Friday, November 30, 2007

Change of plans

Well, hi there! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was spent with relatives on my side of the family - my parents and all of my younger siblings and their families. It was fun, good to see everyone, and of course mildly chaotic. My daughter really enjoyed spending time with her cousins and getting to know her grandparents and aunts and uncles a bit better. As we were leaving to run errands just the other day, she called out in excitement from the back seat, "Here we go to Aunt Sarah's house!" Hm. Sorry to disappoint, kid. A kid's cocoa from Starbucks seemed to make it up to her.

And now we move to Christmas! I know this sentiment has become cliche, but this really is my favorite time of year. This week, though, I have felt decidedly overwhelmed. I have not been able to catch up, it seems, after having been gone over Thanksgiving. My house is a wreck, I have very little Christmas shopping done, and our December calendar seemed to fill up overnight. Even though I know better, I dealt with this feeling of having too much to do by telling myself that I would slow down and enjoy the season after the weekend, after I crossed x number of things off my to do list. I know better. You can't live your life thinking that you will be happy, content, relaxed, calm, etc. after you complete a certain task or achieve a certain accomplishment or acquire a certain thing. can...but you'd be wrong. Anyway. I did not come to my senses on my own. I had a little nudge. My daughter woke up sick this morning. She has a cough that is too reminiscent of the hacking cough she had just before her nasty bout of croup a couple of months ago. And, while I wouldn't have wished for her to become sick, it has definitely had the effect of slowing me down. I have spent the morning making phone calls to arrange for adjustments to our weekend schedule. Now, being involuntarily rendered homebound with a child who is content to sit quietly looking at books or watching The Berenstain Bears, I find that I can clean and work on a few handmade Christmas gifts and browse Amazon for other Christmas gifts and, best of all, sit and hold my little girl for as long as she'll let me.

I'm ready for Advent now.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Progressive Giving of Thanks

Some things for which I am thankful:

  • That the event of our daughter waking up in the middle of the night and staying awake for an extended period is such a rare occurrence that, when it does happen, it renders us practically useless the next day. (That'd be today.)
  • Coffee.
  • That the coffee I spilled this morning was spilled only on the kitchen counter, and not on the freshly mopped floor.
  • Clean floors.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Reading: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. I've only just started this book, so I don't have much to say about it yet. I do think quite a bit about how to give my daughter the freedom to be outdoors as much as I was as a kid, without compromising her safety. Our world is simply not as safe as it was 20 years ago (and back then, my parents said it wasn't as safe as it was when they were kids...also true). I also have to take into consideration that all 13 counties that make up southern Illinois, where I grew up, have a combined population of under 300,000, whereas the 4 counties that make up the greater Seattle area have a combined population of 3.5 million. It's hard to beat the safety that comes with recognizing nearly everyone who drives past one's house.

Watching: Barefoot Contessa. I used to find Ina Garten's style and mannerisms somewhat pretentious. Now I just think that I don't fit her target audience demographic. Andy used to work with a young man from Nantucket. He received things like top of the line digital cameras as stocking stuffers. He, I imagine, would fit Ms. Garten's target demographic. Anyway...I've come to appreciate the show. In the past, I have had, admittedly, a very immature attitude towards people whose tastes were on a different level than my own. Those with more refined tastes I frequently considered pretentious. Those with less refined tastes I frequently considered tacky. How elitist of me! Upon considering those attitudes, I realized that what I was really believing was that only my own personal tastes were acceptable and appropriate. Wow. That was a humbling realization, let me tell you. So. I can now watch Barefoot Contessa and appreciate the recipes without being overly annoyed by style. I still poke fun at some parts of the show; but if I had a cooking show, I'm sure Ms. Garten would poke fun at the way I cook and entertain (haphazardly on both counts) as well. She has good recipes and ideas - even if she is preparing a thank you brunch for her master gardener (and his staff of thirty) who just planted an exact replica of the queen's rose garden, in miniature, in the south garden of the guest house.

Pondering: Matthew 8:21, 22 (MSG) In this passage, a follower of Jesus asks to be excused temporarily in order to tend to his father's burial. Jesus denied his request. This passage has always troubled me. I do not understand Jesus' response. It seems uncharacteristically harsh to me. A few nights ago, I went to bed a bit early and brought The Message (Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of the New Testament) with me. I had intended to read for quite a while, but I read this passage almost immediately, and it stopped me in my tracks. I just couldn't get past it. I've been thinking about, praying over, and meditating on it ever since. I believe the Bible is the living word of God. By that I mean that I don't believe it is merely a historical, anthropological, or even religious document. I believe that it is what God is saying to us today, not just what He said to Christians 2,000 years ago. That is why, I think, I got stuck on this passage. I couldn't brush it off, couldn't think that I didn't need to understand it because Jesus was talking to an unidentified man thousands of years ago, not to me. We are not eavesdroppers on biblical conversations. He's talking to us.

Playing with: felt, yarn, perle cotton.

Browsing: Natural toy sites. After the multiple toy recalls, I am wary of big store toy aisles. It's not that I think all plastic or mass-produced toys are dangerous; I don't. It's just that consumers don't know which ones are dangerous until they have been recalled, and the recalls usually happen because of reported injuries. That means the recalls are too late for some kids. I don't want it to be my kid. I've been looking specifically for a toy medical kit. Most natural toy sites carry this one, which is great, but it doesn't include a stethoscope. A minor thing, yes, but the stethoscope is the tool that my daughter fears the most at the doctor's office, so I'd really like to make her comfortable with it. Any suggestions?

Clean Up

I thought it was time for a clean up of the blog. I had stuck with the same Blogger template for so long that I had forgotten there were so many other options. I think this one looks cleaner. I'll probably be playing with it over the next few days, especially with the photo header, so don't be surprised if you stop by and find giant photos, misplaced text, dead links, and general chaos. All that means is that my husband hasn't come home from work yet. I really rely on my in-house programmer.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Uncle Chris!

You're number one!

Sigh. I crack myself up.

Messenger Bag

There has been a fair amount of sewing going on around here lately. Most of it has been Christmas gift related, so I won't be showing pictures here. This, however, is for a birthday that has come and gone, and for a person who does not read this blog (to my knowledge). My baby sister turned 18 last week. I made this messenger bag for her. The photos are rotten - my apologies. I found it difficult to take a good photo of a bag made from such a busily-patterned fabric. The bag ended up being quite large. My sister was complaining a while back that her purse was too small, and that the straps were too short to fit comfortably on her shoulder. This bag will not have those problems. It is, though, rather too large for an everyday purse (at least for an 18 year old; it would be great for a mom). I'm thinking it will be good for school.

It was fun to make. I think I'll play around with making some bags for myself.

My brother is in the Middle East now. His son went home from the hospital on the same day that my brother was deployed, something for which we were all very thankful. Thank you for your prayers.
Christmas Eve is six weeks from today. Six weeks, folks! I love Christmas.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Mama said there'd be days like this

What a week for my family! We're scattered all over the country, my parents, siblings and I, so we mostly keep up with each other by telephone and email. And let me tell you, the phones have been ringin' this week! Monday was one sister's second wedding anniversary. It was also the day that my sweet little six-year-old nephew was hospitalized with pneumonia. Yesterday, another sister's house was burglarized, the thief getting away with thousands of dollars worth of goods, including my sister's video camera and digital camera. This means she has lost video of her son's birthday and other family events, and all photos from April until now. (She doesn't download very often!) Today is my youngest sister's birthday. 18! Hard to believe. Later this week, my brother (father of the little boy in the hospital) will be leaving for Iraq. If you are a praying person, we'd certainly appreciate your prayers for his safety, and that his son will be home and healthy before he has to leave.

In a family as large as mine (I'm fifth of ten children), minor whirlwinds are pretty common. It's rare to have a week that is this crazy, though, even for us. Whew! Sometimes all there is to do is stand in the middle of the room and laugh. Baking sugar cookies with sprinkles doesn't hurt, either.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

They never claimed to be experts on tea.

Earlier this evening I stopped by Starbucks for a chai tea latte. It was later than I would normally drink a caffeinated beverage, but I was really in the mood for chai, and so that is what I ordered. Upon ordering, this is how the conversation with the barista went:

Me: [hopefully] There's no such thing as decaf chai, is there? [I ask once per year or so, just in case they decide to offer it.]

Barista: [with an amused, patronizing tone and look] Well, there's no coffee in chai.

Me: I know, but - never mind.

A Good Week

Our family took a bit of a vacation over the weekend, and the timing couldn't have been better. We were still sick, and while it would have been nice to have not been sick while on vacation, it was also really nice to be on vacation while we were sick. Does that make sense? We spent four days with Andy's parents. They live pretty close, about an hour and half from us, so we see them frequently. It was just really nice to have time to really rest and relax, to share childcare responsibilities, and to not have the option of usual work. We went to a pumpkin patch, took Elise and her cousin bowling (so cute!), and Andy and I had our first real date night in quite a while. Sometimes I don't realize how much I need a break/rest/time alone with my husband until I actually get it. Andy's hometown has a lovely quilt shop (and fabric shop and needlework store - all within a few blocks of each other), and I couldn't spend four days there without visiting it. I brought home these pieces. How would you describe them? If you say turquoise and abstract, I will be very grateful. My sister's birthday is coming up, and she told me that turquoise is her favorite color and that she likes abstract patterns. Fine ideas, but difficult to materialize. Both descriptions - turquoise and abstract - can mean different things to different people. I hope my ideas are at least somewhat similar to hers.

Yesterday I received a package containing 30 of these little hearts. They will be Christmas gifts for a group of volunteers with whom I work. I agonized over what to give them last Christmas (they got gift cards to a local coffee shop), and have pretty much been agonizing all year over what to give them this Christmas. It is quite a relief to have the gifts chosen and in hand. I'm not quite done - I still need to find something for the guys. But there are only four male volunteers, so I'm not all that worried about it.

Andy and I did a little Christmas shopping over the weekend. We picked up these rather gaudy articles (I actually kind of like the blue flowered kerchief) as dress-up items for our niece. I remember when my sister and I got a dress-up box for Christmas when we were little. It was so great! I can't think of a toy that we played with more.

Yesterday was a great mail day. I received a package from my Fall Swap partner. Wow! She really went all out. She included a beautiful handmade scarf - the colors are gorgeous and it is just perfect for our northwest fall weather. Also included were handmade notecards and books (beautifully made!), a beautiful leaf pin, hot cocoa mix, After Eight straws (I have never seen those before - not sure we have them in the US), a fat quarter of autumn-themed fabric, a British quilting magazine (which I've just realized is not in the picture; this is because it is already on my coffee table with a bookmark halfway through it), and the prettiest fall leaves which have been painted and punched. And I'm probably forgetting something, because the box was overflowing with gifts. Thank you, Jackie! You really made my day.

The Fall Swap is the first blogging swap I've done, and it has been a lot of fun. Of course, I'm not done yet. Leave it to me to finish one day before the deadline!

Over the weekend I made it about halfway through a Christmas gift that I'm making, which I cannot post. I'm a little bit stuck on it right now, having a hard time figuring out a particular step. That's all right. It's more satisfying to have a challenge and to figure it out than it is to breeze through a project without any challenges. I also finished a book that I really enjoyed. It is called You Matter More Than You Think by Dr. Leslie Parrott. I know. The title made me hesitate as well. Sounds a little pop-psych, motivational seminar, hug your inner child -ish, right? Well, it's not. It's very good. Dr. Parrott is a professor at SPU, where I attended college, and I have heard her speak on a number of occasions. I first heard of this book from my pastor's wife. She is leading a women's group, using this book as the guide. I went to one of the meetings a few weeks ago, and have not been back due to sickness and vacation, but I will go back. In the meantime, I picked up the book and found that I was not able to stop when I reached the chapter that the group is currently discussing. I had to read the whole thing. It is a refreshing, personal book about the difference that a woman makes with her life. (Yes, it is very much directed to women. Sorry, guys.) Dr. Parrott is very gracious and manages to include all women from all walks of life, without being so general and vague as to have no meaning to any individual woman. I'll be reading this one again.

Ahhh. It has been a great week. Last week, when Andy and I were not feeling well and our daughter was very sick, was a tough week. What a blessing these last several days of rest and fun have been for us! I hope it has been a good week for you as well.