Friday, August 31, 2007

Made In China

Like many parents, I've been concerned about the increasing number of recalls of Chinese-made goods. I am also surprised to hear how many of our products are made in China - one report gave an estimate of 80% of all toys in America. Last night as I gave Elise her bath, I decided to do my own little household survey.

Sure enough...every single toy in the bathtub that has a manufacturer's label on it was made in China. Hmm. Interesting. I continued my survey this morning in the playroom. These are the toys that I found that were not made in China: (I'm big on lists this week)

  • stuffed rabbit made in India
  • soft alphabet book made in the Philippines
  • recorder made in Japan
  • matchbox car made in Malaysia
  • sunglasses made in Taiwan
  • dollhouse and furniture made in Mexico (the dolls that came with the set were made in China)
  • hobby horse made in Indonesia
  • rocking horse made in France
  • Legos made in USA and Switzerland

That's it. Everything else - every other toy in the playroom that has a manufacturer's label on it - was made in China. This includes Happy Meal and dollar store toys as well as expensive toys chosen for their durability.

Now, to be fair, if we are really buying (and I think we are) so many of our goods from China, then we've got to look at the percentage of recalled items. I don't know what it is, but it's got to be tiny. It's not like 50% of all Chinese-made goods are being recalled. But I'm still uncomfortable. I don't want to wait until a toy company gets a complaint about lead poisoning before I find out that the toy my daughter has been playing with for three months is covered in lead paint.

What do you all think about this trend? I'm trying to keep up with the recall lists (I just found that the infant swing I purchased for our church nursery has been recalled) and I know I'll be more careful about the toys I purchase in the future. This makes me want to buy only American- or European-made products, which is virtually impossible. (I have new appreciation for Elise's rocking horse and Legos. I did not know that Legos were made in Switzerland. How cool is that?!)

Now, on to survey Elise's bedroom!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another benefit of handmade

I really like nice paper. Stationery, notecards, that kind of thing. I like sending notes and cards to people, and I like having an assortment of blank cards and stationery on hand. I very rarely allow myself to browse the stationery section at stores, because I will almost certainly find something that I really, really want to buy. The truth is, I have enough cards to last for a long, long time.

This morning I opened my stationery box to put away the leftover invitations from Elise's birthday party. Then I realized that I will never use them. I started digging through the box to see what other "leftovers" I had. This is what I found:

  • Six "topiary" bridal shower invitations
  • Seven "umbrella" bridal shower invitations (the last bridal shower I threw was nearly two years ago)
  • Six "Noah's Ark" baby shower invitations (my niece - the baby of honor at that shower - will be five next month)
  • Six "clothesline" baby shower invitations
  • Seven birth announcements (I guess we could use them when we have another kid!)
  • Two "butterfly" party invitations (from Elise's 1st birthday party)
  • Four "Curious George" party invitations (from Elise's 2nd birthday party)
  • Five general invitations

What do you do with leftovers like those? I don't know. They look nice...I have each bundle tied together with ribbon. But I'll never use them. I suppose I could save them for the next time I throw a shower, and just send out assorted invitations, but to be honest, I'm not that thrifty. I like to pick out invitations that I think the person of honor will like.

I ran into this same dilemma with Christmas cards last year. I had leftover Christmas cards from every year that we've been married - maybe even some from before we were married - and they added up to a lot of cards. I couldn't bring myself to throw them out - they were perfectly good cards! So I swallowed my hesitancy to send a friend the same Christmas card that they received two years ago and I just sent out my 40 leftover cards. My apologies to those of you who have received duplicate cards from me.

This brings me to my point. (I know, you were wondering if I had one.) With handmade cards, this problem of leftovers isn't there. You can just make the exact number of cards that you need. You can personalize each card to the tastes of the recipient. I have only made a handful of cards, and they did take a fair amount of time, but they were fun to make. I'm not committing to anything, but I think I may try to make the next "batch" of cards that I send. And if anyone has any ideas of what to do with these 43 leftover invitations, please let me know!

Two days in a row!

Retha posted this meme and invited me to play along. Feel free to join in the fun!

ACCENT: American, I suppose. When I go back to southern Illinois, I pick up a bit of that accent pretty quickly.

I DO NOT DRINK: black coffee or beer

CHORE I HATE: cleaning the blinds. I'm not a big fan of cleaning the shower, either.

PETS: As an adult, I haven't had any pets (except a few fish for a while. They don't like it when you pet them.) As a child I always had dogs and cats, and we threw a pig, some geese, injured birds, a guinea pig, and a stray turtle or two into the mix from time to time.

ESSENTIAL ELECTRONICS: I really would miss the computer. We use it not only for emailing, but also for shopping, banking, finding addresses and telephone numbers, and paying bills. Andy and I both use it for work as well.

PERFUME: I very rarely wear perfume. It's not that I don't like it; I just don't think about wearing it.

GOLD or SILVER: I don't have a general preference.

INSOMNIA: Is terrible. I go through periods of insomnia usually two or three times a year. I hate it.


MOST ADMIRED TRAIT: I do not know. I suppose only those who admire it would be able to answer this.

KIDS: One daughter, Elise, two years old. Hopefully more in the future.

RELIGION: Christianity.

SIBLINGS: Five sisters, four brothers. Six of them are married, and Andy has a married sister, so I suppose I have eight siblings-in-law.

TIME I WAKE UP: whenever Elise wakes up, anytime between 7:00 and 8:30.

UNUSUAL TALENT/SKILL: I can tell from another room when the TV has been left on even when the volume is muted. We can walk in from the garage, which is on a different story in our house than the TV, and I will say, "Oh, the TV's on", and Andy will look at me as though I'm crazy. Then we'll go upstairs and, sure enough, the TV will be on, but muted (usually in DVD mode, so it's on but there is no picture or sound). I guess I just hear the electronic hum...which is weird, because my hearing is slightly compromised and I frequently have trouble hearing mid-level sounds, much less something as subtle and soft as a muted TV.

VEGETABLE: I really like vegetables. Green beans are probably my favorite, unless you count corn as a vegetable.

WORST HABIT: Blogging. Kidding, kidding. Uh...procrastinating returning phone calls. My family and long distant friends complain about this all the time.

X-RAYS: Hmm...I had xrays taken when I broke my wrist. I think I was five. Other than that...I can't think of any. I've had some other imaging done, but not xrays.

MY FAVORITE MEAL: Fried chicken, corn on the cob, biscuits (butter, no gravy), green beans, tomato slices sprinkled w/salt, and iced tea. This meal is best when the corn, beans, and tomatoes are fresh from the garden.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Middle Name

I did not jump on the Encyclopedia of Me bandwagon, but thought I could handle this simpler version.

Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog post containing your own middle name game facts. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.My middle name is...........


E: Elise. My two year old daughter. She is my delight. She can make me laugh and cry in the same minute. Being her mother is no less wonderful than I dreamt motherhood would be.

L: Listener. I'd rather listen than talk. This frequently makes me feel that I am a boring person. My friends will tell me about what's going on in their lives, and then will ask me what's going on in mine, and I feel tongue-tied. I usually feel that if I don't have something "big" to tell, then I have nothing of interest to say. I enjoy hearing the details of my friends' lives, but somehow feel that they would not be interested in the details of mine. I suppose all that really means is that I am not a sparkling conversationalist.

I: Introverted. I'm not as shy as I was growing up, but I still have to remind myself to introduce myself to people, strike up a conversation, etc.

S: Sensitive. Despite the fact that I am apparently the personification of Compassion Fatigue, the pain of others - family or stranger, friend or foe - really does affect me very deeply. I took a psychological personality inventory once, and it showed that I tend to take on the problems of others as if they were my own. Working in a hospital taught me to be a little more objective. In healthcare, you have to care, but you also have to maintain an emotional distance. Sometimes pain is inflicted to save a life; treatment can be severely retarding; parents cannot be protected from the truth of their child's condition. The ability to do one's job involves a tricky balance of sympathy and professionalism. I am very grateful for this practical lesson. It is invaluable as a parent.

This trait comes through in all situations, not just those in which I have personal contact with a pained person. You will never see me dancing in the streets over the execution or sentencing of a criminal. I believe in justice, I think that execution is sometimes the best course of action, and I am certainly glad when a dangerous person is removed from public contact. But I never feel exulted over a criminal's punishment. I usually feel very sad thinking about the hopelessness, anger, and depravity that they must feel, and the extreme pain that their loved ones must feel. This does not in any way take away from my sympathy for the victims and their families, nor does it impede my sense of justice. It just makes me sad.

A: Andy. My husband. He is my joy. He is constantly coming up with new ways to show me his love. He makes me laugh. He challenges me to learn. He is a wonderful father. I love him.

B: Baby. I want another one. Several more, actually...just not all at once.

E: Evergreen. It is the name of my church (and, incidentally, my state). Our church is a big part of our lives. Within our church family we worship, learn, serve, and fellowship. Church provides a wellspring that allows those actions to overflow into every other area of our lives.

T: Timid. I am a people pleaser by nature and by upbringing. Timidity is a great bane in my life, a weakness of which I am constantly aware and that I am constantly fighting.

H: Happy. I am happy. When Andy and I are asked what our dreams are, we look at each other and kind of smile. Our greatest dreams have already come true. We're living them. We have a strong, happy marriage and a beautiful, healthy daughter. We have the provisions we need. We have good friends, people whose company we enjoy and who challenge us. We have a home. We have goals and such for the future, of course, but they are akin to Cinderella wanting to upgrade her pumpkin carriage. Icing on the cake, so to speak.

Whew. I have a long middle name. I am not going to "tag" anyone. Just feel free to play along if you want.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Yesterday I was talking to some women at church. They were saying that they were disappointed that fall is almost here. It's true that we haven't experienced much that resembles summer this year. We had a few days of uncomfortably hot weather, but for the most part it has been a very mild, pleasant season. I can understand wanting more of a summer. I grew up in an area where summer lasted all three months that it is scheduled. I do miss it. But I also love Seattle summers. They make up for Seattle winters.


So these women were saying that they are not ready for fall, that they would like summer to last a little bit longer. I was surprised to realize that I had a different opinion. I'm ready for fall. Usually I am sad to see summer go. Fall, in my mind, marks the beginning of months and months of dreary weather. (Native western Washingtonians roll their eyes when outsiders talk about how much it rains here. They claim that it does not rain as much as outsiders think it does. My personal opinion, as an outsider who has lived here for ten years, is that the annual rainfall may not amount to as much as it does in other areas, but it does in fact rain as frequently as most outsiders think it does. Natives, you may disagree if you wish.) Don't get me wrong, I love fall. I love the crispness in the air (before the rain clouds set in), I love drinking hot drinks, I love the autumn colors, I love the anticipation of Christmas. But I still usually wish that summer would linger for a while longer. This year, to my own surprise, I don't wish for that. I know I'll miss the sun, but I'm ready for fall.

This has been a challenging summer for us, and I am tired. We have had sad farewells and harsh disappointments. It has been unsettling, and I hate feeling unsettled. I guess I am hoping that the onset of a new season will bring with it some peace and rest, hope, a restoration of routine and order. I'm looking forward to long evenings, to reading and sewing and baking, to watching fireplace embers fade, to just being with and enjoying my family. Fall promises to be a busy time for us - two weeknight commitments that broke for the summer will be restarting, and the weeks and months leading up to the holidays are always full - so I'm not entirely sure why I expect that it will be a season of rest for us...but I do.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Continuing Education

When I worked at the hospital, I attended Continuing Education classes every month. Granted, their purpose was mostly to "teach" us about the latest piece of extraneous paperwork that had to be completed in triplicate, or that last month's politically correct term for a given disease, socioeconomic status, or family arrangement was now offensive; nevertheless, it was part of my job to attend these classes, to learn as much as I could about my field, and to constantly look for ways to improve my job skills.

Every job has Continuing Education. Sometimes you have to be a little more proactive in finding the educational opportunities, but they're always there. I'm a homemaker now. What does Continuing Education for a homemaker look like? looks like many things. This week, for me, it looks a lot like a stack of books.

You can't go wrong with Martha, right? Just kidding. I do think that Martha (or rather, her staff) has a lot of really great homemaking ideas. Plus I love the photography.

This book...I have mixed feelings about this book. I do not appreciate the author's attitude towards homemaking. Her philosophy is that the faster we can get through meaningless housework, the faster we can get on with more important things, like careers. Rather demeaning. However, she does have good advice and ideas.

I have several books about homemaking, and I find it refreshing to thumb through them every now and again. I don't try to live by them, though. I think that would be overwhelming, impossible, and, quite frankly, wrong. It just seems that a home run solely on housekeeping technique would be devoid of...grace. Yes, that's the word I want. And housekeeping technique is really all that homemaking books can give you. So I read homemaking books to give me ideas on how to make my own all-purpose cleaner, how to restore towels to their original fluffiness, and how to arrange my broom closet. If those things ever get in the way of grace in my home, they will be thrown out the window. And if I am too blinded or stubborn to recognize my own stupidity, I trust that my family will tell me the love, of course.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Have you seen this quiz? I really don't put a lot of stock - okay, any stock - in these unscientific Internet quizzes, but I still take them because I think they're funny. This one is supposed to tell you what book you would be, if you were indeed a book. Look what I am! There is nothing good in this description. I've never even been to NYC! Wow.

For those of you who know me personally, if you read this and think, "Yeah, that's about right" can feel free to keep that opinion to yourselves. :)

You're Compassion Fatigue!
by Susan Moeller
You used to care, but now it's just getting too difficult. You cared about the plight of people in lands near and far, but now the media has bombarded you with images of suffering to the point that you just don't have the energy to go on. You've become cold and heartless, as though you'd lived in New York City for a year or so. But you stand as a serious example to all others that they should turn off their TV sets and start caring again.
Take the Book Quiz
at the
Blue Pyramid.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

We live in the wrong city.

It's true. I've suspected this for quite a while, and today I realized it more fully. We live in City A. This morning I drove to City B, where Elise played with some friends for a while and I worked at our church. Then we came home to City A. In an hour, I will be driving back to City B for a dentist appointment, and then home to City A. Immediately after that, we will all drive back to City B for a barbecue. Finally, tonight, we'll come home to sleep in City A. Then tomorrow, some friends from City B will drive over here, to City A, to play with Elise for a few hours.

Wouldn't it be easier if we just lived in City B? I think so.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

"And just what do YOU do all-day-I'm-sorry"

I was just thinking that, with fall just around the corner, I'm going to have to be more creative and efficient in order to get everything done. Both of my jobs are only a few hours each week, but they both get a little busier in the fall; I'm co-directing a Wednesday night kids' program at our church this year; Elise has just started potty training in earnest; I have a lot of Christmas projects I would like to make; and we'll have family staying with us over Thanksgiving. There are baby showers to plan and attend, holidays and birthdays to observe, reunions and going away parties, and so on and so forth. It's not as hectic as I made it's not like we have to do all of these things in one week. We're talking about the next four months here. But still, I'd like to plan ahead a bit and stay on top of the daily tasks so as to help everything run smoothly.

Thinking about this brought to mind two remarks that friends have made that have stuck with me. The first was made by Andy's parents' neighbor, a WWII veteran who is nearing ninety and has more energy than I do. Some time ago, his wife had surgery and had to stay off her feet for a while. The man had to take over his wife's usual responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, etc., and he threw in a great deal of good-natured grumbling while he was at it. One day he came inside after having hung a load of laundry on the clothesline to dry and complained to his wife, "I'm doin' the work of three women here!" Of course his wife laughed at him and immediately shared the story with her friends, because he was merely doing what she has done every day for the last five or six decades.

The other remark was made when a friend of mine was commenting that they were short-staffed at her company, and she was carrying the workload of two people. Someone else (not a parent) jokingly said, "Well, Em, you should just have a kid so you can stay home". Immediately another friend - also not a parent, but remarkably in touch with the work that comes with being one - piped up, "Yeah, and then you could do six people's jobs." And all the stay at home moms in the group cheered. Well, okay, we just chuckled, but we were cheering on the inside.

The truth is, being a parent is hard work, and it's really difficult (for me, at least) to describe that work to someone else, which is why, I think, some people wonder what in the world we stay at home parents do all day. And the descriptions that we do manage to get out sound pathetic. "I, uh, well, I change diapers and give baths, I clean up crushed Cheerios, I sing Old MacDonald, I clean and cook and do laundry, I rescue my child from the room that she has locked herself in, I try to hang up the phone before Elise's call to South Africa goes through..." But you know, that's all right. So I may not be able to make someone else understand what it is that fills my days and why I enjoy it so much. Doesn't matter. Because at the end of the day, my little girl will look up at me and say, "Mommy sing 'Teedle Teedle Yittle Star' and wub Elise's back?" And all will be right with the world.

Fashion Statement

Elise played fashion designer today. What do you think?

Isn't she beautiful? Sometimes when I look at her, I just want to cry because she is so beautiful. And I know that sounds sarcastic, given the picture of choice in this post, but I'm serious. I could never deserve to love and be loved by such a beautiful creature; I am astonished by God's grace.

And, because I want to support my daughter's artistic endeavors, I will even post a most hideous picture of myself. Elise picked out my headgear accessories for me.

No autographs, please.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Summer Reading

Elise and I visited the library last week. I didn't make it out of the children's section, and I brought these books home for my own reading. (Elise brought home her own.)

I'm reading Ballet Shoes because of the reference that Meg Ryan makes to it in You've Got Mail, one of my favorite movies. So far it's a cute story. The Brownie And The Princess is a charming book of short stories by Louisa May Alcott. I love LMA's children's books, and somehow this one had previously escaped me. These are lovely fables. Most of LMA's children's stories are firmly grounded in morality. She herself was a Transcendentalist, so I do not agree with the philosophies and theology behind her morals, but I still think the morals themselves are strong and wise. Lastly, I picked up Abbie In Stitches. It is a warm, funny story of an early 19th century girl who dislikes her stitch sampler lessons. She rebels by stitching a bold message into her first sampler.

These are the other books in progress. I have been reading An American Life for a long time. Well over a month. It's still interesting, just...slow. I read Reaching for the Invisible God in college and really enjoyed it. Philip Yancey is one of my favorite authors. I'm looking forward to reading this one again. And the one on top, Church: Why Bother? is a Yancey book that I have not read. Should be interesting.

Itchin' for some Stitchin'

I picked up this book at a thrift store the other day. It had price tags from three different used books stores on it. The reselling stops here! It's a great reference of all sorts of stitches.

I'm planning an embroidery project for a Christmas gift, and I'm both excited and nervous about it. I've never designed an embroidery pattern before...thus the nervous part. But I love embroidery, and it has been a long time since I've done any handstitching, so I'm looking forward to this project. I just need to get the design done. Look for pictures here in...uh...January.

More Birthday Details

The last ones, I promise.

Please excuse the poor photos.

I cut up a panel of Curious George "quiet book" pages and hung them from a clothesline across the entrance to the dining area.

And I hung a few more across the fireplace. Now I have 12 Curious George "pages", and I'm not sure what to do with them. I may just hang them from clothesline in the playroom. I really like Kirsten's bunting valance, so I may try something like that.

I had originally planned on having a very girly party, all pink and flowery and polkadotted, but I'm glad we went with Curious George. He really is a good little monkey.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Today has been a good day. Lately Elise has been demanding a lot of attention, and I have begun to really understand the truth behind the statement, "Show me the mother of a toddler, and I'll show you a tired woman". She has not been eating well, she has been testing her limits like nothing else, and she has been really, really clingy. Yesterday, for instance, I could not sit down without having her immediately climb (or try to climb) into my lap. I could barely stand without having her cling to my legs, crying to be picked up. Now I am not against holding my child. I love holding her. Just not every second of the day. It got worse after my husband came home from work. Elise was absolutely long as I wasn't in the room. She was playing and laughing and having a grand old time, and then I would walk into the room, and she would instantly start crying, wanting to be held, and crying, "Mommy! Mommy!" Which of course made me think that somehow I was perpetuating this weird crankiness.

So I got to thinking. Certainly this behavior is not acceptable. The trick, I think, is to determine how much of it is real misbehavior and how much of it is healthy toddler mischief. Why is she happy to play independently and converse politely when Andy is watching her, and not when I'm there? (That was just the one time, but still...) What's going on?

Today I was determined to watch for early signs of those obvious culprits, hunger and tiredness, as well as for disobedience after clear instruction. Being intentional about this makes all the difference. I know that seems really obvious, and it was a bit of a "duh" moment for me, but sometimes I need to be reminded of obvious things. This morning I had to remind myself that the most important part of being a stay at home mom is the mom part, not the home part. I am guilty of making to do lists that include only household and work responsibilities, leaving off "play with Elise", "go to the park", "teach Elise a new song", etc. So today I tried to pay closer attention to these things, and I did not get much housework done, and I'm okay with that. (I hope you are, too, dear.)

And now on to Twister. (There is a reason I titled this post thusly.) Elise and I sat down to lunch a while ago, and we closed our eyes to pray. I expected her to repeat after me as she usually does. I said, "Dear Jesus", and she repeated it. Then I said, "Thank you for our dinosaur chicken nuggets." There was a pause. I knew that she could say all of those words, so I wasn't sure why she wasn't repeating it. Then she piped up, "And thank you for the circles." The circles? Ah, yes. Twister. I got the Twister mat out today, thinking she would like to play on the circles. She did. And she thanked Jesus for them. Isn't that sweet? It's also her first original prayer.

It has been a good day.

Monday, August 13, 2007


As previously mentioned, Elise's birthday was this past Friday. I do not know where the last two years went. How could it have been two years ago that the nurse placed my tiny little daughter in my arms? (Well, more on my arms, and then she stayed there to make sure I didn't drop her.) The memories I have of our days in the hospital and the first few months at home are so's hard to believe that two years have elapsed.

So yes, Friday was Elise's birthday. We had her party on Saturday. My husband has done a great job of describing the party, so I will not reinvent the blogging wheel by rehashing details. You can read about it here. Suffice it to say we had a great time and we were very tired afterward.

Sunday was a quiet day. We went to church in the morning, and then enjoyed a quiet afternoon at home. Just as we were starting to talk about maybe getting out and enjoying the nice evening, some friends called and invited us to a local fair, just a few minutes away from our house. Perfect. We went and enjoyed fresh roasted corn on the cob (my all-time favorite food) and strawberry crepes while Elise and her little friend rocked out to a local band's performance. Good times.

Today it's back to the workaday world. Elise is yelling from her room, "Mommy! Elise wants to go upside-down!" The dishwasher and washing machine are working their magic, the bed is made, the floor swept. I'm about to pour myself a second cup of coffee and then go through the stack of cooking magazines that my husband left for me. We are finally going through them and picking out the recipes we want to keep, entering them into a computer database, and getting rid of the magazines. I have a rough life, let me tell ya. Sipping coffee and reading magazines whilst my daughter amuses herself by hanging upside down from her little chair. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Great Oatmeal Fiasco of 2007

Today is Elise's birthday (more on that later). Oatmeal is one of Elise's favorite breakfast foods, and one of the few that she is pretty much guaranteed to eat on any given day. I very, very rarely give Elise oatmeal. She ate it every day when I spoon fed her, but now that she feeds herself, oatmeal is rarely on the menu. I know, I know. It's incredibly nutritious, one of the best breakfasts she could eat. But it's oatmeal, people. It is a thick, grainy glob of oat paste. And Elise is two.

So today is her birthday. Her party will be tomorrow, but we'd still like to make the actual day special for her. I decided to bite the bullet and give her oatmeal for breakfast. It was her idea, not mine. She actually walked up to me and asked for oatmeal for breakfast. So I made oatmeal.

What do I have, amnesia or something? Elise can handle silverware pretty well. There is usually a bit of a mess to clean up, but nothing catastrophic. But somehow oatmeal changes that. Somehow she reverts to her 16 month spoon holding abilities. Giving my child a bowl of oatmeal and her own spoon has pretty much the same result as putting a blender in the middle of the dining room table, filling it with oatmeal, and turning it on high...without the lid.

I tried very hard to remember that today is her birthday, and that in the long run my errands and chores are not the things that really matter, and that someday soon I'll wish I could solve her problems for her as easily as I solved her oatmeal mess this morning. (That's not to say it was easy to clean up. It wasn't. I just mean that when she is first snubbed by a friend or gets her heart broken by a boy, I'll wish I could take a big, warm washcloth and make it all better.) And I only partially succeeded in my "have a good attitude" attempt. There were still several deep sighs and "Oh, Elise!"'s. I should have taken a picture, especially given that it is her birthday, attitude didn't make that much progress.

So let this be a warning to you, oh parents of toddlers. Oatmeal is nutritious and easy to make...but it has consequences.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Finished Projects and WIPs

Several weeks ago, we bought a crib pillow at IKEA. I had been casually looking for such a thing for a while. Elise has slept with a pillow ever since she had a bad cold several months ago, when we propped her up on a pillow to help her breathe more easily. But a regular pillow is too big for the crib, and decorative/throw/lumbar pillows seem too high for her little spine. She has been sleeping on a relatively flat throw pillow, but Andy and I were still concerned that it was too high. So when we saw the crib pillow - like a bed pillow, only smaller and very, very flat - we were very happy. And it subsequently sat in my sewing corner for weeks, patiently awaiting a pillowcase. Finally I got around to making this:

I ended up making it too big, mostly because I was scared of making it too small. Well, now I know for next time.

This is a simple fleece blanket for Elise's birthday. Fleece was on sale on Joann's recently, and I really liked this bright, flowery print. As much as I like soft, traditional, feminine decor in little girls' rooms, I am finding more and more that Elise's room is decorated with these bright, childish colors and shapes. And I like it. I think it is cheerful and fun and still feminine.

This is the first time I have used premade blanket binding. It was tricky at first, especially on the corners, but once I got the hang of it, it went pretty quickly. I wasn't sure how to tack down the mitered corners at the end. I suppose I should have done some handstitching. Can anyone tell me the best way to do that? I ended up just using a decorative machine stitch; knowing that whatever stitch I used would end up being visible, whether I wanted it to or not, I thought it would be to my advantage to make it pretty.

I have a few works in progress as well. These are coat pegs for Elise's room (once again, bright, childish colors and shapes). I've been looking for a peg or hook rack, but I haven't found any affordable ones that I like. A few bucks worth of unfinished pegs and acrylic paint from the craft store, and the problem is on its way to being solved.

I have two friends who are particularly gifted with a paintbrush, and I thought about asking one of them to paint these for me, but then I thought that even I - a known enemy of the paintbrush species - could manage six scallops and a peg. Wish me luck.

I think I showed you my little cottage quilt a while back. I pieced it in two days....and that was the end of it. It's small, about 34"x34", but I can't decide how I want to quilt it. I started free motion quilting, screwed up the tension, and had to tear it out. Now I don't know if I should just stitch in the ditch and be done with it, or try the free motion quilting again. Or maybe I'll tie it. I've never tied a quilt before.

Lastly, some Curious George favor bags for Elise's birthday party. I started to use clothesline for the handles, but I'm not sure I like that. I'll probably switch to ribbon.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mini Vacation and Other Doings

We had a lovely four day weekend. We started out with the Arts and Crafts Fair, which is always a treat. Good artists and artisans, good food, good music. Definitely a good time. It's always fun to attend that particular Fair, too, since it is held in Andy's hometown. We always run into Andy's old friends, teachers, classmates, etc.
After browsing the Fair, we returned to Andy's parents' home, where Elise graced us with her budding pianist skills. Note the left hand turned 90-degrees from the usual playing position. Must be a sign of prodigy.

On Saturday evening, Andy and I attended his 10 year high school reunion. It was fun - there were quite a few people there with whom Andy has stayed in close contact, and I got to meet a few people about whom I have heard many stories over the years. Then a few people who apparently still have a high school mindset decided to set off some fireworks - illegally - so the rather uptight (that's the mildest version of the nicest description I can come up with) resort manager called the police, and the reunion was promptly shut down. Yep. That's right. My husband's high school reunion was raided by the police. It was okay, though. The people we knew all went to a local restaurant - aka, the bowling alley - to visit, and that was much more pleasant than the loud, crowded reunion.

Since we were out late, Andy's folks put Elise to bed at their house. We were worried that they would have a hard time. Elise is a fantastic sleeper at home, but she doesn't always do well when she has to sleep elsewhere. But when we got back, everyone was sound asleep. Yay! Above is Elise running around Grandma and Grandpa's ("Ma" and "Bampa") yard. What's that she's carrying? Oh, yes. That would be a nosegay of Grandma's flowers. Grandma's potted flowers. The kind you're not supposed to pick. Hmm.

After a couple of days spent with Andy's family - involving much relaxation, conversation, and good food - we ventured out to a lake to spend a couple of days with friends. It was so beautiful there. We stayed in the "beach cabin" (read: huge, beautiful, easily sleeps 12, fully stocked with the comforts of the most comfortable home, house) of a family who attends our church. Wow. The lake is this pristine, wonderfully inviting, pseudo-mountain lake (it's in the foothills) about an hour from our home. I didn't know it existed until recently.

Here's my little water baby. Pay no attention to the scary paleness that is my leg. Elise was a little nervous in the water, but at the same time she loved it. I am pleased with that combination of emotions. It's good to have a healthy fear of large bodies of water, while at the same time enjoying them. Elise kept asking to play in the water "some more", but unfortunately it was really only warm enough to do so on the first afternoon that we were there. This did not keep Andy from cannonballing in several times.

Wow. Beautiful. Living in the city, I forget what amazing natural beauty can be found in Washington. It's breathtaking. I mean, we have great views just a minute or two away from us, but still...a quiet mountain lake, the lake houses being on the only developed property for miles...I love it. Makes me want to get out of the city more often. That large swath through the trees in the background makes me sad.

Makes me want to live in the country, I tell you!

Elise's 2nd birthday is coming up in just a few days. We've talked about it, and she knows there is a birthday coming up...I don't know if she understands that it's hers. Today she put a paper cup upside-down on her head, as a party hat, and sang her version of "Happy Birthday". It goes something like this: "Happy Burrrrday to YOUUUU!" Repeat seven times. After singing, she put her "hat" away and matter-of-factly stated, "I want cake now." Aha.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Check it out!

My friend Janene has opened an Etsy store! She currently has a selection of her handmade cards for sale. Now, I have been the recipient of Janene's cards, so I can tell you from firsthand experience that they are fantastic. Well made, detailed, beautiful. She does a great job. So...go check it out!


There are a few cute things that have caught my attention lately, and I thought I'd share them with you:

Elise is really into finding shapes right now. She finds circles and squares everywhere, and has recently started to look for triangles as well. Yesterday she called me over to look at her book. "Look! It's a tri-ang-ang-angle!"

A few minutes ago, Elise turned on the television and then closed the doors of the cabinet where the TV is kept. I don't know what program was being broadcast, but it involved Native American drumming. Somehow the sound of tom-toms booming from an otherwise serene looking piece of furniture struck me as funny.

Yesterday I gave Elise some raisins with her breakfast. We tried raisins a while back, and Elise was less than thrilled with them. Yesterday, however, they were a hit. She looked at them suspiciously at first (cause, come on, raisins do not look good), so I told her that they were like berries. She tasted one and promptly announced, "It's like berries CANDY!" Well, whatever floats her boat...

Supermom Syndrome

I was just making a To Do List for the day. Tomorrow we will be heading to Andy's 10 year high school reunion (I'm afraid to blink in case another ten years go by while I do!) and the Anacortes Arts and Crafts Festival (the only year we've missed it is the weekend when Elise was due to be born - although she turned out to be little Miss Tardy, so we could have made it anyway), and then we'll be heading straight from that fun-filled weekend to spending a couple of days with friends at a nearby lake. Should be a lot of fun, a sort of mini-vacation for us. Then a few days after that will be Elise's birthday party. to do list today was getting quite long. Cleaning (because I hate coming home to a mess), paying bills, packing; drafting next quarter's nursery schedule that needs to be sent out next week; returning phone calls; mailing birthday cards to two of my siblings; making a menu plan and shopping list for Elise's party. Not really terribly hard stuff, just a lot of little stuff.

And then I got this article in my email inbox. What timing! I'm not feeling particularly burned out right now, although I certainly have felt that way in the past. But it's good to get these reminders before burnout occurs, I think. It's true that people tend to think that stay-at-home moms have a lot of free time. They must, because they are at home - right? Umm...yeah, not so much. And we ourselves - or at least I myself - oftentimes think the same way. I should have time to help out with that ministry. I'm at home. Why do we discount what we do at home? Is it somehow less important than outside endeavors? I know a couple of people who are household managers. That's their job. They manage households. Is that not what I do? Is it only valid and important if a household manager manages a household other than their own? If they get paid for it? I don't think so. And I really don't feel put upon or burned out or disrespected or anything like that, as you might suspect from this post. I was just reminded by that article that I don't have to be, and in fact should not try to be, Supermom. Just "Mom" is fine by me.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Things That Make Me Smile

Just thought I'd share a few things that have made me smile this week.

This is a doll cradle that I picked up at a thrift store for Elise. Andy had to take it apart in order to properly fit the bottom piece in. Well...he had the cradle on its end while he was putting it back together...I'm guessing he was thinking about something else...and this is the result. Yeah. Big smile.

This is the daisy that Elise picked for me yesterday.

Curious George fabric found at Joann's. This is the TV version of George, not the classic version, but Elise likes both, so I'm okay with it. The differences are not as great as they are with, say, classic Pooh and Disney Pooh.

Emptying, moving, refilling, and rearranging bookshelves. The process is tiring and takes a while, but it's still fun. I keep finding books that I want to read or reread. I had to fight the urge to make a pile of books I want to read. The piles in the picture are of books to be put back onto shelves. They haven't quite made it yet.
I hope you're finding lots of reasons to smile this week.