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10 June 2012 @ 11:28 pm
Wow, what a spectacular light show tonight!  It was so unusual that I was a little freaked out at first.  Non-stop cloud lightning, so close together it was like a strobe light in the window, occasional peal of thunder becoming one continuous roll.  Boy and I pulled back the curtain and watched from his window; it lasted so long we both fell asleep before it was over.  I love the sound of rain; he favors the crash of thunder, which he demonstrated by thrashing his whole body while making the sound.  Mama and Baby Dolphin watched, too.  When I reminded Thaniel how he liked to watch lightning as a baby, Baby Dolphin piped up, "Want watch blue light?" in a fair approximation of Baby Thaniel's voice!  Daddy even joined us for a few minutes, providing technical answers to questions, like:  "Why does lightning go to the ground?"  "Because there's a voltage potential between the clouds and the ground."  Amazingly, this answer did not solicit another "why", like so many of mine usually do!  It was an unexpectedly lovely evening.

This morning I was reminded of God's tender love and care for me.  I was dreading my turn in the nursery this morning, and asked for help setting aside my issues so I could be whatever the babies need.  He answered by giving me only one baby, a total sweetheart who wrapped her arms around my neck, laid her head on my shoulder and radiated drowsy warmth and love into me all morning.  Tonight I was reminded of His majesty and power in the grand roll of thunder and brilliant lights.  We had a quiet chat about perspective and some things in my life while Thaniel dozed off in my arms...
06 November 2011 @ 03:44 pm
Yesterday we took the kids to their very first renaissance faire. It’s also the first faire I’ve attended since before the baby was born. To get in the spirit, my friends and I opened our costume closets, mixed-and-matched among us, and broke out our sewing needles to make up missing pieces in record time. The results were a lot of wonderful fun!


Our faire-going troupe included three families (technically four, but we went on different dates). With a ratio of four adults to five children, you would think kid-management would have been a breeze. Instead we kept managing to lose one child at a time, and then at least two adults to go after him like Jesus leaving the ninety-nine to go after the little lost lamb! It was helpful, though, to have so many “co-parents” so everyone got to enjoy a little bit of the faire.

Faire-going is very different with little ones than with adult friends. Before, we’d huzzah at the joust, laugh at the jesters, and spend lots of time shopping unusual booths. Faire-with-kids is at once both more frenetic and more relaxed. The frenetic was keeping track of them all, making sure everyone was fed, had potty breaks, etc. The relaxed was the overall pace of the day. The children were so good at entertaining themselves that often we just found a place to park--a blanket, a bench--and chatted while they ran. Then a parent or two could break off to check out something interesting. Towards the end of the day I tried my hand at knife throwing (sticking four in the wood while the rest clanged harmlessly off the bullseye) and archery. Sara was the surprise expert archer of the day!


I didn’t do much shopping but was pleased with my small purchases: a jingly belly-dance hip scarf, a wooden sword for Thaniel, and a last-minute find of three pair of fun knit socks. Despite packing a cooler full of snacks (almost all eaten by the end of the day), I still managed to spend cash on faire food. The one thing Thaniel absolutely insisted on all day was a corn dog, and after standing in line for most of an hour, I determined to buy every food item I could possibly need for the afternoon so I wouldn’t have to stand in line again!

Lady of the Lakes turned out to be a great faire for the kids. It was big enough to be interesting for the adults and small enough to get around the whole thing without wearing the kids to the end of their patience. I thought LOTL did an especially good job at adapting areas for children, such as burying “treasure” in the sand volleyball court. In fact, as we were leaving my three-year-old piped up from the back seat, “We’re going back to the faire in a few minutes!” When I explained that it was closed, he suggested, “Let’s go see if the faire is open!” With that kind of response, I would call his introduction to Ren Faire a huge success!

Full photoset at http://www.flickr.com/photos/audreytoo/sets/72157628068340994/with/6319617908/ and also on my FB. :)
24 October 2011 @ 09:36 pm
He stood up in the bathtub and, dripping arms outstretched, spoke the five words I thought I'd never hear him use in the same sentence: "Mama, put me to bed."

"Do you want to brush your teeth first, or just go straight to bed?"

"Straight to bed," he mumbled as I bundled him in warm, dry towels.

Must have something to do with the half-hour we spent outside being pod racers. Or maybe it was his industrious digging around the roots of the big oak tree out back. Or perhaps the hour-long bike ride tuckered him out. Surely it wasn't the twenty minutes sitting in front of the washing machine in the outdoor utility room, watching the laundry go 'round and 'round! But all of the above is definitely related to the gorgeous weather we've been having. Finally, being out-of-doors is pleasant again!

The only downside to this lovely day is... I'm ready to go to bed early, too! 'Nighty-night!
09 October 2011 @ 08:04 pm
We now interrupt our regularly scheduled sewing activities for... something crafty! Handmade E-reader Cover (<--Click for pics and details at the Flickr set)

Though I sew--a lot--I generally fall down when it comes to being crafty. I had sufficient motivation to puzzle through this, though (namely that I couldn't find a cover that did what I wanted), and I think it came out spiffy. I finished it in time to take on my birthday beach retreat, where it performed beautifully on the beach, by the pool, on the kitchen counter, and in bed. I've linked the tutorials and resources that informed my design in the Flickr set, in case you want to know.

I love this quote (and the embroidery design from Embroidery Library). I think my husband takes it seriously, though!

I also highly recommend both the Nook Simple Touch Reader (super responsive touchscreen) and the M-Edge e-Luminator Touch booklight (sleep timer!).
08 September 2011 @ 09:47 am
We’ve started a new study (Attending the Bride of Christ) and while I’ve been missing the daily quiet times that nourished me before the baby was born (three years ago now!), I dread the labor of starting all over again, the early days of struggle before these times began to hold meaning and refreshment.

But God is sensitive, and on this beautiful morning has gifted me with the memory of the many “golden hours” I used to enjoy with him on our back patio. Thus motivated, I brew a cup of special occasion tea and carry it outside with my workbook and bible. It’s a little past golden hour, but the sun is playing over the neighbor’s arbor and there’s enough of a cool breeze to wrap myself in a light hoodie as I read. The morning’s lesson is simple and engaging; I answer the questions thoughtfully but without going too deep. I’m surprised and gratified at how easily the time passes.

Afterwards I lean back on the padded wicker settee, close my eyes, and practice thinking without words, awareness without analyzation. I listen to the birds calling, the squirrels barking, and try to receive the gentle caresses of God’s fingers in the breeze through my hair as I once did. I feel like I’m making them up. It’s been a long time since I’ve had an hour of solitude, a time to reflect or just... be. Words tumble unbidden through my mind. Giving up, I bring my laptop outside and start writing.

Baby steps.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
18 August 2011 @ 08:06 pm
Deadly Sweet DollsStitch Wars Strikes Back : The Flyer!Title: Darth Vader Amigurumi; Artist: Crafty DorkTitle: Darth Vader Amigurumi; Artist: Crafty DorkTitle: Twi’lekling; Artist: Danielle McMillen aka DanielleoramaTitle: Laught It Up, Fuzzball; Artist: Love & a Sandwich
Title: Whimpering Wampa; Artist: Love & a SandwichTitle: Let the Wookie Win Artist: Love & a SandwichTitle: Ewok on Endor; Artist: Love & a SandwichTitle: Lando; Artist: Deadly SweetTitle: Lando; Artist: Deadly SweetTitle: Boba Fett; Artist: Deadly Sweet
Title: Boba Fett; Artist: Deadly SweetTitle: Han Solo; Artist: Deadly SweetTitle: Han Solo; Artist: Deadly SweetTitle: Chewie; Artist: Deadly SweetTitle: Chewie; Artist: Deadly SweetTitle: The Vegetarian Wampa; Artist: Anatomically Incorrect Creatures
Title: The Vegetarian Wampa; Artist: Anatomically Incorrect CreaturesTitle: The Knitter (Un-Framed); Artist: Mike StimpsonTitle: Woolly Wol Cabasshite; Artist: Kit LaneTitle: Woolly Wol Cabasshite; Artist: Kit LaneTitle: Party Chewbacca; Artist: Denn RodriguezTitle: Party Chewbacca; Artist: Denn Rodriguez

Because I love to mix and match my hobbies and watch my worlds collide. Check out the knitted Salacious Crumb!

07 November 2010 @ 11:08 pm
Thaniel’s kisses are very expensive; he hasn’t offered me one in days. Which is why I didn’t realize what he was doing at bedtime tonight. As we rocked in the dark, he amused himself by smashing his face into mine as if to meld our features into one: his nose into my eye, his eye into the bridge of my nose, brow-to-brow, experimentally giggling to gauge my response. After a few minutes I realized he was pressing his lips against mine in long, exaggerated kisses (his kisses don’t have sound or movement, he just thrusts his chin out, offering the thin line of his closed mouth to the lucky recipient). It was all I could do not to laugh out loud, ruining the peaceful silence of bedtime. Instead, we dissolved in quiet giggles as he pressed and pressed again, and I supplied the lip-smacking noises he hasn’t figured out how to do yet.

So this is what my love life has become, wordlessly making out in the dark with my two-year old, he with a toy train in each grubby little fist. I think, perhaps, my standards have gone up. :)
24 October 2010 @ 11:41 pm
Waiting for my brother Ron to cross the finish line at his first Olympic distance triathlon this morning, I was intrigued by the response to the stragglers by those who had come before.

Whenever a lone runner came into view, someone called out, "here comes a Finisher!" Not a straggler; not a loser; but a Finisher. Immediately a dozen or so people broke away from the crowd at the pavilion and cheered and whistled as the competitor ran the last couple hundred yards of his race. It seemed to me that these cheers were more wildly enthusastic than they were for the front-runners, and that this encouragement literally pulled him into the finish line. Afterwards a race official would spend a couple of minutes with the runner, congratulating him on a strong finish. My brother was one of the latecomers this morning, and although the awards ceremony was well under way in the pavilion behind us, his finish was seen and noted as sincerely as the ones before him.

I also noticed throughout the morning that whenever a competitor appeared to be struggling through a transition point, his cheerleaders would call, "you're doing it!" Not "you can do it" as most of us might say, but "you're doing it." They didn't evaluate his performance; they made a statement of fact!

This stuck with me all day. Thinking about Ron's race hours later, I suddenly recalled this verse:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).

I was moved to tears by the image of a great cloud of witnesses pulling me along with their cheers on the days when I have trouble just getting up; when I want to stare dumbstruck at my husband and say, "really?!?"; or when I'm tempted to scrape my two-year old off my leg and run screaming from the house. Instead, by God's grace and the power of his Spirit I persevere. "You're doing it!" they'd exclaim. "Here comes a Finisher!" And Father God himself would see, and congratulate me on a strong finish.
16 September 2010 @ 12:50 pm
"Choo-choo!" he cried excitedly from the backseat. "Din-din-din-din-din-din-din. Woo, wooooooo!" And then the train appeared, a flash of bright red engine between the buildings a block away. The tracks angled away from our position, and though I tried to point it out, we soon lost sight of it as it curved behind the treeline.

My son looks for that train every morning, pointing out the tracks on the way to school. It had been weeks since the last time it appeared, and I was determined that he would see that train!

The light turned green and I made the left onto Orange Avenue. The train was flying, but I knew we could catch it! Not by the crossing at Lake Jessamine, but surely by Mary Jess, where the track once again came close to the main road. Though we couldn't see the train, its whistle called mournfully, enthusiastically answered by boyish sound-effects. I turned onto Mary Jess and stopped short mere feet from the gate, startled at how close it was. We waited so long I thought we had missed it. But then came a sudden loud whistle blast and the engined roared by, so close we waved at the engineer in his cheerful yellow shirt leaning out the window. "Big twain, BIIIIG twain!" chanted my bright-eyed toddler, head craned to see the freight cars streaming by, trailed by a second red engine. "Choo-choooooooooo!"

The things I wouldn't do for this Boy.
I've nominated my friend Lisa for Sew News magazine's "Sewing Idol" contest. Unfortunately, I lacked a basic understanding of how the contest worked, and it turns out this is the last week to vote. I need your help!

Lisa made a huge difference to me during a very difficult time in my life; in a very real way she saved me. My nomination essay is below and I think you'll see why I want her to be recognized. Lisa is one of the most generous people I know, a true unsung hero.

To vote, go to this link: Lisa's nomination.

You'll need to register to vote, so click on the grey "registration" tab. After they send you a confirmation email, you can return to the page and vote. Click on the "vote" tab and then search for "Lisa Chan". Click in the radio button below my essay and then press the big "save vote" button. You can vote every day until the contest ends, which is either Thursday or Friday at midnight (the rules are unclear on this and I've sent an email asking for clarification... so check back and vote every day!).

The leading entry right now has over 40,000 votes; the second and third place have 9,000 and 2,500. I know I've got a late start, but with your help I'd like to see Lisa at least in the top three. Please share this with everyone you can! Thank you!!


Lisa Chan isn’t just my sewing idol. She’s my hero.

I’ve always admired the way Lisa integrates sewing into her everyday life. Sewing permeates everything from her kids’ school activities to her own volunteer and charity work. Lisa is one of the most generous people I know. But two years ago she rescued me in a way that elevated her from someone I admire to my sewing hero.

Three months after the birth of my son I struggled in the grip of post-partum depression. The excitement and anticipation of waiting for my miracle baby at the age of 37 had disintegrated into a debilitating nightmare of endless need. My will to survive suffered dangerously and sewing fell by the wayside as I struggled with even the most basic tasks of caring for myself, let alone my new baby. Despite this, I forged doggedly ahead with plans for his baptism service.

When I was four months pregnant I had fallen in love with a christening ensemble at the Sewing Expo and purchased the patterns and embroidery designs on the spot. Now eight months later and only ten days before the service, I expressed regret to Lisa at never having sewn it and despair that I never would. This, Lisa decided, would simply not do! She would help me make my sewing dream come true. How, I asked? With only ten days to go and me in no condition to work, I felt completely hopeless. “I’ll help you,” she said simply. For the next few minutes on the phone she had me delving into my stash, inventorying materials and figuring out what she could contribute from hers to save me the stress of a shopping trip. Talking about sewing, my mind was focused and clear. I began to feel something I hadn’t felt in over three months: I felt like myself.

For the next ten days Lisa delivered on her promise. She came over every day after dropping her daughters off at school, in the evenings after their activities, and on the weekend, too. When I lacked energy, she motivated me by painting beautiful word pictures of our project and helping me get to the next step. She worked while I nursed the baby, and when I absolutely couldn’t put him down, she cut, assembled and pressed pieces that I could straight-seam with the baby wrapped securely against my chest in a sling. When she wasn’t sewing she was bringing me dinner or taking care of my baby so I could grab a shower.

Through Lisa’s persistent and gentle encouragement, I made an amazing discovery. Sewing was a powerful antidepressant! Busy with the act of creation, I began to feel alive, energized and purposeful. This would continue over the next few months as Lisa visited often to sew with me. During that first year she also traveled on a day-trip to the Sewing Expo with me—my first day away from my son since his birth—and then to a four-day hands-on Cynthia Guffey workshop, a dream vacation I had hoped to take for years.

During those whirlwind days, Lisa also helped me make another inspiring discovery. Deep in depression, I had assumed my baby was an unresponsive bundle of need incapable of loving me. Through little games and simple interactions, Lisa showed me that he was in fact alert, responsive, intelligent and very attached to me! This was quite a contradiction and a major boost in my recovery.

After we finished the linen-and-organza baby bubble with delicate windowpane embroidery, we added a tiny pair of matching ribbon-laced shoes. With three days to go, Lisa declared we had time to create the reproduction antique christening wrap I had been drooling over for almost a year. She had both of our embroidery machines rattling industriously on the dining room table, turning out yards of gilt-edged ruffles for the wrap. We even embroidered it with my son’s name, the date and his godparents’ names for posterity, something that would not have occurred to me had Lisa not suggested it (Lisa has a passion for heirloom sewing and recently fulfilled a long-time desire to create an intricate christening gown, which she then donated to a local church for use by families who cannot afford to buy one). Not only did we finish the entire dream ensemble, but I had the time and energy to go out the day before the service and purchase a new outfit for myself!

Lisa couldn’t attend the service, but she was with me in every fiber, stitch, ruffle and tie of the outfit that made that day beautiful. My son’s godparents had already been named, but Lisa became and still is his “Fairy Godmother”!

It would take me another fifteen months to completely walk out of post-partum depression, but Lisa’s friendship and selfless generosity gave me the first happy reminders of my old self, and hope in a glimmer of who I could become. She has been a steadfast friend, a sounding board for more than my latest crazy sewing ideas, and an encouragement to challenge myself to new levels. For these reasons and more I believe she deserves the title of Sew News magazine's “Sewing Idol”… and the titles of “Hero” and “Fairy Godmother” as well!

Unfortunately my Mac died so I don't have the photo of Lisa and Thaniel in his outfit, but here's a couple of the baptism ensemble and its creation:

Baptism ensemble