Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pajama-rama Recap

(almost finished; that is, 8/9 finished!)
Last Christmas, as I packed the leftover fabric from making flannel pj pants into the rubbermaid bin, joining the remnants of other years' gifts, I decided to *finally* use all of them to make quilts. I didn't know how many the twelve or fifteen years' worth of scraps would make, but I decided to Make A Beginning of it. You can read about my New Year's adventure here, here, and here.

Early in the summer, Charming lost his job. This gave me "encouragement" to really get going on the project; it might be a large part of our Christmas gift stash. I figured out a way to manage the layout I had decided on, so that it wouldn't get out-of-hand for me. Just a few weeks saw nine quilt tops finished, one for each of my eight children and one for myself.

Since I had spent nothing on the fabric for the tops, I decided to make a game out of making these quilts for as little as possible. When my older six children were small, their grandmother had given each of them a set of flannel sheets. The pillowcases and fitted sheets were long gone, but the top sheets were still in fair condition. (probably because with bunk beds, top sheets are difficult to manage, and I left them off much of the time.) I couldn't actually believe I still had all six, since the children have all left home.

Blackeyed Susan and Alvin Fernald were not yet born when the sheet sets were given, so I used the fleece throws I made for them when they were about 6 and 4 years old. That left my own quilt, but (can you believe it) I have one remaining top sheet of a set of wedding sheets, 34 years old, and still in good enough shape to use?

As the flannel sheets were of varying sizes, and all were smaller than the quilt tops, I filled in the borders with extra, larger pieces of flannel I have in my stash. (I think the stash-fairies come and increase my stash with every project I do, instead of reducing it!) So, for both tops and backs, I spent $0.

Polyester batting was $10 at Jo-Ann's. I bought seven batts with a 40% off coupon, and two of them with a 50% off coupon. Total: $52.
I used nine large spools of thread, buy-one-get-one free, $1.99/spool. Total: $9. I tied them with bright-red crochet cotton. I finished the spool I had, and bought two more at $1.97 each. Total: $4.

So: total out-of-pocket expense for nine quilts? $65. That is, $7.23 apiece. Not too shabby for a fabulous gift, eh?

Oh, wait. I forgot to include Time Spent. Hmmm. I should charge myself $10/hour or so, shouldn't I? How much would that be for Months and Months of work?

I think I'll just take it out in Love, please.

I ended up finishing eight of the nine quilts. My own top is finished, and the backing made. A little manner of a few days to finish, and the Project can be put into the record books.

The children were, of course, thrilled. A fun time was had, finding years' worth of former pjs in their quilts. An eye-spy deal, as well! Though I'm not sure I'd want to tackle such a large project anytime soon again. But think of the empty rubbermaid tubs out of my stash!

I'm sure you are wondering what is up next for Super-Quilter. On the list for 2010 are quilts for Oxford and Cambridge, both turning two. (I do baby quilts for each grand, as well as one when they turn two.) One of my children has only one Mommy-made quilt--everyone else has two (or three. or four. Except for their new Christmas one, of course.) So, Joe Hardy, you get the next one on the list. For myself. I need to finish hand-quilting one in the frame. After that? I think a project for ME, ME, ME!!!

But, very first on the list? Doing the dishes from the last two days. I think it will be two dishwasher's-full, plus hand washing...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Making

Spoiler alert: If you are a member of my family, be sure not to read this until the day after Christmas!

Okay. Here we go.

With Charming being off work for more than six months, I knew that Christmas gifts would have to come from my stash of fabric and crafty-stuff. That was Not. A. Problem. as I have more stuff than I can possibly use in my lifetime!
This summer, Lily bought a little guitar for Junior Asparagus at a garage sale. He has been carrying it around in the cardboard box it came in, so I thought it was time for a "gig bag." The green twill is a fun print with swamp animals on it. The bag is lined with bright yellow fleece.
I had enough fabric left over to make a gig bag for Charming's first instrument, a ukulele. His sister made a corduroy drawstring bag for it, which is long gone, although the hand-crocheted strap is intact. I'm glad to finally get this instrument protected. The uke was a cheap one, but it is over forty years old, and, like I said, started Charming on his illustrious "career" in music. Don't despise small beginnings!

This one is cool. I had a wool blanket that I had bought at a thrift store for $1.50 about three years ago. I felted it as well as I could (washed it in hot water and dried it in the dryer to shrink it), and waited till I had a project for which to use it.

Blueberry's favorite animal right now is the Owl, so I made one out of the blanket. It reminds me of toys my own grandma made me, sort of old-fashioned looking. But I think it turned out really well!

I have also been collecting cheap wool blazers in different colors, cutting them up and felting them. They are not so predictable, however. Some of the better wool is actually washable, and refuses to shrink!

(do you remember Farmer Boy? Almanzo's mother wove wool cloth on her loom, then washed it in hot water. She called it "fullcloth," and said that the suits she made from it were completely warm and waterproof. "not a bit of water could get through..."(nor the weather either, I'll bet!)

Cambridge's favorite animal is the penguin. The white parts are the wool blankie again.

For Oxford, I had to call Forget-me-not to get his favorite animal. She quickly replied, "the meerkat."

Meerkat? He's not even two years old! What one-year-old's favorite animal is the meerkat?

(thank you, Animal Planet...)
So, here it is, folks. The first thrifted, felted, wool Meerkat.
The tail is an important feature.

Laura Carrot is always up for a new dress for her 18-inch doll. I used a reproduction pattern of a set of 1950's doll clothes. Remind me never to make this one again--the construction was a nightmare! (Laura also wants a pair of glasses for her doll, so the outfit will include a pair.)
Sweet Pea wants a dolly quilt. She is receiving a Shirley Temple doll for Christmas, so I found a 1930's reproduction "cheater" print. This is a quilt the real Shirley could have had when she was a child.

I also made Sweet Pea a ballet bag, but evidently forgot to take a photo.

My final handmade gifts were eight (EIGHT) quilts, one for each of my children. I will post photos in a day or two when I recap my year-long Pajama-rama project.

I pray each of you has a wonderful Christmas day. Enjoy the day with family or friends, and in remembering the Wonder that God chose to come to earth and live as a man, and then die for us, to restore the relationship that we messed up in the first place.

"Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift."

Flour Power

Tuesday was Cookie Day here at the Cottage. Lily's children came in their Christmas smocks. Unfortunately, Forget-me-not's boys were not able to come. We made a big mess even without them!
Learning to keep the cookie cutters close together, to get the most out of a rolling of dough.

Cambridge preferred to supervise, rather than get his hands dirty.
Baby Nettie (Myra) watched from her perch on Lily's shoulder.
Junior Asparagus and Sweet Pea get serious, and seriously flour-y.
Laura Carrot maintains that red lipstick makes you look fabulous!
Sweet Pea agrees!

Laura is not afraid to get up on the table to make sure she gets her turn.
We must have a bit of flour on our nose, or we're not really serious about Christmas baking.
Charming steps outside to take a photo of the falling snow. Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!
Moving to the dining room for decorating. Junior's apron is up almost to his chest. I guess a new one is in order for next year!
It was so hard to wait to sample a cookie, but Sweet Pea voted thumbs up!
My beautiful Blackeyed Susan with Sweet Pea. (can't you read her thoughts: Pop-pop, I haven't finished my cookie yet!)
Big-boy Junior, almost seven years old!

We filled plates with cookies to send home with Lily and to send to Forget-me-not. It was a fun-filled morning!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I Really Didn't Fall Off the Planet...

....I just got busy! (I know, no excuse, we're ALL busy.)

I promised to tell about my sister's Happy Box. Now, in my busy-ness I neglected to take photos of everything, so sharing with you might be oh-so-boring. But I will press on, because someday you might want to make a Happy Box for somebody you love.

My sister and I grew up, a product of the '50's and early '60's, so I am always on the lookout for things that remind us of that time. First up: a teen-book from 1943, Jane Withers and the Phantom Violin. The title page has a subtitle: featuring the film STAR Jane Withers. This is a sort of Nancy Drew-like story, and, as for Jane Withers, if you are just a little older than some, you might remember Josephine the Plumber from commercials in the 60's and 70's. *That* was also Jane Withers.

Next up: two beautiful vintage hankies. One was floral, purple and green. When I picked it up at the antique store, it was beautifully starched and ready for dabbing at a teary eye at the movies. The other hankie was an apricot-colored linen, embroidered with an "A" monogram. I told my sister she needed to change her name to Anne, or maybe jAnet.

Next: a copy of the same sewing book my mother had in her home while we were growing up. It is Constance Talbot's Complete Book of Sewing. We laughed over some of the illustrations in the book that we remembered.

Finally, a cup-and-saucer in the pattern Golden Wheat. These dishes were given as premiums in the 1950's in boxes of Duz detergent. Many, many of your mothers or grandmas had these dishes in their homes, as did our mother. Of course, all of our dishes are long gone, but sometimes I see them in thrift or antique stores. I was able to score two cup-and-saucer sets, one for me and one for my sister.

So, see how easy it is? I just keep my eyes out throughout the year, to gather fun things to laugh over. It doesn't matter what they are or how much they cost. One year I had a couple of hometown newspaper articles about something special. The year that Joe Hardy worked at Starbucks, and got a pound of coffee free every week, I stuck a pound of her favorite beans in the box. Or a little cassette tape of a song we used to sing to on the radio while getting ready for school. See how it works?

I'm sad today, because Janet is going back to her home in the west (she's driving, so she's trying to skirt the blizzard that is coming through the plains) and I just want some more talk-time. But it will wait till next time. In the mean-time, I'll be scouting out items for next year's Happy Box.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy Birthday, Janet the Planet!

Today is my sister's birthday!

Now, if you don't have a sister, Janet is the one you always wanted. She is 6 1/2 years older than I, which means I got to get into all her makeup and stuff, and play her Beatles 45's when she wasn't looking.

Her nickname was Janet the Planet, which means nothing, except that there is no other word which rhymes with Janet. This, of course, is opposed to my name, Barbara...oh, well, never mind.

On Janet's fifth birthday (November 21, 19*53), my Daddy bought a television set. It was the very first day tv's went on sale in our town. I heard the story so many times during my childhood, that I thought maybe it was an urban legend or something. Then, in 2003, Channel 33 ran a documentary about the 50th year of television: "We went on the air November 21, 19*53..."

Janet is a Svengali--she could get me to do anything. Got me to clean the boys' "offerings" around the base of the toilet by saying the Outside was not as bad as the Inside, which she cleaned with a brush. Offered to play Clue with me, but she always cheated. If she won, I had to kiss her toes.

Other than usin'-and-abusin' us, she was the Funnest. Sister. Ever. She has lived far, far away for over forty years (married an Air Force guy), so I don't see her very often. But, since we both know the Lord, that doesn't matter. Our relationship is sweet, like she is.

Janet is coming to see me next week! I am getting her Happy Box ready. (this is a collection of things I find during the year...I'll post about them next week, and you'll see why I call it a Happy Box.) It's going to be a great week!

Happy birthday, dear sister. I love you. But I'm *on to* your tricks now. Next time we play Clue, you won't get me to close my eyes. And I'm sorry about the time you had all those stacks of Girl Scout cookies in our room, and I ate one cookie out of each of about twelve boxes. And that time you caught me with your eyelash curler in your hand, and I said I didn't do it? Well, I did.

However, that time someone gave me a piece of a Hershey bar while I was walking home from school, and later you accused me of getting into the Oreos, and I said I didn't, and you made me open my mouth and saw chocolate, and told Mother I lied? Well, I didn't.

Na-na-na-na on You. I know you feel bad now.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Catsup Time

If you're old enough, you might remember Hunt's Catsup. This would be opposed to Heinz Ketchup. As a child, I was concerned, because they were one and the same product, but my family pronounced it "ketchup," so spelling it that other way seemed a little silly to me. So instead of saying "Catch-up Time," as I usually do in these bloggy situations, I thought I'd do something Just A Little Different.

After making a nice little resolution to take the month of November to be thankful for something every day, I fell off the wagon the very first day of the month! So, here goes with Thankful, part deux...

Monday, November 2

Today I am thankful for my brother Rick. He is just fourteen months younger than I, and was born four days before Eisenhower was elected for the second time. (gollee, does that sound old!) He and I are very close, and always have been. I can't remember a single instance of sibling rivalry with him, though I'm sure there are minor incidents here and there. Our relationship was cemented when I was pregnant with Violet at nineteen, and living at home. In the middle of the night, throwing up in the bathroom next to his room, I'd wake him up to commiserate with me. He never complained. We still speak about those times, even though there is *so* much more life we've lived since then. Love you brother, and a very happy birthday to you!

Tuesday, November 3

Today I am thankful for our beautiful miracle baby, Myra. Go here to see a new photo. I do, however, need to choose a blog-name for her, as my custom is to use fictional names for the family.

Myra shares my middle name, Annette. With one person in my life, I have the nickname Nettie. (you can read about *that* here.) So I thought Nettie would be cute. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Johnny Tremain and Lily had discussed the same nickname for Myra in real life! So, Nettie it is!

Thank you so very much for all of the prayers for Nettie. I think of the verse, "the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much." So, so true. Please continue to pray for stomach issues--she acts colicky, and possibly is bothered with acid tummy. (it all plays out the same in her fussy times!) Otherwise, she is gaining weight, and growing in all those beautiful baby ways.

Wednesday, November 4

Testimony time! You may or may not know that Charming and I went through a major, major marriage crisis early in our marriage. We have spoken a number of times in marriage classes and marriage retreats, giving our testimony of God's restoration. And you know, when God fixes something, it is better than it was before it was broken!

Last night, Rocky Balboa brought Blueberry and Oxford over to see Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop for a few minutes. Rocky was so, so excited he could hardly speak. He had shared our testimony with a woman at work who thought her marriage was over. Things are very bad, but the woman wants to come to church to find out what the Lord can do in her life. Hooray! Thank you, Lord, for Your healing work in our lives, that You can use to help others!

Thursday, November 5

Two things today: today is Winnie's birthday (see "Nettie" link above to find out about Winnie.) I thank the Lord for Winnie, my dear sister-friend.

The other thing I am thankful for today is Indoor Plumbing. (don't laugh)

I have often said that I am richer than Solomon ever was, because I have indoor plumbing. Think about it. You'll agree. But I was up in the middle of the night, making my way to the bathroom in my centrally-heated house. And I thought about chamber pots. Good at their purpose, but of course they needed emptying each day. That led me to think about....

Laura Ingalls. Chamber pots. "The Long Winter." Whoa.

I know you'll be thankful too, today, for your indoor potty.

So now I'm caught up!

Sunday, November 01, 2009


(Violet took me shopping and bought me this outfit.)

Okay, so I forgot to put the REST of my post in earlier. I was going to put the little poem down, and then put *my* view of November. Ditz-brain-fog settled in, and I pushed "post" after the poem.


November is a very nice month. As in, November is Nice! My sister's birthday is in November, as well as my next-to-me brother's. Not to mention Alvin Fernald's--he'll be turning fifteen. November is the month of Thanksgiving and all that beginning-of-the-holidays-getting-closer-to-Christmas thing.

In fact, I had a homeschool friend of mine tell me she was making November an entire Month of Thanksgiving. So I'll try, every post, to be thankful for something, 'kay?

November 1st: Gotta go with God's provision. Charming has been out of work for four months-plus now. We still have our house and all of its utilities...ON. Still eating. Still wearing clothes. What is that verse?

So if we have food to eat and clothes to wear, therewith be content.

And thankful! God is not moving at my requested pace (so, when does He ever?) and I am trying to learn. Trying to not-worry. Trying to praise Him for His goodness in this situation.

Because He IS good. Yep, all the time.

Thank you, my Father, for your bounteous provision.

November--No Way!

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member--
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
--from a poem by Thomas Hood

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hear ye, hear ye...

....Rocky Balboa and Forget-me-not are expecting!

Forget-me-not has given birth to two of my very favorite grandchildren. But Blueberry was born three months before Lily's Sweet Pea, and Oxford was born just four weeks before Cambridge. Her boys were also born in tandem with their cousins on Rocky's side of the family.

But not so this time!

As you know, Myra is just a month old. Rocky's sister and sister-in-law had babies this summer. So, for the first time ever (drumroll please): Forget-me-not is pregnant all by her lonesome!

We can celebrate! Party! Shower! Boast!

It's. All. About. Forget-me-not. And that's the way it should be, you know?

(the baby is due June 28th, and we're hopin' for a girl.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Four hundred ninety-four years ago...

(okay, so my son pointed out that it is FIVE hundred ninety-four years ago...)

"This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, 'Tomorrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day,'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words--
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester--
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered--
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day."
William Shakespeare, Henry V.

If you have never read Henry V, I would encourage you to do so. When we studied it last year, we got the book version, and read-along-with an audio version. After we were finished, we "treated" ourselves with the BBC version on dvd.

Even though details of the Battle of Agincourt (October 25, 1415) were probably "enhanced" by Shakespeare, it is an excellent picture of battle during that time in history. I had never studied a lot of English history when I was in school (past the Magna Carta, 1215 doncha know), so it was quite a new experience for me.

Props to Violet (my masters-in-English daughter) for suggesting it for our homeschool!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Baby Myra... coming HOME to her family today!

...From a baby who was born not breathing and without a heartbeat (Apgar scores 0, 2, and 4), who at 30 hours of age had still not taken a breath on her own, kidneys and liver shutting down, doctors predicting that if she survived at all, she would be a vegetable, and counseling Johnny Tremain and Lily to disconnect the machines.... a baby, one day shy of a month old, going home fulltime breastfeeding, and without monitors or wires of any kind. Even three days ago, they trained Lily for a heart/apnea monitor to be used at home, and told her that Myra would get too tired nursing, without supplemental bottle feedings.

The doctors could sustain her life with equipment. But there was nothing they could do to revive her organs, or give her brain any function. ONLY GOD could do this work. It was not too big a job for Myra's Creator to re-Create.

To HIM be all the Glory!

"I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth." Romans 9:17

Friday, October 09, 2009

Prayer Vigil for Baby Myra

Myra was two weeks old yesterday. She has done a whole lotta livin' in those two little weeks!

Myra makes little steps ahead every day. One of the five neonatologists always has a negative report. "She is very sure" that the tremors Myra has are seizures. The other four doctors are very sure they are NOT seizures. Lady Doctor was sure Myra is probably deaf, blind, or both. But, even with others talking around her, when Myra's Mommy talks to her, she opens her eyes and turns toward Her voice. Yesterday, Lady Doctor said, "Look at that. Myra is focusing on my face." (something every blind baby does, you know...)

A friend of Lily's has organized a prayer vigil for tonight. You can pray anytime between 9pm and midnight. Just take a few minutes to pray for these specific needs:

1) Myra's brain. No one knows yet what damage may have been done. We are BELIEVING that God will restore it to full function, as He has already done with her heart, kidneys, liver. Her "soft spot" seems to be closing faster than normal. Pray that her brain has room to grow. Add in a prayer for her eyes and ears.

2) Please pray also for her suck/swallow reflex. The nurses tell Lily that Myra won't suck on a pacifier. Lily is there for Hours every day. The nurses try to get her to suck every time they "assess"--every few hours. They always try to make Myra suck when she is asleep. However, when she is awake, Lily sticks the paci in, and Myra sucks away.

A beautiful thing is happening. When they feed Myra breast milk through her feeding tube, Myra settles down. She LIKES milk in her tummy! And, since they are feeding her every three hours, Lily is noticing that Myra is waking 10-15 minutes before feeding time. She is learning what "hungry" feels like, and is anticipating food. Sounds pretty normal to me!

3) related to number 2: If she shows sucking and swallowing, she will not have to go home with a feeding tube. Not a deal-breaker, (she can go home if other things are in order) but we want her Whole!

I want to share a couple of verses that have spoken to Lily in the past few days. She has been *living* in 1 and 2 Corinthians.

from Myra's perspective:

1 Corinthians 10:15 "but by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect."

and look at this one:

2 Corinthians 1:8b-11 "We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many."

Here is a link to the facebook page for the prayer vigil. There are photos and a video of Myra posted there, as well:

I hope you can join us this evening as we pray for Myra's full recovery. Thank you so much!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Myra... one week old today.

...had bre*st milk for the first time yesterday. off the ventilator, which means...

Lily and Johnny Tremain can hold her today!

...(and, hopefully, Grandma!)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quickie Update

Here's the Sunday news about Baby Myra:

Urine output continues to be normal. Tests need to be done to determine whether the kidneys are Cleaning the blood properly. My guess (because I'm trusting the Lord) is that they will get a rave review!

Her ventilator was changed from the "jet" one to the one she controls on her own, because she is breathing by herself. They reduce the pressure every four hours, and the O2 is down to 50%. She is learning to get enough oxygen on her own, but has the ventilator support should she get too tired.

Sunday morning, Myra's face woke up. She began doing those little smiley-gestures, and scrunching her eyes. We're still waiting for her beautiful eyes to open, but I don't think it will be very long!

They began i.v. proteins and fats, because they had had no evidence that her digestive tract was working. (of course, she hadn't had any food, but...) They told Lily they would look for gas in the tummy (found via stethoscope). At 8pm Lily was able to change her diaper, and it was POOPY! ("Is that enough evidence???" she asked.) Lily was very excited that when she took off the diaper, the baby's legs pulled back, and she flinched at the cold wipe.

Tonight Lily goes home. Without her baby, but knowing that the Lord is not only going home with her, but also staying behind to care for Myra. To Him be the Glory!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Baby News

It is really difficult to believe that the baby is only three days old. I feel like I've lived three weeks in that time.

At thirty-six hours old, a very negative neonatologist gave Johnny Tremain and Lily a very negative report. (this same doctor came into Lily's recovery room before she was completely "with it", and told her that she'd better prepare to pull the plug on Baby, that she probably wasn't going to make it. Yeah. Just the kind of person you want caring for your baby.)

The report was that Baby's kidneys were shutting down. She still wasn't breathing on her own, and was "unresponsive." Those responses Mommy and Daddy got from stroking her legs didn't mean anything, just reflex. Her nervous system wasn't working, and her heart was working as if it were in utero. In two or three days, a decision Must be reached.

Well, the family and friends decided to get a Second Opinion from a Greater Physician.

I took a nap (which always puts my head on straight) and then family and a few close friends gathered in the NICU family lounge. We put together Bible verses while Lily's children came up to see the baby. Johnny took the children home to put them to bed, and a friend stayed so he could come back for a prayer vigil.

In the Hebrew culture, the father has the authority over his children, to plead to God on their behalf. The grandfather also has authority: remember when Joseph was in Egypt? When Jacob finally came to see him, he said, "Bring me your sons Ephraim and Manasseh, so I may bless them." So we anointed Charming and Johnny with frankincense oil, and Charming played and sang for Baby while Johnny prayed over his daughter. The Lord had given Johnny a passage from Psalms 33:18-22:

"But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, LORD, even as we put our hope in You."

In the lounge, the two grandmas and Lily were anointed, and everyone gathered for prayer. It was a powerful, yet very sweet time of fellowship with the Lord.

A little before noon the next day, we got another report. Baby was breathing on her own, so they lowered the ventilator. Her arms and legs were showing voluntary movement. Her urine output was near normal.

We have been talking for these few days about the difference between Faith and Trust. Faith is saying, " I know God CAN do it." Trust is Knowing He WILL do it. Think about Peter in the boat, when Jesus called to him. He didn't step out, knowing Jesus "could" do it. He KNEW Jesus would do it, and stepped out. Same with Abraham and Isaac. "God WILL provide a lamb." Even if God chose to let Abraham slay Isaac, Abraham knew God would still fulfill His promise.

We've been on a journey to give Baby to the Lord, fully, knowing that He knows best. Even if the "days written in His book" (Ps. 139) are limited. But we are Asking for a long, healthy life. Because He said we could ask.

And now, we're Expecting His best.

I just wanted to let you know how awesome a prayer network has gone out for dear Baby. God has used facebook in a mighty way. We posted a note when Lily went in the hospital for prayer. Friends of friends posted as well. Their friends (like, two generations away from people we knew ourselves) started prayer chains in their church. People in so many different states. Even around the world--Baby has two grown-up soldier cousins in Korea, having people pray. People sharing words from the Word. One lady seeing angels hovering over Baby, bringing healing (and in particular, a new kidney--this lady did not know the actual report of the doctor). Our pastor, while praying, saw Baby at three years old, dancing with other children in service. He sees it as a promise.

What an awesome, incredible God we have. All seven billion people in the world, and He has Time to take care of Baby in this intimate way. To Him be the glory!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


...the birth of our seventh grandchild, a girl. Five pounds, fifteen ounces.

But before she came, she let us know she was In Trouble.

Wednesday night, Lily's water broke. And it was dark green, meconium-filled.

Trash the quiet-birth-at-home plans. Rush to the hospital. Baby's heartrate dipping below 100 during contractions. Whisked to the OR for an emergency C-section.

She has yet to take a breath on her own. She went from the ob's hands to the neonatologist's hands before the ob even knew the gender. She is on a ventilator, and was labeled "unresponsive." That has been amended: this afternoon, her Daddy and Mommy visited, stroking her legs. She moved her foot in response. The nurse verified that that constituted Voluntary Movement.

They did a heart ultrasound, a brain ultrasound, EEG. "You need to wait for the neurologist to read results." As of 9 pm, still waiting. To see if brain damage has occurred.

The GOOD NEWS is that we don't have to wait for God to interpret the tests. He is In Control. He was not surprised at our "emergency"; in fact, He's the One who broke the water so Lily could get help. He knows the Beginning from the End in this situation.

I am watching Grace happen. That Peace that Passes Understanding is settling on Johnny Tremain and Lily. They are being forced to play the Waiting Game. But the Lord is right in the room, Waiting with them. He is also in Baby's room, watching over her. Never sleeping. No change of shifts on His watch.

Prayers of dozens, dozens of believers are being lifted on their behalf. I am so, so grateful for the network of prayer going up. I am so "in the middle" that my prayers don't seem very powerful. I'm stuck at, "God, please!" Others are doing powerful intercession on our behalf.

Thank you for letting me share. I will share more as I get info. But actually, I have all the info I really need. God is Good. All the Time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Probably "serendipities" is not the correct word for this post. But I get a little tired of thinking up cute words for just tidbits of here-and-there-ness around the Cottage.

I wanted to brag on Forget-me-not. She got a word in facebook-Scrabble that netted her 167 points! She actually hit two triple-word scores with one word, as well as using her seven letters. My joy for her accomplisment is dimmed only by the fact that *I* am her opponent in that game, and it looks like she is going to beat me by 200+ points. I'm afraid to see what that will do to my our ratings.

Lily is now fully due to have her fifth baby. She was actually due yesterday, her birthday, but she is always late, sometimes more than others. This baby didn't want to rock the boat, I guess.

Lily asked to borrow our video camera, as hers is on the blink. When I took it out of the case to charge it, what should I find but the charging/uploading cord to the fabulous digital cam I received for Christmas last year! I have never been able to take photos after the first time that the battery wore down. After downloading the photos that were on the memory card, I discovered that Alvin Fernald has grown a good bit this year!

Now to Alvin. Football is something that Alvin is enjoying, and Mommy is trying to ignore, at least the inherent prone-ness to injury. Last week he hurt his shoulder, but it seemed to be feeling better. Then he came home from practice last evening looking like this:

One more on his chin:

I didn't even take a photo of his back.

These bruises were caused mostly by helmets, he says. You may see little circular bruises that look like sprinkles of something--those are the holes in his mesh jersey, and the skin bruised *through* the shirt. He called it "tackle" practice.

Okay, now I'm counting the weeks till it's over. And I don't think I will ever watch football on tv the same way again, either.

Forget-me-not and her boys are picking me up this morning to go see my Daddy at the nursing home. Many times when I speak with him on the phone, his speech is very slow, and he finds it hard to choose his words. Sometimes that is due to his blood sugar, and sometimes just due to the fact that he is 87 years old. I treasure each visit I have with him, knowing that someday soon, I won't be able visit him. I'll just have to wait to see him when we are all "over yonder."

That's about all. I am working on Christmas surprises, and a "boy" quilt for Lily. I already had a "girl" quilt ready. Now it's just a Waiting Game.

At least I'll have a camera ready!

Friday, September 11, 2009

There I Go Again.

Well, I've been shooting off my mouth Thinking again.

Go check it out!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Thinking Again.

I mentioned yesterday that I accidentally deleted this photo of my Barbara Star quilt "in progress." I am about 60% done with the hand quilting. I am quilting it in diagonal rows, the same way my grandma did the original.

My grandma quilted almost every one of her quilts in diagonal rows. I used to wonder why she didn't get any more adventurous in her quilting designs.
As usual, I judge people without knowing nuthin' about it. A few years ago I read in a quilting book that this style of quilting (diagonal rows) was the Trendy Thing when grandma started quilting. So actually she was on the Cutting Edge there.

Silly me. Silly all of us. Don't we rush to judgment all the time, about all kinds of things? *WHY* did those people paint their house that horrid color? *WHY* does that person wear crew-length black socks with white running shoes? *WHY* would someone choose that song for a wedding? On and on and on.

I've gotten more aware of this lately. I used to watch What Not To Wear, and laugh with everybody else at the secret videos. Until I saw a show where the lady dressed like...ME. Another time I was watching a bathroom-makeover show on the DIY network. I thought the bathroom in the "before" shots looked pretty good. Not 2009, but certainly not 1979, you know? And what did the new owners say? "This looks like a bathroom for RETIRED PEOPLE!!"
Actually, it looked like a bathroom for People Who Don't Rip Everything Out and Replace It With Glass Tile Every 24 Months.

Charming played for worship Sunday in a church in a small town 35 miles away. We were driving along, looking at the modest homes in the town, and musing about how 90% of the world would think them luxurious. Roofs that don't leak. Running water and toilets. Running HOT water. Central heating.
So when we have food and clothing and a dry place to live? "Therewith be content."

I sorta got off-on-a-tangent there. Thanks for staying with me.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Happenings Around the Cottage

Well, of course, last week was a busy week. Second week of school--I think Blackeyed Susan and Alvin Fernald are getting used to the new regime. Susan is only complaining about Getting Up Early and Homework. I don't know of a high-schooler who doesn't complain about those, right?

A friend shared some farm-eggs with us. These things are HUGE, all with double-yolks:
I put a store-bought "large" egg beside one of these brown beauties to compare:
We had to eat them, because I couldn't figure out how to use them in brownies! At one time, I learned the cup-measures for all of the store sizes, medium, large and jumbo: kinda like 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, etc? But since we *could* eat them, I just didn't bother.
But my two-eggs-and-toast was a tad more filling than usual.

My neighbor Linda sent over a selection of her gorgeous tomatoes. Some of them are vintage varieties, and, as you can see, very colorful. We call this "a bowl of candy" because of their sweetness, and eat many of them as such. The rest will go on our lunch salad today:
On the crafting front, I am about 60% done, quilting my Barbara Star quilt...

[the photo of which I just DELETED!!!!!!!!! I'll post it again the next time...]

...working on a surprise for Christmas...

...and making props for our Missions Conference Parade at church. These are burlap bags filled with balled-up newspaper, that can represent beans if you're from Latin America, or rice if you are Asian:

Finally, any crafting that happens after September 1st is accompanied by Christmas music. This is a habit I developed in high school, to get me in the mood for the presents I knit/sewed/crafted for my friends. So, the case of Christmas cd's came out this week, and is doing its duty, setting the mood!

I didn't take a photo of our newly repaired window in the kitchen. Alvin and his friend DISOBEYED the house rule of no-real-baseball-throwing in the backyard (or front yard, for that matter). We have a custom of using tennis balls in the yard, and baseballs reserved for the park down the street. The window they broke was a double-paned custom jobbie. Charming took it to the hardware store, but they could not fix it as it was. The frame was constructed around the glass, so there was no knock-out-the-glass-put-a-new-piece-in. Since we did not have several hundred $$$ to buy a new window, Charming and MacGuyver spent the afternoon chisel-ing out the frame so it would be able to receive a regular ol' pane of glass. I thought Charming especially smart to choose plexiglass. Cost: $42 for the glass, $15 labor, and $12 for the wood-chisel.
Quite the week.

Oh, yes, I wanted to update you on Freshman Football. Unfortunately, SSHS (Green! White! Fight! Fight!) lost to the big "S" school, but Alvin was not injured. Friday night the varsity team beat the next rival, which is the school the freshmen play this Thursday.

Sigh. Only six more games to pray Alvin through.

Oh, and by-the-way, of course you saw that ND beat Nevada 35-0. First shutout for ND since 2002. Do you think they can do that again next week against Michigan?

Wake up the echoes, baby.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

If Women Weren't Around to Civilize Men, They Would Never Shower and They Would Just Stand Their Jeans in the Corner of The Cave Every Night.

You may have observed around Playoff time in any professional sport, the custom of say, an entire team not shaving from the beginning of playoffs until the World Series or the Super Bowl or the NBA Championship or Stanley Cup or whatever. Little quasi-superstitious customs that ensure "good luck." I personally a) never understood the concept (do female athletes do this?) and b) never actually observed a quantifiable difference in the results. I mean, if both teams refuse to shave, how does "luck" improve? And, plenty of times, the Cubs completely-random-teams don't win, anyway.

That brings me to Alvin Fernald's freshman football team.

Now, our high school is designated 4A. Schools in our state are rated by their student population. Several high schools in our city are ranked 5A, two of them having over twice as many students as S.S.H.S. You also need to know that our school has three teams: varsity, junior varsity, and freshman. Varsity teams play Friday nights, j.v. plays the same opponent the following Monday, and freshmen the following Thursday.

Last week, Alvin was third-string QB and first-team Special Teams. We played my alma mater, B.D. The varsity lost to them, but the freshmen won, for the first time in four years! Alvin was instrumental in two plays, one of which he ran 60 yards to tackle a guy, stopping an Imminent Touchdown in the process.

Now to This Week. Last Friday night, S.S.H.S. BEAT Uber-Rival The-Other-"S"-School. (we can't bear to say their name.) This school has 5000 students (SSHS has 1500). This was a Big Upset. In addition, during last week's freshman game, 1st-string QB busted his finger, and 2nd-string QB broke his collarbone. This set up Alvin to be 1st-string against Uber-Rival. (did I mention that Uber-Rival has Two freshman teams?) Unfortunately (or may his Mommy say "fortunately"?) 1st-String guy only jammed his finger and may start. But, certainly, Alvin will get playing time.

Now to the Superstition part. All team members and cheerleaders and coaches and such, always wear their jerseys (or uniforms) to school on Game Day. Last night, Alvin brought home his jersey. This is the same Number 10 that the varsity guy wore Friday night. It smelled foul, people, FOUL. Not just body odor, maybe they put-it-away-wet and there was some mildew involved, as well. I offered to Launder it for Alvin: "OH, NO, Mom, can't do that! We BEAT "S" school in that jersey!"

As the evening progressed, we noticed the jersey more and more. Finally, even Alvin couldn't stand it any more: "OKAY, Mom, let's wash the jersey. I have to wear it to school all day, and there are GIRLS!"

Yet another instance of Women Civilizing Men.

On a serious note, I, MOM, am completely concerned about Injuries. Would you take a little moment and pray for Alvin today?

(I'll let you know how it turns out tonight. Go Archers!)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bridal Shower

(This post was first published August 30, 2006.)

Yesterday was my birthday, and I felt melancholy here and there throughout the day. It was my first since Mom passed away. Every birthday after I left home, Mother and Daddy would call me early in the morning and sing to me--most often the first greeting of the day.Today would have been my Mom and Dad's 65th wedding anniversary. I always felt special, being their "14th anniversary present.

"Mother had a "bride's book," which in no way resembles what we now call a "Wedding Album." Or even what my daughter and daughter-in-law had as a "wedding planner." Two-inch binders with places for cards, ribbons, and other mementos. Mother's was the size of one of those black "composition books," only about a quarter as thick, probably thirty pages or so. It is wonderful because it is handwritten by her--her own memories of her wedding.

She had a wedding shower. I notice that now we have several of them: kitchen, linen, personal, couples...she had *one*. She made quite a haul, mostly with linens. Several sets of "luncheon cloth and napkins"--those fabulous 1940's sets that we snatch up at antique stores. "Embroidered tea towels." "Embroidered pillowslips." Don't I wish I had them now? But, naturally, they were given and received in order to be used, and used UP. (I do have one of a pair of guest towels that she embroidered in the first year of her marriage--so threadbare, but it still says GUEST, with a garland of flowers all around.)

When we buy these vintage linens, we always think about the women who made them and used them. We'd love to feel the connection to another time. Women just like my mother, whose entry under "Our First Home," tells of how, after their wedding night, they just wanted to come home, so they "brought groceries home, and [she] fixed her first meal," the second night of their marriage.So much lay ahead for them--they were married months before Pearl Harbor. They were destined to raise only five of their thirteen children to adulthood. Two cancers. The everyday ups and downs plus the "added dose" of sorrow for their lives, could not be seen when she filled out her "bride's book."

We all share that, in this Sisterhood of women. So many hopes and dreams as we open those wedding shower gifts. Life moves along, humdrum or tragic, year by year. I am so grateful to our Lord that He gave my parents 64 years. A marriage in which their love grew more deeply as every anniversary rolled around. I had a model of How to Do Marriage Well that enabled me to choose a husband wisely, and to be an example for me, for 30 years so far, and is now the model for my children to follow. That is the inheritance I have from them. I would have loved to have the linens from that long-ago bridal shower, but I have the better gift in the example of their LIVES. That gift will never be "used up."

Friday, August 28, 2009

What a Week!

We are now at Friday of the first week of public school. 37 weeks to go--175 more days.

It has meant Big Changes around here. But Blackeyed Susan and Alvin Fernald have stepped up to the plate, and I'm very proud of them.

Homework: they've never had homework before, you know. I had a spasm on Tuesday, when Alvin's World History teacher gave them 40 pages of homework. (especially after football practice got him home at 6pm.) Still don't know what was up with that; but he didn't have history homework the rest of the week. One more homework note: Since I taught the kids algebra and geometry, I am able to help them with their homework. I'm "in the mode" already. How many parents of high schoolers can help their kids with math?

Waking up: a little harder to do every day, but now it is Friday, and they are looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. A good discipline is happening.

Cultural education: Our high school is ranked the fourth most-diverse high school in the nation. Besides many ethnic cultures, we have the "urban" culture, as well. Susan and Alvin have mentioned how this is enriching their classroom life. Susan, especially, likes the discussions in English class, and hearing everyone's thoughts.

Lunch: Susan and Alvin are eating Cafeteria Lunches, out of the four they've had was "worth eating." Oh, well, their alternative is to make a lunch themselves, so complaints are few.

To sum up: They are stepping up to the plate and doin' what needs to be done, with little complaining. They are also finding some new friends, and finding their "place" in a larger community. All in all, I vote the week Successful.

(except for the fact that I was down, in bed, for most of three days with a HUGE cold. So, the "hours to myself everyday" thing kinda fizzled.)

Tonight, to celebrate, we have pizza, homemade brownies, and a new episode of Monk on tv!

Monday, August 24, 2009

And, They're Off!

I dropped Blackeyed Susan and Alvin Fernald off at school this morning...for the very first time.

We spent the last school year coming to the decision that, for this season, public high school would be best for our family. I am completely okay with my head. But, of course, I have mixed feelings, as well.

Because, I've had them to myself. All of their lives so far.

I have a friend who went through this same thing last week--her high school started last Wednesday. She spent the day with these same feelings. She recovered--I will, as well.

Just give me a day.

Or maybe two.

(of course, now I have seven hours to Do Stuff. All that stuff I've put off for, like, twelve years.)

Like Cleaning Closets.

I could get used to this!

Have a blessed week, dear friends!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I've been thinking today, over at Homeschool in the Wildwood. Go take a look!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Stuff is Coming.

So, so busy here.

I have not had children in "real school" (you homeschoolers know what I mean!) for eight years. Over the past year, we made the decision to put Blackeyed Susan and Alvin Fernald in the public high school from which my older six children graduated.

But I had forgotten how crazy August was.

(and December. and May. But we'll cross those bridges when they come.)

I pre-registered Alvin at the eighth-grade orientation in the spring. But early last week I had to register Susan. So I had to gather her transcript and fill out mega-million forms. Later that week was Really-Truly Registration. Standing in lines. Going to places out-of-turn (like, you had to have your schedule before you got your i..d. picture taken--who knew?). More lines. Alvin's schedule wasn't in Mrs. Frank's box, so we had to go to another place and Wait to get another.

Ah, good ol' Mrs. Franks. She is the go-to guidance department secretary, and she has been there since we moved here in 1991. Her comment to me: Yes, Mrs. K*, I saw Susan's schedule earlier, and I thought, "my gosh, does that woman still have children???" Yep. She has guided six of mine through the graduation requirements/SAT tests/scholarship apps, and she'll do it for the last two, as well. I did tell her that Alvin was Absolutely the End Of The Line, though...

And then, of course, the back-to-school sales. Goodwill has their 50% off all clothing yesterday and today. I hit two of them yesterday, and will do at least another one today. Doing better with Alvin than Susan, but she already has more clothing than anyone in the known universe.

So, I am nearing the end of my homeschooling career. We are planning a little celebration this week, before I am declared a Homeschooler Emeritus.

Wistful? A little. Okay, a little more than that. But having a few more hours in my day? This is not a bad thing. Everything in its season. My friend Kaybeautiful is beginning her empty-nest adventure. Charming's mother (100 miles away) is getting older, and I'm looking forward to spending some days with her. My house is gonna love me--Decluttering is going to be my middle name.

Or one of my middle names. How does Barbie-Neo-Empty-Nester-Decluttering-Queen-Homeschooler-Emeritus-Charming's-Last-Name sound to you?

Monday, August 03, 2009

We weren't really looking for an adventure...

....but we had one anyway.

Saturday morning we were getting ready to go to Charming's mother's home, 100 miles away, for her annual summer party, a mini-reunion of her children and their families (and now her grandchildren's families--there are 13-going-on-14 great-grandchildren now). Some of Charming's cousins show up, and sometimes old family friends. It is a wonderful day of food, softball, music, and great fellowship.

We were already running late--our target time was 11 am, and we were finally on the road about 40 minutes later. We stopped for gasoline, and the car's "message center" said to check air pressure in the tires, so Charming filled one that he thought was needful.

Just a couple of miles out of town, we heard a ka-whump sound, and I saw in my sideview mirror a piece of our tire, flying on ahead of us down the highway. Not so good. Blessedly, we were coming right up to a rest stop. Even though the rest stop was closed, it had a two-lane entrance ramp on which to safely change the tire, well away from the cars screaming by at 65 mph.

So many blessings--we had never used the spare in the seven years we've owned the car, and it was still full of air (put this on your annual checklist--check the spares!), we went back to town and found the tire store Open and a tire Available--they didn't even hassle us about not buying a Pair (Charming is out of work and money is tight), so we were back on the road, safely, in a reasonable amount of time. Two hours later we arrived, just in time for dinner!

We had a wonderful time, of course, but too short. Back on the road about 8 pm, we were just Quiet in the car, each with his own thoughts (well, Charming and I with our own thoughts. Blackeyed Susan and Alvin Fernald with their own text-a-phones and iPods...), toolin' on down the road, when what do we spy but a dead cow in the field to our right. How did we know it was dead, you ask?

Did you ever see a roadkill raccoon that had been there for two or three days? It looks like a raccoon-shaped balloon with four little legs sticking out of it. Well, that cow had been there for two or three days, and it was blown up big-time. Looked really funny with those four legs sticking straight out.

My question is: How does a cow go two or three days without someone seeing it? Or missing it? Don't you know how many cows you have? Wouldn't you see it when you let your cows out to pasture the next day?

Maybe we should be looking for the farmer?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Flower-y Prose

I've been thinking about flowers. Especially wildflowers. Don't they have the prettiest names?

Blackeyed Susan.


Dutchman's Breeches.

Bachelor's Buttons.

Morning Glory--my mother used to say, "morning glory--the Glory of the Morning!"

Dogtooth Violet.

Of course, there are many more. Spring beauty. Mayapple. Wild geranium. Snapdragons. Jack-in-the-Pulpit. I'm sure you could add to the list.

Then there is Queen Anne's Lace, with the little blood-red floweret in the middle. I had always heard that it was named for Henry VIII's wife Anne Boleyn, and the "drop of blood" was hers because he, well, beheaded her, you know. But wikipedia says it is for another Queen Anne, and the blood was from when she pricked her finger with a needle while making her "lace."

Such quaint names. Such pretty things. How wonderful our Father is, to have created flowers, not only for their usefulness, but for our enjoyment. The fragrance of the wildflowers is generally more delicate than that of their domesticated cousins. Your nose has to be "tuned in" to enjoy them. But what a delight, walking through a wood or along a roadside in the springtime, to catch the fragrance, then to look for the culprits, off the beaten path!

Evidently, flowers are important to people in general. Every state has its "own" flower. When my mother was in school (1930's), the state flower of Indiana was the zinnia. Somewhere along the line, they changed it to the peony. Or, as my grandmother, along with most country folks, called it, the "piney." She was so proud of her "piney bushes" in May. Flowers are even "national" sometimes. The Japanese have their Chrysanthemum throne. I'm sure there are others.

So, I've just been thinking about flowers. Maybe you can take a few minutes and think about flowers today, as well. And don't forget to thank your Father for sharing!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Darn cute.

...if I do say so m'self.

I was asked to make a couple of aprons for the church coffee shop, for the girls to wear at Sunday morning donut-time, and Wednesday night cafe. I used the same pattern for each, McCall's 5825.

Here we have a cheery print, reminiscent of coffee beans (?), and trimmed with a yellow swirly-pattern, like steam from your favorite mug:
Then I made one in a coffee-brown with white polka-dots, trimmed in red pindot:
Please do not tell me how much it reminds you of Minnie Mouse.

These are expertly modeled by Blackeyed Susan, whom I grabbed barely out of the shower to model these. I promised her I wouldn't show her face. (this disclaimer for my family, who for YEARS made fun of the fact that I cut off people's heads in all of my photos.)

I am also teaching tonight from the book A Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. My subject is Simplicity.

Let me quickly disabuse you of the notion that I was chosen to teach this because I Have It All Together.

Nuthin' could be further from the truth. But God has a sense of humor that way, doesn't He? As Charming says, "God is so BIZARRE! But then, would you want to serve a God that wasn't?"

Food for thought...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Little Bits

Forget-me-not pointed out that, even though I have been home from vacation for eleven days, my blog says that I am still "incommunicado." Truth is, I've just been busy.

Gotta tell ya', I am grateful today to be posting. Friday night, Alvin Fernald and I were sitting on the couch, watching tv, and he said, "the computer's smoking." He ran across and unplugged it. I hoped the whole CPU hadn't melted together in some nuclear-meltdown-thing, but we took a moment to thank the Lord that Alvin had noticed it. If we had been in another room, the house might have caught fire. Thank you, Lord, for guardian angels!

(by the way, Charming fixed the computer for $39.95-plus-tax. I love that man!)

Saturday didn't go as I thought it would. My plans for a quilt outing with my dear sister-in-law Robin had been scratched, and as Alvin was in a softball tournament and Blackeyed Susan went with Forget-me-not to said tournament, I figured to Spend The Day decluttering. No such luck. My day was a steady stream of Company, including my brother, whom we needed to do a major catch-up with. So, nothing much got done, but did a LOT of visiting.

Sunday night plan was fireworks! Our city's major week-long festival always ends with fireworks. Although you can go to the biggie meet-up place complete with porta-potties, we chose to go to our neighbor's church parking lot, where neighbor-husband's band was playing, cheap hot dogs to be bought, and the Church Bathrooms available. Good stuff. We've been before. But never before where the Sky Opened Up and looked like it would never stop. You know the kind of storm, where you are as dripping wet as you could ever get? Yeah, that's how it was. We tried to wait it out, but had to give up. It rained for quite a long time after that, tho' I thought I heard the fireworks display about 10:15 pm. But by that time we were dry and warm and KFC-bucketed and happy. And home.

Another instance of God's grace: In the car, driving home, Heat seemed like a good idea. But we found out the heater wasn't working. How cool to find that out in July, so you can get it fixed before you need it?

Other stuff is going on. I'm making two cute-as-pie aprons for the coffee shop at church. Quilting a quilt. Getting ready to teach the Ladies on Wednesday evening. Johnny Tremain and Lily are back home after two weeks away, so we'll be seeing their four kids. Charming has been off work for six weeks today. Tempers are shorten-ing due to the extended change-in-routine, but the Lord is teaching us about living Day to Day.

I hope I'm learning. It doesn't seem so, but I really want to bear the fruit of the Spirit in my life.
Don't ask my kids if I've done so. I may have, but I don't think it shows yet. So there's More Work to Do.

Oh. I forgot all about vacation and all the other cool stuff I've been thinking about. I guess I'll have to do a little more catching up with you.

Maybe tomorrow. Laundry is calling!

Saturday, July 04, 2009


We are off this week to beautiful Lake Huron, up at the top of the "thumb" of Michigan.

We are not taking any computery stuff.

There is a tv in the cottage, but we turn its face to the wall while we're there.

(I'm sure Blackeyed Susan and Alvin Fernald will be texting their buddies, but no such dealie for Charming and me.)

So basically I'm incommunicado.

Joe Hardy is housesitting, and we'll be back late Thursday night.

See ya'!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Morning Glory.

July 2, 2009, 6:53 am. Sixty-two degrees.

I awoke to birds singing, and fresh, cool air breezing in my open windows. That old-time, "summer" smell.


Many of you did not grow up in a time before air-conditioning. You may not know the art of blowing one fan "out" one window to bring in the breeze from the opposite side of the house. Sleeping on the floor, because it's cooler. My husband's home had a screened porch where they slept in the summer. Before I had a/c in my "married" home, my babies slept in the basement.

My daddy got air conditioning in the early 70's, and I grabbed onto that notion Im-Mediately. I am not a summer-lover: for me, June, July, and August are simply months to endure until fall. Charming bought me central air about fifteen years ago, and I've never looked back.

I admit I'm a wimp. I think about those southern belles, sweltering in long sleeves, long skirts, and CORSETS. Not even an electric fan to alleviate the misery. And I still don't understand going to Florida for summer vacation. Come on, people!

This week has been unusually mild (and low humidity) for Indiana for late June/early July. People around me complain, "hey, this is more like fall weather!" (yet, you should have heard them belly-aching just last week about the heat wave...) I have had my a/c off and the windows open. I have found that I miss the summer sounds and the summer smells, even tho' I do spend some of my mornings on the porch, hot or not. And it was especially noticeable this morning as I awoke.

It was a Glorious Morning, that bodes well for a Glorious Day. I am beginning to pack for our little vacation, for which we leave Sunday after church. We are going to Lake Huron (at the top of the "thumb" of Michigan) to spend four days with Charming's Dad and his wife. The cottage has no a/c, but that's okay--Lake Huron provides the a/c. And I sure wouldn't want to miss going to sleep and waking up to the sounds of the water. God always meets me there, from the early morning coffee time alone (I am usually the first up), to the incredible sunset-show every evening, each one seemingly better than the night before. Good fellowship, as well. Blackeyed Susan and Alvin Fernald are both in high school--our time left with them is short. We are blessed to have time away while Charming is off work (please, Lord, a job waiting for him on our return would be a great thing!), and time with his father and wife is a treasure.

I have errands to do today, but will spend as much of it outdoors as possible. Wishing you a "glory" day, as well!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Number Three on the List...

Violet and I keep a list of God's Five Greatest Gifts to Mankind. Violet always has five things on her list, but once in awhile, one gets bumped off in favor of another.

I, on the other hand, am the kind of person who, once the List is complete, wouldn't think of changing it. So, I have just now, today, added a number three.

I'm sure you are on the edge of your seat, wondering what holds places number one and two.
So here goes:

Number One: Indoor Plumbing.

I maintain that I am richer than Solomon in all his glory, because I have wonderful, albeit humble, bathrooms in my house. A full one, and an extra half-bath on the first floor. Sure, people in newer homes have like, four bedrooms and five bathrooms. Wouldn't our great-grandmothers roll over in their graves to think of more baths than bedrooms in a house?

Number Two: Chocolate.

Really, is any explanation necessary?

Number Three: Hardware Stores.

Now, this is not a new thought. I love, Love, LOVE hardware stores. And their big-brothers, the big-box home improvement stores. So many things you never even knew existed, all there begging you to take them home. And me not even knowing how much I really, really need them!
But right now, I'm talking about the regular ol' neighborhood hardware store.

This morning, I took my good scissors into the hardware store:
My mother bought me these scissors before I went to college. Her comment: Everybody needs a good pair of scissors; they will last you a lifetime. Of course, I knew about don't-use-fabric-scissors-on-paper-or-they-will-be-ruined. Throughout the years, I have kept and broken and kept and broken that rule a few dozen times. But they always sharpen up nicely.

Over the last couple of years, I found myself having to tighten the screw more and more often. Finally, no amount of screw-ing helped. That little screw was done Stripped.

I looked over all my cheapie scissors, thinking that I would steal a screw from one of them.

I found out that cheapie scissors are held together with rivets, not screws.

I looked online and found a place I could get a replacement screw. The screw was pretty cheap, but of course shipping costs would be involved, as well. So, I decided to try the Friendly Guys at the Local Hardware.

I asked for the Screw Expert. I didn't know if there would be some sort of Specialty Screw involved. After all, the screws in a pair of scissors don't just sit there, they are Moving All The Time. Turns out their screw expert was a teenaged girl. She took me back to the Screw Desk. (which was also the extra-house-or-car-key desk...) She began by working to get the old screw out. Fully five minutes later, this is what we had:

I don't think you can see very well. The best part of the screw shows that the threads are worn down to almost nothing; near the head of the screw, there are no threads at all--absolutely smooth. I *have* had the scissors for thirty-six years. I guess thirty-six years of faithful service should earn a guy a new screw, right?

So, to wrap up this long story, two employees took twenty-five minutes to finally narrow down six different screws (and a lock-washer) to one. That means fifty minutes of man-power. The final bill:

Fifteen cents.

(plus a penny tax.)

My scissors are happy.
So am I.
I love my hardware store.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Busy Summer...

...and it's still June!

My nephew Phil (far left) is off to Korea to help defend our freedom. It is such a blessing that his cousin Mike is already over there. Evidently they will be together a good deal of the time. (also in this photo: back: Johnny Tremain, cousin Derek [Mike's brother], and our own Laura Carrot. Front: Alvin Fernald)

Next we have my nephew Nate, and his lovely bride Sarah. It's just been Party Central this summer!
While in South Bend for Nathan's wedding, we stayed with Violet, whom you may remember is a dorm rector for a women's dorm at Notre Dame. We took a little Tour Down Memory Lane on Saturday: (Charming and I met there thirty-five years some time ago.)

Alvin decided that he would be the Travelocity Gnome Guy on the tour. Here he is in front of the Library (Touchdown Jesus, if you are a fan of ND football).

The Main Building (Golden Dome) is so, so beautiful. We went inside and saw the gorgeous murals. The a/c was set none too high, so we cut our tour a little short.

Next we have Alvin standing in front of Charming's old dorm room. There was a Definite Sales Presentation goin' on from Daddy to Son on this one.

Finally, a Dad/Son moment on the steps of the dorm.
We finished our day with a visit to Queen Darl, Charming's dear mother, always a treat!

This weekend, *I* get to stay home. HOORAY. I am going to redeem my time with rest, because we leave in another week for vacation. And, as every mother knows, vacation does not happen without a lot of Planning, Shopping, and Packing.

Sigh. I think I'm tired already just thinkin' about it. But, Oh The Joy when we finally get there!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Four Score and Seven Years Ago... Daddy was born!

photo: Daddy and Alvin Fernald, 2007

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

So, so many stories I could tell you, of course, about a man born in nineteen-and-twenty-two (as his father would say). The time at twelve years old, on Halloween, putting an outhouse up on the roof of the bank building downtown. Going to the neighborhood grocer on Thursdays, with his dad's paycheck in hand. The grocer would "cash" the check, pay the family's bill for the week, and Daddy would leave with a handful of vanilla cremes the grocer put in his hand on the way out the door. It was Daddy's job to coax the furnace to life in the mornings. Then there was the time he woke up with inches of snow on top of his blanket. And on. And on.

He skipped his senior year of high school to care for his baby sister after his mother had surgery, then went back and graduated a year late. He married "the girl next door" at nineteen. Three months later was Pearl Harbor. He proudly served in the Army Air Force. When he came home, he began a forty-one year career at General Electric. Mom and Daddy's life had many joys as well as sorrows--he has nine children waiting for him in heaven, as well as his "pretty girl." For his fifty-year high school reunion he wrote a tiny biography, and called himself "a simple man, raising a family, married to the love of his life."

But of course, he didn't tell the whole story. How he is the ultimate in human role models for How to Be a Godly Man, and How to Live Your Life with Integrity. About Duty and Sacrificial Love and Fun. About how all you had to do was watch him awhile, and you could see the Father God's love shining through him.

And, of course, he could fix anything. And do anything.

Because he's my Daddy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


During this growing season:

"Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: Thou greatly enrichest it with the
river of God, which is full of water: Thou preparest them corn, when thou hast
so provided for it.

10Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: Thou
settlest the furrows thereof: Thou makest it soft with showers: Thou blessest
the springing thereof.

11Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and
thy paths drop fatness.

12 They drop upon the pastures of the
wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side.

13The pastures
are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout
for joy, they also sing." Psalms 65: 9-13

Nature all around us, tells us what the Lord is doing. And, Nature is rejoicing! Shouldn't we be rejoicing as well, at what the Lord is doing?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Playing with the Big Boys

I just love Monday nights this summer! Johnny Tremain, MacGuyver, Rocky Balboa, and Alvin Fernald are on our church softball team. Alvin is so excited, because the minimum age to play is fourteen, and, of course, he is.

Last night was the third "played" game (with one rained out). Alvin struggled the first two games--after all, he's never played softball before, and the rest of the guys were seasoned, and men.

He missed fielding a couple of balls, struck out a couple of times, "flied" out on others. But last night was Different. That boy was On His Game. He caught a line drive, foiled a run, and got two hits, one an RBI. He was also part of a double play, but later he told me that the second guy didn't quite get out. Oh, well. For this Mama, that didn't make no difference!

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that my other two sons and son-in-law had exploits of their own. It seemed that they just couldn't miss catching a fly ball when it came their way. I'm not sure, but it seemed to me that my four boys are just about the best players that the game has ever seen!

[Why, yes, I DO need to sew four or five buttons back on my shirt, from bustin' with pride!]

On the sideline front, fifteen-month-old Oxford had his first taste of dirt. Like many of us, it will not make his list of fave foods. But Mommy Forget-me-not was there with water to wash it out, and grapes to take the bad taste away!

This morning, I watched three of Lily's, while she went to the homeschool used curriculum sale. I made the girls these Lazy Days Skirts: (click on the link for the free pattern)

(That is Laura Carrot on the left, and Sweet Pea on the right.) I didn't have the ribbon that the pattern called for, for the border, so I just used a contrasting fabric.

Charming has had yesterday and today off. The weather has been great, and it has been a relaxing, wonderful two days. If you read my other blog, you'll know that Charming is under a lot of pressure at work, and will probably be "downsized" this month. This "weekend" has been very therapeutic for us. Of course, any day filled with our children and grandchildren has got to be great, right?

Sunday, June 07, 2009


I've been thinking again. Go check out my other blog!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Diamonds for Violet

What girl doesn't like diamonds?
I finished this quilt this weekend. In fact, the quilting took less than three weeks to complete--incredible!
I've got Blackeyed Susan trained. When I photograph my quilts, she knows to flip down the corner on the second shot, to show the backing:

This quilt is the third of four, exactly alike. Do you want to hear the story?
A number of years ago, I received a quilt my grandmother had made, of diamond shapes, all different. Forget-me-not really liked it, and used it on her bed. After a few weeks I could see that behaviors like sitting on it to put on your shoes, or dumping your schoolbooks on it on a regular basis would do more damage, more quickly than the years of normal used the quilt had seen in my grandmother's care. I told Forget-me-not that we'd have to put the quilt away; she complained, and I told her I would reproduce it for her.

My friend Kaybeautiful and I scoured our scrap bins for fabrics. Since we were not into quilting big-time yet, we only had scraps of things we had made for ourselves or for our children. I believe we needed about 265 different fabrics, and when we fell 'way short, we Started Shopping. That was the fun, fun, fun part. For about a year, we would pick up fabrics here and there. We cut four diamonds out of each fabric: one for her, and three for me (one quilt for each of my three daughters). If we were alone, we would mail them to each other, with little notes attached: "I liked the little figures in this one." "I know you like red!" and my favorite: PPPatP. (Paid Premium Price at Patchworks [the local quilt shop]."

As the months went by, I found out something about Kaybeautiful: she and I don't share the same fabric taste. Some of the fabrics I was most excited about, she would comment, "well, you always told me that there should be a few "uglies" in a quilt." And some of her favorites were, well, eeuuww--ugly. A few times we went shopping together: Kaybeautiful would bring a bolt over to me and say, "I know you'll love this, because I hate it!" (really, what happened is that we started choosing fabrics that we knew the other would like--it was Pretty Cool.)

So we finally collected all the diamonds. I cut the white muslin diamonds for all three of my quilts all at once, laid them out in a pleasing order, and began the first one. I completed it for Forget-me-not's high school graduation in 2000.

Sometime after that, our basement flooded, and the cardboard box I kept the diamonds in got soaked in eeuuww. So I had to handwash them and iron them. Fortunately, Forget-me-not's was already done, so I could figure out the order of the diamonds for the other two quilts.

I finished Blackeyed Susan's in the summer of 2005. So much for doing one a year for three years and done with it! And, as you can see, it is 2009 for Violet's.

One last thing. As you can see, the top and bottom border are zig-zagged. This makes for a weird feeling around your face. However, after I finished the first one, I took it to show my mother, and the first thing she said was, "now, THAT looks like a Grandma quilt!"