Thursday, May 31, 2007

ABC and Dick & Jane

It's finally done! Benjamin's quilt, which I meant to have done in time for his shower, is finally done.

I have really enjoyed making this quilt. There were some frustrating moments throughout the process, but overall it was a lot of fun. I did this one from scratch, - well, I should say Andy and I did this one from scratch - starting with a rough sketch and adding details as we thought of them. Andy came up with many of the applique designs, and it was his idea to add the borders to the pinwheel squares. Originally I was going to reverse the red and polkadotted fabric within the squares - the red would have been the border pieces, and the polkadots would have been the little corner squares - but I made a happy mistake in cutting, and so they were reversed. I'm glad of that - I think it would have been too red otherwise.

It is an alphabet quilt without letters. There is an appliqued picture to represent each letter, starting with an apple and ending with a zipper. The appliqued squares are offset by simple 6" Dick and Jane squares. A few weeks ago my mother-in-law, who taught me to quilt, dropped off a gift that she had made for Chris. She had made him a set of pillowcases (a long-standing tradition; she has been making pillowcases for Andy and Chris since they first roomed together during freshman year of college). Come to find out, she made the pillowcases out of the very same Dick and Jane fabric that I used! We did not consult one another before choosing our fabrics - we just think alike. It was a very happy coincidence.

So there it is!

Do you suppose I should make a quilt for my nearly-two-year-old daughter now?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are proud to present...

...Benjamin Michael Tindall! (or "Baby Min", as Elise calls him.)

"Name me one thing, one, that we've gained from technology." "Electricity!" "That's one."

This year I am keeping track of the books that I read. I've never done that before, and I was inspired by Bob. I have a list of read books in my sidebar. If you glance at it, you may notice that I read four or five books a month in January, February, and March. Certainly not an amazing feat by any means, but at least it means that I was reading a few chapters a day. But then...did you notice April and May? One book per month. Wow. Sad. So I started to analyze...

Now I could argue that it is easier to read more in the winter months. The evenings are longer. It's cold outside. There aren't as many social activities. Sure, that sounds okay. Maybe I'll stick with that excuse.

Or...I could be honest. I could admit that my husband and I stopped watching television during the Lenten season, which occurred primarily during February and March. I could tell you that my husband took our laptop computer with him to work for several weeks, and frequently had to take it to evening meetings as well, thus leaving me Internetless. And then the TV-watching and Internet-browsing resumed in early April. Hmm.

Kind of makes me question how much time I spend in front of a screen. (Ironic that I would say that on my blog, isn't it?)

Monday, May 21, 2007

I Love Monday

I'm not sure I've ever said that before. I love Monday. Today I do. I am so glad that it is Monday. Last week was...interesting. It was like an amazing rollercoaster. Our week included disappointing news about Andy's mom's hand injury; news of the death of a friend; a visit from friends who live in Africa; a trip to the ER with Elise; a stomach flu that hit all three of us; a funeral; and then, to end the week on a wonderful note, the birth of a new friend. Well, I've only met him twice, and he was sleeping most of that time, but I think we really hit it off. He arrived early Sunday morning, and I won't say more than that until his parents have had the chance to share the details themselves.

It was really great to end the week with the baby's birth. For his parents' sake, I'm sorry it happened at the end of the week (he was apparently quite happy in the womb), but after the week we had, it was wonderful to end it on such a happy note.

So it's Monday. I have done load after load after load of laundry. I have vacuumed. I have cleaned and washed and disinfected. I have even watered my plant. It has been a great day. I think I've mentioned before that I really love having order restored. Last week was a chaotic time for our family. To wake up this morning, to make a pot of coffee, to go through a normal day was simply wonderful. We're not completely caught up yet, though. I still have a lot of laundry to do. (Having a toddler with a stomach flu results in having a lot of laundry.) Andy is still really tired, having slept for just a few hours several nights in a row. But things are normal. Yay!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I got up early this morning. Early for me, anyway. 6:30. I realize that doesn't sound early to a lot of you, but Elise normally sleeps until 8:00 or so, and I usually let her wake me up. (Don't hate me, moms of school aged children or early risers!) I hate getting up early, but I love being up early. I love how the sunlight slants across the earth in the early hours. I love how quiet everything is.

Which leads me to another thought. It is amazing how loud certain things seem when everything else is quiet, especially when you are hoping to not awaken a sleeping child. The coffeemaker, for instance. I don't typically think of the coffeemaker as a loud appliance, but this morning, as Elise slept peacefully and I enjoyed a few minutes of quiet while I read the Sermon on the Mount (there's a passage to read if you want to jumpstart your theology), the coffeemaker was obnoxiously loud. It gurgled and sputtered and hissed. I'm sure it does that every morning, but it's usually not quiet enough to notice. Even as I type this, I realize that it's not loud in here. Elise is talking to her bunny, and I am typing, but that's about it. Maybe earlier this morning I was just more sensitive to noise. It kind of makes me wonder how much noise I constantly tune out. Hm.

Well, my day has started now. That hour and a half this morning was really nice. Now the trick will be to remember how nice it was come tomorrow morning when 6:30 seems awfully early.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Tact of Children

Elise just saw a picture of Ronald McDonald. She pointed excitedly at it and said, "It's Mommom!"

Mommom. That would be me. Apparently she sees a striking resemblance between me and Ronald McDonald.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Attention, Moms

Check out the link in my sidebar to the "5 Minutes for Mom" Mother's Day giveaways. They're giving away some fun things over there! Even if you're not interested in the contests, it's a fun and encouraging blog for moms, so check it out!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


When my friend Janene volunteered as a counselor at a crisis pregnancy center, she used to talk about how she experienced a sort of resistance nearly every time she was scheduled to work. She would feel ill, or would be tired, or would have a hard day at her regular job. There was almost always something that discouraged her from going to the pregnancy center. She also talked about how much she loved being there once she got there, once she pushed past the obstacles.

I have worked with the Wednesday night kids' programs at my church for several years. For several years, I have experienced the same sense of resistance that Janene felt in her counseling job. Wednesday night rolls around and I am tired. Headaches develop frequently on Wednesday afternoons. When I worked at the hospital, Wednesdays were my busiest days. For the last several months, however, I have taken a smaller role in the Wednesday night activities, more behind the scenes, not working directly with the kids. And for several months, I have not experienced the usual resistance.

This morning, Elise woke up an hour and a half earlier than usual. I have changed three diapers in as many hours (common when she was a newborn, but not at 21 months!). Elise has been testing my patience and my consistency all morning. I am tired. Tonight I will be working directly with the kids at church. Coincidence?

I don't mean to sound all heebie-jeebie, but I believe in spiritual warfare, and I don't think that the resistance felt by myself and Janene is fake. I think it is very real. And you know, it actually really helps me to realize that. To know that my headache may not just be a headache, and that Elise's early waking on this day when I will be out late was probably not a coincidence. It helps to know that the way to combat the trials of this day is not with Excedrin and a nap (although I may employ those remedies as well), but with prayer.

C.S. Lewis observed that we make two mistakes in our beliefs about evil spirits. He said the first mistake is that we ignore them, or deny their existence. The second mistake is that we see them behind every rock and tree. I don't want to make either mistake. I want to be observant and be able to recognize when my family or I are being attacked or oppressed; but I don't want to live on edge, thinking that finding the bread is moldy when I wanted a sandwich is a sign that I am under spiritual attack.

When I think I may be running into spiritual resistance, I find that the joy and peace and victory of overcoming that resistance is greater than the usual satisfaction of following through on a commitment. What I mean is that when I think I am having a bad Wednesday, and I don't want to go and play with 40 kids, and I go anyway, I'm always glad I went; I enjoy the satisfaction of having kept my word. But when I recognize that there is something - someone - trying to keep me from going...well, first of all, that motivates me to go. Not going would not just be "taking time for myself" - an idea that I think we as Christians need to be very careful with - it would be surrendering a battle. So when I feel that resistance and I go anyway, making it through until the end of the evening leaves me feeling joyful and victorious. I'm usually still tired, but that's to be expected. I am, after all, fighting a spiritual battle through the confines of a human body.

I was just talking about this with a friend this morning. She commented that it's encouraging, in a way, to view our trials, even the minor ones, from a spiritual perspective, because to do so is to recognize that we have a hope that is greater than ourselves and our own limited capabilities. I hope you will be encouraged, as I have been, to fight your battles not only with the physical tools that God has given us - I'll be picking up my sword of Excedrin and shield of rest today - but also with the more powerful spiritual tools that have been provided for our good.

Writer's Block

I have started several posts lately, and have saved them all as drafts. For some reason, they don't turn out the way I intend. Usually I just sit down with a line of thought, start typing, and a little while later have a post. Not the case lately. I sit down, start typing, and come up with gibberish, an incoherent pile of words. I feel like I am writing things that make sense, but that don't go anywhere. I am dithering. Do you know ditherers? We all do, I think. People who talk and talk and talk and never get to their point. My problem is usually that I try to explain too many details. My point may be that Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water, but first I need to tell you why they needed the water and what the pail looked like.

I'm not sure what the problem has been in writing lately. The words just don't flow to my liking. I don't write blog posts the way I write other things. I don't write a first draft and then revise it. I don't usually search for the perfect word or phrase to tickle the reader's literary fancy. I do try to check for gross spelling and grammar errors, but even those basics sometimes go by the wayside. My blog posts are pretty much just loosely bridled streams of consciousness. So you would think that I wouldn't have any trouble whatsoever in writing them, what with such a lack of self-enforced rules. But I do.

So maybe this post will get me back on track. Maybe it will reassure me that I can focus on one topic long enough to write a few words about it. Or maybe I'll just go ahead and post all of those incoherent drafts, and then you can all read them and think I've gone completely off my rocker. One thing I realized as I went through some of those drafts is that I very rarely end up publishing anything I save as a draft. I save it because I am frustrated by it and cannot make it read the way I want it to, but usually I have spent a fair amount of time writing it and do not want to just delete it. So I save it, and never publish it. So the chances of you seeing my recent drafts are pretty slim.

One thing I haven't learned about myself yet is what is the best way to combat a problem like this, this disinterest in or frustration with something I enjoy. Not being able to write as I want to, not having patience to finish a book or even an interest in choosing one to begin, not being able to make a sewing project turn out the way I had envisioned it. Is it better to put the activity aside for a while, take a break from it, and then go back to it refreshed? Or is it better to push on through, keep at it even though it's driving me crazy? I suspect the answer differs based on the situation. Sometimes I need a break and sometimes I need to persevere.

"And I was just starting to think I had a few things figured out..." Brian Finn [Edward Norton], Keeping the Faith.