Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"These are a few of my Favorite Things..."

No, The Sound of Music itself can not be counted among one of my favorite things, though I have participated in a production of it (maybe two - why can't I remember??), which depending on the scene I was either Mother Abbess (we always joked about the type-casting in high school) or running off behind the scenery to the pit to play piano - guess we were a little short in the keyboard department.  In fact, when we nuns weren't hanging out in our "do-rags" and making jokes about fishnet stockings, we were calling it "The Sound of Mucus".  Thank goodness we were just a bunch of high school girls with no predilection to a religious vocation - a real Mother Abbess would think she had much worse than a whole gang of Marias on her hands.
But anyway, my last whimpering post is not in the mood or mindset that I'm looking to promote, whether on this blog or in my own life.  So, I'd like to offer this little clip-show of lovely things that have been going on behind the scenes, if only to remind myself just how blessed we've been between typing sessions.

Darnit!  Now that song is stuck in my head...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Searching for connection...

In recent years, I've often daydreamed about running a yarn shop - even daydreamed a scenario in which the local yarn shop owner passes away, and I discover I'm in her will as (in imaginary-land) I'm the most talented, dedicated young knitter she knows, and I inherit the shop from her, which is really quite something, considering it's housed in a gorgeous, enormous, historical home.  The thing is, I don't actually want to be selling yarn, or teaching knitting classes (as if I'm advanced enough to try to teach someone else!) - I want that peaceful atmosphere of women sitting, knitting, talking, knowing each other.  I finally realized that it all boils down to searching for connection.  That elusive, relational state of being that seems to be harder and harder to find.  Is it our technology-obsessed society?  Is it the region/state/town I live in?  Is it that all of my interests and activities are somewhat solitary in nature and/or more typically enjoyed by grandmothers?  Is it an issue that's all in my head?  Do I smell funny?
Our 4th wedding anniversary is coming up soon, and, with it, my 4th anniversary of living in this town.  Maybe some would still consider us "newbies" - it's been my experience that smaller towns have a longer break-in period.  The town my parents moved to many years ago still considered people outsiders after 20 years of residency.  I know I'm not in the most ideal position to be making new friends, what with the time-consuming nature of raising two small children, but I'd like to think I should have a (local) friend or two that I could call up just for a quick chat on the phone, or coffee every so often, or the occasional "girls-night-out".  I love my husband and this is not a slam against him - I'm lonely for female companionship.  I need a friend.  But just how pathetic does that sentence sound? 
This last academic year was my second as a member of MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and I thought for sure this group would be my ticket to real connection with other moms of young children.  Women that would really get it - who would know how isolating it can be in a new area, staying home with your kids.  The whole premise of the organization (which is international) can be summed up in this quote from their website:  "MOPS is about meeting the needs of every mom of a child from conception through kindergarten with local groups of moms just like you."  (Emphasis theirs.)  It's about support, community, connection.  So why is it I've left many a meeting feeling more isolated than ever?  It seemed like so many of the other members had pre-existing circles of support - didn't need anyone new, didn't feel the need to develop relationships outside of the meeting times.  I remember one event in the fall that was scheduled for a Saturday - a trip to a corn-maze, including the whole family.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to see people, have shared experiences, develop outside relationships.  I thought so to the point that I was more than willing to get up earlier than is desirable on a Saturday morning to drive the hour and a half out into the country to be there.  We took a wrong turn or two, and I panicked that we'd be late, that we'd somehow miss out on the fun.  We finally arrived.  And then we waited.  And waited.  No one else came!  Not even the people who thought the event was a good-enough idea to schedule and announce at the meeting!  And no one seemed to think it was that big a deal when I asked about it at the next meeting. 
This post is on the whinier side, I know.  But I'm so tired of making the extra effort (inviting couples from church over for dinner, hosting holiday parties, joining organizations, attending events, starting up a blog) just to feel lonely and isolated as a woman, and I'm sad that over an hour of driving is necessary to be with any of the few women who can even begin to fulfill that need.  Should my mother (currently just a phone call or 5-hour drive away) ever pass away, I'm frightened at the prospect of just how empty of deep female connection my life would be.  I tend to be sort of introverted and making efforts such as these takes a lot out of me, emotionally.  I presume it will be worth it in the end, but I worry that all that effort will go to waste with nothing real to show for it.
Since initially hitting the Publish button on this post, I did come across this blogger's book review and commentary.  It's both comforting and discouraging to hear that so many women in my position have the exact same issue. And I also found her statistics interesting:

"Friendship is an interesting thing in itself, isn’t it?  According to psychologists there are four major types of friendships:

  • Acquaintances, who you’d chat with or meet up with casually and who give you a sense of belonging to a large group,

  • Casual friends, who you would grab lunch with or who are friends in a specific sense, like someone you work out with or who you can talk to about parenting but not necessarily about everything,

  • Close friends, who you trust and could say anything to, and who you could pick up where you left off with quickly,

  • Lifers, who are deep friends like family.

Apparently to be happy a woman needs 10-100 acquaintances, 10-50 casual friends, 5-12 close friends, and 3-5 lifers.  Studies show that having lower levels of connection affects a person’s longevity the same as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic.  Wow."


Jesus, please help me find a friend.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fancy attire, dinner music, and a little gourmet dining {p.h.f.r}


My first lace shawl, which I recently finished knitting, but now need to block (eek!)  I've never been one for blocking - of course, most of my knitting items have been made of acrylic (though I recently learned it's possible to block even acrylic - drat! now I have no excuses.)  I'm especially intimidated at the thought of blocking mohair and silk - decadent fibers that I'm now terrified I'll ruin in the process!  ::SO FLUFFY!!!::

Our most recent trip to the zoo yesterday revealed that the trumpeter swans were, in fact, a pair and have a new family!  So cute!  And such a good excuse to use a rarely enjoyed and slightly snooty word: "cygnets"!



My little pianists - even Jelly Bean is getting in on the action these days.


Toddler Gourmet:  Pan-seared HotWheels, anyone?

My little guy still refuses to try out potty training, but apparently Potty Scotty is interesting to him again.  After requesting the doll, he entertained himself for at least an hour, asking me to "make a bottle" (i.e. refill with tap water) for Scotty.  He even admits that Scotty is a big boy for using the potty and gets to wear underwear now instead of a diaper.  Progress?  Could be...


If I can't stop her from eating Cheerios off the floor, I can at least distract her with Cheerios on a clean surface on the floor.  She adamantly refused to sit in the high chair for this snack.  (Too restricting apparently.)

Back in high school, I used to ponder strange questions like "If we took the contents of every locker in the entire school and dumped it all out on a big scale, how much would it all weigh?" and "If I were stranded on a deserted island with only a pile of tomatoes, would I be able to make ketchup?"  (At the time, I hated tomatoes.)  These days, I find myself still pondering odd questions whose answers have no real value, like "If we were able to save every UN-consumed Cheerio over the course of our children's lives (including children yet-to-be-born) just how big would that pile of Cheerios be?  How many boxes would they fill by weight?"  And the related question:  "What is the average number of Cheerios that stick to Jelly Bean's butt every time I lift her out of the high chair?  How many days would it take to fill a whole box?"  These feel like the word problems we had in middle school math.  Maybe we are meant to homeschool the kids after all.

Friday, July 6, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday: Aftermath of the Early Bird Drug

--- 1 ---
Somehow, it's always Friday when I just happen to wake up early.  I wonder, at the end of my blogging "career" just how many of these Quick Takes posts will end up mentioning how I'm usually a night owl and like to sleep in, but just happened to wake up early and stay up this morning.  And how many will end up mentioning that the neighbors are having a garage sale.  But yeah, they do host an inordinate number of garage sales each summer. 
--- 2 ---
Speaking of being up early on a Friday and the neighbors having a garage sale, I JUST bestowed the 25-cent Thomas the Tank Engine toy to my delighted little boy this past Tuesday.  Guess it only took 2 months...  And he was only momentarily delighted because it was his consolation prize - literally - as he was undergoing some skin testing to rule out a few additional food allergies.  At least they didn't have to do a blood test.  He's been enjoying it fully since then, so I have no regrets.
--- 3 ---
Did I mention I got up early today??  I'm always so excessively energetic when I do that.  I got a whole lot of gardening done this morning between 6 and 8 am, it's not even funny.  Too bad I didn't have an early bird morning two weeks ago when I came into possession of the plants that finally got put into the ground this morning.
--- 4 ---
After the productivity explosion came breakfast, and after breakfast, the sloth.  Oh yes, I was busy, but I wasn't getting anything important or Idunno, beneficial to my family accomplished.  I was fighting with Picasa trying to get my blog header in order.  Then, when that was finally a success, I had to revamp my color schemes because my label links disappeared into the new background.  But I do like it - feels a little less rough around the edges. 
--- 5 ---
I told myself I was going to write these Quick Takes as little breaks during my weekly checkbook balancing.  Hmm, maybe I should actually start that...
--- 6 ---
Only 2 Takes left - better get a Silver Lining in here somewhere.  Ah yes, the sale of Mom and Dad's cabin, now finally final.  The cabin on a river with shipping freighters going by, with the gazebo and a pontoon boat moored just offshore - the one place I've stayed that felt peaceful - like a real vacation, regardless of what else was going on.  (Not sure how much the distinct lack of cell phone reception plays into this - perhaps quite a bit.)  It's no longer in their possession, and thus no longer accessible to us for beautiful, quiet, lazy summer weekends away.  But here's the Silver Lining - no more worry over mortgages or maintenance or troublesome neighbors for my parents, and many many happy memories for our family, including first boat rides, babies in life preservers, bonfires, and a gleefully infamous mud-fight along the shore during our courtship (talk about twitterpation!)
--- 7 ---
Time for random adorableness, courtesy of our last (final, never happening again, waah!) trip to the cabin.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Trouble labeling... and concentrating. {p.h.f.r}

Had a heck of a time deciding which blurb to put under each heading.  Can't concentrate.  Must be the HEAT!


This is what I'm planning on making for Jelly Bean's 1-year old pictures.  Already got my fabric picked out - it's a beautiful watercolor-y rose print in magentas, pinks and yellows.  Still trying to decide on the contrasting fabric - pink, yellow or maybe both, and pink and yellow tulle.  So girly!  (Hopefully I won't drive her to refuse skirts and dresses later on - I have gone pretty crazy with all things girly in her life!)

If you just have to make one of your own (can't blame ya there!) the directions can be found at


Now how is that anything but delightful???
(Just ignore the bread machine running in the background.)


 "Mama and Daddy kissing?"
My son's voice just came out of the blue.  He was pointing at our wedding portrait on the wall.
"In the church?" 
 "Yes, honey."

Where does he get this stuff?  Recently, my husband reported that he took the two rubber ducks from this years Easter baskets (his is green, Jelly Bean's is pink) and squished their bills together and exclaimed "Mama and Daddy!" 
(I just wanted to know if I was the pink one or the green one.)

Currently he's howling in a theft-induced time-out:  "Brown sugar please!!! Brown sugar Please!!!  Mama, BROWN SUGAR!  BROWN SUGAR!!!  ::pause::  How 'bout a cookie?"  What do you say to that?  The answer's obviously going to be "No" - especially when helping himself to brown sugar is what landed him in time out.  But it's really hard not to laugh!


Challenge of the day:  What to do with a head of cabbage.  AKA Why does my husband hate coleslaw?

Or maybe it was trying to figure out a good layout for our family room with 3 recliners, an armchair and a decrepit loveseat.  Kind of an awkward assortment.  Especially when the recliners are blue-multi velour-y fabric, brown leather and black leather.  The armchair and loveseat are green velour-y fabric - and (gasp) they MATCH!
Plenty of seating options, but none very desirable for post-kids'-bedtime/movie-watching snuggle time.  We're looking into a futon-y option to solve this, and the guests-sleeping-over problem.  Futon = color customizable!  (What technicolor option can we go with next - something orange, or purple perhaps?)

Something else very much on my mind lately:  Silver Lining posts.  I'm tempted to want to jump right into making it a link-up party, but maybe I should explore this on my own a while.  Also having trouble deciding if this should be a weekly thing, and if so, what day?  Silver Lining Saturday (or Sunday) has a nice ring to it, but what are the odds I'm going to be consistent with a weekend post?  Any thoughts or suggestions?  I'd love to hear them!

Now my easily distracted mind will go back to pondering cabbage options.

round button chicken