Sunday, January 23, 2011

Together Again

Something miraculous happened in my dream last night: my dad came back to me. I don’t remember much besides a few odd details (I was in a cafeteria and didn’t know anyone?), but I do remember feeling alone and out of place. Then from my right side, I heard his voice. And I turned and he was right there, swooping in to hug me. He was in a wheelchair (another odd detail in the dream), but was 100% healthy and looked like he did before cancer emaciated him.

I threw myself into his arms and hugged him, and he hugged me back. We were both laughing and happy. It was a true reunion, in every sense of the word. We were together again.

And that’s all I can remember from the dream. Which is fine, because that’s all I need to remember anyway. The truth is I forgot about the dream until later this morning, as I was emptying the dishwasher and it all flooded back into my mind. It is possible to feel joy and sadness at the same time; I felt so happy to “be” with Dad and then missed him all over again as I remembered I’m not with him physically any longer. But one day, I will be.

This photo was taken by a friend almost exactly seven years ago to this day. It was at a surprise party for my 30th birthday. I was surprised, of course, to see a room full of friends and my in-laws. And then, in the back corner, I saw him. My dad. He had traveled all the way to Missouri to surprise me. I flew into his arms and held on so tight, and cried. For me, this photo gives me a glimpse into heaven, when I’ll be reunited with those I miss Every. Single. Day.

“Now we are free and we shall see you again.  But not yet.  Not yet.” from Gladiator

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow Days #2 and #3

Katie hasn’t been to school for a full week (defined as five full days in a row) since the week of November 15. The weeks since then were partial because of Thanksgiving or early release days or Christmas break or illness or snow. That’s NINE WEEKS STRAIGHT that she’s been home/we’ve been out of our routine.

Do you have any idea what this does to a stay-at-home mother? (Or ANY parent, for that matter!) A parent in the throes of cabin fever? Aaaargh! (Can you hear the hair ripping from my scalp?)

No, seriously. It hasn’t been THAT bad, but it has been a little tough. We’re having to get pretty creative and pull out projects that have been stashed away for a rainy/snowy/sick day. We’ve built countless forts. We’ve watched countless movies. We’ve taken up sewing. Mommy hightailed it out of town on a shopping trip. And there has been LOTS of crafting and tattling and *some* yelling. (By me. And them. And me again.)

Katie’s been reading to Jackson, playing horsey and puppy, and she likes to pretend she’s the teacher and he’s her student.IMGP7807

And at least there’s been snow to play in, and kind neighbors and husbands who will take my kids out in it so I don’t have to!IMGP7852

Oh, IKEA, How I Love You!

Roughly once a year, a bunch of my crazy friends will join me in a road trip to our closest IKEA. It’s near Chicago, so it’s a five hour drive for us – ONE WAY.

At 7am, we pile into someone’s minivan and hit the road. We talk about anything and everything for five hours, flip through IKEA catalogs and plan our shopping lists, then arrive at IKEA around noon. We browse the showroom for about two hours (initiating any IKEA virgins in our group), then stop for lunch at the cafeteria located inside the store. After lunch, we backtrack to the kids’ furnishing/bedding/toy section before heading downstairs and piling our carts full of Swedish treasures. Usually we load the car and finish up by 6:00. We stop on the road somewhere for dinner, and arrive home around midnight.

It’s like Disney World for women!

This year marks the fifth time I’ve done this crazy trip. My friend Beth (the mom of four boys – two of them being the set of twins that arrived in August) wanted to celebrate her birthday by getting out of the house and taking a trip to IKEA. She invited me, her neighbor and another friend to road trip. I gladly agreed and emptied my minivan in preparation for the trip. It’s a good thing it was emptied, because we needed EVERY spare inch of room. My only regret from the trip is that I didn’t take a photo of the loaded-down minivan before it was unloaded. (Well, THAT and another small regret – misplacing bed pedestals that were the deal of the century.)

One of us bought an entire dining room set: table, chairs, benches, curtains, mirrors, centerpiece, etc. Three of us bought secretaries (those desks that close up and hide your workspace).Photo269

I bought lots of odds and ends like this:Photo262

And this:Photo267

And this:Photo261

One of us (I won’t name names!) spent so much money that her credit card company called to make sure her card hadn’t been stolen.Photo272

During yesterday’s snow day, I moved the clothes sorter I bought for Jackson’s room into his closet.IMGP7913

I made drawer dividers from foam core and labeled the drawers using yarn and laminate sample chips that I found at Leftovers.IMGP7919

I also cleared a space for my new secretary desk to fit in the kids’ craft room. Last night, my wonderful husband assembled the parts and I am blogging for the first time from my new desk. Next on my list is finding time to organize everything inside the desk.IMGP7899

Hooray for IKEA! Now if they would only open one in the St. Louis area. Pretty please?!

Katie is Learning to Sew

For Christmas, Katie asked for a microscope, sewing lessons, and art lessons. We signed her up with a friend to take sewing lessons. (By coincidence, it turns out the instructor is the same woman who gave me lessons about two years ago!) The classes started this week, and she and her friend were ecstatic when I picked them up for class. They told me they wanted to stay “ALL NIGHT!” and sew with Miss Stephanie.

Today, Katie is home for the second snow day in a row. While Jackson napped, I let her use my no-frills sewing machine for the first time. (The machine she used at class is a Baby Lock and has all kinds of bells and whistles.) First off, she made a garland out of paper hearts. I plan to use this in decorations for a reunion party I’m having next weekend.IMGP7904

Then I pulled out some pre-assembled quilt squares I found at “My Favorite Place.” (Let’s all say it together: Leftovers!) Katie sewed them into rows, then I finished up the job by sewing the rows together. My plan is to make a small lap quilt for her. Katie has a different idea. Her friend is having a birthday party on Sunday, and Katie wants to give it to Natalie as a birthday gift. The problem is I don’t have any batting or backing so we can finish it before Sunday.IMGP7903

When Katie first used my machine, she was nervous and scared. I tried talking calmly to her at first, but that seemed to just work her up even more. So I buckled in, gave her a little more firm direction and told her to have courage. Next thing I knew, she was sewing away as if she’d been doing it all her life. The smile on her face told me she was proud of herself.

This is one of the best perks of parenting: getting a front row seat to watch a little human being find a new passion in the world.IMGP7891

Jackson’s Monster Play Mat

I saw Soozs’ tutorial for a drawstring play mat a while back, and it’s been on my project wish list for a while. If I had known how easy this was to make, I wouldn’t have waited so long!

Katie and I were at the fabric store last weekend, buying supplies for her new sewing class. (One of her Christmas presents from Mommy & Daddy.) We saw some cute monster fabric that was 50% off, so I finally bought supplies to make a play mat too.

Last Tuesday while Jackson napped, I made this entire play mat in under an hour.IMGP7810

It’s reversible – monsters on one side, and a solid light blue on the other.IMGP7854

It turned out so well, I’m thinking of making some as birthday gifts. I figured out the price and it came to about $12 for everything. My only confusion is what to do with the long drawstring when the mat is tied up into a bag to carry items. For now, I’m just wrapping it around itself.IMGP7819

Next time, I think I’ll use a heavier fabric to give it a little more weight. Do you like it?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Do You Miss Me?

Don’t answer that. (I’m afraid your answer might be NO!) I sure miss y’all. Danuary has kind of thrown me for a loop. I figured that I could make up the time I’m not blogging/emailing/computering in the evening by doing it during nap time in the afternoons. Well, it turns out that’s a little harder than I expected. I’m trying to do that, but that means lots of other stuff on my list is getting pushed aside. The bottom line is I’m still trying to find some balance.

But the good news is this: I’m really enjoying the unfettered time with Dan in the evenings. It isn’t anything spectacular – mostly just watching TV or sitting together or reading a book to him. Sometimes, we even go to up to bed at 9:30 (9:30!!!!!) to read. And sometimes, that reading is from the Bible. Ha! (We’re reading the Essential 100 along with some other friends.)

The hardest thing is going through the day and thinking, “Oooo, I want to blog about that.” And realizing I’ll have to squeeze it into my day somewhere, before Dan gets home from work. And, usually, I don’t get around to it. And if it’s on the weekend, that just isn’t going to happen!

Anyway, I wanted to pop in here and blog a quick p0st to tell you I miss you, blog world! But I’m still having fun without you. (Is it mean for me to say that?)

Now I’m off to do laundry that I’ve neglected while I surfed the computer during naptime. Have a good weekend!

And here’s a gratuitous photo, just so the blog doesn’t get too texty and empty! This was how the kids spent part of our snow day this week: Legos in the bathtub (no water, of course).IMGP7803

Monday, January 10, 2011

I’m Starting This Now

I saw this jar time capsule idea that I found on Kelli Crowe’s blog, and I’m so excited about it. Katie and I were at Target yesterday and picked out a jar so we can start collecting memories.Kelli Crowe time capsule

First we have to pick out a cute photo to put in the front of the jar, then I’ll secret away some of the kids’ treasures to include every now and then. I think we’ll also use movie ticket stubs, receipts from momentous purchases, little notes to each other, fortune cookie fortunes, and random tiny toys that seem to be glued to my kids’ hands lately. What would you include in yours?

P.S. Unfortunately, I have this news to report: it has started snowing here. Grrr…

PLEASE Don’t Snow!

Let me apologize beforehand for the ramblings I’ll be doing in this post. I know I’ve been missing in action because it’s Danuary, and here I am finally blogging, only to complain and whine. Just humor me, okay?
The weather forecast in our area calls for snow tonight. School might cancelled tomorrow. And maybe even the next day. Words can’t describe what *fear* that strikes in my heart! I NEED my kids to go to school this week. ALL WEEK.
Remember that Katie had three weeks off from school in December for winter break. Her last day of school in December was the 10th, AND it was a half day. School was back in session on last Tuesday, January 4. I was ready, and so was Katie. She went to school on Wednesday too, and Jackson went to Mothers’ Day Out. Yay for me! It was nice to have a day “off” (as if running errands all day is really “off”) by myself.
And then. And THEN… Katie was home Thursday and Friday with a fever and a headache. Nothing major that ibuprofen couldn’t fix. In fact, she felt fine enough to annoy the daylights out of her brother (and vice versa). She just wasn’t okay to go to school for two days. Somewhere in there, one of her eyes turned red so I called the doctor to ask about her fever and maybe pink eye. The doctor won’t allow a kid in the office if there’s even a slight chance of pink eye, so they called in drops for her just in case.
So… blah, blah, blah. Instead of giving you every single detail of my weekend and the torture of putting eye drops in a seven-year-old’s eyes, I’ll just sum it up to say how happy I am that Monday is here and Katie is well enough to go to school. If you count winter break, Katie’s been home for about four weeks straight. *Ugh.*
And now, SNOW. Oh, well. Nothing I can do about it. Jackson and I will be visiting the library today, and I’ll find some books to occupy them in case of snow. I’ll pull out some craft kits I saved for an emergency, and I guess we’ll just bundle up and buckle down until the snow melts. Wish me luck!
Today is the second Monday of the month, which means I’m blogging at JC’s Loft too. Here’s a sneak peek for you. Come check out the rest!IMGP7740

Friday, January 7, 2011

Handmade Gifts Link Party

giftsbutton-001-2 I subscribe to a blog called At Second Street. Kalleen recently posted photos of her family’s Christmas presents to each other. The extended family exchanges ONLY handmade Christmas presents each year. I can’t begin to say how cool I think that is! Wait ‘til you see her sister’s personalized Dammit Dolls, or her dad’s handmade croquet set. I am not sure I’ll be making croquet sets for my in-laws, but I *love* the preparation and loving creativity behind these gifts.

In an effort to make next year’s Christmas gifts more unique, Kalleen has put together a link party so everyone can showcase their handmade gifts and have a place to refer back to when Christmas gets underway in 2011. I linked about 14 of my favorite handmade gifts that I’ve made in years past. You can check out my ideas, and some serious creative geniuses here, and hopefully add your own ideas!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Today is the first day of a special Advent-Conspiracy-type-gift I gave Dan for Christmas. The gift didn’t cost any money, and it’s a present of presence. I promised Dan a month of “Danuary.” A few years ago, this meant something else. But this year, it means two things: for the month of January, I promise not to use my laptop when he’s home and to go to bed when he goes to bed each night.

That means my computer time is limited to Jackson’s naptimes on weekdays. That translates to a slower response time for emails, significantly less blogging and MUCH less time on Facebook.

I’m only posting right now because Dan made a quick trip to the store for milk. I’ll blog when I can, so until then, I wish you all a great January and happy new year!


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