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11 entries from October 2010

I Made a Hat

Creating things never ceases to amaze me.  I am awed that if you twist fibers just so, they will create shapes that you can actually fit on your head.  I shared my awe with the two most intelligent (book smart, male) people in our house, and they both said, "Well, sure, see, if you drone-drone-geometry-smeometry-blah-blah, it always turns out that way."

Since I can't understand that stuff, I stand amazed.

And so, I'm like a little kid saying, "Look at what I made!" because I'm seriously So Excited that twisting yarn with a metal stick created something so fun for our little teenie bopper.

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Hats have a way of making the sass come out, don't they?  Last year, it was the Year of the Scarf around here (our ballerina is wearing one, in fact, that she crocheted last year).  This year:  I think we're on the way to becoming haberdashers milliners (had to look that one up!).   Making this little hat was so fun and so easy that I want to make 10,000 more. 

Want to crochet one, too?  The pattern is free, here.  It only took me an afternoon, an evening, and a morning (it would have been simpler to just say "a day," I suppose, but keep in mind that I'm regularly interrupted by four children and my whimsies).  The pattern is easy enough for a beginner, so try it!

What are you creating these days?  Please do share, so I will be distracted from crocheting 10,000 hats.  1.  We do not have enough heads, and 2. I'm pretty sure I won't make it to 19, much less 9,999 more hats.

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A Day Off

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My husband gave me the day off today. 

Off dishes.

Off teaching.

Off laundry.

Off cooking.

Off anything resembling responsibility.

Bless him.

I needed a day off.  I've been overwhelmed by that thing I (lovingly-ish) call my Monster Blog or sometimes just The Monster.  It's a part-time job on easy days and a full-time job on some days, so although I'm grateful for it, it's not always my Favorite Thing Ever.


The Monster takes mental energy and brains of which I have not enough.

I was feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated yesterday.  For me, "underappreciated"  follows on the heels of "overwhelmed".  Smart Tim, the hubs, caught onto that and instead of his First-Decade-of-Marriage response of ignoring her and she'll eventually quit being that way, he dipped into his Second-Decade-of-Marriage wisdom and said, "Why don't you take a day off tomorrow?"

I kissed him for that.

I woke up this morning excited about my day off.  I did need to take care of one thing for The Monster, which ran into two-three-four things, but that's okay because this afternoon , while Tim took the kids out to play frisbee golf, I filled my cup up.

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I sat in the sun with something to drink (a little coffee with my cream), something to crochet (a hat for our ballerina), and something to read (Leo Babauta's free ebook fittingly called Focus, which says things such as "Find Something Amazing to do everyday and then do that.")

I'm rested up and ready for another week's worth of Something Amazings until next my next day off.

Do you take a day off now and then?

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On Being 7

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My 7th birthday was magical.  I don't know why it seemed so, but it is one of two birthdays I remember vividly (the other my 18th).  I turned 7 on the last day of 1977.  Mom sewed me a long dress made of green polyester and white lace.  That day I was introduced to my foreverafter best stuffed friend, Heather, who is also known as Holly Hobbie's best friend. 

Vintage 1970's photo of me and my brother (me at some age close to 7, with my baby bro and the coolest vintage toys ever! )

I usually keep Heather on a high shelf in my closet alongside a wooden bear I created in high school shop class, a brown stuffed bear that belonged to a brother, and a plaid cat pillow sewn by my always-a-maiden Aunt Ginnie.

Ever since she could talk, our little gal has asked for Heather to come down.  I'll bring Heather down, let our little gal play with her a bit, then place Heather back on the shelf.  Heather is a fragile, old thing.  She became an amputee a year ago, for Heaven's sake, until I sewed her right foot back on.  She's not up to playing anymore.

But when our little gal turned 7  earlier this year, she said, "Now I'll be very careful, since I'm 7 like you were when you got her.  So...can I keep her down?" 

7 is magical. safe. happy. carefree.  

Heather belongs with seven-year-olds.  And so, for just this year, she's off the shelf and in the arms of our little 7-year-old gal.

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How to Teach Your Child to Love Reading

I posted this on that other blog I have this weekend.  Thought I'd share it with you, too...

20100419_2619 (our 13yo gal in a favorite reading spot)

Our four children have such different personalities, but all four are avid readers. A friend, who has five children who do not enjoy reading, asked me how we taught our children to love reading.  The question surprised me, as we didn't do it on purpose.  I had never wondered about it. After thinking it over, these might be the reasons why our children love to read:

  • I love to read.  They have seen mama with reading material in her hands every day, all of their lives.  There's no such thing as "no time to read," as all you need are a couple of minutes to read a paragraph.  Paragaph upon paragraph, a book is read.  In our house, Daddy doesn't read much, so don't worry if you're the only adult reader in the house.
  • We read aloud to them.  Not every day.  I wish we did read to them daily; it's one of my goals, and has been one of my goals for a decade or so, but we do read aloud fairly often.  When we read, it is always with inflection, sometimes with a tear (Horton makes me cry), sometimes with the deepest of belly laughs (Calvin & Hobbes), and sometimes with respect.
  • We only read quality books and magazines.  When I was first introduced to the concept of "living books," I became paralyzed by what was a good book and what wasn't considered a good book.  Don't do that.  You'll stop reading books, frustrated by the choices.  Just go with what you think is a good, entertaining book.  Do you have a childhood favorite?  Start there. Introduce it to your child.  Books are timeless.  Our children loved Dick & Jane, for example, which are such old and non-techie books!  They are good examples of a book series that someone else may not think is "good quality," as they are quite simple. It doesn't matter if a book is on someone else's list of favorites.  It can still be on ours.
  • We don't make a big deal about it.  We don't assign a certain number of pages (unless it's a book that needs to be read a certain pace, like a history book).  During school hours, for reading or literature time, I often say, "Read 30 minutes today, from a book of your choice."  Reading can be done anywhere:  on the bed, in the rocking chair, or in the yard (see photo above of our then-12yo daughter).  Also, if a book isn't preferred, and isn't needed for a certain reason (such as a history book), it can be shelved.  Sometimes, we just don't like a book.  That's okay, as long as he or she doesn't dislike every book.

If I had a reluctant reader, this is what I'd do:

I would read aloud from an interesting book, stop mid-chapter in the middle of an exciting scene, or at a point in the story where one must know what happens next.  I'd then silently place a bookmark, close the book, and set it down in a highly-trafficked spot.  Likely, your child will not stay silent, but will beg you to read more.  Say, "Oh, I have something of my own to read.  You go ahead and finish this one."  If he wants to share the experience with you, let him read aloud to you. 

Last year, I wanted our 14yo to read Watership Down, but he grew too bored of it too quickly.  I didn't want this book shelved, as I hoped for the discussion and deep thinking that would follow.  I read aloud from Watership Down for about a week's worth of school days.  By then we were well into the story, figuratively on the edge of a cliff, so that our son had to know what happened next.  I bookmarked the book, set it on the table, and said, "You go ahead and finish this, if you like. I've read it already."  He immediately picked up the book and read it through.

To get you started with great books, here are some of our family favorites:  

from our 9th grader (15yo):

The Hobbit

the Redwall Series

from our 7th grader (just turned 13yo):

A Hopeful Heart

Janette Oake's books

Corrie  Belle Hollister series

from our 5th grader (10yo):

Enclyopedia Brown series

Happy Hollisters series

from our 2nd grader (7yo):

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (as a read-aloud)

Guess How Much I Love You

As we each have our likes & dislikes, preferences & personalities, our favorites may not work well for you and your children.  So let's get more opinions!

What are your family's favorite books?  Let us know, in the "comments" section, below.

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From Moi to Vous

Thank you, whoever reads this blog, lurkers and commenters, Mom and IRL friends and OL friends. 

People have said to me, so many many times, "I could never blog!  I wouldn't like...

...the pressure.

...the exposure.

...or the time it takes."

Silly, I don't blog because I like pressure (is there any?)  or exposure (is there much when you're little?), or because I have "extra time" (is there such a thing?).  

I selfishly blog.  I'd blog even if a soul never visited.  That's how it began, after all.

I blog when I'm okay.

When I'm not okay, I'm not blogging. 

I hope to fix that.  I want to be more transparent, more vulnerable, more raw when I'm not okay.  Instead, I tend to become quiet.

I've been quiet.

You encourage me with every visit, and you inspire me when I visit your site or read your comment.

I learn so much from you. 

Enough sappy stuff.  The bottom line is this:  Hey, thanks for being there! 

p.s. I'm closing comments on this post because ...well, it just fits to do that.

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In the Middle

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When I flew from Chicago to our home on the coast last week, there was an amazing sunset in the sky over Atlanta, complete with the brightest of stars, the planet Venus, I think. 

I've been mulling over this photo for the past week, along with a vertical one taken out of my airplane window a few minutes before...

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...and I've been trying to come up with a brilliantly written post.

Sunsets like that should be accompanied by words about beginnings or endings or final days or some such, but.

We're just in the middle.

In the middle of our marriage.

In the middle of childrearing.

In the middle of our lives.

In the middle of making our million. 

...wait, no, actually, we're not even close to that.  Not a fraction of close to that.  I meant,we're..

In the middle of our dreams for the future.

In the middle of maturity.

So a sunset over Atlanta means, to me, that it's simply the middle of my journey from Chicago to Florida. 

There's nothing spectacular about the middle. 

It's not a fresh beginning.

It's not a satisfying ending.

The days can be ho-hum.

A moment is often the same as the last.

There aren't awards for being in the middle.

There aren't ribbons to cut.

But it's where we are. 

I like it here, in the middle.

It feels just right, for now.

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