Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I don't post about as many of these as I'd like. There's always some other burning issue to blog about... But I can't pass this one up. I bought an ERGO baby carrier for this baby, and for the first time I can actually use a front-carrier! It's wonderful. Our Blessed Arrows is giving away a pile of ERGO accessories - not the carrier itself, mind you, but the backpack, tote, waist pouch and diaper bag. Also some cloth diapers! Here's what got me to post about it here... I already entered to win it, but this post gets me another entry. And since the pile o' Ergo goodies EXACTLY MATCHES my existing Ergo, I must win. I must. please?


Guess what? We made it back Saturday afternoon with nary a suspicious glance from Gi-gi to Big Sister's tooth!

We left Thursday evening around 7:00. The skies were clear, roads dry, and temps around freezing. We knew it was/had been snowing where Gi-gi lives, but it didn't sound like it'd be a problem. About halfway there, along the freeway, the temperature had dropped 10 degrees and we noticed a car off the freeway along the other side. A wrecker was in the process of hauling it up to it's flatbed. The thought crossed my mind that maybe the roads were more slippery than we (or the other drivers around us) thought. The car didn't look damaged, though it was hard to tell in the fading light. A few miles later we came upon some flashing lights where there was a semi in the median (from our side) and another semi overturned on the other side of the freeway (from the other lane). Yikes! Not 1000 feet later was another flatbed towtruck working out the details of extracting an SUV that had rolled UP the embankment to our right (and was laying on it's side). That's when we almost turned back. I knew the road report wasn't 911, and fyi, it's not 611 or 811 either. 511, however, will get you close. I say 'close' because it's full of voice-(not-so) recognition and superfluous information. By the time I got the information I wanted, it was clear the worst was behind us. We took it easy, though, and our normally-2-hour trip took nearly four. Boy, were we hungry for dinner at 11:00 p.m.

Next day I did a lot of knitting and sitting around. I had planned on getting together with my yarn-giving friend, but she got caught up in some other activities -- hence the knitting! That evening we went to a large gathering of Scots to listen to bagpipes, eat a dinner, and enjoy haggis. I'm not sure about Baby's dislike of the pipes... Or maybe it was that our table was right alongside the stage. Had I been so inclined, I could've found out for sure what scotsmen wear under their kilts... I'm not so inclined. But I'll tell you right now that the "scottish shortbread" in the table center didn't hold a candle to the stash we brought along of our own. After doing a comparative taste-test, a friend at the table whispered, "they could call this stuff fall-shortbread, because it really falls short..." Too true. I wore my great-grandmother's wool plaid skirt, complete with rabbit-foot pin. It scratched me once or twice. Gi-gi was awarded a beautiful boquet for attending the most consecutive years. Can you guess? Seventy-six! It would have been more but the family rule was that you had to be five years old to attend. Back then they drove their Model-something (A? T?) in from the farm for the weekend. We returned to Gi-gi's very late (in our warm Camry) and put the girls to bed. My yarn-giving friend stopped by and we enjoyed a moment's conversation and some knitting. Of course.

Saturday we returned home, dry roads and clear skies the whole way, thankfully. We attended our cousin's wedding in Town, and it was actually a great wedding. From the beginning music to the receiving line took up about 10 minutes total, and it was followed by a tastey catered dinner on-site.

We were late to get out the door for church on Sunday, so we took a couple apples and some string cheese (courtesy: Gi-gi) along in the car. Big Sister took a bite of apple and that did a great job for wrenching that cockeyed tooth out! I think we weren't even out the driveway when she had the tooth in hand. I kept it in my pocket until that evening when we put it in a glass of water. It "turned into" a 1966 two-shillings coin! She is very excited to add that to her Sacajawea dollar from last year. Of course, she didn't get a coin for swallowing the first one.

This week I am working on the taxes... It's a far simpler chore this year; no house sold or rented, no capital gains from sales or stocks, not much MK business to deal with on schedule C. The hardest part is waiting for all the paperwork in the mail. We could really use that refund right about now! Part of me is excited to have a 'windfall' of sorts... but then I realize the government wrested it from us in the first place, and we're really just squaring up now. Hubby's work hours continue to shorten. Everyone has been told to "pick a day" to stay home each week. We've nearly run out of vacation days, so we're seriously needing to tighten the belt now. Two or three co-workers of his have applied for unemployment. I'm still not sure if that's because they were officially laid-off, or if "someone had to go" and they volunteered. Either way, I can tell it's wearing on Hubby. He is concerned. See what happens? I open my big mouth and blog about how we're "deceived" into thinking the paycheck or job is what provides... and then we get to put our (dwindling) money where our (big) mouth is. They're saying that the ground is frozen and all the projects are on hold, but Hubby has worked there 8 years and the ground has frozen before... and no one was told to stay home... We're hoping the tax refund comes out well enough that we can go ahead with our counter-replacing plans next month.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Shhh! Don't Tell Gi-gi!

We're about to leave town for a day or two to see Gi-gi, eat haggis, maybe find a yarn store...

Big Sister has a front top tooth literally hanging there. It's not just loose; the thing is sticking outward and turned in front of the other front tooth. I've tried (gently) pulling it, ice-cream bribes, and the threat of Gi-gi discovering it, but the thing remains.

What are the chances of keeping this obtrusion a secret?

I'll let you know Saturday or Sunday...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sewing Gifts, Part 5

These have been great. I made homemade mittens! I didn't really think it was possible, at least not possible for me. But I can assure you that it is quite possible. This tutorial was the inspiration and how-to. It walks you through making the customized fit! I traced my girls' hands, followed the directions (with a few grand changes, of course) and it worked admirably.

I used some leftover cotten wovens (cheap calico, anyone?) that I'd used to make a size 2 dress for Big Sister when she was... 2. Okay, so I keep everything. It works out sometimes, see? The inside layer was some super-soft anti-pill fleece that I got 1) on sale, 2) marked down due to dirt [no, it wasn't me who ran a shopping cart over it, but it washed out great!], 3)when I thought I'd be making *blue* diaper covers. I decorated the outside with leftover (from the crayon rolls) rickrack and some random buttons. I didn't have sets of buttons, so only the right-hand mittens got a button. Don't worry; I have used that element (or lack thereof) to help teach left and right!

The pattern ends up huge; don't worry. In fact, I thought the thumbs ended up almost too skinny. Of course, I used fluffy fleece and an extra secret layer... The shiny red stuff in the picture is some red PUL - waterproof diaper-making stuff. Again, red because I have very poor intuition. It weren't cheap (weren't too expensive neither, cause I joined a co-op)and I didn't want it to be for naught. So, while the festive, red, christmas-ey diaper cover didn't happen, it became a very nice waterproof layer in my girls' mittens (and completely invisible, too)!

I made a little loop along the side of each wrist, and fastened a cheap (read "clearance spool of christmas-printed) ribbon (adjustable with high-tech safety pins) between the mittens. Does that make sense? Did your mother every make you wear mittens that threaded through your coatsleeves so you wouldn't lose one? Yes, I'm that uncool too. But my kids are homeschooled so they don't notice.

If I ever want to deal with another 24 (!) mitten-shaped layers, I might pick a different fabric for the outer; the girls use these, and the color and pattern has nearly completely rubbed off, leaving a grayish, worn-out area.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I have been thinking lately. I know, I know... that's both rare and dangerous, but at least I can admit it.

I've been thinking about how I feel safe and secure and blessed when Hubby's paychecks are enough to pay the bills, when the pantry is well-stocked, and when we're all healthy and well. I feel "on top of things" when we pay off a debt.

I am realizing that all these things are deceptive. For in truth my safety, security and blessing aren't really based on how many hours Hubby worked. They aren't based in Hubby's having his job, or being able to work. Debts aren't reduced because I can stretch a dollar. In truth we are all one breath away from ruin, destruction, death. It is only by God's grace that we stand. It is easy to find 'cause and effect' between paychecks and pantries, but it is false evidence. Of course we are to be good stewards of what God provides, but that's just it: It's what God provides. I begin to feel relief and satisfaction that we are close to the house being our only debt... and then I realize that one accident, illness, liability, or circumstance could change that in an instant. And I am humbled to realize that it is only God - only God - which keeps us. It is not in a raise (or not) at Hubby's job. It is not in continued employment. It is not in careful budgeting. All these things are good, and may well be God's chosen method for keeping us, but we cannot be distracted by His methods; we must remain focused on Him.

We may do everything 'right': keep and use our credit wisely, eat healthy foods, develop skills and seek gainful employment... and still the sink could crack. I am grateful that it is the sink and counter, not the house foundation, anyone's bones, or my sanity.

Galations 6:7-8
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

Be not deceived! Careful control and planning (sowing to flesh) do not equal security. Walking faithfully in Him, dying to self (sowing to the Spirit), these things equal true security. We can rest in Him, that He will enable us for what He calls us to.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sewing Gifts, Part 4

I love these. They're so adorable, and I wish I had some use for little, cute clutch purses like these. I seem to carry around far more than would fit in all of these put together... But anyways. I got the pattern (directions, really) from a new book, Bend the Rules Sewing. I'd run across ideas and reviews of it on various blogs, and bought it from Amazon (again, can't say I recommend that method of purchase). It wasn't what I expected, but it wasn't disappointing either. I think it would be a wonderful book for beginning sewers (hmm... that word just reeks, doesn't it? How about seamstresses?). It's full of good, real-life tips and advice, much of which I learned "the hard way" through years of trial and error! It's also full of fun project ideas that don't necessarily take a huge investment in fabric purchasing. Anyways... I made these "Artsy Clutches" (a little less artsy, of course) as gifts for some friends and family. One tip I've enjoyed is using cotton flannel to 'pad' these instead of interfacing or other more expensive options. The three woven-plaid clutches are lined with cotton prints and a pretty, shiny fabric (I think that's what the label said...). I used old vintage buttons that I inherited from someone at some point. They were beautiful. Have I said that already? I made ribbon-ties for these instead of the elastic-loop showcased on the book's cover. This embroidered-linen-look clutch has a 'boughten' button and is lined with... (ready? It's pretty amazing!) antique japanese silk. How do I know? Am I an antiques expert? A Japanese historian? A silk-trader? Nope, none of the above. (Caution, pointless rabbit trail to follow) For years Gi-gi's neighborhood has included an old Japanese woman (Yoshi) who married an American soldier who was stationed in Okinawa after WWII. I'm not sure how long ago her husband died, but I don't remember him from my childhood. They never had children, and even after her husband died, she tended her rose garden, fed the quail and squirrels and raised Old Glory every morning in her backyard on a flagpole. In fact, that's how Gi-gi knew to check on her last year; the flag wasn't put up one morning. My grandma found her in her bathroom; she'd passed away while getting up to use the bathroom at night. A nephew (from the husband's side) had the job of liquidating the estate on behalf of her relatives in Japan, and among items to be disposed was a box of fabric. Gi-gi isn't too domestic, but she knows I love such things, so she acquired it for me. It is a treasure. There are 2 or 3 hand-sewn kimonos, bundles of silk (with brown paper price tags (?) attached), some stiffer wall-hanging type things, and even a pair of foot 'mittens'. The little cloth shoes over which cute Japanese women wear flip-flops. I can only assume these were sent with a new bride to bring a touch of home to her new land. The wine-colored silk in the clutch, when I unfolded it, showed tiny holes along previous stitch-lines; I wish I could know it's whole story.

As always, I hope the recipients of these gifts were as blessed by these trinkets as I would be.

And if Hubby's work schedule keeps on dwindling, perhaps I'll have to part with some silk...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Amazon.com Issue; Back Cover

Why "Back Cover"? This is the late-night, long-winded thumbnail of the past 2 months of my dealings with my formerly-beloved online ordering warehouse. Shoppers beware. More to come, depending on the outcome...

Latest email to Amazon.com:

Of COURSE my issue is not resolved. Which is why I keep calling you, and then I keep getting these silly emails which ask if my issue is resolved, right after your agent tells me they're so sorry they can't resolve it "at this time." She said to give it 2 more days... I shall, but you should know that my formerly deep love for Amazon.com is running low... and gets lower with every 8:00 a.m. hang-up call by the thugs at TRS recovery. I really want to pay you for this order, but I maintain that it was through no fault of mine that the old account on file was billed, and in my righteous indignation I refuse to pay two (TWO!) $20 returned-check fees. Especially to the aforementioned thugs. In two days I will change my blog sidebar links to non-amazon purchase sites, and I might even detail this horrific experience. Don't worry, I don't have millions of readers and my disdain won't hurt your stock price. But my confidence and preference with shopping Amazon is going by the wayside, I fear. Good luck resolving this; I truly want to pay you the $50.63 I owe. I'm sure you won't take a check now, though, since TeleChek has me on their blacklist. *sigh* I so wish you'd just billed my AmEx like every other order I've placed with you for the last couple years. Okay, I hope you have a wonderful evening (or day, depending on your hemisphere of residence). I myself must get to bed so I can be cheerful to the TRS thug at 8:00!


I did it.

I mopped.

My birthday present to me; a decent kitchen floor!

Nothing like public admission about days-old raspberry sauce coating the floor to guilt one into housework. I left the computer after posting that and got right to it. The maidens awoke, but I pressed on and prevailed, eventually. Meaning, I DID have to abandon mop and bucket (after being done) to save Baby from her tears (and wet diaper), at which point Little Monkey took some nice white flour-sacking dishtowels and dumped them in the mop bucket. She followed this with dragging said soggy dishtowels around the floor and then making runs through it. My too-harsh admonishment garnered this response:

"But... I was just being like Lucifer!"*

Like Lucifer indeed!

*I think she's referring to the evil cat in Cinderella that makes pawprints through Cinderella's careful mopping... I hope, anyway!

Monday, January 14, 2008


Today is my birthday. I am thirty. Thirty! That just doesn't compute yet. It took me three months to get used to being twenty. I can't believe that was a decade ago.

Some amazing (to me, anyway) facts:
  • When I was twenty, I met my husband. I've known him for roughly 1/3 of my life.
  • I won't actually be 30 until late tonight, which is interesting. I was born one time zone west of here (at 10:39 pm), so had my mother been east of here, I would've had a different birthdate.
  • Far from wanting to 'get on with' my life, I realize the importance of my family (parents, brother) and am excited to build a family that will bless my children as they grow. That is 'the life' I know I'll be happy to have lived once this chance is gone.
  • When my mother was 30 she had already been divorced. God's mercy has enabled me to avoid that state.
  • When my maternal grandmother (Gi-gi) was 30, she had two school-aged children and was working and going to school. God's mercy has enabled me to avoid that state too.
  • When my paternal grandmother was 30, she was pregnant with her first child, a son. I don't know if it's God's mercy, but we have had no sons. She went on to have my father 2 years later, and my aunt 10 years after that.

Life seems full of paradoxical events. How do I feel about being 30? Well, God has blessed me with an amazing and wonderful life, and I can't imagine doing anything else right now. I am humbled by His care of us and so grateful for Him. I really need to focus on those last two sentences, because, on my birthday, I find myself wishing for someone else to do the dishes, just once. Or someone to scrub the raspberry sauce the girls spilled on the floor TWO days ago. I wonder what it's like to have a husband who plans ahead and doesn't ask "so, what do you want for your birthday?" on the way home from work that night. I feel like shifting my birthday to another calendar month: Cake just shouldn't happen this soon after the holidays, and usually doesn't. Money doesn't happen either, between gifts and festivities for everyone, coupled with reduced working-days equals a very empty pocket. Last year my gift (and it was a wonderful one!) was to turn off the satellite tv. No, it didn't save us any money (I had to bargain with satellite radio and Netflix), but it has had a wonderful impact on our family time.

I'm sorry to say that yesterday evening my attitude wasn't pleasant. While trying to lower expectations can be beneficial to one's attitude, somehow there is a line between expecting misery, and finding joy regardless. I don't think I've found that line. I also came down with a miserable sore throat and runny nose yesterday, too. The girls have had a cough (now today Baby does too), and we're all a little ragged-feeling, I'm afraid. The household chores are getting away from me, and the energy and mental stamina needed to keep up is just not there when I'm feeling crummy.

So, here I am, while Baby and Monkey sleep, and I'm blogging instead of mopping. *sigh* Where's the wisdom that comes with being older?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sewing Gifts, Part 3

These are "Crayon Rolls." I made these for the girls and they have really enjoyed them. I got the pattern and instructions from Skip to My Lou, and they were perfect. I made one change; instead of using ribbon to tie them up (Little Monkey isn't even thinking about tying yet), I attached some silvery daisy buttons and a length of elastic so it would be easier for little fingers to secure. I found this fabric in the clearance section (of course), and got the pattern in both pink and green, so their respective crayon rolls are opposites in color. Pink outer with green rick-rack for Big Sister, and the other one for Little Monkey. Little Monkey was even inspired to NOT break her crayons while they were kept here! However, my neice (who is even monkey-er) visited on New Year's Eve and did not have the same inspiration. So Little Monkey's crayons fit WAY down into the slots now. If you make this as I did and substitute elastic for the ribbon, be sure to fill the roll with crayons before sewing the button on. It fits entirely differently when it's empty! The girls loved these, and they would be great birthday presents throughout the year for kids. With some alteration, it could be made to fit colored pencils for any artistic person on your list.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sewing Gifts, Part 2

As though placemats weren't enough (I know, I know), the Ladies of the Homes also received a handbag. Two of them received one of these. I got the instructions from Happythings, and she calls it "the Mama Backpack." I don't have a photo to show the whole thing in it's finished state, but you can click the link above to get an idea. For the outer fabric, I used a durable brown denim-type fabric. I'm not sure if it was indeed denim or not, but it was quite similar. The linings were a satin-feel fabric, and the one shown here was my favorite. VERY smooth and the design was fun. I used a wide, flat nylon cord for the drawstrings instead of the round braided kind. I hoped this would 'dig in' less on shoulders or hands (depending on how one chose to carry it). The side tabs near the bottom were grommet-ed (is that a word?), which was a real trick through all the layers of heavy fabric I used. I ran into a problem with the bottom; the bottom panel is quilted with some batting, but you do the quilting before you cut out the oval shape! The directions clearly state that and I clearly didn't read them clearly. Is that clear?

These took a bit of time, but they're very handy. There are inner pockets along the lining for cell phone, pen, etc, and this is one of my "finalists" for a diaper bag I would like to make. I have a great diaper bag fabric, and about 3 or 4 possible bag patterns I might like for it. This one would be handy because it can hang on the back like a backpack, keeping hands free for everything else my hands need to do. I still need to make the other patterns (with other fabrics) before making up my mind, of course. I thought these bags were really versatile, and I hope their recipients enjoy them as much as I would have (had I kept one!). I seem to often fall in love with these homemade things and want them for myself! Is that bad?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I Really Am Here

And I have almost no excuse for not posting more great gift-y posts. We've had snow, which is fun. It delayed my trip to Town for a day, and the local junk-store didn't have double-pointed-knitting-needles. I got some today, though. Yep, because I don't have enough to sew, crochet, bake, cook, plan, tend, wash, scrub, organize, remodel, or launder, I decided to (re)learn to knit. I'm better at it this time around. Not sure yet if I'm 'good enough'. My dear friend brought me five skeins of "sheep string" (Big Sister called it that) from New Zealand! I don't know if they're skeins, actually. They're yarn in a large round, then folded over and tied up. They require some "rearranging" before being useable. But it's real, fresh, undyed wool. You can almost hear it "baa." Anyways, it just begs to be used more nobly than I manage with a crochet hook (no offense to other crocheters, but knitting is so genteel, don't you think?), so I am diving in. Maybe that's why I haven't posted. My fingers are tired.

I shall try to get another post up one of these days...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sewing Gifts, Part 1

I don't know if I'm brave enough to claim to do a series here, but I'm hoping to post about some of my Christmas projects.

The first thing(s) I did was make placemats and coasters for each of my in-law families. Hubby has parents, and two sisters, which made for three sets. One sister has three children, so I made theirs a set of six instead of four

I did not want to make identical token gifts, but I really prayed about ways to bless each family specifically. I am hoping that worked... Anyway, Hubby's older sister likes Holstein cows (cute figurine ones, anyway) and sunflowers, and I found this sunflower-on-black fabric for them. To back them I bought what I thought was a nice linen-ey type fabric, in a sandy tone. As it turned out, I didn't pay close attention to the fabric label, and after washing and drying it, was astonished to realize it was a very stretchy spandex/cotton mix. Yikes! Working with it was really terrible. I also had forgotten about their needing six placemats, and only bought enough sunflower fabric for... less than that. You can't see from the photo (they're rolled up together), but I pieced the tops of them. Imagine a quilt square (ok, rectangle) of sunflower with a 3" stripe of linen running across, about 2" up from the bottom. Then imagine the opposite: Linen with a stripe of sunflower. I made three of each, and I think I backed each with the same fabric as the front stripe. Placemats should be about 12"x18". These I turned and stitched along the edge, and "in-the-ditch" along either side of the stripe. I made six coasters to match, 4" x 4". I also made their youngest a sunflower bib, backed with some of my waterproof PUL I use in my diaper covers. It even had a pocket. :) My younger sister-in-law and her husband were much harder. They have no children, and I'm not in their home enough to get a 'feel' for their decorating plan. They also both work, and I'm prone to thinking that if they really wanted anything like this, they'd probably have already bought it for themselves already! It was an exercise in defeating my defeatism, but I came up with (what I think is) a really striking set. They are made from a super-soft, very heavy (almost upholstery, but not stiff) rust-colored fabric. A chenille surface, really. These were too heavy and thick to turn and topstitch, so I stitched them together with right sides already out, then trimmed the seam allowances with a zig-zag edge (like pinking scissors). I did the same with the coasters. They were so luxurious, I wanted to keep them for myself! Not really; I can't promise machine-washability and durability with these, so they are perfect for a couple still awaiting their first Blessing. My mother- and father-in-law got the sturdy washable stuff. I don't even remember what it was, but it came out of a cold dryer with nary a wrinkle in it! Not natural fiber, obviously. They're a beautiful sagey-green (so far my kitchen cabinetry and the front of my home are this color - I love it) that I simply turned and topstitched. I used a light interfacing to give them a bit more stiffness, and to sandwich the layers together I quilted a word in the center of each with matching thread. Love, Hope, Peace, and Faith, I think. The backing for these coasters is really something. It's called "microsuede" and it's incredible. Really. Go to a fabric store and ask for it, and just touch it. Try not to rub your face in it; I bet they wouldn't like that. If I was Donald Trump I would buy a giant roll of this and make sheets. It's so nice. Nice enough that what is left will probably languish forever in my fabric pile, just because I'll never find a project worthy enough...

A great aspect of this project is that it didn't cost very much. I've mostly only ever sewn with cotton wovens, because they're what was affordable. I discovered the clearance racks, and when the fabric store runs these at half price (yes, half of clearance!) they're far cheaper than originally priced. I think I paid $2.50 (maybe $3)/yd for the microsuede! And the others were that much or less. Fabrics that ran $10-$15/yd or more at first (and therefore nothing I would even browse) become quite the deal -- and I get to experience sewing with different fabrics and textures. Though I can't say I'll be wanting any more of that miserable stretchy-linen stuff. You can't keep that where it belongs when sewing a seam!

Ok, I hope you enjoyed this, and maybe give it a try yourself sometime. You can google "placemat tutorial" if you're new to sewing and these terms are unfamiliar. They're fairly easy to cut, easy to sew, and if you mess up, it's not like you spent tons of money on a big fancy project. Bless yourself (or someone else) with a set while you're waiting for the W-2s and interest statements to arrive...

Friday, January 04, 2008

All Cracked Up

Remember my expensive busted countertop? No, it's not fixed yet. In fact, it seems my whole kitchen is falling apart. I'm wondering if there was a 15-year warranty on the kitchen surfaces, because this place was built in 1993, I think, and time is most definitely up for this stuff. I noticed a problem in the main countertop the other day; one I may have noticed before, but not with as much attention. There is a slight seam, almost like a welded joint, under Hubby's coffee paraphernalia. It is almost invisible at first, but you can feel the joint towards the back. You can see it too, perhaps due to the coffee splatters and finely-ground powder that have visited the crack over time. The problem runs from the wall about 8 inches toward the front of the countertop... But at that point, an interesting thing happens. It goes from a smooth, straight line into two or three jagged lightning-esque cracks to the left and right. Which are also a deep brown hue.

But that is not all. A week ago I happened to glance down at my kitchen sink. Rather, I glanced at that part of the sink that divides the two 'bowl' parts. There was a... can you guess? Yeah, a crack! This was almost too much to believe, really. My sink is the same material as the counters (looks like it, at least. Maybe fiberglass?). It's undermounted and smoothly-connected, like a router did the edging. But there was a crack. It crossed the width of that dividing part (about one inch) and went 1/2" or so downwards into each bowl. Reaching upward from below the sink, I could feel the crack with my fingernail, so I knew it was a real crack. In fact, since last week, the crack has worsened, becoming more offset on the top, and extending further down into the sinks. After about an inch descent, it curves towards the back (faucet area) and fades away after a couple inches of slope.

What in the world is going on here? I'm told that these solid-surface things are brittle, and with enough weight a crack could form, but I haven't noticed anyone weight-worthy sitting around on my counters (or sink!). I haven't spent enough time praying about it to discern any spiritual meaning here :), but at the very least it's putting my birthday wish on hold as well as setting back our recently-somewhat-regenerated savings account.

I hate waste, and would love to find a good use for such a pile of junk large amount of material. I'm sure that big 8'x3' peninsula countertop could hem in some edible critter, right? Or make a nice outdoor processing table?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It Begins...

And it's a bit early this year.

Usually I can make it to the third week in January, at least. Maybe this is only a sampling, and it will depart for a while.

What is it?

I don't, know, really. Is there a name for it? It's winter, but not the warm, holiday, festive kind of winter, the cold, windy, austere kind. The kind where I'm always cold, I can't cook or clean or accomplish anything worthwhile and I eat too many goodies and too little Real Food, leading to problems in the size department. I end up cold and austere, too, which isn't much fun for the rest of the household.

I'm taking St. John's Wort still, and I have a full-spectrum lightbulb in the dining room. What else? What do you do to fend off this... condition?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2008 Already?

It's hard to believe it's January 2nd! The years do pass all the more quickly as I age. Or as my children age. How is it my childhood seemed to last a lifetime, but my own children's are so fleeting?

It has been a wild couple weeks of holidays and get-togethers, visiting and guests. I am ready to begin recovering from it all.

The weekend before Christmas we drove a couple hours to Gi-gi's and spend part of a day with a dear childhood friend who has lived in New Zealand this last year and a half. I see her parents whenever we are in Gi-gi's area, but it was so nice to see her again too. I look forward to her visiting here sometime this month before she and her husband return to Dunedin. While at Gi-gi's, we also attended the annual extended-family get-together. The fifth generation of children are the ones playing around now. This year the banquet room where the family has met for over 40 years was not large enough, and one Clan had to use tables in the adjoining restaurant area!

We returned late Sunday night, and I spent all of Christmas Eve in the sewing room and kitchen, finishing gifts for the girls and making Hubby-friendly foodstuffs for the evening gathering at my in-laws. We enjoyed games and food, with The Christmas Story playing repeatedly on some satellite channel. Is it The Christmas Story? It's the one where the kid wants the bb gun and throws his friend under the bus for saying dirty words and the neighborhood dogs eat their dinner. I'm not really sure about that movie... We came home late, and I exhausted myself wrapping gifts for the girls, stuffing stockings, and putting everything under the trees (yes, three little fake trees this year). I made it to bed around 2, I think.

Christmas morning was wonderful. The girls enjoyed all their homemade gifts, Hubby liked his fancy new cd alarm clock (for once he didn't guess what I'd gotten him!) - I broke down and gave him his battery-heated socks early, and a book. He got me a pair of knitted mittens and a mug. After prayerfully wracking my brain for an idea for my 13-year-old nephew, and sewing up his gift, that afternoon we returned to my in-law's for a Christmas dinner of barbecued chicken breast, baked potatoes, and salad. And more games. We made baked-goodies for everyone and got baked-goodies from everyone. My mother-in-law got the girls each an outfit, Hubby a gift card, and me a fun serving tray and dip-dish. I believe everyone enjoyed their handmade stuff from us. Posts to come about those!

The 27th had my brother and his wife arriving after their Christmas with her family; it was a LONG day's drive and they got here after we all were in bed. He teases me about being "Amish" with my homemade stuff and natural food, so he got "Amish" pancakes for breakfast. Which is a terrible misnomer, because I start them by grinding soft white wheat with my electric stone mill. He mocked them between savoring mouthfuls. :) They left that afternoon for Gi-gi's, and late that night (Friday the 28th) my parents arrived after a long day of driving from the opposite direction. We enjoyed our time with them and then on Sunday my brother and his wife returned from Gi-gi's, bringing his dear childhood friend (and brother of my friend who lives in NZ). We cleaned and planned and cooked and got ready for our New Year's Eve party. My mom and sister-in-law took the 2 older girls to Town on New Year's Eve day to run som errands while I made and installed living room curtains, cleaned, made lasagna (including stone-ground wheat noodles), baked cookies, readied for the evening, and generally wore myself out. We five, and our five houseguests enjoyed a tasty lasagna dinner before welcoming another 13 or so local guests (including children) for an evening of games and fire and fireworks. Hubby made quite a pile of pallets and wire spools for a bonfire, and it was quite a sight when they decided to throw the bottle rockets and firecrackers into the fire by handfuls.

Early on the first, my parents loaded up and headed back to their homeplace. The girls so enjoyed seeing them again, and we're looking forward to their "swinging by" on their cross-country tour in a couple months! Late morning my brother returned our longtime friend to his homeplace, and I think I accomplished nothing all day. I haven't been so tired in a very long time. Maybe after having the baby, but at least then I had something to show for it. I slept from 3 a.m. to 8, with a nurse/change operation at about 5. My sister-in-law and I sat around most of the day and the girls watched veggie tales for a bit. Tired as I was, it was still midnight before I got to bed last night! I got up early to see my brother and his wife off, then got another hour or so of sleep after that.

Future plans: quit eating so much junk, start the selfish sewing projects, make new blog header, clean out fridge, pick up homeschooling schedule again. Oh, and sleep.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

More About Us

Updated 10/09

Daughter #1 - referred to here as "Big Sister." She's 8 as of 9/09, loves to read, loves to play with her sisters, and (sometimes) loves to help her mama with household tasks. She loves the outdoors, our animals, her dolls, and "helping daddy work" on motorcycles in the garage.

Daughter #2 - alias "Little Artist" (formerly Little Monkey). She's 5 as of 5/09 and loves to draw, color, paint. We're (slowly) restricting those activities to appropriate paper and color books, as opposed to furniture, walls, toys, etc. She also loves playing mommy to her dolls, setting them to bed, walking them in strollers, and feeding them at the table.

Daughter #3 - we call her "Organique" on here. She's 2, as of 9/09, and such a delight and adventure. She loves her baby doll, her sisters, and getting into all sorts of 2-year-old trouble.

Daughter #4 - called "Baby" so far, but "Little Sumo," "Butterball," and "Chunky Monkey" are all heard around here frequently. Born August 2009.

Hubby - I usually just refer to him as "Hubby," but I might change that to "Thunder Chief." :) He loves his job (usually), motorcycles, and country life. He's quiet, and a good man. He's also 31.

Me - EllaJac. That's not really my name. But because I'm a paranoid red-state mother, I don't use my real name. :) I am 31 (and *gasp* older, actually than Hubby) and enjoy caring for my family, learning and practicing every thing my mother and hers disdained: Homemaking, Husband-loving, Jesus-following, homeschooling, cooking, baking, sewing, knitting, 'farming', gardening, and the like.

Other characters who appear occasionally:

My folks - this refers to my dad and my stepmother (who I might reference as "Mom"). They live about 12 hours from here and currently have custodyof my stepbrother's daughter and son, while running a business. Their willingness to take on this task amazes me. My dad was my Christian influence growing up, and remains a mentor to us. My (step)mom introduced me to the fact that cookies can be made at home, when I was 7, and I haven't been the same since.

My younger (by 2 years) brother - "Uncle Munchkin," to my kids. He lives in Fargo (though occasionally serves in Afghanistan, Germany, and other rough spots like Puerto Rico) and he and his wonderful wife had their first baby, a girl, on my birthday in January 2009!

Gi-gi - this is my mother's mother. She is a breed unto herself, as the Gi-gi tag will show. She is 82, runs circles around most people, though half-blind with macular degeneration. She's a liberal, a feminist, and a Catholic, somehow. Election season can get a little colorful with her around, but we love her. She lives 2 hours from us, and we see her semi-frequently. **She acquired an infection in a scratch while helping us after our fourth was born in August 2009, leading to 8 days in the hospital, thousands of dollars of just prescription medication, and is slowly regaining use of her right hand and arm.

Granny - my Dad's mom, who is 91 and lives next door (over the creek and thru the woods) from my folks. She has 24 hour nursing care presently, and enjoys hearing about her 8 great-granddaughters - and finally a great-grandson, thanks to my cousin!

The In-Laws - we live near my husband's family, including his parents, an older sister (married, 3 kids - boy 15, girl 14, girl 5), a younger sister (married, 1 daughter born a day before Baby #4), some aunts, uncles, lotsa cousins, some grandparents. We are blessed to enjoy these relationships and spend holidays and other events with many of them.

And characters who's un-appearance might be noticeable:

My mother passed away a few weeks after Hubby and I married in 2000. She was divorced from my father in 1980, and suffered since that time from chronic-progressive MS. She loved music, the outdoors, and people. I lived with her until I was almost 13, when I moved to live with my dad and stepmom. While I loved my mother to pieces, she was never a very influential person in my life.

I may update this occasionally, as life is always changing. Thank you for visiting and reading here.

Can I Comment Anonymously?

The short answer: Nope.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men... (Romans 5:12)

You could read that, "through a few commenters, the banning of anonymous comments entered the blog..." Of course, you may do as others have done; create a fictional blogger profile with a pseudo-email address, and even go to the trouble of commenting from out-of-state (or having someone there do it for you). In that, you may remain anonymous. If I suspect this however, the comments are not published.

I asked the Anons to type their li'l name at the bottom of their comments, but none were willing... And so The Law was brought forth. :(

As Stacy McDonald writes, "If you want to share your words of wisdom, you'll have to own them."

The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious, But the lips of a fool shall swallow him up; the words of his mouth begin with foolishness, and the end of his talk is raving madness. (Ecclesiastes 10:12-13)

And I'm sure everyone is tired of the disclaimer, but I'll put it here again... This blog is not about anyone else or their choices, decisions, or convictions (I hope that doesn't hurt anyone's ego!). It's my journal of events, my journey towards Truth, my semi-public scrapbook - how I aspire to fill my life with what will matter to me on my deathbed. I am honored that others have interest in my thoughts, and I pray they are challenged, encouraged, edified, and ultimately blessed by what they read.