Friday, August 29, 2008

Knitting and Life Lessons 101

I took my first official knitting class the other day.

My mother in law taught me the basics this summer on vacation,. However, she lives 700 miles away so I can't show her my work in progress or ask questions mid stitch.

Boy did I have questions.

I opted to take a private lesson at a beautiful knitting store across town. I was slightly intimidated to enter this knitting world. With shelf upon shelf of yarn and projects on display right out of the pages of a Susan B Anderson book it all looked so perfect.

But now that I've been there I now know why knitters love these quaint little stores. There really is no comparison between them and the aisles at the hobby shop.

It's like walking into a friends's home. Warm, inviting and filled with beautiful things.

The yarn looks like perfect little birthday cakes, the comfy couches and fireplace just draw you into another world. I told my husband there may be no going back to the "fake yarn stores".

I was nervous going into this lesson. I've made two scarfs thus far.


Both with many many mistakes. The girls love them, but I knew they weren't up to par.

Let's just say when you cast on 30 stitches and end up just a few rows later with 45 you have a problem.

When my teacher asked to see what I've done I was a little timid.

I should not have worried. She didn't laugh or snicker. She showed me whatI was doing right and where I'd gone wrong. She gave me the great idea to turn my "scarf" into a little girl purse. To sew up the sides, add some ribbon and call it good. Not a wasted project after all, just a new way to turn my problems into good.

The yarn I'd been using was cheap, too complicated and the needles too big for beginners. I didn't have the best set up to get started. But, I had gotten the habit down, my fingers were understanding how to knit.

Now I know how to do it. Not all of it, but it's a start. We are taking it slow. I only know how to cast on, knit continental style and bind off. But with the right bamboo knitting needles, a little lesson on what to watch for and stitch markers to help me count I'm getting it.

So many things she told me make sense.

I've decided to make a new project. With the right tools, fantastic yarn and a little bit of courage.

It's a Purl Bee pattern I found on line; the Super Easy Baby Blanket. While it has 7 skeins of yarn you knit every row with one color until there are 20 "ridges" and then you switch colors. No changing mid stream.

The Yarn. It's scrumptious. It's soft and perfect for a baby blanket. The colors are just right for the special baby boy to-be I'm thinking of.

If I get stuck switching colors, I'll go ask for help. Free advise is given out they tell me and if I want I should join the knitting circle on Tuesday mornings where advise flows along with conversation. I'm going back for another lesson in a few weeks to learn how to purl.

While I walked into my lesson nervous and afraid of what she'd say of my project and skills, I left confident, excited and ready to tackle this new adventure one stitch at a time.

My knitting class taught me some Life Lessons:

* It's ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. You might even be able to turn that mistake into something beautiful for someone else.

* Often I don't have the right skills or tools for a job. Instead of giving up and throwing in the towel go find someone who does and ask them to show you how to do it right. Don't worry that I don't have it all figured out right away.

* I don't have to jump in all the way to enjoy the adventure. Right now I only know the basics (one stitch) but I'm still having fun. I can learn more later.

* Enjoy the moment. Casting on the new blanket and the feel of the yarn and needles was exciting. I don't need to worry yet about how it will look or if I can do it all. Just live in the moment.

These Life Lessons are just what I need on my journey of life. They remind me of a favorite verse in Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 3
1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's On Your Nightstand-August 2008

I love to read.

I read all the time and have a book with me most of the time.

In fact I enjoy waiting in my car for my kids, sitting in doctor's waiting rooms and of course car rides are just perfect for reading. My husband always drives on car trips, not because I can't drive, but because he doesn't read in the car or knit. I do both.

Vacation packing requires me to bring a stack of books. I will have the book I'm currently reading and up to two more just in case I finish.

So, when I came across 5 minutes for Books it was just what the doctor ordered.

I'm participating in my first What's On Your Nightstand this month. However, I must confess none of these books were on my nightstand as are always scattered around the house.

Then whenever I have a free moment I can pick them up and read.

Here's a picture of my current stash.

The Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliffe. I just picked up knitting this summer and have lots of questions. This book has lots of answers. It will probably become a standby in my knitting bag.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out by Neta Jackson. I think this is the final book in this wonderful series. I'm constantly challenged by the Yada Yada Girls to think more globally/cross culturally. My middle -class -suburban -white -church -self could use a little uncomfortableness with culture, customs and worship. How I wish I had a group of women like Yada Yada in my life. You'll love every page.

Daring Chloe by Laura Jensen Walker. Just got this at the Public Library. My littlest has a best friend named Chloe so I had to pick it up. Next on my list.

Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow. Man can Whitlow write. I love the legal drama, the faith crisis, and the deep characters. Page turner for sure! In my mind I have the legal knowledge of this great author and would love to be him when I grow up. Of course, no legal background might hurt my chances.

Your Boy by Vicki Courtney. This girl knows her boys. I have an 11 year old and this book has so talked to me about who he is and where his thoughts and body are most of the time. For awhile, I thought my little boy had left the building.. Courtney is giving me encouragement and hope for the teenage years yet to come. Must read for moms of boys of all ages. This will be keeper. If you don't read her blog, you should.

Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel. Wow what a book. I've seen on blogs how this book has changed people's parenting and while I am only half way through I get it. I'll be writing about this book later this week. I'm facilitating a class at church on this book; a video series on Sunday mornings that starts in two weeks. Not my comfort zone. God better start equipping this called person quickly.

The Yarn Girls Guide to Knits for Older Kids by Julie Carles and Jordana Jacobs. I start my knitting classes tomorrow. Just hoping that by winter I can tackle a few of these patterns they look yummy.

That's enough from me this month. I'm thinking next month I'll limit my stash so I can actually finish a few of wonderful thoughts floating through my head. Books how I love thee.

If you are interested in more on great books go to .

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to Routine: Menu Plan for the Week

I'm new to organizing junkie's Menu Plan Monday, but I've been planning menus at home for the past 15 years.
When we were first married I'd write my weekly menu out on a piece of paper and post it on the fridge. P says that whenever I posted "Chicken Wok" on Friday night he knew we'd be eating out. Guess I never had the right chicken or Chinese veggies on hand!
Oh Friday night dinners out, what a memory!!
If you walked into my house now you'd see a dry erase calendar on the Fridge with the daily schedule and the menu posted. Most of the time I stick to the plan, purchase the food needed and get cracking, but there are days that I'll look at the menu and think yuck! That's when Spaghetti and Meatballs make the dinner plates.
My husband is so use to this way of planning the meals that he'll even call sometimes from the office and ask what we are having for dinner so he doesn't duplicate the food at lunch.
This week's menu is a little on the easy side as we transition from summer cookouts and late dinners to school, dance, and all the meetings and practices that happen here from September - May.
Monday: Taco Soup with Cheese and baked taco chips; fresh fruit for dessert
Tuesday: Sexy Joes with Turkey Meat (Biggest Loser Cookbook) with Sweet Potato Oven Fries.
Wednesday: Pork Chops in Country Gravy (Cooking Light Complete p 330) with Noodles and fresh green beans. Pinneapple Salad.
Thursday: Lazy Lasagna (Cooking Light p 265) with a tomato,cucumber and red onion salad in Hendrickson's Dressing.
Friday: Bacon Wrapped Sirloin with Girl Scout Potatoes and Fresh/Frozen Corn.
I've tried to include the cookbook the recipe has come from for reference; but a lot of my recipes are from friends, magazines and the web. I'll try to figure out how to link to them this week.
Girl Scout Potatoes Recipe: Russet Potatoes or Yukon Gold peeled and cut in thin slices placed in aluminum foil with onions, butter or substitute, salt and pepper and either grilled slowly on the grill or placed in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Favorite from childhood. The thinner the potato piece the better as they get stuck to the foil and crisp up. YUMMY.
I'm excited to go check your menus this week.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's Fall at a Store Near You: Ignore the Weather Outside

School started yesterday. Why is it that it's still summer, but we are pretending it's Fall? I love walking through Target and seeing that they have all the winter gear you could ever need; sweaters, long pants, jackets. Not so practical when it's 95 degrees.Where will this winter gear be in say February when the wind chill is -30 and my kids have all lost at least one glove.

Gone I tell you. Gone!

No where to be found.

But have you seen the wonderful bikinis from our Cruise Line?

I can not tell you how many times I've searched for winter clothing or hats and gloves in say wintertime and haven't been able to find anything, but a Men's XL.

Seriously, why in early July could I not find a 5T swimsuit to save my life? Why did they not save a few behind for mom's who bought swimsuits in early spring and then had children that either grew or swum so much the suit was no longer the same size as the child.Tell me that hasn't happened to you too. Not you the mother, we never outgrow our clothes, but at least a toddler in your family has. Right!

You wonder oh retail giants why mothers despise shopping. You confuse us with your "seasons"

While I have no greater pleasure than wandering the aisles at the big stores in search of wonderful new pens, pencils, crayon boxes. But do you need to remind us in late June that soon a whole new school year will start.

Come on that's when I'm in the trenches of sunscreen, swimming lessons, bug spray for camp and the VBS songs on my CD player are still the number one songs we listen to in the car.

My deep thought is this: we are rushing everything. Cell phones for 10 year olds, bras and halter tops for toddlers ( I'm not kidding have you been shopping lately for a 4 year old) and now seasons.

Why enjoy summer, lets just skip it and pretend it's already winter. Obviously these retailers don't live in the heartland where we have enough winter, thank you!

So, in honor of Summer, I'm going to give my kids Popsicles for their after school snacks today and have them sit outside with their new tennis shoes and winter coats and enjoy them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympics You Taunt Me

Whose idea was it to start the Olympics in the middle of August?

Did the IOC not realize that my kids start school next week and, according to the Surgeon General, I need to be starting early bed times this week. Do you realize IOC how hard that is to do when you start gymnastics and "Michael Phelps" events at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m?

I ask you to consider us poor mothers who are trying to keep a schedule around here by scheduling the Olympics for say mid-July when nothing is on TV anyway and it's blazing hot and my kids do not need to get to bed early.

Last night, I finally said enough; we are going to pull a NBC and DVR the Olympics for playback 12 hours later when you wake up in the morning. Then you will be watching them on the actual day they are happening anyway. I mean it kinda freaks me out anyway to be watching Wednesday happen when it's only Tuesday in my family room.

All that aside, I love the Olympics and it's fun to watch the excitement in my kids faces as they watch "the youth of the world compete". M is working on her splits and handstands certain she can make the next gymnastics team, irregardless of the fact she is a dancer not a gymnast.

A has renamed the Olympics BA-GING and asks is "this live?" every time someone jumps in the pool. C asks why the boys are wearing girl swimsuits while I wonder how many hours Michael Phelps mother has sat on bleachers in her life. I'm betting she has given years of her life up and has the nicest skin due to all the humidity she's soaked up inside pool houses.

So, all I'm saying is IOC in 4 years when all the youth of world meet next, could you check the school calendar first and make sure there isn't a conflict. Thanks.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Our Family-The Christmas Letter Version

I figured the easiest way to introduce the blog world to our family would be to share our 2007 Christmas Letter with the group. Since it is now 7 months old the details are a little out of date, but the people have not changed. Well they have changed ages, but personalities, jobs etc have stayed pretty much the same.

C is the oldest: He is now 11 years old and will be entering 6th grade this fall. His nickname for this blog is the Engineer. As a young child we called him a 30 year old trapped in a toddler's body.

M is the middle child; oldest daughter and she is 8 years old. I can't believe she'll start 3rd grade this year, it really was only yesterday that she was a 2 year old that did not talk.

A is the baby of the family and the youngest girl. She just celebrated her 4th birthday with a party at the park with her 3 girl and 1 boyfriend. It was fabulous and for August the weather was perfect. She'll start Preschool in September and is already worried about what she will wear.

P is my husband of almost 15 years. He is the provider, protector and the one who has all the fun with the kids.

J is me.

Hope you enjoy this little glimpse into our family.

Christmas Letter 2007

Time really flew by this year and we enjoyed every moment along the way, but we sure were busy! For awhile our home was “quarantined” when, in the process of 3 weeks we had 3 cases of pneumonia. Poor C was even sick on his “double digit” birthday in March.
C ‘s new passion is golf. He had a fabulous summer playing in a league, taking golf lessons and hitting the links with Dad and Papa. Next summer, he wants to play in two leagues ! The boy’s model aviation hobby took off with the purchase of an Avistar airplane. C will likely be soloing by Spring. Early morning bus rides for our Middle Schooler also means new adventures with FCA, the Boy Scout Jamboree and learning the Trombone. Upwards Basketball will keep him busy this winter until golf starts up. M , the 2nd Grader, is becoming our avid reader. The characters in books come alive to her. Her year started out with a bang when she went on a date with her Dad to the Children’s Museum New Year’s Eve Party. She taught her Dad some new moves on the Dance Floor. Her competitive dance team won 2nd place this fall at a convention. The makeup she gets to wear to these events is just a bonus in her eyes. Our brave soul, she tried out all the rides on our trip to Mall of America, jumped off the diving board at the pool and caught lots of waves on the tube at the lake. She loved Girl Scout Summer Day Camp and is excited for our first troop camping this January at the Lodge at Camp . Growing out her hair for Locks for Love is her winter project and while the hair in her eyes drives her father crazy, the gesture captures so much her caring soul and tender heart.
A at three is a real trooper. Her infectious laugh and snugly spirit have served her well this year when she battled mono, pneumonia & 5 cases of tonsillitis before having her tonsils and adenoids out in July. Down for the count for about 10 days afterwards, she bounced back full of spunk. A decided to cut some of her hair this fall and earned the name A Scissorhands! Thankfully, the American Girl Doll she was playing with escaped any harm. She loves her ballet/tap class, playing with her “friends” and wants to be on the go all the time. We love to hear her singing in her bed, chatting away in the car and dancing to music everywhere. However, sometimes we wonder if she is ever quiet. This summer she amazingly even got wet at the pool and the lake; just not all the way! Her kisses and hugs are the best ever! We are so grateful for the gift of these three precious children from God !!!
P walked down memory lane when business took him to Cincinnati and he met up with a childhood friend. Watching the Chicago Air & Water over Lake Michigan topped his list of best of 2007. Planes flew overhead while we enjoyed the views of the Lake and watched the kids swim in Lake Michigan. Day to day activities keep him hopping as he serves as softball coach, boat driver, Sunday School teacher, lawn boy, airplane fixer & of course insurance salesman. Jill is now going by “Dr.” having survived the “year of infirmary”. She’s busy with 19 Girl Scouts, a Beth Moore Bible Study, a church committee and lots of fun times in the carpool lane. Come summer, its the swimming pool/lake and driving them again to all those “fun activities” like golf and dance. She’s not complaining, sanity comes monthly when she “crops” for 12 hours with friends from Church.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Welcome to Find Us Faithful

After almost a year of debating with myself, I've decided to start a blog. Why now, you ask? School is about to start up again for the kids and I figure this is kinda like my fresh new classroom. I can get new "school" supplies, learn new skills, make new friends and take on new life lessons. I can take the"life lessons" that I'm learning and write them down to remind myself that this too shall pass or that time is slipping away too fast. While I've kept a family scrapbook for almost 10 years, I know that I'm forgetting those small moments and wonders that are slipping away and I want to remember them always.
My baby turned 4 this week and while it seems just yesterday her brother was only 4, I know that in a few short weeks he'll be starting 6th grade.

Which leads me to the significance behind the blog title and address: Find Us Faithful. Years ago when my grandfather was gravely ill in the hospital, the Steve Green version of this song was playing on the radio. It spoke so clearly to my heart at that time of the legacy of faith that I had been given from my grandfather, parents and others. I was blessed. When the song was sung at my grandfather's funeral, it gave me chills to think that someday I would be a mother and that my strongest desire would be that my children would one day look back at my life and legacy and see the thread of faith in Christ strongly in the pages. Today, some 14 years later, I am in the trenches of life with 3 children, a husband and everyday hustle and bustle getting in the mix.
Which means I need these words and message to touch my heart ....

New International Version (NIV)
Deuteronomy 6:6-9
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Find Us Faithful - Steve Green (People Need The Lord)
We're pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road
And those who've gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God's sustaining grace
Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who've gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift though all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find
Repeat Chorus

That's what I want to do with this blog; remind myself about the fleeting moments I have to impress God's word on my children's hearts and to make sure that God's love and grace are with me as I leave the footprints on the road of life that I'm currently on.

May it be so!!