Wednesday, February 29, 2012


This is how I sorted through my new world the day I found out that I wouldn't meet my third baby.  I felt like I had tried so hard ( I know that 5 months doesn't seem all that long to the veteran fighters of infertility, but from my experience it was a shockingly long time) and I was devastated. I had a treasure that I could not hold, that I was helpless to protect.  Andrew was in Brazil for the week and my mom was keeping the kids for a few days. The line on the test was getting fainter and blood test looked bad and I wept and I sewed... I felt so raw and I needed to make something that reflected my heart. I had that littlest secret bud of promise, but now I felt surrounded by darkness on every side. I felt like I was spiraling down in a big dark fog. 

There is a time to grieve. I was afraid that if I let go and cried as much as I needed to that I would never stop... But there are times to grieve and times to heal. They hold hands and sometimes you can't tell whose fingers are whose. Really making a space to grieve was healing for me. I cried until the tears were gone, sewed some of the patchwork above, and then cried some more. Expressing my grief made room for the light to come in. 

God has comforted me through numerous things as I have walked through this valley.  As I left my basement after sewing and crying most of the day I saw a flicker in the middle of the room. There was a dragonfly flying around the middle of my basement. It struck me as unusual... and it felt encouraging. I had not been down there alone like I thought, this little messenger had been keeping me company. I remembered reading a while ago that dragonflies were symbolic of something so I went and did a quick search. While different cultures associate them with different things, a lot of the various meanings have to do with living life to the fullest because a dragonfly has such a short life.  The dragonfly was a wonderful reminder that though this child has had such a short life from my perspective, his/her life has worth and purpose and should be celebrated nonetheless. Another symbol I held on to was the unusually enormous snail that lived on our backdoor just above the door handle that weekend. Every time we came inside we saw it. A snail symbolizes perseverance...I needed to be told to persevere. It is easy to be cynical and discredit little messengers from God, but I am so thankful for those tangible reminders. 
The patchwork piece above was inspired by realizing that, while I felt lost in my gray, I was gifted with the presence, support, prayers, and encouragement of my community... a bit of a perspective shift. I had several friends tell me they were thinking of us while they listened to the song "Timshel" by Mumford and Sons... the refrain "You are not alone in this, You are not alone in this- as brothers we will stand and hold your hand" felt so so true. We felt the embrace of our community. It is an amazing thing to feel surrounded and upheld by people who love you.  Another line from the song --"Death is at your doorstep, and it will steal your innocence, but it will not steal your substance." Life is not quite as simple now... some innocence is gone. But something must be said for going all the way down and feeling that your substance is something more sure than gravity. My prayer that night was- "God, I know you are good. I don't like this. I am miserable, but I know you are good and for that I am thankful."  

My favorite C.S. Lewis quote seems to fit here. It is rather long, but there have been a number of times that it has felt like my one hand hold. In A Grief Observed he writes, 
"The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is in this matter hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed-- might grow tired of his vile sport--might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren't."

It has taken me almost ten months to be ready to write about this... I thought I could cover everything I have to say about the subject in one long post... but as I worked through how to do it I realized that in reality I have far too much to say... You will be hearing more on this topic later.

Monday, February 27, 2012


We had a sunshine tea party with daffodil tea cups... and it was delightful!
The glorious days we have had during this mild winter have had me longing to go to Calloway Gardens... And lucky for us, admission was free (and will be until the end of the month)! We enjoyed all the beautiful bulbs and greenhouses and the warm butterfly house. But, my heart was warmed to see that both of my children have inherited my faithful love of daffodils. They enjoyed everything, but without a doubt the daffodils were their favorite. Every time I turned around they had their face in a bloom.
Looking back at the pictures I took reminds me that we were made for this-- We were created for a garden.

 Isn't it amazing that we have a physiological response to beauty? This image makes my heart ache.
 Sweet boy... knows to stop and smell the roses... or daffodils, as the case may be.
 It may have been chilly and windy outside, but inside the warm humid butterfly house it was very easy to forget that!

 (Andrew feels like this picture is indecent... but I think it is too lovely to pass up for prudish reasons ;-)
 Sure, sure the butterflies were amazing, but give our kids a mirror and they can entertain themselves (and on lookers) for hours.
 I'm telling you-- they love them!!
 Don't you love how it feels like butterfly kisses when you smell a daffodil?
You didn't think I would take a road trip without some handwork did you? Bit by bit these hexies are getting together. And I am very pleased with how useful the Pediped box has been. Ever since I saw Anna Maria Horner's new sewing boxes I have been longing for one... but in the meantime I guess the Pediped box is a decent stand in... I may need to decorate it, though...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Baby Princess Goes to School

Wednesday was Elisha's day to bring show and tell... and since the letter of the week was 'c', can you figure out what he wanted to bring? I'll give you one guess ;-) 
I remembered taking Baby Princess to school last year in a Pull-Up box... it worked great. I forgot that at that point she wasn't anywhere near full grown! Last year's school visit is pictured below... my my, how all my little bitties have grown!

 The kids LOVED seeing our chicken... I kept hearing, "wow! I've never seen a real live chicken before!" And Baby Princess was very well behaved--- no pecking, despite being completely surrounded. I think she may be ready for a nursing home visit ;-)
 However, when we went downstairs to visit another class she had had enough I guess... She pooped the biggest chicken poop I have ever seen-- all over me and the chair and the floor. The teachers were SO gracious about it and the kids learned first-hand that chickens poop too... The three year olds got a big kick out of it, probably was their favorite part of the visit ;-)  But it made me think of a crazy character on the PBS "Natural History of the Chicken" that keeps a chicken in her house wearing a "panty" as she calls it... I may need to craft one before our next school visit.
On our way home Baby Princess was fairly happy with her box until we got into our neighborhood. Then she decided that riding in a Pull-up box was for the birds... hmmm. I felt an awful lot like the crazy chicken lady in the documentary... If you need a laugh the whole documentary is very entertaining, but if you skip to 6:50 in this clip you can see the car scene and laugh at me ;-)
don't worry mama, I stopped the car before taking the pic!

I love this -- can't decide if we look like we are singing together or about to crash... but I just love our matching expressions. Oh dear, Oh dear dear dear.....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

bag it

 Here is an overnight travel bag for my little sleeping beauty. You could pretty easily wing it for a bag like this, but I was in a hurry and didn't want endless options. I bought a pdf pattern from Studio Cherie's etsy shop. The inside is not the most professionally finished (exposed seam allowance), but that really doesn't bother me. It is quite large- maybe more than I would need for a weekend... but then again-- our bags are usually exploding out of the top, so I think my husband is thrilled with something that doesn't get too stuffed to zip ;-) Plus, when you have to cart around pull-ups and special blankies and a few books and baby dolls... and maybe a sound machine... well, you can see how the extra space is quite useful!
 This is by far my favorite part. It was fun to copy my favorite part of the sleeping beauty print with some embroidery. These prints are Heather Ross' Far Far Away 2... aren't they just perfect for little girlie stuff?!

 I used an Ikea duvet cover as lining ($10 for a queen size cover + two pillow cases = pretty good price per yard!)
 Another favorite little detail ;-)
 This was about as simple as zippers get--- do not be intimidated!
The out takes from my little photo shoot are my favorite... those silly chickens were really quite taken in... curious critters!

Monday, February 20, 2012

something old...

I have a new sewing challenge... I am trying not to get scared and intimidated, but even saying the words: heirloom sewing. yikes!! I know myself, and the kind of skills required for this fine detailed perfection, neat and tidy... well, let's just say that I'm not naturally gifted in those areas.
Pic by Fish and Raven on etsy
My sister is getting married in a few months and my dearest children will be the ring bearer and the flower girl. Elisha informed us that he learned everything he needs to know about both jobs from a Calliou episode. He seems to make a pretty good flower girl coach ;-) Elisha will be wearing the seersucker suit I found at the consignment sale (hurray!) and carrying a ring pillow that I will make... As you may have figured- Anna's dress is my challenge. The picture above is the inspiration picture my sister sent me.
 I have moved boldly ahead and worked up a muslin from the measurements I have taken of Anna and estimated pattern shapes. She barely consented to stand somewhat still enough for me to try it on and adjust the pins for a better fit. I will probably go through several more rounds of recutting the muslin, basting it together and trying it back on for adjustments. But when the muslin is just right...
 ... though it will feel a bit like sacrilege, I will be cutting into this old dress fabric. This was my Great Great Aunt Maud's dress. She came from a wealthy family in England and didn't have any children, so my mother inherited these dress pieces.
 It is so amazing to think that this lace was hand-sewn one hundred years ago. It feels wrong to cut into it, but then again it seems like a wonderful thing to give it a new life. Instead of staying in a box until it completely disintegrates it will be transformed into wedding day apparel, to be used for such a special occasion. I think Maud would have been pleased to know that her great great great niece was wearing her reincarnated dress in her great great niece's wedding.
There is lots of visualizing, mulling, measuring, and probably some hand-stitching to be done... and then we will be holding our breath that it won't get ruined while my 2 year daughter wears it ;-) Ah, the joys of making functional art-- so much goes into it, and then you have to send it out with open hands to be used... only when you think that being used is something very worthy can you attempt this field of work. I'm thinking of the words from The Velveteen Rabbit that discusses that value of 'becoming real' through use... sometimes isn't pretty, but it is undoubtably good.

Friday, February 17, 2012

tending our flock

Have I mentioned that chickens make me happy? It makes me laugh at myself... it feels kind of ridiculous how happy my chickens make me.
 Here is a little 'ode to chickens' that I made recently... I put in on the wall, although in all honesty the size and shape make it feel a little less like a mini quilt wall hanging and more like a pot holder... ah well... it's cute whatever it is- don't you think?
 We cleaned out our chicken coop... we don't do that very often. We are averaging on 3 times a year-- yucky. But, our hens don't seem to mind. Do you see how helpful Anna and Elisha were. They were doing the all important job of keeping the chickens and kids entertained ;-)
I saw a magazine article on backyard chickens that was so adorable... and so misleading! The inside of the coop was painted white. And was clean white. No poop. LIARS! there is never a time that our coop is completely poop free- those birds get it everywhere... but if you have garden you treasure that abundance ;-) (Excuse the blurry pic)
 Here is a little up close of where the magic happens... the laying box. It also serves as a miniature modern art gallery for our girls. While Andrew was building the nesting boxes the kids wanted to help... I love how they contributed ;-) Elisha was so excited to think about Baby Princess enjoying his artwork while she laid eggs... and let's be honest- I was too.
 Still so hard at work-- such helpful children ;-)
 And here is were the real work happens.
 Gotta love free coop bedding-- thank you trees!
 Have you seen the Music Man? Saying goodnight to our ladies makes me think of a scene from the Music Man. It is a hilarious song... well, I could try to tell you about it or you could just watch it for yourself. Go here and if you are in a hurry you can skip to the last 15 seconds.
If you aren't familiar with chickens, this is what they do at dusk... they make their way back to the coop and squabble over their spot up on the roost... when it is cold they snuggle up close to one another, but when it is hot they fight for space. Sometimes you can hear a loud thump when a chicken squabble leads to unsteady footing ;-)
I may feel ridiculous for having a special place in my heart for such silly birds, but when I look around- especially at things from the olden days I know that I am not the only one who has loved chickens.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

::right now::

(I always enjoy soulemama's ::right now:: posts, so I'm going to give it a go)
 Right now, I am...

:: chuckling as I remember this Valentine's day attempt at a romantic candlelit meal including our 2 year old and 4 year old.

:: wondering how long my son will be anxiously awaiting marriage. Will he ever think that girls have cooties?

:: feeling happy that I took the time to doodle some valentines along with my children. I had fun following this pinterest inspiration.
:: enjoying the sight of our chickens busily eating our rye grass. And enjoying the sight of our tulips pushing their way up.

:: loving the fact that my husband will brave the cold dark night to shut the chickens up when I forget.

:: considering following my son's excited suggestion of painting the ceiling over our window seat orange... what do you think?!

:: smiling when he tells everyone that when he grows up he is going to be an artist, mechanic, and race car driver.
:: gathering more and more eggs each day as the daylight increases.

:: wearing my velveteen lovelies while the weather allows.

:: listening to the end of Anna Karenina (a free librivox recording) as I sew.

:: rejoicing over the $15 seersucker suit I found at the consignment sale today for E to wear as ring bearer in my sister's April wedding.

:: anticipating the arrival of a shoe order I just placed... I had to order bridesmaid shoes and decided to add these to the cart for good measure (!)

:: stitching tiny hexies together and the lining into my almost completed velveteen jacket (you know, the one Anna Maria Horner helped me make ;-)

:: smelling a handful of daffodils rescued from the cold weekend.

:: rubbing my eyes because it is past my bedtime...

Well, that was fun... I imagine I'll be documenting some more ::right now::s in the future. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'm a homemaker

I don't do the dishes. Really. Ok... maybe every now and then... I rarely clean my house. I am not really all that good at having dinner for my family every night... But I promise I AM a homemaker!
See! I made this lovely little home a while ago and have really wanted to share it here. I made it for Anna's first Christmas and finished it completely by the time she turned one. The idea came to me as I tried to fall asleep on the eve of Christmas Eve. I got so carried away in my planning that I hardly slept ;-) Mind you this was all in the dark of my bedroom as I tried my hardest to get to sleep. I finally made a voice memo on my phone so that I could get the ideas saved and be at peace to sleep... Listening to the whispered (I didn't want to wake Andrew) details the next day was kind of bizarre... crafty creepy. After a bustling Christmas Eve, working into the wee hours of Christmas morning, this darling little cottage took shape.
Can I take you on a tour?
I like to think the front door would be welcoming to a hobbit. The house has different shapes for windows: circle, square, triangle. I was so pleased with how the Folksy Flannel print made a perfect picket fence... and of course there is a chicken in the front yard ;-)
Another chicken lives in the side yard under the shutters that open and close.
Every true cottage has a somewhat wild backyard and this one is no different. The minky fabric adds a nice tactile detail.
The window box under the triangle window is so nice and cheerful... and the precious little fish pond makes me smile... but, the button apple tree might be my favorite.
Can you tell that the door knob is a little bit of bling?
Now, you are welcome to take a peek inside (Beware of the owls in the attic).