Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Un-Busy

I hate to say I've been "busy"--I think the word is terribly overused and generally applies to everyone anyway, so saying I've been busier than usual just sounds like I think I'm busier than you. (Although really, it has never made sense to me why some people think being "busy" is impressive. I love it so much more when I'm not busy!) So I'll say things have been less un-busy than usual :) It has been madness around here, with a multitude of Easter services, an impromptu meeting with our realtors to look at a couple of houses, a flurry of last-minute to-dos to list the house, a broken computer, a broken camera, and a new puppy. Whew.

I forgot, conveniently, that puppies don't sleep through the night. That might've factored in my decision against the dog, if I'd remembered in time, but I didn't, until about 2 a.m. Sunday. And 4 a.m. And 5:45 a.m. Have I ever mentioned that I'm not a night person? Or a morning person? I'm a sleep person, and puppies aren't conducive to sleep. But he's a great puppy, not nearly as wild as I'd thought labs to be, and he and Scout are already BFF. We figured life is crazy enough with three little kids and a house on the market, that we might as well throw in some serious insanity, on top of it! You should've seen our realtors' faces when they walked in Monday and saw the new puppy. But we've known them for years, and they already know we're nuts :) In all seriousness, we knew Scout needed a buddy, and although the timing isn't great, the opportunity to get this dog from friends of ours who only breed their dog once in a blue moon, was too good to pass up!

I haven't been posting/reading/emailing or anything else lately because my computer's motherboard died, so I only have a computer in the late evening when Chris is home. Without it, I didn't even know my cousin had surgery! I also didn't have any good recipes for Easter, I couldn't find the slice 'n bake cookie recipe somewhere in this blog, and I had no idea it was going to be 83 degrees yesterday because I couldn't check the weather. It wasn't until my computer died that I realized how much I rely on it! I use it for everything from finding knitting patterns on Ravelry to recipes to correspondence. And finding out how to clean grout. When to quit giving puppies water before bed. Checking out the local housing market competition. I keep calling my mom to have her look things up for me online. I think we have a solution for my computer woes, and then all in the world will be right again!

For today, we have a doctor's appointment (the bane of my existence is taking all three kids to the doctor!) and we're hoping to get this house sold today! I know, I know--wishful thinking! But I'm still holding out hope. I've found the place I love, so I need to sell this one quick!

So it's been less un-busy, like I said. I'm looking forward to being able to work on my knitting and sewing again--I miss them.  How are things in your neck of the woods? I have a computer today, thanks to my husband, so I can actually find out!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Famous Last Words

I could post a picture of my kitchen, but in light of recent developments, I'm postponing that.

A week ago Chris asked me (for the ninetieth time) when we're getting a second dog, and I gave my standard reply: NEVER.

And in 24 hours, my home will officially be on the market. So it makes total sense that we brought home a friend for Easter:



But seriously, who could say no to that face? The minute I saw his picture, I knew I was sunk. (Which Chris was counting on when he showed it to me.) So Shadow the black lab now joins Scout, our golden retriever, who'd tell you this was the best Easter of his life, if he could speak.

Last year, the night before Easter, we got a hamster. This year, a dog. What's up for next year, a horse? I asked Caiden, and he said he'd like an elephant. Nothing like dreaming big.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Before

or "During," actually:


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Alive

Just checking in to let you know that we are, indeed, alive. The stomach virus passed by quickly, taking out only Caiden for the most part, and Addison's mysterious virus left at the same time. Good riddance, germs.

In the wake of the sickness, though, my laptop died. And I've been without a sink or kitchen appliances since Sunday night (for our kitchen redo), and I've had to figure out how to live in a house with workmen in my kitchen all week and three children underfoot. And now we're waiting on Rescue Rooter--at midnight, no less--to come fix a nasty leak under the sink. My husband is a great handyman, and even he can't figure out this one. So it's been one of "those" weeks. And it's only Wednesday.

But with the bad comes the good: a pretty new kitchen that's sure to get the house sold (And if it doesn't, then at least I really love my kitchen!), healthy kids, and lots of time to get things done, since I can't cook or really leave the house. It's amazing how much time is left when I can't run errands, use the computer, or prepare meals.

So I just wanted to let you know we're alive, and all is relatively well, excepting the drip-drip-drip I can hear even from the family room. But compared to projectile vomiting, it's the lesser of two evils, I'm quite certain. Even Rescue Rooter can't do much for the stomach virus.

When my laptop is fixed and Easter dinner is digesting, I'll be back. Until then, I hope your kids are healthy, your laptop is behaving, and your sink is leak-free!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

And Tonight,

another prayer:

"Lord, thank You that if Caiden really needed to catch the stomach virus, it's this Saturday, when we already weren't going to church because Addie is sick with some other random virus. I'd hate for Caiden to forever be known as 'that kid who threw up all over the church carpet,' and if he's going to projectile vomit all over my kitchen, I'm glad it's today, and not next Saturday, when the house is for sale. Because then, it would've happened five minutes before somebody came to see it, and I don't think vomit in the kitchen is a great selling feature. And if it would be okay with You, I'd like for this not to spread like wildfire throughout the family, since we just paid a forture to have the carpets cleaned this morning, and I have things to do besides be sick. Amen."

True prayer. True life.

And now since I'm between janitorial duties while Caiden is sleeping, I think I'll go dust off my copy of "The Stomach Virus and Other Forms of Family Bonding." True book.

Have a happy (vomit-free) weekend, friends.

Updated at 2:09 a.m.: Another one bites the dust. Two kids down, one more to go . . .

Friday, March 14, 2008

Prayer

Today we spent the entire day landscaping.

My silent prayer over pad Thai tonight:

"Dear Lord, thank You for this food, and help me not cry into it because I'm so tired that I might, and the thought of all I have left to do before our house goes on the market next week really makes me want to cry all the more. And You know, it seems like this is a whole lot of work to do if the house doesn't sell, and then I'll really cry. So please help me--not cry, get the rest of my work done, and sell this stupid house. Amen."

Ironically, I felt much better after that. No tears even. There might be a spiritual lesson in there, but I'm too tired to figure it out. And the flower beds look great. :)

(For those of you who've asked about my Mustard Seed Trees, Caiden and I discovered that they grow long banana-shaped flowers in the spring and attract bees like crazy. He stood with honey on his hands and got bees to perch on his fingers this morning. We could see the pollen gathered on their legs, and it was a fun unexpected treat from a tree that was a mere 1/2" thick, 6' long twig last year. I really will post pictures when my camera is repaired. They're amazing.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In the Beginning

My husband's great aunt once told me she'd teach me the art of tatting. We never got around to it, and she passed away shortly afterward. Now I wish I had at least taken the time to sit down with her once for a lesson. There's nothing sweeter than learning a craft from the hands of family.

My grandmother, I recently discovered, was a gifted seamstress, knitter, crocheter, embroiderer--if it's a domestic art, she was a master, in the truest sense of the word. I looked carefully today at a doll quilt she made me years ago, and I realized that it's hand-pieced. The seams are perfect, and the binding is beautifully done. For just a doll quilt, she did a quite a job. My dollies weren't appreciative enough.

My mother also quilts, and she is blessed with a quilting group filled with ladies who meet weekly to quilt together. She says there are some who are geniuses with color, others whose techniques are flawless, and they put out more finished products that you can shake a stick at. My mom's handiwork graces the bed of each one of my children, and they're all unusually attached to "Grammie's quilts." I've learned both cross-stitch and crocheting from her, and I'd hate to miss out on having her teach me how to quilt, too. (She was also highly instrumental in helping me sew my first real project.)

So I decided to make my first quilt out of Addie's clothing from her first year, and give it to her for her second birthday. I saved several outfits that are special to me, from her preemie peasant blouse to her Christmas dress, to her hula dancer bubble. I called my mom last week and asked for a 5-minute Quilting 101, if such a thing exists, which probably made her sewing group howl with laughter, since quilting is not something you learn in five minutes. I've always been highly intimidated by the thought of quilting--it seems like a lot of geometry and perfect seams and getting colors just right, and that doesn't even include the actual quilting of the piece! But I figure the best way to get over being intimidated, is to just do it. So if you're game, and have a box of clothing you want to turn into a keepsake quilt, you can plunge in with me! This is what I've done so far:

I've chosen an old nine-patch pattern, which alternates plain blocks with blocks made of nine 3" squares. I used a rotary cutting tool and a 3"x18"ruler to cut all of Addie's outfits into 3"x3" squares and ended up with far more than the 135 I'll need. The rest are set aside for a couple of dolly quilts. Then I laid out all the squares on my dining room table and played with the colors until I had 15 blocks of dark and light alternating squares. I tried to use each fabric in two blocks, when possible, and each nine-square block has only two fabrics, four of one and five of another. (If you're having a hard time imagining this, picture a block made of three rows of three squares each. Every other square is fabric A, and the others are fabric B.)

{I'd love to have pictures for you, which would be a lot clearer than my jumbled explanation, but Grayson broke the backup camera, which was already partially broken but partially usable. Now it's completely broken (and that reminds me to call 1-800-Canon to get the real camera fixed). So once I have the camera back, this will make more sense.}

Once I had 15 blocks I was happy with, I put each one's squares into a Ziploc, to wait for piecing them together, hopefully tomorrow. That's enough for today, and tonight in the bath, I'll read chapter 2 of my "Your First Quilt" book. I figure one step at a time, and eventually I'll have a quilt. Preferably by May 8th.

(Update: Hey look! Here's a website for making a nine-patch quilt! It's not quite the same design as mine, but it's close enough. Click on "Here's a website" for the link--the color isn't working for me.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

In the Game

My husband's in the blogging game . . .If you're a pastor's wife or are in the ministry (or know someone in the ministry or know how to spell the word "ministry,") check it out! (The link is www.pacehartfield.com, if you can't see it.)

(He made me write this. :)

A Coat for Grayson

I've finally finished Grayson's double-breasted knit coat. He reminds me of a little Paddington Bear when he wears it, and I'm not sure which one of us loves it more.

The pattern came from "Easy Baby Knits," by Claire Montgomerie, and it's the second one I've done from this book. Addison's wrap-style sweater was my first project from the book, and there's a jumper in there I'm thinking I'll need to tackle soon. Such sweet things!

It has been a year now since I taught myself how to knit, and I realize I'm hopelessly, shamelessly in love. There's no looking back from here.


(Updated at 9:45 p.m.--Ladies, I've been meaning to write a post solely on knitting and how I've gradually learned over the last year, and now with more questions in the comments, I've been reminded to get on it!--I'll tackle that right away!)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Snow Day



Playing outside with Daddy in the freshly fallen snow,



then inside to warm spice cake for dinner,


and a group snuggle in the velvet armchair with a favorite quilt,




beside a snapping fire.



A happy snow day.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thrifting

My first attempt at thrifting for sewing purposes has turned out very well:



Window valances turned into bloomers. One for Addie, and one for her friend. (Cost: $1.99 each)


A twin chenille bedspread turned into curtains for Grayson. (Cost: free. My mom gave it to me.)

Decided after reading your comments to forego the idea of a dress/muscle shirt, and I turned this into a little girl's dress instead. Okay, just kidding about the muscle shirt idea, although Caiden did think it was a good one. Chris was afraid you'd believe I was serious, which made me laugh even harder than writing the original post. (See post immediately below if you're in the dark!)

The tutorial (no patterns! no gathering! no buttonholes! no sleeve-setting!) was very clear to follow, and because the dress is made from a finished shirt, it was incredibly fast! The wet spots (from ironing) notwithstanding, it turned out darling, I think. The knife-pleated trim is made of leftover fabric. The pattern calls for a couple yards, but I just sewed 1 1/2 inch tall strips end-to-end, so I wouldn't have to use very much fabric.

And here's the back, also wet from ironing spray, but you can see how it buttons down the back. The front of the shirt is the back of the dress, so the finished edges and buttoned section are already done for you. This is, hands down, my favorite project I've done so far. I have another shirt, also thrifted, cut apart and ready to go. (Total cost for one dress: $3.99)


Two flat sheets, ready to be made into something else. Any guesses?


And one non-related photo for my mother. Since taking the picture half an hour ago, it has already snowed well over an inch. We're predicted to get a few inches, which is as close to a blizzard as north central Texas can get. My kids are so happy it's contagious!

So now I'm going upstairs, where it's nice and snug, to knit away the afternoon while my little ones sleep. A satisfying day, for sure.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My Secret


Isn't this going to make the best gift for Chris? I think it's brilliant: a muscle-style dress shirt! He works out early in the mornings, and this way, he can just wear his dress shirt to work out, and then be ready to go down to his office, saving him valuable shower time!

He's going to love it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Frog and Toad

I have, like most women probably, a penchant for worrying. I told my mom once that there is always something. Something that is broken, or ill, or expensive, or seemingly impossible, that stands between me and perfect peace. There are so many "if onlys" that inhabit dark little corners of my mind, and they erect a barrier between me and easy days. If only I weren't breaking out in hives and having constant allergic reactions, I could be joyful. If only there weren't so many houses for sale right now, providing much competition against ours. If only my car weren't making a weird humming noise. If only my child didn't get sick so much. If only my spending habits and my checkbook were in a better relationship. You get the picture.

This morning, while preparing for my quiet time, I hassled Chris out the door, reminding him that if only he'd call the tile guy, we could get our house on the market. Poor man. He ran, hen-pecked, to the car, dodging my last words as he put the car in reverse and scooted out of the driveway and away from his anxious, bothered wife. Then I settled in my bed, rehearsing the list of things left to do before the For Sale sign can go in the yard. Backsplash to install. Smoke alarm to change out. Carpets to clean. Baseboards to paint. A closet to clean.

It struck me, as I opened the pages of my current devotional book, that these are all easy things in the hands of God. He's not bowed under by my backsplash. He isn't wringing His hands over the small size of the job, wondering if we can find somebody to do it. He isn't wondering if our taxes will be here in time, or if there's a perfect house out there for us. He's got it under control, and I, unable to see around the corner, am going to have to trust Him, again.

Frog and Toad books are a big hit around here. In one particular story, the two friends are searching for spring, and they take a walk, hoping to find it. One of them, a natural pessimist, is convinced it's not coming this time. But sure enough, they eventually round the final corner, to find it. Spring is coming to Texas. You don't have to tell the tiny, bright green leaves all over my backyard trees, or the daylilies pushing up through the soil in the flowerbeds. It doesn't even matter that we got our first and only snowfall last night, a mere dusting that still rests on the roofs. My trees aren't worried; they know spring is near, as it is every year this time.

I cannot see around the corner. Right now, the list of worries weighing on my mind center around getting my house ready to sell, getting it sold, finding the next house, packing, moving, unpacking, and getting situated. It seems a tall order when I pick it all apart, but in reality it's just another step in our road. Another set of circumstances that can promote worry and strife, or another chance for me to remember God's faithfulness in my past, and His ability to take care of my future. Maybe He doesn't want us to move. As much as I chafe against the thought, if He doesn't, then it's for my good, and I'd rather have His good than my dreams. Maybe He does. If so, then He's competent to take care of the details.

So this morning, it seemed quite fitting that today's reading was chapter six of Sally Clarkson's "The Mom Walk," where she writes of the very same thing--a long list of worries that was keeping her up at night, til she remembered His faithfulness and ability, and she was able to sleep by putting her worries in His hands again. As I read, I felt the confidence well up. Not in my ability, but in His. A long line of events in my personal history marched by, each parading their outcomes, all orchestrated by a good God who is able. Today's worries are no different, and I make the decision that rather than hen-peck my husband and scurry around in a panic, I choose to trust Him. And when this is all behind us, and the last box is finally unpacked, whether it be this spring or years from now, I will add this to the list. Next time, when a set of worries plagues my mind, I'll remember that while I cannot see around the corner, God is there, too.

"You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in You."
Isaiah 26:3