Thursday, October 28, 2010

Boo!

Wrapping pipe cleaners with black wool....scary!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Homemaking

Davis has been sick. When he is sick I sit around and nurse. A lot. And I think about the state of my home, and that I have had to stop running a household for a little while in order to care for a sick child. The state of my home suffered, of course, right along with my sleep schedule and a fevered boy.
It got me thinking about Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart is my guilty and guiltless pleasure and she is looked upon as the epitome of having it all: a business career and the capacity to make a home. In this sense, making a home means arranging the furniture just so, crafting a wreath for your front door, placing artistic touches here and there, bringing in fresh flowers. My home is rarely like that with the comings and goings of so many people, and with my recent discovery that the secret to a clean house is to never be home, and with the random moods and needs of children. My husband tolerates so little of the mess of daily living, and I can't quite keep up, and often feel I fail miserably in this area.
But is that the making of a home? Is that all there is? When my children come to me for a hug, when the house smells good from all the cooking, when hands are messy from art or dirt, when attention is given to the tone of my voice and irritability is put aside (again!) to meet a child's falling apart...this is not just parenting...this is making a home, too, is it not? It is a small epiphany for me. I have never seen it before, but home resides in the connections and conversations and the paintings we create with our words....our moods...our deeds. Our days are less presentation and more comfort. My children won't talk about the pillows one day. They will talk about the time they fell down, the time they tricked mom, the time they had a bunny, the time they fought with their sister, the time a strange person visited, the time we heard Indian chanting across the street, their birthday parties, and sometimes, the time the house is clean, and will know that their Mom was there to care for them.
Ah. I can breathe a sigh of relief. I DO have my priorities in order!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Aromatherapy

Sometimes I can smell something and a memory is triggered. The smell of fried food and hamburger joints remind me of my grandmother and her little restaurant. Nag champa incense conjures up images of old apartments, old boyfriends, and Lilith Fair. Peppermint, cinnamon, and ginger are holidays and comfort. Even the personality of a home is expressed in its smell. you can walk into the home of a friend and be greeted by a familiar, welcoming smell...not an artificial smell, but just their smell.
 To me, the kitchen is the heart of our family's life. The smells that emanate from the kitchen, and the living we do there are at the core of nurturing. It is where we come together, listen to each other, have conversations, it's where our phone is. It's where shoes are taken off, where projects are started, where company comes a-visiting. Yes, the kitchen is a center of energy and flow in our home, where a lot of problems get worked on and where a lot of love happens too. Of course, I do cook in my kitchen too. In my small-ish home, once I start cooking something, the whole house, upstairs and down, takes on that smell. The love and care I put into preparing our food, the pride I take in preparing healthful meals, the spirit in which certain foods are received by my family and the gratitude for such abundance....these nourish everyone's sense of life, including my own.
And the rooms take on the energy of those smells...what is happening in the kitchen wafts through the house, scenting our rooms with comfort and cinnamon, coffee and bickering, garlic and laughter.
While I do occasionally light scented candles, sprinkle lavender essential oil on the carpet and window frames, or clean with Meyer's Clean Day, the best aromatherapy I can think of comes from the kitchen. Who needs anything artificial when there's a loaf of bread in the oven? Whose mood is not lifted by cookies baking? What sickness doesn't respond to a bowl of warming soup?

I wish everyone a beautiful day of baking something good-smelling and delicious. Aromatherapy at its best!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Report

Parenting is hard work. Even the experts aren't an expert at *MY* child, and they are not there when crying children start like dominoes falling, and then I start crying right along with them out of sheer frustration.
I had one of those days on Sunday. I was clutzy, they were clingy, I injured myself, I wept.
At any rate, occasionally the experts have something to say. They give me treats to put in my bag of tricks and help me navigate the sometimes murky waters of growing and nurturing children.
One such book was recommended by my therapist: The Parent's Handbook by Dinkmeyer, McKay, and Dinkmeyer. I thought I'd share one treat from the book that I found helpful, and that is a chart. The chart is labeled, "Goals of misbehavior". Now that right there causes me to take pause. Oh, youmean misbehavior has a goal? Of course it does! Yes, that makes sense. The goals as they group them are: attention, power, revenge, or to display inadequacy.
Here is the kicker. Depending on your OWN feelings, you can ascertain the goal of your child's behavior.
Here is what the book says (paraphrased from the book):
You feel: bothered, annoyed. You usually: scold, nag, remind  Your child: stops temporarily, only to begin again later. The goal: Attention
You feel: angry, threatened. You usually: fight back, punish, give in Your child: defies you, continues to misbehave, does what you've asked slowly or sloppily. The goal: power
You feel: angry, extremely hurt. You usually: punish Your child: misbehaves even more in an attempt to get even The goal: revenge
You feel: hopeless, like giving up You usually: give up, agree child can't do something Your child: does not respond or improve The goal: to display inadequacy
What do you think about this? I think we can all relate to having a child who at varying times turns helpless, needy, defiant, or out of sorts. It helps to know there is a valid, rational reason for the behavior, and for me, that takes the "charge" out of it and allows me to be free to respond with firm, loving boundaries, attention, or encouragement.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Every Day Skirts

I love how my clothes have stories.
Take this staple-of-a-wardrobe brown skirt. It started out as an absolutely hideous pink wool jersey that I had purchased at Baer fabrics.  The wool jersey was so fantastic and so deeply on sale that I could not pass it up. I bought 5 yards. Something had to be done about the color, so I threw it in the dyepot, and threw it in the washer and carelessly tossed it in the dryer. And then I repeated.
Of course, it shrunk, and it was this beautiful, nubby, brown, earthy, soft, wooly piece of heaven. I just wanted to touch it and look at it. After I did that, inspiration hit and I actually CUT it. But not too much...it was like cutting out an A-line skirt for a super-size paper doll, and cutting two of them!
On to the serger...two side seams, and a pass around the top and bottom while stretching the fabric. Because, joy of joys, felting the jersey had not caused it to lose elasticity.
I've had this skirt now for 5 or 6 years. I always get compliments on it. It is the quintessential winter skirt for me, long enough to warm my legs, stretchy enough to hug my body through thin times and those other times, and stylishly simple enough to be versatile. Speaking of those "other times", I simply have to roll the top yoga-pant-style to give myself some extra room in there.
So that's "Brownie" and I present her to you in all her wrinkled, worn, out-of-the-dryer glory.
Another skirt with a story. "Stripey" started as 4 bags full of scrap fabric...the most precious scrap fabric imaginable. You see, a friend of my husband's is a long-time, well-known weaver around these here parts. She graciously gifted me with scraps of her hand-woven fabric, which I used some at school in projects with the children, but there were four bags.That's a lot of scrap fabric, and much of it was very small. What to do?
I just started at it, lovingly fondled the fabric, organized it by color and size (my laundry probably suffered that day!)and then I got inspired. I was going to make a skirt!
So, it's a little wobbly, and could definitely use some polishing, kind of like me. I took the lazy route with this one, too, and did it entirely on the serger, except for the elastic waist, where I even skimped there and just sewed the elastic to the right side of the fabric at the top, then folded it over and sewed the top seam, making sure the elastic didn't poke over the top. It WAS a challenge to sew all those pieces of fabric together, for they all had differing grains, and some were downright stretchy.
I tried once to correct this flaw by sewing rick-rack over the seams. That was 4 years ago. For four years, this skirt has needed finishing. I looked at that cutesy rick-rack and just lost heart. For God's sake, I'm 42. I'm supposed to be over rick-rack and on to grey linen. Well, finally, I mustered up the courage to rip off the rick rack and see the skirt for who it was. Without rick-rack, I was free to love again and the waistband went on when I had 5 minutes to sew. Now I've been "racking" up the compliments.

Here she is in all her wrinkled, out-of-the-dryer glory. The fabric is amazing. I am going to properly draft a pattern for this one and can see another, longer skirt made of recycled soft sweaters, or made of designer quilting fabric, scraps even.
So there you go.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Birthday

She requested a surprise birthday party. She requested that her dad take her for a walk, that her sisters coif her hair and decorate her cake, and that she be surprised.


I invited her whole class. Not all of them came, but we had a very large crowd here. Chance took to grilling pizzas, despite the fact that we got our first rain here in two months. The party started with a rain walk. When she got back, the large crowd that had assembled all found nooks and crannies to hide in, and then we brought out blankets to cover smaller clusters of un-hidden guests. Serena entered the room, they yelled, "SURPRISE!!!" and she squealed with delight. So many people!
 
Since it was an outdoor party turned indoor, the children started running and screaming the loop inside our house. It was loud and chaotic. After a bit of this, I brought out a container of beeswax and then told a story. By then, the rain had stopped and the grilled pizzas were trickling in and being gobbled up as soon as they came out.

 










 The cake and ice cream and gifts were moved outdoors, and Serena began opening them. I had requested handmade gifts form nature or simple, hand-drawn cards, and was so touched at what the children brought for my daughter.

beeswax creations from our guests..In the background, St. Monica, Patron Saint of Difficult Children, stands guard.



Her grandparents gave her some clothes and the "bells and whistles" toys. She was so delighted and said, for the third year in a row, "This was the best birthday party ever!"
I can't believe seven years have passed since her birth.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fabulous Friday

Oh yes, what a good day. The house is clean, the party planned and mostly prepared for, the baby sleeps a long time, and I got to make stuff.
People keep asking me about art fairs and fiber festivals I'm doing. I am not doing any such thing this fall for the following reasons: 1) full-time job 2) the presence of a toddler in my house and 3) other creative missions. My Etsy is asleep, but I got a call from the Kentucky Art and Craft gallery and so I'm making some felted scarves, bags, and animals to take there. This seems more manageable than staying up for 3 nights in a row trying to get enough product together for an entire show, just so I can meet people and talk all day. Hmmm....maybe I should get busy...this would greatly relieve the cashiers at Whole Foods.

!
Form wrapped and ready to felt.
 Merino wool I use. I love, love, love the tactility of the colors. I can really play with them. My theme has been "landscape" and I have been dreaming of all the mountain views I encountered this summer while camping and driving. Purple in the mountains, reds in the trees, blues all around.
This is what I was doing while I was not blogging. Before.
And after! It feels good to get something cleaned. I someday want such beautifully organized shelves that I can take off the doors.