasn't a spectacular movie by any means, but it was really funny. I typically like Hugh Grant movies, with Bridget Jones's Diary being an exception. Hugh Grant as an 80's pop star is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.

We spent Saturday morning walking around Pike Place Market. We ate fresh strawberries (produce from Pike Place is just good) and enjoyed doughnuts handmade by two big, burly, unshaven, heavily tattoed men wearing ripped t-shirts and leather. We watched the fishmongers for a while and picked up a Dungeness crab for Andy's dad. Come to find out, they throw crabs, too. We explored the bookstores, the quilt shop (I didn't even know it was there until this trip), the specialty food stores. We bought a stuffed toy cow for Elise, who has been way into Old MacDonald lately. It was great. I love Pike Place.

We had lunch reservations, and we weren't entirely sure where the restaurant was, so we left Pike Place in plenty of time to walk back to the hotel to drop our wares off at the car and then head off to lunch. We could have looked at a map, but that would have been too easy. The restaurant, Wild Ginger, was at 3rd & Union. 3rd is easy, but we couldn't remember exactly where Union was, so we figured we would walk to 3rd, turn left, and walk until we hit Union. So we walked out the back door of our hotel, which put us at 4th and....yep, Union. Even if you are not familiar with downtown Seattle, you can probably surmise that it does not take long to get from 4th & Union to 3rd & Union. So we arrived at the restaurant nearly an hour before our reservation, but fortunately they were not busy and seated us right away. It was so good. Amazing, really. If you live close to Seattle, you should go to Wild Ginger. Yum. We were very pleased.

After lunch we headed home, stopping on our way to pick up some groceries and to browse through an antique store. Andy bought a seismograph. Yes, a seismograph. Then we went home to one very tired little girl and her grandparents. We were glad to be home. All of us slept in a bit the next day, then went to the late service at church. There was a baby dedication, a little one year old girl whose father has just returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq, where he received the Bronze Star Medal. He was in Iraq when his daughter was born. It was very touching, and the congregation gave him a standing ovation.

We enjoyed our anniversary weekend. Sometimes it's hard to believe that we've been married five years already, although at the same time it seems that this is the life I've always had, even though this life is a far cry from what I experienced growing up. If the next five years are anywhere close to as great as the last five have been, I'll be very happy.

My New Stash and Other Fun Gifts

As previously mentioned, my in-laws stayed here last Friday night and Saturday while Andy and I celebrated our anniversary with an overnight trip to downtown Seattle. Having them stay here was fantastic. My father-in-law brought me this beautiful bouquet of tulips, straight from the Skagit Valley tulip fields. Tulips are my favorite flower. My "arrangement" is rather haphazard, but the flowers are still gorgeous. The silver tray was an anniversary gift as well, from Andy's grandmother, directly from her own silver collection. You can't see the details in this picture, but it's really quite lovely.

My mother-in-law is an avid quilter and an organizational wonder. This is good news for me. She cleaned out her fabric stash and brought this huge stack of fabric to me! Again, my photo does not do it justice. My MIL shops only at independent quilt and fabric stores, because she a) always shops for quality over quantity and b) lives in one of those rare and wonderful locations where she would have to travel some distance to get to a big chain store. Don't get me wrong, I do my fair share of big chain store patronization. But all of us who have used both big chain store fabric and independent quilt shop fabric know...the independents win hands down.

I don't really know why they came to babysit for us and we're the ones who got gifts, but I don't fight it.

There were still more benefits to having my parents-in-law stay at our house while we were away. (Besides the very obvious benefit of having someone to care for Elise.) When we returned on Saturday evening, my father-in-law had installed a safety guard on our fireplace hearth (after Elise bashed her head against it right before we left on Friday), fixed our loose kitchen faucet, and purchased doorstops for our bathrooms. My mother-in-law casually informed us that there were tuna noodle casserole leftovers in the fridge.

As far as I'm concerned, they can come and stay at our house any time.

The First of Several

Yesterday I wrote this big long post. It took a long time. I added a few pictures. Blogger ate it. I still have the post, but I don't have the pictures, and when I try to replace them, I just screw up the formatting, so it goes something like this: "Here is a picture of Pike Place Market." [insert picture of chocolate Easter bunny.] So, rather than spending hours trying to fix the ugly post, I decided to just rewrite it, but to break it down into a few smaller posts. That's probably a good idea anyway. The big long one was pretty disjointed.

I will end this post on a cute note. My daughter was just sitting next to me holding a Hungry Caterpillar rattle. (Last night I gathered her infant toys and put them in a storage bin, having decided with Andy that there is no point in having rattles and teething rings cluttering her toy box at this point. Naturally, as soon as I did that, she noticed the bin full of fascinating toys and wanted to play with them.) She held it up to me and I said, "caterpillar". She mimicked me, "oh-bee-gal".

I repeated, "caterpillar", and she said, "jimmalon".







I said, "very good", and she went off to play.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Spring Cleaning Motivation

There is nothing quite like having your in-laws coming to stay in your house to get you motivated to clean. The only thing I can think of that is more motivating than that is having your in-laws coming to stay in your house when you're not there. That's right. This weekend will be Andy's and my fifth wedding anniversary, and Andy's parents will be staying overnight with Elise so Andy and I can get away for the weekend. Well, for Friday night and Saturday. This will be our first overnight without Elise. Before she was born, we got away usually two or three times a year, typically a couple of long weekends and one bigger vacation. And we have done a bit of vacationing with Elise, but all in her first nine months. The last overnight trip we took (aside from visiting family a few hours away) was last May. Hmm. And we never meant to go 20 months without some time away with just the two of us. It just kind of happened that way. (It's amazing what happens when you're not intentional about making things happen.)

Now, some of you are probably thinking, "You've never spent a night away from your child?!", and others of you are probably thinking, "A night away from your child? That doesn't happen until the kid leaves for college." I can respect both viewpoints, but my own is that I don't feel badly about not having left Elise overnight as of yet, and neither do I feel badly that I'm about to.

Anyway, back to the cleaning. My mother-in-law is a sweet, kind woman with a spotless house, and she would never in a million years say anything about my inferior housekeeping skills. But I know they are inferior. And normally I'm okay with that. But did I mention that she will be staying overnight in my house when I'm not here? See, when they come to visit for the afternoon, and she asks if she can grab some Tylenol from the medicine cabinet, I can say, "Oh, I'll get it for you". That can be translated into, "Oh, you can't go into that bathroom, it's gross." But I won't be here to get the Tylenol for her. She'll have to go into the bathroom. It has to be clean.

It's great motivation.

Yesterday, I cleaned our bedroom. Spotlessly. Today it's the laundry (more of a necessity if I want my family to be clothed, which I do) and the bathrooms. My shower has never been so clean.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Let's Get Real Monday

I followed the "Let's Get Real" posts about spring cleaning a couple weeks ago, but did not post my own. This time I decided to join in the fun. "Let's Get Real Monday" is kindly hosted by Randi at I Have To Say.

This week's theme: My Favorite Things. I thought about many options. My favorite things about being a stay-at-home mom; favorite books; favorite corners of my home. But, perhaps in an effort to encourage myself, I decided to post My Favorite Things About Having A Cold (which I do). Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Chicken soup
  • Really soft Kleenex
  • When my husband rushes in the door after work and shouts up the stairs, "I'm here to take care of you!"
  • How good it feels to rest my head against the back of the sofa
  • How wonderful the cool air felt on my face when I went outside to get the mail
  • How wonderful the warm air felt when I went back inside
  • Giving myself permission to not do everything on my pre-cold to-do list

What the heck, I'll do two. Here are My Favorite Things That I Appreciate More When I Have A Cold:

  • A well-behaved child
  • Strong, sweet, hot tea
  • Chocolate
  • My sofa
  • Socks
  • The Internet
  • The DVD player
  • The remote control.

You should play along! C'mon, everybody's doing it! :)

Friday, April 06, 2007

This Means War!

I have waged war against a dangerous nation. The Earthworms.

I have long held that earthworms are trying to take over the world, defeat the humans. And they are a most serious threat, making their mantra, "Divide and conquer!", something they seem to take quite literally. Hollywood medieval war tactics - slicing the enemy in two - do not work with them. They only come back stronger. They deviate from their slithering relatives in that there is absolutely nothing even remotely attractive about them. Caterpillars can be beautiful, and even when they are not, they turn into beautiful butterflies. Even nasty little white worms that hide in broccoli and eat your cabbage plants will eventually become dainty little lavender and yellow moths that little girls and kittens like to chase. But earthworms turn into nothing but more earthworms. They are vile creatures, as their very name suggests. Earthworm. Worm of the earth. Much like pond scum, only ambulatory and inhabiting human domain. And therein lies the struggle. The domain. It is our domain, and they wish it to be theirs. That is why they have infiltrated the very ground upon which we live.

The earthworms do have one weakness, a debilitation of which humans should take the utmost advantage. In true Silver Chair-ian fashion, they despise the sun. At 47, 37 N, 122, 20W, the particular region of human domain where I myself have been stationed, the enemy is given an obvious advantage in his very weakness. Long periods of sun exposure are quite uncommon here. On many a dreary day, my compatriots have been known to move too hastily to find shelter, only to fall prey to the traps set so viciously by the earthworms. They step on them. This may seem an oversight on the part of the earthworm nation, a senseless loss of their own troops, but do not be fooled. They are kamikaze earthworms. The lack of sun in our region should serve only to strengthen our resolve to use the earthworms' weakness whenever possible, not letting a single clear day go to waste.

After 2.7 decades of loathing the earthworms' existence, I have developed a sophisticated system of defense. Avoidance. Whenever possible, we must garden on days of sun exposure. We must work with the sun to avoid gardening in areas of shade and moisture. We must wear gloves when allowing our hands contact with natural earth. And, when all else fails, when we cannot avoid wet ground, when the enemy dares to show his ugly, featureless face to the light of day, when we have done all we can do - we must RUN AWAY! Retreat to the safety of a land where no earthworm can survive, where Mop 'N' Glo and Lemon Pledge make for nothing but pleasantries, where the dominion of humans is unquestioned. Go inside.

There is no solid evidence as of yet, but I suspect the earthworms have formed an alliance with the dandelions.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Song Selection

For a long time, I have been singing the same two songs to Elise. Okay, more than two, but two particular songs were far and away the most common. One is "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" and the other is a nameless song that my mom sang to me and my siblings when we were little. I don't know if she made it up; I've never heard it sung outside my home. It is the song we sing every night when tucking Elise into bed. For quite a while, Elise has been making the motions (sort of) to "The Itsy Bitsy Spider", and that is how she identifies it. When I ask her what song she wants to sing and she responds by waving her hands in the air, I know she is requesting "The Itsy Bitsy Spider". Cute.

Recently, she has started to identify other songs. We've been adding songs to our repertoire one at a time, and she has started to ask for them. Not exactly by name, but by identities that she has assigned to them. For example, our little nighttime song includes the line, "When you're not near me, I'm blue!" Now Elise asks for that song by saying, "Boooooooooo!" (Not to be confused with "BOO!", usually shouted when she is right next to you, followed by giggling. Someday she'll understand that "BOO!" is more effective when accompanied by actually surprising the person with your presence. For now she is satisfied with shouting and giggling.) "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes" is requested by grabbing her toes. "Old MacDonald" gets an "e-i, e-yo". And "Jesus Loves the Little Children" has been abbreviated to "Bebe?" (Baby).

Figuring out what she is trying to communicate can be challenging, but it's always fun. It's a little easier now that she shakes her head "no" when I guess the wrong thing, and nods "yes" when I get it. This is so much fun. Yeah, there are tough days, and there are tough moments within every day. But overall, having a kid is simply delightful. I really can't express how great it is. Before Elise was born - even before we were expecting her - people insisted on telling me how hard it was to be a parent. They would find out that I wanted to have a large family and they laughed at me, telling me I would change my mind as soon as a became a parent. I always wanted to refute their confident claims, but felt that I had no right to do so. How could I, a non-parent, tell a parent that I knew I wanted a lot of kids, and that I fully expected to enjoy being a parent? I couldn't. But now, more than a year and a half into this endeavor, I know that I do love being a parent, and I still would like a large family. And there are still people who laugh at me. "You want how many kids? Oh, just wait until you have more than one!" And I can only smile. Of course I cannot prove that I will enjoy having multiple children while I have only one. But I strongly suspect that I will. I guess time will tell.