Thursday, October 25, 2007

Therapeutic Crafting

My family's fight against respiratory illness has not kept me from crafting, but it has kept me from focusing. I've started four projects in the last week. You see only three of them here - that is because one has already been torn out. It may or may not be restarted in the future.

This is a teaser. It's that time of year, isn't it? I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of hints, a lot of beginnings of projects, as Christmas approaches. But we cannot show or tell more than that. You never know when gift recipients may be lurking.

This is the project without a home. I bought this yarn more than three years ago when Andy and I first starting hoping for a child. I intended to make a baby blanket from it, but the only crochet stitch I knew was single crochet. Making an entire blanket from single crochet is not only tedious, but it also takes a very, very long time. I got about thirty rows into it, which made it the size of a scarf. When autumn arrived this year, I wanted to crochet again, so out came the baby yarn. I am now armed with a few more stitches than sc. It will still be a baby blanket, but there is no intended recipient at this point.

Another teaser. This particular sample will be torn out, but it will be reworked and turned into something. Really.

Crafting is usually a way for me to relax. That has never been more true than it has been this week. To have a project that I can just pick up and work on during those rare moments when my daughter is engrossed in Curious George or - even more rare - asleep, and then to be able to put it down at a moment's notice - this has been a luxury. I don't aspire to be an award-winning quilter or to publish a crafting book or to have my name associated with all things handmade. I just want to be able to pick up whatever it is I'm stitching and give my brain a chance to work through the problems of the day, or to take a break from the problems of the day. This is my therapy.

And today we scrub

My daughter has been sick this week, quite sick. She has (hopefully had at this point) croup, an "old fashioned disease", as my pastor's wife called it. Anyone who has cared for a sick child can attest to the fact that it is a very challenging job. My experience this week has renewed my respect for both parents who have more than one child and single parents. I'm not sure how I could have cared for more than one child during the hours when my husband was at work, and I'm not sure how I could have cared for the one child if I didn't know that help would arrive each day at 4:00. I've mentioned this to a few people and they've all said, "You just do what you have to do", and past experience tells me that this is true. hat is off to you, parents of multiple children and single parents. You should get an award.

Today marks the first day of having enough health to do some normal things. I have spent a lot of time today with Lysol, hot water, and soap. Enough of this GermFest. I am happy to report that the kitchen is very clean. I'm not so happy to report that I am out of energy. (Did I mention that Andy and I have been fighting the adult version of this virus? It affects us much less severely than it affects young children, but it's still unpleasant.) Maybe we could just live in the kitchen for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Nammies and Yo-Yos

My daughter is two years old. Oh, is she ever two years old. She keeps me on my toes, my little explorer. Here are some of the moments that the fly on our wall has witnessed over the last few days.

This morning I caught her mid-run. She was waving a set of keys (real keys) and heading towards the electrical outlet. She said she needed to "fix" the outlet. (She watches Daddy fix things with screwdrivers.)

Yesterday she twirled our rotating recliner as fast as she could, then stood back and watched it spin. "Look, Mommy, the chair is a ballerina!"

When I returned home from running errands yesterday, she met me at the top of the stairs and announced that she and Daddy got yo-yos at the store. They had gone grocery shopping. My husband laughed and told me to look in the kitchen. He had purchased Jo Jo potatoes from the deli as a treat. We may call them yo-yos from here on.

Last night I pulled her ballerina pajamas out of the dryer and said, "Look what I found!" She ran over, very excited, and yelled, "Nammies!" Why Jo-Jos are yo-yos and jammies are nammies, I do not know.

Yesterday I went to the garage to get something from the car. She must have thought that I had left. When I came back upstairs, she ran to me and hugged my legs and said, "Mommy, I'm so glad you're here!" [Enter melting heart.]

When asked what she would like to eat for breakfast this morning, she replied, "How about cheese and cake and pickles?" Keep dreaming, kid.

And yesterday she said, "No, thanks", unprompted and appropriately. Andy and I were stunned and momentarily speechless.
Ah, life is good.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friends, Food, Fall

Friday already? Beautiful.

The garage sale went well. I was only there for a short time. Elise + tables and tables of other people's things - outside, no less - is not a great combination. She and I popped in to say hello, but Andy is the one who set up at 7:00AM and tore down at 5:30PM. What a guy. Most of our things sold, and what is leftover is destined for donation.

The baby shower last night also went well. We squeezed 26 people into our living room and had a grand time. Dinner was wonderful. Can you beat a potluck? I don't think so. We served a pasta bar. Andy made four different sauces and two different breads; other people brought various noodles and salads, a trifle, a mint chocolate chip cheesecake, carrot cake, and pink lemonade. Oh my. Delicious. Elise went a little nuts towards the end. It was well past her bedtime, she was excited about all the guests being here, and she had carrot cake. She was fast asleep within minutes of the last guest leaving, but not before several moments of hyper defiance of our household rules. Nice. Hope she didn't scare the soon-to-be-parents too much.

Several of the friends who were here last night had never been to our house before. I am really glad that they came. I'm not sure exactly how to explain it, but having a friend come to my home seems to somehow cement the friendship. If they have not been to my home, and if I have not been to theirs, then we have not been introduced to the biggest, probably most important, and most personal part of each others' lives.

I was pleased that everyone here last night was able to compliment Andy on his cooking without insulting me. That sounds very insecure and petty, doesn't it? This is what I mean: When people find out that Andy does most of the cooking in our home, they usually turn to me and say, "Oh, you don't cook?" Sometimes even, "Oh, you don't know how to cook?" Come on, people. If I were the primary cook, would they look surprised and ask Andy if he knew how to cook? No. I do not cook as well as Andy, nor do I cook as frequently as he does. That doesn't mean that I don't know how to cook. Anyway, everyone complimented Andy, and a few people mentioned to me that it was really nice that I have a husband who cooks. I couldn't agree with them more.

Life has thrown us a few curveballs recently. (Is there a cliche for that? If life gives you lemons, make lemonade; if life gives you scraps, make a quilt. What are you supposed to do if life throws you a curveball? Hit it hard? Adjust your swing?) They are making me appreciate daily life all the more. It's comforting to have things to do. I know I say it a lot, but order and routine are just so comforting to me. I can't do anything about the things that are worrying me, but I can do dishes and run errands and pay bills and write schedules and send letters and share dinner with friends. None of those things have anything to do with the problems that are worrying me, but somehow they help.

Today is the most beautiful October day in Seattle. It it sunny and crisp, the leaves are at their peak of color, and there is just the slightest breeze. The tree directly opposite our front window is a brilliant orange. It's just lovely. Perfect crocheting weather.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Great Paper Purge


What's all this? Well, let me tell you. This is five and a half bags of shredded paper. I mentioned that I was going through our filing cabinet and purging unnecessary papers. Turns out there were a lot of unnecessary papers. This isn't even all of it. This is just the remains of the pile of To Be Shredded papers. There was an equally large pile of To Be Recycled papers (not being shredded, they didn't take up five and a half garbage bags worth of space). It took me well over an hour to shred all these papers. My paper shredder and I are now on a first name basis. (His name is Bernard, if you're curious.)

I know...the trees. It is sad. I do not mean to diminish the very real problem of irresponsible lumbering. But let's be honest, folks - the trees are no more dead now than they were when these papers were intact in my filing cabinet.

I don't think I can describe how happy it makes me to see our paperwork organized. This makes me believe that I am indeed...


It's A Beautiful Day

I wonder how many of you will read the title and instantly start humming a Mr. Rogers' tune, and how many of you will read it and start nodding in time to the U2 song that is now stuck in your head. I'm a stay at home mom to a two year old, so my inner rock star was squelched by a smiling, kindly, cardigan-wearing, puppet-wielding gentleman.

It is a beautiful day here, in potential if not in weather. Outside is gray and dreary and cold and wet, but it's pleasant here in the house. Elise got me out of bed earlier than I usually get up, but for once I didn't mind. The house is still a wreck as we're gearing up for the garage sale tomorrow. We're hopeful that shoppers will live up to their Seattlite reputations and not let the rain keep them away. Really, though, we don't care if stuff sells. Whatever doesn't sell will be donated. We're just so happy to be getting rid of some stuff! It has been fun to go through the house and say, "Hey, we don't need this anymore! Hey, let's get rid of that!" Very freeing. We even found a bag of stuff that we had never seen before. I'm not kidding. There was a big garbage bag in the garage that Andy thought was full of items going to our church nursery (I frequently have bags or boxes of stuff headed that way, so I can see why he thought that), and that I didn't even know was there, as I don't venture into the storage area of the garage very often. Well, I opened it last night and found that it was from a friend of ours who gave us some things when they moved. Apparently they dropped this bag off during Elise's birthday party, which was 3 hours of loosely organized chaos, so neither Andy nor I ever realized that the bag was there. It feels odd to open something in your own storage area and find that you have never seen it before. Kind of like getting a roll of film developed only to find that they are somebody else's pictures. Weird.

As per the suggestions given by Write, Mama. Write, and prompted by the desire to find superfluous toys for the garage sale, I moved Elise's toys around yesterday. Just some subtle changes - I moved her toy bins to a different wall in the playroom, moved the rocking horse from the living room into the playroom, and brought a couple of toys from the playroom into the living room. I just wanted to encourage her to play with a variety and to stimulate her imagination. It worked. She pulled toys and books from the toy bins that she hadn't played with in months. When she got up this morning, she immediately went to play with the doll house in the living room, occupying herself for quite a while. It was a joy to watch her play.

In another attempt to exercise Elise's imagination, I turned the kitchen table into a playhouse yesterday. I put a blanket on the floor under the table, added some pillows, some baby dolls, Legos, and books, and threw a sheet over the table to make "walls". Elise loved it, but she said it was too dark, so I put a lamp under there. She played for over an hour. At one point she read The Little Red Hen to her Lego penguins and orca. I heard her say, "Come on, ping-pwings [penguins], come on, whale, let's read! Okay. [gibberish, gibberish, gibberish, all in a high-pitched voice] The end!" She had great fun, and I got a few things done while she was so happily playing. My thanks to Write, Mama. Write. for inspiration.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Fall Swap

Chara Michele is hosting a Fall Swap. The sign up deadline is coming up quickly, so head on over if you're interested. (Click on the picture above.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bits and Pieces

Whew! Here I am, sitting down with my coffee and my blog, catching my breath. Our life has been crazy busy lately. Here are a few glimpses:

Last Saturday was our church's annual Fall Fest. Andy was the official photographer, standing behind the camera for 3 1/2 hours while hundreds of people filed through to have their Old West themed family photos taken. During a lull, Elise explored the staging and Andy snapped this photo.

The Wednesday night kids' program that I work with started up again last Wednesday night. I'm so excited about it. We have a great team of people serving as leaders, and a great group of kids as well. We worked really hard over the summer to put this year's program together, so it's nice to see it off to such a good start.

This is a scrap tablerunner that I'm working on. Come to find out, working with scraps of varying sizes, without precise measuring, is a lot more time consuming than I thought. But I'm enjoying it, and I love the blue and white fabrics.

Several months ago I won a yard of fabric from Sew Mama Sew!, and I kept forgetting to mention it here. I chose Amy Butler's Pink Tree Peony from the Lotus collection. I intended to make a bag of some sort from it, but haven't done so yet.

We will be participating in a community garage sale this coming weekend. It will be so nice to get rid of stuff! Andy has been pricing away. Our house is a disaster - not so much because of garage sale preparations as just the crazy pace we've been keeping lately. It will be cleaned, though. It must be. We will be hosting a baby shower here next week. Having company is great motivation for cleaning, isn't it?

Since we've been busy and have this shower coming up, I naturally decided that now would be a good time to revamp our filing system. Does anyone else ever do that? Find yourself in the middle of busy times and yet somehow convince yourself that now is a good time to start a back burner, detailed project? I seem to do that a lot. This time I was motivated by an appointment we had earlier in the week. We had to locate a lot of old paperwork for the appointment, and that was a daunting task. It just reminded me that our files were a mess. Yesterday I emptied the filing cabinet and Andy and I went through it paper by paper. Today we have a huge pile to recycle, an even bigger pile to shred, and a box of up-to-date files. It's fantastic! I'm not done quite yet - the files aren't labeled well - but it feels so great to have this task nearly completed.

Read any good books lately? I have. I just finished The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It is a really good book. There were a few parts that I found a bit dry and difficult to get through, and I found one minor inconsistency - an inconsequential character whose name changes halfway through the story - but those things were easy to overlook. This is a stirring book. It is also a very sad book. Don't read it if you are looking for an uplifting story. It is the story of a boy growing up in Afghanistan in the 1970s, and then it follows his life up to present day. If you are familiar with Afghanistan's history over the last thirty years, you can imagine that there are not many happy stories to tell. This story if fictional, but the context is very real. I did find that, once a plot line was revealed, the outcome of that plot was quite predictable. I did not feel that this took away from the story at all. I didn't want any big surprises from this book. The story is so tragic that I needed it to be predictable; I needed to be somewhat prepared for what was to come. I will also say that parts of this book are extremely graphic and disturbing. Be warned.

Speaking of The Kite Runner, I had an unusual experience while reading it. I was reading it last week while waiting for a doctor's appointment. When my OB entered the room, she saw the book and mentioned that she was reading it as well. This led to a lengthy discussion of the book (she was just a few pages behind me, but they were crucial pages to the story), why neither of us wanted to see the movie that is based on the book, why we both had a hard time watching The Passion of the Christ, our individual beliefs about who Christ is (we agree, come to find out), religion in general, and parenting. (My apologies to the other patients who were waiting for the doctor.) It was just an odd conversation to have with an OB. Usually conversations with such a doctor are quite limited. My doctor is also an avid quilter. This fact, combined with our recent conversation, leads me to believe that we could be friends were it not for our professional doctor-patient relationship.

So there you have it - a few recent snapshots of our household.