We’re Moving!

Well, ladies and gentlemen (don’t know if any gentlemen actually read my blog).  We are getting ready for a big move.  Big.  Move. 

Even though this is a really rough time to be moving (hot weather and a baby due in just 3 weeks), this announcement is a cause to celebrate.  My dedicated, hard-working hubby has been offered a teaching job at a small, liberal arts college, and we are delighted that God has blessed us with this opportunity–an opportunity that we have waited for and prayed for during many years of graduate school and two years on the job market.  We are not making a move across town, or even across our state.  We will be moving about 17 hours away from our family, so while we are rejoicing for the job and the financial security that it offers, we can’t help having mixed feelings about the changes that are ahead.  I am a mix of happy anticipation and sadness.  The prospect of a fresh start is exhilarating!  The thought of leaving behind family, friends, our son’s school, and our church is heartbreaking.  

So…things are going to look a bit different here at Warm as Pie.  The blog might be slow-moving for awhile, but I have no intentions of quitting!  In fact, I have a feeling that my blog will take on a new level of life and meaning when it becomes an important part of how I show relatives and friends the day-to-day growth and fun of our little family.  I have two primary goals for this time of transition: 1) to provide stability and comfort for my boys, and 2) to maintain and forge even stronger bonds with the people we love.  Warm as Pie will be a signficant tool in the second goal.

We plan to move around the beginning of August.  We are making baby preparations and trying to pack while not missing out on the joys of summer.  This will be a summer I certainly will never forget!

One Hour per Day

A lot can get done in one hour per day. I could have a truly clean, functional bedroom closet. I could probably paint my kitchen cabinets or edit my poetry manuscript that is still sitting sadly under my bed. But this week, I am participating in the “Kids Clothes Week Challenge” from the blog Elsie Marley.  I only have one goal: to knit the tiny Baby Bolero from One Skein

One hour per day to a cozy little something for our summer baby.  I’m excited!

Spring Break: The Final Weekend

Wow. That week flew. Of course, I did not accomplish all of my spring break goals. But you know what? I do not feel discouraged. I do not feel like a failure because I accomplished a lot! And when I make a list of goals, I always set them high. Always. Higher than I expect to reach. Some people would call that setting yourself up for failure, but not me. Makes me excited!

Goal #1:  I sort of took an “unplugged” vacation. I didn’t do as well as I planned, but I cut WAY back on internet time. I stayed away from Facebook (until yesterday evening) except to privately message two friends. I checked a couple of my favorite blogs a few times, but I did no commenting on blogs. I didn’t browse aimlessly, and I didn’t check my e-mail compulsively…although I wanted to!

Goal #2: I did take a “project inventory” of the house. I want Hubby to jot down a few notes, but I feel great about my list.

Goal #3: I decluttered in all of the public areas of the house EXCEPT the master bedroom.  Why is that room so hard for me?  Even though I did declutter in all of our living spaces, the project is certainly not complete.  I guess I’ll be decluttering forever.

Goal #4: Who was I kidding?  I did not clean the windows inside and out.  I have a pretty good excuse though.  We had terrible weather.  It rained, and we had measurable snow fall on two occasions.  I did clean the insides of all the downstairs windows, and I plan to clean the insides of the upstairs windows tomorrow.

Goal #5:  I bought new items for our bathroom (yay!), but the tiles did not get replaced.  This week!

Goal #6:  No.  Sadly, no sewing happened.  The curtains will have to wait.

Goal #7:  I did not blog daily but really close.  I have a complete Spring Break series that I can feel good about.

Goal #8: I did not finish cleaning out the car, but I made a good effort at a real start.  On Thursday, I arrived early to the kindergarten pick-up line, so I filled a shopping bag with trash.  Embarrassing but exciting!

So that is the spring break recap.  I did not stretch out on a white, sandy beach.  I did not go to a spa.  I did not pound the pavement of Disney World (but I did daydream about it).  Instead, I accomplished a few small things that made me feel great about my home and my own productivity.  The house looks nice, and a clean house makes me feel enthusiastic about the spring decorating that I have planned for the week.  We will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day next weekend, but of course, there will be some green fun on the 17th.  I have lots of things that I am looking forward to sharing right here at Warm As Pie.  Thanks for coming by!

(The picture is from last year.  We aren’t quite to the sprouting stage yet, but it’s coming oh-so-close.)

Spring Break begins!

Today is the first day of Spring Break. I have high hopes for this break. I’m feeling motivated and excited! So here are my plans:

1. Take an “unplugged” vacation. I’m limiting my online time to blogging and my one daily check of my “necessary” e-mail account. I’m going to check my work e-mail ONCE in the middle of the week. (All my students are on break, so I know I won’t be hearing much from them!) I’ll probably poke my head into my favorite mommy messageboard at least once because I just can’t resist!  No facebook, random surfing, casual e-mailing, or even (gulp) blog reading.

2. Take a whole-house inventory of household repairs/projects to complete before baby comes. I even bought a yellow legal pad for the occasion.

3. Declutter all of the “public” areas of our home. That means I am ignoring closets, cabinets, the attic, and the basement..for now.

4. Clean all windows, inside and out.

5. Buy new curtains, shower curtain, and small rug for the bathroom.  Replace broken tiles in the bathroom.

6. Finish sewing curtains for the boys’ room and make one SECRET little project for a special someone!

7. Blog daily. I did a Spring Break series last year, and it was fun to write and fun to look back upon from time to time.

8. Clean out the car!!!!

I think these goals are completely possible. Here I go!

1-1-11 and “A Handmade Holiday” Part I

Happy New Year!  Good-bye, 2010.  We had a blessed year in 2010.  My hubby completed his degree.  We watched as our sweet son turned five and successfully entered Kindergarten with barely a glance back.  We learned that we would soon welcome a third child into our family.  We’ve watch our second child grow tremendously in his speech over the last few months, and that means that we get to enjoy twice as many of the sweet (and funny) things that kids say.  I never want to forget that our two year old wished everyone a “Merry Pick-us” this year. 

When 2010 began, I had two primary resolutions.  First, I would learn to sew.  I’m still not an expert by any stretch, but as you’ll see below, I can now handle the basic operation of my sewing machine.  I love sewing, and I hope to set aside more time for it in the coming year.  Secondly, I resolved to move forward with my graduate studies with “vigor, enthusiasm, and commitment.”  That particular goal took an unexpected turn in May when I decided to postpone the final stage of my work and perhaps shift subject-matter entirely.  Well, it wasn’t completely surprising to me.  I contemplated the choice at length with perpetual prayer and a critical eye, but I think it might have been largely unexpected for many people in my life.

As I enter 2011, I have the freedom to learn new things every day.  I can practice a knitting technique or read up on the latest research on overuse of antibiotics.  I can make clay animals with my sons or sit down with my husband for a cup of Earl Grey when our little guys are in their bunk beds.  I can read Little Women AGAIN just because I feel like it.  So…given this freedom, how will I resolve to improve myself and my family in the coming year?

1.  I will keep a tidy (not perfect, just tidy) home.  Organization does not come naturally to me, so I will be putting a very specific plan into place in order to work toward this goal.  More about my plans later. 

2.  I will listen to more music.  Okay, this might sound like a silly goal, dear readers, but I have some real reasons.  I promise.  Sometimes, even a house full of the sounds of two very active little boys seems too empty, too quiet.  I find myself turning on and leaving on talk radio or random podcasts even when I don’t have a real interest in the topic. My recent pattern is the masked return of an old habit that I thought I had broken.  I used to put on the television…not to watch, just to have sound…when my husband wasn’t around or he was working in our home office (a.k.a. the attic).  My brain would feel frantic without sound.  Once my kids started paying attention to the TV, I made myself turn it off.  But little by little, I’ve noticed that I’m giving into the need for sound again.  Pretty harmless, right?  Probably.  But sometimes I find myself placing more attention on the radio show than the play of my kids.  I become disengaged from the learning and fun right in front of me, and my mind heads into thoughts of politics, religion, and other assorted topics.  The solution?  Music.  Good music that lifts my spirits and exposes my children to new, rich sounds.  I can have the sounds I need without being distract from the present.  And if the music gets us up and dancing, even better!  I’ve been in a music rut for years, so I’m eager for your suggestions!

3.  I resolve to appear in more of our family photographs.  I will not stay behind the camera!

On to Christmas…

Way back in the summer when Christmas felt like forever away, I promised myself that I would have a “Handmade Holiday” this year.  I would make gifts for loved ones, and the gifts that I didn’t make would be handmade by another crafter or would support a private business.  In the fall, I made my commitment official by signing up here .  (But I see now that I’ve been deleted.  Hmm…I was there a couple of weeks ago.  I guess I didn’t update my blog enough.)  Anyway, as Christmas approached, I was disappointed that I didn’t have as many handmade gifts as I had hoped.  I felt sad that the end-of-semester rush kept me from making some of the projects I had planned, but throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the aesthetic of “handmade” that I so love kept coming up in small but inspiring ways.  I’ll share our bits of “Handmade Holiday” in several posts.

On Christmas Eve, the boys and I made salt dough ornaments inspired by this amazing post by Katy Elliot. 

Wow.  This project certainly brought back memories.  My sister and I often played with salt dough at Grandma Kitty’s house.  I clearly remember a dough birthday cake that we painted pink with watercolors.  We poked holes in the top of the cake so that we could stick the required number of candles in it.  So much fun!

That’s my sister’s pretty little hand putting one of our ornaments on our parents’ tree.

“O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by…”

I’ve had this owl pennant on the list of potential gifts for months.  I found it here at Moonstitches.  I have no idea how I came across this blog or its 2007 post, but as soon as I saw these spunky little owls, I knew I had to make them for my sister.  Then, I grew so fond of them that I decided that my mom needed a set as well. 

The original pattern calls for linen for the belly pieces, but I chose to use wool felt to avoid fraying or any need for ironing.  I hate ironing.  I just slipping the jiggle bells over the twine, so my sister and my mom can easily remove the bells if they want their pennants to be year-round decorations.  “Joy” isn’t only for Christmas, you know.

I’ll have more to share soon.  Wishing you a healthy, happy, and creative 2011!

I want the real thing…

On the day that I received my first acceptance letter to a PhD program, I cried.  At last, my dream would be coming true.  When I was just twelve years old, I set the goal of earning a doctorate in English.  What does a twelve year old know about graduate school?  Not much actually.  But I knew that I was completely in love with language: poetry, stories, reading, writing, and talking about words.  My seventh grade English teacher inspired me with her expressive readings and her praise of my own writing.  I knew that I wanted to spend my life helping others to love language as much as Mrs. Keller and I did.  But I also knew that the kids made fun of my dear teacher.  They mocked her enthusiasm for her work.  I knew that I wanted no part of the jr./sr. high scene.  The answer was college.  I would become a college professor where no one made fun of the teachers.

Once I got to college, I was not disappointed.  My small liberal arts school confirmed everything that I imagined “college” to mean.  It even had old, ivy covered brick buildings.  I loved my English courses, adored my professors, and pushed along toward my goal.  I even joked with one seasoned teacher saying “I want your job!”

I did go to graduate school after college.  I went straight into an MFA program in creative writing at a highly competitive program.  I learned a lot.  Most of all, I learned that I DO love teaching.  While working on the MFA, I had a teaching fellowship (free school!), and I loved teaching Composition.  So, during the last year of my master’s degree, I applied to PhD programs in Composition (housed in English Departments).  I also applied to an Education program at the school where my husband would ultimately attend.   I knew it wasn’t a perfect fit, but I thought I could make it work.  Silly, I  know.  I enjoyed my courses very much, but I never quite fit with my peers.  I told my story over and over…to fellow students, to professors, even to a couple of administrators.  No one seemed to know what to do with me. 

In the middle of it all, I became a mother, and my priorities completely changed.  I still liked my work, but I didn’t carry the same sense of ambition or the competitive nature that is so important in academia.  I liked the idea of finishing the degree, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about getting a job after graduation.  I wanted to nurture a home and family, not just watch my kids grow up but really be a part of that learning and growing process.  After the completion of my course work and the arrival of son #2, I took a leave-of-absence.  I needed to sort out all of these conflicting ideas.  Since January 2009 (the start of my leave), I have been hunting inside myself and waiting for God to leave a hint for me.  Finally, in the last few weeks, I decided that I was ready to return to school, and I hoped that the uncertainties would work themselves out.  I believe I could have made it work with the support of my parents, my in-laws, and of course, my husband.

Yesterday, I met with my advisor with the purpose of enrolling for the summer term.  We had a long conversation which basically entailed my advisor saying exactly what I’ve suspect for the last six years: a PhD in Education is not going to get me the kind of job I want.  Professors in Education teach future teachers–Education majors–how to be teachers.  They typically have years of teaching experience in primary and secondary school.  I have about eight years of teaching experience at the college level and no teacher certification at all. 

Now I see.  The acceptance letter to this program did not represent my dream coming true; it was an edited version of my dream.  Not the real thing.  For several years, I have been following a more convenient path in order to spend more time near my husband (not such a bad thing, all in all), but after several conversations with the people who love me and counsel me best, I decided that I must do the thing that will be best for my family (emotionally and financially)—the same thing that will allow me to be more myself and work toward the real long-held, long-loved dream.  I will not be returning to this doctoral program.

So, today I begin on a new path.  I’m a little sad—like you might feel after a difficult but necessary breakup—but the excitement of this new beginning is starting to sink in.  I get to ask wonderful questions like “Who am I now that I’m not a student?”, “What activities were my boys and I missing out on because I was trying to read or research something for school?”, “What will ‘being myself’ feel like when I’m ‘only’ Mommy?”, “What will my ‘office’ look like now?” (so fun to imagine!),  “What will my shelves hold?”, “What books will I read?”, and on and on and on.

On May 2nd, my husband reached his goal.  He is Dr. Hubby now, and I felt that his graduation was my own victory in a way.  I plan to relish “our” accomplishment while happily making tracks on my new path.  The photo above is my honey in full graduation regalia, walking hand in hand with our older son after the ceremony.  It represents so much of what I truly cherish.

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.

Back and Forth

Happy New Year! It’s time to look back; it’s time to look forward.  I love the start of the new year, and this one feels especially promising.  But before I tell you my hopes for 2010, I would like to mention a couple of key moments in 2009.

In 2009…I turned thirty.  Many of my peers seemed to think that this was a milestone to be mourned.  Not me!  In my thirthieth year, I learned a lot about what I want to be and what I want my life to look like.  I’ve been coming to these understandings since the birth of my first child over four years ago, but this year has been most educational in very personal, very meaningful ways.  I know that I want to bring more art into my life, to live with an eye toward creativity, living each day as a celebration of the creative drive that God has given so many of us.  I know that I want to embrace the way that I was created as woman and as a mother.  I feel like I’m just starting to figure out the complexities of domesticity and femininity in a world that doesn’t seem to know what to make of those things.  I marked my thirtieth birthday with a party at my parents’ home.  The party had two primary ingredients: loved ones and big cupcakes with very fluffy pink icing.  I wish I had a picture of those beauties!

In 2009…I took a break from my doctoral program in English Education.  I was motivated by the need and strong desire to focus on my family while giving my husband the time he needed to write his dissertation.  This was the second most difficult decision that I’ve ever had to make (The first was the ending of a relationship nearly a decade ago, but that’s a long story that will never appear in this blog!).  I agonized over the choice to suspend my academic work for a time, but with the help of some friends and much prayer, I realized that fear was the source of my hesitation.  I worried about what others (family, friends, colleagues, even strangers) would think of me.  I feared that I would look like a failure, a quitter!  But in truth, a carefully planned break was about NOT failing, NOT quitting; it was about succeeding at the most important jobs in the world–wife and mother.  If I had continued with my work at the snail’s pace that I had set, I would have never made any progress in the last year.  Instead, I now feel refreshed and motivated to make some great leaps forward…

So that brings me to 2010.  I have many goals for the year, but I wish to document two of them on this blog.  One, I will learn to sew.  My parents bought me a wonderful sewing machine several Christmases ago, and I never used it.  Sad, sad, sad.  Well, just before Christmas,  I made this…

with help from my mom-in-law and a nice selection of buttons from my Mom.  This little project (Crochet Hook Cozy from Sew Darn Cute) made me very excited to learn to use my machine.  My parents got me a beautiful sewing book for Christmas, and I’m so ready to dig in. 

Secondly, I will resume life as a doctoral student with vigor, enthusiasm, and commitment!  That means having a schedule and actually following it.  It means communicating with my advisor on a regular basis instead of avoiding the entire building in which his office is housed.  It means building up a support system of fellow students and teachers and being honest with them about my goals and the limitations upon my time.  It means reading and writing even when I feel like knitting or vegging.  It does not mean saying “no” when my kids want to play a game or read a book.  It does not mean making my husband feel guilty for revising his own disseration when I have things that I need to do.  It does not mean trading in the title of “Mommy” when  a deadline approaches.  I can do this.  I will do this.

(If you think this sounds like  a pep talk, you’re right.)

Afterward, Note: I forgot to mention that the Crochet Cozy was a Christmas gift for my Grandma.  She really seemed to like it!