Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Yarn Along

Visit Ginny to see what everyone else is knitting/crocheting, and reading!

This is my project this week:  a sleeping mat for a homeless person.  It's crocheted from that  oh-so-scrunchable yarn:  plastic bags!

I'd seen little hints around the internets that folks were crocheting with plastic bags to make shopping bags (shopping bags out of shopping bags?  Seems silly.) or purses, so when I saw a woman working on such a project at a track meet, I had to ask her about it.  Turns out she was making one of these.  They're supposed to be so much better for sleeping on than cardboard.  It dries if it gets wet, and it really is kind of spongy and squishy.  I read about one homeless man who says it's much more comfortable to sleep on as it cushions his joints nicely.

This video is the best one I've seen for instructions.  It's simply a single crochet stitch, and the mat is supposed to be 3 feet wide by 6 ft. long.  I've heard that it takes 500-700 bags to make one, but then yesterday I saw something that said 120.  That's a big difference!  It can take a long time to crochet and cut the bags to make the plarn, but Meg and I are getting into a rhythm, working together.  

I'm using a size M crochet hook; I think she says N in the video.  I definitely wouldn't go smaller than that!  I tried and I was completely miserable.

It's a long, tedious project, but I enjoy it because I keep thinking about how it will make one person a little more comfortable.  I also think it's a great way to adapt the prayer shawl ministry that so many churches have.  I plan to be praying for the person who receives this mat while I make it, and, considering how long that may take, that will be a lot of prayers!

Our American Heritage Girls troop will be working on these at our July activity.  We'll get lots of plarn made if we have a small army of girls cutting bags and knotting them together!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Daybook

Outside my window...
...A mackeral sky.  Does that mean more rain this afternoon?

I am thinking... 
...about how sore I am from yesterday's painting session. 
....about the most efficient way to paint the basement considering how much stuff is down there!

I am thankful for...
...friends who tell me my paint color is really as bad as I think, and that I should take it back. employee who sees that the difference in color is just bad enough to make it wrong, and mixes me a new one.  And gets the manager to refund the first gallon.
...a big son coming home today who can help put the bookshelves together and move everything back where it belongs (and then empty the next room or hallway).

From the lesson plans...
What are those?  I hope to finish the basement this week and spend next week working on lesson plans.  And cleaning up from last year, which we never actually finished.  I think we'll just end up picking up where we left off.

From the kitchen...
...we had a wonderful blackberry crisp on Saturday and Sunday with wild blackberries we picked Saturday a.m.  They grow on one of the jogging paths around here. 
...anything easy that the kids can fix.  No time or energy to do anything but paint.  Last night, Pip made pancakes for us.  Yay!

I am wearing...
...Shorts and a paint splattered t-shirt.  Unfortunately, it's my special shirt with a print of Mom's painting on it, but I suppose it's appropriate since her clothes were often paint-splattered.

I am creating...
...a liveable space downstairs.  Clearing up the clutter as I repaint, little by little.

I am reading...
Born to Run, by a guy who asked the question "Why does my foot hurt?" and set out to find the answer.  Why can some people run effortlessly, even 100 mile races?  Very interesting, so far.  Not that I have any desire to be one of those people.

I am hoping...
...for the energy to get everything done that needs to be done!

I am hearing...
...Someone in the garage cleaning out a rabbit cage, and the tv on quietly.

Around the house...
...Did I mention the basement?
I am going... paint the trim in the "exercise" room this morning, so it can be put back together. take Tom to do some service hours this morning and some grocery shopping while he's there. go pick up Pete who has been with his siblings in Athens for 4 days.
One of my favorite things...
...painting,  or at least being finished painting.  New, clean walls.
...lots of time to listen to podcasts

I am praying for...
...Gus, Eric, Mary Ann, the people in Joplin, our priests...

A few plans for the rest of the week...
...Writing a letter about my relationships with my siblings growing up.  A special request that I haven't yet found the time to do.  I wonder if that has anything to do with the turbulent nature of said relationships?
...AHG paperwork for summer camp
...swim meet
...making sure my boys have all they need for summer camp next week
...painting, painting, and more painting!

A photo thought...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

So I made my Scots Bonnet last week.  Note that nice, folded, double brim, which is a neat trick to learn for a hat, but it seems kind of big...

It's a bit shapeless at first, and it's makin' me a wee bit nervous...

It's got lumps all over it from the increasing and decreasing, but I'm thinkin' they'll be disappearin' in the feltin' process...

Here 'tis after bein' felted in the washer.  I tried it by hand, but my hands were wearin' out with all the hot water and the rubbin'...

Like my wee model?  She's wearin' a wool plate on her heid.
 I put a plate inside it to help it keep it's shape while drying.  I can see that the brim is too big for the hat, and the hat is too small for the heid.  It should fit on a 12" plate, and this one is only 9".

All dry, with my Clan Crest pinned to it.  The felting is lovely---it's a great color and all those lumps are definitely gone!

But it's just no right.  The brim fits a child, but the crown (?) is not in proper proportion.  It should be much bigger and floppier.  That's what I was afraid would happen before I felted it; I thought the brim was not right for the rest of it.  It's a simple enough pattern that I can change the number of stitches for the brim and for the widest part of the hat to make it better.  

Maybe next week?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on felting, especially if you've tried it before!  I love the "fabric"---it looks so warm and waterproof (which I guess is the whole point)!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Yarn Along

Coming Very Late to Ginny's yarn along because stoopid Blogger wouldn't let me post pics all day!  Go visit her for more yarn projects!

This week I've started a new project and 2 new books!

The books, both children's books, are The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, and Maud Hart Lovelace's Winona's Pony Cart.  The latter is an offshoot of the Betsy-Tacy series, in case you don't know.  And utterly charming, just like the rest, in case you haven't read them.  And why haven't you?

The Penderwicks is the 3rd in a series.  It's a lot of fun, too.  I hope I can get my kids to read them, but they seem to have other things on their list, like every Harry Potter book before the final movie comes out in a few weeks.

Oh, the third book?  Custom Knits contains the pattern for the sweater I''m knitting for myself.  It's a summer sweater, if I choose to leave the sleeves short.  Since the book is "custom knits" it tells you how to personalize your garments.  So we'll see if this ends up a short or long-sleeved cotton sweater!  It's knit from the top down, so I can try it on as I go and adjust the fit as needed.  The lime green yarn you see is the provisional cast-on.  If I did it correctly, I'll be able to remove that and insert a needle into the loops so I won't have a seam at the shoulders.  If I did it right.  Did you catch that Big If?  

I've been dying to make this sweater for over a year, so I'm excited, but I took one look at the pattern and said, "I have no idea how to do this!"  So, one step at a time.  One new skill at a time.  

You have to challenge yourself in your knitting or you'll never knit anything besides hats and scarves, and where's the fun in that?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Death of a Vocation?

There's so much speculation about Father Corapi these days---What really happened? Why is he leaving the priesthood?  Is he leaving the Church?  Will he ever come back?  And most importantly:  Who is at the root of his decision to leave the priesthood---God or The Evil One?

I haven't read anything that indicates it was a decision made through prayer and lead by the Holy Spirit. Everyone pretty much believes the opposite, it seems.

It's heartbreaking for our wonderful priests to be so tormented, but it shouldn't be surprising.  The most dynamic priests who are doing the most good with their preaching are in grave danger of attracting the notice of the Father of Lies.  He'll do everything in his power to stop the preaching and the conversions.   These priests are also victims of their own pride and the "cult of personality" that grows up around them.  They're like the rock stars of the Catholic Church, these charismatic priests.  And you know what it's like to be a rock star these days:  There are groupies everywhere who throw themselves at them with no regard for morality or vows (of marriage).  Temptations of all kinds are everywhere!

I think the same is true of our priests.  They must have an excellent prayer life, a true humility, and a support system within the Church to help them withstand temptations.

Praying for priests is an important aspect of our lives; we need to always pray for them.  Personally, I frequently pray for more priests of the conservative, reverent, yet dynamic variety.  Yet I'm sure it's much more urgent to pray for the final perseverance of our current priests; to pray for their strength in the face of temptations; to pray for their guidance by the Holy Spirit; to pray for their obedience to superiors.

We need to be careful that we don't become priest-groupies.  Yes, we love them, but we must avoid getting too intimate, and we have to remember that while they serve in persona Christi at Mass and in the confessional, they are not Christ.  Jennifer Fulwiler said it well in her blog post:

The truth that Fr. Corapi led me and so many others to did not originate with him, or from any man. The Catholic Church isn’t a bunch of guys who sit around and come up with brilliant insights about Jesus; its doctrines don’t come from the pope, the bishops, the priests, Fr. Corapi, or anyone else – they come from God himself. The men who make up the Magisterium are simply the tools God uses to convey his message.

I'm sad for Fr. Corapi and what he's going through, whether by his fault or not, and I'll continue to pray for him to return to his priestly ministry, but I'm more sad for those who will feel betrayed by the the Church and leave the Church or lose their faith entirely.  The Catholic Church doesn't change with the political or societal winds as people would like because  the teachings, like God himself, are eternal.  The Catholic Church is full of saints, and sinners who often fail to give good example (to say the least), and the Church stinks at public relations.

We need to keep our eyes focused on The Bread of Life as He is lifted up over the altar.  His presence there does not depend on sanctity, the charisma, or the faithfulness of the priest.  If we make idols of human beings, we will always be disappointed.  If we keep our eyes on Christ and His eternal truths, we'll be fine.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Death of a Marriage

At the swim meet this week, I was visiting with a gentleman in our neighborhood that we know just a little better than we know others.  I asked where his lovely wife was and he pointed her out across the pool and said she was his wife no longer.  She had evidently asked him for a divorce.  He didn't offer any reasons why and I didn't ask!  He kept the house and the kids because that made more sense financially since he was the only one working.  He did at least say that he hadn't wanted the divorce.

My response is the same one I would give if someone told me their mother had just died.  "I am so sorry!"  When we say our vows we become "one flesh".  For that flesh to be riven apart is the same thing as a death.  I've had this same conversation before in the neighborhood except that the husband told me it was okay; he was moving in with his girlfriend.  It shocks me, and it breaks my heart to hear people speak so cavalierly about the end of their marriage.  I know that not everyone feels as Catholics do, that marriage is for life, but it still surprises me.  

I know there are sometimes very valid reasons that people divorce, and I wouldn't want anyone to feel judged.  I've talked with this couple on many occasions and found them both very personable and likeable, but it's impossible to know what goes on inside a marriage or what baggage people bring with them to a marriage.  

We didn't have any pre-marital counseling before our wedding, and I brought a LOT of baggage with me.  I'm very grateful for all the graces we've received to help us over the rough spots!  We also spent quite a few years giving the infamous sexuality talk at our parish pre-Cana program.  In so doing, we sat through many pre-Cana sessions to make up for what we hadn't gotten before our own wedding.  We had lots of opportunities to learn and practice fair fighting!  I wish that real marriage counseling, like Pre-Cana, was a requirement for everyone, not just Catholics. 

Do you think you were prepared for marriage?  Since my own mom had been divorced twice, I knew that I didn't know how a good marriage should work, but I was determined to do everything in my power to make it work! 

Friday, June 17, 2011

New Paint

I can't decide how I feel about this color.  Except for relief that I didn't choose it.  Maybe a little guilt that I didn't veto it.

7 Quick Takes Friday

Joining Jen from Conversion Diary, today.  If you want to read more Quick Takes, stop by her blog!

It's been a great week for weather around here.  We had huge, scary thunderstorms on Wednesday, which caused my Little Princess to sleep in the basement.  I can't say I blame her!  They enjoy it down there because it's like camping; they know it's safer; and they can't hear the thunder as well.

The storms brought blessed relief from the ridiculous heat we've been having, and last night's swim meet was quite pleasant.  The Husband said I should blog about that since I'd been complaining about the heat.  So there you have it.  ;-)

Speaking of swim meets....last night was like a Double Bonus!  I was originally scheduled for the super-stressful Deck Manager position which is way (WAY) outside my comfort zone, and they moved me to the less stressful position of Bullpen Manager earlier in the week.  When I reported for duty last night and was doing the "shift change"  they suddenly asked me to go help with the computer because they had a complete newbie up there who wasn't comfortable!  I hadn't done that job in a couple of years, but it's not exactly complicated to read the times of the swimmers to someone else who enters them into the computer.  I was thrilled to comply, and we had a great view of the pool if we needed to watch an event.

It would have been a perfect night if we had won.  This team has NEVER beaten us before. It was kind of sad.

While we're on the Swim Team Subject...One of the things I love about swim team, ours in particular, is that the parents who originally started it were big (and I mean BIG) on sportsmanship, and that has been carried on through all the coaching and staffing changes over the past 12 years.  It's drilled into these kids that they must stay in the water and shake the hands of the swimmers on either side of them and congratulate them on a good race.  My kids don't play a lot of sports, but I'm glad we have been a part of this neighborhood team.

It suddenly hit me the other day, if Meg swims for 8 more years, and we don't move away, we'll have been on this team for 20 years! 

 I should get an award for that.

It's always so exciting to see a snake slithering across the street.  Kids love it!   Fortunately, it was going Away from our house to the other side of the street.  Any snake lovers out there know what kind it is?  We're guessing Rat Snake.  

Here's a pic of my finished cowl.  It's not a loose, drapey cowl, but more of a neckwarmer.

It's promising to be a relaxing Friday, here!  Pete has my car all morning and early afternoon.  I have no paint with which to paint my basement (having finished Katie's room yesterday).  Looks like a great day for knitting a Scots Bonnet and watching Monarch of the Glen on Netflix!

What are you doing this fine, summer Friday?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny's Yarn-Along on this fine summer day!

I'm currently between books.  What you see on my messy desk is papers that need to be dealt with and my list of things to do.  And I need to add to the top of that list "Buy New Printer" since ours died and it's amazing how important a printer can be these days!

My project is a Scots Bonnet, not to be confused with the hot pepper.  A Tam.  A Tam O'Shanter.  I think they're all basically the same thing.  When I went to the Scottish Highland Festival with my girlfriends on Saturday, I saw a young woman knitting them and they're gorgeous.  So I bought a pattern and got to work with the only wool I have that will felt.  But I bought some more yesterday because I'm planning to like this pattern. ;-)

Benjamin Bunny looks cute in his!
I think it'll be a quick knit, but it will also be my first felting project.  

If you're not Yarning Along, at least let me know what you're reading.  I need some new ideas!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Mondays

As old as I am, with 6 children ages 21 on down, you'd think by now that I'd stop expecting summer to be about me and doing whatever I want.  Yet every morning I awaken to the possibilites of another Summer Day, and am quickly crushed by the realization that I have Things to Do.  Oh, sure, there's a bit more time to play around on the internet and read decorator blogs.  There are the occasional trips to the pool where I get to read and listen to my ipod.  There are also lots and lots of drives to take young people places.  Those are what break up my day the most and keep me from getting too deeply into any activity.

Today's focus, however, will be Laundry since it was sadly neglected all weekend.  I've let Pete take the car to his Day Camp Counselor job today and I'll be free to do lots of laundry and AHG computer work!  The bonus there is that while I'm folding, I can watch Monarch of the Glen, my new favorite show from BBC/Scotland on Netflix.  It's basically a Scottish Soap Opera set in a  penniless Scottish estate instead of a hospital and the handsome young laird is trying to save the ancestral home from the bank.  It's a lot of fun:  great accents (you have to turn it up Really Loud to understand them!), men in kilts, quirky ancient ceremonies and people, and romance.  (And yes, I did mean Quirky Ancient People.)

Between episodes of folding, I also have to remember that there are schoolbooks to be sold; schoolbooks to be purchased; papers to grade (yikes!); grades to enter (double-yikes!!); and lessons to plan for the coming year.

What are you doing with your summer days?

Have you seen Monarch?  I'm betting no one here has.....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Daybook

Outside my window...
...Sunny and HOT.  I don't remember June ever being this hot before!  Normally, at the first few swim meets it's chilly and we're wearing sweatshirts when the sun goes down.  Now it's blazing and the beginning and barely tolerable at the end!

I am thinking...
...about how there's yard work to be done and I do not want to go out in the heat to do it.  I think I have to go out at 6 a.m.   Or I can continue to ignore it since it's around the side and back of the house which I never see.

I am thankful for...
...swim team, summer jobs, sunshine (even though it's HOT!), lemonade,  a supportive husband, freckles on tanned noses, family laughter, a newly repaired icemaker (keeping my fingers crossed). Katie home from her London excursion, and that she got to go!

From the schoolroom kitchen table...
...We're still doing a little work because we had so much time off with all the graduations and AHG stuff.  It was not a good May in terms of school!  I try to get them to do some reading and math every day.  Once swim team is over it will be easier to do it in the mornings.

From the kitchen...
...Ugh.  Kitchen in summer.  Not my favorite place.  I have not perfected the art of easy, light, summer meals.

I am creating...
...Socks.  But that present tense "am" is the problem there.  I haven't touched the socks in a week or more!  Finished one, still gearing up for the second.
...a Cowl.  It's almost done.  I'm on the ribbing and then I'll block it.  Maybe it will be done for tomorrow.

I am reading...
...Water for Elephants...It's a love/hate thing with this book which I'm reading for book club.  I am into it though and don't want to put it down, so I guess that's an overall positive comment.
...The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest.  Loving this book!  I had new interest for it this week since he is imprisoned in the Tower of London being tortured, and Katie brought back photos from London of the Tower.
All those people are gathered around the monuement where the executions took  place.
...Confessions of a Prairie B@*$#....Will start as soon as I finish Water for Elephants.  I'm sure it will be another eye-opener like Melissa Gilbert's autobiography.

I am hearing...
...The dishwasher being emptied.  The 2 youngest are up for swim team.   

Around the house...
...We haven't been doing much around the house, but it's time.  I see lots of painting in my future.  The whole basement needs to be repainted.  By me.  The main floor needs to be repainted.  By a Professional.  There's a new (Old!) dresser to be repainted for my bathroom.  And there's still a ton of reorganizing and tossing to be done in the basement for Katie's new digs.

I am going... run lots of errands this week and take children places.  That never seems to end.

One of my favorite things...
...Having all of my children in the same house.  It's loud, chaotic, complicated, and wonderful.  Just a few more days, though.

I am praying for...
...The Joplin survivors
...The conversion of souls
...A few people with cancer
...the recently deceased and their poor families
...our priests

A few plans for the rest of the week...

...Choir tonight, AHG paperwork today, Swim Meet (where I do NOT have to work this week!  Yay for a week off!), maybe the Blairsville Highland Games this weekend.

A  Picture Thought for the day...

Stop by the Simple Woman's Daybook for more daybooks!

Monday, June 6, 2011


humility |(h)yoōˈmilitē|nouna modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness.ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French humilite, from Latin humilitas, from humilis (see humble ).
The definition makes it sound like humility is a bad thing, especially in our time where it's all about "me" and how special I am.I often think of humility in terms of my cantoring at Mass.  It's something I do for God and sometimes he gives me a little dose of humility during the Mass.  Sometimes it's a waaaay bigger dose than I care for, but I try to swallow my pride, endure my burning face, and move past it.  After all, I did it for Him, and He can allow for my imperfections, I'm okay with that.  Well, no, the truth is:  I'm not okay with it.  But He hasn't yet given me the message that I'm supposed to stop cantoring (I've asked, believe me!), so I continue.  I got a big lesson in humility just last week at our American Heritage Girls planning meeting, only it was a much more pleasant lesson than the other kind.   We had a lot to accomplish and it was going to take forever.  At least, more time than we had scheduled.  So we split into 2 groups and one group did paperwork while the other women planned the calendar for the year.  They did a great job and the Board members were/are extremely grateful.  But then they were thanking us for the leadership and and being such a great Troop Board!One part of me recognizes my talents in leadership and the ability to delegate (but if you know me at all, you know how hard it is for me to put that into words, even if I do think it occasionally), but I suddenly understand what people mean when they say something like, "I am truly honored and humbled to be a part of this organization."  Seriously, it's the dedication of those Leaders and parents who show me what real service is, and that our troop would not be what it is without their hard work.   It's not me and my leadership; it's the other hardworking moms who keep everything running and inspire me to do more.Now that's a lesson in humility that I'll take happily!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Books and Babes

Today I hosted our monthly book club with some girlfriends.  It was my first time hosting since I joined and it was a lot of fun, just as it is every time I go.  Some of these women are homeschoolers that I've known for a while, others are new friends that I've met through the book club.

The Book of the Month for June was Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent, Chronicles of a Modern Midwife.  Now, a book like that naturally lends itself to rather intimate conversation and stories of birth.  We had lots to say, about the book and about ourselves.  And it wasn't just this book; every book we read leads to conversations about ourselves.  In fact, I'd bet that for each session, which lasts 3-3.5 hours, we spend maybe 1 hour talking about the book, and the rest of the time just talking.  It's a very chatty group!

One of the themes of today's discussion was the necessity for female support during childbirth.  It's great that husbands are there now, and they have their place, but there is no substitute for another woman or two who can support you in ways your husband can't.  Of course, of course, there are some great husbands who are amazing in the birthing room, and then there are the others who probably haven't a clue how to help.  I loved having my husband with me, but it was my midwife, who knew how and when to touch me without getting yelled at!

That led to further discussion on the necessity for feminine companionship in our daily lives.  We all seem to be so isolated today with all our busy-ness.  We spend all day in the car, driving kids around, but how often do we get together with our women friends?  I don't even talk on the phone as much as I used to when the kids were little.  That is why I love this book club so much.  It's the highlight of the month for me!  And I think that's why we stay and...ahem..."cackle" for so many hours.  We're all desperate for that woman-to-woman conversation.

I can only imagine what it was like when backyards were side-by-side and neighbors might be chatting over the fence while hanging out the wash to dry.  Or spending a couple of hours as the laundromat with the other ladies once a week.  Or walking to the park so the kids can swing and visiting with the neighbors there.  We almost all have washers and dryers in the house; our swings are in the backyard.  There are no sidewalks in the neighborhoods.  There's no need to have a quilting bee to outfit a new bride's home.  We don't have to help build a barn or a house.  It's so hard to find a community these days!  Now I might be a little more isolated because my kids don't go to school with the neighbors, but I don't think so.  I've heard other neighbors say that they don't see anyone until the pool opens in the spring.

I think we've lost something very important in our modern society, and I'm loving this book club because it gives me an opportunity to connect with other women.  Not just to cackle, but to also have intelligent conversation about the book we read (some of which are more intellectual than others).

How do you connect with other women?  When do you connect with other women?  Or are you lonely, too?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Yarn Along

You'd think after a long, holiday weekend that I'd have something to contribute here, but I don't.  

I finished my sock, and I'm still working on my cowl.  And Second Sock Syndrome rears it's ugly head:  I have absolutely no desire to cast on that other sock!
Don't you love the sun shining on that? 
I think I've added one more repeat!
I don't have any firm plans to knit anything else specific, unless maybe this top for myself that I've had in the queue for a while!  That, and a trip to the local yarn shop for fun with with a friend.  Maybe I'll find something for that sweater!

Question for you:

What do you like to knit in the summer?  Socks?  Summer clothing?  I guess I lean toward smaller items because I don't want a lapful of wool, but what about you?

As for reading, I'm reading a mishmash of things.  Rereading the Outlander series because it's always entertaining, and at our Book Club this week, we'll be discussing Baby Catcher at long last.  Then the next book is Water for Elephants, which I hear is really good.  I also have on hold at the library Confessions of a Prairie B**** by Allison Arngrim who played Nellie Oleson in Little House on the Prairie.


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