The party was fun! The weather was gorgeous. The birthday boy was his charming little self. The details of our bird themed party came together with the help of a few early party guests (thank you!!!). As with any family gathering, I was overwhelmed by the blessing of being surrounded by the people who love us most during an important milestone.

For very little money, the bird theme came to life! The decorations pictured above couldn’t have been any simpler. A trip to the library provided lots of “bird books” for decorating the tables, and my sister read a few to the kids.

Too bad I forgot the party favors at home. Bummer…

Spring Break: Thursday

Nothing renews my enthusiasm and reminds of my imperfections like trying something new.  As children, we encounter new people, places, and tasks almost every day.  We learn new skills and experience new flavors, sights, and smells.  Fortunately, the world is a big, complicated place.  Even grown-ups can run into new things almost daily if their eyes are open.  New words.  New faces.  New designs.  New foods.  But actually learning a new skill can be really difficult for an adult.  We are used to feeling a sense of control, the comforting sense of accomplishment that comes with doing a job we’ve had for years or a hobby that we’ve been nurturing since childhood.  We don’t always embrace our mistakes as learning opportunities.  We don’t recognize falls as opportunities to learn how to get up. 

So in order to keep the childlike ability to accept the mistakes that come with learning (and just for the fun of it!), I love to give new things a try.  For a few years, I took violin lessons (a childhood dream), but the time and expense became too much with two little boys to care for and a doctoral program to complete.  I’ll get back to it someday.  But I love to make music, so in the beginning of February I joined the church’s bell choir.  I confess: I’m not entirely new to hand bells.  I played in a “two girl” duet in the sixth grade.  We only stayed together for a few months, but I learned the basics and enjoyed the music.  Being part of a bell choir has some of the attributes of being in a singing choir.  The sense of teamwork and collaboration is wonderful, but if you’re singing alto in a typical choir, you can miss a note or take a big breath during a particular bar and the piece won’t suffer.  Your fellow altos cover your absence.   That’s not the case in a bell choir.  No one else is responsible for my “A.”  I can’t count on my neighbor to remind me of my entrance.  So the nervousness factor is escalated, but the ethereal twinkle of a bell choir is so uplifting and the energy of the music so contagious that I can’t help but enjoy myself.  The rehearsals are a lot of fun.  The hour flies.

And here are a couple of photos of another “something new.”  My hubby and I took a brief necklace-making class at the Knit & Crochet Festival in February.  I love that the focal point is a vintage clip-on earring.

Knitting + Olympics = A Challenge!

I’m happy  to announce that I am now a Knitting Olympian.  My blog shall proudly wear the official emblem of the Knitting Olympics 2010.

The big event is hosted by one of my favorite blogs: Yarnharlot (see link to the right).  I’ll cast on during the Opening Ceremonies this very evening, and I pledge to finish by the time the torch goes dark.  Hmmm…can I do?  YES I CAN! (okay…maybe)

I was going to do a little vest for my toddler, but I decided that I would be setting myself up for failure.  After all, I do not intend to give my children away for the duration of the Winter Games, so I can’t take on too much.  My new selection is a surprise…just in case its future recipient reads my blog.  I’ll give a few hints along the way!

Pirate-y Things

For quite some time, our household has been on a pirate kick.  It all began with the Veggie Tales movie, The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.  Things took off from there!  You might remember the Halloween costume.  Well, now we can add the building of a ship and the crafting of a treasure chest to our list of pirating skills. 

(The treasure chest was the boys’ birthday gift to Daddy.  As you can imagine, I’m still finding green paint in places.)

Goal update!

So you may remember my New Years post concerning two of my primary goals.  One of those goals was to learn to use my sewing maching.  Here is some evidence of my progress!

This cotton bib–backed with flannel–was made for my sweet little God son as a belated Christmas gift.  Seemed simple enough, but I had a really hard time with the topstiching around the neckline.  It’s pretty wobbly, but overall I’m happy with the finished product.

A final look at Thanksgiving and my first Christmas craft

Mom's adorable turkey cookies were a big hit,
...and the pies were delicious as usual!
I love getting ready for Christmas, and this year, I decided to change my livingroom mantel (I actually had to look up "mantel" in the dictionary to know how to spell it. It looks weird, but it's right!) this year. I've been using the same greenery, pinecones, and white lights for several Christmases, but for some reason, I'm really craving sparkly things this year. I loved the bejeweled trees at Target, but I just couldn't justify the cost. Instead, I picked up two foam cones at the craft store and a big ol' container of glitter.
A car key made the perfect handle for my "tree" as I sprinkled glitter over an old cookie sheet.


And the finished product was better than I had hoped. The glitter picked up the light of the candles so beautifully. This could not have been easier!


Okay, I confess.  I dislike Halloween.  I don’t like its questionable spiritual origins.  I don’t like that it brings gross candy into my house that I don’t even want my child to have.  (This point, of course, excludes Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and other forms of good chocolate…not the cheap waxy stuff that is as counterfeit as all the princesses parading around on the 31st.)  As a kid I was freaked out by the notion that my parents would actually want me to knock on the doors of strangers’ houses, talk to the strangers, and ultimately take candy from them.  What?!  We didn’t have any real neighbors, so Mom drove us to our grandparents’ neighborhoods.  It took me years to figure out that although these mysterious figures were strangers to me, many of them were the same folks who gave my parents candy when they were little trick-or-treaters.  But even once I concluded that my mom and dad weren’t try to lure me into the hands of would-be kidnappers, I still disliked this pseudo-holiday.   What are we celebrating anyway?

But here is what I do like about Halloween: creativity.  I remember lying awake at night designing an alarm clock costume when I was in the fourth grade.  I explained it in detail, and together my parents and I made my late night musings come to life.  We used cardboard, Styrofoam, aluminum foil, felt, yarn, an actual alarm clock, tights, sticky numbers, and paint.  The results were fantastic, and I won First Place!  What a proud moment.  All of my costumes were homemade…sometimes by me, sometimes my mom, even my Aunt Georgia made a poodle skirt and a Rainbow Brite.  Now, I’m making costumes for my own children, and while I still frown at the spooky death stuff and cringe at the thought of cavities and tummy aches, I look forward to my little guys saying some September (or perhaps on October 30th !!) “I wanna be a…,” and I’ll say, “Okay!  Let’s do it!”



 This year we followed our recent enthusiasm for all things pirate-y and created a pirate and his parrot sidekick.  While pirates aren’t exactly upstanding citizens, they aren’t so scary that I can’t wrap my innocent four-year-old in such garb.  Thursday was the costume party at school.  Big fun there!  On Halloween night we went to a church’s Halloween Fest that celebrated the Light rather than the creepy darkness.  Carved pumpkins served as lanterns all around, and white lights were strung around the church yard and the church itself.  There were traditional games like bobbing for apples (and peppers!).  And of course, lots of candy and fun costumes.  Not too bad…