Monday, August 31, 2009

Round Robin ~ My Block

A very special package came in the mail today! I was pretty excited, as you can see!

I wanted to enjoy every moment of the grand unveiling of our round robin, so I waited until after dinner, chores, baths and books, and everything in between, was done for the evening.

I carefully pulled the quilt out of the package, and found it wrapped beautifully in a bag that I am guessing (it's an intelligent guess, to be sure!) was added by Miss Brit.

The quilt block itself was wrapped inside out, and as I carefully unfolded it...I fell in love. I just don't know how else to say it! It is the happiest, silliest, most adorable thing I've ever seen! These pictures, this camera, nothing could do it justice. When you see it in person, you just grin!

Part of what tickles me so, is that I started with this ridiculous block here. My first quilt block, that I ever made! I told the story of the quilt block here. Every stitch had meaning to me, but I actually sent a note apologizing that it was such a freak show, and that I would understand if they just couldn't do anything with it!

This little heart, tucked into this little pocket, is a favorite. I mean, I know I did it, so I hope it doesn't sound too ridiculous, but I have been so worried about working on everybody else's that I had put my own right out of my mind. So seeing this was a happy treat, as I had forgotten about it.

Jessica got it first, and she added this adorable embroidered interpretation of the SF run I was paying tribute to with my original story block. You can't see it in this picture, but there's a wee little 'me' coming into the frame in the lower right!

So then it looked like this. She's so clever!

When Brit worked on the block, she added the goddess. Look at that sun and moon fabric! I could swoon. The colors are so tart and amazing in person. This one made me teary. And I'm not a weeper, but dang. I'm only human! Except I'm a goddess too. Thanks for the reminder, Miss Britt.

I just can't get over their creativity! This is what the block looked like when it was sent to Juls.

I haven't shown the pictures yet of the last block I've been working on. It belongs to Jessica, and I'm the last person to work on it before I'll send it back to her. I held onto her block for almost the whole month (now I'm furiously working to get it done so I can send it out in the next few days!) because I was really struggling with how/what to add. The reason? What Britt and Juls had already done was amazing. Juls did this window pane effect, using the precious fabric that Brit had used (from a childhood dress, no less!) and a gorgeous border. I have been totally in awe the whole month, at whatever possessed her to do what she did. It was perfect, and it gives me a stomach ache trying to work on it now!

And now look what Juls added to the final border on mine! Isn't it amazing? I just LOVE it! She pulled in all the crazy fabrics from my original block, and wrapped the whole thing in the entire story, one more time! And that is not the same sun and moon fabric that Brit used, but it is sun and moon (and earth!) and doesn't it just pull everything together so perfectly??? It's just too precious.

When I look at it here, I am just so taken by their boldness! Here I was, worried that my choices were just too nutty, and yet they didn't back down at all. The border fabric is a happy little circus, and Juls pulled in a turquoise that somehow compliments it all. The moon and stars fabric with the goddess is pure the best possible way!

And I love it. Truly, truly, truly, I adore it. Me encanta!

Thank you Brit, for organizing this! And thank you Juls and Jessica and Brit for all your thoughtful creativity...I am totally smitten.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Do not go lightly...

I went to see my Gram this weekend. She's recovering from a bad fall.

Look at those adorable pink nails! She's 89 years old. Her health took a turn for the worse almost a year and a half ago, and I thought I would lose her that spring.

But she's very ornery.

So ornery, in fact, that she refuses to use a walker or cane. Because, I quote, "that's for old people". Did I mention the ornery?

She can be a real p.i.t.a., no question. She's going to be moving to a rehab facility. They think she'll be there a few months. I think seven weeks, tops. I think stubbornness is actually one of the best qualities you can have, as you age.

When she fell, she broke the C-something-2-something vertebrae in her neck. There are tiny pieces of sharp bone, floating around, and any movement, a fraction-of-a-fraction-of-a-fraction off in any direction, and she could be paralyzed; one of those shards could severe her spinal cord; she could be dead.

She fell in her bathroom. She dragged herself across the bathroom, through her bedroom, and out into her living room, where she laid for roughly three hours before she was found. I just have to sit here for a second, and ponder that. She dragged herself, with a broken neck, and she laid there for hours. Doctors are...befuddled. They shake their heads, and talk about miracles.

Irish angels, indeed.

I hold her hand, and I open my heart, and I silently beg rage. Rage against the dying of the light. She's my Gram. I just can't picture a world without her in it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Palm of My Heart

Tomorrow is Friday, and it's the close of a very trying week for me. I'm looking for some peace tonight. I used some advice from a first grade classroom, about what to do when you're missing your mommy.

Scotty was fussing and not wanting to sleep. I crawled into bed with him and showed him what the first graders had explained. See, if you have to be away from somebody you love, they could kiss the palm of your hand before they leave. Then, when you're feeling sad and lonely, the kiss will travel from the palm of your hand up to your heart. And if you still feel sad and lonely, you could touch your heart and place your hand on your cheek. Then it's like you're getting a kiss from the person you miss.

I kissed his palm and touched his heart. He giggled. There is peace in his giggle, and I am hoping that's enough for tonight. Tomorrow will be better, I know.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Days

Tommy and Scotty both had their first days of school. To commemorate the start of third grade, Tommy got a hair cut. Let's see...his last hair cut I don't have a clue. His hair was long. I didn't care if he left it long, but the bangs had to be dealt with. So we agreed it could be 'shaped'. Except she was a little flummoxed by all his cowlicks and curls. She eventually just cut them all off so his hair would lay down!

He liked it long, so I was a little surprised that it didn't phase him at all to have it gone. I don't mind it one way or the other, because mostly it's just hair. I'm going to save the big argument for when I find pot in his jacket, or he joy rides in one of the cars. When he's fourteen. I'm not saying he will do those things, but I need to prepare myself. In case those things are, uh, genetic. *cough*

Tommy very confidently headed up to the school and met his new teacher. Her name is Dawn. He calls her Dawn. I'm not that kind of hippie! Why not "Miss Dawn", at the least? Ms. So-and-so is even better. Maybe it's the Crabtree in me, but I don't get it.

When Tommy came home from school, he said, "I like my teacher. She's always smiling." Which I think might be one of the nicest thing I've ever heard said about anybody.

Scotty was a different story. Don't let this grin fool you. I absolutely did not factor a meltdown into my morning commute. He's in pre-school! He only goes three days a week! He's going back to the same classroom from last year. Seriously, it's a non-issue.

He started winding himself up on the ride over. He trembled and teared (not the bratty-want-my-way cry, either, the really-sad-help-me one. Believe me. I know the difference.) and started wondering what would happen, who would get him, how much he would miss Daddy and Mommy. What the? He sobbed at school.

It wasn't until later that I realized...he only went to 'summer camp' at the school for one week (the first week of August) and the rest of the summer he was either with me or Erik. Plus, most importantly, up until this year Tommy was at his school. Which means this was literally the first time he was completely on his own without somebody from his family nearby.

Huh. Guess I should have thought of that before I rolled my eyes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Another 'before' picture of the garden...taken the first week June.

These next two pictures represent the same area you can see in the picture above.

Here's the same 'before' picture, with the tomato patch in the second box in the background.

And this is what the tomato patch looks like now. I've taken to fortifying the plants with some Miracle Grow Tomato Food. Is it organic? Don't know. Don't actually care. It turns out I don't go to a lot of trouble to get organic food. I love local food, specifically free local food (though I'm not opposed to the farmer's market, for sure). And it's not for health reasons so much as it is for the fact that it appeals to my pioneering spirit. I love the idea of working the land, of farming and cultivating on a very personal level.

My friend Sally came over on Sunday afternoon with her partner Christina, and we had fun sitting on the back patio, listening to the waterfall, and exploring the veggie patches. They're really just starting to garden and think about gray water solutions and native plantings. Much like me! So we were fumbling around, comparing notes, and generally urging each other on with 'go get 'ems' and 'attaboys!'. We also ate fresh bread and blackberry jam from Monica's patch. That took about 4 minutes to plow through a loaf and a pint! Ahem.

This season of summer, I've been the recipient of abundant harvests from my mom's garden (corn, beans, zucchini ~ although, hey, I could use more zucchini! ~ peppers, eggs) and Monica's garden (tomatoes, peppers, blackberries, plums) and Michelle's tree (plums). I've yet to pluck even a single edible anything from my own garden, but I don't mind telling you, just sitting out there and enjoying the abundance of the plants (you saw the before and after, right?!?) makes me so happy!

And it also gives me great joy to tend my garden. I'm currently spritzing the pumpkin leaves with a mixture of (mostly) water, some baking soda, white vinegar, and vegetable oil. I believe they have something called 'powdery mildew', but the solution seems to be working!

Honestly, these little's growing! I'm curing it!...are good enough for me. I do look forward to eating and preserving my own harvests, but I also do enjoy the act of gardening.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Done! (Almost!)

This busy little room is now the Main Boy Place in the house. There's nothing I can do about those Legos. They are our life. Frankly though, I don't spend any time wringing my hands about it. I know they're made of plastic, and that there are people who would shun me for giving my children toys made from anything less than organic cotton flown into the country on the backs of sherpas, but I can't care. They've been a super toy, for us.

This picture (and the last one, too) are taken from standing in the door. This is what you see straight ahead. That's the kitchen and Scotty's dresser. Tommy's dresser is in the closet. Don't forget the umbrella stand full of swords! I'm the mother of the year! haha!

And this is behind the door. This is what it looks like, after you've culled out a third of the books for charity, when you have a teacher for a mom.

Yep, that's the whole room! It's like a dorm, I guess. They love it, by the way. There are buckets of toys tucked under both beds, and there's plenty of floor space on which to play between the two beds and in front of the kitchen.

Yes, I realize none of it matches. That's why I had boys.

As I mentioned yesterday, Erik has no complaints. To be honest, I came in here after work today and sat quietly for just a few minutes. Shhhh. Don't tell him!

A few hours into the second (or third) day of any huge undertaking, Erik usually has a moment of panic. It's that point where you're completely buried under stuff. And you have a garbage pile, a give-away pile, a recycle pile, and a find-a-new-home pile, and each pile is a teetering tower of terror? Yeah, we reached it by 8am on Sunday morning! But it's like I always say, you have to break a few eggs if you want to make a cake. And really, by this afternoon, the boys' room is great, his room is great, and look, even the living room is already back to normal!

After a bit of light laundry duty and some bed making, everything was back to right in our bedroom too.

I even have this super desk (which used to be in the boys' room) placed opposite my writing desk in our bedroom, and when time and my energy level permits, I'll be moving my sewing machine and all it entails from the corner of the 'dining room' to this space. My mom wants the little sewing table I've been using, and isn't that the way it always goes? So nice that everybody gets an upgrade!

If I could have brought myself to do the dishes and move the sewing station tonight, the house would basically be back to our new, better normal. But I'd rather hang out with my brother and his kids.

Now that all the toys are easy to get at, fun to play with, and completely geared toward their current interests, they had a great time playing together.

Playing together, alone and separately. :)

And my brother is probably reading this (go to bed!) so I'll just tell him (and you) how much I love him. :P

Tired and Sheepish

It's the start of a new school year and, as such, I am beside myself with glee. *sigh* I just love the new school year! It means that fall is coming, which is my very favorite season. It also means that there is a brand new beginning, waiting for us all. Notebooks that have never been written in, pencils that were sharpened for the first time. As of this moment, we haven't missed a single deadline, and every day is full of possibilities.

To celebrate, we've been working hard around our house to get that 'fresh start' feeling that so encompasses the new school year. We reorganized (again!) and now the boys' room has been consolidated with the playroom. The third bedroom was supposed to be for all the toys, but honestly, I was the only one keeping it clean and I give up. So I threw out a third of the toys, gave away a third of the toys, and fitted the rest into their bedroom. There was a lot more that had to happen to make their mediumish-sized bedroom suitable for both of their beds, a desk, two dressers, a play kitchen, bookshelf, and all their toys. But I'll save that for when I can lift my arms again.

For now, meet the reason for the upheaval. Erik's new man-cave. He's so happy. Which makes me happy. And exhausted.

I did manage to squeeze in just a bit of 'me time'. On Saturday, I fiddled around with some 5" squares. I bought these in a Moda fabric pack while we were in Ashland, and I'm going to use them to make a baby quilt for our friend who worked with us that week. It's her first granddaughter, though she has two grandsons already. She's such a girly-girl, a true lady. She not from the same generation as my Grandma Dot, but she's definitely from the same spirit. She's always dressed beautifully, her hair and make up is always set, and she never, ever swears or raises her voice. Despite all that, I adore her. haha! Not even kidding. So the baby isn't due until December, and I'll see her every month until then, so it's no rush. But I want to make several things, so I thought I'd at least see what kind of fabric I'm dealing with. I want it to look very patch-worky, and I think we can agree that it does!

I also set up my new table! I bought this table at a yard sale on my way out of town when we were in Ashland. Yes, I went to a garage sale. wasn't on the way out of town. I had dropped my friend Deb off at the local hot-spot breakfast joint, and it was hopping. I was having trouble parking our car, so I told her to put our names in I'd be right back.

When I went around the block, there was a garage sale! I just hopped over, and there was this table. She said somebody was supposed to be coming back for it, but that the person hadn't paid. Since I was going to be around the corner eating breakfast, I asked her if I could pay her the $15. If the woman wasn't there when I came back, she said I could take it.

I was gone for quite awhile before I got back to the restaurant, and not that we weren't still going to wait for another 20 minutes before we were seated, but Debbie was a little perplexed by my absence. I rolled my eyes and waved my hand and we got on to other things. Breakfast was great!

We get back in the car and I immediately drive three blocks ~ right, left, right ~ and stop in front of the yard sale. I hop out, walk straight to the table, and the lady starts unloading the stuff off the top. Debbie was pretty impressed with my decisiveness!

It was when we opened the back of the van to load the table that she spied the smaller shelf I'd already purchased ($2), and that's when she put two-and-two together. When she realized I had been gone so long because I had been shopping at a yard sale, she started laughing. When she saw that I had also picked up a fifty-cent purse (which was sitting on top of the $2 table), she just couldn't take it anymore. The purse put her right over the edge. She was laughing still, but that says more about her good nature than anything else!

I was fairly sheepish, but look! Look at the sweet faux-crystal pulls! Look a the chipped paint! I love it. I use it to write in my journal, and it's the perfect place to keep my light box.

I have really understanding friends!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I'm thinking about My Boys. They each had a birthday this week! Tommy turned nine and five days later Scotty turned four.

Five years and five days separates them, but to me it's just the blink of an eye.

They love each other so much, and Tommy loves kids...he'd be happy if we had a house full. (No.) But, it's also true that he was anxious before Scotty came, and sometimes jealous of him even now.

To help alleviate his fears, I often talk to Tommy about all the things I love about him, so he'll know that none of that has changed. When he's feeling particularly peckish, I remind him that he will always be special, because he made me a mommy. That's something he doesn't have to share with anybody. And as much as we love Scotty, I was already a mommy when I met him, and I will always be thankful to Tommy for 'giving' me that.

And Scotty did something special too, but differently...I learned a lot about a mommy's love when he was born. I knew that loving Tommy was more profound than anything I had ever felt before, and I did worry that I would never be able to love Scotty as much. But when I met him, I realized, a mommy's love isn't limited. It grows and grows. It grows as much to include more children, as it does to love even more the children we have. Every time I think I love my kids more than is humanly possible, I realize that I actually love them just a little bit more than that already. It grows every day, and in every way.

Scotty's love story is a bittersweet one, from the beginning. I held him, enraptured from the start, unable to take my eyes off of him...but I'd already been through this before, and I already knew how much I would 'miss' him, even as he became more of the 'him' that he is meant to be. By the time I was aware that my time with Tommy, with me as the center of his world, with him as the air I breathed, would eventually come to a close, Scotty was there, and with new eyes and a full (but already grieving) heart, I knew that this was it, that this would become a world full of "lasts" as much as it is a world full of "firsts".

But a mommy's love goes on. I love who my boys are becoming, I love who they are making me, and each year is a gift. Nobody is more aware of that than I am.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Getting Served

These are, it turns out, impossible to photograph. But rest assured that they are a simple crocheted slipper made with dark brown yarn, per Tommy's request. I made another little pouch to keep them in.

Tommy's first day of school is tomorrow. It's only a half-day, as there is an orientation for a few days before all the kids come by sometime next week.

It's a montessori school, and they're not allowed to wear their shoes indoors. When they come inside, they change into slippers. I let him pick the pattern and the yarn, and then I spent a couple of hours making them.

Tommy can be very sensitive to comments made by peers, and I was a little worried that one sideways comment from a classmate would make him not want to wear them any more (even though he LOVES them and how they "make me slide all over, so fast!!!") so I decided to tell him the story of his slippers.

I told him that some kids would have to buy their slippers, and that's okay, we must never put them down just because their mommy's can't make them things, but that we must know how very special it is when a mommy does decide to make something for their children. I explained that the whole time I was making the slippers, I was thinking about him, how much I love him, how proud I am of him, and all the wonderful things that I hope happen for him this school year. I explained to him that all my hopes and dreams for this special third grade year are all stitched into his slippers.

He listened intently, then said quietly, "Thanks, mommy."

I was quite satisfied that I had conveyed the enormity of the situation. "Mom?"

"Yes, my love?"

"Listen. Just. Don't tell anybody at my school that story. Okay?"


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Home Sweet Home

When I talked to Erik on Friday night, he asked me what time I would be home on Saturday because, I quote, "this place is a dump." Ugh! Apparently he had made a big enough deal of the Saturday Clean Up that Tommy woke up early and was trying to clean the house before anyone else woke up!

So here is the GOOD, in the form of a fully functioning veggie patch. Erik managed to keep it fairly well watered, and because it is well-established by now, he didn't have to be perfect at all.

The living room and kitchen were picked up and clutter free, too, which made me very happy.

But honestly, there was something off about the house! I think it was just me (they did a great job) and being out of sorts because I was gone so long.

The BAD came in the form of some flowers that didn't get watered (too bad!) and the standard operating procedure for dishes in the house...whatever isn't a plate, cup, cereal bowl, or everyday silverware, gets stacked in various places in the kitchen, until I put them where they belong. It's not a mystery. I've kept the baking sheets and casserole dishes in their same little spots for the entire 10 years we've lived here. Grrrr.

The UGLY came at the back of the house, in our bedroom. He did some laundry (yay!) and then left it all over (boo!). And he made the bed (yay!) but, I'm not sure, maybe you could explain to me exactly what's going on there? He appears to have made it sideways (boo!).

I don't think we need to discuss the dust. Or whatever was happening to my oven up there.

So I've spent a few days puttering around and sprucing up and nesting in. Of course I've made a bigger mess going through the kids' clothes (before-school-starts purge alert!) and their toys, but it's starting to feel like home again! I really do appreciate everything they did do to make my homecoming feel good...all the good, the bad, and even the ugly, I appreciated every bit of it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bargain or "Why I Drove 500 Miles to go to a Thrift Store"

While in Ashland my friend Deb and I managed to visit a little thrift shop. It was between work and our hotel, and we passed it every day until Thursday, when we could take it no longer, and we headed inside.

I love this rose painting. I have no idea why it didn't come home with me. I had forgotten about it until I was uploading these pictures, and now I'm just kicking myself. Oh well!

It can't be the 'one that got away' though; that honor was bestowed upon the sterling silver, hinged clamshell butter dish with serving knife. It was funky and sweet and it was only $4.00. I handed it to Deb, knowing she would think it was hideous, and said, "I'm getting this, what do you think?" And then I walked away, so I could check out her look of horror at my leisure! About 10 minutes later, as we were wrapping things up and getting in line to purchase our treasures, she came up to me, giggling, and said, "Hey, that lady is buying your butter dish!"

"How did that lady get my butterdish?", I asked, beginning to laugh.
"WHAT?!? OMG, were you serious? I feel terrible!" she sputtered.
I could not stop laughing. Unbelievable! She thought I was kidding so she put it back! I had to stand next to that lady in the checkout line, and I couldn't resist.

"You going to get that butter dish?" I asked.
"Hells yeah! For four bucks? Who wouldn't?" she bleated.
Who indeed?

My mom had these exact kitchen chairs in our house in Fremont when I was in first grade. I think it costs more today (at $25) then when she purchased the set new in 1973.

We also made it to the yarn store. "Wearable art" and yarn, to be exact! Look at these giant felted balls! (Calm down, google.) They were irresistible, to be sure.

Two walls of yarn. Oh gosh. Do you know what? I didn't buy any yarn. I got a skein of pima cotton at the thrift store, for $1.00, but other than that I practiced great restraint. It was beautiful enough to enjoy on it's own, and I happily did, burying my face into the wools and running my fingers across the silk blends. Sigh. Heaven!

They even had a weaving and loom section! I bought a new shuttle, as Kelly warned me I would. She generously left me with a shuttle when she came to show me how to weave in the spring, and she pointed out that the ends weren't beveled at all, they were quite blunt. I got a new beveled edge that will glide between my warp lines just a little easier. They had a spinning section too, and I'm lucky I got out of there without a wheel. Yikes!

They had a little loom going, and I really liked the warp on this one. It was all different colors, and then the weaving yarn was a very wispy, pale cotton mix, so the warp showed through. I was looking at this little loom, and I have to say I could not figure out how it would work! My floor loom has the different shafts that drop...this one was so different!

And this is why I love a yarn store. Fiber folks are so willing to share! If you need help finding the perfect pattern, or the elusive lightweight yarn, or if you need help picking a pair of needles for your very first knitting project, you needn't look further than the customers themselves at any yarn store. Love!

So, while in Ashland, I purchased: a skein of yarn, a wooden squirrel, a lace tablecloth, a glass bunny jar, a cotton and crocheted hankie, and two folk art salt and pepper shakers from the thrift store. ($10) At the yarn store, I bought two felted pouches (purple flower for me, blue swirls for Mo), the shuttle, a pick up stick (yes, Kel, you heard me right! Loomed lace is in my future, for sure!), and two shawl pins, one wooden and one pewter. ($79)

I'm glad I'm so easily pleased! And I'm also grateful that the big splurge on my shawl pins was an easy decision to make. I've been wanting them for a long time, I just finished a shawl earlier this summer, and I think they make a lovely remembrance of my trip. A two dollar rabbit balances it out, I'm thinking.