Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The "Fruit" of My Labors

Who doesn't love cherries and ladybugs? I have been going crazy without fabric (my sewing machine is in the garage, but my fabric is no longer on the premises) and my kitchen table. Last night I decided it was time to take action. I asked Sean to haul the kitchen table out of the garage and back into the house. By 10:00am my kitchen was a sewing room mess - iron, cords, thread, scissors, ironing board, sewing machine, pin cushions, measuring tape, rotary cutter, rulers, mats, etc.

I also went to the fabric store last night and found this adorable fabric. Since deciding to make all my Christmas gifts this year, I have been scanning ideas. For my niece, Rachel, I came across the idea of making a tablecloth/picnic blanket and coordinating napkins for a tea party. I decided to give it a trial run on Anna first. Here it is:

It is a reversible 44" square (I wanted to build in as much variety as possible) with rick-rack edging. The rick-rack was a teeny bit tricky and I had to tear out a section and adjust it. I decided to top-stitch it for sturdiness sake, but I don't think it looks as nice with the black straight stitch. I may forgo this step with the napkins, or use bias binding and make sure my thread matches perfectly. I was very anxious to get sewing and did not pre-wash my fabrics this morning. We'll see what happens after a spill and a wash.

All in all, I think it turned out nice for a little bit of sewing squeezed in on a Wednesday. Hopefully I will get to the napkins soon. Don't you just love the gingham? So, so cute. It should make a darling little set.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Missing Montessori

Man, oh, man! I really miss doing Montessori with my little ones. I can't wait for the new house, the new space. I miss the concentration and the ideas and the craftiness and the purpose in my daily life. I miss the organization and the thrill of watching my children discover new things that I prepared for them. Did I mention I love Montessori???

In case these pictures don't make sense, I will explain. The picture above is a counting activity that involves hand-eye coordination as the child ties the rods into bundles that correlate with the numbers on the cards (which the child places in order). Erik loved this activity.

I used the wooden three-dimensional shapes for Erik's geometry lessons. (All of these pictures are from last spring.) During an unrelated lesson with Erik, Anna found a space to herself, laid out her work mat (i.e. pretty pink blanket), pulled the shape basket off the shelf and began lining them up and touching each one, just like I had shown Erik - all by herself!

During this time I discovered my boy LOVES to paint. I would never have allowed "real" paint (I was a firm believer in only using water colors with small children) had it not been for my new-found desire to allow and encourage my children to explore their world with real materials (i.e. not "dumbed down" for kids, and not plastic, but actual objects that actually came directly from this earth without being melted down and mixed in with a bunch of chemicals before it was user-ready).

I love this picture. Erik set the entire table place setting by himself after a practical life lesson. He did an outstanding job. As a side note, we spent a lot of time working on setting a table properly and making it look lovely with flowers, table linens, and matching glasses for our lessons, but I don't expect it or do it in our daily life. Hmmm . . . I think I have some learning to do.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Flower Power

I love ranunculus. It always makes me laugh when I am reading a gardening picture book with captions obviously not written by a gardener. I can't count the amount of times I have seen the name "rose" attached to this beautiful species of spring blooming corms (bulbs, essentially). I drool over these in every catalog (they are very inexpensive in their embryonic state). However I never buy them because funds are generally pretty tight in January (all that post-Christmas financial catch-up), and that's when you need to plant the corms. By the time they are blooming in garden centers across the Willamette Valley, the $6 price tag per plant seems a little steep for what is basically an annual in our climate (somebody please tell me I'm wrong about the annual part).

So what possessed me to buy the gorgeous beauties you see above (yes, I did take those photos)? The same thing that has possessed me to spend thousands of dollars re-carpeting and -countering our house - so that someone will buy it. Someone who probably doesn't even know the difference between a rose and ranunculus, or an annual and a perennial, will walk up to their future front door (currently ours) and say, "What lovely flowers. I think I'll buy this house."

In the meantime, the grape hyacinth will continue poking through the soil to provide a waiting audience for the daffodils and tulips when they finally decide to grace us with their presence (the daffodils in the front bed are notoriously late bloomers).

And the sunny pansies . . . who doesn't love a smile from one of these happy blossoms?
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Erik's First

Last night marked a major mile-stone in any child's life. This time it was in Erik's life. Can you guess what it was?

You're right! He lost his first tooth. After church he walked up to me and said, "Look, my tooth is loose!" After a few hours of non-stop fiddling in his mouth - voila` - his very first lost tooth! When Djeryd get's a loose tooth is takes weeks for it to fall out because he refuses to touch it or eat with it (it drives Sean crazy). ;>

The Tooth Fairy brought him fifty cents (which he has decided to use on the purple plastic horse ride at Fred Meyer's). Until we make it to Freddy's, he is finding creative uses for his cash. I dig the glasses.

And here's Little Miss "Me Too!"
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blessings of Bare

2009-02-21 Eating on the Floor 002

There is a lot to be said for stripping your house down to the bare bones. We are all getting quite comfortable, and actually enjoying, our nightly tradition of hauling the living room table into the kitchen to serve as our dining table (we no longer eat in the dining room - one less floor to keep clean). We wind up all very close crammed around the little table. There is something about sitting directly on the linoleum that makes us all feel a little giddy - like we are breaking a rule and getting away with it.

Another perk of having a virtually empty house is that there is nothing to do. Consequently, we talk. We play tickle games, and one or two of the board games salvaged from the packing boxes to help us ride out these last few weeks. A trip to the library is monumental, providing bedtime reading material for a solid week, instead of library books being tossed and lost among all of the other books in the house within hours after bringing them in the door (we ALWAYS have at least 50 library books checked out - we have had to seriously cut back in order to keep the empty house looking empty - library books have never felt so precious).

The kids have a modest-sized toy box with a handful of toys in the family room. The result - they actually play with the toys! There is nothing else to do so my kids have dumped out the pillowcase full of blocks nearly everyday and then actually built something with them. It's amazing! They say blocks are one of those timeless toys that allow little imaginations to run wild. Before the extradition of all other toys in the house I would have said, "Yeah, right." But, no more. I am a believer in the power of blocks. My children produce castles, caves, parking garages, car ramps, race tracks, and compounds (complete with courtyard, main house and hidden sleeping quarters). The list goes on.

I have had the wonderful opportunity, now that the zoo-i-ness of "remodeling" is over, to get serious about being a great mom again. I am amazed at how easy it is to lose track of the good stuff and why I do it. This slight lull between transitions is turning into a blessing of peace and serenity in our lives. We can do nothing but wait on others at this point, but we are blessed to wait in a splendidly sweet manner.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Phase Two

Within hours of the new kitchen counters being installed (see above), the kitchen turned into . . .

ta-da! . . . the holding space for any furniture actually left in the house while the carpet people came in to do their magic. Meanwhile, Sean and I painted Anna's beautiful pink bedroom an incredibly boring white. As you can see, Anna is not too thrilled with the change.

Throughout much of the day we were sequestered to the kitchen so as not to be in the way of carpeting. The kids amused themselves by playing Sorry! on the floor. It was pretty cute - though it did not last long. Oh, and did I mention we went without a kitchen sink for two-and-a-half days? How grateful I am this is not our normal state of being (Douhet and Kylee - you guys are crazy!) ;>

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Under Construction

As we prepare for the sale of our current home, a certain level of deconstruction has become inevitable. We are installing new counter tops (the old ones were warped due to poor seaming by the previous installers). The new counter tops are almost black and the color of our kitchen WAS a dark blue-grey. Sean felt it would make for a very dark kitchen so, as you can see in the pictures above and below, today my beautiful designer kitchen was cheapened and turned into a boring, old, plain white, tract-house kitchen - an abomination, really.

With help from family we also managed to yank out quite a few carpets (brand new carpets are coming on Wednesday). Our bedroom is the only carpeted room to have survived the day unscathed. Consequently, it is serving as the family bedroom. It's kind of fun to be all squished together. It reminds me of staying in our hotel room at Disneyland, and that makes me so happy. I had a Jamba Juice today which also reminded me of many happy mornings heading through Downtown Disney to get my daily Jamba Juice and muffin (I only indulge in such things while vacationing). But I digress . . .

And lastly, if Anna looks like she is a glowing angel, that's because she is. (I so love braids and ribbons and pink dresses and little girls who adore having their picture taken - even if it is of the back of their head).

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Disney Dreams

I just wanted you all to know I had my weekly Disneyland dream last night. I was getting worried as it had been about a 10-day interval between this one and the last one. That is not like me. In this one it cost $6,560 to get three day passes for my family of five (yet it only cost $90 per day if you paid on a per day basis - dreams are not supposed to make sense). The crazy part of it was that I was completely willing to pay the $6,560 to make sure we could get in for three days and not just one. Anything for a day in the Magic Kingdom!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Break

Tonight was unusual in that we all walked in the door at the same time. Coincidentally we were all hungry, tired and cranky. Oh, and I forgot to mention, the house was messy (surprise, surprise). As we all stumbled into the living room, tripping over coats and backpacks and unfinished homework and mounds of Valentines and candy wrappers (does anyone else find the extent to which Valentines are carried these days absolutely ridiculous - remember when you only got candy on Halloween?), patience wore thin and frustration began running high. Everybody started to lose it - not a pretty sight.

I am an escapist. I learned the art form from close examination of my father when I was a child. As I have matured I have honed it into a skill that I employ from time to time when my coping abilities are stretched beyond comfortable levels. Usually this means I escape either before or after dinner to the library or the fabric store or just an empty parking lot down the road where I can hear myself think. Tonight I thought it best to bring Sean along for the ride. "Honey, let's call Jen to watch the kids, and go out to dinner."

I have never been thanked so much for spending money! It was just the break we needed. While we waited for our babysitter to arrive (she was still at school - after school), Sean calmly made dinner for the kids and the babysitter, and I calmly helped Djeryd with homework. Just knowing we were on our way out the door - escaping - helped us to calm down and deal with things in a loving, rational manner. We knew that by 6:30pm we would be the heck out of Dodge. So we could be cheerful and calm for the hour that we had left.

I don't think we give ourselves permission to take real breaks often enough. I know that sometimes in the middle of the day I will take a break, but I am not mindful of it, so I do not revel in the break. I do not emerge from 20 minutes of reading, or knitting, or staring out the window refreshed if I am not conscious of the desire to be refreshed, of enjoying my task thoroughly because I may not get another 20 minutes to do exactly what I want to do until tomorrow.

Sean and I were fully aware of tonight being a break. Our lives have felt so stressful lately for a variety of reasons (not the least of which is moving). We are stressed out with ourselves and our kids and circumstances and a house that has to be ready to show to perfect strangers at any time. We chose tonight to take a full, conscious break. We savored every moment of our escape (and the most amazing spinach and artichoke dip I have ever had!). And I feel refreshed. I feel ready for tomorrow, and excited to spend it with my children (and my sister - yea!!!!!!). And I am grateful to our dear little babysitter who squeezed us into her hectic schedule so we could take a break.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The One Constant

You know what they say, "Change is the one constant in life." I am surely feeling it lately. The visual landscape of my house has been in a state of constant flux for the past two weeks. Every time I turn around something is different. It always catches me by surprise, which is the silly thing as I am the one who is doing most of the changing.

Last night we took a bed apart and hauled an empty dresser downstairs. In an effort to present our home as a blank canvas to potential buyers, it loses more and more of its personality. In a way it makes moving easier as the years of our life here are being stripped away one box at a time. All of the pictures are now off the walls. Closets and cupboards are slowly being emptied. Toys are disappearing. And all of our books have literally vanished (oh, how I miss them!).

Unfortunately, some things are not relinquishing their hold on my house - laundry, dirty dishes (though clean dishes have been boxed and moved off-site), scummy showers, and toothpaste-encrusted bathroom counters. If only I could figure out a way to box these things up and haul them away while a house is being prepared for selling. I would be a millionaire.

There also seems to be endless amounts of clutter. Papers that we might need over the next month, but we have no place to put them because normal storage items were extricated previously. Oh, the woes of moving.

The upside is the excitement of change - especially good change. The first thing Djeryd and Sean say when they walk in the door these days is, "I can't wait 'til we move!" Djeryd is excited for a space to leave up his Legos away from Mommy's itchy cleaning-fingers. Sean is excited for an office all to himself and a greatly shortened commute. Erik wants a place to build forts in his room (probably so he can hide all of his dirty laundry in there, instead of under his bed). Anna is clueless. And me - visions of a sun-drenched turquoise design studio have been floating in my head for quite some time.

I find it interesting that we are each excited to be able to carve out a space all our own. It worries me a little, in all honesty, because I truly believe in the saying that "love grows best in little houses." And yet, I hope that by each of us having some space to be alone with ourselves, we will be much more grateful for our time together. And if we aren't on top of each other all the time, the kid-contention level should decrease, right? That is putting a lot of hope and expectation in a structure of shelter. And I believe it is misplaced. The Proclamation on the Family has much more solid guidelines for a happy family - and it has nothing to do with square footage - just don't ask me to give up my studio.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Yummy yarn - I am making a hat for Sean. He has patiently waited through me making hats for everyone else in the family.

Yummy cousins - I could gobble them both up. Sunshine in my day!

Yummy Mr. Mom - Erik was all set to push Savannah in the stroller, while toting Anna in the doll-carrying backpack (needless to say, it did not work out as the kids had hoped).

Yummy boys - Djeryd is turning into quite the handsome fellow (despite the silly faces), and Sean (sigh), what can I say more? (Besides, what is more attractive than a man washing dishes? - A man teaching his son to grow-up and be a man washing dishes!)

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

$400 For Grabs!!

Hey All! Today is the day you have been waiting for! We are selling our house and moving to Canby. It is a done deal (aren't we good at keeping a secret this time?). We are listing our home offically on Feb. 18th. However, if you find someone to buy our house before we list, WE WILL GIVE YOU $400 - IN CASH!!!

The following are some pictures of our house. New carpet and countertops will be in installed on Feb. 17th. We are asking $262,000. That is $30,000 LESS than comparable homes in our area! And like I said, you can get a finders fee of $400.

We will not accept any contingencies. It is a great house (approx. 1,675 sq.ft.) on a big lot (almost 9,000 sq. ft.). Full of sunshine and vaulted ceilings. We are happy to give out any and all details to an interested buyer.

Three bedrooms, Two-and-a-half baths, Living room, Family room, Dining room, Kitchen, Laundry room (upstairs - very convenient).

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