Thursday, February 25, 2010

Party Time

I finished quilts for Oxford and Cambridge for their second birthdays. (in addition to baby quilts, I make each of my grands a two-year-old quilt.)

Cambridge is really into penguins. I had two penguin-themed fabrics, and added a Veggie-tales fabric just for fun. I really like the way the colors work together:

For Oxford, I did an I Spy quilt--eighty-eight different squares of very-fun things. However, you will not find any ballet dancers or other girly-things--Oxford is all boy, all the time:

Saturday, Blueberry and Oxford had their birthday party, with a Toy Story theme. Gotta say that Blueberry makes a great Buzz Lightyear:

Cambridge would not let me get a proper photo all afternoon. I did sneak in a side-shot of his Woody alter-ego:

The guests were invited to dress as a favorite toy. Cambridge's favorite thing in the entire universe is his cowboy hat. Here he is, chewin' the fat with Pop-Pop:

Baby Nettie didn't have to dress. She's a doll-baby already:

Laura Carrot graced the court as a princess:

Here we see Princess Sweet Pea with some G.I. Joe guy, played by Junior Asparagus:
Blueberry and Oxord also have six cousins on the other side of the family, so it was a noisy party! Our next birthday extravaganza is next month for Junior and Cambridge. I'd better get rested up...

Here is a photo of my next project:
It is just so cool to me, that three little piles of squares can become a quilt top in just a few days. This will be a simple design, so it will go fast, but I am really liking the colors. You'll be seeing more of this in the days to come.

Charming is flying out Sunday to begin training for his new job! He will be heading to Mankato, Minnesota. Yep, following in the footsteps of Pa Ingalls. He wants to drive out to Walnut Grove and Sleepy Eye, while he's there. While Laura lived "on the banks of Plum Creek," she lived in a soddy in the side of a hill. All that's left is a depression in the hill, but it is marked with a plaque. Not an ostentatious memorial, but that's okay. Laura's life was just the same as other pioneer children. I do love that some things survive, even if it's the Little Depression on Plum Creek!

Charming will be gone for two weeks, then home to begin working in the store in our city. One of these days, normalcy will return. Whatever that is...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Blessed Week


On Monday, Charming finally got his call with a job offer, *and* I filed my taxes with a biggie refund. Still living off the high we got with that day.

Yesterday, we got the results of a three-hour EEG for baby Nettie (now four months). The EEG showed no seizure activity of any kind! She still has a number of tics, which are bothersome to her, but she will probably outgrow them. I am amazed that she is "bothered by them," but you can tell that when her face jerks, she gets upset. The working of the Lord is evident day by day in her life. Lily is a champ: do you know that she now has five children, and her oldest isn't seven yet? Her plan of an orderly, homeschooling day is often interrupted with appointments for Nettie--doctor(s), therapy, and the other, normal four-month old's idiosyncracies. Lily seems to take it in stride; she does not show frustration very often. Having Nettie in her life has made her sweeter and softer. Isn't God so very, very good to order our lives to make us into the image of His dear Son?

I'm still discovering the changes in my own life because of the journey of the last eight months. By nature I was always a worrier; I've learned begun to learn to let the Lord do worrying for me. I've had a lot of people ask about what it was like having Charming around all the time; I have fallen in love with him over and over again. I can honestly say that those little irritations came rarely, and only for a few hours. Maybe the Lord is making *me* sweeter and softer?

Today I'm going to a double birthday party. Forget-me-not's boys' birthdays are two weeks apart. Blueberry is four and Oxford will be two. I've got my presents ready, and it will be a raucous two hours. There are a number of cousins on both sides, and Fun Will Be Had. But I will have my cellphone at the ready: my Daddy, aged eighty-seven, has pneumonia. He continues to try to call me a number of times a day, and I can tell it is so, so difficult for him to get his breath. I spoke with a nurse this morning, and they are considering sending him to the hospital. For him, pneumonia can easily be life-threatening. So today, I will have one foot in each end of life, trying to straddle the middle, which is laundry and negotiating Blackeyed Susan's and Alvin Fernald's weekend schedules and planning Sunday dinner. But I know that I am not living through this day alone. This day has been planned by my Father long before it came, and His plan is Good.

Yep. It has been a Blessed Week here at the Cottage.

I pray your weekend is blessed as well!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Burglary Deterrent

Many years ago, we lived in a little house, and I didn't have a place to store my portable sewing machine. (which was not-so-portable, being in an ancient Singer wooden case and being made of, oh, let's say, cast iron or something--that critter was Heavy.) It ended up in the hallway from the kitchen to our bedroom, sorta across from the bathroom door.

One day, I was sailing into or out of said bathroom and stubbed my foot on the sewing machine. Even though I was wearing shoes, I knew that something was BROKE. (now, I know that, grammatically, I should have used the word "broken," but somehow, BROKE is much more descriptive of that searing, blinding pain. Bad words even came out of my mouth, for which I had to apologize to my then-very-young children. I called Kaybeautiful, my nurse-y friend, and asked her advice. She said that I could tape two toes together for five or six weeks. "What if I went to the doctor?" She said, "they'll tape the two toes together for five or six weeks, and charge you thirty-five bucks." (I told you it was a long time ago...)

So I taped the two toes together. Five weeks later I took off the tape for a trial run--too early. Two more weeks, and I was fine. And I haven't really thought about this incident for years and years and years, till last night.

Charming "found" another sewing machine last night, on his way back from the bathroom. I had just about forgotten about this little number. Lily found a sewing machine with a table at a garage sale this summer for ten dollars. She only needed the table, so I took the machine, thinking I would refurbish it for Tiny Dancer sometime. I put it out of the way, beside a bookshelf in the upstairs hallway. Unlike the former incident, however, this machine had no case, so it is out for all to see in it's heavy-metal glory. It had sat there, basically forgotten, for all these months. But *evidently* someone had kicked it a little out of its normal place, and Charming was the unfortunate victim of a triple-stubbing.

Ouch. Are you rubbing your little toesies in sympathy?

Out of this incident, however, we have devised a Scathingly Brilliant Idea. We can pick up some more discarded, ten dollar machines here and there, and sell them as Burglary Deterrents. Just set them inside your front door at bedtime, and wait for the unsuspecting burglars to show up. They'll run away lightning-fast, spewing bad words as they go. And they'll probably spread the word to other low-lifes who might be considering a crime spree in our neighborhood.

Now to figure out how to attach a really annoying alarm to the machines...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rejoice with us...

...After eight months, Charming has been offered a job!

And, for the first time in thirty-five years, it is Not. In. A. Restaurant!

God is so very, very good. (but I already knew that.)

Yesterday, when he got "the call," was eight months, to the day, since he lost his last job. I remembered that "8" is the Biblical number of New Beginnings.

Would you like to hear more good news?

I had just finished doing our income taxes a half-hour before Charming got his phone call. The refund we will be getting is enough to catch up all of our bills that have been behind. This means that we will start the new job at "even" instead of "catching up."

God is so very, very good. He does give us "full and running over." All the time. Money or no, job or no, health or no. It's just Who He Is. He has proven it, again, this time.

Thanks for all of your prayers. They were so, so appreciated, and they kept *me* going.

(off to continue my little "happy dance...")

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Saturday, February 06, 2010

How to Become a Member of the Cornflake Family...

(...our family name being the same as the parent company of Tony the Tiger, et al...)

...according to Maddi, Blackeyed Susan's buddy:

Chapter the First

Having once had eight children at home, we had a number of salt and pepper shakers for everyday use. Right now we have three salt shakers, a pepper shaker, a pepper grinder, and, in a pinch, the Can of pepper. But you will often find one of the salt shakers in another part of the house, having been used for popcorn, or if supper was in front of the tv.

Maddi thinks this is rather amusing, and her belief is that everyone in the family has their own set of salts and peppers. I think that *Maddi* is rather amusing to have even noticed.

Chapter the Second

We received a number of lovely gifts for our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, including two sets of not-for-everyday salts-and-peppers:
a lovely silvery set, and a crystal set that I believe are supposed to represent pagodas.

Then, one day at the thrift store I noticed a tiny little glass set (on the right below), and decided to try to acquire eight or ten sets, for when we have more formal dinners. They look pretty darned cute sitting by each place.

The odd set on the left is composed of another, square glass shaker, and a really lovely silver one. I wish, wish, wish, that there had been a pair of those. I really love the shape:

Yesterday I was in another thrift store, and saw these little beauties. New-in-box (but years and years old), and just $1 for four:

Chapter the Third

So, Maddi's birthday is in March. I am going to take one of the sets, fill it, and present it to her with a note: "Now you are an official member of the Cornflake Clan, because you have your very own salt-and-pepper set."

Of course, she will have to bring them over when she comes for dinner!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Little Things

The grip of the extremely freezing temperatures is broken, at least for now. When we got home from church yesterday, it was a "balmy" 32 degrees. The sun was out, so the snow that remained on the sidewalks was melting, and I wore just a coat, not adding a sweater underneath. It's all relative, isn't it? Who knew we would *enjoy* temps in the 30s?

I picked up a can of green beans last week, and noticed something a little "off." I wanted to share it with you, in case you would not notice it if it happened to you, and reap sorry consequences.

Before E. coli and salmonella were the stars of the food poisoning world, we talked about ptomaine. Ptomaine is a food poisoning that had a reputation for hangin' out in canned goods. When I was younger, my grandma would come across a jar of canned peaches or something that had a lid that was swollen--that was a sure sign that it had been incorrectly sealed, and the ptomaine bacteria that was inside already, had reproduced, with gas as one of the byproducts of reproduction. Mom told me to always watch commercially canned items, as well--once in awhile we saw a can with a swollen top, as well.

These green beans I picked up last week looked a tad funny. I couldn't say that the top and bottom of the can were "swollen," but they definitely weren't "flat." The telltalle thing for me, though, was that when I shook the can, the beans weren't "tight" in there, it was really "loose," and those beans had a lot of room to slosh around. "Better safe than sorry," my Mom always said, so I set them aside. (I didn't throw them out because I wanted to show my kids and their friends.) I sure wouldn't want to get food poisoning, especially when I got the beans on sale for 3/$1!! I have only seen suspicious cans about three times in my marriage (34 years), so I thought I would spread the word, for those of you who may not realize the warning signs.

So, after all that, Charming reminded me that what I am talking about with canned goods is botulism, not ptomaine. Same warning, different poison. Sorry.
I learned something the other day. I have noticed recently the push for Vitamin D supplements. Evidently you need them to prevent cancer. Paired with Vitamin C, they head off a cold. Now, I was a little confused. After all, we get our Vitamin D from sunshine, right? Even in the dead of a grey winter, sit in a window with the light coming in, and ten minutes a day is all you need to get your Daily Requirement.

So why all the advertisements pushing supplements? It seems that, indeed, we are not getting enough anymore. The reason? All that sunscreen we wear to protect our skin, summer and winter, keeps the Vitamin D from getting in. Can you believe it?

I think we need to take a cue from Ma Ingalls: "Laura, wear your sunbonnet. Your skin is beginning to look like a red Indian!" Yep, those ladies did not worry about sunscreen, and they didn't get skin cancer, either. So, I propose a new campaign, like Wear Red for Women, or even Wearing Pink for breast cancer: Wear Sunbonnets for your skin health!

I think it will go over in a big way, don't you?

I watched a few minutes of the Grammy awards last evening, in between things I was doing. I don't get much out of the Grammys anymore, because I don't listen to very much secular music. The Dove Awards would be more my speed. But the little bit that I saw was very telling. They showed a little clip of Bobby Darin singing Mack the Knife, and said that he won the Grammy for Record of the Year fifty years ago. (yeah, I remember Bobby Darin, and the song...scary.) Then they announced the nominees for this year's Record of the Year, including Lady Gaga. (don't know if I need to hyphenate that one, or capitalize it or what--no disrespect intended, Lady...)

How far we have come. From Bobby Darin in a black suit and white shirt, holding a microphone and singing, to the huge production numbers accompanied by fireworks, we saw on the program last evening. My mother would say something like, "well, when you don't have talent, you try to cover it up with glitter." Hmmm. I think I am beginning to turn into my mother! I did catch myself saying, "they don't write songs like they used to..."

Blackeyed Susan and Alvin Fernald have completed their first semester in public school. The second quarter grades were better than the first's, but still not up to what they did in homeschool. Most of their problems stem from teachers that don't teach well enough for them to get the concepts. (and the report is, that a number of other honor students in the same classes have the same opinion...) So, there you have it. When you have a mother as your teacher, who will teach to your particular learning style, and pursue the matter until you understand it thoroughly, well, that is a distinct advantage. There is nothing like a personal tutor, right? Homeschoolers, Keep. On.Keepin'. On.

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. I learned when I was little, that if the groundhog saw his shadow, there would be six more weeks of winter. I was much, much older when I learned that that was not the desired outcome. Here in Indiana, *only* six more weeks of winter was a good thing. I didn't know that if the groundhog did not see his shadow, spring would come sooner! But, here in Indiana, I don't think the weatherman pays any attention to the groundhog...

So there you have a Few Snippets of Nothing in Particular. (sounds Pooh-ish, doesn't it?) I hope you all have a wonderful week!