Wisdom Comes Suddenly

Thank You, Kara Tippetts. I Promise…

March 25th, 2015 · 2 Comments

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Many months ago, my best friend pressed me to read Kara Tippett’s writing at Mundane Faithfulness. Upon Amie’s mention that, “Oh…and by the way, I should mention she’s dying…”, I turned my ears off. Not because I have a limited ability to grieve, but because I have an unlimited ability to grieve. Due to my lack of natural boundaries, I carefully monitor my emotional bank account, and my conscious withdrawals from it.

I could not have guessed that this Kara, a woman I had never met, had something she’d like to DEPOSIT onto my emotional balance sheet. Amie, having known her in high school, just kept insisting. So I started reading…and reading…and reading.

Kara came to Indy in November for a book signing, and you can bet, Amie and I were there. I took pages upon pages of notes, because what Kara had to offer us in her final days was nothing short of a miracle: she showed us Jesus. The real Jesus and his Big Love, and with her words, she made it clear the entire point of suffering.

Just like that.

God, his mercy, Jesus’ purpose, and therefore mine, all became quite lucid. All told via the words of a woman leaving behind 4 beautiful children, a husband, and a huge church community. Kara did not have to spend her final days witnessing to us, but she did, and tens of thousands of us are forever in her debt. Eternally in her debt, if you like God-math.

Kara took her final walk home last Sunday, while my family was down with the flu, Spring Break was starting with snow, and I was feeling about as low as I could go. This week has followed on theme: grey, cold, wet, and full of mucous.

But I made promises to Kara, and I intend to keep them:

(1) Kara asked us to continue to show up to our lives, because showing up matters.

(2) When the hard corners of our days press into us, we promised to look for Jesus. He will meet us in those hard corners, because suffering isn’t God’s absence in our lives: it’s our needingness of him.

(3) I promised to parent my children with Big Love and kindness, and to honor my marriage and my family with the type of Big Love Jesus has shown me.

(4) I will ponder the possibility that winning isn’t the story, but that finding beauty in the brokenness is the point of the story instead. I will turn away from the lie that winning is everything.

(5) I will lean into my days and look for God’s grace within them.

(6) I will join into the community Jesus has placed before me, because none of us were meant to walk alone.

(7) I will let my story be a safe landing place for others, and in so doing, my living can press people toward faith.

(8) I will be a better listener.

(9) I will ask my loves how their hearts are today?

(10) I will lean into God in my suffering and accept that he is not afraid of my bitterness or bad moods.

(11) I WILL SPEND MY HEALTH WELL.

(12) I won’t be ashamed when my eyeballs sweat.

Many of us have taken some time to weep for Kara and her loves this week. I will not be ashamed to cry for a woman I met one time, because her words have forever changed me. Since that cold night last November, I see Jesus all around me. Some days I’ve just gotten up, and said, “I’m here Jesus! Send me!” Every day, he does. The wild, colorful myriad of tasks he’s asked of me have filled me to overflowing. I can’t recall when I last felt this blessed and complete.

My new mantra is to whisper “I promise”, sprinkled throughout my day. When I tuck the girls into bed for the 3rd (ahem) time, I promise to show them Big Love. When Greg’s busy season requires a “little” flexibility on my part, I promise to show him just how safe and warm his marriage can be. When friends call, I listen for the unspoken needs, and I do my best to show up. I promise. When the flu is doing its best to kick my butt, but 3 young ladies need to get out of the house, I took a shower, and I taught them how to BOWL, whispering (through the coughing), “I promise”.  If Kara can raise 4 kids for 2.5 years on chemo, I can bowl for 2 hours. We had such a wonderful time, and I discovered God’s goodness is everywhere, even in the bowling alley. I promise, I promise, I promise. Big Love and Kindness.

All of these things, I promise to Kara. She was quite frank in telling us we wouldn’t meet again on this side of heaven, and then she proceeded to die with a grace and dignity society would like us to believe isn’t possible. But it is. More is possible outside of fear and shame than we can imagine. I hope to make her proud, so that when we do meet in heaven, I can tell her how I rewrote my story to reflect her teachings.

Her book, The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard, is available on Amazon, and it’s the guide you need if you are interested in understanding Jesus’ role in your personal suffering. We all have pain, and there is such mercy to be found, if only we could see it.

Thank you Kara. Thank you for sharing your story, for selflessly spending your last days on earth writing it down for us, and helping us see there is so much more to this life than exists here on earth. Godspeed, Sweet Angel. Until we meet again…


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Chevron-A-Palooza

March 19th, 2015 · 2 Comments

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As part of my “Trends” series, it was a certainty I’d eventually land on Chevron. Chevron, nothing more than angular lines repeated in a pattern, has overwhelmed me with its ubiquitousness. And I promise that is the biggest word I’ll use this week.

Let’s start our Trend Tour at the beginning, with this pillow: this one, simple, monogrammed pillow. After MUCH research, stretching late into the night (when all proper pinning occurs), I have found the Alpha-Pillow that started the craze I like to call “Chevron-A-Palooza”.

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The whole thing began innocently enough, really. You pair angles with a femininely-loopy monogram on a PILLOW? PILLOWS, ladies. I know how we all feel about pillows. I think I covered the pillow craze adequately enough over here. I don’t think I need to cover monograms either. You could slap a monogram on a pile of poop and 10 women would line up to buy it. Make the font Carolyna Curvy, and that line doubles. Don’t hide in shame! I know you’re looking at the picture above and planning another pregnancy, just so you can put those pink pillows across a couch YOU DO NOT YET OWN, for a nursery YOU CURRENTLY DON’T NEED, for a baby YOU HAVE NOT YET CONCEIVED.

You can lay down the Chevron-denial right here…this is a fad tree of trust.

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But before you go off your birth control, let me remind you: your spare room does not have enough space for a couch. I’ve been to your house! Houzz don’t want yo’ Chevron rocking chair pictures! They are FULL UP, I promise you.

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Not to mention, we already have the beginnings of the Chevron Generation (they will be known as Gen-Chev). Is that what you want? To have this baby? Look at this poor sweetheart! She doesn’t know if she’s 13 months, 13 years, or one step away from a pink Cadillac and a retirement condo in Florida.

From frill-laden diaper covers, it was obviously going to make the jump to clothing next (many trends start on clothing first and then move to pillows and fingernails, but Chevron did it backwards…tricky Chevy…TRIIIC-KEEY):

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For some reason, it did not start on shirts, which is an important step away from the 80’s, I think. I found it an interesting social study that it started on 1970’s dresses, paired with boots. I guess I didn’t see that coming, but then again, because of this wardrobe-pillow/nails U-Turn, Chevron had already proven to be a fad trail-blazer. The dress must always be paired with boots, and I cannot stress this enough: The pairing of the shapeless dress with the boots is a formula which is cannot be undone.

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BOOTS WITH AT LEAST ONE STRAP. 2 if you have it, but if not, 1 will suffice in a pinch. If you don’t have the boots, just don’t bother with the RSVP. I have attended events where I am certain half the room was wearing a Chevron dress with brown boots. It was dizzying to say the least.

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When I leave the house these days, I feel like I’m in 7th grade again; but instead of my classmates arranging to match outfits behind my back, it’s THE ENTIRE CITY. I get the long “up-and-down” glance from the hip girls, and then they quickly swivel away, back into their conversations. What was I thinking? Jeans? AND A SHIRT?! My necklace probably only weighs an OUNCE! These days, the necklaces are weighed at the door of the party, and anything less than a full pound gets you sent home. But that’s a trend-post for another day.

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Still, I have lingering regrets about my non-conformist attitude. Had I just thrown my Grandmother’s old blanket over my shoulders, I could have been the life of the party. THE LIFE, I tell you! Who am I kidding? I’ve never had a tan, and my curls never go backwards. Plus, at my height, boots usually look like they are eating my legs. But I root for everyone, so you GO, Tan Chevron Blanket Girl. You show those Dress-Heathers how it’s done. No matter how conformist you look, you will always be Veronica to me.

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Chevron is a female-construct, so at some point it was bound to get competitive. I don’t exactly know why. It starts at a young age, of this I am certain. When we were making friendship pins and braided ribbon barrettes back in the early 80’s, it started with just the one pin. But DUDE, by the end of 1982, if you weren’t literally covered in pins and barrettes, you were ostracized in the lunch room. Those dangle-y beads hanging off the barrettes had to practically whip your face and blind you, just to get near the Cool Girls table. How easily you have all forgotten the “Great Bead Blinding Epidemic” of 1983. I apologize. Maybe you wanted to forget, you sweet, one-eyed lady.

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Once women get competitive about a fad, the drinks are set down, and the earrings removed. Prepare thyself for an all-out country-wide Chevron Puke-Fest. I don’t even know WHAT to call this shade of green, but I think “PCP Sky” is pretty close. Looking at the color, paired with a platter turned into a clock, I think we can assume this was Florida’s entry into the “Chevron-A-Palooza 2015 Smackdown”.

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Sassy Southern Girls don’t mess ’round you’all. They monogram their morning eggs & bacon, so if you think doing car mats for their Jimmys was a stretch, you were just kidding yourself. Go for one coffee break, and they’ve already Chevron’ed their dogs.

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“Don’t ask me why, I don’t make the rules” -Ouiser Boudreaux, Steel Magnolias

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In the Midwest, we not only Chevron the fridge, but we put Biblical quotes on the produce drawers. Take THAT Georgia Peaches!

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But before you get the idea that we’re too puritanical here in the middle, we also like to drink and Chevron our cornhole games. Or at least Susan and Kevin do. I don’t know them personally, but if they are born-and-bred Hoosiers, I probably know at least 3 people with whom they went to school. And we probably have the same Biblical quote on our veggie drawer.

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New England had to chime in because they can grow purple hydrangeas. You have the correct pH in your soil…WE KNOW…we know. But I’ll give those East Coast ladies one thing: they sure know how to keep a mixer spotless…almost as if they’ve never turned it on. Like maybe they aren’t sure what it’s for….(hint: it’s not a gardening accessory…)

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Oh lovely…I just love the country of Maine, don’t you? They have great antiques. I find their language and currency tricky to follow, but once you get enough lobsters in your trunk for bartering, I find Maine to be a nice country to visit.

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We’re having this massive Chevron party, and always knocking on the door is Canada. “Hey there! It’s your friendly neighbor from the north! Look! I brought Chevron, and a cold weather front sure to bring 28″ of snow!”

Oh Canada. Bless your heart.

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GOD! Why does all the really cool stuff come from California?! How do they always get the lead on the rest of us? Chevron Rainbow Birthday Cake?! I mean REALLY! What will they beat us to next?

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Shower curtains. Single-initial 2-toned using grey as a neutral SHOWER CURTAINS. I don’t know why we even try. 40 years running as winners of the Fad-Contest, going all the way back to Marsha Brady’s bell-bottomed orange pants…you’d think we’d at least put our heads together and try to create an anti-California alliance.

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But NOOO. We just let them stomp all over the competition with a Chevron-ON-Chevron invitation! It’s like they’re some kind of wacky Einstein-esque Fad Geniuses. It’s embarrassing America, really. Sleep in your 5-lb necklaces tonight, and think about the weak game you bring against California, year after year.

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And here is poor Oklahoma. Did you borrow a time machine and go back to 2013 to buy that? Are you JUST NOW getting Chevron iPhone covers? It’s like you’re not even trying. Appalachia beat you to Chevron. Seriously, how do you live with yourselves? Quick! Get your first initial on that thing. Or your last…I DON’T CARE, but for heaven’s sakes…MONOGRAM SOMETHING.

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OK now, that’s much better. Chevron AND glitter. Thou hast redeemed thyself Sooner Country. You may rejoin this fashion statement smack-down.

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And this is why it’s very, very difficult to live in New York City. You think you’re seeing a closet converted to an office, but NO. That’s someone’s ENTIRE APARTMENT. The stool doubles as a toilet, the printer runs water, and to sleep, you turn around the shoe cubby, and there is a body bag which you “hang” yourself into. Rent: $4,500 per month. BUT, it comes furnished with CHEVRON. Don’t get your hopes up: there’s a 5-year waiting list.

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No Arizona…just…NO. You mixed Aztec with Chevron, which are two entirely different statements. You got the boots right, and you got the boot warmers right, but otherwise, this mixed media is not working for me. Also, leggins ARE NOT pants, no matter how cute yo’ butt. I don’t blame you, but I am sending your Momma a letter.

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If you’re going to wear Chevron near your ass-like region, do it like Miss San Diego here. You stay Classy, San Diego.

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I would like for Chicago to explain the doll’s dress paired with the whore sandals. Now. Call me Chicago, because you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do. Julie would NEVER wear whore sandals, even after her parent’s divorce. I know this, because I had to read the entire book about how she found herself. Plus, her car cost more than my actual first car. Come to think of it, American Girl Doll…you have a lot of explaining to do. Let’s chat.

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God love you Minnesota! Way to keep it real! Minnesota won’t play your reindeer games. Minnesota WON’T EVEN.

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SEATTLE! Rocks the party! Everyone knows this! Cry in your Cheerios California! Seattle makes a slam dunk with Chevron and Polka-Dots! You didn’t even THINK about polka dots, did you? Sometimes the answer is right in front of you.

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Last (literally….last to join the Union), but never least (literally…you are psychotically loved by all of America, so much so, that we STOLE you)…Hawaii. Hawaii, a state we consider so valuable, we’ll let them put Chevron, gold-sequined ric-rac, dime-store gems, AND 2-toned FUR, on a BRA, and we’ll love it. Doesn’t that rose just pull it all together?

Way to slam dunk this contest Hawaii. Golly-gee…you WIN. Who could compete with this?

I’ve enjoyed spending this time with you. I wish I could tell you what’s coming next, but I’m no trend-predictor. I didn’t predict Cross-Fit would become a cult anymore than I could have guessed Crocs were a shoe. I thought they were a some kind of Chia Pet when I first saw them at the mall. Feel free to leave your predictions, but do so quietly. Don’t tip off California, as if they need any help with a head start….


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And The Before & After Contest Winner IS….

March 15th, 2015 · 4 Comments

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A huge thank you to everyone for submitting ideas on how to reinvent my sewing room armoire. Your ideas finally got my juices flowing. Thus far we’ve agreed on grey, and I think there will be color on the front, in the form of a logo. If it’s not Troisine, it will probably be French wording in a weathered white. I’d call it cliché, but I speak horrid high school French, so I can Français-up anything I want. I’ve earned it (You heard me Madame Hightower; you and your insanely hard pop quizzes. It’s 25th High School Reunion Year, and you’ve got some explaining to do.).

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NOW, onto to the winner of these FABULOUS greeting cards, handmade by moi (See? Totally droppin’ some French):

 

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Wait, before I tell you what the Random Number Generator threw out, I should mention that Sara got quite excited about my card-making. She’s made a lovely stack for you as well. Buttons turned into balloons, inspirational sayings…GLITTER…her 3 cards have it all. Quite sweet, all signed on the back, “custom made by Sara, age 9″, which is a crock, because we ALL know she’s 9.5. I have the gumballs to prove it.

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This paper is divine, embossed, and the inside has charcoal grey birds, as a little surprise.

SO, without further adieu, the number chosen was:

SIX!

Elizabeth, you are the winner! I’ll be contacting you shortly, and I’ll probably just put them on your front porch in a box. Shipping is formal and lovely, but we have geography on our side. Big time.

Again, thank you to everyone who entered. When will this project unveil? Excuse me…I mean…begin? Who knows? Someday, you’ll be bored with email, click on over here, and VOILA! (I can’t stop…Je parle Français like it’s my JOB): There will be a fancy-schmancy new-to-you armoire. I can hardly wait. Wait. I’m the one who has to refinish it. Waiting sounds rather delicious.

In the meantime, there will be many other projects to see (me screw up). We’ll have some laughs, I promise. For everyone else, this week I want you to use your fine china, wear jewelry you only save for special occasions, and send the pretty stationery you’ve been saving. Life is too short to hang onto cute cards. Send them. Godspeed everyone. Godspeed.

 


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Happy Random Made-Up Holiday Friday

March 13th, 2015 · 2 Comments

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Remember when Fridays were easy? Chill out…it’s almost the weekend! Remember? No…I don’t either. Fridays with family seems to be the “shove in every odd, random thing that doesn’t otherwise fit neatly into the rest of the week” day. Following my Friday To-Do list feels somewhat like living inside a pinball machine. First, Sara had a half-birthday (a while ago). A certain Momma forgot to get into the treat sign-up document, meaning the next time we could bring in a lunch treat is sometime in 2019. A year without milkshake cupcakes?! OH GOD NO!!  Sara settled on rainbow gumball take home treats, a spot I could snag only a full month late. Man! The parents at our school take birthday treats SERIOUSLY.

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It seemed like an easy enough task, until I over-engineered it. What? Me? NEVER. Our system was running smoothly until Sara’s medication and my wine wore off, and we had to put her name on the tags. Seem like an easy thing to agree upon? Ha. If you have daughters, you already know how that went.

Nonetheless, we finished all 48 bags without too much drama. There was eye-rolling. There was some huffing and puffing. There was Daddy thoroughly fed up with the both of us. Kelly was somewhere…micromanaging the washing of one pair of yoga pants to match her shirt for today.

Daughters. May we all survive it.

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And because it’s random Friday, it’s also Pi Day at school. For the year 3-14-15, when Pi begins with 3.1415, t-shirts are just obligatory. I made one for Kelly and her buddy, both of whom have been putting up with my matching clothes thing for years. Such sweethearts.

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Despite our best efforts, we all got out the door fully prepared, full of breakfast, and ready to face the day. The key to Random Friday lies in a system of BAGS (all Mother’s know about the bags):

1st bag: Not-quite-half-birthday treats.

2nd bag: Sara’s Spanish Presentation.

3rd bag & 4th bags: Girl Scout meeting in which Sara is teaching swimming safety, and Kelly is attending, and I am chaperoning.

5th bag: Sara’s sleepover suitcase.

6th bag: Kelly’s sleepover suitcase.

7th bag: Kelly lost her sleeping bag case, and borrowed one of my bags. She inserted some postcards in case she wants to send me a note while she’s away. At my sister’s. Who lives a few minutes away. For one night.

8th bag: Greg and I have a class at church tonight, but we put our materials together in advance, because we’ll have to meet there. Greg steers clear of the Mommy bags and packs his own. He requires just the one, at all times, and under all circumstances.

9th and 10th bags: School backpacks.

DO NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, mess up the MOMMA FRIDAY BAG SYSTEM. The last thing we want is Sara wearing a bathing suit and goggles during her Brazilian Poison Dart Frog presentation where she pulls out her presentation materials, only to find she’s holding Kelly’s sleeping bag and an empty post card.

I’ve got to run, because Fridays wait for no Mom. I wish you all the best for your weekend, and don’t forget to enter into the card/armoire giveaway (also random!).

 


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Quiet

March 9th, 2015 · 1 Comment

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For a Monday evening with spring weather flirting at our doorstep, my house is unusually quiet. I’ve heard almost nothing above a whisper since 3:30 pm. I think the time change is kicking our tails, along with Greg’s busy season, but nonetheless, I decided to document this silence in pictures.

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Goomommy and Goodaddy sent a stack of new books. The girls will barely take the time to eat, let alone speak, until every page has been devoured. (Newest addiction is the Heidi Hecklebeck series.)

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Many times during weekend days or evenings, when I send up flairs for a missing person (or cat), I usually find someone here, curled up with a book, a game, (or a cat…)…

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After rocking Penny to sleep tonight…say it…it’s cool…I’m nuts to be rocking a kitten to sleep. But allow me to say this in my defense: if YOU were folding boring towels, and a furry little kitten begged at your feet to be rocked to sleep, you’d do it too. Where was I? Oh yes, after I put Penny down, I headed upstairs to look in on the girls, and guess who beat me? Penny was curled up under these quilts before I got there! Black cats are so creepy and awesome.

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I switched off Kelly’s dice lamp and reminded her (and Penny) not to stay up too late playing games in the dark. I could clearly hear Sara playing with Rufus next door. Why do things grow less quiet after lights out?

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Rufus (whom I’m now calling Ron Howard) is also a wizard, because by the time I put the towels away, he was lounging on his favorite perch, as if he hadn’t been in a massive game of hide-and-seek with Sara only moments earlier. Syd & Ruf are on guard, making sure Greg doesn’t move until busy season has passed. These two are tough foremen.

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For living in a house with 8 breathing creatures, I think I’d be smart to take advantage of this rare moment of peace, and curl up with a good book myself. I like to get cozy and read on the guest room bed, as it used to be mine during my single gal years. It reminds of a time when I lived in “quiet” as a rule. What are you reading these days? And a HUGE thank you to everyone sharing ideas for the armoire project! LOVING THEM. You can leave a comment here to enter a chance to win handmade greeting cards.

Happy Quiet Evening to you as well. I wish for you silence, fur-babies, good books, and a family with an off-switch. Godspeed.


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Kelly’s Cozy Quilt

March 8th, 2015 · Comments Off

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Somewhere in the wild miasma that was last summer, Kelly spent $3.50 on remnants at the fabric store and announced she wanted to make a quilt. I informed her it would be a “very small” quilt with only $3.50 worth of fleece, but that didn’t bother Kelly.

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Piecing plan #1

Despite being in a cramped, awful, haunted apartment, we cut the squares. It seemed like an easy enough project, even for our abbreviated space (and you might be wondering why I didn’t put my machine and quilting supplies in storage, but one must never be caught off guard without one’s quilting supplies. Always.be.ready.to.sew.a.blanket. This is just good planning.). But as I mentioned, that apartment had supery-dupery bad luck, and the cat jumped on my machine and broke the table. Into a storage bag went Kelly’s squares.

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Piecing it all over again after the move.

But what Kelly lacks in luck, she makes up for with patience. She reminded me again and again after moving those squares survived the trip. Alas, her bad luck streak continued, and she lost her favorite blankie. WHERE ARE YOU ICE CREAM BLANKIE?! No. Seriously. Where the hell are you? I cannot rip apart one more inch of this house. One more week, and I’m thinking of looking behind drywall. Hey! I know a great blankie-disaster-distraction! Let’s make a NEW blankie!

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Teaching her to pin the front to the back, with the batting in the middle.

Kelly sat at Peter Pan (our machine) and helped me piece the top. As my own, little personal mini-me, the critiques for my methods were generously doled out throughout the process. I finally kicked her out and told her to trust me. We went ’round and ’round about the backing. AND AROUND WE WENT. She wanted NEW material, and I wanted FREE, I-ALREADY-OWN-IT material. One evening we got into an unrelated debate regarding the rules in her favorite game (Scrambled States), and she bet me. Rookie mistake; never make a bet with Kelly. You’ve been warned. I lost, and I had to buy her whatever fleece tickled her fancy. Luckily Goomommy was on that errand, and she happily spent the $7 on this bright Duck fleece which in no way matches the quilt top. Goomommies don’t care! They are all love! Plus, she watched me lose the bet, and either she was amused by my loss, or maybe it was pity. Either way, I let her use my coupon, because she’s awesome.

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This takes forever, Mommy!

Because of the latest quilt project of my own, I had some super high-quality batting for the middle. Kelly was having none of it. Quilts have a middle? [Insert days upon days of Kelly-quilt critiquing.] I assured her I knew what I was doing. A thick, cozy quilt is way, way better than 2 pieces of fleece sandwiched together.

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Free-motion gloves: best $6 ever spent in quilting supplies.

As I haven’t free-motioned in years, I did this without Kelly’s assistance (but not without her input…SO MANY THOUGHTS out of this one). My work is not so great, but it’s not horrible. Considering how out-of-practice I am, I’m giving myself some grace on this one. Free-motion is HARD, which is why the pros use computers. Fleece is so forgiving…thank you Jesus.

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Now we must take all the pins back out. While snacking, apparently.

We chose the binding long ago, using pieces left over from Kelly’s last blanket project, but when it came time to finish it, Kelly begged me to use an 87 cents remnant of satin she bought on her last trip to the fabric store. If there’s a useless, odd-colored remnant anywhere in this state, Kelly has a coupon for it. Bargain bin cream satin. Alright then.

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But we don’t want to waste this precious satin! It’s my favorite!

She’d already chopped away it, making wedding clothes for her stuffed animal wedding. Huh. This should be interesting. I took notes in quilting class. I can piece binding from scraps. I think.

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Shoot…me…now…

Let me clarify: I can piece regular binding. Piecing the world’s most slippery, most shred-friendly binding is another matter. I joked earlier it was like performing open heart surgery on a Fraggle. Mere gravity unravels this stuff. For 87 cents, what do you expect? I had to zig-zag both sides of the 130 inch binding, just to hold this stuff in my hands. All projects have their special surprises, which is probably better-named, “my learning curve”. I threw it down, and went searching for the original binding plan. Kelly stepped in, and that smarty pants asked, “You’re not giving up are you? You can do it. You just have to keep trying.” Great. A life lesson for my child, served elegantly on a platter. I picked the tattered mess back up and tried again.

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Better. Tedious, but much better.

On her way to bed, Kelly had plenty to say about the quilt being too thick, and not “bendy” enough to be useful. Sara told her to shut her ungrateful trap and go to bed  (thereby earning Sara another day of food/shelter/unconditional love). As I tossed my 5th spool of thread on the machine, I silently cursed this project. Kelly’s designs are HARD. Some are flat out IMPOSSIBLE (unless you have the formula to create a portal that will take her into fairy-land, which I DO NOT). As I placed my hundredth pin into that devilish satin, I had a childhood flashback: I had a blanket once. It had dogs on it, and it was blue and green, with the world’s most perfect satin border. When I turned 6, my parents decided it was time for me to let go of my security blanket, and it was “forgotten” on a family vacation. People did that kind of thing in the 70’s. I’m sure my kids will look back on the silly things I’ve done, roll their eyes, and wonder how they survived.

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As God as my witness, I was going to finish that motley thing. Just finding thread that remotely matched was a neat trick. I ran through every inch of light pink, white, cream, and yellow I have. I was so close on the binding, I didn’t have a half a centimeter of satin to spare. But devotion is a tough cookie to crack, and at 10:30 pm, I crept into Kelly’s room and tucked this new lovey under her chin. You could pass a tornado over Kelly and she wouldn’t wake, but her eyes opened and she said, “It’s done? It’s so COZY and perfect. I love it Mommy. Thank you.” In a fraction of a second, she was sound asleep, but next to her I found a contract she wrote earlier in the day. Wrapped in fabric scraps was a “blanket promise contract”, swearing she’d always love this blankie, and she would take it to college. It was signed, stamped, and sealed in an envelope and fabric…so it’s official.

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You’re welcome Kelly Eleanor Boo Boo Chicken Brave Mimi Bunny. And when you pack this lovey and head off to college, remember to pack me too. One day without you is just one too many…

 


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Wild Geese In Winter

March 6th, 2015 · 2 Comments

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I waited 33 years to meet Lois Lowry. 33 years might seem like a long time, but as I never actually believed it would happen, the wait didn’t feel so long. I’ve moved 16x since I read Anastasia Krupnik, but I arrived at the book signing line last Wednesday night, original text in hand; while I’ve lost many things since my childhood, I’d never lose my Anastasia. She was my best childhood friend. Ms. Lowry spoke for 90 minutes, but I could have sat there all night. She is bright, articulate, interesting, with a witty and unexpected turn of phrase. It was clear she did not suffer fools, but has a compassion for children which I find hard to describe. The wisdom that comes from surviving a full life while writing TWO Newbery winners runs deep.

I sat there on that icy night, soaking in every syllable from an author who changed my life, and I was overcome by how powerful the moment felt. I wish I could have recorded it and replayed it over and over, like a much-loved movie. As I can’t share her words because recording devices were not allowed (and bringing in wine was also forbidden, but my friend who joined me and I seriously considered it…to take in such an event without so much as a toast of champagne felt wrong), I can share a favorite poem of Lois Lowry’s, which she quoted in her speech. It speaks to a quiet part of my soul which does not use words to communicate, and it resonates across my pool of friends, many of whom are facing big changes. Lois Lowry did not write this poem, but I’m not surprised she shared something I shall keep forever. Thank you Ms. Lowry, for flying to Indy in the winter, for sharing your story, and for creating Anastasia Krupnik. I will forever cherish meeting you, speaking with you, and sharing my love of this character with you.

Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

 

 

 

 


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The Before & After Game: A Giveaway

March 3rd, 2015 · 9 Comments

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Who doesn’t love a good game of before & after? The above is our “before”. I bought this armoire in college while moving into an apartment with a microscopic closet. It followed me through 2 more apartments, serving as the world’s cutest TV cabinet. My first home? TV cabinet, because after not owning a TV in college, the one I purchased (and kept for over a decade), was exceptionally small. Onto Florida, where it lived in a guest room, holding quilts and linens. Back to Indiana, where it served a myriad of purposes over a 9 year span, finally landing in my sewing room.

Now…here we are, staring at this red alder wood with square handles armoire for the 20th year. If it’s to continue onward, it must coordinate with a white room with rainbow accents and a hodge podge of white and black furniture. It’s huge. It’s heavy. And it may need to be shorter to work in this space. I’ve moved the attic space and vases around…again. The girls’ latest “dig through Mommy’s scraps” project needs to be folded and put away, but I’m more in the mood of “I might just yank everything out of it, put off everything I’m supposed to get done this week, and make this furniture different.” Plus, sewing corners are always a mess. It’s crafting law.

I’m giving you the chance to weigh in. The girls and I have gone around and around and can’t make up our minds. Sara wants it all gray. Kelly wants it all rainbow. I wish I could make it look more urban to match the room, but I don’t want it to be a dark behemoth of a thing. Enter as many comments as you wish, either here or on Facebook. I’ll throw them all in a random number generator and the winner will win some custom made cards. Examples of some of my original creations can be seen here and here and here. I promise something bright and happy, and as many as I can stand to create before burning my fingers off with my glue gun.

Enter your design ideas by noon on Saturday, March 14th! Please enter different ideas as separate comments. Let’s get creative, my friends!

 


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Just In Case

March 2nd, 2015 · Comments Off

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Just in case your Monday started not-quite-as-planned, and everyone woke up on the wrong side of bed…

In case your oldest refused to get up until 7 minutes before leaving, and walked out the door on presentation day with the wildest case of bed head you’ve ever seen while wearing a shirt you’re fairly certain she slept in and a pair of pants with a hole in them…

In case your youngest took advantage of the mayhem and got out the door without eating more than 2 bites of breakfast and didn’t brush her teeth…

In case you did not see the School Psychologist park next to you and he got a full audio of everyone’s moods spilling out of the minivan…

In case you got to your morning meeting, opened your calender, and saw nothing but to-do lists and commitments literally covering the week…

In case you trudged through the 8 inches of snow to the dry cleaners only to discover your most favorite of all-time dry cleaning lady is GONE, replaced by someone who is clearly NOT your favorite dry cleaning lady…who is going to turn your Monday moods around with giggly chit-chat now? (Please come back Ms. Toler!)

In case you got home and broke your favorite frame, holding your favorite picture…

In case you cleaned up the mess and your husband called to remind you to balance the budget and come to terms with your Home Goods bill…(ahem…)…

In case this was the start to your week, Rufus would like to SAY HELLO! AND HE LOVES YOU! In fact, he loves EVERYBODY, especially if you’re made of bright glass (insert sound of vases flying off the bookshelf…)…

 

 


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It’s Time For Some Home Goods

February 25th, 2015 · 2 Comments

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I’ve never been one to buy accessories, but after watching my last house being staged, I grew attached to a house full of mixy-matchy pillows and fake plants. So, so many vignettes, where my eyes would land, and I felt an odd, “ahh…I just LOVE that stack of books topped with fake flowers…why?…I don’t know why…but isn’t it just so pleasant?” The maudlin post about accessorizing a house is here. The laugh until you pee post is here.

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I was discussing my newly acquired knowledge of why one would want a bowl full of grapevine balls with my friend Sumi, and she said, “Home Goods. It all comes from Home Goods, of course. You DO go to Home Goods? You MUST go to HOME GOODS! Where else would you buy plum velvet pillows and candles of varying heights? LORI! GO THERE NOW!” Sumi isn’t one to get worked up about things, so I knew I should make a visit.

Well GOOD HEAVENS…thank you ladies! Now I am addicted. What if I don’t stop by and that was the ONE day they had orchids which perfectly match my bathroom for $14.99? What if I miss a bizarrely perfect throw pillow which would have pulled my entire living room together, all for $19.99? Matching bathroom accessories? YES, PLEASE!

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I am on a house decorating-funds hiatus, but Santa and the Birthday Fairies were very kind to me this year (aka: my in-laws). I don’t know who told Santa I fell off the Home Goods wagon, but I’m glad they did. Sara and Kelly have been excellent consultants, so their desks received a little love tonight as a thank you. 2 matching bulletin boards were a must, because they had taped an unreal number of dress designs to the walls.

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And the clock? Well, that was for me. Because I LOVE it. These desks are located in the bonus room, which went rainbow, almost of its own doing. It’s like it wanted to be a rainbow room. Add in a wickedly large blue clock, and this whole thing just feels like home. I didn’t even know I LIKED clocks of unusual size.

I must clarify two points before I call it a day: (1) Home Goods did not pay me for this post in any way, but they SHOULD. I should be a secret shopper and they should send me coupons. Not because I write, but because I have great taste in fake orchids. (2) I staged these pictures. There is NO WAY on God’s green earth my kids’ desks look anything like this on a day-to-day basis. After an hour of straightening, the above shot was the best I could do. The crap those 2 accumulate is mind-blowing. I promised them they could junk it all back up tomorrow. Sara made me promise to tell you this picture is a COMPLETE LIE. The dress designs are real, but the organization is NOT.

(Which cracks me up, because after school tomorrow I will hear them whisper, “Wow, this is actually better. MOMMY!! Thank you for cleaning up my junk! I can find things I need now!”)

So you know…Home Goods…call me, maybe?


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