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, July 24, 2011

Handlebar, anyone?

My artistic brother, Noah, loves to construct and decorate theme cakes for his boys' birthdays. Miles just turned 5 yesterday, and I have to show off the cake Noah made for his "bike" party. I wonder which section Miles chose to eat?
Rowan came downstairs as usual this morning and snuggled up next to me on the couch with Bun Bun. I noticed Bun Bun was naked and asked where her clothes were. "She was too hot in the night." Apparently, a knitted sweater and knitted dress are not good bunny sleepwear, so we started to discuss how to make Bun Bun a night shirt or gown for these hot summer nights. I pulled out my fabric scraps, crafted a pattern (Lord help me - this is not my strong suit!) and crossed my fingers. Let the random construction begin!
Bun Bun has such an odd shaped body - like a pear (which really, in today's world, is pretty normal when I think about it!) - and Rowan prefers to have her tail out, which means I need to seam the gown up the back leaving a hole for the fluffy tush. I basically cut a large piece of fabric I can wrap around Bun Bun under her arms, using ribbon for straps, then seam up the back to the tail and put snaps on above the tail along the back because Bun Bun's large head won't fit through the chest hole.

Rowan wanted bright blue thread on the green fabric, which of course means every stitch is easily seen and my very imperfect sewing skills show up tremendously. Luckily, Bun Bun is not picky about this kind of thing. Even after measuring, the first swath of fabric was too tight - thank God I had another hunk to cut from. It was barely big enough, but we made it work. Rowan chose some pink ribbon for the straps, and we used tacky paper to iron on the cloth heart.
Not the best nightgown ever made, but not bad for a lazy Sunday morning's work!

In an effort to be Girl Scout Leader crafty, I spent several long, stupid hours yesterday troubleshooting a PowerPoint issue. I am making each of my Brownies a canvas bag to hold all their various Brownie books, etc. this coming year. I created a design in PowerPoint (for lack of having better, high-tech design software) which I need to print on iron transfer-paper so that I can apply it to the bags. The trouble: the design needs to be a reverse/mirror image when printing in order to come out right in the final step. PowerPoint will allow you to flip a picture, but not text. 

I spent a good hour on my own trying this and that. I looked at chat groups online, and finally ended up called Microsoft for some help. The phone call was almost an hour - and filled with the usual frustration of the rep not listening to what I wanted to do, topped with a language barrier. He spent 15 minutes having me set up software so that he could see my screen, and then would disappear for awhile to consult with someone else, then come back with a "solution" which wasn't what I had asked for. 

First he created text with a shadow underneath it. Then he tried to convince me that flipping the text upside down was a "mirror" image. LORD. What a waste of time! When he finally understood what I was trying to accomplish, he said, 'Sorry - that can't be done." I asked him (the PowerPoint expert) if there was any way to trick PowerPoint into thinking the text was an image/picture so that I could flip it? No, he said. 

Meanwhile, Brynn has awakened and is crying - a diaper loaded with poop. After I calmed down, changed the diaper, and took a deep breath (Brad is very glad he was not there for this technology session - I go a bit bonkers)I called my design goddess friend, Melissa. She called back later that afternoon. Oh yes, you can select the text box by right clicking on it (aha!) and choose "Save as picture" from the menu. Then you can import that picture into the document and flip it any dang way you want. DUDE! It took less than 2 minutes for her to walk me through it. I will never call Microsoft Support again! I wanted to email the PowerPoint guy: to tell him how to do this for the next person who calls with the same question, and yes, also to stick it to him a little bit. But there is absolutely no email address you can use to contact them with this type of thing, and I am not going to call again and waste more time. LOVE you, Melissa! Now after all this, if the iron transfer does not work well on canvas, I might cry. :P

This just in: it worked!! Ta da!
Lastly, I will leave you with a picture/letter Rowan created for our friend Laurie, who is off to Girl Scout Resident camp this week - she will love getting this in the mail!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tea Party

The Tea Party was a success, and the girls were darling! Rowan set the table (carefully, with my Grandma's China), arranged cookies, dipped strawberries, and put the handmade chocolates on a pretty plate.

Then we waited for the guests! The two girls arrived first, and then Ms. Bosworth (our guest of honor!) pulled up and the 3 girls flew out the front door and ran to greet her with hugs at the curb. (And me without my camera ready!) After a couple minutes of welcome, we got ready for tea.
Everyone oohed and ahhed over the cake, but I had to laugh because none of the girls wanted to eat any, and Rowan said she would eat some "to be polite." HA! They loved the cookies and fruit and chocolate, as well as the pink lemonade we served. They talked Ms. Bosworth's ear off for sure!

Rowan had created a game (Pin the Lid on the Teapot - she really loves to create these blindfold-pin up games!) and after tea and chatting we all played. (Note the lid she made for the "Geust of honor.")
Filled with sugar, the girls started making up games with the blindfold scarf and ended up being rowdy in the basement while Ms. Bosworth and I chatted a bit more. 4pm came pretty quickly, and then the party dispersed. Good times! And lucky, the roofers took a siesta from 1:30 to 5 that day, so no banging!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Say Cheese!

This post will be mostly photos - there are a ton to share today! And miles to go before I sleep...
Bun Bun's dress is done! From the front...
...from the back...
...and at last with beaded flowers.
Beaded flowers close-up. Very subtle!
Monday afternoon the tea-party prep began full-swing. Rowan chose chocolate-mint cookies to make with the cookie press, and they turned out darling (and yummy!). We coated half the warm cookies in a mixture of powdered sugar and crushed peppermint candy.
I also put together the treat bags - filled with the chocolate lollipops we made...
Today was cake day! Rowan wanted plain white cake - we made one large sheet cake and used various sized bowls to trace the circles we wanted with a knife. And at the end, Rowan decided she wanted a 4th tier on top to make it taller. The little top tier is only about 2 inches across!
Next, I thinned some frosting into a glaze and did a light coat on the crumbly sides then stuck them in the fridge to set (thank you, Tabby, for that wonderful tip!)
I did my best to decorate it exactly as Rowan had envisioned - little pink flowers and green squiggles. She chose an orchid to place on top and is putting her finishing touch on the cake here.
Ta da! Pretty stinkin' cute, people!
After Bun-Bun's dress was done, I had time to finish the latest Afghan sweater and get it blocked, and although I have started another one my interest is starting to wane a bit. Time for a different project, methinks. After seeing photos of my mom's latest lacy scarf projects, I might have to do something light and delicate for a change of pace.
Brynn's final day at her Day Out program was today - the kids assembled to give us a little choral show at 1:30. Bless her heart, Brynn couldn't really sing along or stand in line like the other kids, but she was fascinated by the entire process!
And oh dear, the banging has just begun right over where she's napping! Our roofers showed up today, and the new roof is finally emerging. Here's a peek at the state of our back deck right now.
I turned Brynn's white-noise maker on high this afternoon in hopes she might sleep through it...keep your fingers crossed for me!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Break From Wool

As much as I am enjoying making a stack of wool kid sweaters to send to Afghanistan, I decided to take a break from wool and tackle a little side project. I pulled out my bin of cotton blends and let Rowan choose the colors she wanted me to use for Bun-Bun's summer dress. She chose a blue and green "Comfy" yarn by Knit Picks. Not sure I love the two colors together, but Rowan is happy!
Using the little pink dress I made for Rowan's knitted doll as a basic pattern (from "Knitted Toys"), I took a stab at widening and lengthening the dress to fit Bun-Bun's funny shape. I got a good chunk done yesterday afternoon.
Today, I have finished the top and woven in most of the ends. I still need to seam the back and give it a vinegar wash (to hold the color, just in case), and we've decided to embellish the bottom row of green seed stitch with some little beaded flowers! I've made one as a sample, but may switch out the green bead for something more subtle.

Tea party craftiness consumed our afternoon today! We decided to make our own chocolate candies from flower and butterfly molds to serve at next week's tea party, with lots of extras to send home as party favors. Rowan did the first few batches, then I got in the groove and kept on going until we ran out of chocolate melting bits. Here's a smattering:
We also got out the cake decorating tips and started practicing flowers for the cake. I thought Rowan would have fun doing that but her hands started to hurt almost right away. I made a bunch, which I may be able to transfer onto the cake when it's frosted next week.
And now that Brynn's awake, I need to pick up the bead project, knitting, and chocolate mess and worry about dinner. It is very rare that I actually skip a meal, but when I get into crafty mode and the hours fly I would forget to eat if not for a hungry family nipping at my heels!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


How can it be July 13 already? Wha?? I had sort of envisioned July as being my mental month "off." But no, I am incapable of mental breaks. I found myself without any children all morning yesterday and what did I do? Map out my entire year worth of Girl Scout meetings. I guess for me, 'planning stuff' is my mental happy place!

Rowan has decided to invite a few school classmates over next week for a tea party, with her teacher coming as a surprise guest! We pulled out invitation-making supplies on Sunday afternoon. I had some old blank 'library card' style invites from a baby shower I threw years ago, and they fit the bill perfectly. We came up with a plan, chose some papers we liked and got to work! I drew a freehand teapot shape as a template (oh yes, I'm that good.), and started cutting.
Rowan stamped the front of each sleeve with "You're Invited..." and then decorated with some tea party stickers I have had for years. 
We decided on the invite wording and printed it from the computer, then Rowan pasted our pieces together, embellished with a flower paper puncher, and voila - a darling party invite. She is only inviting 3 friends so this is probably overkill - but who cares!

We have been on a Harry Potter kick this past week - gearing up for the final movie! We've been watching the first few movies together as a family each evening (skipping over most of the Voldemort, Dementor, Werewolf parts) and I've been knitting like crazy on the Afghan sweaters. Here's the latest finished one, and the one I'm working on now...
Rowan and I did chat briefly last night about how hot Bun-Bun (Rowan's knitted bunny I made her for Christmas 2 years ago) might be in her winter sweater, so we might be planning a little knitted sundress for Bun-Bun this afternoon. I've got some great yellow bamboo yarn I've been itching to use...but we'll see what Rowan chooses.

And today for lunch, Rowan made her own grilled cheese sandwich! The last time we made one, I walked her through all the steps, and by gosh she made her own lunch today. She even made herself a grape caterpillar with a jicama head!
She was SO excited, and exclaimed it was the best lunch EVER. :) Gotta love it. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dog Days

The summer is stretching ahead of us in a lazy way, now. Camping and travelling are done - now it's time to get some sun, kick our feet up, and enjoy the dog days of summer!

We had a great time visiting family in Iowa this week. I managed to finish 2 more Afghan sweaters (thankfully, knitting in the car doesn't make me motion sick!) The sweaters are blocked and drying and I have started a 5th. My wool stash drawer is looking pretty bare now!

While in Iowa, Mom had the big kids decorate "fireworks" cookies for fun. (And they were yummy too!)

We also had tons of fun in the wading pool and just being together.
Rowan is learning to use matches, and tried a few snakes on her own...
We're home now, and I have no idea what day it is. Totally confused! Yesterday we watched some drain digging progress in our backyard...and I noticed the first hibiscus bloom. It's huge!

And I've finally started dealing with the piles and cleanup from before we left. All the day camp stuff had to be put away. Rowan and I looked through our SWAPS and I picked a few of my favorites from this year and last year in the photo below. Love the little black frying pan and the hobo stick!
Hope you and yours had a wonderful 4th. Happy Birthday, America!