Category Archives: autobiography

my pot

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I am a saver, not a spender, even though I’m happily going through my “stuff” and trying to get rid of things we don’t really use.  However, if I have something I really like, I will use it until it is used up.  As I got ready to throw out this pot, I just had to take a picture, it has been such a faithful companion to me through my married life.   Nothing in this life lasts forever, but this layout reminds me that some of the things which most enhance my life are simple things: a pot, my broom, a spray bottle of water, and plenty of rags.  Things that allow me to do my job more easily, make my living space clean, and my food well-prepared.  I have written letters to different children I’ve sponsored through Compassion over the years.  On the surface, it seems that our lives are so very different.  Yet when I’ve talked about the things which really matter most to us–our families, the natural world where we live, and the Bible–I find that the core of what makes our lives beautiful is very much alike.  I want to try to remember to focus on these real and important things, and not be distracted by the things which will not last forever.

(Layout: BS intensity Quickpage, Doodles  2 and 3 by Sommerblume, EH round stitches)

My Space

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As a mom, sometimes I feel that everything about me belongs to my family: my time, my energy, my attention, and even my body (since someone is always pulling on some part of it).  Throughout motherhood, I’ve created space for myself through creative cooking, crafts, Bible reading and studying history and theology.  However, during my 14 years as a mom of preschoolers, I’d given up parts of my former, non-mom life.  This last year, as I move out of preschool motherhood, I’ve begun to reclaim that part of me that liked to read Victorian novels, and enjoyed art.  I started by creating an art space above my computer of things that are about me and also by starting this blog.  We are getting ready to remodel that room and I’m ready to move on to a neater stage, but I wanted to record my attempts to bring back a part of me I’d given up for a while in order to better nurture my family.

(layout: For a long time, I’ve read about how great brushes are and how you can use filters to get different effects.  I tried some out on this page and I actually figured out how to do them without getting completely frustrated!  Purple is not a color I ever wear (I never wear pink either) but I saw a wonderful purple and green layout on Scrapgirls and have been wanting to use those colors together for a while. Now I may end up buying the Ophelia kit that uses those colors. By the way, the reason I list the digital items I use on each layout is that most of the designers put that requirement in their use agreements.  Most of what I use I got for free or very inexpensively.  If you like something, you can probably find it by typing the name in Google.  Papers: dcouturefirendship paper2, Green with swirls Embrace LifeSandeKriegerMemoryMakers, P15Rapunzel, Retrodiva Cozy lace Ribbon, AGE Friendship flower, EH Sunflower (recolored and enhanced), Retrodiva Be Free overlay, my own fern element)

Sharefest

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Quite frankly, I was not particularly interested in attending the city-wide church outreach Sharefest.  I really didn’t know much about what we were going to do or where we were going to go.  However, we have always wanted to do ministry alongside our kids and they promised the kids could work with us.  Since my friend was one of the people in charge I volunteered to help.  We traveled to the far north of town to a project development.  The apartments were neat, but barren.  I was glad to find out we were assisting a woman who runs a full-time ministry there.  Our volunteer hours help her get grants and are an encouragement to her workers.  The group of about 130 scraped, painted, served food and built a bench.  My friend asked me to take charge of the GA girls planting flowers.  We had a wonderful time planting hundreds of begonias up and down the street.  I was amazed at how hard the kids worked without stopping or complaining.   We got to meet some of the kids who lived there and one dear woman was so very happy to have some “real flowers.”  As we left, we drove up and down the street to see our work.  The flowers did make the houses look more cheerful.  I know enough to realize that changing the lives of these people takes more pain than the few blisters I brought home with me, but I was glad to have a chance to serve alongside of my kids to do the “good work that God prepared in advance for us to do.”
(Ephesians 2:10)

(layout:Dg a Friendship qp, joyful heart designs evoking damask pinkred paper, red scalloped edge embracelife sande krieger memoroy makers, CFR HDI DazzleknotborderEdwardheart)

our junior cooks

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our-junior-cooks-copyLately, my kids have been wanting to cook with me.  Sometimes, I’m quite impatient to get something made as quickly as possible and I just want to shoo them away.  However, I know I need to let them learn.  My mom let me take over most of the baking when I was about eight.  Sophie and Mollie are almost that age.    So when I decided to make a coffee cake for no particular reason last Sunday afternoon, I decided to let them make it with me and take as long as they wanted.  Sophie measured and Mollie mixed the batter.  I let them choose the filling and walked away for a few minutes when they were awkwardly attempting to put the batter in the pan.  “The worst would be a mess to clean up, ” I reasoned.  A few minutes later, Sophie came over.  “Would you get the batter out?”  she asked, “Its too hard for me.”  She skipped away to play, leaving me to finish up and think.  I want to remember:  focus on the process, not the end result; let them try new things without fear of failing; be there to help and clean up the mess that comes with learning.

(layout: DC Designs Boy Crazy QP3, MAD Gather special, Springfresh Alpha)

dash and daring

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Our cat, Sweetpea, is not a ferocious fighter.  In fact, she prefers to spend most of her days lounging on a towel inside a plastic box in our garage.  She is still a young cat, though, and can dash up a tree, or make the squirrels so worried they chatter at her endlessly as she walks by.  Nevertheless, we were very surprised to see one day recently that she had “treed” another cat, who was meowing pitifully.  Slashing her tail back and forth, Sweetpea looked proudly around, hoping we would notice her conquest.  I suppose everyone needs a little dash and daring now and then.

(layout: Quickpage from Retrodiva birds of a feather freebee, alphas from Retrodiva cozy alpha and shabby princess.com Frestival alpha, KSC organic charm, nani button)

Can’t be mended

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Laying in bed and trying to go to sleep, I heard a knocking at my door.  I was single at the time and alone in the house.  I huddled deeper in my blankets, hoping the person would go away.  Then I heard a call, “Virginia!  Virginia!”  It was my friend Sue.  She and her husband had a newborn, and their marriage was sometimes shaky.  I assumed there had been a fight, and got up, ready to let her in to have some tea and a talk.

Sue was crying and shaking, “John.  He’s dead.”

John was her 7 week old baby son.  The words did not quite hit me, although I think I did understand them.  Sue and I had known each other since we were sixteen.  We’d met while doing Junior High ministry at our church.  When I moved from Southern to Northern California, Sue had helped me with her truck.  Later, on a visit, I had introduced her to a friend of mine.  They had gotten married about a year later.  I had been with Sue throughout her pregnancy and been her labor coach along with her husband.  I had seen this baby being born.  He couldn’t be dead.

But he was.  I don’t remember much about the rest of the night.  I took Sue back to her house.  The ambulance had already taken John away.  I remember sitting with her and her husband.  Talking.  Then I went back home.  There was a funeral.  What do you say when a baby dies? They decided he had died of SIDS.  No answer really.   

Sue and her husband had two more boys.  About ten years later, I got married and started having kids.  By then, they knew that SIDS could be prevented by having babies sleep on their backs.  I’ve never asked Sue how she feels about that. I was so diligent about following that rule that Brendan ended up being one of those kids with a flat head in the back.  Luckily, our family doesn’t tend to go bald. 

A few days after John’s funeral, I discovered that Sue had run over my sprinkler when she came into my driveway.  It was broken.  I fixed it, but it never did work very well after that.  Sometimes broken things can’t be mended. 

Twenty years have passed by since that night.  There have been other births and deaths, joy and pain.  Yet an intensity remains for me in this memory of a time I learned that I will not always have an answer, or the right words, or the right feelings.  Sometimes broken things can’t be mended. 

Yet God still is upholds the world and all that is in it.   We read Isaiah 45 today in Bible Study.  I am struck by the verse: “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground.  Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?'” (Isaiah 45:9).  I pray that I will be a pot who can be molded into a vessel fit for use in His hands.

(layout:  This is the first in a series of layouts I’m planning about significant moments in my life.  I’ve changed the names of my friend.  The papers and embellishments come from Digital Freebies MarialaFrance Spring Fresh collection, word art is from Scapgirls Refresh chipboard collection)

Budgie

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A confession:  we are impulsive acquirers of pets.  Our cat, Sweetpea, wandered up to our door and we adopted her three years ago.  Last summer, we went “visiting” the animal shelter and came home with our spaniel Violet.  A few weeks ago, we went to the pet store to get some feeder goldfish for our birdbath and found ourselves contemplating buying five budgies (parakeets).  Five?

A quick reading of the current budgie literature (full of the controversy over whether or not to clip budgie wings), convinced us that one budgie might be a better way to start.  I sent Christopher and a couple of the kids off to buy one.  They came home with a white bird with a blue spot underneath it’s wings.  Inveterate fantasy reader, Maggie, dubbed the bird “Senji.”  Christopher said, “I wanted to call it Blue Moon.”  I opted for Blue Moon.

Blue seemed rather subdued at first.  We tried to talk to him and get him to come on our hands but he didn’t seem interested.  Then in the phone book, Christopher discoveredd Ramona the parrot lady and gave her a visit on the way home from work.  He came home insisiting Ramona’s was worth a family visit, and it was.  On Saturday, we met not only Ramona, but Ramona’s husband, three of her grandchildren and lots of different sorts of parrots I didn’t even know existed.  Ramona clipped Blue’s wings for us and pronounced him healthy, but didn’t give us much hope for taming him, “Unless they are hand raised, they don’t tame well.  All the ones at the pet stores are too old.”  She cautioned us about his bite too.  She and her husband regaled us with wonderful stories about the bigger parrots and made us wonder if we should get one.  They said the best pet for kids was a blue and gold Macaw.  Price tag $1500, plus more for a cage.

Blue Moon cost $23.  “Maybe all we want is just a bird to, well, be a bird,” suggested Christopher.

Years ago, I’d had some finches who were “just birds.” They were pretty boring.  I thought I’d give training Blue Moon a try.  Steffi and I managed to capture him in a box and take him to the bathroom.  He fluttered around a lot but we finally got him to land on our hands, then our fingers.  After a week of working with him, he has become very tame and even the little girls can get him to “step up” to perch on them.  

Blue Moon may never learn to talk like a Macaw, but as a pet for our family, he has given pretty good entertainment value for his $23.

(layout: template 157 from http://dittersfreedoodles.blogspot.com: papers: Retrodiva (http://www.retrodiva.net/, P11 Rapunzel: Alphas: CJS Vineyard cardboard alpha, Retrodiva Cozy Alpha, Retrodiva tweet tweet alpha; elements:MSS Nov ella bird, pretty primavera bow, corinanielsen DSD tag)