Friday, May 23, 2014

{ this moment }

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
The reality is this past week held more "moments" than I could have imagined - just not ones I remembered to capture with my camera.  I have been blessed enough to cut back the number of days I have to work each week to only one or two!  Having the entire day at home with Mannchen and Töchterchen has filled my heart with more love, light, and joy than I anticipated.  The more I work and the busier my commitments, the more I take my stress out on my children.  It's a very unfair thing to do, but I struggle at times to keep my stress under control.  Comparatively, even our "busy" schedule pales in comparison to many other families' and the American cultural norms, but I each family is different and we all have our own limits and ideals.  Seeing how peaceful our life has become again has been complete confirmation to me that putting the commitments of my family ahead of any other commitments is our best way to live.  Besides, these two precious children of mine and their sweet Daddy really are what life is all about.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by Soule Mama

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Little Leftover Eyelet

Back in 1983 my parents were married and my mama made her own wedding dress. 

Check out those cute kids back in the day!

When I was born a little over a year later, my mom used the bottom portion of her dress to make a crib skirt for my crib.  All that remained of her dress was some of the eyelet material she used for the bodice and skirt of her dress. 

Personally, I'm not one to want to save a wedding dress.  Let's be honest, you're never going to wear it.  It seems so much more practical to use the material for other things that you need.  Or in my own case, to sell it on Craigslist so you can buy your first child a car seat!

Anyways, getting back to the eyelet material.  My mom has been holding onto it for years in her craft supplies.  In the fall she was downsizing and I took it.  I just love the delicate simplicity of white eyelet fabric.  In my usual fashion, I had nothing in mind for it when I took it, but the pieces were large and it's pretty.  Actually, the fact that it's pretty was all I needed to hang onto it. 

Recently ideas started coming to me for ways to use it in our daily lives.  First up was an old leather ottoman cushion from Egypt that has been sitting around our living room.  It's pretty neat looking, but was coming apart at the seams and was duct taped together.  I don't know about you, but duct tape isn't really a design statement I like to make permanent in my living room decor.  After staring at the ottoman all winter and staring at my fabric stash, I finally realized what needed to be done. 

I don't have any pictures of the ottoman by itself - here is it under our coffee table.

And another shot with a glimpse of the duct tape that eventually had to be wound all the way around the poor old cushion.

So, one evening I found a larger scrap of red upholstery fabric left over from covering a chair nearly a decade ago.  I used the red fabric to cover the sides and wrap underneath the cushion, which is tied on the bottom with a drawstring ribbon.  On the top, I quilted together two pieces of eyelet fabric, using another leftover scrap of quilt batting - I just love to save and use up the scraps!

I can't speak for the rest of you, but in my opinion this is MUCH better looking.

Quilted top.

It's pretty and it's practical - as always in our house, this cover slips off for easy washing!

The ottoman didn't use up all of the fabric, so thankfully when Töchterchen started asking for more summer nightgowns last week, I knew just what to reach for.  There was enough eyelet left to make her two.  After she heard the fabric was from her Oma's wedding dress, she was in love the idea.  Like her mother, she is quite the romantic at heart already.

So thrilled.

Ballerina pose - her favorite these days.

Did you know all dresses/nightgowns have to pass the twirl test before being fully approved?
There's only a small piece of the eyelet fabric left now.  Hmm...I wonder if it's enough to make another play skirt for Töchterchen....

Friday, May 16, 2014

{ this moment }

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by Soule Mama

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Can you spy the kids?

Now can you?

There they are!
In a way that only small children can, my children find the wooded area behind our house magical.  The deer love to cut through this area, so the paths are small, narrow, and perfect for children.  Everything is overgrown, but one of the trees has vines and drooping branches that have created a cozy fort of sorts.  The underbrush doesn't grow in that area, instead it's soft moss.  All the branches offer places to hang water bottles, baskets and buckets for gathering supplies, and any other materials they need for the day's adventures. 
I'm really trying to "let go" in appropriate amounts and ways to let Mannchen and Töchterchen explore, succeed, fail, and learn on their own.  Something along the lines of what is discussed on this video.  Obviously I'm not going to let my three and four year old wander around town or go to the park across the street and around the corner on their own yet.  But I do want them to feel like they are given space and freedom to explore.  We don't have a lot of wide open space right now, seeing as we live in town, but we do have a yard and a small wooded area in the back.  I feel like one of the best gifts I can give them is time and space to explore these areas on their own - without my warnings and advice, other than wear long pants and beware of poison ivy.
Yes, indeed, the adventures that transpire in this hidden nook are quite magical.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hello again

I didn't mean to neglect this space for over a month, but sometimes life is like that.  This semester has been an intense one for hubby, which has made for a busier life for all of us.  Most of this semester when I've sat down to write, I've felt entirely uninspired.  I think a good part of that was a case of the winter blues - especially since this was the first winter we've experienced in years.  But some of it was because I have felt like we are on the go constantly.  And personally, I hate that feeling.  Everyday there as been somewhere to go, something to do...and after a few days of it I feel tired...and after months of it I feel like a cranky shell of myself. 

I have been working hard at trying to pull back and settle things down, but first we had to get through a long series of exciting weekends and I had to get to a certain point in the year before I could pull back on the number of days I work each week.  This past weekend was the end of the busy weekends and starting around noon yesterday, things have felt far more peaceful than they have been in months.  And therefore, I have started to feel like a more loving and patient person. 

Don't get me wrong, life has overall still been great.  And the majority of the trips we took or company we had in town made for wonderful times, laughs, and memories.  But after awhile even fun things become exhausting.  So, to catch you up on all the fun involved in our April and early May...

We got tadpoles!  The kids named them Frog and Toad.  They were a huge hit.  We also got caterpillars.  Of the six caterpillars that came in the mail, five spun a chrysalis, and only two fully emerged as butterflies.  One died in the cage after a few days, so tonight we released the lone survivor before he died also.  The kids named the two that emerged after themselves.  Needless to say, there was a large debate over who lived and who died.  Oops.  Next time maybe we'll pick names with less attachment value. 

Closer view of Frog and Toad.  I did not do my research before ordering these two.  They will grow to be about 6" and can live for over five years.  Given our current living arrangements, I don't even know where we will keep these guys when they are full grown.  I just hope we have a better survival rate than we did with the butterflies.

Hubby's grandmother came for a weekend and we were able to sneak away to a local vineyard with her.  The mountain views around here are beautiful.

We've made a lot of pizza.  Friday night is set as pizza night around here.  The kids get overly excited about making their own pizzas each time.  Mannchen's is on the right.  That boy makes the most elaborate, gourmet pizzas.  What we're more shocked by is Töchterchen has finally started to add spinach on hers!  Slowly but surely she is emerging from her attempts at being picky -which doesn't fly around this house (Mama makes one meal and one meal only.  If you don't like it you don't have to eat.)
We've also made a substantial amount of bacon, by our standards.  We don't have a deep freezer and the fridge/freezer in our kitchen isn't even full size (think somewhere between a regular fridge and the micro-fridge units everyone has in college), so ten pounds is the max amount we can make and store at a time.

Easter!  Easter morning came way too freakin' early at our house.  The kids got bubbles, sidewalk chalk, stickers, and a few new handmade eggs.  Oma and Baba chipped in also, adding the most exciting gifts - Mannchen got a large combine to go with our play barn and Töchterchen got a Shirley Temple DVD.

Töchterchen also found a pink hairbrush in her basket.  She was refusing to brush her hair on a daily basis because we didn't have a pink one.  I guess the Easter bunny decided it wasn't worth the fight anymore.  Just let the girl have pink everything.

And immediately they were out the door trying everything out.


Finishing off a warm spring day with Sangria for everyone.  No worries, only mine was made with wine.  These two got a huge kick out of having fruit in grape juice though.  Maybe more excited than I was to have a drink after a very, long trying day...maybe, but not quite.

In early May the kids and I took a trip to Pittsburgh with my mom to visit my great aunt.  The highlight of the trip was the swimming pool in the hotel.  Oh how I love this silly, precious girl of ours.
On the way home we stopped at the New River Gorge.  I think at this point Mannchen was ready to put up a fight rather than get back in the car, hence the stick.  Both kids were tired going into the trip, but held it together on the six hour drive up on Friday and all day on Saturday while visiting with my aunt.  The drive back on Sunday was a slightly different story.  At least we were able to find an exciting place to stop for our picnic - plus, it included a small hike and ice cream cones!

How I spend Mother's Day - soaking in the sun and watching these two play happily in the water.  I started the day off grumpy and groggy from a ugly case of poison ivy and the lasting effects of Benedryl.  The sun slowly warmed my heart and soul, as did these sweet kids.

I sure do love being their mama, even on the most difficult days.

Besides, they know how to make life fun and exciting!
We also took a quick trip for a baby shower in early April.  The kids loved seeing her homestead - chickens and pigs are excellent entertainment!  In late April we took a long weekend trip to visit with my best friend's family.  Our kids are close in age and watching them play together is good for the soul.  Plus, she's good for my soul.  She's less friend and more family.  For the first few years of motherhood we were only two miles apart.  Most days it really sucks being hours apart, but at least we are still in the same state!
Hubby has been neck deep in school work lately, with the past few weeks being more intense than ever.  This week is finals week and next week he takes his qualifier test (this test will determine if he gets a Master's or PhD).  I am grateful for his dedication and hard work, but I know he's getting tired of it all.  As much as I sometimes think I would like to go to grad school, when I see how much time and commitment it requires, I realize there's no way I could put out that effort while we have a young family.  This semester he has had multiple days each week when he is on campus for close to twelve hours a day, only to come home and work even more.  At one point this winter we discussed having both of us in grad school at the same time...but then rather quickly realized we would never see our children.  And we most certainly didn't have them so that someone else could raise them.  So that idea was nixed.  I'm glad that even though I dislike working outside of the home for any amount of time while the kids are young, my hours are few and the majority of my waking hours are devoted to supporting him and caring for our family. 
I guess that's about all we've been up to.  I hope that the return of the sun will continue to increase my creativity and enthusiasm for life, along with my patience and attitude in general!