Sunday, January 31, 2010

Her Mighty Throne

Not the toilet, get your minds out of the gutter - oh, was I the only one thinking that?  I am talking about my grandmother's chair.  This is the chair which supported the backside of the matriarch of our family while she did things like sew six granddaughters matching Christmas dresses, or my cousins' first communion gowns, or jackets that went with our prom dresses, or hem oodles of choir robes. 

She was kind of amazing on the sewing machine - not because of intricacy but because of practicality.  She could make almost anything that was needed.  My mom tells stories of her brothers and dad dressed in matching dress shirts that Grandma had made.  There is a photo of my uncle dressed in a little man suit that Grandma had made out of Grandpa's old one.  She was re-purposing  long before it was hip.  Oh, Grandma, you clever woman, you. 

Sometime in the 1970s my grandmother received, as a gift from my mother, this glorious chair.  This particular chair is a sewist's dream.  Originally it had quite a cushion and the seat flips up to reveal a compartment for stowing all your notions.  Need a button?  Look in your chair.  Broke a needle?  Look in your chair.  Measuring tape? Chair.  And though I am seldom organized, I love the idea of organization like this.  Everything you need right under your butt!

Moving to my own sewing space I found that I didn't have the advantage of the chairs I used at the dining room table.  Since I haven't mastered sewing standing up, I set out to look for a sewing chair.  I thought about Grandma's chair and where I might get one of those, and it dawned on me, uh, ask Grandma for hers.  This would be huge!  To have Grandma's chair here - a little piece of her (ADDers frequently assign serious sentimentality to things).  She was happy to pass down the chair to me, sending it along with my Mom when she road tripped to TX at Christmas.  And here I sit, in Grandma's chair, making it my backside now that is firmly placed on the sewing throne. 

(A P.S. on the over-sentimentalizing things:  I don't over sentimentalize dates as I noted in a previous post - usually because for ADD mind time is categorized as "now" or "not now" therefore negating a reason to sentimentalize it.  However, THINGS!  Oh things, how you get us in trouble.  Usually things remind us of a person and if we got rid of the thing it would be like getting rid of that loved one.  We are worried we will forget them without a physical reminder - just like we forget our wallets, keys, gift card for the store we are going to, diaper bags, checkbook, phone, or anything else we might daily misplace.  I am glad to report that I still have my Grandma so if I want to remember her I could just go visit.  But having her chair was something I thought about for a long time because I knew if I received it, I would keep it forever.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Unfinished Business

This is my workspace in my fabulous sewing room.  I realize the desk is a mess, don't judge.  This is not what we are discussing today anyway.

When I moved up to the guest room for my full time sewing space I had the pleasure of going through all of my sewing things.  What I discovered was a plethora of projects I had almost finished.  I actually found 5 bibs for a boy - made long before I even had our bib wearing boy - that only needed snaps.  I found blankets I finished but didn't give away.  I found pot holders I had quilted but never bound.  I found jammy pants that I had cut out but never made up.  I found two pairs of shorts for the big boy that only needed a bottom hem and elastic put in.  This is the way I roll, people.  Lots of awesomeness, mostly unfinished. 

Currently I have two major projects that I got almost all of the way through and then left for the "Sarah Miller black hole of unfinished projects".  One is a quilt for my in-laws and another is a quilt for my sister-in-law, both were intended as Christmas presents.  Uh, Happy Valentine's Day?  I hope...

My goal is to finish - completely finish these two projects this weekend.  Those with ADD can relate - things rarely get finished when your brain changes channels too often.  By the time I get almost all the way done with something, I am bored.  The last few details are painful to complete.  This is why my most complicated and beautiful quilts are often given away with tiny threads to be trimmed.  My dear sister, thank goodness, understands this and gratefully trims her own threads.  Perhaps these two quilts will be given away with the same caveat.  You will receive something handmade and heartfelt from me, if you are willing to trim your own threads.  Work with me, here. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Game On! Progress

I am totally rocking the Game On! diet.  I have had mostly 100 point days, which is the best you can have.  The only thing I didn't rock so much is the whole lose tons of weight thing.  I lost a pound.  A pound.  Really.  Whatever.  My teammates are attempting to convince me that it will all magically shed this week.  They had better be right.

The best part about this whole Game On! thing is that you play against your friends and there is this trash talk element that I thrive on.  Competitiveness is coursing through my veins and these PTA moms are all like, "No big deal, tomorrow is a new day, you can do it, rah rah rah."  So today when the enemy was talking about her completely bad habit day and the other ladies were all, "Oh, you can do it," I sent out an email.  It read, "And this is why we will win! Love ya, suckers!!"  I was so proud of myself.  That is what this is all about, right?  COMPETITION. I mean it even says that this is how the game is played in the book!

Uh, I am thinking that the PTA moms were a little put off by this.  Another, "You can do it!" email followed that one about how we all win, blah blah, blah.  Um, no, we do not all win.  Yes, there is that whole, "You are a better person now," thing.  But really in a game like this, there is only one winner.  And in this case, it's going to be me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yee Haw!

Don't you wish you had a cowboy?  I took this stunning picture (edited by the cowboy himself) during our fall visit up to West Texas where my cousins own a farm.  Besides, of course, the wedding which we were there to attend, the horses were the hit of the weekend.  Each of the kids got on a horse even though Jacob initially protested with howling that rivaled coyotes.  The girls shared a horse, delighted with these giant four legged creatures, they laughed and held on tight the entire time - hair blowing in the breeze.  I had visions of equestrian lessons in our near future.  The baby even took a short ride with his sister.  My horse sat in park for almost the entire time.  Apparently he was crushing on the horse that was tied up.  The love of a horse is no match for my reigns. 

The absolute shocker of the entire trip was my husband.  This is the man that swore up and down that he was terrified of horses - hated them, in fact.  He was absolutely not going to ride.  At some point I gave up on getting my horse out of park and went inside.  I came out to discover the man was doing barrel runs!  And the pole thingies, what are those called?  I don't know because my horse sat in park, remember?  Anyhow, the point is, my husband can ride.  What the heck?  I know we moved to Texas and all, but when did he go all cowboy on me?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.  Cowboy suits him.  Just check out the hat!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


That word keeps weighing on my heart.  Complacency.  I had to go to ole' Mr Webster (via Google - of course) to get the definition as I felt a little hazy on the actual meaning.

Main Entry: com·pla·cen·cy
Pronunciation: \-sən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural com·pla·cen·cies
Date: 1650
1 : self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies
2 : an instance of complacency

Uh huh.  Still not too sure about that.  Checking myself.  Have I become complacent?  Surely my unawareness is a sign. 

Monday, January 25, 2010


Well, that's an unpopular post title.  But that is exactly what I have been doing since I started that Game On! diet.  I will not be bested by the PTA moms!  So, I have been faithfully on my elliptical every night this week.  The first night was alright.  The second night was killer.  The third night was ridiculous and I was positive that this crack pot diet business was going to kill me.  By tonight (a good 6 days into the game) I actually was eager to get on the machine....  I know, it stunned me too.

After all of my body's initial protesting, I found I was actually craving the movement.  I had forgotten what it felt like to push myself - granted there is a whole lot more of me these days to push - but in the end I felt accomplishment.  My sore muscles are a sign to me that I did something good for me, not a warning to never do such an idiotic thing again.  You know what this means?  Crap!  It means I should keep exercising.

I am only going to mention as a P.S. here that I used to (as in way way long ago) run a minimum of 3 miles daily just to feel normal.  As I began to know myself better and ultimately get a diagnosis of ADHD I realized that this exercise in my high-school years is what kept me focused.  The times I did best in school were when I was running and playing at least one other sport.  Perhaps my rekindled love affair with exercise will also help me regain my brain.  Hey, it's worth a shot.  I'll let you know how that goes.  I am also wondering if exercise will help me keep my house clean and do all my unfinished projects too.  Asking too much?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The letter

My paternal grandmother was nothing short of a Renaissance woman. She was athletic, playing golf (and usually beating the men - pre-Women's PGA) and bowling. She was a great cook. She was a gifted artist, usually trying one medium after another, brilliant in whatever she attempted. I still keep a knitted blanket made by her on rocking chair in my room. She sewed, painted china, made dolls, and ultimately she sculpted, a craft that allowed us to finally really know her.

About the time I was in middle school my sisters and I started going to grandma's house for craft hour. We would paint pre-made figurines and she would fire them in her kiln. As we got older we started working with clay and making our own sculptures. Her sculptures were clearly more refined than ours but she had a gift for making us feel like we were brilliant artists as well. We would drink fruit punch, eat frozen pound cake, and she would listen to our stories. I can still picture her hands and her wrists - always wearing a bracelet. They were not unlike my own wrists - not skinny, like my sister's.

At some point during this time Grandma started experiencing health problems - mysterious symptoms that put her through test after test after test. The final miserable reality was that Grandma had ALS - better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Tuesdays With Morrie paints a vivid picture of what dying from ALS is like. Though her body began to fail her, her mind was still in tact. Within, what I remember as about two years from the onset of symptoms, she was gone. Poof. I was sixteen. She was sixty two.

Today, nearly fifteen years later, cleaning my room and going through an old journal, I happened upon an envelope addressed in script to "Sarah". Deep breath. The letter.

My Dear Sarah,
My first perfect granddaughter. How I've loved you from the first day of your life. I'm so proud of you. You have given me so much joy.

Keep on enjoying your art and your sports. The more things you have fun doing the better life is.

I'll be going away on a trip but will be with you always.

Love you,
Grandma Bette

Her handwriting was already labored by the time she wrote this. It was her only means of communication at that point. Her voice was gone and her face couldn't show any expression. Her written words move me to tears to this day. If only everyone had the forethought or time to write a letter like this.

The grief is still there. The pain is still real. We lost her too young. But lately I have been thinking of her - and reading the letter again heals me a little more.

For my other incredible grandmother see here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dog Febreze

Last night after writing about my poop head dog, I posted on facebook the question, "Can you Febreze a dog?" I got many responses on that topic so I am thinking that this must be a common need. Is there such a product? One of my FB friends thought there was something on the market already. (If so, I am buying it immediately, if not sooner.) Others had good suggestions, "Just try a small tester area first. Lol like you do on furniture."Excellent suggestion. Here's another, "I think you can febreeze anything, right???" I also liked this one, though not related to dogs, "Delvin wanted to febreze Patrick in the beginning b/c he was scared of bathing him." Patrick is their 3 month old child.

One of my blogging friends who has four legged children as well thinks, "NO." But my cousin who works for the vet admitted that she does this "all the time." Still in a quandary, I sought the help of ye ole' Mr. Google. So far, so good. Snopes said the email that circulated about 10 years ago about Febreze being harmful to pets was false. ASPA claims that it should not harm the animal. Good Dog! magazine reports that the formula was tested and the evidence suggests that it is safe for use around animals. I found several other personal blogs that have posts written on febrezing their dogs. Apparently all dogs are still healthy and smell decidedly more fresh.

I don't doubt the effectiveness of Febreze. If that stuff could take the "Chili's Funk" out of my clothes when I used to waitress there in college, then it can take any odor away. I am not sure if "Chili's Funk" and "barn poop head" are equal, but something's got to give here. Perhaps I will do as my friend suggests and just try a little tester area first... Then I am going to market a new product, "Furbreze." I am a genius.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Poop Head

The dog smells like poop. Not just any poop - nostril offending"barn-like" poop. That's what our 12 y.o. friend told us this evening. I totally washed her last night due to the odor. She smelled better for at least 24 hours and then smell that induces my gag reflex was back. Mostly her head stinks - which is the worst because where do you pet a dog? On her poop head.

P.S. Don't judge me on my white balance -I am relearning all that photography stuff.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What if?

What if someone came to your house and literally looked in every cupboard, every closet, every drawer, your medicine cabinet, your pantry, your refrigerator, your garage, your backyard, each kid's room, even the attic, and saw all your stuff? Worried? Hiding something?

We were lucky enough to have this experience today. You want to know what's even better, today was just a practice run, someone else comes next week to do this again. Thankfully today's inspector was the director of our foster agency coming to do a once over before CPS licensing comes to do a spot check on us. The woman was very graceful about my complete mess of a house, but that did not take away the shame I was feeling as I opened the door to yet another disaster of a room/closet/bathroom. I promised her that we would have the clean fairies come before CPS actually got here. She gently agreed that would be a good idea.

I know that opening every closet door shouldn't make me shudder with embarrassment. I realize that most people put their Christmas decorations away before Valentine's Day - I am just not one of those people. I openly (not proudly) admit that. So, how's a person to change? After 30 years of being a slob could I suddenly become tidy? Should a I pray for a miracle?

I will say one thing, the woman opened my fabric closet and was very impressed. Yes, people, I have one organized closet in my whole house. It's my secret clean spot that I can go when I am overwhelmed by 6 people's stinky laundry, undone dishes in the sink flowing out onto the counter, piles of shed dog hair in the corners of all rooms, I can hide in my fabric. Bliss...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Game On!

At some point this year I woke up to the reality that everything in Texas really is bigger and this includes me, apparently. In the last two and a half years of living in Texas I have gained approximately 20ish pounds. At this rate I could be the size of Texas by next year. (Incidentally I also recently discovered that I am actually 5'3.5" instead of the 5'2" I always believed myself to be but that is an entirely different tall tale.) I am not sure about where those pesky pounds came from but the reality is setting in - I am in my 30's and sporting a super unattractive muffin top. Not cool.

Disgusted with my size and down about my energy level, I was complaining to a parent visiting me in my office where I am a school nurse. I know that sounds backwards, the nurse complaining to the parent about health issues, but this happens to be one of the coolest parents ever. I totally adore her. She is super cute (but not annoyingly skinny) and has the most fabulous kids. She is totally "real" and one of my favorite things about her is that her kids often have that rolled out of bed hairstyle that my kids usually go to school with. It's comforting. We were talking about how we won't allow the kids to take pictures of us because of the inevitable double chin effect (though the reality is that we each are sporting an extra roll between our actual chins and our necks). After we had sufficiently covered that topic we moved on to more pressing issues such as the muffin top we can't seem to ignore any longer. This is when she introduced me to The Game On Diet.

People, this is what I have been waiting for! A game, for points, with my friends, about healthy habits, for 4 weeks only, on teams, and the winner gets a huge prize! I LOVE COMPETITION! Seriously, my husband jokes with me because even stuffing the Christmas cards can be a competition for me. Apparently, this friend explained, the PTA moms were getting this contest together based on this book by the head writer for Grey's Anatomy, Krista Vernoff, and Fitness Guru, Az Ferguson. Its all about "kicking your friend's butt while shrinking your own". She challenged me to join them for a prize of some serious cash money. And when PTA moms challenge the school nurse, GAME ON!

Now, as if I needed any more motivation, my dear husband used a picture of me from pre-TX days as his I heart Faces entry this week. No double chin there. And if you even think I am going to post a post-TX picture of me right here, you have another think coming. Seriously. It's that bad. So here we go, PTA moms, beware!

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Heart Faces Challenge #3: We are Family

I have loved watching Brian enter this weekly challenge photo contest. He has earned Honorable Mention for one of his photos. Since we were going through photos for his entry this week and we came across and awesome shot that I realized I took, I thought I would take a turn. This is one of my favorites of my daughter with my grandma. There is an 80 year difference between the two - the oldest and the youngest of our family. They were sitting together at the head of the table for our Easter Dinner. This is my picture of family - spanning 4 generations of spit fire women!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Not a cat person

I am not a cat person. Never have been, doubt I ever will be. Now, I have a cat and I have owned cats in the past, but given the choice - a dog will always win out for me. But how can I resist this snugly warm creature at my feet on a cold winter night? There is something just right about a cat curled up at your feet to warm them up - just so long as you don't move and she decides to bite you! Then all bets are off and that thing is going flying - forget about it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The iPhonomenon

I kinda love my iPhone. Is that wrong? I mean really? What did I do before I had my iPhone? I am pretty sure we are about to celebrate our one year anniversary - my iPhone and I. Life must have been so dull before.

With the year 2010 I know y'all expected flying cars or personal jet packs or whatever. But if you had told me even 15 years ago that I would have a mini computer that I walk around with all day long in my pocket and at any moment I could use it to search the internet (what was that?), place phone calls - not attached to some cord plugged into the wall, email, send text messages, take pictures, listen to music, watch movies, organize my calendar, map my route with my GPS location, give me the weather and the traffic, entertain my children, look at my bank accounts, order movie tickets, count calories, read the Bible, name music I hear playing on the radio, or keep me posted on old friends, or really any of the other bazillion things the iPhone can do, I would have thought you were crazy. That was back in the day of the Apple IIGS. We were, like, loading our computer by floppy disks back then. The internet was for select few like my friend, Portia, with the totally techie dad. Digital cameras were cutting edge technology and the picture was totally pixelated.

I walk around with my iPhone today like it is an appendage. Really, I am sure there is some kind of psychological disorder all this iPhone business is going to create for my generation, but seriously - the technology we have today is awesome! Perhaps my iPhone is that "jet pack" that we were promised - just way, way cooler!

You would love your phone too, if you had an iPhone. Plus, if this is what you saw every time you turned on your phone, I am pretty sure you couldn't resist it:

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I had totally intended this post to be a highly creative post about my grandma's chair (I'll explain in a later post). But I am not feeling it. First of all I have been somewhat creatively stymied since I starting working normal hours, oh, say, about a year and a half ago. Apparently I am so much more inspired while experiencing sleep deprivation. Go figure.

I have felt it, this impermeable fog of not-creative-ness that has just sort of hijacked my brain. It came over me and left me wondering where my genius went. At first I did think it was my every-day-ness of working, uh, everyday. Over time I am inclined to believe that is just an excuse that I made up. Something is decidedly different. Even my Christmas letter this year was not as funny nor as witty as years past. What's up with that? I mean, the Christmas letter? That is classic funny stuff right there - but not so much this year.

I used to walk around every day thinking, "This would make an awesome blog post!" or "I totally should take a picture of that for the blog." But recently my camera has been untouched and my brain doesn't tune into that channel anymore. So please, bear with me here in this little space while I find my brilliance again. I am going to really work on it. (FYI - because I am prone to screwing up phrases like "bear with me" I double checked that one on Google - apparently "bare with me" is an invitation to disrobe. I thought that was funny. Also FYI, when you swallow something, it goes "down the hatch" not "down the hatchet" - that would hurt, apparently.)

Practice makes perfect (or so they used to tell me when I wouldn't practice my piano playing - didn't really fly with me in that department, I digress). So, I am going to publicly vow to write a post everyday until I feel the fog lifting - even if by publicly I only have admitted that to all three of you that might read this. Whatever.

And because I am a big fan of blogs with pictures and mostly because I think this is super cute, here are my girls:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Under sentimentalized

You might not believe this about me, but I tend to under sentimentalize dates. I am not sure why. I convinced myself not to be all gushy and goofy the day I had each of my babies. No tears were shed when my children went off for their first days of Kindergarten. If my best friend hadn't come to town and insisted I celebrate my 30th birthday, I wouldn't have paid it any mind. I used to think this sort of attitude was how I kept my wits about me and stayed sensible. You see, naturally I am not a very sensible person and am prone to extreme emotion. A darn Hallmark commercial can send me right over the edge. Worse, a standing ovation for a soldier, good grief, you'll have to pass me a whole box of Kleenex. I am embarrassed by such things. So, I guess I figure those times when most people would be overcome by sentimentality I am superior if I don't place too much importance on it.

Certainly this is backwards thinking. I am starting to understand this now. Dates are important. It is significant that on May 3oth, 2002 my oldest child joined this world. It is a big deal that my baby girl started Kindergarten this year. February 9th of every year should be celebrated with gusto. I definitely cried through my best friends wedding this summer, even though it did not make for very good pictures, I am not ashamed. And though January 1st is just another day, I do need to start taking it seriously. It is the beginning of a new year, a fresh start, and the end of the old year, all the things we should leave in the past. After all, how do we know where we have been without time to demarcate where we were?

So, I don't know about you and January 1st or the 3rd which it appears to be now, but I am making some resolutions, looking forward to a good year, and letting 2009 go.