Thursday, February 28, 2008

Confessions of a Disappointed Mother

How, oh HOW, is Calvin's 5th birthday one week from today?  I had so many plans and ideas and I have done precisely NONE of them.  I did not want to throw him some crazy pirate-themed bash, with real cannons going off in the backyard or anything, but I SO did want to make it special for him.  I have always made a point of not wanting overkill on birthdays and for me, growing up, they were never huge events.  But how did I get here to birthday #5 and how did I not do one stinkin' thing to really make it special?  I was going to sew him a birthday crown.  I was going to applique a HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner.  I MEANT to applique something really cool on one of his plain hooded sweatshirts, like the ones he always likes in the mini-boden catalog.  I meant to have meals organized, a preschool birthday snack planned and at least ONE game or activity planned for the few friends coming over next week for cake.  CAKE!  My only real plan for THAT is that Mike is making it!  One week.  I know VERY WELL that almost none of this will happen and that what does will be haphazard and last-minute.  SIGH.  I am really disappointed that my vision always seems to outdo my ability to get it done

I wonder how much caffeine it would take to keep me awake for a whole week?  I'm sure the banner would look GREAT after that!  "Mama.... why are the letters all wonky?   And the cake tastes BAD!  Is it made out of coffee grounds?"  

Yup, really disappointed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sentimental Food

So here is my confession: I don't really like cooking.  I like looking at yummy recipes.  I love eating delicious food.   I WANT to like cooking; I just don't.   Still, I think I make a valiant effort to feed my family nutritious, varied and (mostly) home-cooked meals.   I do succumb to frozen, prepared foods at times, or boxed rice dishes or canned spaghettios.  Looking at this picture though, one might think I had sunk to a new low.  CANNED Chinese food?  What really cracks me up about this stuff is that the label admits to being "inspired" by asian food.   Even they can't say it's authentic!   And I don't even want to THINK about the sodium content.  But I have memories attached to La Choy Chow Mein.  And I think sentimental food has its place, no matter how nutritionally void or how lacking in imagination it may be.  Cracking open this can was like having a nice little sit down with my Gram.  She's been gone for about 13 years now, but she used to warm a serving of this sticky gravy and crunchy, tasteless water chestnuts for me because I liked it.   And, what I really loved was the crispy noodles underneath the warm, mushy veggie mix.  The boys felt the same way.  Chow mein noodles, gone.  Chow mein chicken and veggies, not so much.

Some days I think a lot about my Gram and how much she meant to my growing up.  I have so many good memories attached to her and what they all remind me of is how much she loved me and her willingness to share her time and interests with me.  She taught me to love games, birds and baseball.  She read to me and played with me and taught me simple embroidery.  And whether she took the time to melt me a chunk of gooey cheese over the gas stove,  or made me noodles with butter and salt because I didn't like sauce, or warmed me up a can of La Choy, she made me feel special.  My parents and siblings and other family and friends have their own treasured memories that shaped my childhood and who I am today.   I hope and pray my children, and their children to come, will be able to say the same about memories of me; that I took time for them, that I made an effort to be involved but not to control, that I helped them grow and that I made them feel special.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Made in China

I do most of my shopping for the kids (and often for myself) at Salvation Army.  I always feel good after I purchase things there; the prices are great, I get a huge selection of styles and sizes all in one place, and it fits very nicely into our humble attempt at a "reduce, reuse, recycle" lifestyle.  Even though there is always a grand amount of things to choose from at SA, often the bigger problem is lack of the right thing at the right time in the right size.  So when trips there are unfruitful for a particular need, I often shop online (preferred even, to a place where I can stuff them all in a cart).  But...  

....this is what happens when you purchase mass-produced, big-box clothing online.  You get a pretty, (machine) crochet-trimmed sweater that will be quite handy for spring and summer and then you discover that the buttons say "precious."  ACK!  I am pretty much convinced that words should not be allowed on 99% of ANYONE'S clothing, but this is going too far!  My mother would tell me that no one is going to notice.  True.  But isn't that half the point?  If they are going to jack up the costs on their already overpriced clothes by adding useless details, couldn't it be something better than this?  Ellerie certainly is precious, but do I need her buttons to tell me that?  No, I think not.  I am almost to the point where I'd love to replace them, but when I add that to the list of knees that need patches, sweats that need drawstrings, a big boy that will soon need pajamas and the baby that needs "custom pants" for her ample, cloth-diapered bootie, I feel slightly less motivated.  After all, no one is going to notice.

Hmmmm, I think on Ellie's next pair of pants I'll embroider AMPLE across the tush.  Now THAT would be really precious.

Monday, February 25, 2008

What was I thinking?

Well.  I think we will be going with the hand made shoes after all.  There was not a single appropriate-looking and functionally comfortable infant shoe in all of Target-land.  And, after I wheeled a cart full of whiney-boys-who-beg-for-everything around that store, I decided to make a quick stop at Marshall's with NO CART.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?  In the midst of the boys running away from me, Tate throwing shoes in the air (mmmmhmm) and Calvin climbing and hanging on the middle of the racks, I managed to make a completely inappropriate shoe purchase (Please note, I only paid sixteen dollars) for a baby who is not even walking.  VERY CUTE, but huge and clunky and just completely impractical even if they had been free.  SIGH.  Now I am just sick of the whole thing.  The UMIs are going back and Ellerie will be sporting some funky woolen mocs with her frilly party dress.  

(Not Quite) Wedding Shoes

My model was rather uncooperative today.  Maybe she didn't like the shoes.  I think they turned out rather cute and cozy, but decidedly NOT wedding shoe material.  I made them from a felted wool sweater that was too short on me and its large, itchy turtleneck had banished it to a storage trunk.  The soles are some suede-like decorator fabric that I bought a scrap of a couple years ago to repair Calvin's beloved bear.  It has worked fabulously for nicely grippy shoe bottoms.  I found the pattern awhile ago here.

The gorgeous vintage buttons are from Nana Jean's stash and they do add a bit of something to the otherwise very moccasin-like shoes.  I think she will get some lovely foot-toasting wear out of them before warm weather, but pairing them with a frilly, silk dress looks sort of like wearing Uggs with an evening gown.  So my efforts are not entirely in vain, but I will likely end up with some cheap, "made in China" Target-wear (more to follow) as I am running out of time and it is the only place I can shop with all three of them stuffed into a cart.  

She does, apparently, like the buttons.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Where Does the Time Go?

It has become apparent to me, after the last couple of days, that it may take a bit of time before I am in a rhythm of writing here.  I always feel that I need so much more time in every day, just to accomplish the things I NEED to.  Add in a couple of things that I WANT to do and I am sunk.  Pile on three snockery noses, coughs and a "quickie" two-hour-away trip to Great-Grandma's birthday party yesterday and I am absolutely BURIED.  Did I mention that my husband is away evenings and weekends working on our "second home"  (hahaha) and that I have less than two weeks to finish (sewing and buying) gifts for my brother's wedding, making shoes for ellerie for said wedding, buttons on calvin's suit for said wedding, planning a friend birthday party for a very excited turning-five-year-old, finishing end of the month billing for my second job, AND that somewhere in there I have to manage to color my roots?  What was it I said about this being the perfect time to start this BLOG?  Yeesh!  

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Water is Fine

Now.  How to TRULY begin? I have the tendency to want to backpedal, to fill in all the memories that are already fuzzy and mourn the ones that are gone altogether.  So much time has already slipped through my fingers.  We have been married almost ten years.  Our oldest will soon be five, followed by his brother (3) and a baby girl that is almost one (SIGH).  But that is too much and this needs to be a fresh start.  Our family is on the cusp of so many good things as we head toward the coming weeks of spring.  NOW feels like just the right place to look ahead, not backward.   And, so I begin by looking forward to blessings yet to be received: a new home, a new sister-in-law and special birthdays, a maple tree waiting to shade us from the sun when it arrives and branches slung low for a good climb.  There are flower and vegetable gardens to plan, books to be read, sewing to be done, knitting to be learned (I hope!), photos to be taken, children to care for and plans to be made.  A great many opportunities await for stretching our minds and our hearts and our limbs.  So I think I will end my beginning with a toast to the future that awaits us and the chance to capture a bit of it in tangible form:  to finding joy and creating our own birch to swing on. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Cool Dip

I feel, as I begin, that I am standing on the edge of this BLOG, dipping my toes in to test the waters and eyeing for a place to ease myself down.  It is cold here in February; not an easy month to dive in.  I hope that the icy shock of my words exposed will not send me flying from the depths. For, certainly, there are many obvious treasures here to observe and undiscovered joys that will likely find us.  I think my expectation and my purpose here will work out as I go, but for now I will explore the surface and the shallows.  And, I suppose, at some point I shall have to get my feet wet.  Hmmm.  I think I just did.