Thursday, December 29, 2011
So, what have we been up to since...oh...say about last summer? (Seeing as it has been that long since I have really contributed substantially to this blog.) Well, let me recap some of the high points for you.
1. We survived an earthquake. Wooo Hooo! Yes we did! Last August or thereabouts. Scared dear little Chloe out of her wits. She was at the top of the stairs and I was at the bottom. After the fact (and once we realized we were alive and that it was, indeed, an earthquake *thank you facebook*) we decided it was quite a thrilling experience to live through. Nothing fell on us nor did anything break so we now consider it an impromptu theme park ride of sorts.
2. In the same week our entire basement flooded. I would say that the earthquake scored a much higher rating on the "fun things to experience" list. The basement flooding caused too much chaos and turmoil in our home. (P.S. The flood happened before the earthquake by a couple of days and it was due to our sump pump taking a much needed vacation during some of the worst rains I have ever seen in these parts, not the earthquake. Don't get confused.)
Anyways, the emergency water mitigation company worked quickly to pack up ALL our belongings and cart them off. I scrambled to retrieve as many of Chloe's schoolbooks as I could from their swift fingers before they were packed up. I cannot say the same for the remodeling company, on the other hand. It took them a good 2 1/2 months to get the basement put back together. We have yet to finish unpacking the boxes in our newly remodeled basement.
I feel as though I now understand how Jesus works all things out for good according to his purpose. Take our basement. I was in tears as the water mitigation company walked around and informed me of each and every one of my possessions that would need to be thrown out. It was sad. But, now we have a beautifully finished basement that looks 100% better than it did before. The carpet was replaced. The drywall was replaced and painted. The baseboards were replaced. It looks fantastic. I can only thank Jesus for this.
3. So, Chloe has been over 2 years without a seizure. Praise Jesus! She came off her seizure medication in September. So far we have had no seizures from her.
4. I cannot say the same for the rest of our family though. In November (the weekend before Thanksgiving) James went mountain biking with a friend and had a pretty bad accident. He broke his finger (Poor guy had to wear a cast for 3 weeks. That's tough for a computer guy who spends most of his day typing.) and about 30 seconds after the crash, his friend saw him seize up. Oh my. Yes. What a weekend. We spent 3 days in the hospital trying to get tests run to find out why, but they don't know. He never hit his head. Anyways, all is well. All is fine. He is completely normal.
But he cannot drive for 3 months. Guess who gets to drive him everywhere! Yup. Yours truly. And you all know how I hate driving, right? God is teaching me through this though. I am capable. And flexible. Not that I have been in the past, mind you. But that is what He is teaching me through all of these trials that have come my way in the past 6 months. We can homeschool in the kitchen while the basement is uninhabitable. I can rearrange my schedule to take James to work and doctors appointments and school and all that. If I need to clean the house in the evening instead of read books or blog, I can do that too.
So, there you have some updates from this side of the computer now. Hopefully, I will have more for you soon. I have been thinking about my New Years "Goals" and once I get them ironed out, I will have to share some of them with you. One of them might just pertain to this here blog. We shall see.
Have a delightful weekend.
Monday, October 24, 2011
1. Day Camping Trip - go camping for an afternoon/evening with all the expected "camping activities" only come home to sleep in our own bed instead of the hard, cold forest floor.
2. Go for a hike in a State Park we have yet to visit
3. Bake Monarch Butterfly cupcakes.
4. Bake an apple pie
5. Make a gold leaf tree for our coffee table
6. Make Thanksgiving Placemats
7. Make Caramel Apples
8. Make Caramels
9. Carve a pumpkin
10. Bake a pumpkin roll (yummy! a must-do every year item)
11. Decorate the house for fall
12. Sew a fall dress for Chloe
13. Fry doughnuts
14. Make soft squishy pumpkins
15. Make a pom pom tree
16. Take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the fall foliage
17. Make sausage ratatouille
18. Make chicken pot pie
19. Build a scarecrow
20. Turkey Trot mile run
21. Make cornhusk dolls
22. Throw an Apple themed playdate party
23. Make Bread Bowls and chili
24. Visit a local farm fall festival and corn maze
25. Attend a Thanksgiving Parade
26. Make lots and lots of fall crafts!
27. Make a fall wreath for the front door.
28. Attend the local "day after Thanksgiving" festivities with ice skating, Santa, carriage rides and tree lighting.
Monday, October 03, 2011
My Nikon D5000 is no more.
It was stolen from our apartment in New York City.
My parents came to visit for a couple of weeks and we took them to NYC to see where James was raised and the Statue of Liberty. We stayed in an apartment in the Upper West Side. Well, that evening while we headed out to climb (ride an elevator) up the Empire State Building, some person broke into our room and helped themselves to my $800 camera.
I can't cry. It was only a camera after all. I didn't lose my daughter or my leg or something of that importance. A camera can be replaced...if one has the finances to do so (which I do not). But oh, how I miss it. I look at my charger (which was left at home) and sigh. I even have my camera bag. Empty.
I have some pictures my mother gave me from her camera as documentation that I truly "was there" but it's not the same. It is not MY photography. With MY camera.
Those college classes on photography I was asking for Christmas seem a little pointless now so I will remove them from my wishlist.
Someday I will replace it. Not now. But someday.
In other news, the remodeling work commenced on our basement this morning. Hooray! Oh yea. I forgot to mention (or maybe I did mention and forgot) that our entire basement flooded a few weeks ago. Right in time for my parent's visit. So they (not my parents...the water mitigation people) tore everything up and dried it out and now we've been waiting for 4 weeks for them (the remodeling people) to come and replace everything. We get a brand new basement out of this.
So, lots going on in our household. I will have to update you all more at another time. I am off to clean something. Or take a nap.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Chloe begged and begged and pleaded and begged some more for a mirror. Honestly, she asked for one for two Christmases in a row, poor dear. So, a good dressing station would involve a mirror of some sort too.
Here is what I came up with.
White mirror - $4 at Target.
Wall shelves - $8 each at Target.
Jars - $5 for the set at Target.
Hooks - $3 at Target.
And she has a dressing station fit for a princess.
I still need a ruffle curtain. Pottery Barn Kids has the most gorgeous one in the entire world. Unfortunately, I cannot afford the price tag for such beauty. I found a simpler one at Target for $20. I might purchase that one and add some lace and trims and all that "girly" stuff. Won't that be so pretty?
The real moon. (and no...James did not hang it. Although closet doors come pretty close.)
I took those pictures through the telescope with my camera. I borrowed a lens from another stargazer to get this next picture. My lens could not get anywhere near this close.
I need to get out my manual and read up on how to change my shutter speed. I could have gotten a much better picture if I could have found the button, but it was very dark, even in the light of the full moon.
I just think its pretty cool that I got the images I did with my camera and limited photography knowledge. We saw some other cool things too. Like two stars that appear next to each other but are really lightyears away and the M16 Nebula star cluster. So very cool. We might need to go stargazing again.
P.S. We are studying space for school right now, hence the stargazing through telescopes and knowledge of M16 star cluster and such. I am getting a quality education over here. I wonder if they will let me homeschool college too. I would be all over that.
Note how terrible that floor looks. Inside the closet is the original hardwood floor. Choke. Gasp. Agggghhh! Sigh. Yes, underneath the carpet is hardwood flooring. Isn't that sad? Little did we know this fact until after we purchased the carpet before we moved into the house. And since we didn't actually see the floor, we don't really know the condition of it and how much work it would take to make it presentable. So, we just live with the knowledge that its down there. Its enough for us.
There is 1/4" subflooring underneath that "peel-and-stick" tile. Yes, someone put plywood subflooring on top of hardwood floors. Really makes me wonder about the condition of our hardwood. Anyways, about the time our new kitchen was going in, the doors on our entryway closet broke. I've put up with a broken closet door for 6 months. Talk about annoying.
So there it goes. Bye-bye! My main job for the day was painting the new closet doors. Every time I turned around my painter's canvas was twisted up in a pile instead of nice and flat like I left it. Hmmmmm....how does something like that happen?
Yup. Found the culprit. Leave it to a kitten to play with everything. She got a little antsy when Chloe went outside to help daddy though. She waited at the window for her, watching her little girl.
And by the end of the day, the entryway was finished. Isn't it beautiful?
Its always the little things that you don't notice that make the biggest difference. I love the whiteness of those doors. They change the entire look of the living room. I love how quietly and smoothly they open. I never noticed how noisy and ragged the old doors were. They were hard to open. These just glide along with absolutely no effort.
Thank you James.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Okay. So honestly, not much has happened yet. We are researching Joomla. I love the shopping cart feature they have. Customers will be able to instantly download the patterns with a link provided them with Joomla's shopping cart. I have been wishing for something like that for a LONG, LONG time. As things stand now, I still email every single customer the patterns when the order them. That means I can not be away from my computer for more than 2 days. And do you want to know what I have found in the 5 years I've been doing this? Customers don't like waiting. Do I need to mention when my husband deploys and my internet or network goes down. How do I get the patterns to my customers then? Sometimes they get very angry with me when this happens. Very angry. And dealing with irate or irritated customers is one of the major reasons I have felt like giving this whole business up. I desperately need that instant download feature. Desperately!
We are in the process of trying to install Joomla on the server as I type. It will take us some time before anyone on your end of the computer screen will see any difference in the website. But things are happening. And I can hardly wait. A transformation! A streamlined website! Wow. This is exciting!
I learned a new word today. Metadata. I know what that means. Isn't that exciting! What a fun and confusing word. I am not comfortable using it in a sentence yet, but I could probably explain it to someone (not a geek) in 1,000 words or less. I feel quite accomplished at the moment.
So, I am off now to enjoy a cup of coffee while I read up on parameters and the difference between subscript and superscript. Goodness, though. It boggles the mind. Have a bright, sunshiny weekend!
Friday, September 09, 2011
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
The beginnings of a new design. It feels so good to look at that and know that in a few more days, or weeks, or months, it will be a new article of clothing and a new pattern I can add to my website.
Once I get my brain screwed in place, I will update you on some family happenings. Have a fantastic day.
Monday, September 05, 2011
Where did that passion go? Toward homeschooling. That's where. I love homeschooling more than I love crocheting. And carpel tunnel. That whole "syndrome" slows a person down considerably. And cooking 3 meals a day takes time. Cleaning up the kitchen after cooking 3 meals a day takes time as well. And somehow life picks up speed and you begin to realize that there are more important things at the moment. Things like putting puzzles together with your daughter. Teaching her to ride a bike without training wheels. Making sand castles at the beach. Dancing around the living room to Jack Johnson. Baking chocolate chip cookies. Watching birds soar through the trees. Catching leaves. Skipping rocks.
But lately, James has been asking me to put a bit of effort back into the business. I know I can't crochet 8-12 hours a day like I used to, but surely I still have something to offer. Right? Surely I can handle a new design every now and again.
So, a bit of that passion has returned to my soul. It won't be like before. I have other passions now too. But, I do want to design again. I want to create heirloom clothes for Chloe to wear. (She asked me to crochet her a Christmas dress yesterday. I said maybe I would sew one since I probably don't have enough time to crochet one before December. We'll see.)
That is where things stand at the moment. We are looking at re-designing the website soon and advertising in various places. I have added most of my patterns to my Etsy shop and will be adding them to Artfire this week. I have emailed the owners of Ravelry to see about getting my name linked to my patterns there as a designer. Baby steps. Baby steps.
In the meantime, I have picked up a hook and yarn again. Boy does it feel good sliding through my fingers. Crocheting feels so natural. Designing is in my blood. Just so long as I remember to take it slow.
Sunday, September 04, 2011
Chloe says some of the funniest things. I love to laugh. This was a match made in heaven. Here are a couple of her most recent phrases.
(While setting up the board game Mousetrap) "Mommy. Do you want to be green? Green wants to be you."
I bust up laughing. I couldn't help it. I know she was totally serious in her question but it was too funny.
Last week I took Chloe in for some labs. Chloe hates bloodwork. Fiercly. On the way to the facility she said, "I can't wait to get to heaven Mommy."
"Why?" I queried.
"So I don't have to do bloodwork." (Short pause) "Will we have blood in heaven?"
Monday, August 22, 2011
One morning, a few weeks ago, I stood in the shower. You know how that goes. Shampoo the hair. Shave the pits. Stand there to feel the warm water streaming over your shoulders and down you back. But for some reason, this particular morning, I reckoned I should administer a breast exam on myself. Why did that pop into my brain on that morning when I've only given myself one, possibly two, breast exams in my entire life? I can't explain where this thought came from. Why, on that morning, did I feel the need to check myself? I had just been to the "female" kind of doctor for the first time in 6 years just a couple of weeks earlier and everything checked out normal. (Yes, I am ashamed to admit that I have a slight aversion to doctors and have not been to that kind since Chloe was born.)
Maybe I turned over a new leaf in regards to my health. Maybe seeing the doctor stirred up the need to take better care of myself. I don't know. But I determined to examine myself that very moment.
As my fingers traveled around my "you know what", I felt something like a large, cushy rock inside. I immediately rationalized that James needed to inspect the find before I made any rash judgements.
He arrived home and confirmed my suspicions.
I tried not to allow fear to enter my heart. I really did try. My attempts failed miserably, but I want you all to know I tried. I am still trying. But it is there, mocking me, chiding me, gloating over me when I fail to evict it.
I am scared.
We made an appointment with my "lady" doctor and she immediately confirmed. Yes, there is a good sized lump in my breast. Oh, but not to worry. It doesn't "feel scary". Most likely a cyst.
Fear sent its barbed hooks further into my soul.
Last week I suffered my first mammogram and an ultrasound. I laid there thinking, "Ultrasounds are supposed to be used to view babies. Not lumps in breasts. This is all backwards." I longed to be in a different room, seeing a baby through that monitor. Not a rock in my breast.
A silent tear stole down my cheek.
The technician walked in with a clipboard and calmly stated that it, "doesn't look scary." Again with that word. I am scared out of my wits. Doesn't anyone understand that? So what if the lump doesn't "look scary"! I just had some stranger groping my breast! I AM SCARED!
She said that word. The word alone can freeze a heart. It froze mine.
So what if the lump doesn't "look scary." Oh, for joy! I get a giant needle stuck down into my breast! And they say I don't need to be scared. Ha! Anyone who says that should have a giant needle stuck in their breast. Just because.
So, the biopsy occurs in a couple of hours. This very morning. My throat has constricted so much so that I can hardly swallow my coffee. Tears perch on the brink, ready to spill over.
And still I try to keep fear at bay. Fear has sent his icy fingers deep down into my soul. I cannot live by fear. I must eradicate it. I must turn my eyes to Jesus. He had reason for fear! He sweat blood before his crucifixion. You cannot tell me he wasn't feeling some sort of emotion there. And you know what? He will walk me through this. He will stay by my side. He alone has what I need to get through this morning.
So, if you know me in person and you happen to see me around and you ask how I am doing and I respond, "I'm fine." please understand that those are probably the only words I can speak at the moment. Please don't ask further. Please talk about sewing projects or your favorite flavor of coffee or what you cooked for dinner last night. And please know that I am fine. I am. I am fine. I could be worse. I could be better.
So there. I said it. I probably didn't use the right words and you might not understand everything I am going through. But I said it.
I have a tumor in my breast. I am fine.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
As I stood there, ruminating about some recent circumstances in my life, a thought seeped into my head.
"God is watching those sparrows too. His eye is on those sparrows."
Wow! Just when I was feeling despairing and forlorn, God reminded me that He is watching over me. He cares for me so much more than the sparrows. And how neat to think that maybe God and I were watching those sparrows together.
You see? I am much more valuable than birds. God said so right there. God will take care of me, through whatever storm I must pass through. My God will carry me through.
Friday, August 05, 2011
James took Chloe and I out this morning on a kitty hunt, as he promised Chloe while he was away. What I figured would take all day and many cat rescue shelters, took all of a drive to Petsmart and 10 minutes with this sweet kitty. Immediately upon being set on the floor at the pet store, Snow (at that time named Messy Hessy) commenced with rubbing all of our legs, hands and even my purse. Chloe held out her hand and Snow rubbed against her like she was her long lost best friend. In that instant, the bond between kitty and girl was forever sealed.
"Please!!!!" Chloe begged. "Please! I want THIS kitty. This is the kitty I want. I love this kitty. Please can I have her?"
She didn't need to beg. James and I could clearly see that this gentle, sweet, loving kitty would be the perfect addition to our family. She loves all of us equally and can't be petted quite enough. But she also loves to play. She chases her toy mice across the floor and carries them around in her mouth as she shakes them to death. (poor, dear, toy mice)
Less than an hour later, Snow was ours.
And when I say "sweet kitty" I really do mean sweet! The one and only time her eyes widened was on her journey in the cat carrier from the store to the van. The entire time in the store and the entire van ride home, her eyes stayed naturally in a contented manner. And I have yet to hear a single peep from her. Not a squeak. Not a mew. Nothing. She is perfectly happy to have chosen our family as her people and is showing us just how affectionate and playful she can be.
And now I must be off. Twillerbee is a little confused and upset by the curiously dreadful noises emitting from under Chloe's closed bedroom door. Something is in there that should not be, of this she is quite certain. While Snow's eyes have yet to widen in horror or fear at anything since we adopted her, Twillerbee's have remained saucers ever since she realized something spooky was shut behind that door about 3 hours ago. I must go assure her that she loves me and that she will not be eaten by a black and white monster.
We started a tradition. (I know...*eye roll*...another tradition in our household. Like we NEED another tradition. Hmmph!) But when James returns home from a deployment, we enjoy taking Chloe to a certain bear building venue. Yep. You guessed it. Build-A-Bear.
This time, Chloe informed us that she needed a boy dog "bear" to marry her girl cat "bear". She's been looking forward to this excursion since before he left town...that is, up until the moment James promised her a new kitty. Suddenly a stuffed dog lowered itself on the "wants" list pretty quickly. But, she did not forget the promise and so as soon James was buckled into the mini-van next to Chloe in the backseat, we drove to the Build-A-Bear palace.
It's funny. It has been 1 1/2 years since we've been to Build-A-Bear, but Chloe knew where everything was and the steps needed to build Fluffy, her dog "bear". She chose a soft body for Fluffy and stepped on the peddle herself to fill him up.
It is serious business stuffing a bear.
I can't help but wonder what Chloe's wish for her bear was. She looked so adorable making her wish with Fluffy's heart in her hands. But I just can't ask her. She would tell me in a heartbeat. And we all know that if you tell your secret wish, it won't come true. I wonder, though, if it has anything to do with Daddy never leaving again.
Time to wash Fluffy.
And then we printed a birth certificate for Fluffy.
Upon arriving home in Chloe's bedroom, Cinzy (the cat "bear") and Fluffy met for the first time. After saying hello to each other, Fluffy cut quickly to the chase by asking, "Will you marry me?"
James and I were able to talk them into a courtship after Cinzy said, "yes" since we felt they truly didn't know each other that well yet. When James asked Fluffy if he would like to meet the other kitties in our house, he replied, "No! I don't like cats!"
"What are you doing marrying one then?" I queried.
"Oh. I only like this cat. Just this cat. No other cats." He replied.
I just have to say. I enjoy having James home. We have so much fun as a family. We laugh and play and enjoy being in each others presence. Welcome home James! I love you very much.
Opps. I forgot to taste test them before I gave them away. But how can you go wrong with marshmallows, sugar sprinkles, vanilla icing and vanilla cake? I don't think you can.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
While baking in my kitchen a smile creeps across my face every time I reach for...
I adore this little baking soda can. I worked for a French chef while living in England where I was responsible for making various sandwiches which he then sold for lunches to the local colleges. My boss catered other goodies as well so I often walked into our storage shed/kitchen and found myself in the midst of a baking marathon. He used this baking soda. I fell in love with the tiny can and when I saw him preparing to toss it into the "rubbish bin", I asked if I could keep it.
Upon arriving home, I began looking for the perfect location for my new-found treasure. Ah-ha! Toothpicks! They fit neatly inside the can. It was like this little can was made to be my toothpick holder. I've kept them in it ever since.
So, you see. This little can is more than just a cute baking soda can from England. It contains my memories. Each time I grab for it, I float away to a time when someone attempted to teach me french words. When I learned that Disney inserts vulgar curse words into their movies in French. (I shocked my boss a time or two when I said a word I learned from Beauty and the Beast. He stared at me like he couldn't believe a good girl like me would say such a thing. I had no idea! It was in a kid's movie, after all.) When I worked alongside my neighbor/best friend, chatting about the best places to go shopping in Cambridge or Bury St. Edmonds. When we stopped work every mid-day for an egg salad sandwich and tea.
All of that, packed inside a baking soda can with my toothpicks. And it's a pretty neat little can, too.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
I stopped what I was doing and smiled at her. "Yes. I love you very much!"
"I knew you would say that!" she replied with a grin as she scampered away up the stairs.
A few minutes later, I heard the pitter patter of feet scurrying down the stairs and a second note fluttered into my lap. I picked it up.
The second note read...
I laughed and hugged her and planted kisses all over her face. This little girls lights up my world. I reluctantly let her go as she announced that she would like to write me another note. Can it get any better than what she already wrote?
When she trotted back downstairs for the third time, grasping the third note firmly in her fingers, she gingerly handed it to me and said, "This note is not for you. It's for Daddy."
How sweet is that? My heart melts. She meekly informed me that she wrote another note for Daddy but that I couldn't see it because I would get mad. I promised her I would NOT get mad. She picked up her foot. Her foot? Yes, her foot! And here is what I read...
...was written across the bottom of both her feet. I couldn't stop laughing. I am chuckling now as I write this post. This child is the sweetest little girl. So full of spunk and fun. She loves laughing and making other people laugh. Laughter is good for the soul. Even when we are missing our Daddy! I choose to ignore the fact that my daughter has ink seeping in through her skin (which makes me cringe...I have a phobia of ink on skin...but we don't need to discuss this) and laugh with her.
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
First I found the blue/green plates at Home Goods. I found a matching cake plate and the party just sort of evolved from there.
A good bird tablescape needs a multitude of birds, in my opinion. I found quite a few on clearance at Micheals. Egg candles, a set of 3 for 60 cents, added just the right touch to the table here and there.
A perfect find. A bird candle for 2o cents.
A birdcage filled with daisies and a bird nest with a couple of eggs for our centerpiece.
More daisies spilling over the table.
Dainty pink accents. I love these pink glass bowls I found at Hobby Lobby for half off.
Tea time necessities.
I found these cute little espresso cups and saucers at Crate and Barrel for $1.95 each. I could not pass them up for a little girl tea party. (Or a future grown up espresso party.)
I love my salt bowl and spoon I picked up at an antique store a year or two ago. Isn't it darling? I can't get over how adorable it is.
For the party favor I found these little soaps for $1.00 each.
Tea party fare. I kept the food relatively simple but stunning in presentation. It took me all of 1 1/2 hours to whip up everything this morning.
Bird Tea Party Menu
Sugar-and-Spice Sandwich Swirls
Ham and Cheese Squares
Fairy-Tale Bird's-Nest Cookies
All the recipes were taken from Chloe's Fairies Cookbook.
We told the girls to come dressed up as fancy as possible. Chloe chose her princess dress I made for her 5th birthday. I put a crown in her hair and she wore her lace gloves. So girly. Each girl that came was dressed just as fancy as Chloe.
We need to have another tea party soon. We had a delightful time.