Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Few Photos

And that's really about it.
I finally got some batteries in my stupid camera. Don't know why it takes me so long. So, here's the progress on the Honeybee Stole:

And a closeup of my favorite section - see the honeycomb and the fat bumblebees?

Here's another section with tiny bees:

Of course, once this is finished, it will be blocked and will lay flat and the lace will be all opened up. It will also be lots wider and longer. Mostly, I'm proud that I've gotten this far. I'm definitely in way over my head here. I managed to fumble my way through unraveling the provisional cast-on (that means I started in the middle and finished one side, then had to pick up in the middle and knit the other side). And it's going to be a Royal Pain to block. Oh - for non-knitters, blocking is when you get the whole piece wet, spread it out and pin it down in the shape it should be, then let it dry. This only works with certain natural fibers. So anyway. It'll probably take a couple hundred pins. Ugh.
Enjoyed my girls' night out with Becky yesterday - that's always just what I needed, even when I didn't know I needed it.
What else is new with me?
Oh, not much. I've just been busy being a Very Dangerous Girl with Almost Black Hair:

I'm getting it cut next please ignore the shag. Do you like it?

DAILY BLISS: clouds and rain from the edges of Gustav and apple cinnamon waffles for supper

Friday, August 29, 2008

Random Great Stuff About Today

Sorry for another list-style post, guys. I'm really sleepy. But this has been an exceptionally nice day and I want to remember it.

1) Older(ish) guy outside Staples catches my eye, winks and says (and not in a gay sort of way), "That sure is a purty dress." Ah, the charms of the southern gentleman.
2) I left work early. Turns out, since I had to work Monday (my day off), I wasn't supposed to go in today at all. I went home and didn't tell anybody. Sat in silence. Knitted on that Honeybee Stole.
3) Finished the first half of the Honeybee Stole! More story will come with pictures when I get around to those dang camera batteries.
4) Colored my hair (pictures of that will happen eventually too) today. Just randomly. I saw an ad or something with a chick - you know the type: milky skin, black hair, red lips - and I thought, "Now that's who I want to be today." So I did it. Hubby was very surprised. And very pleased. Also, my kids both told me I looked tough. Emma was slack-jawed and told me I looked like I could kick anybody's butt. She is most pleased with the makeover.
5) Blackberry cake. I kinda made this up. Oh my. It's my go-to vegan cake (no eggs, no milk) poured over blackerries and sugar and butter (the butter kind of un-vegans it, I guess). And my goodness. It's good enough to make you smack your mama.
6) The phone rang while I was doing my silly hair. It seems that nasty old Hurricane is crampin' my Becky's style. She's headed this way. Weekend fun and zany antics will ensue - the two of us are going to find some trouble to get into. Last time we did that, we ended up with tattoos....
7) Knitting night. Small crowd, lots of laughs. My girls. Eating blackberry cake with (decaf) Earl Grey Tea. Excellent. More knitting on the Honeybee Stole.
8) Sitting here, recounting a day lived largely and blissfully.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why I Never Liked Girls

This morning, Emma and I were headed toward her school after we dropped off Andrew. I decided it was a good time to ask a few questions and feel out how the second grade is going for her.
Sometimes it's just a matter of asking the same question for several days in a row until it's phrased in the right way to elicit the response you were looking for. This one took me a couple of tries to get right.
Boy, did I find out.
It turns out that there are already exclusive, hurtful little cliques forming up. In the second grade. And one girl has been kind of forcing Emma to be in hers. This clique has the very second-grade name of The Cheetah Girls Club and is loosely based on the Disney girl band of the same name.
Now, let me say that I will not judge mothers who let their girls listen to insipid pop music. This is clean stuff, for the most part. I mean, c'mon. It's Disney, right? But one look at the website will probably tell you why my daughter is not and won't be a big fan. Lots of makeup and plastic hair. Shiny-and-animal-print, too-tight clothes. My daughter will have better things to do with her life than listen to over-produced girl-power songs.
Not that I have an opinion.
The truth is, I just don't like that culture. I'm a hippie, okay? I prefer for my kids to be who they are. To find role models in real life. To aspire to more than pop stardom. To be individuals that are proud of who they are and don't have to compromise in order to fit in.
But, woah. I did not expect to be making this speech to my daughter in the second grade.
There is a pledge that this little chick is forcing other girls to make in order to be in her club. I'm not really clear on what the pledge is, but it involves placing your hand over your heart.
And Emma doesn't want to say the pledge.

Which makes me really proud.

So proud I almost burst the buttons right off my cardigan in the car when she told me that's what the problem was. In fact, even though she really didn't want to make her other friends mad, she was bold enough to tell Miss Bossy Pants that she didn't want to do the pledge.
And Miss Bossy Pants grabbed Emma's hand and forced it over her heart. She bullied Emma into saying the freaking pledge! Can you believe it?
Oh man. I was really mad.
But I stayed calm and tried to give her some tools to stand up for herself. We practiced breaking her hand away from MBP's grip (I even asked her which hand she had to use in the pledge so we could practice with the correct hand). And we talked about what to do next if that wasn't enough. Namely, walking away. And finding some better girls to hang out with.
"What if she follows me and still tries to make me do it?"
Poor baby.
I told her that was the point at which she should ask the teacher to intervene. And I promised that we'd talk about it after school - that I'd ask her how it went. If our techniques didn't work and the teacher didn't help her, I'd go straight into her classroom and I'd talk to the teacher about it.
You need to be brave and try it honey, but Mom will always stick up for you when you need it.
End of story.
We talked about how great it is to be different from other girls. To not have to take a pledge to feel special. To know that she is beautiful and smart and incredibly talented and could make a club of her own if she wanted to. A club where nobody had to pledge and anybody who wanted to could be in it, as long as they were friendly. And that lots and lots of girls liked her and would want to be in any club she made because she was nice. And she thought maybe a cooking club would be a good one to start up. We named off names of several of her favorite friends who were not in the Cheetah Girls club.
Because even though it's a silly, second-grade concept of a club, it matters.
It will matter what she thinks of clubs when all the girls start wearing makeup.
It will matter what she thinks of fitting in when girls start to conform to our culture's standards to get attention from boys.

It matters because my deepest, most ardent hope is that my daughter will make it through adolescence a little less broken than all the other girls.

When I picked her up, I asked about it. It was kind of a non-deal. She did have to walk away, but nobody followed her today and she played with a different girl.
She walked away.
That's my girl!

So far, so good....

DAILY BLISS: My man is home! Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Deep Breath

OK. So. I didn't sleep like I should have last night. But I had completely uncensored, rated-girls-only, late-late-night, already-wallowing-around-in-bed-when-the-phone-rang chatting with my bestie Becky. That took the edge off those nasty Lonelies. I only have one more night to go before my honey's back, and I think I just might make it.
Today, I'm reveling in:
1) My son being recaptured by his Lego Mindstorms NXT. He has the expensive set and I think he got it a little too early or something. He built the one thing with it and put it aside. I did a little googling, came up with an NXT blog and another site with lots of projects and he hasn't put it down in two days. Here's to getting my mom's money's worth!
Also, I found out that he hasn't been doing much building and geeking because he got the notion at the wonderful summer camp that he wasn't very good at that stuff. Poor guy. He'd been keeping that awful secret for weeks. I reminded him that it was his first experience with building electronics and some of those kids likely had done it before. And that practice makes perfect. Then I pointed him to that blog. It seems to be sticking for now.

2) Inventing a treat in the kitchen with Emma. She wanted to make up a recipe so badly and knew that we had a leftover pie crust. She had elaborate plans for something that you can usually do with puff pastry - have you ever seen it wrapped around chocolate chips like a satchel and then baked? You have a little gift sack of melted chocolate when it's done. I had to talk her down to the level of what was available in the kitchen (it's sparse) and what pie crust could actually do (certainly not that!). We ended up with little ravioli-looking, jelly-filled (all-fruit, thank you. no corn syrup here) pie bites. They leaked a little bit....we'll see how they taste.

3) Oh man. That music I bought yesterday. Sooooo good. I heart the Avett Brothers. So far.

4) I'm really making progress on that stole. I promise pictures when I get my camera batters charged up.

5) My man. He has a hard time making decisions about anything. I asked him if I should plan a nice dinner for tomorrow when he got home or if he wanted to take us out to dinner (which is our usual deal when he's been gone). He hates being put on the spot. The gravity of a decision regarding tomorrow's dinner made him so uncomfortable that he could only sort of mumble that "itwouldbealrighttogooutIguess." This made me laugh really hard.

DAILY BLISS: Clean sheets on all the beds - I did it! Yay! The house will not be a wreck when hubby comes home and I even did the chore he likes to have done the most!

Monday, August 25, 2008


Okay. So. I'm lonely. I think that's my problem. Little to no adult interaction for over a week. Chris calls, but...I gotta be honest - he's not a talker and especially not over the phone.
I'm tired today too.
I put the kids to bed early and I plan to take a long bath. Yep. Just me and my phone. Cause I'm going to start dialing my friends and see who answers first. Then I'll attack them with all my neediness. I'm sure I'll feel better after that! But before I retire to bubbly-bubbly heaven, I must show you a few photos.
Mary got her giftie, the last of my pay-it-forward gifts, in the mail this weekend, so it's safe to show it to you. Sorry that it's pictures of me. I took them for my ravelry account (if you have one, my username is kikiknits) and the person that wrote the pattern hearted it! That means she put a heart by it and marked it as a favorite. Yay me!

I decided to call it the Mommy Moments wrap because I knitted it up in my stolen Mommy Moments for her to use during hers. You know the ones? They happen after the kids are in bed and you have time to watch a little TV or when everybody's still in bed and you have time to watch the sun rise or when the kids are happily playing and you can read a good book for a few minutes. I love the little pique edging and how the leaves ripple along the sides. Super-soft yarn too.

I'm also enjoying some new tunes tonight. How did I not know about The Avett Brothers before? It's not for everybody, but if you like a little sincerity with your beards and banjos, I think you'll like them too. I bought their latest, but plan to add their other stuff to my collection.

DAILY BLISS: Singing Weird Al songs in the car with my son. We ran across "I Love Rock and Roll" on the 80s station and he started belting out "I Love Rocky Road." Dang I love that kid.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hello, Weekend

We had a mostly-at-home weekend this time, which was nice. I admit that I've been having a hard time focusing. Girls like me will know what I mean when I say I've been living with that hollowed-out-in-the-belly, dreaming kind of feeling and that makes it pretty hard to focus on the things I should be doing. Like dishes and feeding my children. I took me all day on Saturday to mow the lawn and vacuum and scrub all the floors. Well, I washed dishes too. And folded laundry. But I kept having to take breaks to knit a row or two and to get a little dancin' on with my iPod. If you don't get what I mean, don't worry about it. Everybody knows I'm a little eccentric anyway.
I also spent time on the porch watching Fay's squall lines come through. On Saturday, it was particularly nice to have a mockingbird to visit with. He sat right where he could see me and I whistled for him while he cocked his head at me. And then I decided to sing him a quiet, warbling rendition of "I'll Be Around." He seemed to like that too.
We've had a quiet Sunday as well. Emma was busy creating things with Legos and Andrew was busy building things with more-advanced Legos (Mindstorms) and I washed all the dishes from church this morning and cast on the first Christmas present that I plan to knit.
Only three more days till my man comes home. My honey. My friend. He texted me yesterday to remind me it'd been 15 years to the day since we decided to "go steady." I mean, I don't think we called it that or anything, but we made the commitment to date each other exclusively.
15. That's a nice number. And wildly long ago, if I stop to think about it. I do love that he remembers those sorts of things. Goodness knows that I don't. I usually don't even remember for sure which day our actual wedding anniversary is. But he does.
Oh - weird fact: it's been so humid here that my hair has decided it's curly. I'm talking ringlets, people. I like it, but I don't think it'll last.

DAILY BLISS: pulling off an in-a-rush batch of muffins at the last minute for church and dancing around the kitchen in the apron Mary made for me

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why Smart Kids Are Harder to Raise

Me: (letting out an exasperated sigh at dropping yet another stitch in the Honeybee Stole)
Emma: You know, Mom, getting angry at the drop of a hat can be a sign of decreasing brain function.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Makes My Heart Pitty-Pat

Emma and I were sharing the bathroom this morning in the rush of preparation for the day. I had some makeup in one hand and she was buckling her belt. And she turned to me and said...
Emma: Mom, I love you because you give me everything I need.
Me: Oh, honey. I love you too. And I love to give you what you need.
Emma: And I love you because you're my mom.
And I love you because I love you.

Oh me.
Oh me, oh my.
Oh my goodness me.
If that doesn't set you right, I don't know what will.

I am pretty wiped out after this week. I have to admit that, with all the stress and emotional consequences of this week's events, when we got the news about the kids' teacher, who was very special to us, I actually broke out in hives. It was pretty bad.
But my deep-souled poet friend called and we gabbed for longer than we should have and we laughed and I felt so much better.
And then I had another, longer, later-into-the-night conversation with another friend. I was so tired that my body was actually shivering. I was a little worried about this symptom, but I just kept talking because it was so good. So good to find more comfort in your dearest ones than you could have hoped to find in some silly lace knitting. So good because, even though I'm going on, like, 3.5 hours of sleep today, I feel infinitely better. I'm really tired, but the hives are gone.
I still have a lot on my plate, and the pile is getting higher because I have ignored some things in an effort to take care of my kids and myself in other ways, but I'm taking one more night. And I won't even feel a little guilty about it.
I'm going to take a pirate bath. I know that sounds funny. Hear me out - I just love to pour a can of coconut milk into the bath water and a little rum extract for sweet smell. You should try it. Seriously. I've seen a recipe that added some pineapple juice too (it's a natural exfoliant), but I prefer just the super-moisturizing coconut milk and the beachy smell.
So anyway, a pirate bath and some chick flicks. And I'll probably pass out on the sofa. Yes. Indeed.
And I'll wake up tomorrow and see about those dishes and all that laundry and mowing.

DAILY BLISS: just-right cloudyrainywindy weather and standing out on the knee wall of my porch steps in the dark, arms open wide, taking in the breeze,

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I am writing tonight with a heavy heart. The music teacher at Emma's school passed away suddenly last night, after 24 years of serving and teaching there.
She was Andrew's piano teacher and she pulled him into every possible musical opportunity there was at that school. He was in choruses and choirs and played handbells as well as piano. She had a special way of connecting with Andrew that brought out the best in him and really boosted his confidence. Emma has been dying to take piano since kindergarten, but Mrs. Bruce didn't start instruction until kids are in the second grade. Emma's first lesson was to be tomorrow morning and she has spent all summer practicing for the big day.
She was not young, but not old enough to go.
She had a massive aneurysm and was gone in a snap. The suddenness of this loss is stunning. We have shed lots of tears in our house this afternoon, and many other households are sharing in that tonight.
So, please pray tonight for the dozens of little people who are having very grown-up conversations with their parents. We parents need all the help we can get when it comes to navigating the bigger stuff of life with the ones we have been trusted to guide.
I do apologize for the state of this blog of late. I have never intended for this to be a sad parade of dramas. In fact, this is a spot where I particularly like to revel in the happiness of life-as-I-know-it, and the mess part is usually just the byproduct of all the fun. I generally consider mess an essential part of any happy jumble of activity. But sometimes mess is just mess. Sometimes mess comes without the happiness too. And mess that comes after mess that came after some other mess? Ugh.
And even though I have many more pressing things to attend to, tonight I will sit in the quiet and look for solace in the gentle rhythm of some knitting. Sometimes, when you're just too tired to do anything else, that's the best thing.

DAILY BLISS: my first band parent meeting - I nearly got myself elected president of the band parents association! yikes and kind-of-yay!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Everything seems to have been put back in order - put back right, as we say here in the South. My porch furniture has come back out of my laundry room (we wouldn't have wanted it to become a projectile during the "storm"), my laundry has been put in the washer where it belongs and Andrew's class schedule has been put as it should be.
The guidance counselor had already heard from three teachers (I knew they'd be looking out for my boy) that he needed to be put elsewhere and she'd planned to take care of him today anyway. I called the school, but couldn't get in this morning (I actually had a deadline at work which pretty much never happens) so I sent my mom in to drop off his SAT scores. She sat down with the guidance counselor while she was there (go Mom!) and got him placed in Beginning Band and Technology as his electives. Everything we had hoped for! He will have to take PE next semester, which means Technology will have to go, but they have it offered as an after-school club from what I understand. So, it's all good. He will get to play with electronic stuff at school and he will get to play the baritone, which he has wanted to do since the 4th grade. I am so pleased.
And guess what?
I get to go to my first Band Parent meeting tomorrow night! I have waited for that for a long time. My parents were pretty serious band parents. I'd hoped I'd get a turn too.
Suffice it to say that Drew had a much happier face when I picked him up today. Still no buddies that he's connected with, but a much happier face. And that puts my heart at as much ease as is possible, all things considered.
In all of the excitement, I forgot to tell you that I made a skirt with my first Monday at Home. Remember the drapery fabric pile from a couple weeks ago (or whenever that was)? Here's one - it's a sweet little a-line and it was so simple. I kinda screwed up the waist facing, but I made up for it by trimming the hem with rickrack. Pictures are bad. Camera batteries are dying and I don't have a spare set right now.

Pretty cute, huh?
I made a big pot of coconut rice for supper tonight. Comfort food. Since I can't eat cheesy casseroles, we make do with this yummy little bowl of deliciousness. Have you ever had it? I got a recipe from the back of a bag of jasmine rice once. Jasmine rice is a weakness of mine. For years, we used brown rice, but my blood tests showed a slight allergic reaction to brown rice so, dangit, I had to switch back to white rice. You just cook the rice with a can of coconut milk (not the sweetened stuff for daiquiris - just plain coconut milk) and a tablespoon of sugar and enough water to round out what liquid you'd normally place in a batch of rice. I don't feel like finding the actual recipe right now. You get the idea anyway.
Sigh. We threw in some fat, sweet pea pods so that I could feel like I fed my children something worthwhile.
Comfort food and adjusted schedules. It's all good.
Also, I'd like to know how many Mom Points I lose if I sleep on the sofa tonight because my bed is full of laundry and I'm too tired to fold it.

DAILY BLISS: A happier middle schooler who couldn't wait to tell me Mr. Doddy's (his science teacher for those of you who don't already know Mr. Doddy) joke of the day

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Just So You Know....

We're all just fine. When I went to bed last night, it looked like it'd be wise to put up the lawn furniture in case of tornadoes and strong winds, but by the time I woke up, Fay had taken enough of an easterly turn to take us almost completely out of her path. In fact, we hardly had any bad weather today at all. I tried taking a few screen shots of radar to share, but it didn't go anywhere and I gave up. The outer edge of the storm's circle just barely skimmed the area where we live - it seemed to rotate just outside of the Polk Parkway loop, for those of you who live or have lived here. It was odd to watch it on radar.
So, we had a nice storm day.
The clouds were so low and heavy, you almost felt like you had to duck when you walked outside. And the winds were absolutely delicious - such a treat for this girl who's been longing for fall, in fact! I don't think it even got over 80 degrees here today, which just never happens. So, it was cool(er) and drizzly out and the kids and I headed over to my parents' house just to hang out for the day. I found a fire log languishing behind some furniture in the den. It must have been left over from Christmas. And I would like to report that I spent my afternoon tucked in a recliner, sitting by a cozy fire in a cozy den knitting away on that Honeybee Stole. We ate our lunch outside and drank in the wind and the cloud-muffled noises and the kids even went swimming. It's not very often that it rains here without any lightning, so swimming in the rain is a real treat. In fact, Polk County has a reputation for being the Lightning Capital of the World. I don't really know if that's true, but it's our slogan.
Oh - and I did make another apricot tart and as a matter of fact, it did help to brighten my perspective on things in general. What can I say? I'm a simple girl. Give me sweets and I'll change the world!

DAILY BLISS: just relaxin'

Monday, August 18, 2008


I know that I've mentioned how I'm completely over the No Pants Summer. I mean, I know that summer isn't officially over, but I'm over it. There is still a bit of the little Minnesota girl I used to be in me and every year, with the return of school, I start longing for cooler nights and cardigans and crispy leaves and wood smoke in the air. I crave pumpkins and cinnamon and apples and I am ready to put away all of my breezy cottons and blue-and-whites and pull out some corduroy pants and wear deep, warm colors. And brown. I'm just craving brown.
I really love dressing exactly how I feel - I always have (which hopefully explains some particularly awful Christmas-themed turtlenecks), and wearing only dresses was lots of fun. People treat you differently when you're wearing a dress, men especially - and with apologies to feminists, I enjoyed it.
But I'm done with it.
I am doomed, however, to a life of longing when it comes to fall. Everyone knows that we don't exactly have the traditional four seasons here in Florida. If you take the time to look for it, though, you'll see that the light changes. There is a sweet, honeyed look to the afternoon sun these days and I love to stop and drink it in. And in spite of the absence of other atmospheric evidence, that light keeps me trying to capture the season anyway.
We made apple-cinnamon waffles last Saturday and pumpkin-pecan ones the week before. And I am already toying with party ideas for the Autumnal Equinox. I wonder what we'll do this year?
But those aren't the only seasons shifting around here. We started another year of school today.

Once I got everyone where they needed to be (and it did go smoothly!), I sat down and had a little cry. Andrew's in middle school. What? Who let me have a big kid? When did that happen? I had all these ridiculous flashes of walking him to his classroom in second grade and taking pictures of him with his teachers. And today I had to drop him off into the big unknown, and even though he wanted me to come in with him, I wasn't allowed to. Sigh. Can you hear my heart breaking from where you are? I'm sure it's very loud.
I have to say that, while Emma had a great day full of re-connecting with her friends and getting to know her super-fun new teacher, Drew didn't really have a stellar one. He didn't get into any of the great electives that the school offers and didn't have success connecting with any kids yet. Even the one kid in his class that we do know wasn't exactly friendly. So, he was really ready to get home.
To make a long story short, he had two reading classes on his schedule and I wondered why. One of them is called "Intensive Reading," and this class seems to be taking the place of an elective in his schedule. So, I did a little Googling. It's a remedial reading course!!!
You have no idea how angry I am about that. But, digging a little further, I've concluded that it's policy to stick him there because he didn't take the FCAT and they don't have any alternative scores for him. So, the system automatically presumes that he reads below grade-level and requires that he take remedial reading instead of a cool elective like Technology or Band. Grrrr. The Mama Bear in me is ready to march down to the school with his SAT scores in hand and get him outta there ASAP. The policy seems to be that they will test all students without scores within 30 days and adjust their schedules as necessary, but I'll be damned if I leave him in remedial reading for 30 days. His reading scores are post high school. So, one day in the public school system, and already the smart kid is punished for the betterment of the others.
The really tough thing here is that he has had such a good attitude. Changing schools is never comfortable, but for a guy like Drew, it's downright awful. He thrives on routine and knowing what to expect. And he's taken this situation and found things to be excited about - namely the technology classes - and really looked on the bright side. And then he gets smacked with a crappy schedule and nobody was nice to him. I've been holding back and keeping a nice face on this evening, but as soon as the kids went to bed, I just sobbed.
Know what else sucks (this is my this-really-sucks face)?

I can't fix it tomorrow. Or the next day. School is cancelled due to the tropical storm. And my husband's not here. I have to batten down the hatches and hunker down by myself. I'll go and hang out with my parents tomorrow and we'll laugh and eat non-perishable food and stuff, but I have to bring in all the porch furniture and loose ends that are sitting outside. And I'm tired.
I think I might have to make another apricot tart. Maybe that'll help.

DAILY BLISS: Sort-of Blackout Night (we had to keep watching for storm details so we could decide how prepared to be) - wallowing on the floor in our post-school misery and eating chips right out of the bag while the clock valiantly ticked and tocked and the birds happily crunched their seeds

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Almost There

Kids are in bed now and I think we're all set for starting school tomorrow. I really dug in today and filled out paperwork and wrote checks and filled backpacks and made schedules. It's all the kind of stuff that I don't like to do.
But I feel like we're in pretty good shape. Last year, I was so frantic and panicked. I think that had a lot to do with working, too, and still having trouble getting into that groove.
My level of comfort tonight was a little disconcerting - a little out of character for me. But looking back, I think I've let go of a lot over this past year. I don't know for sure if that's good or bad. Like, I didn't get Emma's hair washed tonight. I mean, it isn't too dirty, but I also haven't taken care of her toenails and fingernails in a while. So, last-year me would have been really stressin' about getting my kids 100% clean and gussied up in spankin' new uniforms. Did I mention that I ordered uniforms too late to get them in time for the start of school? Yeah. My half-dirty, not-quite-groomed princess will start school this year in an old uniform. But I still feel on top of things. Interesting development.
Andrew is taking all of the changes in stride and I'm so proud of him. A new school and the leap to middle school - all of that unknown stuff facing him is usually difficult for him (er, uh....and for me too). He was pretty bummed to switch schools and leave his pals behind, but he's done such a stellar job of finding things to be excited about in his new school. The older he gets, the more impressed I am with his character and maturity. He's such a great guy.
Oh - here's that cute apron I made for my indispensable Denise. She has kept my kids for the last two summers, as she's a teacher, and magnanimously says, "It's not like I'd be doing anything over the summer anyway." But this is a little teacher apron for her pencils and stuff, out of the "A is for Apron" book. I did not take enough pictures to get actual good ones. I apologize for the blur.

A little button-y detail...Emma had lots of fun picking buttons out of my button jar:

I think she likes it.

The book is so cute and just full of darling aprons and the patterns to make them. This one, actually, didn't require a pattern - just a little measuring and ironing. It was easy as pie.

DAILY BLISS: steel cut oats for breakfast with cranberries and brown sugar - yum :) and wind playing with my wind chimes while I knitted on that Honeybee Stole

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Haircuts? Check.
Dishes done? Check.
School supplies purchased? Check
House cleaned? Check (mostly).
Birthday party? Check.
Relapse of illness due to pushing it a little too hard? Check.

But, I'm almost ready. I looked back at last year's first-day-of-school posts and I think I'm doing a little bit better this year. If all goes well, I'll have time to start in on our little schedule for the year tomorrow. Remember the summer chart? This one should be easier than that - at least easier to organize...but not necessarily easier to accomplish.
I guess that, aside from feeling crappy (there's definitely something going on with either a tonsil or the inner ear - you know how sometimes it just hurts there and you're not quite sure what it is?), I'm feeling pretty good about starting out the school year. I think I have it together in that department.
And once school starts, I'm really looking forward to my Mondays. I'm going to try and extend my Mondays off and make them a regular part of my schedule. That largely depends on being able to make up my hours at other times, but I think a whole day to myself will be really helpful. Especially in the "making stuff" department. My head is so full of Christmas gifts and birthday gifts and things that I just want to make that I feel like I could burst! I know y'all know what I mean, girls. You get that ball rolling and start looking for ideas and patterns and just-the-thing for everybody on your list and before you know it, you have way too many. More than you will ever be able to finish. I'm pretty sure at least somebody would be getting a gift-wrapped box of yarn or fabric and a promise for Christmas, were it not for Mondays Off.
I have just one more thing to check off my list tonight, though. I need to finish up a little crafting satisfaction that I started on today. I promise to share tomorrow. But I need to get to bed, and there's no way I'll be able to sleep until this one's done.

DAILY BLISS: I met Boogie the Beagle today (I hope I spelled that right) - he's the happiest dog I think I've ever seen. Made me happy through and through!

Friday, August 15, 2008


I think I'm OK. I'm back on two feet, pretty firmly, and can mostly breathe through the proper orifices. And just in time, too.
Hubby left town today for a couple weeks. Sigh. I do hate it when that happens.
Unfortunately, his departure coincided with four days of me being out-of-commission-sick and the week-before-school-teacher-meets-and-orientations-and-shopping stuff. That means that there are four days worth of dishes piled up (remember - we don't have a dishwasher) and the lawn desperately needed a haircut (because we didn't have time before my Dear Husband left) and an overdue grocery run and the last bits of school supplies to fetch and...
Goodness. What else?
Oh - a birthday party tomorrow and haircuts for kids and.....
I did mow and grocery shop and I plan to sit here in my pajamas, covered in dried sweat and, well, sick germs and eat some soy ice cream and maybe make a little crafty something. But I guess it's going on 10:00. Crafty goodness may have to wait. But it must be done tomorrow. I must have some fun.
With all this catching up to do, I guess I shouldn't sit here trying to blog. Ah well. Life calls. But I can't wait to catch up on all of your blogs too....

DAILY BLISS: my mom and dad, who invited the kids to hang out so I didn't have to drag them through the grocery store at 8:00 at night

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I'm Still Breathing

But I'm breathing through my mouth, mostly. That "little" virus hit me hard. Each day I keep thinking, "OK. This is the worst of it. Tomorrow I'll be better." And each day I'm wrong.
But so much life is passing me by without me writing it down to look at later (cause that's why I do this, really). We had the Cheater version of Blackout Night this week. There were candles, yes, and a no-cook supper. But the Olympics are on's an exception that won't often occur. We watched TV. I'm all about the flexibility, folks.
We are meeting Emma's teacher tonight (I'm going to try really hard not to get any snot on her, but it's going to be difficult, considering the rate at which the stuff is leaking out of me) and Drew has orientation tomorrow night. I hope after that, I'll be able to sit down and make some kind of schedule for us so I don't get as lost and frantic as I did last year.
But I'll be on my own. Hubby is going out of town for two weeks for his company's annual dealer show. He did it last year too, but I seemed to have been unable to grasp the concept of "annual." It was a very sad shock to me to realize that I'd be handling the first day of school, nay, the first weeks of school, on my own. Sure hope the sneezing is under control by then. It could be embarassing. For my kids.
We had lots of fun this past weekend. That was before I was sick. Chris and I took in a show - a friend of mine is in a funk band and they played House of Blues in Orlando. As happenstance would have it (that sounds awkward. sorry.), I'd gotten a gift card for a restaurant from my boss, so we made a night of it and sent the kids to my mom's. Excellent.
I woke up on Sunday with a throat-of-fire, but soldiered through. I had been called on to help out a local church for worship, as all their leadership was on a retreat. I got to play keys and sing with some of the kids that, well, were kids when we were members there, but aren't kids anymore. And you know what? They play a whole lot better than they used to! I'm pretty sure I shouldn't have sung, but it was fun anyway.
And that's it. I came home early from work today and I'm just trying to empty out my head so I can nap. We'll see. I'm not a very good napper.

DAILY BLISS: hot and sour soup and an afternoon bath

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Love and Kisses

Hello, Blog.
I've missed you.
It's been a crazy week and I finally caught the little virus that my kids and hubby had two weeks ago. I haven't been sick in a really long time.
Next week's schedule looks even worse.
Back when I'm better.

<3 Me

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Leaving the Station

I have been confronted with death a lot in this past week.
I know that sounds dramatic and deep, but it's true and it's been on my mind. So I think I'll work it out here, if that's OK with you. Why not?
There were two deaths this week in the church where I work. One older gentleman, he was 99 years old, and the other was the son of a parishioner. He was close to my age.
My mom called me this week and said she had some sad news. She said one of her neighbors down the street - an older man who, along with his wife, had buried his only son a couple of years ago - had passed away the night before and his widow had knocked on her door to tell her about it.
I started to wonder why, in the wake of losing her husband, she would so quickly be compelled to knock on my mom's door to share the sad news. They were neighbors, yes, but not particularly intimate friends. Why would she turn so immediately to someone she didn't know very well?
But my mom pointed out that this woman was now alone. She had lost her son and her husband and hadn't a soul left in the world.
And I started to wonder about who would take care of her needs. Who would bring her something to eat and share in her grief? Who would check on her every so often to make sure she was still, well, alive? Was she part of a church? Surely they would be helping her out at a time like this.
No, my mom said. She wasn't.
Contrasting this woman's situation, I came to work on Tuesday to see the parking lot full of cars and people carrying casseroles to the Fellowship Hall and flowers being delivered to the sanctuary. Family and friends, gathering in a central location, to care for the grieving and to comfort each other. The members of the church who are more removed from the pain - those who weren't as close to the family - take care of making coffee in those gigantic urns and attending to the tasks at hand. Someone had left a homemade cake on a beautiful jadeite cake stand with a sign on it that said, "for the luncheon." Someone else had taken out a beautiful cut-glass beverage dispenser and had it wiped down to get it ready for the tea. Probably sweet tea. It usually is.
It occurred to me that removing our family from the traditional church and to the outer fringes of my faith has been more than I bargained for. It's been an adventure and has caused us to re-think what we believe and to re-define the way we worship. And those things have been painful sometimes.
We love what we do and can't imagine any other way to "do" church. But once in a while, I'm reminded of just how far away we are from the center of Christian culture. And we're out here without a safety net. We don't have a Fellowship Hall or giant coffee urns. We don't have a sanctuary for setting up flowers. And we're the pastors.
Who will take care of those things for us when it's our turn?
I mean, I know that people die all the time who aren't part of a church community. I know there are social systems in place to help tie up the loose ends of a life. People who Know What To Do.
But still. It was a disconcerting moment to realize that I've walked away from the systems I've known and understood all my life.
When I left work yesterday, the parking lot was pretty much empty. People had gone on their way and the church kitchen had been cleaned up. A relative had come into the office to thank the pastor. And I watched the last person leave the building, carrying the luncheon garbage out to the back.
And I felt a lonely hole in my belly as I pulled out onto the street.
Not that I knew the man who had passed. I didn't.
But from all the way in my car, I could feel the finality. The end of the party.
One aspect of the church that I love is that it is central to all the events of life. The big ones, you know? Baby showers and baptisms, confirmations and first communions, weddings, holidays, funerals....
It's like the Grand Central Station of life. It gives us a physical place where our lives, all on different tracks, can meet.
In spite of my choice to leave her traditional structure - the one we've all come to know - I find that there are parts of her that I miss. And that's one of them.
Oh, I have a community of believers around me. People with whom I share my faith and raise my children and discuss the finer points of trying to live the way Jesus did. People I have come to know and love in a much deeper, fiercer way than I had thought possible when the only way I knew to share my faith was facing the front of the sanctuary next to others instead of facing each other and sharing our lives.
But I always try to bear in mind the fact that The Church has gotten a few things right.
And no matter how much I distance myself from her, I'm beginning to think that there are elements of The Church that I have taken with me - things that aren't defined by buildings. And those are the elements that, I think, that make The Church (at least, The Church as it was meant to be) available to everyone, everywhere.
And even though I don't have a building and giant coffee urns, I still feel like I should take my mom's neighbor a casserole and a homemade cake on a jadeite cake stand.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Blackout Monday and Stuff

I promised my kids that we'd head over to Sea World on Monday. We're trying to make the most of our annual passes that we got for Christmas. Can I just say that it's hot? It's August for sure. And it's hot. Maybe not as hot as some places in the nation (geez, Liz! 110?), but it's nasty. "Naisty" is how you have to say it in the south if you mean it. And y'all know I don't like to sweat. You may also recall that I don't like crowds of people. It's not a phobia or anything, I just find that I'm much happier if I have a wide swath of personal space and nobody wants to shove in front of me to see a penguin. I'm just sayin'.
But there was a death in the church where I work, and a service bulletin to be printed, so I had to go in to work on Monday. I debated skipping the whole Sea World thing, but decided to go early in the morning instead. I mean, still-dark early, which is pretty amazing for me. I don't roll out of bed as a nice woman and especially not before 7:00 or so. But I did it. I went to work at oh-dark-thirty and came home, slurped up a cup of coffee, packed some lunches (I'm not paying for theme park food!) and headed to Orlando for a sweaty crowd fest. Ugh.
I took a soothing detox bath after that. And geared up for Blackout Night.
Due to scheduling errors, Blackout Night was moved to Monday this week. I didn't plan well for it either. I neglected to plan a no-energy meal, so I made spaghetti. It's low-energy, anyway. And sauce is super-easy to make. Just a couple cans of diced tomatoes (most of them don't have any additives, by the way - but I like to read the labels just in case - and they're easier to deal with than fresh tomatoes), 1/2 c. or so of olive oil, a couple cloves of garlic and basil. Oh - and kosher salt. That's the best kind.
So, I cooked up the spaghetti and then shouted "lights out!" And I really love how the silence just descends on the whole house. After supper, I hurried to the living room to spend a little time with Honeybee Stole (we've made up since our last disagreement) while there was still daylight available.

And I sipped a glass of iced tea in a leisurely way.
And we started in on a series of family discussions that my family used when I was a kid. The books are called Character Sketches and they use illustrations from nature and from the Bible to teach about different aspects of good character. We started with "loyalty" and the Great Horned Owl. The kids were surprisingly into it and we really enjoyed their participation in our discussion.
Have I mentioned that I love my kids? And that they're awesome? I have? Oh. Well, they still are.
Games were next on the agenda. Crazy Eights, anyone?

By the time we finished two rounds of Crazy Eights, it was time to shuffle the kids off to their rooms for their nightly quiet time and I tiptoed out onto the porch with my knitting, hoping to get through just a few more rows. The sun was going down and we hadn't had any afternoon rain, so all the birds and cicadas and frogs were just singing away as we breathed in the joy of a well-spent evening. I knitted until I had my hands nearly up to my eyeballs in an effort to see what I was doing. That's the point at which you must stop - when you are flinging pointy sticks around near your eyes.
Once I had to put my knitting down, I cupped my hands up to my mouth so I could talk to the dove that was cooing somewhere nearby. Somebody taught me to do this when I was a kid - I don't remember who. But it's fun and it usually fools the doves. If you imitate what they say, they'll repeat it back to you again.
Once I had exhausted the conversational possibilities with Ms. Dove, we came back inside to our candle-lit living room and I finished up a book and presently realized that I was very sleepy. And we hadn't even tucked the kids in for the night. Chris was also amazed by this.
Once those kids were prayed with and the younger of the two received the lullaby of her choice, I realized I was not going to make it any longer.
I climbed up into my bed (yes, I actually have a very tall bed) and went to sleep. At 9:00, people! That's unheard-of for this part-time insomniac. But it felt so good.
When Denise arrived this morning to care for the kids, she noticed that it was very quiet in the house. I think that's the first time I'd noticed, but she was right. It's almost as if the peace and contentment of Blackout Night had carried over into the next morning, which is exactly the point. I wanted this experiment to change our interactions with each other - to make us more mindful of our home and the people that live in it and the choices that we make about how to fill our time.

DAILY BLISS: banana oat pancakes for supper

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Quickly, Quickly

Tried to finish up the back-to-school shopping today.
Why, oh why, do stores get rid of all shorts in the middle of July? Don't they know it hardly even gets hot here until August? And schools, why must you dictate that denim shorts must be plain leg, not baggy, no hammer loops, no "stonewashed" (which means, what, no light colored denim at all? who knows!) when not a single store carries anything of the sort. Especially not in my son's size. By the fifth store or so, I was careening like a drunken sailor through the clearance racks in the women's departments. Shorts for Andrew? No. A skirt and three shirts I did not actually need? Um, yes. It's all a little hazy.
Honeybee Stole and I had our first fight this evening. I am currently ripping back rows and rows trying to find a stable and readable spot to pick it back up. Beginning to think it will require a fresh start.

DAILY BLISS: really heavy rain outside while I was knitting inside

A cloudy and rainy day or two, coupled by a whiff of a nearby leaf burn have swiped my bones clean of all traces of summer. No Pants Summer is officially over. Also, I'm rather done with blue and white. I wore jeans today and am absolutely craving pumpkin orange and wine colored shirts. More on that tomorrow..... maybe

Saturday, August 2, 2008


We slept well into Waffle Saturday today. It was a mistake we made last week, sleeping until 8:30, rendering a large portion of the day unusable, once you factor in the homemade, whole-grain, egg-and-dairy-free waffles and coffee. I mean, of course the coffee is egg-free, but the waffles are too.
I know those waffles don't sound very fun at all, but I assure you that they are. Especially with real maple syrup. That counts for a lot.
So, we overslept again, even though we set an alarm to wake us up! The problem is that Chris and I always look at each other on a Friday night (usually while we're in the front seat of the car after running to the grocery store) with a certain, knowing twinkle dancing in our eyes and we whisper softly to each other, " you wanna hit Blockbuster on the way home?" And truly, by the time the kids are in bed and asleep and we've put away all the groceries and picked up the....well, it's not exactly toys anymore....but the mess, I guess, of children in the house, it's usually pretty late. And then we settle in for a movie. And we go to bed at 1 or 2 AM, which is really bad news if you have to get up and make waffles at 7:00 or something, in order to leave plenty of time for yard work before it gets hot.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
So, we overslept. And I had a lot that I wanted to do today (did you see that pile of fabric yesterday?). But, well, a girl kinda feels guilty sending her hubby out to sweat in the already-too-hot-because-we-slept-in yard while she happily crafts away with the air conditioning and the dirty dishes in the sink. So, I offered to help him out so we could get it done faster (a.k.a. set in on the knitting sooner).
I have a reputation for killing green stuff, so, he let me work on the weeding. And it's fun to put my hands in the dirt and let my fingers squiggle all around, making all those ants really angry.

But those children of mine. Oh, those children. They lounged around in their pajamas
and poked their heads out the back door asking about snacks until I couldn't take it anymore. I forced them into actual clothes and made them brush their teeth and - horror! - made them come outside. Granted, it was hot. But some of us handle it better

than others.

Even the puppers got in on the fun and sat up in the fort with the unfortunately sweaty book-readers.

And we did most of the back-to-school shopping this afternoon. Which really stinks. I hate spending money on new socks and underwear and things that are not actually appreciated. But a cupcake-themed lunch box was procured for the female child and she was rather pleased.
But the knitting? The sewing? Not today. Sadly. Maybe tomorrow. I do consider myself an optimist.

DAILY BLISS: unexpected cookout company of the last-minute-invite sort and pint-sized shoe joy (as in "Ooooh, Mommy! They're wedges AND they're peep-toes!)

Friday, August 1, 2008


I spent my birthday gift card at Hancock's today, thank-you-very-much-Mindy-and-Joe. I went in there intending to purchase fabric for an Autumnal Equinox dress (as it is frighteningly close and we will have our party, as always) and thinking I might have enough left over to get fabric for a nightie that's been designing itself in my head. And I left with everything but that fabric. I forgot my coupon for 40% off, you see.
But have no fear, fair people. They were having a sale anyway. Lots of 50% and 60% clearance goodies. So I bought gobs of that cream stuff with roses on it - potential nightie, no? Not what I had in mind, but it was about $2 a yard, and it's really sheer and lovely. But I also visited the drapery remnants pile. Ugh. I have read that it's a source for lovely, heavy and, well, drape-y fabric and that turned out to be woefully true. I think those drapes would rather be skirts anyway, don't you? And since I have that little Sew What! Skirts book, they will be skirts very, very soon. I think. It looks easy enough....
Couple the pile of fabric potential with the fact that I (I think) successfully cast on and started my Honeybee Stole last night, and you find that I am just itching for three or so days alone with my supplies. Just think of what I could do! Alas, as things stand, we are probably looking at things that will remain undone until after Christmas crafting is over, since they're all for me.
Oh, but I did order some yummy-sweet fabric for one Christmas gift. Things are rolling. And I've been thinking about putting together this little pattern for my nephew who I'm going to see in September - what do you guys think? I mean, it could be awfully cute with some little boy-ish fabric, but it probably won't get played with as much as something shiny and plastic. But he's not even one yet and he could sure chew on those little fabric rings. And, isn't it more fun to make something totally cute that Mommy loves anyway? And his Mommy reads this blog sometimes....I hope she doesn't mind the surprise being spoiled. And it's sooooo cute! Ohmygoodness. I have got to stop with the plans and potentialities. I am already over-committing myself and I can feel it.
But it's so fun.

DAILY BLISS: finally making it to the grocery store - the bliss being the relief that it's over