Monday, March 30, 2009

A bag for Great-Grandma

This is the first project I've made using the "Feathered Friends" fat quarters I purchased for my birthday. It seems only fitting that I make birthday gifts using the birthday fabric! I don't really like the light blue bottom of the bag- I'm worried it will get dirty very easily. Other than that, I really like the way the bag came together. Very stripey!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dave's Grandma's Quilt!

My fourth post of the day! It must be a record!

This is the unfinished quilt top I pieced for Dave's Grandma D.

Better Fabric Pictures

Here are the fabric choices

Amy, Here are the fabrics I've collected so far. Of course not all of them will be used in the quilt. The pallete is looking too brown, there are not enough reds (or at least not the right reds). I'd like more blues and cool colors. In short- there is not a quilt in the works yet.

On a totally selfish note- I'm making a queen size quilt for myself once I complete the baby quilt and the lap quilt that are already in the works. It will be a good six months or so before I want to tackle Mom's quilt so I have a good long while to shop.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A small vent (or- blogging while sick)

Yesterday I was lucky enough to cook a birthday dinner for both my mother and grandmother. Mom turned 60 last Sunday and Grandma turned 88 today. I seem to have picked up Chris's virus so I didn't do much eating, but everyone else seemed to enjoy the food. We had a pretty good time. It amazes me that both of these vibrant women have reached the ages they are. Neither one looks her age.

In the course of the evening I showed Mom the fabric I'm using for Christine's quilt (on hold until I feel a bit better). Mom (for the second time in a month) wanted to know why I've made all these quilts for everyone except her. I tried giving her the same answer I used last weekend, "Don't ask questions," but it didn't go over well. Now she tells me that not only do I owe her a quilt, I have to let her approve the fabric. She doesn't want it "flowery."

First off, I have not made very many quilts. I made one for Chris, Miranda, Sam, Jake, Sophie, James, Pat, and I have a finished (but not sandwiched) top for Dave's Grandma Dirikson (sp?). I also made a baby quilt for my friend Jennifer and now I'm working on one for Christine. In the grand scheme of things- that is not a whole lot of quilts. Pat had surgery last fall and I wanted to make a quilt for her to enjoy during her recovery. Grandma Dirikson is always very kind to us- and she's not getting any younger! We've never sent her presents and rarely get to Burley to visit. A quilt is my way of letting her know we appreciate her.

My mother lives close enough I can see her house. Occasionally (like last weekend) we travel to rabbit shows together. I always buy or make her something for Christmas and her birthday. She is not generous with her time or affection. Before Sam was born she babysat Chris twice. After Sam's birth (6/22/2004) she's taken Chris for a few hours here and there 3 or 4 days during the year. She has never spent time alone with Sam or Jake. I'm not saying that my mother isn't a lovely person with many admirable traits- she's just not someone who makes me feel a deep gratitude for the help and comfort she brings to me and my family throughout the year. She does let me steal frozen pigs and rabbits out of her freezer when I need them for dissection. She also lets us borrow her pickup if we need it and bring it back full of gas. If the kids want to go visit and look at rabbits, or pygmy goats, or play with the donkey she'll let them... as long as they bring an adult and don't mind if she spends the time on her computer instead of playing.

I do have plans to make a quilt for Mom. I've been collecting fabric for a couple of years now. There still isn't enough fabric for her quilt. I have no intention of letting her choose what I'm making or the pattern I'll be following. That's not how the quilt giving works in my house. I make what I want you to have. You accept it and act pleased. If someone wishes to pay me for my time and effort then they can choose their own fabrics and tell me how they'd like the quilt finished. Otherwise, smile- nod- don't ask questions.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Anyone want to quilt with me?

Since spring is a full, busy time around our house and I don't have nearly as many hours to sit around thinking deep thoughts... I decided that in the interests of keeping my blog going (without philosophical discussion) it would be a good idea to do a few craft posts.

At the moment I am working on a quilt for my friend Christine. She is having a baby just about any day now- on Monday at the latest (since she has an induction appointment on Monday morning). I bought a set of Darla (by Tanya Whelan) fat quarters from Hancock's of Paducah (my all time favorite fabric store!). I anticipate using about half of each fat quarter to make a generous size baby quilt.

Quilting is more of an art than a science for me. What that means to you is that until the quilt is finished I will not know how much fabric I'm using or what the final dimensions will be. I'm planning on constructing the top using 8.5" squares.

Today I cut 4.5" strips and 2.5" strips from all of the Darla fabrics. I also cut a 4.5" strip of pink minky fabric (to add textural interest to the quilt).

Tomorrow (hopefully) I'll post pictures and directions for the two different types of blocks I'll be using to piece the quilt top.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Family Happenings

It's past time for a new post and I have nothing controversial or meaningful to say. Failing that I thought I'd fill you in our family happenings.

Dave's work is slow again and so he's been home more. Thank goodness he was home this morning since our sink wouldn't drain and he saved us the expense of hiring a plumber by taking the drain apart himself. I have now been lectured about running the water longer when I run greens and egg shells down the garbage disposal.

Chris was sick all day yesterday and bugged me all day about how he got sick, why he got sick, what exactly the sick was, etc., etc. Today he's back in good form and talking about horses and goats and rabbits.

We dropped Sam back to two days of preschool a week. He attends Tues. and Thurs. After spending a year and a half complaining about how much he dislikes school- he's now mad at me for decreasing his hours. I made the mistake this morning of asking him whether he wants to go to the local public school for kindergarden or if he'd like to be homeschooled. Now he's really irritated because he tells me he wants to go to the school he attends now- which only goes through 4yr old preschool. Poor kid. He just can't win.

Jake tells me he missed me very much when I took the older boys to school today. He stayed home and helped Dad fix the sink, but he wasn't impressed with the process. Chris told him that Bunny is gone forever (although the toy is not gone at all) and Jake replied, "That's too bad, I will miss her." He's got such a funny, mature voice sometimes.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Let's talk about depression

On Friday at our co-op one of the moms told us about a friend of hers who recently committed suicide. The woman had three week old twins at the time. Of everything that stands out about that conversation is that the family is LDS. Relief Society was bringing food and stopping by most days to ask if there was anything the family needed help with. My friend was shocked because the new mother never asked for help. She always said thing were fine. Then she begged her husband to stay home one day and while he was caring for the babies she went out to the garage and hung herself.

Their Bishop spoke to the ward the following Sunday and reminded people that if they were in need of help they should ask for help- regardless of sex or age.

Here is where my concern comes in. When I was depressed I didn't realize it. I truly believed that I was just a bad housekeeper, a bad mother, not a very nice person, and generally worthless. It was surprising to me that someone who started adulthood with as much potential as I did should turn out to be such a dud. It never once crossed my mind that I could or should ask anyone for help. When I asked my mom to help by watching the kids for a couple of hours she told me that I was the one who chose to have children. It was my responsibility to care for them. I believed her. I believed it was my burden to carry and it was not right of me to ask anyone for help with housework, childcare, groceries, or meals. Luckily I was not severely depressed. It did cross my mind once while driving alone that it might be better for everyone if I just crashed into a tree and never returned. The insurance money would provide for a house cleaner and meal preparation. It would also pay for childcare- I was not a good mother, the kids would probably do better in daycare.

Depressed women don't always realize they're not functioning correctly. They don't realize that there is no shame in asking for help. When they do ask for help, if they're rebuffed, they may never ask again. It is not as simple as picking up the phone and telling someone, "I need some help doing laundry, organizing the bills, and preparing meals." Symptoms of depression include confusion, inability to concentrate, and feelings of guilt and worthlessness. A depressed woman may not be able to organize her thoughts enough to delegate tasks. If you simply tell someone, "Let me know what I can do to help," a depressed person may be desperately in need, but unable to articulate what they need. If you show up and just start working, the depressed mother may feel more guilt- it's a very delicate balance between being polite and baldly stating, "I'm going to help whether you like it or not!"

So... if you are my friend... and I think you need help... please don't feel awkward, angry, embarrassed, or irritable if I come over and start doing your dishes, call you on the phone a couple times a day, send other friends over to visit, or tell you about my experience with depression and then ask if you are feeling at the same way. You are important. You are important to me. You are important to your parents and siblings. You are important to your community. You are important to your husband. No one is more important to your babies than you are.

No one wants to be in the group of people saying, "I offered to help, maybe I could have done more." In that spirit I encourage everyone who may read my blog to do more than offer to help. Come up with a concrete task you can accomplish and then just go do it. Don't take no for an answer- and find a humorous way to complete your work. Sometimes it's something as simple as calling on a regular basis. Sometimes something more concrete like babysitting or folding the laundry is most helpful. Rarely, calling a mental health professional or the paramedics may be required.

You may not be depressed and I may annoy the heck out of you when you perceive that I am being nosy. I don't care- because if you are depressed I don't want to hear one day that you are no longer with us. I don't even care if I lose your friendship- because it's most important that we don't lose YOU.

Baby Teeth

Today Chris had his first dental x-rays, his first novacaine shot, his first nitrous oxide, and his first two teeth pulled. Hopefully they'll be the last teeth he has to have pulled, but we won't know for a while. Last Thursday, while eating an apple, Chris called out, "Oh no! My tooth hurts! I have a cavity! I need to go to the dentist!"

When I looked in his mouth it was plain to see that he had more teeth in there than he should. His adult lower, central incisors were coming up- behind his baby teeth! Luckily we couldn't get in until this morning. We had 4 days to talk about what to expect at the dentist's office. Chris was excited to see the dentist! He really likes him- which is a very good thing.

My one criticism of the dentist's office is that this is the second time Chris has been seen within the past few months. Every time I call I remind the receptionist that Chris has Asperger's Syndrome. I put it on his paperwork during the first visit. Normally I do not immediately tell people he's on the autism spectrum. It feels wrong to tell people to expect him to act differently, and so I usually try to help him transition into new situations without alerting everyone surrounding us that he is "different." However, the dentist is one person who REALLY NEEDS TO KNOW! Chris needs more time to get used to new ideas. He needs more explanation of what is going to happen. He needs to get into the office and have things happen- not wait several days or weeks and then return.

I need to be present if new stuff (like x-rays) are being done. It's not just me being overprotective- you will not get a readable x-ray if I'm not there to keep him calm and tell him what to expect. The dental assistant telling him to hold as still as possible (in her cute, friendly voice) is not going to hold him. His mother saying, "The machine will move around your head, it will make a funny noise, and if you move the x-rays won't work," will hold him still. Once I took the dentist aside and asked if there was a note in his file regarding the Asperger's (there wasn't- even though I told the receptionist about it when I called this time too) they were better about letting me help. Are most parents really such a liability that the staff should keep them away?

It also bugs me that it has to be brought up when Chris is present. There should be some discreet way of discussing the issue before we arrive at the office (for instance- when I call and tell the receptionist he has Asperger's Syndrome). Chris should think he's normal, or at least as normal as any individual with his family can be. How will he ever feel as if he fits in if he mentally catagorizes himself as something disordered? Asperger's Syndrome is not who Chris is. It's an interesting fact about him- like he's blond. I hate having to bring it up- but there are times when the information really is relevant and helpful (like when you're about to pull his teeth).

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I took two Night Time Tylenol the night before last. My head still feels like it's floating somewhere above my shoulders. I'm not sure if it's a residual from the diphenhydramine in the Tylenol, the psuedoephedrine in my Zyrtec-D allergy pills, a combination of both, or simply that I am (and have always been) a space cadet.

This morning I got ready to load the kids in the van and discovered that Jake was still wearing jammies. Chris went to school without underwear (although- should I really have to check?) and Sam arrived at his school in a short sleeved shirt with no coat. I made Sam wear Jake's coat into the building and now I'm sitting here hoping he didn't let that ruin his whole day!

I did get the bread made. The whole house smells like freshly baked bread- so that's one good thing I did this morning. It's a gray, overcast day and my sense of time is skewed because it looks much earlier than it is. I'd gotten used to seeing the sun on a regular basis and my mind is just not prepared to deal with the unrelenting gray any longer.

Friday is my turn to teach the preschool class at co-op. Our topic for the day is keeping our bodies healthy through good nutrition. I think my plan for the hour is to provide each child with a simple food pyramid chart (the old food pyramid, the new one is weird). I'll cut out pictures of foods ahead of time and ask the kids to classify them as grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy, or treats (including oils, fats, and sweets). Unless someone comes up with a better song before Friday we will sing Yummy, Yummy (the Wiggles). I still need a story to read- anyone have some suggestions? We'll make a simple trail mix with popcorn, cheerios (oat), chex (wheat), dried fruits, sunflower seeds, and mini m&m's. I suppose we could also play fruit basket upset if enough of the class is present on Friday. Will that fill up my hour or do I need more activities?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Is it Tuesday already?

Time seems to fly by these days! I was watching the little boys in the bath tub this morning and comparing them to this time last year. Sam and Jake are able to bathe by themselves (if the floor needs cleaned) and they help each other wash hair. Last year they needed constant supervision. I had to hold Sam down to wash his hair. Jake drank soapy bathwater whenever my back was turned. Both boys poured water by the cupfull over the side of the tub to make "waterfalls."

A year doesn't seem like a long time in relation to the rest of my life, but it's a large chunck of each child's lifetime when they're this young. I think of all the projects I'd like to do each season and how few of them we actually complete. There will be (and have been) many springs in my life. If I don't dye Easter eggs this spring- well, what's one spring out of 34? Jake- well, if we don't dye Easter eggs this spring- he probably doesn't remember dying them the year before. He only has 3 years of experiences. It's hard to keep that in perspective when I get tired and irritated. Every week of every month is important when you're young. A day still has 24 hours when you're three or four years old, but their hours and their day seem longer to them than my days and hours seem to me.

It's my job to make sure that the kids' days and hours are filled with meaningful experiences and memories. I can't give them back their childhoods once they are adults.

Sam isn't liking preschool. He has never liked preschool. I send him anyway. He's speech delayed and "needs" the speech therapy services offered by the school. Commitment and follow through are important values that I strive to teach my children. Sam has remained in a preschool he dislikes because I feel it would be "quitting" to pull him out. But- would it really be quitting? He's not thriving there, and he's not going to be four years old ever again. This is a commitment I made, not Sam. Is it fair to expect him to live with this situation 4 days a week, every week, until the end of May?

Last week I put Sam on the waiting list for speech therapy through St. Luke's/Idaho Elks. He liked the office building. He likes the receptionist. He'd like to spend less time in the echoing halls and classrooms of the very old building where he goes to preschool. I'm still ambivalent about pulling him out of school, especially when there are just a few months left. Am I letting him get away with something harmful if I let him choose to quit going to preschool? Or am I finally listening to the needs of my child and giving him more freedom to just be 4?

Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room