It begins...

A friend recently forwarded an email to me titled "The Invisible Mother," a short essay comparing the tireless and often thankless job of a mother to the builders of Europe's great cathedrals. Both give their whole lives for a work they will never see finished, both make sacrifices and expect no credit, and both are fueled in their passion by the faith that the eyes of God see every detail. The writer of the essay was inspired by the thought that our endless efforts in motherhood, invisible as they may seem, are worth it and can make an enriching life.

For many of us, the way we choose to hold our invisibility at bay is by creating something tangible. For me, my days often end with knitting - my love of fiber and the need to do something relaxing end up producing something I can hold and look at. Nobody will know how many times I swept under the high chair that day, or how many toys I picked up, or how many times I tried to coax a "please" or "more" or "sorry" out of my 5 year old. But a darling, handmade infant hat? That you can see.

I start new projects every day, and my 10 year old does the same. In this process of creating (and yes, often not finishing our projects!) we connect with each other and a bigger picture of ourselves in the process. My plan for this blog is to share the projects that excite me and bring some accessible proof of my existence in this invisible world of mothering!

So, this blog is dedicated to the mothers out there whose days are filled with the minutia of tasks that build our children and our families. I often tell people that I haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up. But for now, I am the builder of a great cathedral. With every shoelace tied, lunch packed, and forehead kissed, I build.

And I can hardly wait to create something new...

Friday, June 6, 2014

Summertime...and the Livin' is Crazy!

Fast and furious, that's how we like to start our summer!  School finished on a Thursday morning, and by afternoon we were tie-dying t-shirts on the back deck. Rowan's turned out fabulously!

On Friday we grilled steaks and veggies for a special dinner, and Rowan and her friend made us a fruit and angel food cake parfait for dessert - SO yummy!

And then the rain hit, and it was too cool for the pool so we went strawberry picking, played games, watched movies, and monitored quite a few time-outs for Brynn, who has some summertime adjusting to make. :P

We spent almost an entire day baking, baking, baking giant m&m cookies and fudge brownies for Rowan's annual bake sale. We gave our oven a workout.

Rowan carefully crafted a new sign for her table, and did almost all the set-up herself this year!  She ran all the sales by herself, with only a little assistance from me, and made a fabulous hunk of cash for her summer spending money!

I've been cooking up some new knitted afghan blocks, using some of my newer yarn as well as more tidbits and leftovers in some linen stitch blocks. I'm just about out of "small amounts," which feels awesome! Here are the most recent...

2 days ago I hosted our first summer badge workshop, and 7 of our Junior Scouts came over and earned their "Gardener" badge. We had SO MUCH FUN. The weather was perfect, the deck was shady, the girls were fabulous, and we didn't have to rush anything. I loved it!  We created mini Zen gardens, planted petunias in pots the girls decorated using Zentangle, shared our 2-week seed experiments, created theme gardens, researched different types of flowers, learned how to read and understand seed packages and flower tags, used math to plot and design a 4x5 foot garden, drew flower and plant sketches, toured all the growing things in my yard, etc.  I think it's my favorite badge experience so far. :)

And my gardens were in prime blooming mode for the girls to see!  Here are my two clematis in the corner of the deck, bursting with blooms...

Our Lillies are stunning right now too!

And the knock out roses are in full bloom.

 In the front, the carpet rose is dripping with flowers...

 ...and all the little flowers along the front walk are adding their bits of color to the mix as they grow and fill in a bit.

The honeysuckle are doing well, I am glad to report, but unfortunately both the transplanted rose bushes have perished.  Sigh.  But with all the other blooming things making our gardens so cheerful, I am consoled. :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Last Days of School

I just put Brynn on the bus for her 2nd-to-last day of school (and remembered to give our cookie gifts to her driver and bus aide!)  I have two afternoons left of "me time" until mid-August, so I've gotta make 'em count. Tomorrow afternoon I am meeting friends to knit, and today I will probably run errands and enjoy the gorgeous day (with an iced coffee beverage of some kind).

I just took a moment outside to check on my garden, and was surprised to find my first blooming clematis! Hello, little beauty!

I'm so glad we created a bigger trellis for the clematis to thrive on this summer - and I was SO good about actually training them this year! Yay me!  Sadly, one of my transplanted rose bushes is officially dead, poor thing. His brother is doing well, and the honeysuckle are blooming and thriving in their Rubbermaid bins, thank goodness!

The bunnies have been chewing at the orange construction fence, and have been frolicking, napping, and probably nesting in the back half of our yard since we aren't mowing it.  When Brynn gets off the bus each day, she is now saying "rabbit?"  So we always head back to see if we can spot one. She likes her new cozy sandbox area, and I have learned to keep a rake under the deck so I can fish for all the toys she throws over the fence!

Rowan performed beautifully in her piano recital on Sunday afternoon, and was SUPER excited to wear her new outfit for the occasion. No more "little girl" dresses for her. Sniff, sniff!

In knitting news, I have FINALLY finished the embellishments on the plain block backgrounds that have been sitting in the drawer for months. Finally!! I might need to re-block them a bit since the edges started to curl. 
I also just finished the 2nd of two identical blocks (because the patterns was so easy and satisfying, and the yarn so yummy!)
And then I got a bug in my butt one morning last week to make a block for Rowan - the panda is her favorite animal, and she is ga-ga over it these days. I still need to embroider the leaf stems, but here he is. And I don't know what she'll want to do with it - turn it into a pillow, a wall-hanging, a doll blanket.  I plan to give it to her Thursday as her 4th grade "graduation" present. :)  Isn't he cute?

Brynn had fun this morning for an hour at the Field Day hosted by her soon-to-be new school.  She was pretty mad at me when we left, but we had a dentist appointment to get her to. I am happy to report her teeth are perfect and she didn't cry once!  She wiggled and fussed quite a bit, but they were great with her and brushed one or two teeth at a time to keep her happy. Bless her heart, she kept saying "Aaaahhh" like we try to get her to do at the doctor's office. Love that little squirmer!  And now, I get to go have my hoo-ha inspected at my annual exam. Wheee. But then I get iced coffee!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


The days...they fly!  So much happening this May I've barely been able to keep up with it all.

Within the space of a few days, our backyard has changed dramatically.  The city is updating the sewage line and upgrading the water flow path of the creek behind us, which means all kinds of drastic, tree-killing changes.

Here's a corner view the morning before it all started...

Here's a couple of hours later, after a frantic removal of honeysuckle, trellises, and rose bushes to the side of the deck. (One rose bush has already died. Wah!)

And then the next afternoon came the tree crews.  They sliced through our fence and gate in seconds, and within 10 minutes our back cottonwood was gone. Here's the final picture of our lost tree...
I watched him fall, and took video. My sunglasses hopefully hid the tears as I said goodbye.
I have to say, I am pretty impressed that they got our giant tree to fall exactly between those posts!  In order to "fence in" our yard, we now have orange construction fencing running across, effectively halving our backyard space for the summer. Sigh.

But in an effort to preserve some of nature's sweetness during this rocky time, Rowan and I created a Fairy Garden under the edge of the deck on Saturday.  She picked the flowers and arranged where she wanted them, and I helped get them in the ground. She placed all her little fairy accessories (toadstool, birdhouse, tiny creatures, etc.) around the area. We used a hunk of bark from our fallen cottonwood as a backdrop, as well as a slice of it's branch (which the saw-guy was nice enough to cut me upon request).  We also saved a bag full of wood chips that were left around the trunk, and Rowan created a pathway into her Fairy garden with them, then lined the path with all the stones in her rock collection. She used a large shell she found years ago as a "fairy bathtub" and filled it with fresh water. It's adorable, I must say, and she's so proud of it!  We can check on it from the kitchen windows whenever we want, and are glad our old tree lives on in the magic of our fairy garden!

Before all the yard carnage started, I spent a wonderful weekend with friends at a lovely house on the Lake of the Ozarks.  We sunned, knitted, ate, relaxed, and had a wonderful time!  I learned a new (highly addictive) art form called Zentangle, and spent several hours creating the following doodles...

I also cranked out 17 knitted roses to give my Girl Scouts at our final meeting! 

I created an envelope with photos from our zoo overnight for each girl, Zentangled her name, and attached a rose.

I made a couple extra for my Cadette helper and unofficial assistant leader, Jennifer too, but I turned theirs into bookmarks.

And now that our Girl Scout school year is over, I've jumped into planning our two badge workshops. In June, the girls will be earning their Gardener badge, which requires a 2 week plant experiment they need to do at home.  I created a pretty awesome (if I do say so myself) workbook we will use at the workshop, which included info and instructions on the experiment.  I created an experiment kit for each girl and got them delivered on Friday so they could get started.

Rowan chose to do the "Sunlight" experiment, and is growing her seeds on the kitchen windowsill. She kept saying, "This is so fun!!" while she prepared the experiment. Love that! (You can see her out on the deck adding her extra soil to the plant pot.)

I have more afghan squares to share (now that the roses are done) but will save that for another day.  Right now I have to begin my vigil of waiting for Brynn's bus, and the sun has at last decided to come out and keep me company!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bring on the Week

The end of the school year has officially hit. From now until Memorial Day, the days are PACKED with places to be, things to plan for, activities to enjoy. It's rather like the 4 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but hopefully with better weather!

Before I launch into all that's going on, I've brewed a cup of Pomegranate birthday tea (from Brad) in my new Zentangle mug (designed for me by my friend, Melissa.) Yum.

The crazy of this week involves Brynn's Developmental Evaluation, a visit to the Endodontist (which, thankfully, did not end in having to plan a surgery), 2 IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings with Brynn's current school and then her new Kindergarten IEP team, an end-of-year dinner with the Girl Scout Service Unit Team, finishing the Scarborough Elementary 12-page May newsletter, a haircut, and pulling off May Day baskets.

But then on Friday at 4pm, I get to leave for a weekend with friends at a lake house in Missouri, where we will do NOTHING but knit, talk, eat, sleep, relax. YES. (But Brad's parents are coming to help him over the weekend, so add clean the house, wash the bedding, and stock the fridge to the list of chores to squeeze in this week.) But damn, this is some good tea!

Being gone all weekend also means I have to prepare for next week a bit early. Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and since I am the sole Room Parent for Rowan's class, I'm coordinating a group gift, as well as a few other goodies for Rowan's teacher. I also prepared 26 gifts of "Thanks-a-Lot" Girl Scout cookies to give all of Rowan's teachers, Brynn's teachers, Brynn's therapists, Brynn's bus drivers and aides. I curled a lot of ribbon in my bathrobe this morning.

Monday I will hit the ground running with our usual weekly session of OT/Speech therapy for Brynn, followed by an afternoon heading downtown to the Children's Hospital to meet with her Behavioral Psychologist.  Then an evening Mother/Daughter Girl Scout picnic with our Service Unit. Seriously. How do people that work full time do this?

Then on Tuesday Brad leaves for the rest of the week to Detroit. We will have our final Girl Scout meeting (I still need to figure out an end-of-year gift for them - sadly, I did not get anything knitted in time!) and I will attend the 4th grade "Mother's Day Tea" and concert. Then Brad returns, TA week is over, and it's Mother's Day weekend. I will not want to move.

This morning I baked cookies (selfishly, I wanted them for the lake this weekend) using a recipe in my recipe folder that I stashed there at some point but have no idea who gave it to me, or if they were really all that good!  Oh, but they are. And the dough...dude. They are basically an oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that also has pecans and coconut. Snarf.

It is a dreary, drizzly day in Olathe. (Thus, the tea.) I am thankful the tornadoes that stormed there way across the lower Midwest this weekend missed us. Love spring, hate tornado weather.  With all the rain and rain and rain, the ground is soggy and muddy, so the flowers we picked for our garden are still hiding under the edge of the deck until we can get them in the ground. (Thank you, Merfy, for my Lowe's birthday gift certificate!)

For Easter this year, I filled Rowan's basket with "Fairy Garden" decor, in hopes that she'd get inspired to spend more time outside and in the garden. It worked! She was excited to pick out some tiny, low growing flowers (purple and white Alyssium) and plans to create a Fairy Garden under and behind our smaller Clematis, along the north side of the back deck. Here's a "before" picture of the space she plans to use. Can't wait to see what she creates!

In other gardening news, our Azaleas are starting to bloom! Darn rain is making them soggy, but here's a photo anyway.

I have also, for the first time, remembered to actually check on and train the climbing Clematis as they grow their way up the trellises! Normally, I lose track of them for a couple of days and then they are a twisted mass of vines clinging to themselves. We replaced the small trellis for our bit Clematis with two that are wider, which means an entire corner to grow and spread out. They are doing great in their early growth!  By the end of May they will have grown all the way to the top of the deck, and I'll have to start training them down the stair edge and deck wall.  Can't wait for their giant purple blooms!

With all the rain and weather, I am glad we left some color on the windows from last summer's crafting. Our origami stars help cut through the gloom. (Note, these pictures were taken before things got green!)

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring Has Sprung

Earth Day came and went, and it is GREEN around here!  All the delicate little bits of first color that showed up in April have made way for leaves, rich grass, and bigger splashes of color in the garden.  The crocus, hyacinth, and daffodils have come and gone, and now we have tulips, phlox, and grape hyacinth taking their day in the sun.  Yesterday's rain washed down most of the snowy petals on all our neighbor's ornamental trees, and the silly bird who thought she could build a nest in the crook of our drainpipe left a mess of twigs and grasses dumped on my front steps after the rain.

Apparently, I was too busy in March (and most of April) to Blog. I spent today sanding, wiping down, and retouching trim throughout the house, putting the last coat of oil paint on the banisters, and touching up all the little dings in our kitchen cabinets. My fingernails are quite spotted with paint!  I have not showered yet, and have a little over an hour until the girls get home, so here's my spring catchup....

Many more knitted afghan blocks have been finished since I last posted. I also managed a trip to the Yarn Barn in Lawrence with a friend, where I bought 3 new skeins of wool to add to the mix.  Here's what I've got to show for it:

I've got a few other finished ones I need to block out, but the pile is getting bigger! When I was in Iowa over spring break, Mom and I laid all our blocks out on the floor for fun - it's going to be quite a job getting them sewn together when it's all said and done!

Craftiness had to step aside this spring to make time for organization and trip planning. I took my 13 Girl Scouts on a weekend adventure to western Kansas, which took quite a few hours of effort and planning. We had a BLAST, despite the torrential storms that beat down on us the entire drive home.  We stopped first in Lawrence for a 2 hour workshop with SAFE, a program that teaches young girls about self empowerment, healthy relationships, bullying, etc. 

In the photo, they are working on positive image profiles. We drew each girl's profile on a black piece of paper, and they filled the shape of their profile with positive words they felt described them, which they cut out of magazines. They turned out great! Here's a closeup of Rowan's:
After our workshop we had some park playtime in Topeka, KS at Gage Park. It was HOT but the girls had a blast.
From Topeka, we drove through the Flint Hills and into Salina, KS, where the girl chose an Asian dinner.  We arrived at the Rolling Hills Zoo, west of Salina, around 6:45pm, where we were treated to a fabulous program that involved outdoor games, an Asian themed presentation including some live animals, and then painting dragon masks.
The girls then got to battle over the Great Wall of china (with spatulas and ping pong balls), then surprised me with a birthday cake, ice cream, and gifts! We spent the next few hours doing a flashlight tour of the wildlife museum and a night hike through the zoo. We started the movie Mulan around 11pm, but I think most moms and girls were asleep before midnight! (And I discovered my stupid air mattress had a leak - wahhh!) The next morning we were served a pancake breakfast and given a tram ride around the zoo.  We hiked back around the zoo loop again to see the animals more closely before heading to lunch and back to Topeka for some shopping. TORRENTIAL rain - it was quite the adventure!

And suddenly I am planning the final Girl Scout meeting of the school year, but of course looking ahead to several badge workshops this summer, camping, etc.  Never a dull moment!

In other spring news...Rowan and Brad earned their Black Belts in Taekwondo. Studs.
Rowan took it upon herself to patch up Bun-Buns jammies, and she also learned how to do the Purl stitch, which has launched her into an animal knitting project!
 We had our final Girl Scout bake sale in April, and Rowan made key lime cupcakes with darling marshmallow flowers on top. They sold FAST.

We spent last Saturday at the Kansas City Kite Club's annual festival.  It was awesome to see the giant, professional kites up close, but Rowan's favorite part was flying her own kite. :)
 Brynn loved wandering in the flag maze - check out her new, short hair!!
We had a wonderful Easter, with time at home hunting for eggs and finishing cinnamon rolls, then a day at the Parker's filled with food, egg dying, cookie decorating, birthday celebrating, egg hunt, outdoor play, etc.  

Happy, happy April!