Tuesday, June 30, 2009

System announcement

We interrupt these regularly scheduled ramblings to bring you news of the crafty kind and the assurance that indeed, Amy is still busy with the knitting and crocheting of hats, booties, bunnies, baskets, belts, bags and jewelry, lest you fear she has gone off the deep end into a dreamworld of sorts, or worse yet, been swallowed up by summer.

You can view the new piece above at her next market showing on Saturday, or perhaps in her shop if she organizes herself enough to list it. We cannot be certain what type of programming will return tomorrow, but return it will. Please stay tuned for further instructions and for your viewing pleasure, we leave you with the following.

Thank you and good evening.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A hit and a hit

I can't wait to use this new display piece at the market on Saturday. It's a rake, a gift from my in-laws who knew I'd use it at the market and maybe even in my new office (after it's finished). I'm torn, do I hang jewelry from it? Belts? Scarves? I also haven't figured out how I'm going to secure it so it won't fall over, but I'll cross that bridge later. Whatever the case, it's a hit.

Speaking of hit, the chicken coop took a good one today from some random branch in the woods. It wasn't even windy or raining or anything, just a picture-perfect summer day. At least now we know the coop is well-constructed, as if that were in question.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

spirit of the rising sun, lift me up
hold me there and never let me fall

~lyrics from "The Three Sunrises" by U2

I've been riding in my car listening to old U2 a lot lately, with the wind in my hair, my shoulders relaxed and feeling of gratitude heavy in my heart.

"Life is a mixed bag," I told a friend the other day, "and in it there's the good, the bad and the ugly. We all have some of each, you just never know what you're going to reach in and pull out on any given day."

I've chosen a bit of each one recently and in a short period of time, but for some reason it seems lately like the sour parts of life don't have as much of a hold over me as they once did, or perhaps I'm just letting them go a bit easier and the good parts, the really good ones, feel even better.

I look around at friends and see how they are right in the middle of life too. Deep in it. Struggling, triumphant at times and devastated just the same. It overwhelms me, the sameness between us all that we don't realize, or don't use to our mutual advantage, and how much stronger we are when we come together.

So that will be my intention for the near future, to draw closer through shared experience, trusting, treading slowly and listening very close to what the hearts of others have to say.

Pictured above, my birthday gift to myself, an array of sunflowers courtesy of Hickory Green Farm. I love them, Halsey, they'll brighten my whole week.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Opening up

As I sit down to the computer I feel wordless, like I don't know what to write but if I just start, something will come out. So here I am. Today I've been wishing I had the ability to continually analyze my life and myself from an outside point of view, like someone secretly looking in with all the wisdom in the world who would then direct me in the right choices to make. I thought about that today in an attempt to figure out my unsettled mood and what I came up with is that once again I've just been trying to do too much all at once thinking I have to do everything all at once. Instead, what I decided to tell myself today is this: that maybe all I'm doing is enough, that it sort of has to be and that what matters most is that the people around me are taken care of, paid attention to and exposed to things that will help them learn and grow. It sounds like I'm just talking about the kids when actually I also mean my husband, the dog, and to a lesser extent the chickens and the cat. They're sort of independent if you've ever had either.

I also learned today that I really need to laugh more, the uninhibited, unafraid, unashamed sort of laughing that is genuine and healing and childlike. All week in the kids' vacation bible school the theme has been service and the overall service project is to create and donate things that will go to local children who are sick in the hospital, often for very long periods of time. Several speakers have come in to share the ways in which they donate their time and efforts, pets and personalities to such children and today we were fortunate enough to meet Rosie, the clown. She's not a fully painted clown, luckily because there were a few children afraid of that type, but rather she's just painted a little bit and a very animated person to boot who clearly loves children and people in general and she had them completely mesmerized along with a few adults.
But I may have been the only adult or child there, I don't really know, who almost teared up several times with Rosie's stories and bubbles and squeaky puppets and magic tricks. I've been on those floors in the hospital, with the sick kids, the ones who've spent too much time there due to no fault of their own and I've seen some scared parents, and tired ones and feel how unjust it is that they're there. In many ways those are some of my favorite patients, but the ones I have the hardest time going to see.

I thought back to some specific cases and imagined Rosie at their bedsides and could see right through her magic tricks directly to the true magic that she possesses and I thought about how much I need her magic too if I really stop to think about it. And how even in the most serious of situations it's okay to laugh, it's okay to lighten up, that things don't have to be so serious and structured all the time,

that it's even okay to wear your clothes inside out and backwards (the dress code for the day) and a cape if you want (like Allie in the picture above) or antennae on your head like Lauren. The youth director called her antenna girl all morning and she loved it.

I also realized as I was putting these pictures together from this morning how we are all like these flowers, that although each of them are beautiful, not a single one is perfect. Look closely, they all are flawed but what would the world look like without them?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All I have

I'm not finding much time to blog this week, what with the onslaught of vacation bible school (yes, I said onslaught), trying to spend time at the pool and looking for a new-to-us car. Of course we could sacrifice the pool, but what fun would that be, especially with nice weather this week when last week's was crummy. I am trying to sneak in a bit of knitting while we're there, but you know how that goes, there are 3 kids to watch, ball to play and other moms to chat with. You might as well say I'm only working part-time this week, as usual, late at night.

But at least the zucchini are ready and that humongous plant is giving up her goods. We've had it for dinner the past two nights and given some away but I feel a loaf or two of bread coming on today.

Daddy is much better and as all colds do, this one is going away.

We've made substantial progress on finding another car which just isn't an easy task in my opinion. I find it a very big deal and somewhat of a risk but we're almost there. Luckily a local dealership trusts my husband enough to let him bring a prospect home for the night to show me. So we left the kids with their grandparents and went out last night. We grabbed a salad (for Kev) and sushi (for me) at a local store and had one of our low-maintenance, low cost dates that we treasure. We scouted out other cars and drove the one we were in some, with the radio off listening for any sound of trouble we could hear. There was none. Then we ended the night with ice cream, full bellies and rode home with the wind in our hair. My favorite thing to do on a warm summer night.

We let the kids explore every inch of the new car prospect, fiddle with the windows, and try their hand at opening and closing doors when they've been used to the automatic kind. I even gave them a ride around the driveway a few times to ease their begging. Today's chore is to clean the piles of kid stuff that have accumulated out of the old car in case it goes soon. We have hope for it's future and will take some parting pictures at Lauren's tearful request. "I like the new one, Mommy, but I'll be really sad to see the old one go. Can we make sure it goes to a place where they'll use all its parts for other cars that need them?"

"Sure, honey, we will."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

In the thick of it

I've been slacking on the blog this weekend, feeling completely engulfed by summer but not regretting a single second of it. We headed to the beach on Friday to visit family and the novelty of the treat of being able to go to the ocean just for the day still has not worn off on this former Missouri girl even after 17 years. Even though the trip was short I was still able by the afternoon to go to an almost hypnotized state, letting my mind get completely lost in the waves and the sound of the ocean. I had decided not to worry myself over the lack of knitting work being accomplished for the market and wondered what would happen if I just let it all go and participate in what was happening right in front of me. Let's just say I'm happy with the results and I know that's a directive I need to follow often.

It sounds so cliche to talk about what fun ages the kids are now, and how great it is to be able to just pick up and go and see and do things and experience it all through their eyes, but I'll go ahead and say it anyway. And while they probably wish I would do more with them, ride every wave, get caked with sand and salt, body surf and boogie board, what they don't probably realize is just how much I'm taking in and what great enjoyment I find in observing and listening and watching every smile and eager look on their faces.

So there was plenty of play and some extremely worn out kids and reality hitting hard when we returned. We came home to a very sick husband/father Friday night and he's stayed that way through all of Father's Day, I sweated out the market in 100 degree temperatures, extreme humidity and a mediocre turnout, and my car has let me know in no uncertain terms that the beach trip was just about all it's aging transmission could handle and that I'd better trade it in for something with more life in it before it stops running altogether.

Even with bright prospects ahead, these unexpected blips in the radar cast a negative tone over everything, reminding me that the future remains uncertain. There are some big changes in our near future and I'm left feeling anxious and scared, hoping that all will turn out well in the end. I'm sure everything will, it's just the anticipation that I can do without sometimes.

I felt better after Kevin and I talked through it all, desite his throbbing head, congestion and running eyes, and we both ended up feeling a little bit brighter, deciding once again not to operate and make decisions based solely on fear. It would be better perhaps to meet life head on and just roll with it rather than letting it roll right over top of us, we decided, giving each other an unintentioned pep talk. It's a shame we had to have such heaviness on Father's Day and so we've also decided that we haven't yet had ours. We've gone ahead and postponed the holiday until next week when hopefully we all are feeling much, much better.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I thought I'd take some time to show you how the chickens have grown.

And the progress that has been made on their coop. They've had their yard for quite some time now and have settled into a nice little routine of being let out in the morning and they go in on their own to roost in the evening, all we have to do is close the door.

Kevin has begun to put the siding on, which is the old stuff he pulled off our house several years ago. One day he'll finish but his list to do list is getting much longer and a bit more elaborate.

I've been holding out on a little secret. You may remember a while back me talking about us putting an addition on our house, and as luck would have it, those plans are in the works and we should break ground very soon, or rather whenever Kevin decides to pick up a shovel and break it.

The plans are drawn, copies have been made and submitted to the county. We received our building permit just the other day. You could say it's a "go". And when I say 'we' will be putting an addition on the house I do mean WE, which is really like 95% Kevin and 5% me. From footings to foundation, framing to roofing, we'll be doing the work. Of course it's harder this way, but it's astronomically cheaper, that is in terms of money. There is a huge price to pay in terms of sweat and hard work and time, precious time. There will be many a late night and weekend spent working. Luckily it's not huge, but it will make a huge impact on the livability of the house.

We'll have a master bedroom and another bathroom. The kids will each have a room, the living room space will be much more clearly defined when my office vacates and moves into its own space (!) with pocket doors to seal it's unsightly self off from visitors.

In the end I'm really just hoping for some semblance of organization which has been seriously lacking these past ten years. More closets will mean I can actually put things away. In a house that had one two foot closet under the stairs when we moved in, that in and of itself is a huge statement. I'll spare you the rest of the details, just trust me, I'm starting to feel like it's all coming together, our space, our family, our work, our lives. It seems as though we're on the right track.

I leave you now with one last little thing, well, it's not so little. I do believe this is the hugest zucchini plant I've ever grown. It's as tall as that old burn barrel, like waist height to me. Now, if the zucchini could just be ready, please.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Knish nite

What if this was your pond, on your several hundred acres, all private, completely serene, completely hidden, just yours? Well, it's not ours, we just pretended a little bit last night when we went knishing again (knitting + fishing = get it?).

As date nights go it's one of our favorites. Cook dinner ahead for the kids and grandparents, grab something from Subway for ourselves and sneak off to places like this for a couple of hours.

It's 10 minutes from home, can't beat it. Our only company were 3 or 4 old hunting dogs in their houses, a bunch of geese and this dilapidated walkway near the runoff. Oh, and the owner, a good friend on his Gator, making his rounds and checking cattle.

If I originally had high hopes of capturing great fishing shots of Kevin, I'm quickly realizing that my predominating view on our trips is this:

Which, I like, actually.

This time there was some work accomplished.

A new little organic hat that I've fallen in love with. But then, who doesn't when they look, feel and experience Blue Sky Alpacs organic cotton? You'll find it in my shop soon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Well, it's only taken us one day to veer off my master plan from yesterday, which just goes to show you that I just may be a flexible mom, even though it may not have seemed like it from that list. John had a friend spend the night last night and he's spending the day with us so the list will just be postponed until the afternoon. The last thing I'm about to do is have him do chores with a friend over, or worse yet, tell him he can't have friends over just because of the list. Yeesch.

The overall result remains the same. I'm able to work, much better in fact, when they are as thoroughly entertained as they are with friends over. The baseball game has been going almost non-stop with breaks only for Star Wars, playing chase with the dog, catching lightning bugs, riding bikes and of course, sleep.

It's given me the time to fill custom orders like this little necklace (see what you get when you ask? something one of a kind, for sure), teach my 7 year old to knit (be still my heart!) and get lots of other stuff done too. I'm all for the kids having LOTS of friends over throughout the summer, just not all at the same time!

And that bit about teaching Lauren to knit? You can be sure there will be pictures in the near future. She woke up this morning and told me that she still remembered how, a major victory on my part and something she can add to "something studious" on her list.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The plan

So I've mapped out this whole plan for the summer, I'm crossing my fingers, and I'm hoping, hoping, hoping it works. As you may know I stay home with the kids and have this little knitting job that keeps me about as busy as a full-time job (in terms of hours that is) and I'm also a physical therapist for about 8 hours a month as things stand now. I have a blog (obvious), an Etsy shop, and I vend at the local farmers market 20+ weeks a year.

We don't fork out the big bucks for one camp after another, although that would be an absolute necessity if I were working at the hospital full time, but I'm not, so we don't. Our splurge is the pool, it's a place we all love and we go several times a week. But there's the ever-present obstacle of how Mommy is supposed to get some knitting work done all while having three lively, active, creative and energetic kids hanging around the house all day. Not to mention how the other chores and activities are to get completed that make the house and family run like a well-oiled machine (ha!). You know, like cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, animal care, garden tending, etc.

So here's the deal. In theory, Mommy is going to work in the mornings all while the kids have their own plan and activities to do and if everyone completes all of their "have-to's", we head to the pool in the afternoon. Then I take a bit of a break and the other half of my work day resumes late in the evening after everyone is at the very least settled down, or most likely in bed. It makes for a long day.

Since it's been the biggest thing on my mind these past several days now that the kids are out of school, I thought I'd leave a list here for all to see as to how our summer mornings are ideally supposed to run. And then in August I'll have proof as to how far off track we've gotten! My lists for the kids:

1. Clean rooms for 20 minutes a day and make beds.

2. Read for 20 minutes (or listen to a sibling read in Allie's case)

3. Let chickens out, feed them and close them up for the night--John

4. Clean mirrors and sinks in the bathrooms on Monday and Thursday--Allie

5. Clean toilets on Monday and Thursday--Lauren

6. Vaccuum rooms on Tuesday

7. Check the garden for veggies every day

8. Something studious--this is the fun part, they can choose any of the following or make up their own:
~sketch Lego designs and build them
~write and illustrate books
~write in a journal
~practice writing words (Allie)
~math/science books leftover from school
~practice an instrument (piano)
~build something
~make cards, write letters, sculpt, paint
~the options are endless

In the end, if they complete the things on their lists every day, they also get an allowance at the end of the week. So far it has worked well but we've only been at it for 2 days now. What surprises me the most is how excited they are to check their lists and how they've taken it upon themselves to do all of their activities without me pushing, prodding, pleading, cajoling, begging, or threatening. Allie needs a bit more help to stay on track (except for the bathroom cleaning--she'd do it every day if I wanted her to) but my standards are a bit more slack for a 5 year old. I certainly don't expect perfection, just participation.

There you have it, the lofty, idealistic plan of how to keep everyone happy, learning, playing, working and everything moving along without me having a total breakdown. My goal is parenting with attention and INtention, positive reinforcement and encouragement rather than negativity and punishment, and really how to function together, as a team, a unit, a family. Wish us luck, laugh at us, or join us, your choice!

Friday, June 12, 2009

What's new--part 2

More yummy organic cotton yarn, more blue flowers, one little hat. Blue has always been my favorite color.

What's new

You've seen this one before, but it was one of three that were sent to a far away place, so now I'm working on some to have at the market tomorrow. They're made out of thick and sturdy hemp. They will last forever. You can use them for anything. I want five for myself.

And then there's this new little hat. We'll say it was inspired by the garden, the rich, dark brown and the soothing green that go so well together, just as nature intended.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I'm a really sound sleeper. I can usually sleep through anything, anything but my children crying or falling out of bed that is. But last night, or maybe it was really early this morning, I woke up thinking surely there couldn't be that much water being dumped on the house all at one time. It was beyond a downpour, intensified by a metal roof and it made everything so wet.

At least that also means that everything

is really

growing. The zucchini are on their way.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baking therapy

I'm not an emotional eater. Sorry, but I'm just not. What I may be, however is an emotional baker. Yesterday it was homemade rolls, today it was a homemade apple pie. Nothing is wrong per se, it was just an off day creatively as well as I can determine, one where I had mountains of yarn staring at me and oodles of projects to pick from, none of which I was particularly drawn to. I guess there is rub, that in order to be able to create new things or even old ones I have to feel a certain pull to do so or none of it feels right.

I'm learning that when I feel this way, my best option unfortunately is to just chuck the yarn and go find something else to do. There's always plenty "else to do", like go to two end of the year parties at the kids' school, clean, bake, and run. I had a really good run. Through the tall grass, dodging poison ivy in the woods, across the fields that have now been planted with beans, past the chickens and the dog and the kids and around and around, singing, sweating, pounding it all out. I have a nice big blood blister to show for it but I feel much better.

And the pie was a big hit.

Food tale

You know it's bad, or I guess good in this case, when right before you dig in to your food at dinner your husband who doesn't even read your blog says, "Quick! You gotta get a picture of this for your blog!"

I guess I'll take that as a compliment and I've got to admit, it was pretty good. What you maybe can't see so well are the beef kabobs with fig/balsalmic vinegar sauce and the home made yeast rolls from an old country recipe from a former patient of mine at least 10 years ago. I can finally cook. Some things. I think back to when we were first married and the John Mellencamp song "Pink Houses" comes to mind. There's a line in there where he's talking about his wife in the kitchen "cleanin' up the evenin' slop" and how he remembers back to when they were first married and how she could "starve a block". Maybe I wasn't quite that bad, but I sure have come a long way!

What makes me the most excited is to again see the fresh tomatoes, mozzerella and basil from the garden once again on the table. That and really good corn on the cob are true signs of summer. Now when the zucchini come in in our garden and I can start making loaf after loaf of zucchini bread I'll really be happy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

One for the pirates

I can't leave the boys out. Here's one for them when they want something cool and you still want something half way cute and not too sinister. My son is eight and loves his. For the listing, just click here.

A new favorite

Lately, people have been particularly drawn to this little hat when I'm at the farmers market. It's a new one for the year, and I make it with the most scrumptious organic cotton yarn from Peru. The yarn goes from thick to thin but the gauge remains consistent, and it comes together to make a thick, soft and cuddly hat. It helps too that I sit here in the middle of horse farms, big and small, and plently of horse loving people who like to show their animal appreciation.

And for your convenience, I've gone ahead and listed this one in my shop! Enjoy.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Let the water work

I suppose there are some folks who don't particularly like the water, or the sun, or fishing, swimming, tubing or playing in the sand, but we aren't those folks. We are drawn to the water and soak up every ounce of goodness it has to offer. Such was the case yesterday when we headed east, to where the rivers become tidal, the water part salt, and the fish, like what you'll find in the ocean.

We took the whole family this time, the kids showing more interest in catching now, and with great determination, teamwork,

and astonishment at what they can pull out of the water.

This summer we can take better water breaks, with the maiden voyage of the tube, and have practice drills at how to fall off and get rescued, Lauren's favorite part.

Yet there is one who is still afraid to ride, even with Daddy, but is quite at home in the sand. Maybe next year, little Miss Cautious.

And what does Mommy like to do you may wonder? Daddy described my role as a preparatory one, where I get everything ready so everyone else can have fun. He's pretty much right, but he also has that same job, and we both find it rewarding. Especially when we can then sit back and take these pictures.

Yes, it is well worth it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

What it takes

I realized I don't talk very much about how this all started, you know, the obsessive knitting, the crocheting and then the business, market, Etsy shop, blog, all of it. But as I was taking pictures of this new necklace (which I even managed to list in my shop), I thought back to that hot day in June four years ago, when, with a bit of frustration and all the courage I could muster, I marched out to the pole barn and said to Kevin out of the blue, "I'm just gonna do it. I'm just gonna make a bunch of stuff that I like and try to sell it at the farmer's market in the city", as if he was against the idea somehow. And that's really how it began. First with a very small dream, but mostly with a healthy dose of courage I didn't even think I had and the support to slowly put it all in place.

I taught myself to knit while pregnant with our second child, seven years ago, from a book that I bought at Ben Franklin. I bought needles and some awful acrylic yarn and struggled and fumbled with it for months during my son's nap time, all while watching coverage of the towers coming down and the subsequent war.

Crochet came two years later, again, learning from the least expensive book I could find at BF. I started that venture in the car ride on our way to the beach for a vacation. Each time the experience was memorable, probably because of how hard it was not only to learn, but also teach myself from two dimensional pictures. Anyone who has done the same probably shares my sentiment.

It still seems highly improbable, this whole hobby, business venture and obsession with making and selling when I look at it from a distance. When I stop to think about it all I am at my very core so grateful for that little dream, thankful for the healthy dose of courage I didn't know I had, and astonished at how great life can be in the smallest ways, the ones that don't attract fame and glory, but those that give back and enrich and make humble.