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...

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!