If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Favorite Room

I realize that some days I live a luxurious life.  This morning I got to sleep late.  (Thank you sweet husband!)  Then, I had time to nibble a bagel, sip coffee, and browse through some blog posts of folks I follow.  I had time to read several posts and follow their links to read posts of some blogs they follow...

One of the posts I stumbled upon, over at Fieldstone Hill, focused on the writer's current favorite room in her house.  This set me thinking lots about our house, my former homes, rooms within those homes and more.  One thing I know I couldn't do in this house where I now live is to choose a favorite room.

I first thought it would be the master bedroom because it is so calm and restful to me.  Yet, it is also airy, breezy (when the windows are open in spring and fall - and one day earlier this week), and full of sunshine at times.  I love the hardwood floors.  I love the abundance of windows.  I love the bay window seat.  I love the antique furniture.  Of course, there are things I would change - but all-in-all, I love that room.

Then, I realized I was sitting in the kitchen when I could take my laptop anywhere.  So, I love that room, too.  I love the sunshine feeling of the yellow walls.  I love the abundance of cabinets.  I love the fabric of the curtains - something I found years before I even had a glimmer of thought about this house.  I love the French doors that open out onto the deck.  I love the huge windows which make me feel almost like I'm outside.  Of course, I'd love to change the counter tops.  I wish there was a place to mount a flat screen TV.  I wish there was a place for a small breakfast table for the two of us to eat at instead of the island.  All-in-all, I love that room, though.

I also thought about our den (or as Mike refers to it - the living room- which is probably more truthful because we do tend to live in there).  I love the fireplace which makes it feel cozy.  I love the large size of it.  I love most of the furniture there.  I love the Merlot silk drapes.  Oh, I'd change some things in it like maybe make it a bit wider so the sofa could sit opposite or parrallel to the hearth and not chop up the room.  Or, I would like to have it be lighter at times like the kitchen to give more of a feeling of being outside.  Yet, all-in-all, I love that room, too.

I'm wondering if maybe I should choose a 'current' favorite room and share it with some depth in some future posts like the other blogger did.  Hmmm...
Anyway, after giving it some thought, I couldn't think of a room that I like less than any of the others (unless maybe you want to count my closet that is such a wreck and needs a deep cleaning out).  So, maybe this house is deep-down wonderful!  Or maybe I have truly made it my own by painting and furnishing and decorating it.  Or maybe I'm just happy to be here because it is where the love of my life calls home.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Learning to be a Mom

I think we women begin to learn about being a mother from birth.  We learn from our mothers.  We learn from grandmothers and other relatives.  We learn from other folks' mothers.  However, the one who first REALLY taught me to be a mother was Bridgette, my first-born child.
Here she is on the day she became three months old.  It was the first day I heard her laugh out loud.  Her smooth skin glowed and dark brown eyes twinkled as that laughter tinkled like wind chimes on a sunny, breezy day tickling my heart and wrapping me in joy. 

She taught me to be more patient.  She taught me to be more protective.  She taught me that I could continue on no matter how tired I got or how much sleep I lost.  She taught me to set higher goals and have higher expectations.  She taught me to appreciate the little things and notice the ordinary.
She taught me to search for beauty close at hand.  She taught me that curls can be managed by simply letting them be.
She taught me that a smile can often melt even the most frozen, rock solid heart.  She taught me that Jellies make fabulous footwear for little girls who want to be independent.  She taught me that they coordinate with any ensemble - even PJs - and that she should have a pair in every color.
She taught me that it isn't so much the destination as the journey that is important.  She taught me that traveling and arriving in style means a lot but enjoying the trip is vital.
She taught me that a twinkle of the eye and a sheepish grin often say a lot more than words.  She taught me to treat friends like family and family like friends.
She taught me that family comes first and a hug goes a long way.  She taught me that you cannot say I love you too much.  She taught me that if you prop up others, they will usually prop you up when you need it most.
She taught me to take control of the situation when I need to be in charge - that a firm grip and a steady stare sometimes are all that is required to be taken seriously.
She taught me that sometimes it is better to let somebody else take control and just go with it.  Sometimes it is easier and better for everybody involved for us to just go with the flow.  She taught me to be flexible and bend so that others and myself don't break.
She taught me that natural beauty and infectious charm are always welcome and appreciated by everyone who really matters. 
She taught me to hold fast to those who are important and cherish the time we have with them.  She served as a life-line when I needed one most.
She taught me to appreciate the gifts I share and share the gifts I have.  Sometimes the gift is the effort behind it more than the gift itself.
She taught me that hand-crafted and hand-made is always more beautiful, more satisfying, more long-lasting, and more gratifying.  She taught me that to brighten somebody else's day usually brightens my own much more.
She taught me to learn from others and that those with experience are the most knowledgeable ones from whom to learn.  She taught me that we can learn from others even if we don't think we will use that knowledge.  She taught me that knowledge gained today will be invaluable tomorrow and  even later.
She taught me to be ready for anything.  She taught me that sometimes even when we think we are not ready for anything we really are ready for it.  She taught me to accept things as they come and appreciate them right where we are without condition.
She taught me that my heart stretches.  She taught me that the tiniest things are sometimes the things that take the most precedence.  She taught me to look at the world through the eyes of others.
She taught me to take pride in the accomplishments of others.  She taught me to encourage others to accomplish.  She taught me to lift folks up.
She taught me tenderness.  She taught me gentleness.  She taught me dedication and love.
She taught me reverence.  She taught me to revere each day as a bright new opportunity.  She taught me to revere the time spent with those I love and to try to create more time for those moments.
She taught me that the most important lessons are usually learned at the knees of those who guide us lovingly.  She taught me that it is never too early to begin teaching others.
She taught me that when we give ourselves to others, we receive more than we can ever give away.
She taught me to look at the world through different lenses.  She taught me that my own perspective isn't always the one that is truthful and open-minded.  She taught me to try to capture as much as possible and revisit past experiences to help me understand the present situation.
She taught me that behind the scenes often is the most important place to be.  She taught me that the appreciation of most circumstances comes from staying in the background.  She taught me that the observation of others often brings out the best in ourselves.
She taught me that we are never too old to act silly, to giggle, to laugh at ourselves.  She taught me to have fun at every opportunity.
She taught me that sometimes others learn better when we stand aside and let them discover on their own.  She taught me that the feeling of a support net is just as important as the actual support net.
She taught me that a faithful and devoted wife makes mistakes but perserveres. She taught me that a strong role model is fallible but seeks to live like the example she wants her children to be.
Twenty-nine years ago today, my daughter began teaching me to be a mother.  She became my teacher long before she was born, but she certainly took command of her pupil that day and has insisted that I be a rapt pupil ever since. 

She is now a mother herself and is learning every single day as well.  She is one of the greatest gifts I ever was blessed to have bestowed upon me and I am thankful for her each and every day.

Happy Birthday, Bridgette! 


I have so been wanting a Snow Day.  I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.  One of those days where the weather is cold, wet with snow and everybody gets to stay inside and watch the flakes fall while sipping a cup of hot chocolate.  A good day to watch movies.  A good day to read a book and snuggle up under a coverlet.  A day to just be cozy and lazy.  Not only do I really want that.  I NEED it!  A day off to...do nothing.  Well, today I got that.
the view out my front door

I'm not one who likes to get out in the snow.  Since I reached adulthood, I haven't wanted to be out in it and play.  I thought of snow as something that simply caused me extra work.  As a young adult, snow was something that meant we had to work harder to keep cows fed, water thawed, and tramp through mud and slushiness.  So, I was not such a great fan of snow.  Oh, I've always thought it a beautiful sight and loved looking out the window at it.  But, I would prefer to stay inside and stir up some soup, chili, or hot chocolate while everybody else threw snowballs, sledded down the hills, and built snowmen.  I guess that still carries over today.  Still, I love a good snow day.
snow piling on the porch and truck

As an educator, I love snow days because it is like a free gift of a day off.  It is a day when we hadn't really planned to be home and didn't have to prepare for a sub.  It is a day to enjoy the luxuries of life.  It is a day to grab some extra sleep.  It is a day to just goof off!  Or, sometimes it is a day to try to do a little catching up from all the work demands like grading, recording grades, advance lesson planning, etc. 
big fat plopping snowflakes

So, today when I got a snow day it was a little bit exciting.  My heart beat just a little bit faster.  I felt just a little giddy - sort of like a kid. 
blanketing the furniture

Let it snow!  I said.  I dreamt of it falling all day and creating drifts and mounds.  The sight was beautiful and I snuggled a little bit more happily inside with my sweetheart.  We enjoyed the beauty.
taking in the beauty

We appreciated the naturalness and country and creatures around us.  We napped a little bit and stood at the window with a steaming cup.
the view out the back door

We got a beautiful snow day.  The view was wonderful.  Mike and I shared time together.  It was restful and peaceful.  So, why is that I'm not thrilled and satisfied?
Today is Sunday!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Life Plans

When do you think you first had an idea about yourplans for life?  I think we all start envisioning a path for ourselves at some point.  I remember being in middle school and feeling like I knew exactly where I wanted to go to college, what I wanted to do for a living after that...  Somehow, though, that path had some detours...

Recently, after having to park half-way across campus, my daughter and her family were trekking to the college's arena to watch my daughter-in-law's graduation ceremony.  (You can see more about that HERE.)  My five-year-old granddaughter was complaining about the hike and my daughter gently informed her that lots of walking is generally a part of being a collegiate.  Whereupon, my granddaughter informed her that she had no intention of going to college.  When asked what she planned to do, she announced that she planned to "live on a mountain and have a horse ranch." 

Wow!  What a plan for such a young little lady.

Then, just last week, after a Bible-study lesson about a widow, Lillie asked, "What is a widow?" and was informed that this is a woman who is alone after her husband dies.  So, Lillie informed her teachers that she would be one of those.  After more depth of an explanation, she declared that she had no intention of every marrying or having children.  Of course,her teachers reported the declaration to Lillie's mother which prompted a follow-up conversation. 

It was explained to Lillie that she would have some help on her horse ranch if she had a husband and some children.  To this, Lillie responded that she would just "make friends with some cowgirls and cowboys" who would help her. 

Wow!  What a plan for such a young little lady.

This set me to thinking.  I wonder what sort of detours she will have in her life that take her off this path she has envisioned in front of her.  Of course, I hope her path is all sunshine and smiles.  We always want our children and grandchildren to have a smoother, easier, happier life than we have, don't we?

Yet, when I think of the journey I've had, I would change very little.  No, it hasn't always been sunshine and smiles for me.  However, I'm sure I wouldn't have wound up here if I hadn't been there.  I choose to believe that, while God doesn't want us to suffer or struggle - those things are a consequence of our free-will choices.  He does take those experiences and choices and use them for good.  I certainly hope that the good He makes of my life is a positive inspiration for others.  "The great use of life is to spend it for somehing that will outlast it," said the philosopher William James. 

I just hope that what outlasts my life is something good.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things...

Well, actually my favorite things are not things at all!

my sweet husband
Corey, Bridgette, Lillie, and Lydia

Bryan and Jessica

Stephen and Bonnie

Danny, Laura, Cassie, and Evie

Daddy and Mama

Hope this Valentine's Day finds you surrounded by love!

Monday, February 13, 2012


It has been long years since I have done any Valentine decorating at home. I guess I'm just too rushed and probably a little burned out with the cold weather and haven't gotten caught up since the Christmas decorations. Who knows? At any rate, the sweet hearts are not usually posted here.

I was inspired a little bit when I saw some things posted on Pinterest with cutesy hearts. So, I decided to do a little something here at home.

I changed out the decorations on my table for one thing.
Leaving several things on the tray like this makes it easy to move when I need the space of the table.

I just put a trio of red votives in the cute lantern Bridgette gave me for Christmas, plopped some red tulips in a crystal vase, and added a heart-shaped candle.
The mantle

I added this heart-shaped twig sculpture to the mantle in the den. I've had it for years and like the earthiness of it. It adds just enough in there to not overwhelm but to still say Valentines.

There are a couple more heart-shaped candles here and there - something students gave me or something I picked up off a clearance table I think. Then, I created a puffy heart for my front door.
Simple and sweet!

Our house sits a long distance from the road. So, it really only looks like a red dot on the door when drivers go by. I doubt anybody can tell what is there. But, I smile when I go by because I know it is there. I highly recommend that everybody could craft one of these door decorations. Plus, it was cheap! I simply followed the tutorial that Stacy and Calling All Sleepyheads posted.  You can learn how to create something like this, too, just go HERE.  (My daughter and I have crafted several of these.  Bridgette made several for my granddaughter, Lillie's birthday.  You can see those HERE.  She also made one for me and caused me to have to reproduce a similar one that you can see HERE.  Probably the cutest ones Bridgette has crafted were a couple we forgot to get a completed shot of before we gave them away.  But, you can see the works in progress HERE and HERE.) 

So, while the decor doesn't exactly look like hearts galore, the warmth and love in our hearts is really oozing here during February!  Hope your month is full of love.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Craziness Continues

Back in the fall we noticed it.  Heck, it was hard to hide - she showed it all the time.  Right out in plain sight.  Not even trying to hide it.  My mother went crazy.  You may want to learn more about that HERE.  Well, it didn't stop there.  She just kept getting crazier and crazier!  By Christmas, she had gone crazy for Mike and me, my brother-in-law and sister - Brenda, my son-in-law and daughter - Bridgette, and my daughter-in-law and son - Bryan.  Now she is going crazy for my nieces!  Will the craziness never end?!

As for Mike and me, we are pretty proud she did.  (I think Mike might even be more proud than me!  He absolutely LOVES and appreciates the time and talent it takes to hand-make anything.)  Anyway, I want to share the craziness Mom created.

This first glimpse is one where she focused on my favorite color of all - blue.
This square had my name embroidered on it.

I see a little snippet of the fabric we used to create the cushion for the bay window seat.  (You may remember us wrestling that alligator.  If not, you can read about it HERE.)  Right beside it looks like a scrap from my bridesmaid's dresses long years ago.  There is a little dobby print from some curtains or a chair cushion.  There are also lots of fancy embroidery stitches connecting everything and embellishing all the pieces.  I see some pretty purplish-blue flowers that might be irises and some that might be peonies or roses - pink, my favorite color for flowers. 

The next square is made of different shades of one of Mike's favorite colors - greens.
Lots of variety in the stitches on this one.

She has scripted his name across one scrap of fabric.  There are all sorts of stitches there and pieces of lace and braid and beads.  The textures of fabric range from silks, to satins, to velvets, and maybe even a piece of polished cotton.  The range of fabrics and stitches make me think of the different aspects of this man who growls like a grizzly but really is a soft Teddy-bear at heart.

The next square has some blues and leads into purples.
There are more flowers 'growing' on this one!

Here she embroidered Bridgette and Corey's names.  The flowers are not just clustered on the centers of the fabric pieces but are also growing along the edges and connecting the different pieces.  I wonder if that lavender piece of satin is left from my sister's bride's maid dresses?  The orderly designs of the embroidery and the burst of colorful flowers truly represent the strength and personality of those two people!

Earth tones of brown and tan and gold make up the next square.
Nature's colors.

This back-to-nature color scheme is just right for Mom to embroider Bryan's and Jessica's names onto.  The textures of corduroy, a sturdy cotton, and dobby upholstery fabrics play nicely off the lace pieces and decorative braids and embroidered flowers.  It reminds me of the turkeys and deer that Bryan so avidly stalks and the sweet, soft-spoken wife with whom he shares his life. 

A square with sunshine yellows commemorates my first granddaughter.
A springlike touch!

Just like her platinum blonde hair, this square reminds me of Lillie.  There is a sparkly rick-rack like the tinkle of her giggle and an embroidered fan like the fresh breeze she can stir up with her grown-up ideas coming from her snaggle-toothed little pre-school mouth.  Glittery beads and blue-blue flowers make me think of the twinkle of her eyes.

Girly-girl shades of pink make up the next square.
Pink like Minnie!

Lydia's name is embroidered on the square crafted of pinks - her favorite color.  She grew to love pink because it is Minnie Mouse, her favorite friend's color of choice.  Again, there is a range of fabric types - velvet, moire taffeta, silks, cotton prints, and satins.  A multitude of styles which are just like the facets of the gem Lydia truly can be.  There are tiny little flower buds like her short little legs and shiny fabrics like the glow of her happy little face.  There are criss-crossing stitches and beautiful blooms and soft scraps of fabric just like her sweet, gentle, loving little personality.

The next square has mostly blue fabrics but the colors of embroidery truly give it life.
There is a riot of colors here!

Just like Mike's daughter, Laura, and her children, Cassie and Evie, have perked up our lives, this square bursts with colors of pinks, yellows, purples, and golds.  The rich braids embellished with beads and embroidery represent how these three girls enrich and embellish our lives with smiles, giggles, hugs, and kisses.  They spring into our home and fill it with laughter and activity leaving us with warm memories and remembered smiles.

The final square explodes with color and patterns.
Fun zig-zags and polka dots!

This square is a good representative of Mike's son, Stephen and his wife, Bonnie.  There is her favorite color - pink.  It has fun polka-dots and zig-zags which represent their range and depth of happy personalities.  It is busy and colorful just like their fast-paced lives running a business.  Bonnie and Stephen's names are stitched as well as an O for our last name.

I cannot imagine how many hours it took my mother to go this crazy but it is really quite beautiful.  I want to protect its beauty and all the work in it.  Yet, I also want to have it out where other folks can appreciate it as well.  So, I haven't found the perfect spot for it just yet. 

The soft sky-blue velvet that connects these squares
reminds me of the soft strength of the woman who crafted it.

I guess I needn't worry about having a mother who has gone crazy.  I envision her fingers stitching all the different scrolls, flowers, dots, squiggles, vines, tracks, and names and recall how she could look at a dress or blouse on the rack at a store which was too expensive for our budget when I was growing up and then she would stop off at the fabric store and pick up a yard or two which was similar to that garment and by the end of the week I would have a replica of it - only it would be sturdier made and better fitting.  I remember how she stitched together and embellished folks' wedding gowns and formals to help pay for my trips here and there and my college education (and sometimes probably helped to pay the electric bill which kept us warm or cool).

I am honored to have a crazy mother who focuses her energies toward hand-crafting and creating something that will be an heirloom for many generations.  I am just grateful that I get to enjoy the fruits of her labors, the warmth of her smile, the sparkle of her emerald eyes, the sheen of her snowy hair, and the sunshine of her laughter.  We don't always tell the folks we love how much we do - but my mother - in her crazy ways - certainly does show us that she really loves us and wraps us in her crazy love - literally and figuratively!

(By the way, if you want a closer look at the photos, just click on them and you can see it enlarged a bit.)