Friday, May 13, 2011

When Family Can't Be There

Last Saturday Rob and I ran our marathon. We set and trained for this goal as a couple, but I found myself needing lots of encouragement and reassurance from others. Our neighbors and dear friends, Shan and Brian Sullivan, drove over 2 hours just so they could stand at the finish line and cheer us on by name (and record our deed for posterity!) More than I would ask, even of a relative, Shan gave me a big hug as I came through and even kissed me on my oh, so sweaty forehead and told me how proud of me she was. No mother or sister could have done more. They quietly drifted off, leaving us to stretch and rehydrate, but it meant SO much to have them there.

As you can imagine, I REALLY wanted to sleep in on Sunday morning, but we got a call at 6:40 am that another neighbor and good friend, Kim, was in labor. She and Steve dropped their 2 kids off at 7am and we kept them most of the day. A relaxing Mother's Day turned a little busier, just when I wanted to spend all day curled up in my bed. Then I started thinking about all the friends that have been there for us in our hours of need, when family was far away and couldn't help. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I started to feel grateful that I could "be there" for my friend and somehow pass along the help and support that others have given me.

We have lived away from our families for 10 years now. We've shared baby births, hospital visits, carpooling, youth activities, miscarriages, marriage trouble and divorce, illness, Thanksgiving dinners, Easter egg hunts, weekend road trips and Christmas Eves with the families in our neighborhoods and wards in Indiana and North Carolina. All the things we would have shared with family have been shared with others who have become our family. I love these people so much and I'm so grateful they've stepped in to our lives.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fear Not

I turned 37 a few weeks ago and decided I wanted to have a theme for this year of my life. I've chosen my theme from 2 Timothy 1:7--For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. FEAR NOT!

I've realized that with all of the changes in the past year, I have become a fearful person. Here are some of the things I'm afraid of, both rational and irrational (you'll probably be able to tell which is which):
  • getting rid of things
  • not being able to sell our house
  • finding new friends; saying goodbye to old friends
  • my children growing up, whether I'm ready or not
  • not having any more babies
  • tsunamis, earthquakes, fires
  • not being strong enough to handle my life
  • getting old
  • being attacked by a rabid squirrel while running on the trails near our house
  • not keeping my house clean enough
One goal I set this year is to run a marathon, which Rob and I will do on May 7th. This process has been a test for me in many ways--not only building the physical endurance I'll need, but also shoring up my mental capacity and casting out all the fearful thoughts that sneak in to tell me I'll never make it, I'm not strong enough, I'm not brave enough, etc.

It is hard to conquer those thoughts and find the feelings of power, love, and a sound mind. I continue to struggle with accepting the changes that are in store for our family and what it will mean for me personally. My mind keeps going back to a wonderful article I read at Christmas, called "How Shall This Be?" . Jane Wise talks about the lessons we can learn from the Nativity story and it feels like she's talking directly to me:

"The ordinary, comfortable, even safe life has been interrupted. Things are not what were hoped for; they are not what was planned for. God has interrupted, pushing aside the ordinary to conceive something out of the ordinary. We may not understand it, and we may not be able
to manage it. What can we do? We can receive it, as frightening as that sounds."

Frightening indeed, but I'm really trying to choose faith, not fear.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Makin' my way in the world today

Last year, it felt like I would burst if I didn't write. I felt like I had words and thoughts just crammed in my head, waiting to be let out. This year, not so much. Not as much to say. Still trying to sell the house, still waiting to transition to Georgia, still wondering how to parent a teenager. But I do have an itch to create something.

A few months ago, a wise friend advised me to spend a few minutes each day on something that wouldn't get UNdone (as opposed to things like laundry and dinner dishes, which are endlessly repeated) I have *mostly* kept my sewing stuff packed up in an effort to keep the house clean, but I'm pining for a project. I decided to keep a record of the things I create this year--partly to keep notes to my self, but mostly to remind me of those things that stayed done.

My first project of the year: Ruffled Scarf! I made two that I wasn't thrilled with, but finally got it on the third, as a gift for Maddie's friend. I will have to get new fabric and make another one for me.

I used this tutorial but made a few adjustments.
Scarf #1
Single layer, 4 inches wide. I bought the polka dots thinking it would go with tons of stuff, but I think it kind of looks like a clown ruffle. I also didn't like how the unprinted underside showed so much.

Scarf #2
I used a more reversible knit for this one and did double layers. (3"top layer, 6" bottom layer). I liked how it looked, but found it was too long once I was all finished. I should have made tighter ruffles to shorten it.

Scarf #3
Eureka! I solved the reversible problem by doing two opposing layers for the bottom ruffle (5" wide). Top layer is 3". The biggest improvement by far was machine basting in two places (and then sewing down the middle of the two basting lines). It made the ruffles much more even. I made tighter ruffles too--gathering the 60" strip of fabric down to 34". It turned out MUCH better and I will do them this way from now on!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

From Saturday Night to Saturday Night Live

When we lived in Bloomington with our 3 little girls, they loved to watch "The Lawrence Welk Show" on Saturday night on PBS. They would hurry through their baths and sit on our bed as we combed out their hair, rolled curlers, and laughed at the silly songs and frilly dresses on the show. I remember this song in particular, because we loved to hear Eloise's little voice singing "Frankfurter sandwiches".

It's hard to believe how long past those days are...and it really hit home the other night when Rob showed Maddie this Lawrence Welk skit from Saturday Night Live. It actually was late on Saturday night and she laughed SO hard and was so silly about re-enacting the skit the next day with her sisters. Very funny stuff, but it made me wonder--how has our life changed so much, so soon?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thank You Bryan, whoever you are....

This afternoon I took a much-needed hour for myself and went running on the shady, autumn-leafed greenway near our house. As I ran, I began to notice messages along the path, written in children's writing with sidewalk chalk. GO GO GO. Go Bryan! Cool! You Can Do It!! You're Awesome! Run Fast!

At first it just made me smile, but then I started to feel like I had my own personal cheerleading section and I felt inspired to push on a little further than I'd planned. I saw a couple of messages that said 40 B4 40! and began to picture this Bryan in my head...a neighborhood Dad type of guy, coming up on the big 4-0, and setting some goals for himself. 40 miles? 40 races? 40 hours on the trail? I realized I could squeeze in 40 miles before age 40 if I did another half marathon and then a full marathon. I began to wonder, and to put "Flori" in wherever I read Bryan's name. (Go Flori!)

All this wondering about "Bryan" and I started to realize that life is good and people are good and all the little things that annoy me and frustrate me are not my LIFE, they're just little annoying things and they will pass. In the midst of all these thoughts, I saw a runner coming toward me. A dad-type of guy who was actually just how I'd imagined Bryan. I felt weirdly happy. And then I noticed that this man only had one arm--the other was off above his elbow. But he was just trucking along, enjoying the beautiful fall day like I was.
It really made me think. Not "Oh, my life could be so much worse..." but "my life could be so different". But it's not. This is the life I have right now and there are so many good things about it. There is so much I can do and enjoy, even if we can't manage to sell our house.

The last message on the trail said, VICTORY!!! Thank you, fellow travelers, for lighting my path today.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Designer Genes

Always looking for new and interesting creative challenges, I decided to try my hand at clothing design. Here are my dress designs for the Shabby Apple Dresses contest:

The first two designs hark back to the dropped-waist of some of my favorite 80s dresses. I am happy to see this style returning! The v-neck top and underskirt are made of a lycra knit covered in chiffon. Lined sleeves and a flowing 3-tiered chiffon skirt give plenty of coverage for modesty. Neck and dropped waist are trimmed with a matching cotton crochet trim to add a little texture. A detachable flower pin can be worn at the waist or shoulder. The color varies with the monitor, but the first dress is meant to be ivory colored with an orange/scarlet poppy. The second dress is a two-toned apple green with a white or cream flower.
I plan on making this dress whether I win the contest or not. I am IN LOVE with this fabric, Poppy Bouquet by Laura Gunn. Really, the entire line of hers is my favorite ever. The design is modeled on a girls dress I bought years ago at Goodwill. It has a zipper back, cap sleeves, a high waistline with no gathering, and a wonderful twirly skirt. I've added a matching grey belt, though I think it would look lovely with a bright red belt too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Beauty of two ugly quilts

My maternal grandmother Ruth Adams is a skilled quilter with many beautiful quilts to her credit. She has finally stopped quilting in the last year and divided her long-held fabric stash between my mother and aunts. While visiting my parents this summer, I cut squares from 36 of those vintage fabrics, including a scrap of the fabric used for the bridesmaid dresses at my parents' wedding. This was my triumphant and happy return to sewing after a 3-month hiatus and it was a great project! I was wondering what to use for the backing--I wanted something that looked old but wasn't too scary. I was so happy to find this length of fabric at Goodwill for $2.

Now that Rob is working at UGA, we feel obligated to pay homage to the famous Georgia bulldog. He was so happy to find this really awful fabric at Ikea: Varmt Hund. We bought one in red/white and one in black/white since those are all UGA's colors. The red one is a now an office wall hanging, and this one is a lap quilt for his attic office when it gets cold. You can't see it, but I machine quilted all around the dog. Again, I found an awesome backing at Goodwill--almost 4 yards of black velvet corduroy for just a few dollars.

I think these are the ugliest two quilts I've ever made, but they were very inexpensive and fun to do and I hope our family will get lots of good use from them!