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...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Pile of Peppers...and Other Random Crafts

Busy much? These last couple weeks have been loaded with so much activity I haven't had time to blog. Whew! But this afternoon I find myself ready for our Brownie meeting, Brynn napping, and a few minutes to myself. (I'm successfully ignoring laundry and finances I need to be working on.)

My mom was here over the weekend, and after a trip to the American Girl store and a few early birthday presents for Rowan from Grandma, it turned into doll central at our house! Sadly, the dolls all managed to 'break' their legs and arms over the weekend - thank heavens for the new doll wheelchair, crutches, and casts Rowan now owns! Whilst the sleeping dolls were resting their battered limbs, we decided to pull out the stack of darling American Girl craft books that I recently discovered buried and untouched in Rowan's room (Did I mention that I spent 4 hours last week deep-cleaning Rowan's room? LORD.) from last year's birthday and Christmas. Oh, the crafting fun began! The "Doll Party" book inspired Rowan to host a small Halloween birthday party for her doll, Lanie, later this month. She decided that each doll/friend that got invited to the party would receive a doll necklace (which we crafted from the "Doll Jewelry" book,) which we then put inside a tiny orange party favor bag (crafted from the "Doll Purses" book.) Away we went, making the jewelry and bags. Fun, fun!
Rowan opted to use a set of Halloween stamps to decorate the little party favor bags, and after mom and I traced and cut out the bag template, we helped Rowan stamp. Mom also used the party hat template and created 4 hat shapes we could decorate.
Rowan is SO jazzed to throw this party - she wanted to work on it again as soon as she got home from school on Monday. I told her we need to make it past her birthday weekend and then we can worry about planning the doll party specifics. Very cute. :)
In the meantime, I am busily knitting on my orange flutter scarf and my linen stitch cowl. The flutter scarf is just a few pattern repeats away from the final flutter, and the cowl is only a 1/2 inch away from it's final edge and bindoff. Woo hoo!
And now with October just around the corner, fall parties are starting to want attention. I've got plenty of help for Rowan's class party this year, and will hardly need to plan anything! I've decided to bring a fun treat bag for each kiddo, and need to think about what to fill the bags with. I found a great treat bag idea in Family Fun a couple days ago, but think I will use it for my Brownie troop! I already have the raffia and paper bags, and I picked up sticks in our back yard today...
I have also started looking ahead to our October Brownie meetings, and one of the crafts we're doing needs plenty of prep time. The girls will be making a Mexican "Ristra," which is a small mobile made of colorful peppers. We'll be doing a diversity lesson that day, which will include me bringing in a bowl full of different peppers of all shapes and colors. The girls will talk about how every pepper is unique, yet still part of the larger pepper family. We'll make the Ristra craft as a reminder to not only be your own unique person, but to surround yourself with lots of diverse people. My prep involves tracing and cutting out a TON of peppers so that 14 girls will have plenty to work with! I'm about halfway done...
Purty, aren't they? 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall Campout

Campout success!  Our weekend was filled with fun, friends, learning, and lots of crafting. Rowan and the other Brownies earned 2 badges for their vests: "Outdoor Adventurer" and "Ready, Set, Go Camping." I've ironed them on - they are the ones with the yellow and orange suns. The girls also earned a "First Campout" fun patch!
To earn the badges, they had to fulfill a list of requirements including sleeping at camp, taking a hike, learning fire safety, building a shelter in the woods, doing a sensory hike, making their own 'storm' and learning different ways to use a bandana (we came up with at least 20!) Here is a photo montage of our camp weekend.
One of the girls' favorite activities was working on their Fairy Houses...
Little by little, the houses multiplied and grew more complex.
You can imagine the state of their fingernails!
Saturday morning we crafted! Here's Rowan working on her splatter paint camp t-shirt...
...and painting her camp picture frame.
The completed shirts, hanging to dry!
Next, we gathered for a morning hike.
Into the woods we go, girls in the lead.
After lunch, the girls build their shelter...
...and get it rain-proof.
Then we take another hike to Sunset Rock...
...where we have our "Cowgirl Sodas." Yum! 
We love Sunset Rock!
The girls helped make and watch the fire, helped cook and clean up the meals, and learned a lot about teamwork and being responsible! They were excited to earn the different colored beads for their camp hook!
We got pretty soggy Sunday morning - the rain was in full swing as we tried to break camp and pack up for home. It was nice to take a shower and sleep in a warm, soft bed...but we're already talking about when we can camp again...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Patriot Day

We all have a story about "where we were" on 9/11 10 years ago. I was in one of the tallest skyscrapers at the front of the Chicago skyline, and after the 2nd plane hit the towers in New York panic started to rise at my office. The el train was packed as the majority of downtown Chicago headed home. The train was eerily silent and sad. Nobody spoke. That night, Brad and I took a walk and noted the silence of the skies. Our apartment was a block off Lawrence Avenue, which runs directly east from O'Hare Airport. We would usually watch the planes in quantity overhead, lining up for their descent. That night, nothing but stars.

Today, our American Flag hangs where I can see if from our front window. I sit here on the computer watching it wave in the gentle wind, and reflect on the impact 9/11 had on me and on our country. I will never forget standing amidst thousands of fellow Chicagoan's singing "America the Beautiful" together in memorial of those that lost their lives. The sound of all those voices and the sight of our flag everywhere was powerful and awakened a patriotism I didn't realize I had. From sea to shining sea...

In the wake of such tragedy, life goes on. But we will never forget.

This afternoon, Rowan and I made her flower garland headband. She cut all the ribbons and decided exactly what the flower arrangement should look like.
I would have added some greenery in there, but she was adamant in having just the little blooms. I reminded her that I had never made something like this before and would do my best!  It turned out pretty dang cute, I must say. She LOVES it, and plans to wear it when we go out to dinner tonight. Awww.
Any minute now, Brad's parents will arrive for the evening, on their way home from other travels. We will have dinner together and go see our friend's band play. We will celebrate family and togetherness and patriotism tonight, and pray that our daughters can grow up in a world that is ever-striving for peace.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September Air

On Sunday, KC temperatures dropped into "wonderful" range. Cool, crisp mornings and sunshiny, breezy afternoons - sweater optional. LOVE it, and find myself smiling for no other reason than the air is delicious. Ahhhh...

And now that September is here we are entering (once again) into nonstop, jam-packed, fun-activity time! We kicked the month off in style with Brad and Rowan at the first KU football game...

... followed by a family outing to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival on Sunday with Uncle Cliff and cousin Dolly. Check out these cute girls!
We played games, ate roasted turkey legs, shopped a bit, saw several fun performances, and watched the colorful, costumed masses as we made our way around the magical land of Canterbury. Rowan fell in love with all of it, and can't wait to go back! She tried her hand at archery, something that had been on her list for ages, and we found her a great little peasant girl outfit that she will gypsy up for Halloween. She also got her first Henna tattoo (check out the lizard on her forearm).
Just as we were leaving the festival, we saw some beautiful flower headbands/wreaths for sale. They were pricey, so we decided to get the materials and make them ourselves. It's on the to-do list, but here are the flowers and ribbons we chose.

September is going to be filled with Girl Scout activities as well. I survived my first meeting, and hope the girls had tons of fun. Here's a glimpse at a couple of the activities we did: sharing what each girl wants to do as a Brownie, and decorating her Brownie folder with words and pictures that make her feel good about herself.
This Saturday, Rowan and I will be marching with part of our troop and 700 other Girl Scouts in the Old Settler's Parade in Olathe. GS turns 100 this year, and Olathe turns 150, so it's a mega-celebration! I had several Brownies over yesterday afternoon to decorate the flags our troop will be carrying - here's how they turned out.
Since there will be a lot of sit-around-and-wait before the parade, we will also be making swaps to trade with the scouts we meet. I printed off a ton of little tags this afternoon, dug out the safety pins and teeny water balloons and voila - swaps!
September also brings our first Troop campout, and then October arrives with a 100th Anniversary zoo event, pumpkin patch, and Rowan's birthday. So many crafty things to look forward to!

In knitting news, the cooler temps also bring more prolific knitting. My orange flutter scarf is almost 3/4 done - it isn't blocked yet so it's pretty wrinkled but you get the idea. Love the "flutter" where it widens at the end!
I am also loving the cowl pattern my mom sent - the yarn is delicious and the pattern is mindless and relaxing! I'm about 3 inches in...and even though I cut 20 stitches from the recommended cast on it still looks a little big. Hmmm. But it's for me, so it doesn't matter. I did get yarn to make a second one as a gift, so I'll get the pattern perfected before I cast on for that one.
And that's a wrap, people! Time to go get Brynn from preschool...