Winners and Celebrating, in Season and out of Season

I did the drawing for the winner of my giveaway. My method was convoluted and random, just like March weather, which has turned a little stinky cold, by the way. Still, this morning I awoke to only a dusting of snow instead of the three inches predicted for the first day of spring, so hope is alive and well.

Oh, wait, the winner. I looked at the entries and picked my favorite person. Actually, no, March might be that capricious, but I would never be. I love all of you who told me your favorite places and I wanted you all to win. I felt like you all deserved some books; I was really interested in how many of my friends are perfectly happy at home with their families. I did think that someone might mention the bathtub as their favorite place. Anyway, thanks for weighing in with your opinions.

usborne giveaway

The random drawing falls on the lovely Hillarey who commented:

“My favorite place in “de whole wide world” is : snuggled up with my man at the end of the day, kiddos fast asleep. It’s where I feel the safest and most loved.

My Alexei-who-is-three says, “I want dat train book!” I unabashedly hope to win! And now I must go corral the Alexei-who-is-three because he is helping himself to a snack.

PS- Your kids are charming!”

I am glad that Alexei-who-is-three gets his wish, aren’t you? I will put in an unabashed plug for my Usborne business here, saying that I can facilitate lots of free books for you with a successful Facebook or in-home book show. And no, I had no intentions at all of putting in an ad when I decided to do the giveaway. That just slipped in for your amusement. 😛 And books. I always give away books. It’s the loving thing to do.

Resurrection Garden

In other news, I have daffodils blooming in a vase on my kitchen windowsill and baby broccolis and tomatoes sprouting and 12 rows of wrinkly little pea seeds in the soft dirt of the kitchen garden. We also have a resurrection garden with green moss growing over the little flower pot tomb. We put a flat round stone in front of the tomb’s opening, ready to roll it away so we can put a lighted tealight inside on Easter. I was firmly under the impression that Easter was yesterday. At church I was so bugged that we didn’t sing a single resurrection song when it should be such a glorious celebration. Then we had some friends over for lunch and they said, “But it’s not Easter today!” So I rest my case that I am losing my mind. You may note that I am not “loosing” my mind, therefore all is not lost.

Our church choir gave a special program last night and I sat there with tears dripping down  my cheeks as I let it sink in again, How Deep the Father’s Love for Us. How about you? Do you have special Easter celebrations that point to the empty tomb?


Life on a Loop

Notice that I did not say life in the loop, because I am so busy running  faithfully in my own space that I hardly have time to stay informed as to the world at large. The hamster wheel was spinning dizzily this morning as I pedaled along full tilt, doing laundry loads and checking tests and quizzes and filing them in 4 separate portfolios. I had brewed the very last of my coffee beans from Honduras, taking special care to press them exactly the way they should be pressed and it was the fragrant coffee of dreams. Of course, one cannot sort laundry while cradling a mug, so I set it on my desk until that task was done. When I pulled out a teacher’s book, I nipped the edge of that mug and there went my coffee, my beautiful coffee, all over the tests and quizzes.

A few frantic minutes of mopping and draping of papers over the edge of the trash can later, and I could at least check them well enough to give my sons credit for their grades even if those particular tests won’t be filed. Then I remembered that I had saved the last cup of coffee for Gabe who was still sleeping after his long night shift and didn’t need it anyway.  I went for a refill. Right there I made a strategic mistake: I used the same mug. It is pretty and green and has a leaf imprint, but it has this weirdly tapered round bottom that should be illegal. This time I set it on my sewing table while I did some mending on garments that were cycling through the laundry in a disreputable state. I picked up a pair of pants, and there went that stupid coffee mug again.

I know. I don’t let my children use that word, but sometimes under extreme provocation… There were no more refills. If I weren’t so frugal I would take that mug out and smash it on some rocks just for fun. I wonder if that would feel better than saying “stupid”.


I keep doing this loopy stuff. On Sunday I couldn’t seem to quit driving to church. I was already struggling a bit with daylight saving time, getting the family dressed up nicely by myself since it was Gabe’s day to work. (You need to go brush your hair, Buddy. And clean your ears. Yes, I know nobody cares about your ears, but go wash them anyway. Do you know your Sunday school verses? Let’s practice while I do your hair. What? You don’t want a bun? Okay, your turn, Olivia. What? You want two braids? Sorry, that takes too long. I will make you two braids tomorrow. Alex, can you help Addy put on her good shoes? etc. etc. etc.) We had fellowship meal food all ready: a special layer cake Alex had decorated with yellow marshmallow Peeps and a crock pot of Taco Chicken. I was combing the last little girl’s hair and called out to Alex to take the cake out to the Suburban and load up everybody else. I twisted an elastic on the wispy little ponytail, sent the small girl outside and whisked the crock pot and my purse off the counter. We were actually going to get to church before the singing started. I felt a little proud of this feat, especially since my little girls even had socks on, not just bare feet in boots.

As we pulled in at church, Alex gasped, “The cake! Did you bring the cake?” Well no. I didn’t. It’s only 3 miles, so we u-turned  and went back to get it. If I hadn’t forgotten my phone, I could have texted Gabe to bring it when he got up. He had been mandated to stay at work longer the night before due to short staffing, so he hadn’t gotten home until 4:30 AM.  We got the cake and the phone. After church I texted him about bringing a plate of food home and he said sure, but he had to leave again soon for his next shift. I hurried the children away from their friends, and took that plate of food home, hoping we could visit a little before he was off for another 12 hour shift. Alas, he was sitting in the car, ready to leave when we got home. There was no time for anything but a quick kiss and a food hand-over.

Then Alex said, “Um, I forgot the cake plate again.” And everybody clamored, “Can we go back and play for a while?” So we did. We went to church again for the cake plate. I found a circle of friends and sat there and visited for another hour. And I ate a piece of my friend’s marvelous lemon raspberry cake (yes, the same friend who made the salted caramel shortbread bars last month) with cream cheese icing. I needed that bit of fortifying and endorphin-boosting.

I ordered some pantry-organizing Tupperware for my mom’s birthday weeks before her February birthday, but didn’t actually receive it until this week. I had bought a lovely card that I was saving to give with her gift. Meanwhile my desk got conscripted into a poster making project for a safety fair at the hospital and the card disappeared without a trace. I settled for a generic one and gave my mom her present. Two hours later I found the card that I had been scouring the entire premises for. I don’t know what to tell you. The really scary thing is that all these items should be/always live “right there”.

But remember that journaling Bible I lost before Christmas? I found that  while I was looking for the card. And my phone charger turned up just recently too, after Gabe had borrowed it and mislaid it. That too, was something we had searched for with diligence. Again, I don’t know how to explain this stuff. If you were to come to my house, I think you would consider me a reasonably orderly person. We do have Alzheimer’s in the family and that is too frightening a prospect to even consider. So I am letting my brain off the loop and I am going to walk in the woods and laugh hysterically whenever I feel like it. Take that, hamster wheel.


(Just for your information, if you want to enter for the giveaway I posted last time, you have until noon tomorrow. Go ahead, don’t be shy.)


Because You Are So Nice: a Giveaway

I promised a giveaway back in the middle of February on the day after I skipped a post. It’s a penance and appreciation gift, as well as a celebration! Because we made it through the rough part of the winter and I had a collection of pretty fabric and an idea. Because I have so much (so many books) and I love to share them. Because you all are so kind and tell me about yourselves and how you look forward to reading what I write after I mention my insecurities.

This is a giveaway open to anyone, but if you are a man, I hope you have a woman in your life who wouldn’t mind you carrying a floral bookbag. Better yet, just give it to her.

First I will show you my Addy and her petalled skirt sewed onto a chipper spring shirt. She dances and twirls through her days (and tumbles and flips). This child is all-out, fizzy and full of pop. She can handle a skirt with many colors just fine. This photo was taken during a 5 second lull.

Addy in petal skirt

Here is the first book bag I made, unabashedly copying one I saw in a Craftsy ad. I decided to keep this one for myself since it was experimental and the one blue stripe is a little too dark, as my sister kindly pointed out when I asked her if it seemed odd. It needed wider straps too, to match the strips on the bag. These small anomalies are not a problem with 3 little bag ladies in the house. “Yook, it’s camofyaged with my dress!” (I will mourn the day the child learns to say “l”.)

Addy with bag

Then I made a small carry tote for Olivia to carry her Bible and Sunday school book, pencils and tissues, etc. to church. And an even smaller squat bag that Rita uses for treasures and bags of apple snitzes she likes to have on hand to sustain her in case she gets hungry. I am down to the last strips of these fabric patterns. There is enough to make something small and cutesy for a doll. The projects were so much fun that I neglected a lot of other things just to work on them. I hope we get to sew in heaven.

In the photo below Olivia holds the one I made expressly to give away. As you can see, it has the wider straps and when you sling it over your shoulder, it fits precisely under your arm at the side unless you are not grown up. Then it hangs down lower and you can dig in it while the strap is still over your shoulder. Inside it I sewed a special pocket so that you don’t lose your cell phone in the bowels of the bag while you are at the library. There is space for keys and a library card too. I am naming it Sprightly Spring Satchel.

Addy, petal skirt

As you can see, this particular bag will be stuffed with some goodies. I am just delighted to share some of the books I have collected from Usborne, those wonderful publishers of children’s literature. I will show you three books that will be in it for your enjoyment, but there will be a surprise title or two, depending on the interests of the person who wins.

usborne giveaway

Would you or someone short and cute in your life like to own these books? All you have to do to qualify for the drawing is comment one sentence describing your favorite place in the world. If you want to write an essay length comment with many sentences, great! But you don’t have to. If you feel shy about posting your real name, you can make up a pseudonym. But you can’t be anonymous. Just don’t forget what you called yourself! Anyone living outside the U.S. can enter the drawing as long as they have an address of someone in the lower 48 to whom I can send a package should they win.

The drawing will close on Saturday, the 19th of March, at noon. Let’s hear from you, my friends!

7 Spring-Madnesses to Try

I just amused myself with a lame click-bait title. Hardy-har. Yesterday my Facebook feed offered me the worst one yet: 15 Reasons You Should Give Your Dog Coconut Oil. I am sorry, but this is just preposterous on so many levels. Who has time to research and write about the urgent health benefits of coconut oil for dogs? Who has money to spend on coconut oil for dogs?? What’s next? 5 steps to teach your dog oil pulling? There was a photo of a dog licking out of a squat little container of the really pricey stuff and I just giggled and did NOT click on it.

March has been gorgeous, gorgeous, warm and balmy! This is my season. I roll around in it, figuratively speaking, of course. My children do it quite literally and when they are done in the bathtub, there is a layer of silt on the bottom. I get back energy that I forgot about, and no, I didn’t start drinking Plexus recently. It’s my built in solar panel booting up the systems for an all-outdoors bash. I did a few things in the last week that made me feel really alive again.

  1. I sat in brilliant sunshine to eat lunch. Outside. In bare feet. And I had chocolate covered strawberries too.
  2. I saw a Craftsy project that I really wanted to do, but I didn’t want to spend $20 on their kit, so I bought a whole bunch of gorgeous fabric and trims and buttons for $16 and made it myself, trial and error.
  3. I sewed more than one project with the fabric: a petal-skirt dress for my smallest flower, and some pretties I will show you tomorrow. And then I will give one away to one of you.
  4. I pruned the grapevines and raspberries, pulling all the weeds that had flourished and died out over the winter. Then I asked Facebook if anyone local wants the extra raspberry plants and the first ones to reply were from North Carolina and Ohio and Georgia. I may need to do an instructive post on the meaning of “local”.
  5. I treated those plants to composted horse poo and I enjoyed doing it. I thought to myself, “Goodness, I am turning into my mother!” when I remembered how she would haul barrows full of poo from the barnyard to the flower beds while we children went EWWW.
  6. I trimmed my lavender hedge that lines the stone walkway to the backyard. A lavender hedge is romantic and lovely when abloom, but requires rather more maintenance than I knew before I planted it. Have you ever spent a therapeutic hour plucking maple leaves out of twiggy stems? At least it is fragrant work.
  7. I tilled down the cover crop in the kitchen garden, so that I can plant peas by St. Patty’s Day. That is my hope. I could have planted yesterday already by the condition of the soil. We are Zone 6, folks! It would definitely have been an early record for me, but I remembered the fiasco last year, how our peas didn’t germinate because we hadn’t killed the cover crop first.

I told you it has been amazing and warm. That is some of the reason why I dropped off the face of blogdom again this March. Also, after I have scratched out 28 posts in February, I feel a bit dry, so I just sink into it for a while and get all private. One thing that perplexes me and even makes me feel a little queasy is this: who am I actually writing to? Who is my target audience? Am I writing to homeschoolers? Maybe to their children, who I have been told read my stuff. What about the men? Yikes. I am suppressing all my birth stories for their sakes. Well, not quite. What if I write something insensitive to someone who is hurting? What if I write something unflattering about someone and they recognize themselves? What if I want to write a childhood story about a girl at church who had halitosis and she ends up reading it? It’s just this bit of paralysis that strikes occasionally and I realize I am taking this way, way too seriously. But I gave myself a break.

I will tell you a secret. When I get stuck like that, I write to Becca, my sister-in-law who was first my friend before she married my brother. She is the one who kept telling me to blog and she “gets” me and encourages me, so I just told her my 7 Spring-Madnesses to Try and I am saving a bunch of raspberry roots for her, even if she lives in North Carolina.