Monday, December 22, 2014

Allowing the cobwebs to be brushed aside can be intolerable when such heartache and sadness are on the other side, but one thing a life of rocky paths has taught me is that working through the pain is the only way to the joy on the other side, joy I only discovered in the span of my twenties as I did the hard work of bearing my soul and allowing it to be nurtured a bit by the hands of others. That same soul is aching at this time with the loss of a companion, of a dog who came into my life in my twentieth year and nearly saw me through to my thirtieth, the one who was there as I hit rock bottom and found my way out again, the one who was by my side as I said goodbye to my grandma, to my father, to the only place that ever felt like home. She was there as I allowed my heart to love and as I welcomed my sunshine of a daughter into my life. And now she is gone, forever. My heart is broken, the guilt and the pain are impossible yet very real and in ways that only those have lived it would understand a huge weight has been lifted. For the first time in nearly ten years I am allowed to breathe fully again - or at least will be if this knot ever untangles from my chest.

Life with her by my side was not easy and not only because of circumstances I was faced with but due to the circumstances of who she was, due to a part of her that I could not reach my own hands in and nurture into a joyful place of its own. By her first year her bite record was higher than would have been tolerated had those bites been reported. Despite the months of puppy and dog classes we attended I could not get through to her on the level needed to build the life together I had dreamed of. Rather than graduating class with a picture and a smile I left with guilt and embarrassment at her leaving the trainers hand bloody. We quickly had to stop visiting dog parks as it became too dangerous, too much of a liability. I had to switch vets after she sent a tech to the emergency room. A neighbor was bit in the face but took the blame as so many others did. There's also the story my mom likes to recall of her standing on a stump in the backyard as Lilly ran circles and repeatedly lunged at her, something we laughed off as puppy play at the time, but soon realized was a sign of something more. My own body was often left bruised and battered in those early days, in ways nobody would allow from another human, but that I felt was my responsibility to work through and fix with her. I made excuses and explained off the behavior. 

For nearly ten years I carried the burden and each year our box shrank down in size, our lives grew smaller and smaller while they should have been blossoming. With every bite or confrontation we took more precautions, we hired an in-home trainer, we took a class for aggressive dogs that was cancelled after the first night, we felt hopeless and desperate and I often begged from the deepest parts of my soul for something to change, for some kind of relief from living under the constant stress and increasingly unsustainable lifestyle we had made our way into. E has been left with physical scars he will always carry, Jasper's ears are altered from her very teeth, Leroy's face has been stitched back together after an emergency vet visit a few seasons ago to fix the cheek ripped from his face, we all have scarred hearts from living this life and all it entails for so long and for having to go through what we have to try to make our way to the joy on the other side. For what options we were left with if we wanted to stop the list of those who have been harmed in her path, to protect our family, our neighbors, our friends. We made the impossible choice, the only one left and the one I feel so misunderstood on by anyone who hasn't lived this life, the choice I never thought I could make, but the one I myself had to decide on after too many close calls with a hand much smaller than mine, mine that was once left numb for days after repetitive bites as a grown adult when loading up into the car after an otherwise fun day at the park. 

The gates were no longer enough, the constant shuffling in order to keep everyone safe. My health was suffering, my other animals were left neglected as all of my energy went to simply keeping everyone out of harms way, my family was under a constant level of stress I wouldn't wish on anyone. And yet we endured. We pushed through it and managed the best we knew how until we couldn't, until the bared teeth and rolled gums finally found their way into my mind rather than my heart and I made the hardest decision of my life, the one to say goodbye. To release her from the constant stress and anxiety, to allow our other animals to stop living in fear, to protect our family from anymore undeserved pain and suffering. It still all feels like a dream, like something as impossible as it was. 

Visitors to our home now delight in finally having a chance to meet our dogs, they ask if we enjoy having the gates down, having our lives opened up, not living under so much stress, but those questions are impossible to answer as all I feel now is a level of guilt and pain I have never felt in my life. At having said goodbye nearly two weeks ago tomorrow the tears have subsided a bit, but each time I walk past her ashes on my dresser my eyes well with them and I lose my ability to breathe. Nearly half my life has passed since I have eaten meat, I used to work at a no-kill shelter, I live a life in which I do my best to reduce harm to animals...and yet, here we are. I made this impossible choice. All I can hope is that others would understand how extreme the situation must have been for me to make this choice, how unsustainable. I wish there really were those magical farms where troubled dogs could run free, where I knew she would be loved and cared for until the end, but if our years of searching and begging have taught me anything it is that this was our reality. There was no magic answer, nobody who would come in and save the day. We had knocked on all doors and we had exhausted all resources, all we were left with was the hard reality, the fact that as her body lay still and the tears ran down my face, that was the first time in nearly nine years that I was able to bend down and kiss her without fear. 

So now we move forward. We all try to heal. We journey into the woods with Jasper by our sides to try to find our way to the lifestyle we can only imagine. We take down the gates. Our daughter can explore her home and yard freely for the first time in her life. We can welcome another daughter into our arms without fear of the other one being harmed when the balls are inevitably dropped and a gate is left unlatched, a door left open, a piece of food left on the floor. The anxiety can fade away. We can open our door and all flow in and out of the garden. We fill our other pets stocking with toys they haven't had the pleasure of playing with for years. We can shower them with love and affection. We are no longer living in a dangerous environment, we are now living in a home - I fear it will take me much longer than I would hope to enjoy that reality. For now there is so much sadness where I can only hope the joy will one day be. 


To anyone else who may be experiencing this, my husband found this post and reading through the comments filled with stories provided me with a lot of what I needed at the time. Maybe it will help you in some little way too.

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 34, 35, 36 & 37

This year I am to complete 52 projects - here are some of them:

Project 34: A tiny In Threes to have ready for our February girl (still in need of blocking as is almost everything I post). I absolutely love this simple pattern and wish I had the resources and time to make one for every girl I know. All the nieces received one for last years Christmas and I guess I will be set for our second daughter as I can continue to hand down those that I outgrows and I make her larger ones. Definitely check out the pattern if you haven't - it's one of those that is very rewarding to make but comes together really quickly and easily...this is the seventh one I have made!

Project 35: Another Sally Dress for I. We were walking through the fabric store picking out yardage for a few projects and I had a really pretty blue printed fabric chosen for her next dress. Showing it to her and telling her what it was for she insisted I put it back and that she wanted something orange and then continued on to pick out the fabric for this project. She knows what she wants and she was smart in her choosing - this one is perfect for fall and will be a great choice to dress up in for Thanksgiving.

Project 36: A hat for one of I's friends. She has a lot of pals and a lot of party invites - keeps this mama busy, but I love every single one of the kiddos I have made one for so it is work I am happy to do and I love teaching her from an early age the joy of gifting handmade presents.

Project 37: A hat for a niece. This hat went to one of our nieces who is just a month younger than I. Apparently she loves it and doesn't ever want to take it off. That's the kind of thing I like to hear!

I am closing in on 52 but still crafting away and hoping this momentum continues once my goal is met. I know next year things will slow down creatively as we adjust to being a family of four, but I do believe I will continue to make more than I ever did before after having challenged myself this year.  For so long the lists and piles of supplies accumulated with high hopes, but I held myself back from really diving in - I am so glad to have moved on from that part of life as being creative makes me feel so much more like the person I want to be. What do you find fuels your creativity?


Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Year of Projects: Project 30, 31, 32 & 33

This year I am to complete 52 projects - here are some of them: 

Project 30: Another birthday hat for one of I's friends.

Project 31: A wall of happiness for our living room. I collected thrifted frames for a long time before painting them all with craft paint and E covering them with a coat of clear sealer. There is plenty of room for this wall to grow as our family does...I just have to keep an eye out for more frames. These kinds of projects are slow going as we have to keep it affordable by buying used and refreshing, but they pay off is worth the wait.

Project 32: Felt Ravioli with Marinara. One of I's (and our) closest friends was celebrating her birthday and since I knew they were trying to gather some play kitchen goodies I decided to make her these raviolis with marinara sauce. Their family owns a restaurant that serves such delights so it felt especially fitting. Oh, and I made a second set for I's kitchen of course!

Project 33: A Hat for Me because I was in between things and always need something on the needles. I think it was this hat but it doesn't do that beautiful pattern justice! Not one I wear very often and I'll probably end up passing it along, but I'm always glad to have a project to work on and someone can definitely use it to keep their noggin warm! 

I have just completed project 48 and am working on a couple more today in hopes of having all holiday gifts completed and packaged before November's end. At that point we will turn toward crafting for our gal and having fun as a family...we have a chocolate factory tour planned for a few weekends from now to delight our sweetest girl. She was gifted a Curious George collection for her birthday and her favorite of those is Curious George Goes to the Chocolate Factory. I can't wait to let her visit one herself and make that story come to life - just not sure we will see any curious monkeys on our journey, but I guess you never know!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 27, 28 & 29

This year I am to complete 52 projects - here are some of them: 

Project 27: Honeycomb Shelves for I's Room. I had been wanting something to fill the wall above Isadora's dresser and also some shelving to display her treasures, so I sent the idea for honeycomb shelves E's way and he liked the idea as well and put it into action. We chose this tutorial to follow and are so pleased with the outcome. I know things will be constantly shifting and changing up there as our girl changes and grows herself and I look forward to seeing the shelves, their contents and our little girl transforming over time.

Project 28: A Birthday Hat for a friend. This one is for one of I's best friends, a girl who looks great in red.

Project 29: A Birthday Dress for I. A week before I's birthday I was really itching to find her a dress with birds on it for her bird birthday party and then a link to a sale on The Sally Dress pattern  popped up in my instagram feed, inspiring me to purchase the pattern, run to the fabric store and get to work. I am a very inexperienced sewer and found myself a bit frustrated at times with my inexperience, but I love how the dress turned out, I loves the dress (especially the big pockets) and I love continuing to grow in my skill-set, even when it leaves me frustrated...maybe that's when I'm learning the most.

This years goal has really pushed me to try new things, to dive in to the projects I have been wanting to accomplish for years and to not worry about everything being perfect. Sometimes things don't work out the first time, sometimes they are wonderful and quick, and other times there might be a few tears of confusion, but it has all been such an incredible challenge and experience for me, especially in letting go of perfectionism and in pushing myself to try new things. Have you ever felt that your creative journey has helped you to grow?


Friday, November 7, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 24, 25 & 26

This year I aim to complete 52 projects - here are some of them: 

These projects are all the same hat in different colors for various birthday gifts. We just went through the thick of birthday season for all of I's friends and many of her cousins, so I decided to make most friends a hat as an affordable but meaningful gift.

Project 24: A Hat for J

Project 25: A Hat for I (she kept this one because I decided on another color for someone else).  She has others though so it will most likely be used more for baby sister.

Project 26: A Hat originally for a good friend, but saved back for Christmas for another kiddo and made larger for the birthday boy.

Simple this week and there are more hats to come, but now that I have made it through birthday season I am really looking forward to mixing it up while I start crafting for Christmas. If you have any favorite handmade gifts for 2, 3 or 7 year olds I would love to hear about them. 


Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 20, 21, 22 & 23

This year I aim to complete 52 projects - here are some of them:

Project 20: Color, number and letter rings. We don't really do flashcards as a way of learning, but I like having these around for I to look at for recognition and she loves looking through them to tell me what things are. 

Project 21: Mama's Flower Garden. As you can see things got a little wild in there on this first year. Sunflowers bloomed in abundance in the months to come, but the flax was out of control. Being something I've never grown before I wasn't sure what to expect and when it came time to plant I just scattered seeds and let it be. Next year there will be a lot less height and a lot more color. It's just nice to have the soil prepared and the fence in place to set this spot aside for just flowers. 

Project 22: Butterfly, Bird & Wildflower prints for I's room.  I had been brainstorming for the best way to fill this wall for months and just couldn't think of anything that felt right for our girls room. Then I saw these prints from Imagine Childhood and scooped them right up. It took a long time to purchase the frames, but I eventually gathered coupons and found these and then jumped into the tedious task of cutting, lining up and taping scrapbook paper for backing them. I love how they turned out and Isadora loves looking at all of the plants and creatures on her wall. A perfect fit for our nature loving girl. 

Project 23: Bow Holder for I's room. I had been thinking this one up for a long while and was glad to finally put scroll saw to wood to make it happen. After cutting the pieces I sanded everything down and added lines with a wood-burning tool before adding on some highly concentrated watercolors and adding on ribbon to hold the bows. Grammy has made her many bows since and I have plans to make some as well so I may have to add longer ribbons, but it is so nice to have these all accessible rather than searching for them when needed and I like the added sunshine in her space.  

I'm on project 40 now and on track to reach my goal of 52 by the end of the year so expect to see a weekly post of projects through December while I catch up. Have you been making anything lately? Any holiday projects being made? 


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fall will always feel like a bittersweet time for me. As the leaves change, the temperatures cool and I wrap myself in corduroy and sweaters I feel a certain kind of peace I don't often feel, bringing me toward deep breaths and toward feeling most like myself. The cool air is refreshing in a way that humid air just can't match and I feel a pull to slow down even more, to craft, create, bake and explore. Grocery runs can be made without worry about things ruining if I don't pack a cooler and don't want to return home right away. Fires are made in pits and clothes left smelling like camping. Jackets are pulled out and fill the rack by the door, but a certain sadness also fills my heart as all of these pleasures make their way in. 

As the air cools and the leaves begin to change I am pulled back to an October five years ago, recalling a phone call, tears, a hurried drive toward a hospital through a torrential down-pour that just wouldn't let up. As the clouds shifted above I moved in a cloud of my own, one of disbelief, of confusion, of anger, of doubt. When we arrived my hand held his - unresponsive - my face in a perpetual state of redness and eyes pooled with tears, leaving his side to make room for others but quickly filling that space again when nobody else moved forward. The colostomy bag let off a smell that made me feel guilty for not wanting to be near it, so now and then I would turn my head for a breath of fresh air all the while machines forced fresh air into his lungs as well, the background to my whispered pleading for him to please wake up, to please show us a sign, the artificial filling of his lungs to provide him with the oxygen to sustain slowly whooshing in and out, in and out, in and out, the very thing which he lacked for too many minutes, the lack of which left us all here, gathered around him and helpless. Wires were attached, tests performed, poking and talking mixed with my silent begging for all of this to end, for all of this to just be another hurdle to overcome, another thing to just make us all stronger and something that would open his eyes to the changes that needed to be made. His eyes though, they would not open no matter how hard my guts were twisting with pleas, so we waited and waited and waited some more.

Later I had my first and last moments alone with him in order to say goodbye, but even as I did - the organ harvesters waiting not-so-patiently in the wings - I struggled to believe he would not at last open his eyes and give us all a surprise ending I was so desperately hoping for so I continued to beg in whispers and hope until I thought my body would explode with the pressure of such emotion, but in the end it was the end and there was nothing I could do. The next days continued in a haze of which I only remember certain details - the questioning of what truly happened, the forced hugs, the misunderstandings, the umbrellas, the pizza in a town where I no longer felt welcome, my recording his last voicemail so as to not lose the sound of his voice, the familiar sights passing by as my head rested on the window, the country air on my cheeks and cows grazing in Uncle John's fields, the knowing this would be the last time I would for sure be back in that place, the heartbreaking trips down memory lane. When we pulled away from the small cemetery, leaving my father, grandmother and great-grandparents there in dust sent up from tires on gravel I tried to look back, tried to see them lower him in to the ground for the closure, but I did not receive it and with a four hour round trip I am not sure when I will.

Now we continue on as you do and it doesn't get easier. For some people it may, but I no longer believe it ever will. I don't think a day will come when a stranger in my rearview mirror reminds me of my dad and my eyes don't swell with tears. I don't think a day will come when the scent of cigarettes and old spice don't make me think of him and the bear hugs he gave best. I will always credit my loves of nature and of treasure hunting to him and I will always think of him when I see a freshly plowed field ripe for an arrowhead hunt. I no longer blame anyone else for what happened, time has provided clarity on that if nothing else. Addiction is strong, it is stronger than any bear hug I have met, stronger than the harshest of storms and unfortunately it is stronger than my dad was and will ever get a chance to be. While it's not the way I wish things were it is a reality I live with and one I have and will continue to learn from with each passing year. So as the leaves fall and the seasons change I continue to move forward, constantly trying to live the life I have imagined and practice gratitude for something each day even on the hard ones. I love my daughter with all I have and try to find forgiveness and understanding when it is not so easy to come by because I now know that some second chances are over way too quickly and every story must eventually come to an end.


Sunday, October 12, 2014


Just as we have transitioned into fall we are also preparing for more big transitions for our family. Just one more season to go and then sometime in February my second daughter will transition into my arms and we will once again figure our way through to a new normal. 

Pregnancy has passed by much faster this time, leaving me at around twenty-one weeks with no real clue how I got here so quickly and with a holiday season on the horizon I can only imagine the coming months will slip by in a similar fashion - I feel as if I'll take a breathe and wake up at thirty weeks, take another and have a baby in my arms. All the while I am keeping that time-frame in mind and trying to look ahead to any transitions that need to happen in our home or with I and to slowly work toward them so when February comes we can keep the rug from being pulled out from under her to such an extreme. Life will change for all of us in ways that will be beautiful and hard and so many things we won't understand or be able to prepare for until we are in them, so anything we can prepare her for and anything we can do to make that transition go a little more smoothly is definitely on my mental to-do list and all is well so far. much as everyone says that I will be a great big sister and as much as I agree due to her total love and adoration of babies, the way she tends to those both real and stuffing-filled, I still think there will be times when she tries to throw the baby out of my lap - and those are waters we will just have to tread once we reach them. 


Monday, July 28, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 18 & 19

This year I aim to complete 52 projects - here are some of them:

Project 18: Large photos for our walls. I waited around a few months for a good coupon code and was finally able to order three 20x30 and one 12x18 prints at an affordable price. Paired with coupons and sales for the frames I was finally able to add family photos to our walls that were begging for them. The two on top are above our bed, the black and white one is in our wild bathroom and the one on the right is on a wall in our dining room area. We have a long way to go to fill our walls in a way that feels right, but these have made a huge difference and make me really happy. 

Project 19: A larger knit blanket for my girl. This is the giant project that kept me away from others for so long, but it was worth every stitch as I love how it turned out. I saw something similar on Purl Soho ages ago and it never left my mind for long so I knew one day I would have to do a version of it. I finally found the colors I wanted with Blue Sky Alpaca Organic Cotton and got to work - a few months later here we are. I could have saved time using larger needles, but I didn't want to wait until I could get them so used what I had. It did take longer using 7s instead of 10s, but it makes for a nice tight knit and a super cozy and comfy blanket to snuggle under for story time.

Are you a knitter? Have you knit anything lately? I do love the time with yarn and needles, but am thinking I need to become better acquainted with my sewing machine too for a few projects that can be finished in a night or two rather than a month or two. I would probably get more sleep that way at least!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Good Stuff

Summer has been moving along quickly and I know before we know it we will be welcoming in our next season. The other day the air was perfectly cool, with a light breeze and warm late afternoon sun streaming down and at that moment I almost thought Fall had already come and started daydreaming about those cool walks outside with a sweater to keep me warm, the days of open windows and cool breezes, the snuggling up with some knitting and a hot cup of tea when the sun goes down early in the day. Then I snapped back to reality, picked some goodies from the garden and gave thanks for bare toes and sun on my skin, for I do love a good trip to the pumpkin patch but am in no hurry at all to get there. Our summer has been filled with lots of time in the garden and yard, trips to the farmer's market, weekly trips to our library to complete summer reading club and take in the community gardens there, and mostly just trying to stay afloat while working on keeping our house in order and all seven of us alive.

One of our dogs, Jasper, has been sick since the beginning of the year and we have tried just about everything to make him well. Many trips have been taken to the vet with an equal amount of phone calls to check-in and plan the next thing, he has been on eight different medications and been given more natural remedies we have researched and we are currently working on switching him over to a different food in hopes that maybe just an allergy could be at the root of it all. Our next step is contacting a specialist to set up an appointment to check for polyps or a tumor and going from there - poor pooch is only four years old but he sure is having it rough. He started life stricken with parvo at only five weeks old and we nursed him to health in our kitchen, E sleeping near him on a camping pad at night. Half of his litter didn't make it but our swirly wonderful boy pulled through and I can't help but wonder if this current illness is so stubbornly hanging around due to his system being so compromised at such a young age, but all we can do is keep moving forward, loving him well and trying to get him healthy, so here's hoping we have more answers soon.

Luckily the rest of us are healthy and while I sometimes feel like there are too many piles on my plate we get by and have fun and we are all looking forward to some possible changes for our family in the next few months - ones that give me a bit of hope that there is a way for us to get to a bit more stable footing and a bit deeper happiness, but more on that later if there is anything more to say. Here's hoping!

Lately I have been so very grateful for other women in my life. You see, a bit of that deeper happiness has already been wiggling it's way in since connecting with other moms around this time last year. Over the year since I first walked in to a local nursing mom's group I have found so many other women who I am now happy to call friends. Other women I can count on and turn to and cry with if the need arises. Women and their families we can camp with and dream with and talk about crafting and gardening and anything else under the sun with. It's what I always knew I was missing but never felt there was true hope in finding. Sometimes my upbringing gets the best of me and I cower into myself feeling as if I am just extra, that really my presence isn't all that important in a given interaction or group, but if I am honest I try to let myself feel the care coming my way from others, to allow myself to feel welcomed and loved and to try to give that back in the ways I know how. Some of us have committed to getting together at least once a week and it often turns into two and seeing the bonds forming between our children, as well as ourselves, gives me hope for a happier future for all involved. There was a time a couple of weeks ago when I was sick and we had to stay home by ourselves and it really sunk it what a difference this community has made in both of our lives. When she was a baby I was constantly lonely but with my siblings living out of town, my mom working full time and no friends with kids I felt a bit hopeless and as if things would always be that way. Knowing there was nothing more to lose and that soon it may be even harder I took a chance and walked into a meeting and on the way home I cried, but then I went back week after week and slowly the connections started falling into place and here a year later it is hard to imagine it has only been that long. Us moms get to the point pretty quickly, allowing vulnerability sooner than one might otherwise be accustomed to and it was pretty easy to find the ones, those ones you know you have more in common with than just changing diapers and running on two hours of sleep, those ones you connect with beyond being a mom - not just because you are a mom - and I am so glad to have found a few of my own. I look forward to an endless amount of years of friendship and am grateful every day for having found them. And now? Now with my family all back and fresh friendships in our lives I feel like my cup is so much fuller of the good stuff.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 15, 16 & 17

This year I aim to complete 52 projects - here are some of them:

Project 15: Simple swing set for our family. We didn't want a large framed set for the limited space we have in our yard, so we looked up plans and ideas and E put them into place to build the wood frame, adding a swing our daughter received for her birthday and another swing with brackets that can hold up to 350lbs so any adult we know could enjoy some swinging too. We then dug out the dirt, lined the edges with pavers and moved lots of wood chips in to fill in underneath. Grass would have been perfectly fine, but we have a dog that loves to dig and dig and dig, so we were trying to minimize the amount of tripping holes and the amount of mud being tracked into our home, so this is perfect. I requested a hanging planter on each end to brighten the place up and then we called it complete. 

Project 16: Water Table. I wanted something simple for outdoor water play but didn't want another big plastic thing in our backyard or to spend the money on one, so I found this under the bed box we already had and E and I put our heads together to settle on a simple plan and he found enough scrap wood to throw it together one night while I put our daughter to bed. This table is used every time we are outdoors by our own family and any visiting children and I love the simplicity of it. When the weather turns cooler it could also be used for sand/gravel/dirt. I'm thinking dirt with different rocks scattered throughout so our rock loving girl can go hunting for them.

Project 17: Pin Cushion. This one is plain and simple enough. Just a quick little project for a quick feeling of accomplishment. Plus, I'd been saving this little milk glass cup around for this purpose for ages, so glad to finally throw it together. 

Where has your creative energy been directed lately? Any fun creations or plans for those to come?


Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 12, 13 & 14

This year I aim to complete 52 projects - here are some of them:

Project 12: A children's/sensory/fun garden in the corner of our larger garden. We thought our sweetest would enjoy a place of her own to dig and play while we worked on planting and weeding. These days there are marigolds along the edges and we need a lot less clothes when visiting and it is serving its purpose well...on some days. There is much more interest on our daughter's part in ripping up the purposefully planted items than digging in her special plot of earth, but we do hang out together in there from time to time and her cousins all love to dig and play in there as well.

Project 13: Book/Toy ledges for our girls room. These are super simple but also super effective and useful. Here's a link to a tutorial. The books and toys are constantly rotated by tiny hands and she has also found it to be a useful spot to place her water bottle at night.

Project 14: Wooden sheep and pig. We finally got our hands on a scroll saw so I was excited to sketch out these two and get to work. They are made with scrap oak from another project and the details were made with a wood-burning tool with the color being added on with basic watercolors and then covered with a homemade wood cream. I hope to make more in the future, but will use a softer wood to see what the difference is. 

I have a bit of catching up to do as one of my most recent projects kept me away from others for a bit, but I have no doubt I will make it to 52 by the end of the year and I will be interested to look back on all I have done. 

Have you been working on any projects of your own lately? 


Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 9, 10 & 11

This year I aim to complete 52 projects - here are some of them:

Project 9: A 16x20 frame for our bathroom. Just a quick first-time-is-all-I-am-doing brush of the words "you are beautiful and strong" on watercolor paper and mounted on scrap fabric then put into an already had on hand frame that was black but re-painted white for this purpose. This one didn't cost anything and it may not be the perfect script, but it does make me smile each time I am greeted with it.

Project 10: A knit rainbow cat for my gal's Easter basket. I was craving a project and had some sock weight yarn with no purpose so did a search on ravelry and settled on this project. If I can ever find a link to it I will be sure to add it for anyone who might be interested. It was a quick knit with it all being knit in one piece aside from the arms and tail and seams being added for the legs and ears and would make a quick and easy new baby gift. I would use a different yarn in the future and try to sew the face on before filling or use different methods, but it was a fun and quick project to make a dent in that ball of yarn. 

Project 11: An "Imagine" banner for the wall above my daughter's art table. This was another use-what-you-have project using scraps of floral fabrics and a couple packages of tiny bias tape I had on hand.

More to come!


Monday, June 30, 2014

We took our second family camping trip with friends a few weeks ago and though we packed up a night early due to a sore throat that could not handle another night of cold, it was worth it, it is always worth it. Going to bed bundled up from the cold and waking up by the light of the sun, watching my daughter totally at peace with her surroundings, throwing rocks in the lake over and over and over again, trying to gently wash away her uneasiness with water with bits of time on a boat and a raft, painting rocks and legs, eating out of coolers and containers, just being outside full time. 

This latest trip was a bit tougher for me for unexpected reasons, sore throat aside. Driving there to our friends family property I was excited to trade in pavement for gravel roads, but I caught myself with tears in my eyes throughout the weekend as a sort of mourning for what I have lost, a home I can no longer go back to but the only place the ever did truly feel like a home, our own family property where I spent weekends and summers and holiday vacations freely exploring with nowhere to be and nobody looking over my shoulder. Where I would travel the woods with my dog Patches by my side and find myself in the cow pastures of my great uncle who lives on the neighboring land. A place that is just a few gravel roads down from the tiny one room church and cemetery where three generations of my family is at rest, my own father, his mother, and her mother and father too.  A place where I would collect fireflies and tomato worms in glass jars provided by my grandmother, would pick plums and berries and ride propane tanks like horses. A place that shaped a part of me that I cherish most. A place that was lost due to family circumstances that are far more complex than simply stating "My uncle lost it to the bank" but that really come down to that simple phrase. The aching in my heart for this land is constant and having to see what he put it through before it was lost, the destruction of the one place I loved with all my heart - it is devastating, heartbreaking, maddening. Knowing the blame, if one has to be placed, also goes to my own father in his own way for the choices he made which kept him from being there to stop it - the wondering at how different things could have been, but oh that thought, that thought runs so deep on so many levels as I am sure it does for anyone, but addiction also runs deep, it ran through the blood of my father and probably through the blood of my uncle as well just as it runs through my own, being put into check on a regular basis, being kept at bay but sometimes just barely. Always being careful and mindful and wishing the lightening up could come so easily as it did as a kid, as it did when I set myself sailing on a rusty grey bike down the hills of that very place and after that point considered myself a rider, self taught in an afternoon. Childhood memories and childhood hurt have the deepest roots and oh how those pains run deep and revisit us unexpectedly. 

There was once a tree planted in the corner of our current yard, back between where the shed is now and where our garden fence runs. This tree was removed before I ever stepped foot on this land and you would never know it was there from the surface, yet when digging in the garden, when tilling the soil or making holes for plants I find that old trees roots, I find them sprawled across the garden, causing me trouble, making me slow down, and sometimes causing backbreaking work and moments of giving up due to their size and their desire to stay put. Pain seems to follow a similar pattern, the hurts coming to the surface at those most inconvenient times, those times that you just want to carry on, to move forward in life, to get that plant in the ground and move on already, yet the choice is really just that - to move on already or to get in there and get dirty and do the hard work to get that root out once and for all, to leave room for something else to grow in it's place. It is hard work and it is constant, but the fruit that comes from this work is so delicious, so refreshing in the work that went in to it's growth.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 8, 2014

Spring is here as are endless time outdoors and in the garden, fallen nests, CSA bounties, a mother's day campout with my dearest mom friends, dirt under our fingernails and on our toes. We are in a challenging time lately as has been normal for us since diving into parenthood, but we are moving forward, trying every trick to make our girl happy and relieve her teething pain and I am occasionally hiding out to give my dear body a break while E takes over for a spell. Thank goodness we have a yard that is becoming my favorite little oasis, a place to play in the dirt to help strike a balance in our days, a little somewhere to breathe fresh air and see life sprout forth from the tiniest of seeds, something I will never tire of seeing or ever stop being amazed by. While we may not be in the easiest season of life we are in my favorite one so far, one of incredible growth and one in which I am more me than ever before while still having plenty of challenges to overcome and more than enough goals to last me a lifetime.