Friday, May 30, 2008

Week's Craftiness

Sometimes I wonder if my children will be shafted- they have a mother who is very willing to engage in all sorts of domestic activities (needlepoint, sewing, teddy-bear making, tole painting, gardening, canning, candy making, cake making, casserole making, singing, piano playing, organ playing, pottery, homemade soap and yogurt and granola...etc.) but I never really seem to achieve any distinction in most of these endeavors besides having tried more of them than anyone I know.

Case in point: Our new "Me" doll for Ernie!

I won't even show you the pattern I drew- just trust me that it looks very little like the finished doll. But, it's blond with blue eyes and she picked out the skirt color. She LOVES it, and that's what matters, right?

A skirt I made yesterday, traced from one of her favorites. Unfortunately, I mis-calcuated the seam allowance and this will be in tomorrow's mail to a much-loved and much-missed niece in East Coast Land. But I think this is just adorable, and it was only two pieces. Very easy to put together, and even better if you measure right. I think BBJ will look adorable.

Do I still get brownie points for trying? :o)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Just Because

Isn't this a sweet picture? We had my family (immediate plus Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin) over for a little BBQ on Monday evening. I love having a home we can welcome people to, and Ernie loves having friends over!

As of Monday afternoon my father has become "Bobby" (can't say Grandpa, tried to get her to say Bumpa like we used to call Grandpa T, and ended up with a very Brit-sounding "BOBBY.") So, since Monday evening Ernie keeps running to the window calling "A Mom! A Bobby! A Boy!" (That would be my mother, father, and youngest brother.)

She also spends a good portion of the day saying "A doo day...a weee.....a NANA!" (Birthday...and wait...and Nana!) Yes, sweet pea- Nana is coming in July, after your birthday. So much waiting and watching for a little girl!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Our Little Songbird

After she (inadvertently) hurt me, I left her alone where she was playing. Well, she made her way to the piano and started singing a song about her misdeeds. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Garden Update from the Pacific Northwest

With the weekend "heat wave" and subsequent days of heavy rain, my little seeds are happy!

Sprouting in the garden: carrots, chard, a few beans

Sprouting in the front flower bed: nasturtium, a few sunflowers, and wildflowers in the half-barrel

Sprouting in the pots: mint, cilantro, and radishes

Sprouting indoors: yellow tomato, heirloom tomato, basil, walla walla onions, bell peppers, lettuce mix, black-eyed susan vine.

Here are tomatoes

Walla Walla Onions

The peppers surprised me- the instructions said to put them in peat pots in a saucer of warm water, and replace the warm water each day. I threw them in the tray with everything else- Survival of the fittest!

The black-eyed susan vines also surprised me- only 5 out of my 12 seeds sprouted. Since almost everything else came up, maybe they were bad seeds? I didn't think they'd be so finicky. Unfortunately I shared these seeds with my friend, and now she has a tray of duds too.

I'm going to let things set one good set of "true" leaves, and then pinch them out to make sturdy, bushy plants (especially important for the tomatoes, I've been told.)

Other things growing in the yard: We have an annual tradition with our Grandmother- every Spring she asks if we need anything from the yard, and our eyes light up as we head for the shovel and bucket. She's a generous gardener with a prolific yard. This year I brought home hosta, mint, lemon balm, and orange crocosmia starts. I also scored a few potted plants in need of soil- a pink hydrangea, jasmine vine, and some sort of bulb (all that's left is the foliage.) The fig tree we planted a few weeks ago looks like it will make it- I found some leaf buds a week ago, and it looks like the weekend heat forced them out. We'll have leaves soon!

In addition to all this, we picked up a 4-year-old fig tree over the weekend from Mama Papaya. Her house, chickens, and little Maia Papaya are all adorable! (We took a quick trip over the weekend, sans Ernie, to visit family and see a few sights.) The fig tree still needs a designated spot in the yard. I'm torn over whether I should plant it in front with our little fig-lette stick, or maybe across the yard, near the neighbor's apple tree? Do I want to turn our front yard into an orchard? When I'm 70 years old and still live here, just how much fruit do I want to be harvesting every year??? Is there enough sun in the backyard? (No) Hmm..any suggestions?

How is your yard doing this year? Any big plans?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

House Photo Shoot

As my sister gleefully pointed out the other day, she WON. She moved a week after us, across the country, and she finished unpacking the last box before we did. Of course, it helps that her husband had the entire week off work, and did NOTHING but unpack. And my sweet husband is up to his eyeballs in not-for-profit tax returns and studying for the next section of the CPA exam, while I have the energy level (and relative speed) of a common garden slug. NEVERTHELESS, I have pictures. (Do I win? :)

Here is our dining room. (Note: This will be painted yellow.)
Here is the living room- it faces the street. This is where Jay built a really great half wall, to replace the "banister wall" that was there- those banister posts were so far apart, a small adult could fit through! This room will be re-painted soon, since we don't have much hope of matching the paint. You can't quite see the wall- the bottom right corner you can see the piano, which backs up to the wall.
Here is the family room- it is completely empty of furniture, and Ernie loves it that way! This is what I face when I'm at the kitchen sink. This room will be painted cornflower blue (at some point in the next five years ;o) Through the window you can see the back yard- my sweet husband and brother built up the garden box on the right, in the back is the green belt, and on the left is a play set, and our neighbor's fence. I think that fence is one of Ernie's favorite parts of the yard, because she gets to see Jasper (the little dog) through there! She loves Jasper, and feeds him sticks when I'm not looking. Poor Jasper.

Here is Ernie's room- this is one of the rooms I LOVE the color. I'm hoping to get a little bit more for decoration on the walls...can you see a pattern in this all? Never ending projects?

Oh dear, this is the nursery. Bad color, bad paint job, lots of boxes parked in here (mostly things that won't be unpacked, like outgrown Ernie clothes). Lots to do before September!

This is the master bedroom, which I LOVE. You can see a little deck in the back- there are two rocking chairs out there. It is so nice and quiet and private, but overlooks the play set so I can keep an eye on Ernie. Again, we hope to paint this room- J has picked out a dusty blue color, with a khaki ceiling. To go with that, we want to paint the adjoining bathroom dusty lavender, with cream wood. A big thanks to J's dad, who installed a light in the ceiling- it makes a HUGE difference! I guess master bedrooms relied on lamps in the 1970's?

Finally, here is the basement playroom. Ernie LOVES this room (can you tell?) So do all her friends! Behind where the camera is standing is a small bathroom, laundry room, and 4th bedroom currently used as sewing room/den. (I love having my own sewing desk, looking out a window! I can see Ernie while she plays, and she can come and go through the sliding glass door in there.) However, the den is where all the last boxes are and it's not fit to be seen :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mystery Bush

Does anybody know what this is? It's not a dense bush, and has these sprays of flowers on new and one-year-old wood. They don't smell, and little black aphids seem to LOVE to congregate in the branch angles. Did someone plant it in my yard on purpose, or did it come on the same train as the blackberries?

Week In Review

She is a fashion maven- can you tell she picks out her own outfits?
Enjoying tonight's yummy strawberry milkshake after FHE. REALLY enjoying it!

We have a huge, white, rhododendron bush blooming right off the front porch- aren't the blooms gorgeous? I just had to bring some inside, along with some sprays from a (yet to be identified) bush. Maybe I'll post some pictures, and you guys can help me figure it out? J caught this picture while playing around with our "macro" feature on the camera. Good shootin', Tex!

Oh, and no pictures of this one, but I think Ernie is potty trained! She has three accidents last week, and we don't need to remind her much any more- she runs right to her bathroom when she needs to! What a little girl. (Yes, ordinarily we would say "big girl," but she is very adamant: Mommy and Daddy are BIG, Ernie is very small. So she's a little girl. I'll get it on tape if I can- her sense of perspective and size is a little skewed ;o)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

At the dinner table
Mother's Day is here again, and women across the country (and world) are possibly spending a few extra minutes thinking about their roles as mothers, and wives.

I know women who dread the coming of this holiday- it reminds them of everything they DON'T do or HAVEN'T done. Other women look at it as one more day their children take them for granted. I also know this is probably one of those holidays created by a greeting card company looking to boost their revenue in between the much-vaunted Valentine Day Card season and the even more distended Christmas Card season, but all the same it's nice to set aside at least one day to give our mom's an extra hug (or not, as her preference goes) and make sure her needs are met.

Who are we? All over the world, girls aged 12-18 recite this as part of their theme: "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him."

When you picture the perfect wife and mother, what does she do? For me, she has a beautifully decorated and clean home, her children are well mannered and clean, dinner is on the table (with starch, vegetable, entree) every night, desserts are delicious and served on all special occasions, she sews, she gardens, she has perfect posture, her voice never raises in anger, she serves faithfully and magnifies her calling in the church, is active in the community, attends the temple at least twice a month, and her husband and all of her children appreciate her.


Whoa- who IS this woman, and where did she come from? It's a well known fact that Satan is a master deceiver- it's child's play for him to take a truth and twist it just enough so that application becomes a horrible, soul-shattering experience.

In 1995, we received this divine counsel from our Prophet: "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed."

The mother has three main roles: nurture children, honor the Priesthood, and comfort their husbands (see Doctrine and Covenants 25:5, where the Lord gives commandments to Emma Smith.)

Elizabeth Mary and Debbie

So where did all that other stuff come from? We know we should never judge the Lord by how his commandments are carried out, just as we should never judge those who try to carry them out. I have enough to worry about on my own, without trying to figure out if someone else is messing things up! For me, nurturing my children and comforting my husband means striving to create a home where the Spirit can dwell- clean, orderly, and filled with love.

What is a husband's role, then? The scriptures say to lead the home, bear the Priesthood and meet the needs of their wives and children (D&C 75:28), .

Men are to be the leaders of their home. At first blush, that sounds like a tyrannical arrangement- meek little wives, subservient to their all-knowing and all-deciding husbands. Men lead the home because they bear the Priesthood- it is their role to receive inspiration and revelation for the family. I always wonder at the expression "bear the Priesthood." Responsibility is a heavy load- one that should never be taken lightly by our husbands or by us. Our church has a Prophet to lead us, our stake has a Stake President, our home has a husband and father. What a blessing to have someone with that authority and responsibility whose sole responsibility is our family. However, it is NOT our job to meekly do whatever they say (just as it isn't our responsibility to meekly follow the Prophet in all things.) It is our sacred responsibility to seek confirmation from the Lord, in prayer. If you've ever been a leader, you know it is not an enviable position. It brings lots of joy, seeing people under your care progress and watching the work your group is assigned to move forward. But it is not easy, and for a good leader it does not bring power, only responsibility.


So tell me, what kind of world would this be if men focused on meeting the needs of their wives and children (emotional, physical, and spiritual) and women focused on nurturing their children, comforting their husbands, and honoring the Priesthood? A husband and wife, working together and helping each other in their separate and complimentary roles.

Now THAT would be something to celebrate.

I'm grateful for my mother and father, and the care they took raising us. I'm grateful for my husband, and how he leads our home. I'm grateful for my soon-to-be 2 children, and the opportunity we have to raise them.

Happy Mother's Day, Everybody!

Pretty grin

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ernie's Life

I thought I'd post a few recent pictures from around here. Welcome to Ernie's life!

Here we are, all ready for church. See her beautiful new dress from Nana? She LOVES it! Excuse the flash- this was the only picture that we both looked decent in. Oh, and ignore the dust on the mirror. We're definitely not perfect around here!

She loves playing outside- she gets her boots, maybe grabs a bucket, and says "Bye! See you later!" Lately she's really been wanting to climb this plum tree- our rule is generally she can play on anything (within reason) that she can get on and off herself. I get a lot of dirty looks at the park, especially from mothers hovering over their 6- and 10-year-old kids, while I sit on the bench and keep Ernie in sight.
And just because. She's a bathing beauty!

She loves to fly! She's been trying to do this for a long time- good job, Kiki! Oh yeah, my daughter thinks she is a Japanese cartoon character. When we're out for walks, she'll stop to tap the toe of her shoe on ground behind her. Name that movie (and character) anyone??

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Belly Bands

There's a slew of products out on the market for pregnant women- kind of like tube tops for your belly. Have you seen them? I'm very jealous of the commercial producers, because they obviously have access to manufacturers who can produce these in one piece, with no seams, and also with fabric with more stretch. But, I've found it's fairly easy to make a passable substitute at home, for just a few dollars! At 22 weeks I'm still using mine to keep my completely-open fly under wraps on my pre-pregnancy jeans and I think I'll be able to keep using it until my ice cream addiction catches up with my hips and thighs.

A few notes before you start- go to your fabric store and find jersey material (think stretch tank-top or camisole) with as much Lycra or Spandex as you can get, but not the swimsuit material! This will show under your shirt and look like you're wearing a Modbe tank- I don't think shiny swimsuit is the look you're going for here. I've toyed with the idea of making a two-layer tube, with the nice stretchy swim suit material underneath but haven't tried it yet.

For me and my friends, a straight tube works fine. If that won't work for your shape, make the top of the rectangle your under-bust measurement and the bottom your hip measurement. Keep in mind you want it to fit you and not be bursting at the seams, but still tight enough to hold things together. You might need to make a new one when your shape changes drastically as the weeks pass.

Belly Band
Stretch Jersey
  1. Start by taking your under-bust measurement- this will be the length of the piece of fabric you'll cut.
  2. Decide how tall you want the finished band to be. If you plan on wearing it single layer, you'll want it to be from under bust down to the bottom of the fly of your jeans. I like doing it that way, and then wearing it doubled over for added suction power to keep the pants up. Personal preference.
  3. Lay your fabric out so the stretch goes side to side- cut out a rectangle as long as your under-bust measurement, and as tall as you measured in step two.
  4. Fold and pin each long edge, and hem using a zig-zag stitch and a jersey needle.
  5. Fold short sides right-side-together, and sew using zig-zag stitch.
That's it- you're done! Now, you'd think with how easy this is I'd have already finished the 4 I've promised to various friends...but no. Sorry guys!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Have We Hit the Frost Free Day Yet?

I've heard that April 22nd is our magic "frost free day." We can plant anything we like after that day. I finally got my "direct to soil" seeds in the ground yesterday, as well as my "start indoors" varieties.

Here's the 2008 list:
Poppies (red, naturalizing)
Nasturtium, Alaska Mix
Wildflower mix (in a pot, to limit spreading, weedy tendencies!)
Sunflower, Mammoth Grey

Direct to Garden Veggies:
Bush Beans, tri-color
Carrots, rainbow variety
Chard, Bright Lights (comes up yellow, red, pink...)

In Pots Outside:
Radish, Sparkler

Started Indoors:
Climbing Black-Eyed Susan Vine
Onion, Walla-Walla
Bell Pepper, Northern King?
Tomato, yellow pear
Tomato, heirloom mix

I don't have my beet seeds sown yet (Bull's Blood variety), Ernie and I ran out of steam yesterday and had to make a grocery run before the bread needed to go in the oven.

We also got our Desert King fig tree in the ground, in the front yard and in the garden picture you can see our Triple Crown thornless blackberries in the background. I hope everything comes up this year! The fig tree is just a stick with roots. I KNOW figs are the last to leaf out, but I'm a little nervous about that stick.

I seem to have misplaced my squash seeds, so I'll grab some more at the store and plant 2 or 3 plants on the house side of the shed. Yeah, it's shady. Yeah, it's neglected. But you know what, I think zucchini will do just FINE there! We'll plant our "potato pot" when it warms up outside, maybe the end of May. It occured to me as I said my evening prayers last night that I can now start to understand what was meant in the scriptures "Cry unto the Lord over your fields." I want so much for these little plants to grow and flourish, and to be able in some small measure to make our family more self-sufficient.