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...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's Not a Toy

Oh yes, I just pulled the "It's Not a Toy" card out. Rowan decided her brand new fashion scarf (which she BEGGED me to buy her at the mall today) would be perfect for using as a jump rope in the living room. Not so much.
We spent 30 (very long) minutes shopping for a few spring clothes for Rowan before our movie this afternoon. She slays me, she really does! We were at The Children's Place, which has some very cute things right now - all grouped in darling combinations that are easy to mix and match. Oh, but Rowan refuses to beat to my particular drum when it comes to clothing. The display will show 4 cute tops - same style but different colors that all go relatively well together. Then right below the shirts will be the selection of pants or shorts that go with the tops - most of them you can mix and match with the tops, but there is always one combo of shirt/pant that really should not be worn together. And yes, that's the one Rowan always wants. Seriously?? The pale pink flowered top with green, purple, and white accent colors - she picks the blue bottoms. The purple/green/white plaid that could go with black, navy, green, white, brown - she wants the coral colored leggings. Lord help me! And really, the clothes are only  of minor interest to her. She wants to look at scarves and hats and shoes and bathrobes (she has 2 already). And declares after 15 minutes that we need to be done. It's just WAY easier to go alone.

Back to crafting! Friday afternoon I did manage to finish Rowan's cowl bind-off before school was out, and brought it with me so she could wear it home. Here she is, proudly wearing it (in her jammies.)
In the 15 minutes while we were waiting for her friend to come over before our evening Girl Scout activity, Rowan decided to transform the empty chicken nugget box into a chicken. And a bed for the chicken. I get to  live with these lying about the house for a while. (We don't believe in crafting down-time around here.)
Saturday was spent in CPR and First Aid training (CHECK!) and then Brad and I went to Cinema Suites for dinner and the new Liam Nieson movie, Unknown. It was good, but no Borne Identity. Brynn magically slept through the night and I was awake before 6am with the house to myself. Time to knit, people! Here's the progress so far on the front of the baby sweater...
I am almost decided on the second sweater I'm going to make - it's really a coin toss at this point! Here are the two options - feel free to vote in the comment section!
Classic or funky - help decide! This is for a baby due in March - Brad's good friend, Kevin, and his wife. I've never met his wife, but Kevin is super cool.

Back to the fashion scarf - since I wouldn't let Rowan use it as a jump rope, she decided it was perfect as a blindfold. So, she immediately broke out the paper and scissors and created her own pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey game. She is very proud of it, and the donkey is pretty adorable!
And of course (since the scarf isn't a toy) Rowan had to play fashion pirate on Brynn. Brynn was tolerant at first, but by the last picture (taken by Rowan) she'd had enough.

My question is this, if an object (i.e., fashion scarf) can entertain a 7 year old for 30 minutes, inspire games, bring sisters together, and cause much it a toy?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Yarn Days of Winter

The boots got moved to the back of the closet, the daffodils started to push through, and the air started to smell like spring! But that was last week. Now all is white with snow, and the winter accessories are strewn about my house once again. We still have a month of winter, oh yay.

The yarn projects are abundant though, so life is good! Yesterday I checked off "Hat earflap braids" from Ye Olde Craft Log (YOCL). (And have decided to name my Craft Storage Dresser Thingy "Casey" - thank you, Christy!)
I also cast on for a baby sweater - a pattern I've done once before and loved! Can't say who it's's a secret! (But clearly it will be for a girl.)
I also watched an online video to learn how to bind off from a round loom. Rowan decided the neck cowl she had been knitting on her loom was done, but we didn't know how to get it off! I showed her how, but it was frustrating for her so I ended up doing it. We were working on it this morning right before school in hopes she could wear it today. Wrong! The bind-off method does not allow for much give, so we couldn't begin to get it over her head. :P
She begged me to fix it while she was at school, and I have gotten as far as picking out the binding and getting the last loops on knitting needles. Now I need to re-attach the yarn and remind myself how to do a flexible bind-off - most likely with a yarn needle. Oh dear, it's almost time to pick her up from school! Maybe we'll work on that together...

This afternoon I also chose to tackle "Write Daisy letter" and "Plan Daisy Party" off YOCL. The letter writing turned into researching different charities the girls can choose to donate some of their cookie earnings, as well as deciding to draft an email to their parents to enlist their help with researching fun stuff to spend the rest of their hard-earned money on. We'll see if I get any takers - I am trying to be better about delegating now because I'm going to really need to lean on parents more next year in Brownies. I also finalized the different groups for the party, made their name tags (color coded by group, of course), and emailed the Junior Scout who is helping me plan. Once she decides what game/craft she wants to lead, I can start planning the rest. So...2 more things on YOCL that are "pending."  Look at me go!

Tonight is the long-awaited Girl Scout "Mock Lock-in" which will take Rowan and I out for an adventure, and leave Brynn with a sitter. After 3 hours of little girls, I will need to come home and seriously veg. But I'm sure some yarn will find its way into my hands as well...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Life, Interrupted (How Dare It)

Dude, busy week! I won't go into extreme details, but between housework, Brynn's sinus infection (and doctor visit), hospital trip for Brynn's echo cardiogram and EKG, hosting my monthly "Knit Night," Project Linus, and general daily mayhem, I haven't had much chance to blog! (Oh, but I have been crafting, people - never fear.)

Tuesday: Made myself do laundry, housework, and go grocery shopping all morning. (The model of responsibility, that's me!) During nap time, I pulled out all the fleece blankets to check them over for missed tassels, then folded and stuffed them into bags. And totally forgot to count them. Do I want to drag them all back out and do that? Something to ponder. I still have a few blankets being finished by friends this week...and I can't show you "after" pictures of my spiffy dining room until the fleece is gone. Check out what it looks like under the table!
I worked a bit more on stashing my piles away in the new craft storage dresser thingy, and realized that I was in danger of forgetting everything I wanted to be working on, so I dug up a tablet of paper I've probably had since college and started Ye Olde Craft Log. Here's the current log list...

 - Finish Alex's hats (CHECK! See below.)
 - Finish family photo album (pending)
 - Update Brynn's birthday scrapbook, including her "birth" page (pending as well)
 - Make the green braids for my hat's ear flaps
 - Decide what to knit for a friend's baby due in March
 - Start baby gift for a second friend
 - Fix Brynn's play kitchen curtain so they'll actually go over the rod provided
 - Write letters to my Daisy scouts
 - Plan Girl Scout birthday party

Tuesday night was Knit Night. I finished the first hat for Alex, and almost finished the second one when 10pm rolled around. I just completed it this morning (thank you, Elmo!) Brynn was not really a willing model but here are some pictures of both the hats. We do love matchy-matchy winter accessories!

Wednesday: After an entire morning of hospital and doctor visits, then an impromptu lunch with my brother, Noah, who was driving through KC on his way to Dallas, I caught up on finances (you're welcome, Brad) and then finally had a chance to look through my mom's Shutterfly site and order some photos to fill in the gaps of 2010!
I filled the album with photos up through Thanksgiving, but then ran out of room in the album and had to run to Walmart during ballet for a couple more! At this point, I have to stash the photo projects until the Shutterfly pictures arrive. I have ordered a bunch from Brynn's birthday, so once I have everything in hand I need to do her birthday scrapbook. Then I'll know which pictures I have left over for the family album. Gee, I wish I had a handy place to store the piles of photos and albums where little hands can't find them. OH WAIT, I have a place now! All hail the new craft storage dresser! (You know, I'm getting tired of referring to it as the craft storage dresser unit thingy. I need to come up with a simple name. I'll get back to you on that. If you have any ideas, I'm all ears!)

Last night I also finished the second skein on my prayer shawl, which means I'm officially 2/3rds done with it. Gettin' there!

Thursday: Already?? Well, it's lunchtime and then hopefully little-miss-sinus-infection will take a decent nap. Then I can clean up the photo project and then choose something off Ye Olde Craft Log! What to make, what to make....

Monday, February 21, 2011

Surfin' USA

On Saturday I took Mom and Rowan to the American Girl store at the Oak Park Mall. SO fun! Rowan fell in love with a paddle-board surfing accessory set and decided to spend all her money (and some of mine) on it. She's been playing with it nonstop, and today asked a friend to come over and play with her. Thinking perhaps her friend's doll might like a surfboard, I came up with the brain-child of creating cardboard surfboards the girls could paint a design on. Rowan loved the idea, but soon decided that she'd actually prefer a very large board that she could pretend to surf on. So, thanks to the giant cardboard that came on my new craft storage dresser, I was able to fashion two large surfboards with my exact-o knife. Rowan set up the kitchen table for some serious painting, and the girls have been at work out there for almost an hour!

Rowan has created a board with some classic Hawaiian themes - watery waves, Hawaiian flowers, palm trees and shark, while her friend has created a more abstract, tribal looking board. They are both awesome! 

I, on the other hand, am ready to start organizing my new drawers and putting away the piles! Here are some 'before' pictures of the surfaces in my dining room. (And really, they aren't that bad right now - you should have seen them when Grace was still under construction!) Once I deal with the mess, I'll take 'after' photos to share. 

And I was going to show you pictures of all the kids and moms working on the Project Linus blankets at our meeting this morning, but although I remembered the camera I left the dang memory card in the computer at home. DOH! Needless to say, we had fleece spread out all over our meeting room and it was great to have everyone working together. We had about 18 kids and their moms come today, which was a great turnout! We didn't get all the blankets done, so several moms have taken a few to finish at home, and I'll do a few here. I'm hoping to have them all back and completed in a week or two.

Ok, time to sort some drawers. Perhaps I need to listen to The Beach Boys while I putter away...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Craftiness...and Beyond!

OH, where to start! As foretold in my last post, there was some serious craftiness at our house over the weekend. My mom did not disappoint, so I have lots of show and tell. (And can I just say, everything just seems a little brighter when my mom is around?)

Thursday afternoon during Brynn's nap and while I waited for mom to arrive, I got out my new pinking shears and decided to test them on the caballero fabric. They are super sharp, and very satisfying to cut with!  I cut the hunk of fabric into 3 pieces (one for each girl) and used the pinking shears to go all the way around the outside so they won't fray at the edges.  I used Rowan's Daisy tunic as a template for the neck hole, and cut that out as well. Then I cut 1" fringes along the bottom edges of all 3, to help give it a little flair. It turned out to be a much easier project than I thought - and no sewing!  I also fashioned 3 black fabric tie-belts to use, but once Rowan tried on the poncho we decided the belts were a hindrance and just didn't look good. My little brown-eyed caballero is very happy with the finished product!

Friday morning after Rowan left for school, Mom and I got to work on Grace's hair. Well, I should say that I explained what Rowan wanted and mom figured out a way to do it. Rowan's instructions were that she wanted Grace to have a ponytail in back, with some straggling hair coming down the front. And with the orange yarn, of course. Mom cut some long strands of yarn and laid them over Grace's head so that she could stitch them on right at the seam along Grace's scalp.  Once she was done stitching, the layer hanging over Grace's face got flipped over to hide the stitches, and make a double thick lock of hair, which could be fashioned into a ponytail.  As promised, we left a few strands in front on the sides.

Friday afternoon came the construction of the bonnet. Mom brought a pattern she'd used for American Girl Dolls, and after a few adjustments to size, we pinned out the pieces on the fabrics Rowan had chosen and set up the sewing machine. I helped cut and pin (like when I was a kid!) and Mom did most of the sewing (she's WAY better.) Before you knew it, we had a darling little bonnet on our hands.

Grace is now completed, and it was a wonderful way to spend the day together! And she looks just about how Rowan imagined her, so all is right with the world. :)
While Mom was putting the finishing touches on the bonnet, I decided to pull out the next project Rowan has planned - her fleece quilt. We're using remnants from the Project Linus blankets we did with Girl Scouts, which we had already cut a few weeks ago. Rowan had drawn up "the plan" for the quilt and has decided to use white fleece for the backing. (We waited until it was on sale.)

I bought some 2-sided iron-on adhesive to fuse the remnants to the white backing, because I don't think Rowan has much interest in actually sewing her quilt together (and neither do I!) I wasn't sure, actually, if the adhesive was going to work, so the first thing I did was try a small square sample. Worked great - hallelujah! With Mom humming on the sewing machine, I cut 12 10"x10" squares of the adhesive and now we're ready for Rowan to do some ironing.
Friday night, I cast on for the first hat I'm making for Alex. The cotton-ease is so nice to work with, and the colors she chose look great together - soft and boyish! I've decided on the striping theme I want to use, and am about 3-4 inches up now. Luckily, Rowan has the right aged head to try it on for me to make sure the sizing is right! When the first hat is done, I'll do the second, smaller hat with an opposite color scheme. They're gonna be cute!
The last thing I will share today (and OH YAY, I am so excited about this!) is that my new craft storage unit has arrived!! I have decided that our dining room is just never going to be an actual dining room (way too small) and in order for it to get some use, I am constantly bringing craft projects out there to work on. The table is old and scratched, and is perfect for the type of abuse I unleash on it. Ha! Behold the new storage unit...
It's actually a kid's dresser, which yes, looks a little odd in the dining room. But since all the other Ikea furniture in here is white and light wood with silver handles, this doesn't stand out too badly. And even if it does, I don't care because yay, oh yay, it will hold all the piles and piles of half-finished, need-to-work-on, save-it-for-later project piles the currently dominate the surfaces of our main floor. I've told Rowan that she can have one whole drawer to herself (and I get the rest.) No more piles, people! Well, I do have to wait for Brad to install the baby-proof latches first, and THEN no more piles! Lovely, lovely, uncluttered space. Ahhhhh.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Is it that good things come in threes? Or bad things? I don't remember, but today my crafty to-do list has three projects I am itching to work on. (Oh, I'm not counting Grace's hair because...well because I'm going to rely on my mom for help with that!)

The first project I need to work on is to attach the ear flaps to my hat and then braid some long cords to hang down. Not exactly sure how to sew those puppies on the inside without it showing on the outside, but I'll get it figured out.
Second, I have been commissioned to make a couple of little-boy hats for my friend Alex ( in trade for something from her etsy shop. Can't tell you more, as part of the trade will be a gift for someone...but DANG she makes beautiful stuff!
Third, Rowan's 1st grade musical is coming up in a few weeks and Rowan and two of her friends will be playing the "3 cabelleros." What is a cabellero, you ask? Well, Rowan thought it was a bird of some kind and Brad thought it was a cowboy. Turns out it is a "Spanish gentleman." Think "The 3 Amigos." ("Cuh-caw, cuh-caw!  Lookuphere! Lookuphere!" for you movie buffs.) The girls will be wearing sombreros and poncho-type tunics, and you guessed it - I volunteered to buy the fabric and make the tunics. I found the perfect "novelty" fabric at Joann's this morning (on sale, no less) and bought their very last 2.5 yards.
Rowan has been practicing her songs for the musical for a few weeks now, and I gather it is all about "threes."  Three little pigs, three billy goats, three men in a tub - you get the picture. Oh, and three little maids - I was startled to hear her singing about the 'three little maids from school' - isn't that from The Mikado? Anyhoo, she was very excited to get cast as a cabellero and the girls will look stinkin' adorable in their (oh-so-matchy-matchy) costumes.

It's all about three's today! 

(And yay, oh yay! My mom is coming to visit and due to arrive in a couple of hours! There will be much crafting this weekend, but probably not a lot of blogging. Catch ya later!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Kid Again

At 11:30am Brynn was happily entertaining herself in the living room with books, and I decided to tackle the apron for Grace (now that I've confirmed which fabric Rowan wants to use). Of course once I got all the materials out on the kitchen counter it was really time to be fixing lunch, so I sort of scooted the project over a bit and pulled some leftovers out for Brynn and started a microwave meal for myself. Oh yum. I considered taking a picture of the state of the counter with bits of fabric, pins, scissors, iron, etc. having a social mixer with pasta and sauce, chicken bits, soy crisps and broccoli. SO not like me! But I ironed and snipped and hovered over my food for a bite here and there. And I did manage to not actually spill on myself or my project! (Also very unlike me.)

As I fought with the sewing machine and somehow managed to sew a snap on crooked (which isn't that bad, considering the snap I put on Grace's dress was inverted the first time - doh!) it occurred to me that when I'm working on projects outside of my comfort zone I really feel like a kid again and get to the point where I'd prefer just to quickly slap it together at the end and not worry about crooked snaps and uneven seams and ugly knots. Hot glue begins to sound really awesome! Now when I'm knitting, I can practically do it with my eyes closed. I will spend 1/2 an hour picking out a mistake that no one would ever notice but me. Definitely a grown-up then. But today, as I finished my cold pasta meal, I was definitely a kid. And that apron is DONE, dude! Hopefully Rowan will love it, and approve of the bit of lace I put on the bottom (which was not in the original design). 

Now we're at the point where I have to deal with her hair. Yarn is usually my friend, as long as it involves knitting needles of some sort, but creating a head of doll hair is definitely beyond my comfort zone. Ooo! Maybe I will just wait on that little project until my Mommy comes to visit this weekend! Perfect. Now I've got the afternoon off!! Ha. If my mom is going to be sleeping in our guest bed I have to deal with the fact that we unloaded the entire box of fabric scraps all over it last week. They belong in a box that is too small, in a corner of the closet which is too tight and hard to get to without upsetting everything around it, which is why I've been putting it off. Oh wait! Brad is working from home today and on conference calls in the guest room all afternoon - I can't put it away now! YES!
Yeah, I'm totally a kid today.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Day After

I lay in bed last night from about 11:30-2am feeling like my brain was in overdrive and generally worrying about things you only worry about from 11:30-2am. Awesome. I should have been feeling waves of relief and a sense of accomplishment for surviving the school party and the Daisy meeting, but instead I was stuck on all the thoughts of "I should have done this differently," or "Dang! I forgot about that altogether," or "How the heck am I going to..." Yeah. Awesome. I need to just check yesterday off my DONE list, and move on! 

My to-do pile today is threatening to cascade off the table, so I probably won't get to work on anything really fun until later...but I have finished the 20th infant cap for and have decided I'm done! By #20 I had started to play with stripes again, and even did some slip stitches to create a little texture. Here are a few of my final favorites:
Now I need to finish filling in the 20 "personal message" slips and get those attached to the hats. The deadline to get them mailed is fast approaching, so I'm hoping to have those done and in the mail by Friday. Now what, I know you are asking yourself, will Heather knit next? Well, I re-established a spot on the basement couch (where I do my evening knitting) for my Prayer Shawl bag, and have picked up where I left off before Christmas. It's maybe 1/3 done, but goes fast on the big size 13 needles. I'm using an oatmeal colored Homespun yarn that knits up soft, despite being "polyester-poo" as my mother would say. Ha!
Maybe tonight we'll get a chance to get some hair on Grace, or make her apron. And I am itching to cast on for a baby sweater I want to make...

But I'm going to bed early tonight, and do NOT plan to be awake at 2am. :P

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Truths

Truth #1:  Valentine's Day is a legitimate day for GIANT amounts of excitement when you are 7 years old. It's all about the fun and craftiness until you hit about 4th grade and make an extra-special-lacy valentine for the boy you like only to watch him give a large box of chocolates to another girl. *Sigh*

Rowan was up before everyone else in the house today, readying her valentines for our family. She put them all in her library book bag, stuffed her wad of muslin on top to hide them (did I not tell you that hunk of muslin has been everywhere this week?) and then waited patiently in her room until she heard signs of life. We did our little valentine exchange before Brad left for work, then I made her a heart shaped fried egg and heart shaped toast with cinnamon sugar. She skipped all the way to school (until she went down on a patch of ice!)

Truth #2: My Dad read my previous post on the creation of "Grace" and emailed me with this piece of wisdom: "Having a well-thought-out plan always gives you something to deviate from." Oh, so true! This is the profound truth that will help me get through our day of planned out fun. Here's how the plans are shaping up - let's see how it actually turns out:

I am headed to Rowan's classroom party at 2:15. For those who have ever attended a grade school class party you know that well-thought-out plans pretty much just turn to chaos and mayhem. Right after school is our Daisy meeting. So after the kids have been hyped up on sugar and gone party crazy, I get to corral them. Thank you to Kara, my snack mom, for bringing healthy foods today!! 

At our meeting we'll be finishing the work to earn our Considerate and Caring Daisy petal.  Our first activity (after snack and story) will be to reveal who our secret pals are and exchange the gifts we made for each other. Hopefully no one will forget to bring theirs! I have made several backup gifts that can be used just in case someone does forget. A couple weeks ago I got out my scrapbook papers and went to town creating card sets. Here are some samples:

I used a flower stamp (I made it years ago at a stamp-making class in Chicago) on white paper, then arranged it in several ways on pretty papers. They turned out a little more grown-up looking than I'd originally planned, but that's ok. I plan to give a pack to each of the moms that helps out at my meeting today. Considerate and caring - gotta live it!

After our gift exchange, I'll whip out my World Map and hopefully remember to get some pictures of the girls affixing their heritage stars. (Stay tuned...) Then, we'll really get crafty! The girls will be creating party invitations and helping me plan the games and activities for next month's meeting where we'll host the Kindergarten Daisies to celebrate Girl Scout's 99th birthday. Woo hoo!

By the time we get home from our scout meeting, Brad will be home and ready for a valentine dinner. No idea what our plan is there, but I'm sure it won't agree with my waistline! :P

Speaking of my waistline, many of you know that I've lost over 40 pounds since June. Yay me!  Since bathing suit season is almost here, I really will need a new suit. I decided to knit myself a bikini!
Truth #3: Don't believe everything you read, people. Ha ha!! I totally got ya on that one.  NO, this is not a bikini. (I can't even imagine it.) I have been wanting to make ear flaps for my green hat, and finally got them knitted yesterday. Once they're dry, I will affix them to the hat (somehow) and give them long braided tassels. 'Cause being 40 doesn't mean you can't look cool, dude. I made the hat and matching mittens this winter to go with a neck cowl my mom made me last year. She used a totally delicious yarn called Malabrigo, and the whole set is about as warm and nummy as can be. And we are OH so matchy matchy with our winter accessories! (And yes, the greens do not appear to be the same in these photos, but they really are.)

Truth #4: There's just about nothing better than fulfilling a child's dream. For those who have been wondering about Grace, Rowan decided that she should have a dress before we worry about hair. We drew out our design yesterday after breakfast, and Mommy worked HARD. Don't look too closely at the details, but AWWWW - it turned out cute!

LOL! Oh man - you can really see her lumpy head from the back! She really needs some hair.

I remember once when I was a young girl, we were visiting my Grandma Merry and Grampa Wib in Wisconsin. I don't remember what moment brought it on, but I remember Grandma getting teary-eyed and pulling me in for a hug saying, "My cup runneth over." Last night when my girls were making each other laugh so hard they could barely stand up, Rowan started to cry because she was so filled with love for her wee sister and the moment they were sharing. I asked her if her cup runneth over, and she nodded and blinked her giant, brown, watery eyes at me.

Truth #5: My cup runneth over. For all my friends and family who are reading this and are a part of our lives this Valentine's Day - thanks for being you. Big, fat love coming your way!