: : winter and so on : :

There really is no such thing as balance.  Work, family.  No balance. See, the thing is as a woman, it still actually sucks for us in the work world.  You can't actually have it all.  When you are at work, you think about what you should be doing at home.  When you are at home, you think about opportunities passing you by because you aren't at work.  I have written about it before.  And it's nothing new.  Not for me.  Not for any woman regardless of where you work.  In or outside of the home.  It's not fair.  But it's the way it is.

I pray about it a lot.  I'm still on that "Mommy track" and others around me who once were are no longer.  They have moved on.  Their kids have grown and their priorities are all work work work.  And I am, gratefully, with much blessing, still in that place.  The "Mommy track".  That place where my kids are little (and some big), still like to snuggle, still call me Mommy, and my heart is 1000% with them all the time.  I want to be here when they leave for school, be here when they get home, make dinner early, make life for them peaceful and not rushed and chaotic.  Life is short and I will never ever ever never wish I had achieved more in my work life.  My aspirations are to be the best person God created me to be.  Pure and simple.  To nurture my children and husband all the days of my life with as much of me as I can give.

But it's a challenge.  I run my Two Peas business.  I work part time at another job.  I volunteer and am active in my community and I'm terrible at saying no. But I'm learning.

I'm learning you can't really have it all.  You can't stay home AND actually have enough money to put food on the table.  You can't work all the time and actually mentally or physically be there for your kids, fully in the moment, and without guilt as much as you'd like.  At least I can't.

And I wrestle with that balance.  Those struggles ebb and flow in my life.  Lately, it's been increasingly uncomfortable.  Life is challenging me.  I think those uncomfortable feelings that creep up are pushing me towards new ideas and changes.  I'm not sure where yet.  I'm not sure what yet.  But I feel something in me stirring and changing.  It's uncomfortable.  And I know that means that change is coming.

But I'm patiently praying and quietly listening.  I do know that my heart is pulling me stronger than ever to be present in this place.  To follow what is most important in life.  Maybe it's just the natural transition of getting older, growing wiser, being more secure in who I am.

And it's sometimes hard to come to this place - to write, talk and say something worth saying when I haven't felt like it.  When I haven't known what to say or share.  Or how to find the time.  But it hit me last night, like a lightening bolt, some ideas for change.  And here I am, finding some time to start a conversation.

Winter has been good.  Fun.  Warm, even though the temperatures outside are cold.  I wanted to share a little of what our two peas, sprout, the gardener and I have been up to...

Santa visited our girls and we enjoyed having Grandma with us too.  There were shouts of joy for chocolates and sock monkeys, barbies, and the best ever...Sprout got a Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer in her stocking.  She paused, held it out in front of her and burst into tears.  Big fat huge raindrops falling from her eyes while she exclaimed, "I love him so much!".  Sweetest thing ever.  Made us all cry because she was just so genuinely thrilled.

The snow missed us Christmas day but so beautifully fell the day after.  Of course the call went out, "The Preston sled hill is officially open" and friends gathered and came to hit the slopes and then sip hot cocoa afterwards.  The photo on the left : : the two peas and one of their buddies trying a triple person run not so successfully : : photo on the right is Sprout and I, she eventually took her hands down and watched, and squealed and screamed all the way down.  We may live in a teeny tiny house but I remind my girls all the time - you have the best backyard in town and that makes all the small spaces so worth it!  (and no, the little yellow house is not our house - it's the playhouse my Dad built for the kids.  The brown building in the background - also not our house - but our barn).

We visited family and the girls Aunt and Uncle treated them to a day at the ice rink for Christmas.  They LOVED it!  All three of them!  (If you are ever near Dayton, OH in the winter - the Riverscape downtown park / ice rink is a must do!).  And Sprout, well of course she sports an "S" on her skirt.  She loves getting dressed for church on Sunday and visiting with her girlfriends.  They quite literally, run to each other and knock one another down in a fit of giggles and then run off to play in the nursery or go to class.  4 is the best age ever.  Seriously.  

We have been exploring new recipes.  This one was a huge hit!  It all started because Wendy's (fast food - don't judge) has these new Baja salads.  To quote my 4 year old, O.M.G.  So delish!  So I tried to copy it at home and totally pulled it off.

I made a pot of homemade chili.  Put a scoop of the chili over iceberg lettuce. Add shredded cheddar cheese, a few tomatoes diced, fresh avocados sliced, a dollop of sour cream, a squirt of Hidden Valley Ranch Southwest Chipotle dressing, and a few crushed Doritos.  Score!  Kids LOVED it!

And then of course, you have the days that Sprout wants me to do her hair just like Mama...and I always oblige.  Sock buns!!  With my long hair and sewing, sock buns have been my fav way to pull my hair back lately.

And finishing off revisions to my best selling pattern, the Hazel Hipster.  Freshening up pattern covers for relaunches.  Headed up north to film for Season 5 for It's Sew Easy soon.  And...I'm going to need more coffee.

Hope you all are well.  Leave me note, catch me up on what's new with you!  I hope you are finding challenges in life as opportunities for positive changes and enjoying moments everyday.


:: growing a family ::

Growing a family.

August has been all about family for us (which has left me mostly absent from this space).

Family celebrations for the Gardener on his retirement from his Park Ranger / Officer job.

Family vacation to the beach.

Family visiting from California.

Family wedding at home.

Family hiking.

Family gardening and harvesting.

Family swimming, playing, eating, biking riding, shopping for school supplies.

We have been a busy family just being a family enjoying the last few days before school started.  The peas loved having cousins around and Aunts and Uncles and grandmas and a house full of people - there is much to be said about spending quality time together with family and firming up those relationships with our loved ones who live so far away.

We've been eating tomatoes for just about every meal lately and we have plenty to share.  I eat them on my bagels, eat them with cottage cheese at lunch, eat them with pasta in the evening.  Our garden has been plentiful this year under the Gardeners watchful eye.

The Peas started, gulp, middle school last week.  I am the mother of 2 6th graders.  Not sure how THAT happened but it has and so far, they love it.  They've mastered opening their lockers and they have been blessed with an amazing team of teachers who we have fast fallen in love with.

Sprout will be doing homeschool preschool with a lady who did the same with the Peas.  She is amazing and Sprout loves it and we love the small group - 3 students total.  She loves circle time and calendar time and craft time and science centers and more.

And the Gardener and I - we have some big projects we are working on.  He's organizing the barn.  And my "life"...he's quickly taken on the task of keeping ME on task whatever it may be.  I secretly, love it.  It does really help.  When you work alone mostly, it's nice to have someone check in with you and see what's going on, planning together, etc.  I'm terribly at keeping secrets but there is a secret I just have to hold close to the vest - but 2013 will be a fun year for our business.

So, we've been a family very busy with the business of family as of late and I'm sure you're the same.  Wishing you smooth transitions back to school, peaceful mornings, a perfect cup of coffee, and a little "me" time as summer comes to a close.  Be back soon with so much more...


{tractors and dr. pepper}

It was a requirement that I have Dr. Pepper on hand at all times for whenever Uncle Mel would come over to our house.  He loved that stuff.  Trust me, after all this work he did for us for Quilt Market, I had a case of Dr. Pepper on hand! And he loved tractors.  And his dogs.  And we love him.  Oh, how we love him.

Absolutely drops me to my knees and tears fall when I read this post.  Because my gardener retires this year.  And this is exactly what he had in mind - to hang out with Uncle Mel, build stuff, garden, sell at the farmers market.  They had plans together.  We had plans.  Plans involving our families and work and spending time together.  Plans.

Uncle Mel wasn't a whole lot older than my husband or his 3 other brothers.  They were like brothers.  Best friends.  And in most recent years, he's been more to us.

On February 1st, my husband gave a letter to Uncle Mel from the two peas.  We had not been able to see him for the last several months because he was keeping everyone away.  He didn't want us to see him.  He was sick and he wanted to protect us from that pain.  On that day, the letter told Uncle Mel how much the peas loved him, appreciated him for all that he had done, thanked him again for the great time they had staying at his house over Spring Break, told him how the thing they loved best about him was how he took care of Aunt Carla, and that they knew he knew this already but they wanted to tell him again - that Jesus loved him, and to be careful on his way to heaven.

They couldn't get Mel home because he was on a ventilator - which was a result of him collapsing at home 2 days prior.  His diaphragm muscles finally quit working.  For the last couple of years, we had been trying to help get him with the right docs to figure out what was wrong with him.  Everyone said he was fine.  But he wasn't fine.  Turns out, he had ALS and I think in his heart, he knew something was drastically wrong.  And as the disease progressed, he just didn't want us to see what was going on.

He just wanted to get home.  My husband told Carla - but he is going HOME.  "And home maybe not be the house he shared with you but he is going HOME."  And they made arrangements to bring his favorite dog to the hospital.  And Jake sat on Mel's lap, and Mel spelled out that he had a great life.  And that he loved everyone and then lifted his finger and pointed at Aunt Carla, his son, my husband and Carla's brother who was there.  And then my sweet husband left him alone with Aunt Carla and Mel's only son and Jake, his dog.  And then he asked for the tube to be removed, and he went HOME.

So me, my husband, my girls and our extended family - we aren't quite up to par just yet.  I'm not even sure how to get back to my blog because the words just won't come.  I just need some time.



new year resolutions...kinda sorta


I usually don't make New Year's resolutions.  I figure, what's the point?  It's not like I'm actually going to make some dramatic changes or anything.  I mean, let's be honest.  Change is hard.  And I'm pretty settled in my ways.

But, this year...I've been thinking.  I really want some things to change.  I'm tired.  And I think I'm at the point where change is necessary or else.  This is the year.

This list, might not be of any interest to you...but if I say it, I'll do it.  And I'm gonna say it aloud so I take some action.

1) My business, this whole Two Peas thing...my "hobby"...this is the year I decide to either keep doing it publically or go underground and just sew for fun without the business aspect.   I get emailed lots and lots of questions about how to do what I do and I thought it might be good to share what my pea brain knows thus far about what I've been doing and I'll do that more here in 2012.  It just seems like there are some crafters that seem to find instant HUGE success and can make this whole handmade thing their bread and butter to provide for their family.  Wish I knew their secret.  To sew and craft for a living - like actually make a living at crafting, dream!  DREAM!!  I've certainly enjoyed success, and I am so humbled and thankful for the successes I have had and...I can't quit my day job.  I'm pretty sure because of benefits like health insurance, I won't be able to.  Ever.  I'm patiently waiting to see where God will lead me in this decision.  Plus, I love my day job too (working in higher ed and for the environment - we're tree huggers in case you didn't know).

My business is more than a business.  Which is maybe not good business?  It's my love.  My passion.  Lifelong passion, truly - I love sewing and art.  Have loved it since I could hold a crayon in my hand.  I love what I do and love sharing with others what I do.  I spend a lot of time on my business and the whole point of creating "two peas" was to afford me a small income so that I could be available to my family, AND get to do what I love.  I mean, isn't that THE DREAM?  When I was a park ranger, somebody PAID ME TO RIDE MY BIKE IN THE PARK ALL DAY.  Serious.  It was the best!  If I'm spending time away from my family in order to work my business, it needs to be worth my while, worth my absence.  You know what I mean?

But I suck at it.  At least at staying focused because my babies are only babies once, and I'm so easily distracted for one more hug, for a quick bike ride on the driveway, for snack time, etc etc etc.   My hubby says my "business" so far is still just a hobby.  And a hobby would allow me to make different decisions with my time.  Does that make sense?  I mean, if it was JUST a hobby, then to heck with deadlines, marketing, bookkeeping (oh I hate bookkeeping) blah, blah, blah.  Heck, I tell my husband all the time...I just want to sew and draw and paint and glue things together and create.  Can't somebody else do all that other number crunching stuff ?  I'm just not sure I have what it takes to be so driven to make my hobby a true business.  I love what I do - too much - and sometimes I feel like I'm sacrificing the love of it for something else.

Maybe this is "taboo" - things you shouldn't say in business publicly but I'm just being honest with myself.  I've been at it commercially for one year.  They say it takes 2-3 years for a business to hit its stride.  Being a one woman show is taxing - and I'm not sure if this is what God had in mind when I felt pulled this direction.  Anybody else feeling this way with your business?  Please tell me I'm not alone.

So my resolution here is to full on do the things I originally set out to do.  I'm going to hit it hard this year!  Sky is the limit, pie in the sky, dream the big dream, shoot for the stars.  That way, I can have no regrets.  No.  Regrets.  I'm going to figure out how to manage to balance my time so that I'm happy with my creative time, family time and business time.  No.  Regrets.  This time next year, I want to decide if this is for me or not.  Did I mention my young husband who is a law enforcement park ranger is retiring THIS YEAR.  Those law enforcement guys have a good deal going and he was recruited very young.  See...I think this is at the root of my turbulent thinking because of this drastic change for us...lots to figure out what are we doing, how we do it, where do we need to be.  It's really weighing heavily on me.

2) This is the year I vow to lose the *cough! cough* twenty pounds, give or take a few, that I gained while Sprout was having a rough go last winter.  She is still considered to be in an "ongoing diagnostic" phase as they found some neuro abnormalities but can't pin it down especially since thus far, her neurological and other developmentally milestones are all being met, thankfully.  She's even a little advanced in some areas. Funny thing, when you quit eating from stress and nerves, you gain weight, quick.  Bummer.  But this looming, waiting for the other shoe to drop feeling, kinda starts to get old after awhile.

We have been very blessed because our family received a scholarship from the Y for my girls to be on the swim team and I have access to classes and 6 hours of personal trainer time to help me figure out how to get on track with diet and exercise.  I want to get my flexibility back that I lost after having my last baby, I want energy, and I want to be able to button my pants so I don't have to buy new ones.  I've got a serious muffin top thing going on with my jeans right now and I do NOT want to spend any money on clothes.  Today, I quit drinking pop.  Cold Turkey.  I made it all the way to 3:34pm.  Then I had a Coke.  I'll try again tomorrow.  Wish me luck on that one.

3) I want to be a better steward in faith - I want to be sure that in all that I do - I do it for the right reasons.  I want to do more than just enough to get by, I want to be more centered and focused on my relationship with Christ.  I keep reminding my girls, and in a way, reminding myself, that a sin is a sin is a sin.  It doesn't matter how small, God doesn't say well, murder is REALLY bad but  lying is not as bad so...OK, you're in!  I want to live my life with God at the center of EVERYTHING I do.  Taking care of myself, my family, people around me - it all plays into where I'm placing my priorities.  First and MOST IMPORTANT, I don't want to just get by.  I want to do more.  I'm not sure what that means just yet...

4) I want to be on time.  I'm late for most everything.  I hate that about myself.  And yet, for like 20 years, I can't seem to improve it.  I'm going to set my alarm more often.  Try to keep a better, stricter schedule.  Refer back to #2.  I think that will help.  All about physically and emotionally, being healthy.  I mean, it's so bad, my friends actually tell me to be places 20 minutes early - they LIE to me, so I get there on time.  It works.  Most of the time.  But then I'm worried that if my friends are LYING to me, they are gonna go to hell (see #3).  I'm just kidding about that part.  But I am going to do better this year about being on time.

5)  I want to catch up on my laundry.  In a house of 5, it never, ever, never, ever stops and I'm always like 7 loads behind the eight ball even when I do a load or two EVERY DAY.  Ugh.  I vow to declutter our laundry heap, simplify our clothing choices, and use those vaccuum storage bag things so I have a space to put off season clothes away (did I mention we live in a small house with very small closets...love the house, hate my closets.)

6) I want to simplify.  I'm tired of having "stuff".  I want less "stuff" and more open space.  Refer to #5.  I decluttered every room of the house this year and finished just before Christmas.  I'm going to do it all over again...and really pare down.  Almost everything we own is a hand me down and I have a hard time saying no - I'm a flea market, thrift store, junk loving kind of girl.  But I need to simplify.  PURGE will be my favorite word for January and February and March and April and....

7)  I want to be a better friend, reconnect with old friends.  There are people that used to be really important in my life and they have faded away.  I want to reconnect.

8. I want to be a better wife.  I pray about this ALOT.  I try to practice submission with my husband (well, the kind where I tell him he's the head of the house and he has the final say but really, I pretty much always get my way, kind of submission.  Right?  That's how it works isn't it?  I really do let him lead but we are 100% a team).  I want to be everything he needs me to be and support him as best I can.  I want to always make him happy and feel loved and appreciated.  I want to say "yes" more than I say "no" because that always ends up working in my favor anyway.  What?  Oh, come on girls.  That is not a secret. Right?!

9)  I want to volunteer at my kids school while I can.  5th graders, this is their last year in elementary school.  Can I put them in a bubble and stop them from turning into teenagers?  Please?  I know I still have 2 years and 2 months before they hit their teens but I'm working so hard to keep them little and age appropriate in a world that wants them to to be 17 when they are 10.  It's such a battle - and I mean, one that I wield a shield and sword for - to keep images, music, television, and situations, age appropriate to MY standards.  To hell with the standards of the world, it's our rules, our standards.  It requires me to preview movies, google search lyrics to songs before they download them, and it's sometimes freaking exhausting.  But they are the sweetest, most compassionate, generous, loving, faithful, inspiring, energetic, appreciative, down to earth girls I know.  And that has nothing to do with me...that's all them.  I don't want to miss a moment of any stage of their life.  Even, gasp, the teen years.

10)  Become debt free.  This economy sucks right now.  This goes back to #1 and the hubby retiring.  Debt free will do much to alleviate my anxiety over our future.  Pipe dream maybe because I'm talking the whole she-bang.  Mortgage and all.  I guess I better start playing the lottery.  This one is maybe less of "resolution" and more of a dream.

I think that about covers it all.  Wait, I want to drink more water too.  Anyway, just a few little resolutions...How about you?  Make any resolutions this year?

{Ho! Ho! Homemade!}

It's kinda nice when Christmas lasts more than just one day.  We have family here in town and elsewhere across the state and our "Christmas" lasts at least a week.  No complaints from the Peas or Sprout, for sure.

We visited with my Mom and Dad last week.  It was "Ho! Ho! Homemade Holidays!" for sure.  My parents are both in their late seventies and honestly, what the heck do you buy when truly, they either already have it or they don't want it.

I'm very blessed in that my parents take very good care of themselves.  My Mom will see some older person, shuffling along slowly, and she will lean over and say, "I don't ever want to be like that".  So my Mom and Dad, work out.  At least twice a week or more, they go to the gym and do the weight machines, walk the track, treadmill, etc.  And they don't skip for nothing!  When the peas were visiting with them, they packed them up and had them come along.  It's really important to them to keep it up and I'm so thankful for their good health at this stage of their life.

I digress.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, homemade holidays...can't buy them anything, yadda, yadda, yadda.

So, as I do for most celebrations with them, I make something.  Here's a few of the oddities and such I gifted them this year.

  • A pillow made from my Farmhouse Funk pillow pattern.
  • A quilted wall hanging.  I added family photos to it and some other tidbits like lace, yarn, buttons, etc to it as well.  I used that computer fabric paper stuff.  THIS is what I used.  My parents really loved it.  It was pretty quick to make too!  The photos were hard copies I put on our printer and made color copies of using that printable fabric.  Could not be easier!
  • Love the stuff Joel Dewberry has out right now.  I made this little travel pouch and a patchwork scarf for my Mum too!   I won't tell you EXACTLY how old my Mom is but does she look like she is in her very late seventies?!  Heck no!!  She looks fab!

I had a bunch of other things I gave her too like a cool paper garland, some mason jars covered with a felted sweater and appliqued, and a bag...you know when you're little and you make a picture, how exciting that was to give to your parents and they would tack it up on the refrigerator?  That feeling never grows old.  I love making stuff for my parents.

Remember me talking about the meltdown Sprout had about wanting a bike at our North Pole party?  Guess what?  The grandparents came through and man, was she one tickled little girl!  She wakes up and says, "Can we go out in the ga-rawg so I can wing my bell?".  Too cute!!  She had been eyeing this old fashioned display that was in the window of our local hardware store - 2 years running now - with all the retro Radio Flyer toys.  She's been dreaming of this little red bike for a long time.

We've enjoyed our time off from school and work.  Lots of fun sewing, hiking and visiting with family and friends.  It was actually pretty warm over the holiday and we enjoyed being outside.  Love hiking over at "Daddy's park" where he is a Park Ranger.  (Note my sewing assistant taking a break - normally, while I sew, she stands behind me and twirls MY hair while she sucks her thumb.  It's a pretty good system we've worked out)

As I sit here and type this morning, the snow is flying and we are all so glad to see it!  Hope it dumps on us and stays for a long time!  Hiking in the new snow is way amazing and I miss it.  AND...We are ready to pull out the sleds and cross country skis for sure!

Did you sew up anything for the holidays?  Do share!  Would love to see what you crafted up over the holidays!

{to the NORTH POLE}

My twins, the peas, are now 10 years old.  The magic of Christmas is still very much alive in our house.  When I saw this posted, I knew I had to throw this party. I love the internet for finding party ideas - and this one was so simple yet so magical.  I loved it!  We kept the party a secret from our girls until the day before the party which was the last day of school.  I had invited one friend for each girl - I wanted to keep it intimate.  If you read the post where the idea came from, you'll see that the party consisted of lots of lights, cookies and milk, story time, and a gift exchange.  The girls absolutely LOVED it!

I may have gone just a tad bit overboard with the lights and decorations...but quite frankly, I don't care.  It was so much fun!!

A word to the wise...the snow in the can...skip it.  We held the can back from the window and adjusted how close, the result was the same. Zig-zaggy lines on the window.  In the dark, it wasn't as noticeable as it is in the picture.

Making the jars of reindeer food, a HUGE hit!  The kids loved this.  Most especially Sprout...she was so excited to do fill her jar with treats for Santa's reindeer.  I found the little printables with the reindeer food poem HERE.

The big girls there, those are friends from church...they were kind enough to come and be our "elves" during the scavenger hunt.  Yeah, um, so December 22nd here in Ohio...we had flood warnings.  It poured down rain from noon clear until about 11pm.  No scavenger hunt.  We played a round of Twister instead.  That's Christmasy, right?

Oh the milk and cookies!  I hadn't had ANY holiday sweets yet this season and it was so yummy to taste all the different cookies the girls brought to share!  My big girls were pretty good about how many they ate but Sprout...I really have no idea how many that girl consumed.  She was taking bites out of everything, up and down in her seat and all over the place.

After cookies, we headed down by the fireplace where the Gardener (the peas and sprouts daddy) read a couple of Christmas stories.  The big girls were all giggly and couldn't sit still.  Sprout loved it.  She LOVES to read so she kept "shushing" the big girls.  (and what is that over my head in the photo of me and Sprout?  THAT is an elk.  The Gardener is also an avid hunter.  Not exactly my taste in decor but I compromise - cuz I love him so).

And we ended with a little gift exchange.  Now, you know how you teach your children good manners and you hope they won't disappoint you?  Sprout and her little friend Lily exchanged their gifts.  Lily, sweet Lily, so graciously thanked Sprout and loved her gift (a little wristlet I made).  Sprout, who at this point was tired, way sugared up and all, opens her gift, Candy Land - the game.  The big girls responded with "Oh, cool!".

Sprout crosses her arms, with a big pout and says, "I wanted a bike!".  A bike?  Really?  Whose kid is this?  She proceeded to have a little melt down and went upstairs with Dad to chill and came back to apologize and ask forgiveness.  And then sat down and played Candy Land and did just fine the rest of the night, um, mostly.  Ah, to be 3.

I'm a little worried about how Christmas morning is going to go.  Pretty sure her grandparents, who she won't see until just before New Year's, "might" have gotten her the bike she wanted that was in the window at the hardware store for the last two years (a little red Radio Flyer with a "bell and the streamers") - just like she wanted.  Honestly, this kid has never had a melt down like that before so it just stunk that happened with her little friend.  I'm working on her though...

It was a good night.  One I hope my girls remember, as they get older - so they remember the magic of Christmas and how special it is.  How magical it is that God sent us His son to save us.  A savior.

Beyond the lights, the milk and cookies, the gifts and glitter - the beauty of this night is simple.  Love.  Sharing time with friends in celebration of the most amazing gift ever.

Merry Christmas - from our family to yours.  May God bless you and your family in this coming year.

{going to special places}

One night last week, I went someplace that I had not been to in a very long time.  I hadn't even thought about this place in many years.  The last time I was there, I was maybe 12 years old, at best.

But when I walked in, everything was exactly as I remembered it.  No one was home but coming through the front door, I could feel the sun warm me as it came through the sliding glass doors opposite the front door.  There was candy in the dish that sat on the dining room hutch just like I remembered it.  In the kitchen, I immediately found the vintage juice jar that I remembered my grandmother using and the little glasses she served the juice in.  The table was tucked away along the wall, tablecloth covering it but no plate of butterscotch cookies like she used to make.

The floors looked the same.  The light switches made the same sound when you flipped them on that I remembered.  The doorknobs turned the way I remembered and my feet made the same sound I remembered when I walked across the hardwood floor in the spare bedroom I used to nap in.

And then I heard some laughing, and there was a fire in the fireplace, and I found some things that I had never seen before in a box in the corner.  And someone said to me, "Those are for you - we've been saving them up to give to you".  When I turned around, I was so excited to see it was my Grandfather.  I hadn't seen him or hardly thought about him in the almost 30 years since he passed away when I was a child.  He looked exactly as I remembered him.  He had the same funny laugh and sweet appalachian accent that I hadn't heard in forever.  He and my grandmother used to call me "tree-sha" and would say things like "mursh-rooms" or "worsch"  (Tricia, mushrooms and wash if you're not from Southern Ohio).

I don't know what prompted this dream.  It was so vivid.  So real.  For days, I haven't been able to get him out of my mind.  When I woke up, I remembered every single detail of that dream which is rare.  I've poured back over those memories a thousand times since that night and I can't stop thinking about his face and his eyes and his smile and that moment.

I don't believe in ghosts and I'm not really sure I will ever be able to explain what prompted that dream.  But it was so comforting.  I felt like I was being watched as I grew.  That I was being nurtured and cared for.  That he was still with me even though not physically.  He still knew me even though I had grown so much since he saw me last.  He knew me and he loved me.  And I remembered how much I loved him.

I have only had a dream that was so vivid and that I remembered that well one other time, and that was about my sister who also passed away when I was a child.  I think I was 15 or 16 when I had that dream and she died before I was even 2 years old (she was 15 when she died).  It does make me wonder if we visit with those we love who have passed on in our dreams...that when we close our eyes, we allow ourselves to go places that sometimes are too painful to think about when our eyes are open.

It sure made me smile though, being in that place, remembering the sights and sounds and smells and the feel of that special place...and hearing a familiar voice and seeing a familiar face.  Whatever it was, it was good.

{squash pie, yep!}

My husband, the Gardener, as I refer to him, had a pretty hefty harvest this year of butternut squash.  Oh...how he toiled over these vines as they grew.  Bahahaha!  No, really, he didn't.

These were volunteers from our compost bin from winter.  25 volunteers mind you.  TWO - FIVE.  That's a lotta volunteers friends.  What do you do with all that squash?  Make mash of course.

So last week, I cleaned, sliced in half and placed all 25 of these babies on foil lined pans.  Added a bit of water bath to the pan and baked at around 400' for almost an hour.  The skins come right off pretty much and then I mashed them, keeping a few chunks in there.  After it cools, I bag them and freeze them.

My Mother-in-Law, aka the worlds GREATEST pumpkin pie baker (sorry Mom, but it's true - my MIL has you beat by a mile).  She makes REAL squash pies.  Pumpkin or butternut squashes, etc makes no difference.  She adds milk, eggs, sugar, spices and salt and holy toledo - what comes out IS a slice of heaven.  A little chunky but real - real squash pie.  Not from a can.  REAL.  Ya gotta try it!  You'll never go back to the can.

And the rest of the mash - soup.  Did I mention I am awesome at soup making?  I believe I have...I'll say it again.  I rule at the soup thing. Give me a ring - you and I can get together for some squash soup, ok?

(I'll bring back the Monday Mornings Inspiration next week - any ideas where you want to see this go?  I'd love to have more people tooting their horns there!)


{the peas and their "sheepish" smiles}

I have been busy as a bee...sewing for art shows and preparing the peas for their sheep show in 4H. It's the Guys and Gals Lead and the show consists of the participants wearing outfits made from wool, leading their lambs around the arena, and modeling their outfit for the judges.

Thinking about being "green", we went to thrift store and shopped for wool sweaters that we could refashion.  We found a grey wool skirt and a load of sweaters.

I literally, had no idea what I would do.  I thought I would do some patchwork but honestly, until I put the scissors to everything...it just came as I went along.

I started with the grey skirt.  I cut off roughly 10" or so and added a ruffle hem.  Then, using the excess fabric I made a ruffle and sewed that onto the hem and added more of that ruffle to the green cardigan sweater.  With just a little bit left of that excess fabric, I made a rosette for a belt and also to add to her hat.  ZERO WASTE.  I used up every bit of what I cut off of the skirt.  And since I had no ideas on this skirt and just made it up as I went along - I am SUPER happy with how it turned out.  I wish it fit me.  I may need to pattern this because I just love the fit and flare!

The other outfit I knew I wanted a very full twirly skirt.  I cut patches of cottons and sweaters and pieced them together.  I couldn't put right sides together because the seams turned out REALLY bulky using the sweaters.  So instead, I just overlapped them and zigzagged across the outside to tack the edges down.  I wasn't sure how that would turn out but it worked great and you can't even tell the seams are on the outside.  Plus, the seams all lay so nice and flat - there was really no other way to do it I don't think.

I really wanted these outfits to have a vintage but modern spin and I think we achieved that.  We even found cute vintage wool hats at the thrift store.

Well, the show was last night and the peas had a blast.  We all did.  Ok, maybe not so much Sprout.  It was way past her bedtime AND she was kind of ticked that she wasn't showing.  There was a 3 year old class.  Next year Sprout, we promise!

My green pea showed with little lamb Carly, a tunis, and my little peachy pea showed with little lamb Allie, a suffolk.  Both lambs borrowed from two very sweet families.  The peas were happy to have the Gardener there to talk to some of the other Dads to get the low-down on sheep because they want some of their own asap.  Which means a lot of work and expenses - so we told the girls there has to be much research done before we make any commitments.  Owning livestock is a big responsibility you don't just jump into on a whim.  But the girls are old enough to take it on themselves and so we will just need to thoughtfully consider it .

So how did they do in their show?  Well, they are judged on their ability to control the animal, the animal itself with the majority of points based on the outfit and their modeling.

The peas took 1st and 2nd in their class!  We were so excited but the peas were OVER THE MOON!!  I thought it might be an issue that one beat the other one out but they were ok with that.  And their 4H advisor bought them a milkshake to celebrate.  THAT was heaven for these girls!!

Earlier in the week, one of the peas competed in the Pocket Pets program with her hamster and she took 5th place in that show.  (that's her below in her interview and then with her award).  They have gotten to miss some school, hang out with their friends, watch their friends win (wow!  our club has done awesome!) and eat fair food (oh sweet heaven, steak sandwiches and elephant ears, and rootbeer).  Sprout slept through most of it (note the pink boots - that's all she wears these days.  If I had pink cowgirl boots, it's all I would wear too!)

This was their first year and they have had made the most amazing memories - it's one of those things that as a parent, I know that this week will be something so special to them as they grow.  It's been a great experience for our family.

4H is everywhere!  Rural and Urban and they have tons of projects ranging from robotics to bicycles and sports, health and nutrition...not just livestock and animals.  It's a fantastic program and I HIGHLY recommend you check it out for your kids!

And now...maybe we can get back to a normal schedule somewhat.  Maybe.

{Summers last hurrah}

Summers last hurrah.  Before school starts.  And homework.  And the leaves start to change color.  And fall from the trees.  That last little chance to grab onto a bit of summer before it's gone for the year.

As a kid, I loved spending time at my Grandparents house in Roseville, Ohio (near Zanesville).  Running around barefoot and staying up late.  Eating ice cream and playing with her dog.  Visiting around town.  Things I fall back on many times when I need a nice place to let my mind drift off to.

So this summer, we decided to save some money and take a quick trip close to home for vacation.  We stayed at one of our state parks, Dillon State Park, in a cabin for a week.  It was very inexpensive, the cabin was perfect, and we had a fabulous time together.  Which, together, is really all that matters.

We went hiking up hills.  Down hills.  Along the ridgeline above the lake.  The Gardener (aka my husband and the Two Peas Daddy), led us through many, many, many, oh yes, MANY, spider webs.  Wow, are those buggers prolific spinning their silks from tree limb to tree limb across the trails.  I pulled out my iPhone and video taped some of our hike, which had us all laughing.  One, features me, um, screaming, as I walked through a spider web with a spider in it as big as my head (ok, really it was like the size of a crumb but still...) and the other is of our Two Peas singing.  Hand motions and all.  Songs from daycamp that they had learned the week before.  Sprout got a little tired and was carried much of the way.  I mean, her legs ARE kinda short.

We biked the trail at the Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve.  We did 8 miles (and we were all a bit saddle sore the next day).  It's an awesome level trail that takes you past beautiful rock features and along the river bank.  One of the peas needed to stop for a break and as we all stopped, a Bald Eagle that was perched just feet from the trail edge, took off down the river corridor.  We had spooked it but how awesome it was to see it that close up!

We made many stops along the way and the Gardener and I called upon our many collective years working in natural resources and taught the girls all about the rocks and plants and trees and animals we saw along the way.  "Hear that?  That's a Kingfisher!  Look!  There he goes!  He's fishing for food!".  "Oh!  See that down on that rock?  That turtle with a long snout?  That's a soft shell turtle.  He doesn't have a hard shell like the other turtles you've seen.  He's sunning himself".  "This spiny seed pod...can you guess what might be inside?  A BUCKEYE!  Carry one around in your pocket and it will bring you good luck!".

Sprout wasn't exactly thrilled with the bike rides we took.  She really wants to be like the big girls and ride a bike herself but I'm pretty sure she also really enjoyed napping in her buggy behind Daddy's bike.

She got over her bike riding disappointment when we went swimming almost everyday at the lake.  And the girls dug in the sand.   And flew kites.  And made new friends.  And swam.  And did cartwheels.  And played on the playground.  And dug, and dug, and dug (what is it about sand?  They played for hours digging and building!).

They even had a wading pool above the beach area and I think Sprout would have slept here if we let her.  The girl is a fish.  If she could swim across the pool I think she'd be ready to join swim team with her sisters.

And if you are anywhere near Zanesville, Ohio - a quick jump from the highway you will find Tom's Ice Cream Bowl.  I imagine my grandmother must have taken me here a time or two as I was growing up.  This place looks much like it did when it opened more than 50 years ago.  Very much the old fashioned ice cream shop.  The ice cream was delish!  And everyone working there was super nice and made you feel like family!  We may or may not have stopped there one last time before we headed home at the end of our week.  Ok, we HAD to!

I took a book to read while we were there.  Not one page did I read.  I just stared off into the woods and listened to the cicadas.  And played with the kids.  Or sat with the Gardener.  And cooked lots of yummy meals that we ate on the screened in porch.  One thing I think the peas will remember forever is that I bought a lot of snacks and foods I NEVER have at home - and they were told so long as they ate at meal time, they could help themselves to any snack, anytime.  They freaked out!  That was a big treat for them!  Chips and sweet tea and oreos and frozen waffles...I never buy frozen waffles!  (that was really a plot to get them to make their own breakfast while the Gardener and I slept in a little longer.  Worked like a charm).

We visited with one of my grandmothers old friends and drove by their old farm.  It made me cry.  My grandparents have been gone for a very long time and I miss them a lot.  I have a lot of good memories about being a kid and wandering around that big farm house of theirs and running around town to visit with friends.  Many of those experiences and people that we met helped shape who I am today.  And visiting places like that and seeing them again - brings me peace.  And joy.  And makes me feel "at home", that comfortable feeling of being where you belong and appreciating where you have been.

I'll share more about that later.  More about our visit with old friends...for now, I have a lot A LOT of work to do.  SO MANY NEW PATTERNS...so NOT done yet.  SO close...so very close!

{ah, vacation}

Hiking.  Biking.  Swimming.  Sand castle building.  Ice cream eating.  Bird watching.  Kite flying.  Visiting very old friends.  Playing in clay and sculpting.  Vacation was good.  Gonna have to do the required purge and make you all endure a few posts about our trip we took last week with our family.  Just giving fair warning - no sewing posts this week.  Just family stuff.  You ok with that?  

: : eat, work, sleep, repeat : :

One of the first rules in blogging is nobody wants to hear you apologize for not blogging.  Because I'm quite certain no one is waiting with baited breath for me to drop my next post so I won't apologize for being mostly absent. Since the kids have been out of school, I, um, apparently don't have time to work anymore or much of anything else so that I can cart my kids around town to all of their activities.  Right?  You are in this same boat with me I'm sure...and I would not change any of it most of it for anything in the world.  There is just something about summer, unscheduled pool visits and late nights playing outside and impromptu ice cream stops that just make life very happy.

Via my iphone...and for the benefit of my kids someday, when they read this and when they complain to me about how busy they are with THEIR kids - oh please girls - your Momma has SOOO been there.

The videos we made for Simplicity will be available on their website, available to retailers and my understanding, at kiosks in JoAnns where they will be selling these Simplicity machines.

Candie does amazing felt work and jewelry designs that are fabulous!  And she's a hoot!  You should visit her blog and check it out - it was a whole new world to me to see the work she does.

Carolee was a blast to talk to - her daughters all work with her in her scrapbooking business that now includes fabric and ALSO clothing?!  She has a boutique line that I love, love, love!  You'll find Carolee's fabulous stuff here at AdornIt!  Click on the Boutique section to see the fabulous clothing they have - I swooned!

I had to promptly hang it in my peas room afterwards...please tell me your kids have hundreds of stuffed animals on their beds too, right?



As a reward, we let the girls get ice cream from the ice cream truck.  It was funny because my girls were like, "What's that music?  What is that??" - living in the country, they had not seen an ice cream truck before.  They loved it!

In between all of these things in the last two weeks I tried, although not very well, to work at my day job too (had to take vacation days just to take care of my family!).  If you've emailed me or requested something...I will get to it eventually but it would be a good idea to message me again as a reminder.  Just sayin'...

I'd like to say things are winding down but swim, swim, swimming this week, 4H sewing clinic and sleep away camp later this week.  PLUS...I may or may not be filming some sewing classes to offer online!

What are you up to this summer?




Letter to Sprout

Dear Sprout,

3 years ago today, we welcomed you into our family of four and became a family of five.  You have been the brightest star in our family and have brought countless joys and smiles to your father and me and your sisters too! I think I may have been so busy when your sisters were little because there were two of them at once, that I missed some of the wonderful little baby things.  I am so glad I had the experience with you - to take care of you, nurse you, rock you, and hold only you.  You were a very good baby and we wondered if you would ever cry because you rarely ever were sad.

You share your birthday with my oldest sister, your Aunt, who is in heaven.  I sometimes wonder if that makes your grandmother sad because I miss my sister terribly and I know she does too.  But I think you have brought back a visible celebration to this day that I know my sister enjoys with you.  I always feel her in my heart and I know that our smiles on your birthday (and hers) would make her very happy.

I don't really have words to describe how much I have enjoyed being your Mom Sprout.  Maybe having my "Mom" confidence from having twins first helped me to enjoy you more as an infant and now as a toddler.  But there is something about you.  I love my life so much more with you and your sisters in it.  Before you were even conceived, I knew you were out there.  I dreamed about you so many nights.  I couldn't wait to meet you.  But I knew you were out there waiting to come to our family.  Your Dad knew it too.  We talked about you a lot, for years before you ever came to our family.

I love how funny you are.  How you make us laugh when you try to act like your sisters.  When you fake laugh because you hear them laughing and it makes us all laugh even harder because you are forcing this funny fake laugh.  I love when you say grace at dinner time with your hands folded and your pointy finger out and you say, "thank you God for this and this and this and this and that and that and this.  Amen" as you point to everything on your plate and then around the table to your Dad and I and your sisters.

I wish I could keep you little forever because this has truly been one of the most precious moments in my life.  With all 3 of my girls around, I can't help but be so incredibly thankful for my life here on earth.  Your birth, sweet Sprout, is a gift from heaven.  My love for you reaches to heaven and back.

Your hair twirling, thumb sucking ways has all of us wrapped around your finger.  There isn't much we ever say no to when it comes to you - you're too cute and too sweet and too lovable.  Who could ever refuse you?  (although we do at times and you scold us terribly...which just makes all of us, including your sisters give in.  I'm sure we may regret that someday but for now, it just makes us smile).

Today is your birthday.  The day I became the mother of 3 wonderful little girls.  20 minutes after you were born, I asked if I could go home because I really was feeling quite fine and just wanted to take you home.  They made me stay exactly 24 hours...and then your Daddy packed you up and took us both home on a warm sunny Spring day where your grandparents and sisters were waiting for you.  (Your sisters were REALLY excited because they knew I had some "baby's homecoming gifts for THEM" and they couldn't wait to open their gifts!)  

On Easter Sunday, we celebrated your 3rd birthday with cousins and Aunts and Uncles and your grandparents.  You got a really cool Dora the Explorer bike that you squealed in delight when you saw it.  And I thought about how Easter, how we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus and the gift we were all given in that moment, a promise of everlasting life.  What better gift could we ever receive.

Happy Birthday sweet Sprout.  I love you all the way to heaven and back, infinity.



Knock, knock! Remember me?

Forgive me for dropping off the face of the earth.  We have been quite busy around these parts.  Doing dishes.  Homework. 4H.  Work.  Play. Etc. I really didn't mean to be absent quite so long.  I posted back here about our Sprout and I'm happy to say that the news does continue to improve.  Not fully out of the woods and our long term prognosis to developing complications is not all that favorable but as testing continues, at this moment, we breathe a little easier with each positive note.  We adore our neurologist and will be working with another specialist soon to be a 2nd (actually a 3rd or 4th - she has quite the team advocating for her) set of eyes on her case.  We are thankful that things are no where near as bleak as they first presented.

But that leads me to priorities.  I don't know if you know all of what I do - much like many of you - my life is very busy.  I know I've mentioned this many times about how we as women are multi-taskers and not always to our betterment.  But if someone were to ask me one of my weaknesses, well, I over multi-task.

I have a sensitive and generous husband.  I am the mother of 3 children.  I have a fledgling business that grew from an artful love and family traditions.  I work outside the home in a part time in a job that I still enjoy as it has evolved over the years and where I feel like I truly touch lives in such a positive way.  I try to keep up my home though mostly unsuccessfully.  Clean but often cluttered?  And as I frequently tell myself, a messy house is a house that is well lived in and where there is a lot of love going around (well, that's my "excuse" at least).   My kids will be grown and gone before I know it so I try not to miss too many moments.  This is what people say when they have messy houses though, isn't it?  :>)

Blogging and all of this business stuff and the fun stuff of sewing / designing is time consuming.  I love it.  I do.  I do. I do.  But as of late, it is my hearts desire to be sure that I find just the right balance.  I've been working, yet again (as it seems I often attempt and fail at prioritizing) on adjusting my schedule so that I have plenty of family time, husband time, kids time, house time, sewing time, business time...in the last few weeks, I've just found myself snuggling with Sprout or the peas or my hubby and saying to heck with much else.  Because really, in the end, they are my entire world.  Everything else, as wonderful as it may be, doesn't come close to filling my heart up like those 3 little people and that hubby of mine does.

I have a long list of blog topics and I'll be working on getting those up and running and scheduled.  But if I grow quiet - feel free to chime in and check on me!  I'm just working on trying to figure out how to schedule it all in...work, fun, sewing fun, connecting with friends far and wide, family time and date nights.  How do you manage it all?  I 'd love to hear your advice!

The first thing I've started doing lately is sticking to a quitting time.  Deciding on working hours and keeping to it.

I've also unplugged a bit.  Outside of peeking in here and there from my iphone, I'm staying offline a bit more these days hoping to sneak in more sewing time.

My husband and I are also working on making my sewing room more of a work space.  (It currently holds a beautiful antique bed and serves as a guest room too!) but soon the bed will disappear and I'll get to stretch my legs a bit more in there.  Since I hired Courtney from our church to work for me handling shipments, etc - it has gotten very crowded in my little sewing studio / guest room.   The new improved room will have a place for packaging orders, collating patterns, and gasp, perhaps more room for fabric!

Plus, we are sorting (who am I kidding I, I AM sorting) toys and clothes and paring down.  Trying to simplify as much as I can.  And I've been praying a whole lot about being the person that God created me to be for my husband.  It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day and kids and work and become just Mom and Dad.  Husband and Wife come first - the family foundation, and I've really been setting my heart at making sure that my man is happy, content and cared for.  It's something I pray about a lot.

SO THIS IS ME KNOCKING AT YOUR SCREEN...I'm still here.  Promise.  Just prioritizing.  Adjusting my schedule some.  I haven't dropped off the face of the earth.  Promise.



Sew Sweet...

In my mailbox yesterday was one, oh SEW SWEET surprise!  I have been very blessed to have a great relationship with the editors at Sew Hip magazine.  They have published 4 of my projects previously.

This time, I got a full feature interview!  Wow oooh wow oh WOW!   And my little Sprout and the Two Peas are also pictured in the article - they were sort of thrilled.  One of the peas said, "It's not like anybody except sewers reads it".  I'm sorry...are there other kinds of people in the world?  Cuz baby, sewers..that's MY PEEPS!

I know that locally, our Barnes and Noble carries Sew Hip as well as our JoAnn fabrics stores.  This will be the April issue, Issue 27, which should be out on newstands in a few weeks.  Of course, I'll be getting a stack of extra copies.  One for each of my kids for their memory boxes and one for my parents!

While trying to type up my little "toot my own horn" post - Sprout came in to snuggle.  She loves the photo booth app on the Macs.  Hence this cute pic.

If you follow me on Twitter, etc you may have heard me tweet about the tough road we are on with our Sprout.  She is experiencing some difficult medical issues currently and I probably don't want to say much more than that as it's very private and I'm maybe in a bit of denial.  All of the tests are not done so we are still waiting.  It has resulted in many sleepless nights and I'm trying to really focus hard on trusting that God has my back.  I can not change whatever it is but I can have faith that God will lead us.   I hired an office assistant this week to help with some of my daily tasks of running the business so that I could free my arms up for more of this cuddle time.  Immense amounts of cuddle time are now written into my daily schedule - I like it that way.

But Sprout may have also come into my office not just for a snuggle - it might have something to do with the candy jar I keep on my desk.

Who can resist Jolly Ranchers and dark chocolates?  Happy weekend all...



The spiritual side...

Hard for me to recap Quilt Market without touching on what it all really meant to me, spiritually.  For those of you rolling your eyes and muttering, "oh, here she goes with the Jesus thing"...yes, the Jesus thing. If I'm to be honest about what matters most to me then sharing that is just as important as the glitz and photo ops.  I had a pastor once say that it doesn't really matter if the whole Jesus thing is real or not - living our lives to be good to one another, to find peace and contentment in prayer - what does it hurt?  If it all turns out to be a hoax then our lives still would have been better for the faith we have had.  Well, at least that's how I view it.

So, for me, launching our business is much more meaningful than you can imagine.  It's been in the making for about 6 years now.  It's been a lot of work.  A lot of planning.  A lot of sacrifice.

As we were taking off from Columbus to Houston, I had this intense sense of being surrounded by angels.  I also had a really strong feeling of being supported by my sister and my grandmother.  Both have passed on many years ago and both were wonderful seamstresses.  I never spent enough time with my sister because I was only 3 when she died but I know that my Grammy (the one whose photo is in my Patsy Ann Apron Top pattern) taught her to sew.  For some reason, my mind was flooded with thoughts of them and how excited they both would be if they could see what I was about to embark on.

For all the exciting things that happened and are still evolving from my trip to Houston, I am extremely humbled and grateful.  I have prayed for so long for answers, for a light to my path, to help our family find a way to get to where we needed to be.

One of those prayers has always been for my peas.  Twins are high risk and my pregnancy included a 2+ week hospital stay and then more bedrest and medications to keep them until 36 weeks.  I had to stay on my back 24/7.  Eat laying down.  Bathe lying down.  And when they were born, they were perfect.  They are perfect.  But as time has progressed, we have discovered small things that have been stumbling blocks in their development.  Multiple things.  And this long complicated puzzle we have slowly watched year to year as they grow, started to come together within days after I got home from Houston.

I won't go into detail as it is quite private but it was a moment, when I was sitting watching clinicians perform assessments and I was sobbing as I watched.  It's heartbreaking to see your children struggle and feel helpless.

And as the days progress, and our business grows, I see that the Lord HAS answered those prayers.  For that exact moment brought new realities for us and new challenges and I could see now, that THIS was the time that HE had chosen for our family.  This was, this IS the right time.  For many reasons.

Sometimes, when we pray for what we want, it's hard to be patient and wait.  And not know if you'll ever get what you asked for.  I didn't exactly get what I asked for but I got what I needed, what our family needed.  And I am humbled.  And grateful.  And for the 6 years we have also waited on a diagnosis for our peas, I am thankful to know what, how, and where to go.  Mothers just want to do it all for our kids, make everything better but there are some things, I just can't do.  Those are the things that make me cry.  Then.  And now as I write this.  Because I just want them to not be frustrated, or struggle, or to give up.

I think that since my husband and I have made certain that this business is a full on family affair, it's given our peas a sense of pride, and ownership, and accomplishment.  They are part of the success, what little ones we can claim at the moment, and we wholeheartedly celebrate everything that those beautiful girls are to us.

This post may not have made much sense to you but the spiritual side of this experience has been very heavy on my heart.  I do feel God's hand in all that we do and I do feel extremely blessed, for whatever may come, I know that God always has a way to provide for us.  Now more than ever, it's an answer to a prayer.



Making Summer last...

We usually take a summer vacation but this year...it just didn't work out.  The girls and I were both sad to miss the beach as this is the first time since they've been born that we couldn't go.  (Um wait...maybe second, I think we skipped the year Sprout was born too). So we decided we would stay home and do loads of fun things.  And we did...my feet are still aching from all the walking and my thighs...enjoyed the pizza and pop and other goodies we had as well.

One of the things I liked best was that I got to sleep in my own bed every night.  And I didn't have to pack.  And there weren't any long drives...well, except to Cincinnati.  That was a couple of hours.  But it was a fun week.

A few of the things we did included a boat ride down the Ohio River.  It was a lunch cruise and it was yummy.  Sprout ate a ton of food!  And perhaps two pieces of cake...or at least licked all the frosting off of two pieces of cake.  "Banjo Bob" played old time music and gave us a lot of history about the area.  It was really nice and the kids loved it.

After our lunch cruise, we hit the Newport Aquarium.  The shark tank...SO COOL!  The girls even got to pet a shark!  Who pets a shark?!?  That's crazy!

One thing the girls had been looking forward to for weeks and weeks was WEDNESDAY.  We had decided to let them get hamsters but not until our vacation week.  So Wednesday, we adopted Poppy and Daisy.  I am now somewhat regretting this decision.  They are so excited and love them.  Me...they are cute and the novelty has already worn off, soon after the stink.  It's mild but the big one, Daisy, stinks.  Sigh.

The Columbus Zoo is amazing.  The animal exhibits...fabulous.  But we didn't go to the zoo to see animals.  Because our zoo also has a golf course, huge water park and an amusement park area.  We went for the rides.  We never ride the rides at the zoo.  Because we go to see the animals.  But this week, we went JUST to ride the rides for once.  And to see the new polar bears.  Both...wow!  So much fun!

I think I rode the elephants at least 8 times with Sprout.  Um, the girl is like the energizer bunny.  Never stopped.  Never fussed.  Loved every minute.  Until about 5pm.  Then she totally just passed out in her stroller.  So cute.  Woke up 30 minutes later asking to go back on the elephants.

But for the Gardener and I, the Polar Bears were amazing!  You can view them from underneath or from the water surface...they played, they chased fish, they stuck their head in a bucket.  I was standing like 3 feet away from a polar bear.  3 FEET!  It left me speechless...squeeling and laughing with delight but no words.  Just...wow!

It was fun to watch the girls have such a great time.  Watching your kids just enjoy themselves, smile, laugh, run, play, ask for things and we said yes, yes, yes, all week...it was really nice.  Really joyful.  Really blessed.  How are you making your summer last these days before school begins?



{a heavy heart}

It's been a strange few weeks as of late. I want to be a glass is half full kind of girl but mine has soured milk in it and it's making me look over my shoulder and say, "hey, who put this here?  This isn't good".

Started with best friends of ours announcing they were divorcing.  Felt like a sucker punch to the gut.  Totally didn't see that coming.  Just decided they'd be best friends to one another but just wanted different things.  No hard feelings.  Just wanted to move on.  My heart is heavy and grieving for the loss.  The first one of the week.

The second loss came days later.  Do you remember not long ago, back here...where I was sharing with you that we had a friend we were helping to care for with terminal cancer?  His wife was not / is not well.  She really didn't have the capacity to advocate for his care in the end and we tried to get social workers to intervene as they could to make sure he was comfortable and cared for properly.   I'm starting to think maybe his wife has Alzheimer's because her behavior has been erratic and mean and down right, kind of crazy.  She either has called here to yell at my husband about silly things like, the fact he didn't gas her car up (that still had half a tank full) on a Sunday afternoon like she wanted.  He offered to come at 8am the next morning to do it but that just made her mad.  But she has called here at least twice to yell at him, curse him and then hang up on him for not coming right when she called saying she can't depend on him for anything.  He'd call our friend and say, "Good Morning, this is Mr. Preston..." and "click!".  So odd since she has doted over our family for years and years until her husband got sick.  And like a switch, she just turned on everyone.  She's hung up on neighbors calling to ask how her husband was, responding with "ain't none of your damn business" and then "click".  She started to become very unpredictable with her temper with our friend.  Nursing staff was worried.  I know she must be scared about being alone and her own failing health but she made it very difficult in the end.  She had every nurse on pins and needles and cursed at all of them and at her husband every time she saw him - he'd call our home everyday upset, in pain, and crying for help.  It just wasn't the way you want the end of your life to be.  I think we helped him have some bright spots and gave him love and attention he needed since he had no children of his own.  We made him part of our family.

The one night about 3 weeks ago, when we just decided after supper to go and see our friend and take the kids turned out to be a good decision.  He was still up and on his feet.  I wrote this after that night...

"One of the peas said in a whisper when we were there last night, “can I ask Bob if I can give him a hug?”.  The gardener said, I think he’d like that.  Go ahead.  And so she asked, “can I give you a hug Bob?”.  He said of course and they both got tears in their eyes.  One of them 9 years old, the other almost 90.  I know there’s a heaven but the real human part of me can’t help but to still be frightened about the end."

Bob went on to heaven yesterday morning.  He was a good man, a good friend, and our family will miss him.

The first thing one of the peas said to me when I told them, "Mama, that's a good thing, right?  He's in heaven now and he's all better and happy.  Right?  This is a good thing, right?".  Comforting words from a 9 year old whose next sentiment was, "Does this mean NOW we can play with his wheelchair?".  It's been sitting in our garage for the last 2 weeks since we took him to the hospital and they've been begging to sit in it and push each other around.

God's peace Bob.  Your work here is done.  You did good.  Rest and be well.  We will see you soon.



Please bare your soles...

School is ending.  So much going on at the end of the school year.  And our dear friend who is sick with cancer - we've been doing our best to keep him well and tend to his affairs. As we enter into this holiday weekend, and we are preparing for guests - I decided I'd tear down that ugly handwritten sign I have at my front door.

See, I'm a bit of germ freak.  But that's for another day...there's much to it.  Suffice it to say, I don't like people to wear their shoes in my house.  I saw somewhere that if you have carpet and wear your shoes in the house - then your carpet is full of garbage.  Yuck.  Serious yuck.  Especially with a baby crawling around and kids who are always on the floor.

So I made up a new sign for my door.  Do you have this same germ freakish kind of thing with your house?  If you do...let me share.  Of course, feel free to plug in a photo of your own kids feet but these are my peas.  Framed it and hung at the door this evening.  Not an original idea of my own...long ago I saw someone had the phrase "bare your soles" and I find it to perfectly suit us.  Feel free to print a copy for your own front door.

Happy holiday weekend...