27 February 2011

sickish, plus marshmallow snow.

mittens? check.

‘tis a fantastical thing, how one can go from feeling Perfectly Splendid to sniveling and feverish in the space of a day. my throat’s hacked raw, my chest aches when i breathe, and i’m pretty sure a piece of lung flies loose each time i sneeze. it appears i’m falling apart at the seams (and possibly suffering a case of acute melodrama, but i don’t imagine a cure exists for that.)

nevertheless. i have bunches of photos from friday to share with you (from a healthy distance) before they become stale and crumb up my hard drive, so here we go.

marshmallow bushes.

friday marked yet another snow day for the littles. while i suspect we shall all be quite sad to find ourselves still subjected to education come june, that day is distant in a way that feels like it may never materialize, so it didn't keep us from an altogether lovely time.

the kids spent hours tramping veined paths through the drifts out back, packing wet battlements, batting with snowballs and a stick. i hammered and polished and sewed and watched them through the window, sticking my head out the sunroom door every now and then to offer up pearls of wisdom like, ‘pelting the house with snowballs is a great way to break a window. let’s pick a different target, shall we?’

the small folk warmed up with hot chocolate and (of course) soup and cinnamon-sweet friendship bread. ramona and beezus bickered and twirled on the screen, while we burrowed in blankets all around.

then i took ill and slept forever and recited shel silverstein's sick to elle, who found it roundly hilarious. i love that kid.

right now, as crazy-weatherness would have it, 'tis some fifty degrees with torrential rains and an electrical storm rolling in. i am off to search out a blanket and some honey tea (and possibly a new set of lungs). g'night, dears.

23 February 2011



she’s woven up silly tender, this one, young in a way that makes her a magnet for bullies.

again she dragged through the door, clutching a scrap of yellow that was once a laminated tag on her backpack: another crumpled casualty of yanking fingers in the bus line.

'k-- did it,' she tells me. 'she ripped it off and held it in front of my face like this and said, aw. too bad.'

we talk about telling k to please not do it again and what it means to repay something hurtful with something kind and before i’m even done she’s skipping off to her brothers in the kitchen, her laugh this buoyant, lucent thing like birdsong lifting the sky.

and while i ache for the sad parts in her day, i find a quiet thankfulness that these hurts don't define her. that she is treasured through, secure enough to allow room for the weakness of others.

i could stand to learn a thing or two from that girl.


22 February 2011

extreme measures.

i think a certain groundhog was maybe just kidding about spring.




we went from all-day rain to ice to snow, a winning combination also known as wintry mix. wintry mix is general code for It's Time to Take Extreme Measures, and so i did: i made soup. although actually, those are Normal Measures around here, to which the mister and kiddos will attest (likely with a gratuitous eye roll at being served the stuff 2-3 times per week).

what can i say.

soup is healthy(ish), economical savory-warmth that nourishes one down to one’s very bones. pair a piquant bowl with slabs of sourdough, and truly: what’s not to love?


soup du yesterday: chipotle chicken chowder. ‘twas fantastic, i tell you, though please be advised that it’s a bit on the spicy side, especially if you overrule the recipe and add extra chipotle-adobo sauce while forgoing the cream altogether. my bad.

the middle two progeny gobbled it straight up, but the older and younger found it a tad too zesty for their liking. (also, normally? eating what mom just spent seventy-five minutes lovingly preparing for you is non-optional. but when a dish is liable to set small mouths on fire, i do allow for a pb sandwich.)

(the cilantro was having a hard day. please forgive its wiltiness.)

next on my soup-roll: chicken corn chowder. i may have to explore the origins of my sudden mania for chicken chowders. (was i harassed by a rooster at a young age? do i have a thing for the /ch/ digraph? ‘tis a mystery, this one.)

in any case, happy souping to you. and if you feel so inclined, please leave me a note about your favorite soup so i can add it to my line-up. i'll let it jump the queue if it starts with ch.

19 February 2011

in the works.

first things first: a few of you asked about The Secret of Heart Bokeh, and i am happy to report that it can be yours too with just a cheapy paper lens hood (see here). hurrah, right? totally hurrah.

and now, let us forge ahead to sewing matters.

softie in the works

i used to cycle through phases of sewing 30+ hours a week for months on end, and then be so sick of hunching over that beastly machine i'd let it sit idle and dusty for a season. feast or famine was the name of the game.

now that i’ve matured into a Balanced Individual (ha), i’m finally finding my groove: enough sewing to keep that excess domestic energy from shorting out my whole electrical system, but not so much that i cannot happily anticipate the projects ahead.

softie gal front

this week's projects colored me downright giddy because of the gals they're headed off to. the softie doll (above) is for the precious, hurting friend of a dear friend, and the teensy kimono dress (below) will soon be shipped to baby lilly.

kimono start

lilly is scheduled for heart surgery next month. my new and altogether awesome friend lisa is organizing a kimono-sewing for baby lilly, who needs a bunch of wrap-style tops and dresses to wear during her weeks of recovery.

(photo provided by lilly's parents via lisa)

here's a bit more about lilly, written by her parents:

Lilly has a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), as well as an aortic valve leak. A VSD is a hole between the two ventricles which causes oxygenated and unoxygenated blood to mix in the heart. Her heart has to work very hard, which causes it to swell. Because the hole is between the ventricles and so close to the aortic valve, she has to have open heart surgery to repair it. She'll have surgery in March (at 10 1/2 months old) with about a week long hospital stay and 6 weeks recovery.

so here's the part where y'all come in. :) i know a bunch of you sew, and if you could spare an hour this week, i'd love it if you could stitch up a little kimono dress for lilly.

size: 3-6 months
chest: 17 inches
waist: 16 1/4 inches
hip to feet: 12 1/4 inches

online patterns:
habitual kimono
bettsy kingston kimono wrap (note: this one seems to run a bit large)

kimono for lilly.

kimonos should be mailed to the following address:
For Lilly
417 Brazil Drive
Hurst, TX 76054

(if you don't have time to sew, but do have some fabric that would make a sweet little wrap-top, feel free to send that to the address above as well.)


and can i just say? i'm so thankful for every one of you, with your giant hearts and capable hands. you make my insides sing and twirl.

have a beautiful sunday, my friends.

17 February 2011



i grew up in a place where the sky burned like summer and wind laced our skin white with salt. where the whole of my world spanned some forty miles wide, hemmed in by blue all around.

but i left for Tertiary Education on the mainland and never did angle back. and now home is a spread of globe starched stiff with winter, where the sharp mix of cold and ash and diesel smells just right.

the name of my childhood town means ‘beloved heaven’* in hawaiian, so you’d think anything after that would be a disappointment. but solid truth: the midwest is gorgeous. all these bare-limbed woods and fields of milk sift through my pores, burrow warm in a seed of belonging. and my neighbors, with their chapped and sturdy smiles, become mine. my people. my place.

i know we’re mere sojourners, steering toward He who is home, but He tethers us together on the passing through. and every stop we make becomes my people, my place, because God lives there. and home to me is the wild and hallowed, teeming, messy, impoverished and beautiful spaces He inhabits.

* * *

join us for more imperfect prose.

*mililani can also be translated 'to praise, exalt,' 'favorite' and so on...depending on if/how you break up the word. (i think. maybe. just believe me when i say this lies FAR outside the realm of my expertise. though i can count to ten, identify colors, and sing 'ten little indians' in hawaiian.)

15 February 2011


i had Big Plans to dazzle my dear ones with heart shaped calzones, cheesy broccoli, and tiny pudding parfaits last night, but then a migraine with a serious vendetta laid me out flat.

by the time i dragged down to the kitchen to manage homework and jumpstart dinner, ‘twas clearly too late for both rising wheat dough and properly chilled pudding: only one of the two could be made.

i’m sure it's already clear how this story ends.


but before you report me to the food pyramid police, i also made a surprisingly edible batch of chili and cornbread* to go with our dessert.

the chili batted .833, the cornbread a perfect thousand, and the pudding has already plum up and disappeared (which is sad news for me actually, as i was hoping to round out the day with a few creamy dollops).

and now, despite the embarrassing hour, i shall have to bid you all goodnight. those migraines leave me knackered for a good few days, and besides that, i am elderly. nighty-night.

*i’m pretty sure God covered for me with the cornbread, because hours after dinner, bee found a bowl of melted butter in the microwave that never did make it into the batter. whoops.

14 February 2011

psalm 73.25-6


in the sky

He’s written it in iced glitter.
in swarms of suns freckling a night sky.
in blood.
God festoons the universe with grace and
i exist for the exquisite pleasure of loving Him

10 February 2011

on bravery.


what are you being brave about right now? she asked, and i found myself at a loss for that blithe sort of answer i'm generally good for.

i can't so much say i've been heroic or plucky as of late. mostly these are leaden months of heart-weary.

but i got to thinking about it, and here's what i've decided: that sometimes courage means simply showing up, day after barren day, and allowing yourself the bright permission to hope.

* * *

more imperfect prose here. please join us. :)

08 February 2011

odds&ends. but mostly odds.

we got another photo of our littlest today. i wish i could share his grin with y’all, but i shall try to put words to it instead: it’s one part silly-shy and eight parts shining cheeks and just innocent enough that you suspect he’s actually up to something. my, but i’m a fool for that kid.

the mister has been gone to a far away meeting sixteen hours and counting today, and i cannotwait for him to shuffle back through that door so he can see how our smallish boy has grown.

please hurry, mister.

please hurry, court date givers.

a couple of you asked in this here post to spill the goods on my bestest childhood friend, and i almost forgot to answer till just now. actually, i wove in and out of childhood bff’s (so maybe just bf’s?), but my first bestie was next-door-stacey, who—you guessed it—lived smack dab on the other side of the fence.

when we were little, we’d shimmy up the poinciana tree in my front yard and whittle away whole summer mornings. there’s something about perching a good ten feet above the world, veiled in ferny leaflets, that makes it easy to suspend reality. on the ground we were a pair of sensible third graders in pigtails, but up there we were world-class chefs, espionage extraordinaires.

stacey was bright and an introvert and just the right amount of goofy requisite in a good friend. she wore humility close like skin, and boy did she ever love Jesus. (she loves him still. more.) (makes me wish she were once again my next-door-stacey, though i’m doubtful she fancies a move to iceland.)

screen bokeh far away

exhibit a. iceland.

[this here is what i call Screen Bokeh. it's bokeh-y light through the screened window of l's bedroom. watch when i zoom in.]

screen bokeh medium away

screen bokeh up close

screeny and fun, yes? aren't you glad we're friends? :)

today was our 457th snow day in the past two weeks (or 7th, if you’re not feeling the hyperbole). in the morning, i set the littles to work while i got orders shipped out and slipped in a few hours of labor myself. ‘twas a strange and wondrous thing to check in on them every few minutes and find all four earnestly pressing color to page and swimming in imaginings.

[He Who Must Not Be Photographed was up to his wiley camera-dodging ways, so you just get the three pictured above. c'est la vie. c'est my kid.]

and now i must be off to press my nose against the window until the mister arrives.

goodnight, dear friends.

07 February 2011

valentine-eating monster box.


so it’s sunday afternoon, three-thirty, and out of the blue it strikes me that when we’re not having winterish storms, my children do occasionally attend school. and clipping on the heels of that epiphany comes the realization that tomorrow is the day my second grader is to bring a homemade valentine box to school. as in, the day after right now.

oy to the vey.

my brain was doing its weekend trick of drawing a terrific and categorical blank, but i wagered that the crafty crow would have some stellar valentine box ideas, and she did not disappoint. we scrolled through the possibilities lickety-split, and m settled on this scary-cute guy. (incidentally: what did people do before the internet? besides plan ahead, i mean?)

i haven't found a tutorial anywhere, so i thought i'd break it down for my fellow last-minuters.

behold: the valentine-eating monster box. in one hour or less.

materials (in order of appearance): cardboard box (or an oatmeal container would be a darling variation), pencil, scissors, 1 empty paper towel roll (or 2 toilet paper rolls), 2 shades of washable paint, disposable bowls, newspaper, foam brushes, white craft foam or paper, black sharpie, optional colored craft foam or paper, glue, craft (as in popsicle) sticks, optional red felt or paper, clear packing tape.


1. child: in pencil, draw a mouth shape on the front of the box. (be sure it’s big enough for valentines to slip through.)
parent: carefully punch a hole in the middle of the mouth with a scissors, then cut from the hole to the line your child drew. cut out the mouth shape; remove and keep the cardboard piece for a later step.


2. child: draw a small x on the left and right sides of the box, indicating placement of the arms.
parent: cut the paper towel roll in half. these will be the monster’s arms. hold one half against the side of the box at the x (straight out like an arm). trace the circular end of the towel roll onto the box, and cut out that circle. repeat with the other side.

3. (at this point, we taped down our open side of the box, but realized the error of our ways when it came time to install the teeth. save the taping for later.)
parent: pour paint into a disposable bowl. layer your table with newspapers (possibly the floor and/or walls as well, depending on how enthusiastic of a painter your child is).
child: lay the box on its back, and use a paint brush to cover the left, right, front, and top sides of the box in paint.


4. while the box dries,
parent: pour a second paint color into a disposable bowl.
child: paint the arms (paper towel roll halves).



5. make the eyes.
child: using a pencil, draw two circles (or desired eye shapes) on the white foam, and cut them out with scissors. draw eyeballs on the foam eyes with the sharpie. if desired, cut eyelids from colored foam and glue to the white foam pieces. next, glue the eyes to the ends of craft sticks. set aside to dry.



6. draw the teeth piece.

[okay, pause. here is where you get to be smarter than we were. well, everywhere else too probably, but especially here. instead of placing the cardboard mouth piece right side showing as we did, flip it over so the back is showing before you trace. this way all the drawn pencil marks will end up on the back of the piece, and the front will be shiny clean.]

child: take the cardboard mouth piece your Big Person cut out (from step 1) and place it on the craft foam. trace around it very lightly in pencil. now draw a second line on the foam around the mouth piece, but this time leave about an inch of space the whole way around. remove the cardboard piece and draw large teeth along the edges of your inside outline.
parent: admire your child’s drawing skills.


(i know you cannot see our light inner line, but scout's honor: it's there.)

7. cut out the teeth piece.
child: with a scissors, cut the foam along the outside line.
parent: cut a small hole in the inside of the foam, somewhere in the mouth's negative space.
child: cut out the middle, following the teeth edges and inside line.
parent: assist as needed.



8. hopefully your box is now dry from step 4. if so:
child: flip the box over and paint the remaining back side (and bottom, if desired).

9. take a short cookie break while everything paintish and gluey dries nice and well.

10. optional: help your child cut out a heart from the red felt or paper.


11. assemble the monster.
child: dab a line of glue along the perimeter of the foam teeth piece.
parent: assist your child in adhering the teeth to the inside of the box.
child: dab glue on the heart piece and place it on the monster as desired.
parent: assist your child in finagling the towel roll arms into the arm holes on each side of the box.



12. assemble the monster part II.
parent and child: tape the top of the lid closed with clear packing tape.
parent: using the scissors, carefully poke two slits into the top of the box. assist your child in coaxing the craft sticks (eyes) into these slits.


13. and voila, we are done.
parent and child: give your monster-box a stern talking to, stressing that his/her diet is to consist only of valentines, and Absolutely Not teachers, card catalogues or hallway monitors.


(our guy looks unimpressed with our sternness, no? hopefully yours shall be better behaved.) enjoy!