Thursday, January 26, 2012

Snow Under the Sun

I want to climb the mountain, mommy!

I'll be right behind you if you should slip.

I made a no-ball, mommy.

You're so beautiful, Topher.

I made tracks with my boots, mommy.

You're getting so big, why are you getting so big?

I need to throw no-balls at the bad guys, mommy.

My gosh, I don't know if the sun is shining or if it's your gray eyes that are blinding me.

I need another no-ball, mommy.

The snow looks like sugar in your palm.

Let's play some more, mommy.

Someday you are going to fly.

I got your coat, mommy, with my no-ball.

No, you got me much deeper than that.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Budding Photographer

We gave Topher our old digital camera.  He's pretty excited about it.  You should see how carefully he turns it on, stands two inches away from his desired subject, takes a blurry picture, and beams over it. 

Here's a few of his favorite photos.

This last one is just one of many crotch shots, I might add. 

It's pretty fun to see the world through the eyes of a three-year-old.  And I actually think his point of view is a lot more interesting than my own.  I've never thought much of our laundry basket, for example, until I saw his artistic take on it. 

But maybe that's what kids do best...just continually expose you to new views.  Take a breath, snap a picture, and keep going.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

sewing, or something like that

I have a hand-me-down sewing machine.  Have had for a few years, in fact.  But more often than not, I would glance at it and think, I don't sew.  That's it, just I don't sew as though it were something I could not change.  As though I were saying, My eyes aren't blue, never will be.

Well as Christmas was approaching and my fingers were knitting themselves into knots I started thinking, I need a new hobby.  And there was my sewing machine, dusty and looking sorry for itself.  So, just for fun, I started perusing the internet, looking for beginning sewing patterns.  I came across one that I fell in love with.

So I begged my sewing-master friend Beth to give me a lesson.  For a couple hours she walked me through how to cut fabric, topstitch, and add batting.  With her help, and then finishing it myself the next day, I made what I set out to make: a Pyrex carrying cover.  My mom always seems to be delivering a meal to someone, so I gave it to her for Christmas. 

But then after adding up the cost of that little project I started feeling gloomy.  Fabric is expensive (on sale for $5/yard--gee thanks), and I didn't know how I would ever accumulate enough to create a good stash.

Fortunately, I came across a blog that suggested buying fabric second-hand.  Sheets, towels, tablecloths...anything made of fabric at a thrift store is fair game.

This was the most genius idea I had ever come across (in the world of sewing).  So I ran to the Salvation Army and grabbed 4 sheet sets for about $8.  There's a couple YARDS of fabric in EACH sheet so really, the cost per yard is negligible.  (I then promptly washed them all because they had that certain Salvation Army smell.  But now they smell just like my dryer sheets.  And they also smell a bit like a bargain, if you ask me, which is a totally lovely scent.)  

I decided this is the perfect way to learn how to sew.  I can practice making things and if I mess up, it only cost me a few cents.  

Sigh of relief.  I can now continue to pursue my new hobby.

So the first thing I did was learn how to ruffle and, using one of those sheets, I made myself an apron.  I did not use a pattern, but I knew what I wanted it to look like in the end.  And after reading several sewing blogs and tutorials on line, all the info I needed was in my head somewhere, in bits and pieces.

Success (as long as I don't show you the back side)!

Then I made a little pin cushion for my sewing machine, so I'd have somewhere to put all the pins I pull out as I'm sewing along. 

Then I decided that I wanted to learn how to quilt.  I can't exactly explain why, except that I have a favorite quilt that I adore, and I can stare at it for hours and it always amazes me that someone made it.

So, an easy way to learn some quilting techniques is to knit yourself a potholder.  Using the leftover Pyrex material, I did just that.  This was also my first attempt at making my own bias tape (the edging, here in green.)

Then I saw a sprocket pillow and I knew I wanted to make one.  So I got out some floral sheets and went to work.

I kind of love this pattern, and if you made it bigger it could be an awesome floor pillow.  Perfect for a playroom and also so very zen.

But so far it was all just little things.  What I really wanted to make was my first quilt.  I found instructions for the "world's most simple quilt" and knew that was the one for me.

I no longer believe everything I read.

Seriously, if THIS is the easiest quilt in the world, I'm in trouble. 

However, in the spirit of not giving up, I decided to finish it no matter what. 

And last night, I did.

It's a small quilt, lap size (or Topher-sized, if it weren't so darn flowery), but it is a quilt. 

And I sewed it myself.  Without too much trouble.

Or something like that.

Now does anybody need a quilt and matching pillow?


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Literary Siblings

I bet you didn't know that I come from a literary family.

I do.

At our big Christmas gathering, my brothers announced the completion of their first children's book.

Then my sister announced the completion of her first novel.

Both are phenomenal.

And I do not say that as a sister, I say that as an avid reader.

So without further ado, please allow me to introduce to you....

A hilarious story about two brothers (based on true events) with pictures that are delightful.  My brother Jeff illustrated it, and I love his signature drawings.  It is Topher's new favorite book.

And allow me to also introduce to you a novel close to my heart...

From the first page you will know that my sister Regina is a very talented individual.  It is so easy to be swallowed up by her descriptions, to see the story like a movie in your mind.  It's about a teenage girl who discovers a family secret and goes searching for the answers that her mother refuses her.  If you love the cover, give my brother-in-law, Justin, all the credit.  (In fact, that beautiful girl on the front is my niece!)

I feel like I need to step up my game in order to stay in this crazy-talented family.

Both books are available in paperback and Kindle formats

On Little Wings is FREE on Kindle for a limited time.

A deep and heartfelt congratulations to my siblings.  I'm so proud to be your sister.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Brand New Year

Christmas has come and gone.  It wasn't quite the week we had planned on as various illnesses worked their way through our family, but it was a long and (mostly) relaxing week.  Even with a trip to KC followed by a trip to Minneapolis.   

I don't know why January 1st feels so different from December 31st.  But there's this feeling at the start of every year that maybe everything will just fall into place and that the year will be a beautiful one.  I do know that this year we will pay off TJ's grad school loan (more on that later), we'll start saving for a down payment on a house, and we'll become the parents of a four-year-old.  Other than that, the possibilities are endless.

Christmas morning 2011, messy hair and all:

If last year was my year of knitting, this year I think I'll delve into the art of sewing.  As I was working on an apron this morning Topher sat in my lap and helped me feed the material through the sewing machine.  He said it sounded like a tractor. 

My other resolutions include being more patient (my ultimate downfall), more thifty (is that even possible?!), and more positive.

Christmas morning 2011, leaving for church.  Topher has discovered how to make funny faces at the camera instead of smiling.  He thinks he is hilarious:

I know what I am hoping this year to be but I also know that we are often blessed with alternate plans, so the key is to have a little faith.  Here's hoping that this year is a wonderful one.  Happy New Years!