Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Why teaching myself to knit of course.
Scott would tell you it's because I'm crazy.
Mostly it's because I want a pair of hand-warmers, and I'd really like to be able to make them myself. (Mine of course, at least the first pair, will not include a cable knit...or probably more then one color of yarn. Though I have been known to be a bit of an over achiever at times, so one never knows what might happen!)
Thankfully I have a basement well stocked with random crafting supplies, including 2 pairs of knitting needles and a nice skein of cream colored cotton yarn, which has made tonight's spur of the moment lesson possible. (After all, doesn't everyone have a couple spare pairs of knitting needles hanging out in their basement?)
And the lovely internet is a gold mine of free instructions and patterns. YIPPEE for me!
It's been several years since we've done anything for New Year's that didn't center around our DVD player and the ability to wear our flannel PJs. I guess when you look at it that way, knitting fits right into our festivities.
I'm taking a break to read about the purl stitch, and we're eagerly awaiting the chance to count down with NY...so we can go to bed...yes, at 11:00 OUR time.
Like I said...we're pretty wild and crazy people on New Year's.
Back to my tutorial...
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The first viable option...
Oops, Jason has his glasses on and Brea, well, is less than impressed with this whole process.
On to the next option...
Probably the best shot...glasses have been ditched, Brea is still less than impressed with our photo shoot but is at least looking at the camera.
Carlos keeps clicking away, which brings us to...
...finally a smile from Brea, but alas, Jason and Lexi are BOTH blinking.
One last chance for that perfect shot...
The girls at this point have lost interest and are watching James the cat as he's wandering around down in front of us.
Maybe we'll have better luck next time. (Like when it's not so stinkin' wintery out.)
Thanks Carlos for your photography services!
On a positive note, I don't totally hate the way I look in these photos even though the wind has my hair all funky, looking nothing like it did when we walked out the door. (I have a hair appointment in a couple weeks..and I'm feeling the urge for a shorter change. A strong, strong urge I tell ya!) So be it. At least proof, beyond random shots of my feet, that I exist.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
The sun is shinning beautifully today. We all needed a bit of fresh air being as it's been cold and yucky and we've been cooped up inside. We bundled up and headed to the back yard to play in the rays.
Fun was had.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The fun news of the night: Lexi tried my family's traditional Italian "fondue", the Christmas Eve meal standard, for the first time tonight and LOVED it. Considering she's a VERY picky eater, there is a major milestone in our family. (I can't tell you what's in it because then you might not try it and boy would you be missing out on a little piece of heaven. I mean really...have the Italians EVER steered us wrong when it comes to food?) Brea informed us she DIDN'T like it, and then continued to dip her bread and suck on it until she lost interest because she had to potty. Our house now smells like...well, garlic and salty seafood. A smell you don't notice until you take the dogs out for a potty break, clearing your nose in the fresh cold air of the night, only to be accosted the minute you step in the door with the reminder of the 8000 fat calories you just washed down with 1/2 a bottle of red wine. (OK...so it's only me who chased with wine...hence the chatty, witty typing. Thank goodness for spell check!)
The girls and I spent the day finishing up our holiday preps. I had to teach and then I promised a visit to the coffee shop. While there we were discussing what the girls might like to get Scott for Christmas. (Yes, we left that shopping task for TODAY. No worries...Scott didn't finish HIS shopping til today either...so we're even.) Brea thought for a moment and then said excitedly, "How about a boy purse!!!" I'm not sure what she had in mind, but Scott can thank me later that he's not getting a "boy purse" tomorrow morning, but something much more suited to his style. After coffee and procurement of a proper gift, we hit the post office where we had to stand in line (shocker) for 15 minutes for a simple books of stamps and to pay the postage due on a Christmas Card we received yesterday. Scott and I have decided that's how we're sending our cards next year...postage due...so get your 42 cents ready! A stop at the grocery store and we were home...with no plans to leave again until Friday morning. YEE HA!
This afternoon after getting the girls settled for afternoon quiet time, I finished up the last of the holiday sewing that needed to be finished by tomorrow morning. (Notice the implication that ALL the sewing for the holidays is not done. It's not. Yes...some of you dear friends will be receiving gifts post Christmas...possibly in the new year. I still love you, I simply have a problem with BIG ideas and an unrealistic concept of how much time is need to finish said ideas.) I'm way excited to share the pictures of all my handmade gifts this year once everyone has received them. (Which means like maybe sometime in late January.)
Day 11 means we're only looking back a month into November. November was NaBloPoMo, which meant I wrote often, so there's lots to read about if you want to check the archives. The month ended with a trip to Kansas City for Thanksgiving and a night out with my ladies. I couldn't have asked for a better Thanksgiving weekend than that! And as if Mother Nature was ushering in December, the end of the month brought snow.
Snow that set the ground work for what is turning out to be a VERY white Christmas.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
In the interest of saving time, I'm going to ask you to click on the archives for the month in the right hand menu to see what all went on...and I'm going to head back down to my workshop to keep working on the last of the girls' gifts that I'm making this year...inspired by these adorable pups made by Manda of Tree Fall Design.
Monday, December 22, 2008
September is Lexi's month. This year she turned 7. How did that happen? SEVEN!?!?!? I'm not old enough to have a 7-year-old. (I know...technically I'm old enough to have a teenager in my house...but that's just biologically speaking. My youthful spirit sometimes has a hard time accepting the fact that I'm a mother of a 7-year-old!) This year for Lexi's birthday we spent the afternoon visiting the apple orchard.
It's always a fun family outing, though we've never gone picking in shorts and tanks. September this year was amazing warm, clear through to the end. Thank you Mother Nature!
This September also marked the return of Ladies Weekend for me. Much like RAGBRAI, these bi-annual weekends have become a major part of keeping my batteries charged for the life I live in-between. Even though I come home tired due to a total lack of sleep because we're too busy talking, I return emotionally refreshed from my crafty time spent with Jen.
Finally, I'm caught up and ready to finish out the last 3 days of these greetings, the last 3 months of the year, back on schedule! Now, I must go lose myself in "the workshop." I've got 2 gifts to finish up (ok, they have to be STARTED in order for them to get FINISHED) before Thursday and time is a tickin'!
Even though we decided to forgo sending cards to our normal list of about 75 recipients this holiday season, opting to send you greetings here instead, we do still need to send just a handful of cards out to the generation of Grandparents who we know don't read my ramblings here throughout the year. (OR probably more importantly, don't get to see the girls grow up through all the pictures I post!) So I ordered up 1/2 a dozen cards with my cute little girls faces plastered on the front and then decided that I should put forth the effort to include a holiday letter as well. I find it funny that I felt so strongly to do so considering in years past when sending to "the masses" I've been happy with taking 30 minutes to design and order a card, print out labels (I have to say if it wasn't for the creation of a mailing list a few years back in Excel, which allows me to merge and print address labels with little more than the click of the mouse, none of those mailings would have EVER happened), and wrestle the rest of the family into helping me assembly line stuff, stick, and seal around the end of November. But this year I felt compelled to take the time to summarize our year in print for the benefit of those 5 receiving addresses. It probably helps that I spend so much time writing here and enjoy it so much. I'm happy to report I was able to fit the year's summary onto 2 pages (one page, front and back) AND I even used slightly larger than normal type font for easier reading by aged eyes. It's amazing to me to think of two pages as a short amount of writing space. It really does make one think about every word that one chooses to put on the page! Thankfully I don't have that worry here!
A gal here in town a few months back told me last year she sent out an EIGHT page holiday letter. HOLY COW!
I told her she needed a blog...
So August 2008. August is kinda a sad month...only because it signals the end of summer and our lazy days filling up our schedule with whatever we feel like doing that day. August this year also seemed to be the turning point in my commitment to blog more regularly. I don't think consciously, but with the changing of the season (the end of RAGBRAI and the thought of the first days of school signally the coming of fall) I often get reflective and have the need to take a little look at life in all of it's various shades. And this blog has offered me up a space to do so more openly than just in my own brain...which is where all of this "conversation" has normally taken place through the years. I know, it's scary looking inside my brain. And to think on the outside I seem so quiet and calm!
It was fun to take the standard 1st day of school picture again just outside our front door with the green of the lawn and the cheery backdrop of Black-eyed Susan's...and then to compare it to last year's 1st day of school picture.
What a difference a year makes!
August is also a happy month because it means the bounty of the summer gardens is coming into full force. We're so lucky to have a wonderful farmer's market here in town where you can pick up everything from organic produce to handmade wares. A local favorite is Humphry's sweet corn stand. They set up every day in a parking lot on Hwy 146, starting the day with a truck bed full of fresh picked corn. They take shelter from the sun under their shade tent and sell until the truck bed is empty, only to repeat the scene again the next day. It is by far the best sweet corn you can get in town and it's always a joy to stop to buy from their stand regardless who in the family is selling that day.
As you can see, Brea was of the age to fully appreciate the yumminess and fun of sweet corn this year...and Lexi had all of her front teeth which made for easier eating than last year! It wouldn't surprise me if my Mom, after reading this post with a mention of garden bounty, searches out her seed catalog to sit and browse through with a cup of tea. I wouldn't mind doing that myself today...it would help me to forget the fact that it's -4 degrees out right now!!!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Each year for the past couple of years this task has gotten less fun and more challenging for me. Partially because mostly we just shop for our girls as we tend to do little homemade or craft inspired gifts for friends and relatives. Our girls have a closet full of clothes and a room FULL, FULL, FULL of toys. So it's hard to think about how/what to add to that mix. Personally, I've really tried over the past couple of years to step back from the commercialism that has become the center of the holiday season (one of the big reasons I don't participate in Black Friday regardless how good the deals) with the intent towards more conscious consumerism. These days I can more fully appreciate the simplicity of the gifts my brother and I received growing up. I hope to instill that same value in our girls, helping them to understand that giving/getting doesn't need to mean having in excess. I'd like them to come to appreciate how small thoughtful gifts and time together with family and friends are what the holidays are about. There's a bit of a disconnect between that wish, and how Scott's family approaches Christmas. So it's been an interesting balance to try to find over the years.
And Partially because as someone who doesn't necessarily have "traditional" religious views, I struggle to make sure my girls grow up understanding "the reason for the season." That regardless of what you believe you can use this time of the year to celebrate life and the gifts we each are given through the year, to share what we are able with those in this world who are in need of our love and compassion, and acknowledge the blessings that bring value, joy, and love to our lives.
But I digress...on to yesterday's recap of July 2008!
July for me can be summed up in one word, RAGBRAI. And if this holiday greeting thing was only about me, I'd be done for the night. But it's not...so I'm not.
July is a warmer version of June for us. We still maintain a lazier schedule that is just sooooooo much fun. This July Scott started his new job in a new career field with a new vision of what his professional future holds. July also brought my brother to Iowa for a 10 day stay before we departed for RAGBRAI with the crew. You can be assured there were 2 VERY happy little girlies in our house for those 10 days as Uncle Jason may just be their favorite person in the whole world. My absence on RAGBRAI means that the girls get spoiled silly by Aunt Pammy and Grandma Peg, which is like having their own little summer vacation experience. The last week in July may become a week they to look forward each year just as much as I do.
This July I was fortunate to have my first photography gig. An event that helped give me the confidence to think about taking on a new adventure in 2009. I'll let you know when I have some details in place to share!
My goal for tomorrow is to get back on track here. Lexi will (hopefully) head off to school, Scott will head to work, Brea and I will go off to our morning commitments and then with the coming of afternoon nap time I plan to catch up...although the pull of the craft room may over power the urge to write. I do have 2 gifts for 2 very cute little girls to finish up before we count our way down through those last 4 sleeps. They may be shortened sleeps for this Santa's helper!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
So June, I love June. School is over for the summer and our lives take on a lazy summer schedule/feel. The two main themes for June:
Of course there was also plenty of fun and a little time at the pool thrown in the month as well.
Did I mention I love June?
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Today we're expecting an ice storm. One that is moving a bit slower than anticipated, but as a result school was let out 2 hours early. On top of that the house were Brea normally goes for a play date on Thursdays while I'm on campus teaching had a kiddo at home with the tummy bug today. Which meant that my normal slow paced Thursday had 90 minutes of time over the lunch hour where I needed to be 3 places at once. And here come Laura and Monica to my rescue. Laura offers to pick Lexi up from school which has turned into an afternoon play date at her house with Sam. One child taken care of. Monica suggests I drop Brea off at the studio while she's teaching after which she'll bring her back home. Child 2 taken care of. Which meant I was able to make it to campus on time to teach my class and have a few minutes of quiet time at home while I waited for Brea to be dropped off.
And that's just ONE tiny example of how wonderful my life is because of the love of friends. I could write for days on this subject.
Looking back at May, time with friends was a major theme. First there was our very chilly night out at Tulip Time with Allen and Shannon. Then the weather warmed up and outdoor cycling season kicked into gear which meant Laura and I got the chance to chat, chat, chat away a few miles every week.
Over Memorial Day weekend we packed up the family and headed to Ord Nebraska to visit our friends the Bengstons. We've stopped through for short visits on trips further west to visit my family, but this time it was so fun to just get to hang out and meet all of Jen and Brent's great friends and enjoy the simplicity of a small town celebration. The girls had a fun time playing on their newly finished swing/play set.
I finished out the month in Chicago with Monica at my first big yoga conference. What a fabulous time that was! One I'm hoping we can maybe repeat again in 2009!!!
May was one of those months I talked about yesterday when I had more than plenty good photos to choose from for posting today. I love this one of Brea wearing a shirt that was given to me when I was little. My Mom would have to confirm the story, but I'm pretty sure this shirt was a gift from my Great Grandparents, brought back from vacation travels.
My Great Grandpa loved to travel and I can remember sitting and looking through photo albums of he and Great Grandma's trips when I was a kid. We joke that this Brea's serious model pose. But really she was being impatient with the fact I was making her stand still to take this picture rather than allowing her to run and play in the warmth of the sun.
This picture of Lexi is an example of probably the most commonly viewed summer scene at our house: a happy girl in her sun glasses making our driveway a pretty place with her box of sidewalk chalk.
How I do miss being greeted by those fun little drawings every day. One more thing to look forward to with the coming of spring!
Tuesday after I finished checking email and posting here on my little spot, Brea informed me that she was working....moving her little fingers quickly over the keyboard of her little princess laptop as if she was typing.
She was very concerned about the fact her computer didn't have a mouse, asking "How do I do this?" (Waving her hand around off to the side of the keyboard as if rolling her mouse in it's mouse pad.) The things they do pick up by simple observation!
This morning as I watched Lexi walk down the drive on her way to school I was once again reminded how quickly she is growing up. On these cold snowy mornings I'm happy that I no longer have to bundle up Brea and myself to walk Lexi the block to school....but I'm also a little saddened about the confident level of independence Lexi has gained over the past few months. Not sad for her confidence....just that she's so independent. You parents know what I mean.
The cold and snow has been a bit of frustration for Tilde the past few days. She's, shall we say, a bit choosy about where she does her business sometimes. Not to mention she's easy distracted by every car that crunches by, by any leave that rustles, by every bird caught in vision hoping around looking for a snack. She's also a bit sensitive to the cold. Which means we've spent several potty breaks outside as of late with her frantically trying to find the "right" spot which never happens because soon she's sitting at my feet looking up at me with her sad hazel eyes alternately lifting her paws, ready to go in the house to warm up...after which we have to go out and try AGAIN because she still HAS TO GO! Thank goodness she has better control these days and hasn't resorted to just doing her business in the house!
I've been busy working away down in my new little workshop space getting ready for the holidays. Unfortunately for me (because you know how excited I get when I'm creating stuff) I can't write about any of it here because there are too many individuals who regularly visit this spot who are getting gifts that have been created down in the workshop. So you'll have to be happy with this picture of my "support" space as I like to think of it.
Hot tea, tunes, and lifelines to the outside world. The only thing missing is the box of kleenex and tin of holiday Hershey's kisses, which at the time I took this picture where on the other corner of the table. They have now made their way into the "support space" because I needed their old space for working! I love my new space and even though the basement isn't really heated, the little space heater does a pretty good job of keeping my space comfortable (with a sweatshirt and my slippers on of course). The only draw back is it's kinda like a casino. Without a view to the outside world I VERY easily loose track of how much time has passed and can, if given the chance, get lost down there for HOURS at a time! Not usually a problem, except I like to craft in the late evening which means I've had some shortened nights of sleep lately. (Which I guess isn't any different than as I was working through the Twilight series books early November through early last week. Talk about a book series that sucks your time away without notice!) Thankfully Christmas is only a week away...I think a nap will definitely be in order for this Mom on Christmas day!
Lexi had a Latin American music concert for school last Friday. (I do have a video to eventually post....maybe.) Unfortunately Scott was unable to make it as his car broke down on his way home from work. After a bit of a stressful weekend trying to figure out what all needed replaced to get George back in working order, I'm glad to say as of Tuesday night (thanks to Scott and Uncle Chris putting the new parts on in the COLD Tuesday afternoon) we once again are a two car family. I wish we didn't so much depend on having 2 working vehicles, but it's where we are in life right now with Scott's daily commute to Des Moines and my random schedule that involves running around town several times a day. I could commute by bike...but not this time of year with a layer of ice on the roads and wind chills below zero!
I think that about does it. Later today I'll continue on with our regularly scheduled programming for the day...
...FIIIIIIVE GOLDEN RIIIIINGS!!!
(I couldn't resist.)
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
April was indeed a transition month for us this year. There were some ups, some fun times, and unfortunately a couple of big downers. Scott returned to the job market at the end of the month, for which the result has been the opportunity for him to pursue a job in a career field that he had always wanted to get into but could never get that first break, human resources. A tough situation, but one that seems to be working itself out for the better.
Most notably though, at least for me, was having my 27-year-old brother call me to tell me he's been diagnosed with cancer. I still think back to that call and the sudden heartbreak I felt when I heard his words and the tears (on both ends of the line) that soon followed. The thought of losing one of my very best friends, a part of my soul, still brings tears to eyes. There's so much uncertainty, so many unknowns when the initial diagnosis is made it seemed impossible not to think about the worst options. We are so fortunate that the outcome has been in our favor, the best option available. In some ways those few weeks of April and leading into May seem but a blip on our radar. It was a moment in time that has forever changed my perspective on what's important in life, what can be faced with the right attitude, and how some problems just aren't as big as they seem...because nothing trumps a situation where a life is involved. It's also part of the reason I think more than any other year since we've moved to Iowa, my heart aches to be closer to home this holiday season. To hold and hug my family, the people I love with all my heart, and to tell them face to face how much I love them for the wonderful people that they are and for the gift their presence in my life have been.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
So, ummmm, yeah...I've got nothing when attempting to reference small European game birds. So maybe the 12 Days of Christmas song-tie-in will end here. Besides, as my Mom and I talked about on the phone the other day, can I really remember the gifts of choice for each day without referencing the internet for answers? Probably not. I can never remember how many maids are milking or dancers are dancing or drummers are drumming. Combine those busy peoples with all the fowl involved and it sounds like one noisy party. I'm not sure the "true love" really thought things through before bestowing gifts.
Speaking of the 12 Days of Christmas, my Aunt Carol sent along this little tid-bit which explains what the ACTUAL 12 days are in reference to:
The Twelve Days of Christmas is probably the most misunderstood part of the church year among Christians who are not part of liturgical church traditions. Contrary to much popular belief, these are not the twelve days before Christmas, but in most of the Western Church are the twelve days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25th until January 5th). In some traditions, the first day of Christmas begins on the evening of December 25th with the following day considered the First Day of Christmas (December 26th). In these traditions, the twelve days begin December 26 and include Epiphany on January 6.
And now we all know. (Going back to the fact that sometimes I'm kinda a nerd...I love finding out little pieces of information like this. Thanks Carol!)
Back to the task at hand...recapping March 2008!
March is a busy month in our family as we get to celebrate 2 birthdays...mine at the beginning of the month and Brea's at the end of the month.
This year the girls and I took advantage of Lexi's week long spring break from school to make our annual trip to visit family in Western Nebraska. This was the girls and I's first trek westward since August 2006 when Brea was only 5-months-old and we spent more time that I'd like to remember driving with her screaming in her car seat because damn it, 650 miles is a long ways for a little butt to sit in one day. I'm glad to say that we now regularly split our drive into 2 days each direction and the distraction of the portable DVD player helps the little butts stay mostly quiet while we're on the road. We're planning a repeat trip for spring break '09 and are hoping that daddy will be able to join us this year!
I love March because it signals the coming of spring...one of my favorite times of the year (I war with which is my top favorite, spring or fall) what with it's warmer weather, new green growth and delicate cheery blooms, and the smell of the newly turned earth as farmers move back into the fields to prepare for planting. As I sit here writing today it is snowing out. Soft, quiet, gentle flakes. Yesterday a cold spell brought temps and wind chills in the single digits and below which kept us all inside as much as possible. Writing about March today makes me happy...knowing that warmer times are only 2 1/2 months away!