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...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Haven't Melted Yet!

No time/energy to write - tomorrow is the final day of Day Camp! It was over 100 today at camp, but we survived and had tons of fun. Here are a few photos from our week thus far...
At the tree house for lunch on our first day.

Rowan and the cloth pioneer doll she just made.

The girls do a crazy pose with "Bug," our craft helper!

Rowan tries on a buffalo hat at the Native American presentation in the tee-pee.

The girls take turns "washing" clothes like the pioneers on the trail had to do it.

Our Unit, with the pioneer presentation expert, Maryanne.

Campers....or vampires!?!

Ice cream in a bag!

My ice cream never turned I drank it!

Rowan gets ready to ride the Zipline!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer Fun

Summer is cookin' and the fun is nonstop around here! One of the things Rowan put on her "Summer Brake Collage" that she really wanted to accomplish was a lemonade/cookie stand. She created the big sign weeks ago (months ago?) and Friday was finally the day to do it. We baked giant m&m cookies all afternoon, and opened for business when our first customers rolled in at 3:30. We were sold out of cookies by 4:45, and by 6pm Rowan had earned $39!!  She paid some to her friend that sat with us and helped, and was excited beyond belief at her success.  (Thanks to all our friends who stopped by!! We will definitely be doing this again, and making twice the number of cookies this time.)
We've been watching our gardens explode since May, and I had to take a picture of Rowan in front of the giant gold lillies on the south side of our deck. They are huge! I had to actually stake and tie them this year because the stalks were threatening to fall over and crack off. The blooms themselves are bigger than my head!
Our bird-watching continues with renewed vigor as well. A friend turned us on to Safflower seeds - a seed that the songbirds love but that squirrels and grackels don't. So far it's been working like a charm! The cardinals and tiny finches and songbirds have been flocking, with morning doves hanging out below - and none of the big birds come to scare them away. However, all the screens were removed from the back windows on Friday for repair, and that afternoon as the light changed our little birdy friends started smacking against the windows in an effort to fly into the trees they saw reflected there! Rowan and I quickly stopped doing the Science Kit experiments we were trying and got out the window crayons. We covered the kitchen windows with big, colorful pictures in an effort to keep the birds safe. So far, it seems to be working!
I finished the second Afghan sweater this weekend, and got it blocked out to dry this afternoon. This time I used only three colors, and it got a little tedious, so my next sweater will have more variation again. 
I've dug out all the little bits and pieces of green, blue, and purple from my stash - the next sweater will truly be a mish-mash of scraps, but hopefully will turn out interesting!
Last night was our end-of-year MOMS Club banquet - oh man, was it ever delish! We had an international food theme, and our potluck was filled with tasty foods from all over the world. I made Lebanese Tabbouleh and Israeli Stuffed Dates (which I can't keep out of.) SO yum. Jen (our President and my good friend) sewed each of the outgoing Board members a bag and made us all a set of beautiful cards. I love them!! She chose a  wonderfully colorful fabric for mine - with a Girl Scout theme! So perfect! Thank you, Jen!
We've got one more day until Day Camp starts, so I've been researching camp songs, games, etc. to have in my little folder of tricks. The weather turned simply nasty today - hot and sticky and ick. Hoo boy! Let's hope the week gets a little cooler and less muggy while we're at camp. (Please!!!) Tomorrow we'll start packing our backpacks and making sure we're ready to go. Can't wait!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

We let Daddy sleep in this morning, and while the girls camped out in front of some morning TV, I finished knitting the Afghans vest. I managed to get it blocked this afternoon, and have cast on for a second sweater. It was so easy, and knitted up so fast - I will probably make 3 or 4 before I ship them off. Totally awesome way to use leftover yarn stash!
After Brad got up, Rowan and I made a whole wheat pancake breakfast - Rowan cut up the strawberries and bananas on her own!
We then took a family bike ride, and after lunch did some work in the yard. Unfortunately, all the sunflower seed shells from the bird feeder have killed some grass and needed to be dealt with. A friend with the same issue recommended we rake it loose, then shop-vac as much as we can up. We'll need to plant new grass seed there in the fall, and from now on we're going to try Safflower seeds, which have no shells and apparently are not liked by the grackels which have overrun our feeder!
Rowan approached me yesterday with a book of crafts she's had in her room for years, and told me there was a craft in it that she'd been wanting to do for a long time - a cat-faced pillow. We looked through the list of what we needed and were in luck - except for an old white pillowcase. We have old green ones, but that didn't do it for Rowan. So, we dug into her sewing basket for a hunk of white muslin and make our own, small-sized pillowcase first!
Once the pillowcase was made, Rowan got to work designing the cat's face. She did a trial run on paper towels first, and then the real thing...
This afternoon the paint was dry, so we put the rubberbands on to make the ears, and Rowan tied off the bottom with some yarn.
Here's the happy girl with her new pillow to snuggle!
We're off to treat Daddy to a hamburger somewhere, and then some go-cart racing to top off his Father's Day. Would it be too dorky to knit while he and the girls go on rides?  Hmmm....

Friday, June 17, 2011


For those unfamiliar with Girl Scouts, one of the essentials of camping is the "sit-upon." This useful tool fulfills its name by being something you can sit upon in nature to keep your keister dry and clean. It can also be cushy, for comfort! Last year at Day Camp Rowan and I used plastic place mats as our sit-upons, but they were awkward to fit in the backpack, and not at all comfortable. So today, we crafted a comfy version!

We picked out a vinyl tablecloth at Wal-mart that we were both happy with, (at first Rowan wanted the wine-country-grape-cluster one - ick!) and bought some white nylon cord. Hobby Lobby sells foam seat cushion inserts, so we got a 12x12 square for Rowan and a 14x14 square for me after I decided the 12x12 might be too small. We both laughed, remembering once when we were visiting Chicago and took a ride on the El train. Rowan had picked a bench seat and then asked me, very loudly and to the amusement of several other passengers, "Mommy, is there room on here for your big butt?" Good times.
This afternoon we cut our tablecloth into two rectangles, using pinking shears. We then used a hole punch and went around the edges punching a hole about every inch or so. We wrapped the cloth around the foam, and "sewed" through the holes using nylon cord. After weaving the 3 sides, we measured enough to make a long strap, so that the sit-upon can be slung over a shoulder for hiking (or attached via kara-beaner to a backpack). I suggested we write our names in permanent marker, and Rowan decided to go to town with some extra decorations. We tested them out under a tree in our yard, and they work great! (And yes, a 14x14 is large enough for my big butt. :P )
And per yesterday's post, here is a link to the "Striped Vest for Kids" pattern I'm working on (Afghans for Afghans) for anyone who wants it. I have completed one side, and am flying up the other side now that my wrist is pain-free!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ye Olde Craft Log

Ye Olde Craft Log (YOCL) is starting to look a little bare. Yikes! Need projects! Here's what we've checked off over the last couple of days...

We had our Day Camp unit meeting last night at the park - the girls all decorated their camp shirts with fabric markers, but of course Rowan can't finish a project within the allotted time, so she was still working on hers until a few minutes ago.

She's got a camper, a tent, and a girl swimming in water - pretty much covered the bases! It was great to meet my unit last night - a bunch of SWEET little girls, and some really nice moms.

Rowan reminded me yesterday that she was still waiting for me to fix the hair on her little knitted doll. (Out of sight, out of mind - this has been bugging her for over a year!) I made this little doll and dress a couple years ago (ish?) and did a pretty crap-tastic job on the hair. Then, after seeing how my mom did the hair on the doll Rowan designed a few months ago, I decided to attempt a better hairdo. It turned out pretty cute, if I do say so my dang self!

Also last night, I finished the second felted bag I started in Iowa. It's dry, with handles affixed! (Here are a couple of 'before' pictures, and then the finished product.
So I've had this weird thing going on with my left wrist for the last week. I woke up with it one morning - pain when I twist it a certain way (can't bend my hand back, or do the motion to put a bag over my shoulder.) It's not swollen, and I forget about it most of the time until I do something it doesn't like. So weird. I wore a sports bandage on it for a few days to remind myself to take it easy, and it seems to be better. About an hour ago, I tripped on something (me? clutsy?) and caught myself from falling with my left hand on a chair and almost let loose a BAD expletive it hurt SO FLIPPING badly! I had to stand there for a minute to catch my breath. YOW. What's REALLY weird, is that when I was just now checking it to see if it was tender or sore, I can't make it hurt. Not even when I bend my hand back. Wha? Maybe I had a pinched nerve that actually popped back into place when I caught myself earlier? Very strange. 

But the reason I brought this up, is that it has been actually uncomfortable to knit this week. If I push past the first 10 minutes of discomfort then it seems to be better, or I relax or something, but I have been choosing to do other things (sudoku) in my rare moments of downtime. I have started, as I mentioned in my last post, a sweater vest for Afghans for Afghanistans - here's my progress so far. I'm using colors left in my stash from other projects, and it's looking pretty good! (Lumpy, in the picture, but it will look better blocked.) It is knit in the round, starting at the waistband and worked up. Every 6th row you purl a round to make the garter ridge with the border color, which gives it some nice texture and contrast. SUPER easy pattern, if anyone wants it.
Our swimming playdate has been cancelled due to rain this afternoon, so we're going to play with this instead:
Um, 20 pounds of rice? That's right, people. :) My goal this summer is to have "sensory" play time every day with Brynn - something I have been slacking on. Sandbox, water, play dough, gooey foods, crayons - something that challenges her sensory experiences. Our PAT educator suggested at our visit yesterday that we keep a "sensory box" for Brynn for rainy days. (That's today!) We'll dump the rice in a Rubbermade bin, and bury some little toys in there. We can dig, bury, scoop, etc. in the rice for fun. Probably a giant mess, but we'll try to contain it to a tablecloth on the floor in the kitchen. 

As for YOCL, I'd better start brainstorming. Rowan and I do plan to make some camp "sit-upons" soon, but I need to buy the foam inserts for that still. And there's the sweater vest. But for those who know me, that is pretty slim pickins'! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Perfect Day

Mother/Daughter overnight campout, Camp Prairie Schooner - pretty much THE perfect day ever. For those in the Kansas/Missouri area, you know the weekend weather was exceptionally wonderful and cool for a June day. Just hot enough to remind us it's summer, but breezy and cool enough that pants were needed by evening. 

The camp staff was wonderful, the food was plentiful, the activities were fabulous. I let Rowan set the course for the day, outside of the required mealtimes and suggested flag ceremonies. We crafted, hiked, swam, explored, crafted some more, cooked (Rowan lit her first matches!), ate like kings, sang songs, made new friends, snuggled, had bedtime milk and warm cookies, slept pretty darn well on our perma-tent cots, and were sad to leave camp on Sunday morning. Lots of smiles, laughter, hand-holding, and "this is the best day ever" comments. I tell ya, I was due for a day like that and I'll keep it with me a long, long time. For those who have daughters in Girl Scouts, DO THIS. (But probably not in August - ha!)

The first craft we took part in was making pillowcase art. Each camper was given a pillowcase on which to draw or write with permanent marker. Then we filled in our drawings with watered down acrylic paints, for a color-washed look. Once home, we ironed them then washed and dried them. Here's how they turned out...

Rowan attempted to make the Girl Scout daisy petals, and write the words from the "Make New Friends" song - it didn't quite turn out the way she'd hoped, but I think it's darling. :)

After a woodsy "I Spy" hike to the Prairie Fairy's house (in which one part of the trail was so steep you need to hold on to a rope!) we cooled off in the pool and then did our second craft - recycled bird houses. Someone had donated old fence posts to the camp, which had been fashioned into bird houses. We had fun painting and glittering ours, although by the time we got there most of the materials were gone and they were trying to wrap things up. We hurried a bit, but were still happy with the results.
I just finished sewing the camp patch on Rowan's new Brownie vest - her first "fun patch" as a Brownie!
Such a great weekend - I'm still on a total high from it!

A day or two before we left for camp, I finally finished the little hooded sweater I'd started in Iowa for Rowan's American Girl doll. Here it is:
Rowan has already picked out the next sweater she wants me to make for her doll, but I've decided to dig into my stash and start some charity sweater vests for Afghans for Afghanistans. I found a new pattern I haven't tried, and have cast on and put about 2 inches on the first sweater. More on that later.

Rowan has friends over today, but Brynn just woke up and it's time to be Mommy again. Good times. :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

If happy little blue birds fly beyond the rainbow...why, oh why can't I?

Because lately, this side of the rainbow has sucked royally. The day after my last post, we discovered that Rowan had brought home head lice from school. We found the buggers on Brynn and me as well, and our entire house was turned upside down to rid ourselves of the nasty pests! Anything that could be washed in hot water got thrown in a giant pile which took 2 days to deal with. All our pillows had to go in the freezer for 2 days, and anything else that couldn't be machine washed got packed tightly in plastic bags and quarantined for 2 weeks.  (My house looks way different not covered in stuffed animals, but I have two very animal/baby deprived kiddos on my hands that are aching for something to snuggle with besides old towels.) All 4 of us did the shampoo treatment, and then spent 4-5 hours per day for the first 3 days picking eggs and bugs out of our hair. I lost my cool more than once. If you really want to test your patience, try spending an hour and a half carefully picking through the hair of a kid who can't sit still, has sensory issues and doesn't like her head touched in general, and has a knack of jerking away the minute you see something you need to get out. We had to wash every piece of bedding, every towel, every couch cover, and every article of clothing daily. And still, I felt like I couldn't get my house (or us) clean enough. My sanity ran very, very thin last week. On top of this, my 14 year old cat's senior blood work came back spotty - issues with kidney and liver, and we are now officially headed down the road of elderly pet. *sigh*

But we have now done the second shampoo treatment, and not a bug nor egg was found this time around. We're doing a third next week, just to make SURE they are GONE. LORD!!

I kept the girls home and away from people all week, with the exception of a trip to Michaels to stockpile on crafty items to get us through the week. Girl Scout camps are right around the corner, and its SWAP season! (SWAPs are little Shared With A Pal crafts that you pin on your camp hat and trade with other scouts.)

We chose 4 different SWAPs to make: Sleeping bag girls, Fly swatters, Bees, and Bears. Rowan helped with almost all of them, but after she dropped and broke my new cool-glue gun we had to go back to the hot-glue which means I do all the gluing. I have blisters on at least 3 fingers to prove how hot that dang glue is!

SWAPs are now all done, and can be checked of YOCL. Rowan has filled her camp hat with sleeping bag girls for next weekend's Mother/Daughter overnight, and the rest will be saved for Day Camp.

For Day Camp, I am leading a unit of 9 girls this summer and am really looking forward to it! I am providing camp t-shirts for the girls this year, which they will get to decorate on June 15th at our pre-camp meeting. I got busy with fabric paint this afternoon and starting putting the little camp emblem I designed on the shirts. Still waiting to hear back from several parents about the size their kiddo needs, but I bought a ton of shirts in different sizes when Michaels had them on sale, 2 for $5!

And because I am so crafty, I also made each camper a "Camp Journal" to carry with her each day - it has blank paper inside where she can write or sketch things we see and learn about. I have attached a pencil to each one, as well as a small magnifying glass for close-up critter or vegetation inspection!
And despite Kansas being in the 90's this week, we are playing outdoors a lot more. And my gardens are exploding! Here's a little sample of the color that greets me when we head outside...

And here's a picture Rowan took after I pulled out two GIANT thistles from under the deck...
And here are my two cuties in the backyard this afternoon...
Looking back at these pictures from the last few days, it's amazing how much color is in my life, speaking of rainbows. I spent all week wishing things could 'get back to normal,' but I guess the lesson that life keeps trying to hit me over the head with, is that this crazy, unpredictable, never-ending stream of chaotic events really is the "normal" in my life. This is my rainbow, spots and all. I will take a deep breath now. :)