Archive for ◊ January, 2008 ◊

27 Jan 2008 One Word
 |  Category: Heavy Stuff  | Leave a Comment

Sometimes, you know, I’m a follower.  But I don’t think there is really anything wrong with taking a good idea and applying it to your life.  I’m all about taking advantage of the wheel someone else has invented and I think it’s really made us happy.

Anyhow…last year Ali Edwards introduced the concept of living a word of your choice for a year.  Any word at all,   You think about it.  You meditate or pray about it.  You incorporate it into your life in every way possible.  I don’t know how I missed this last year, but considering my love for words I decided why not.  I went to think list of words Ali linked from her e-mail newsletter and I found my word.

Selah.

Yeah.  I’d never heard of it either, but in parenthesis Ali had noted it mean “holy pause”. It may or may not mean that, but in reading it up on it seemed like just the right word.   In researching Selah I’ve found that no one really knows what it means, but even the guesses are working for me.

 Wikipedia suggests it means “stop and listen”.   Cameron Conant speaks about the idea of a Holy Pause.

And, you know, I can’t even put into words what this concept, as I adopt it means to me.  It seems to mean to not only find a way to make Selah, but to notice it when God gives it to you.  It is a fantastic word and concept and just the one I need in my life right now.

So, my word for 2008 is Selah.  Stop and Listen.  Holy Pause.

Think about it.

26 Jan 2008 The Memory Keepers Daughter-Kim Edwards
 |  Category: Books  | Leave a Comment

For years now I’ve maintained a separate blog for my reading diary, but decided there just wasn’t reason to do it anymore.  My reading isn’t that prolific anymore so the few books I end up reading certainly won’t clog up the blog.

If you remember, I read this book within the last year or two and really didn’t like it, but I’m leading a book group and this book was chosen in a democratic, fair process so I read it again.  And I still didn’t like it.

The premise is heart breaking.  IN the early 1960’s a doctor’s young wife goes into labor during an unexpected snow storm.  He can’t make it to the hospital and takes her to his clinic where he intends to have his partner, an OB, deliver the baby.  The OB ends up in the ditch leaving the doctor, an orthopedic surgeon, and his nurse (who is in love with him) to do the job.  The first baby is born, healthy and beautiful and then his unexpected twin sister is born as well.  She’s beautiful, but has Down’s Syndrome.  The doctor, David Henry, carries a heavy burden of grief from his childhood with his beautiful, loving, fragile and terminally ill sister and he decides in that instants to spare his pretty wife and new son the grief of having a sick child whom he belives could die an early death.  He instructs his nurse to commit the baby into a local institution and tells his wife that their baby daughters has died.

The nurse, Caroline, can’t commit the baby.  Her visit to the institution made it so she couldn’t leave the baby there and she returns home with the baby and hatches a plot to run away and raise the baby as her own.  After she attends the baby girls’ mock funeral she flees Tennessee with Pheobe and settles to raise her in Pittsburgh. 

Meanwhile, the grief David Henry looked to save his wife Norah and his son Paul from has permeated their life.  Norah grieves deeply for her missing baby and turns into a borderline alcoholic.  Paul grows up in the shadow of Phoebe’s loss, experiencing his mother’s sadness and his father’s attempt to compensate for not only what he did to Phoebe but for the sadness of his own life.

As is expected, the family falls apart in the wake of David’s lies and inability to open up with his wife and son and after David dies, Caroline Gill finally informs Norah and Paul of Phoebe’s existence.

The thing that is so hard about this book, for me, is not only the heartbreaking scenario of David and Caroline taking Norah’s baby away is so difficult to swallow (and was when I read it the first time) but also because there are just so few likable characters.

David Henry-Obviously totally unlikable because of all he concealed and since he was the person to send away Phoebe out of ignorance and fear.

Norah Henry-Not so bad until she begins having affairs when Paul becomes a teenager and I have no patience for that crap

Paul Henry-Moody.  At best

Caroline Gill-participated in David’s plot and didn’t rat him out to Norah.

So, that pretty much leaves Phoebe who is, of course, one dimensional, but likable at least.

24 Jan 2008 The Times They Are A Changin’
 |  Category: Emily, Momdom  | Leave a Comment

Emily will be eight.  In just a few short weeks.  I find that I can’t really find the energy to lament her growing anymore. It’s not that I don’t care, but I’ve finally discovered that it’s inevitable and that crying over it really doesn’t change anything.  In addition, I’ve found that there are things to love (and dislike) about each age and stage which somehow makes the whole ordeal more bearable.

One thing that I find most striking is the difference between my childhood and Emily’s.  Not materially, although that is a part of it.  Only 23 years separate the two of us.  Not even a quarter of a century and yet so much has changed from the time I was eight and now.

When I was eight we owned one t.v.  I have no idea what the size was, but it did not have a remote control and it had knobs you had to turn.    We had a box with a button on it that you could push in an attempt to turn your antenna to bring in better reception.  You could even turn the frequency to UHF and try to tune in more channels too.

Now we have two t.vs, our newest a flat panel, high def LCDtv.  Emily has never had to get up to turn the knob, nor tune in the antenna nor been impressed when a channel from a distant city showed up on the dial during certain weather patterns.    She has no time or patience for black and white movies or t.v. shows (not even watching I Love Lucy when I tried to share with her.  Maybe she’s too young?)  She has never lived at a time when there weren’t t.v. channels dedicated to children on 24 hours a day.  Now you can even get programming from PBS and the smallest of babies 24 hours a day.

She knows how to use a DVR.
She knows how to buy pay per veiw.
When I was eight we didn’t even own a VCR and cable consisted of a converter box that allowed you to tune in HBO.  Now we have about a bazillion channels and Emily is just as bored on rainy afternoons as I was when we only had a handful of channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and a few local affilates which have pretty much died off the exception being WCIU out of Chicago, locally).

When I was eight i could play alone undisturbed in the back yard for hours.  I could walk three doors down without my mom being in a tizzy. I even walked myself down the street, around the corner and to the bus stop, not a long walk in distance but certainly out of my Mom’s line of sight.  People gave out apples and homemade popcorn balls for Halloween.

After a local report of a child abduction I’m afraid of Emily walking to the corner without being in my line of vision.  Even last year I would stand in the garage and watch her at the bustop, a whole two houses away.  Just in case.  I do my very best to give her that freedom that makes up the happy memories of so much of my childhood, but the reality of the news reports gives me pause and my heart pounds hard in my chest when she takes just a second or two too long to complete a simple task outside that is out of my line of vision.  I’m thankful that one of her best friends lives directly behind us and that they are mostly content with playing in our adjoining yards, out of the view of strangers driving by and in my direct line of sight.

We inspect Emily’s Halloween candy carefully (though not as carefully as my Dad at the height of the needles in candy scare when he would literally run our candy under his metal detector discarding anything that set it off).  Our biggest concern now is peanut products, but we would quickly throw out anything not individually wrapped and sealed.  No more homemade popcorn balls, apples or cookies in the Halloween bag.  They’re a waste of money.  Who would eat them?

When I was eight we had tornado drills and fire drills.
Emily has “lock down” drills where the children practice hiding in darkened class rooms in case of the school being invaded by someone with evil motives. I was more shaken by her announcement than she was.  She was matter of fact, the point of the drill downplayed by kind teachers who made vague references to “bad” guys.  Emily’s mind can’t conceive, yet, of what those bad people could do and what sort of terror caused schools to practice hiding the children in silence.

In some ways, Emily’s world is worse than mine was at eight.  She has more homework than I did.  She can’t play with as much freedom as I did.  She spends more time in front of the t.v. and computer than I did.  She had to ride in a car seat longer than I did (and still could be in a booster seat by all rights).

But in some ways, her world is better.  So many people my age and older talk about how “bad’ things are now and allude to the “good old days” but honestly, I don’t think that’s the case.  I think we hear a lot more harrowing things because we live in a world with 24-hour news channels, desperate to gain our attention.  We live in a world with three hour long news programs in the morning, following by a half an hour of news at noon, 1 to 2 hours of news in the evening and 30 to 60 minutes of news at bedtime.  I mean, there comes a point when what’s going on locally isn’t going to capture any one’s attention and they have to turn to other communities.

But, I digress.  Emily lives in a world without boundaries or borders.  She can easily travel across the world.  She can connect with people across the world on the Internet.  In a minute.  She can see family and friends real time, in streaming video.  She can learn anything.  This week we looked up pictures of a Chinese Crested,  a hairless cat and a mud puppy to compare who was ugliest.  We live in an amazing time.  Truly.  Full of things and learning.  Is the trade off fair?  I can’t really say, but things certainly have changed.

11 Jan 2008 Eat up this cuteness
 |  Category: Love in every stitch  | Leave a Comment

Yes this is my beautiful child.
Yes, I did make the outfit.
She made the blur.  What can I say?
DSC_0346.JPG
The pattern is from a European childrensware designer.  They publish a quarterly magazine.  You have to trace the patterns and then cut them out because of how the bundle the magazine, but this is my first time working from them and I’m so impressed with the results.  The pattern was really easy to sew, just four pieces and the directions were very, very clear and intuitive.   In fact, I didn’t even use them.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been sewing for a while, but they just weren’t necessary.  They were very easy and obvious and came together like a dream.  I was really nervous about the prospect of tracing and THEN cutting a pattern, but it was really easy and I can really see myself using this magazine to make a lot of the girls’ wardrobe in the upcoming months. 

I visit a sewing board, just about daily and the other day, they were talking about SWAP or Sewing With a Plan.  The idea is to use a basic, simple formula to sew an entire wardwrobe.  The suggestion made on my message board for kids  for summer is:

* 2 pairs of shorts
* 2 dresses, one in a solid color, one in a print or check
* 2 simple tops, one solid, one in the above print
* 4 tops, in colors which coordinate with the solids
* 1 skirt

And, you know, I could do that.   There is a lot of talk devoted, on many sewing boards about WHY people sew.  It’s something I’ve thought about quite a bit.
DSC_0345.JPG A lot of people like to talk about how sewing doesn’t save them money, but *I* disagree.  Similar products, like the one I sewed for Cadence at one of my favorite children’s stores retails for $32.99.  The yard of very nice cherry corduroy that i purchased cost me just about $13.00.  If I sew sixteen items from my magazine, the pattern cost was $1.  I don’t consider my time in the equation because I love to sew.  Notions (thread, ribbon and a button) might have run another $2, and that’s a generous estimate, making my jumper cost $16.00 with the added benefit if it being exactly what I want.  No compromises.   

And, as my sewing improves, I feel justified in spending more money on more expensive fabric to get a better result.  And the added benefit is that no one will have exactly what my girls have, which appeals to me.  Greatly.

And beyond that, they’ll have clothes that FIT them, not just what is the closest approximation off of the rack.  I realized the incredible benefit of this as I’ve been wearing my workout pants this week.  It’s a great thing to wear a piece of clothing that fits you.   There aren’t any sacrifices “Well, the waist is finally fine, but they’re six inches too long.” or “Now I’m wearing high waters because i thought petite would be better for me.”  Of course, I can hem pants, and I do, but the novelty of putting on something that you know is just going to fit you right now because you checked and altered and all of that stuff through the construction is so liberating.  But, I’m digressing (even though I’m now jealous of all the clothes that Emily’s had to wear that have been cut and measured and fitted to her body).

And, of course, sewing my own clothes is a way to make sure my taste shines through.  No compromises.    Does it surprise anyone that THAT idea appeals to me?

09 Jan 2008 I am wearing…
 |  Category: Love in every stitch  | Leave a Comment

…the first item I have ever sewn for myself.  That fit.

Before Christmas I was perusing the fabric clearance at Joann’s and found a sweatshirtesque material (I suppose it’s terry,but with a low pile).  I bought it.  It was cheap.  it was gender neutral.  It could be SOMETHING.  I took two yards for a total of $4.  Can’t beat that with a stick.

I thought about sewing pants for Eric out of it, but something about the color didn’t seem that gender neutral anymore when I got them home.  I washed it up and it waited a month. 

In December I attempted to sew myself a pair of pajama pants out of satin lined flannel. It was a DISASTER.  The fabric, literally, has zero give and I was using a “big three” pattern from the fabric store which, apparently, are notorious for just not fitting (I should know this. I really REALLY should know this by now).  I was disappointed.  It was the first time I had ever sewn something for ME to wear.  And it didn’t fit (in fact, instead of having all of the benefits of both flannel and satin, flannel backed satin seems to have all the negatives of both).  In any case, I shoved them in my drawer. I know it was expensive fabric when I bought it a few years ago and I can probably cut it down into SOMETHING for someone.

But, back to my new pants.  I still wanted to make myself a pair of pajama pants.  In December my favorite pajama pants ripped to the point of not being able to repair them. I saved them thinking maybe I could do something, but after the Flannel Backed disaster, I cut them apart saving a front and back piece thinking I could use them as a pattern to make another pair of pajama pants that fit just as well.  My MIL had given me a big thing of flannel she wasn’t going to use and I considered making something out of that, but after a trip to the gym on Monday (and sweating like a pig in Eric’s heavy ass, hot sweat pants) I knew what I was going to do with the non-gender neutral gray sweatshirtesque material.  I was going to use my gnome pants turned pattern to make pants for the gym.

This morning, was Cadence was sleeping late (don’t let that full you, she was up for more than an hour starting at about 4:45 and stretching to 6:15)  I cut out the pants.  I sewed the side seams and inner leg seams at nap time and finished up the crotch, hemming and waist while watching Ghost Hunters International (I’m a Grant and Jason girl, I guess) and I put them on and They. Are. PERFECT.  Capri length (so I don’t get my toes caught in too long pant legs and trip while carrying the baby).  Perfect rise (because i made them for me, so I don’t have a baggy crotch or a waist band that comes up to my armpits).  Not too flappy, not too tight.  PERFECT, I say.

Well, except that I think the hem might be a little uneven, but I’m still really happy with them.  Now, to go to the gym and try them out.

08 Jan 2008 How much can I blog in two mintues….

…That’s my self imposed Time to Get off of the Computer time.  I’m going to do up a few chores and then head upstairs to my happy, clean crafty area.  I finally finished sorting and putting away this morning, leaving me with a nice expanse of space.  I resumed work on Cadence’s cherry corduroy jumper, putting in the hem during nap time.

I have to admit, that the excess of craft supplies i’ve amassed over the past year has me a bit,…oh….forlorn?  Adding to that is the fact that I have 13 yards of fabric (I think,..maybe 14 or 15) heading this way from around the country to add to the enormous pile that isn’t fitting my storage AND today I got another box from my scrapclub (insert very chagrined smile here).

But it’s good.  Right?

RIGHT?

07 Jan 2008 Memory
 |  Category: Cadence, Momdom  | Leave a Comment

The crying lifts me up out of sleep.  My brain is in a fog and I lay in bed for a minute, silent, hardly breathing, to make sure I heard what I thought I heard.  The cry rings out again.  A wail that turns into a plea for “mumum”.  I drag myself out of bed and stumble down the hallway.  The bedroom is lit in blue light and she is standing at the crib rail, sobbing.  Her hair is touseled and if it were lighter her cheeks would be pink from having been tucked under her blankie.

I coo at her and she stops crying and raises her arms to me.  I pick her up and she rests her head on my shoulder, her breath coming in little raggedy gasps.  She pats the back of my arm and I pick up her cue and pat her back.  We make our way back down the hall and settle into the rocking chair.

She uses her arms to push herself off of my chest.  She gives a glance to Eric, sleeping peacefully and the t.v. and then her head settles again, on my opposite shoulder with a distinct thunk.  She tucks her left shoulder under my chin and we rock.  The chair squeaks a little bit and makes a tapping noise when I rock backwards and it touches the windowsill.  We rest our heads on each others shoulders and I rub her back, her spine feeling like tiny little pearls under my fingertips.  She sighs and wrestles her arms down, under my arms, to lay flat against her body.  Her sign that she’d like to go back to sleep.

I continue rocking, counting time in my head, one second to rock back, one second to rock forward.  The rhythm we established months ago in desperation at times and in comfort others.  Her feet twitch against my legs and I know she’s asleep.  I stop rocking.

I count in my head, to five or ten, to see if she stirs and I stand slowly and quietly.  Her feet kick for just a second having been unsettled, but I stand in one spot and sway for a few minutes and she relaxes again.  I make my way back down the hall and into the blue lit bedroom.  I reach into the crib and toss back her blanket decorated with little bugs having a parade (the lady bug plays a horn, a dragonfly holds a star).  I lower her into the crib and pull up the cover so all I can see is the tip of her nose and the top of her head.  She makes a few grumpy noises and i lean into the crib and rub her back in a circle, my hand on her blanket making a swishing noise.  She settles, her knees pulled up towards her chest, her butt in the air, her head turned facing the right.  The blanket rises and falls as her breaths join in symphony with her sisters.  I sneak silently out of the bedroom door and back down the darkened hallway.

01 Jan 2008 The Holidays Are Over
 |  Category: Holidays and events  | Leave a Comment

Said, of course, with equal parts relief and sadness.  I feel the same way every year.    Sorry it’s over and glad it’s over at the very same time.  In the days after Christmas, I usually reflect on things I wish I had done differently.  Here’s my list for Christmas 2008…..

1) Shop earlier.  I say this every year and this year I really did well.  I was done with most of my shopping by the 2nd week of December, but I think I could do just a little bit better next year

2)Freeze cookie dough to save me time come Christmas time.  A lot of doughs can be prepared and frozen up to six weeks in advanced.   I could, say, prepare and freeze cookie dough at Halloween and bake them up in Mid-December. 

3) Start my Christmas crafting earlier.  Knitting Cadence’s stocking until after the girls had gone to bed on Christmas Eve Eve (Santa brings new jammies, you know) was NO fun.  Nor was stressing over the handmade dolls I gave as gifts.  On Christmas Eve I was putting the hem into my skirt for church an hour before we wanted to walk out of the door.  I think if crafts aren’t done  by the second week of December, they’re not happening.

4) Take the opportunity to work on  finding and making Christmas crafts throughout the entire year to ensure I have the things that I want in the house when Christmas comes around again.  In fact, I may make a list.  I may make something every single month!

I think I did do better, this year, just enjoying the process.  Being here.  In the moment, but I think I can do better.

This week, Emily and I will watch and delete the Christmas shows clogging up the DVR.  They can’t stay all year.  They wouldn’t be special.  I’ll make one more batch of cookies to use up the kissable chips we bought to make sure no one dives into them in a weak moment on our new year diet.  We’ll finish the Oberweiss egg nog and I’ll long for doing it again.  This year. :o)