Monday, August 30, 2010

Handmade Baby Love

I love handmade gifts...even if they are wonky or weird, they're awesome. It's like a big, fat "I love you enough to spend my time and talents on you." (I love store bought gifts too, of course--all gifts are delightful!)

What I love even more is making something that I have wrapped a bit of myself into. The things I make aren't always perfect--more often far from it. But I like knowing that the gifts I find time to make are one-of-a-kind and full of love from top to bottom.

We were excited to receive a new little niece in July (who has the cutest, roundest cheeks you ever saw!), and in addition to the much-more-adorable outfit I sent her, I also made her an imperfect, but one-of-a-kind lovey:

I used a Ty soft animal, cut in half and removed a bit of the stuffing. 

Then I used two piece of minkee, and cut off two opposite corners, rounding the others. 

I put the minkee together, right sides together and sewed the two ends of the poor little elephant to the cut corners, leaving an opening large enough to turn it right-side- out. 

I turned and top stitched the edges, and voila! 

Then, for a little extra personalization, I practiced my (very) new (and wonky) free-sewing skills, stitching her name and birthday to the center of the lovey. 

I hope Baby J loves it in spite of it's imperfections! 

We also had some friends welcome a new baby girl. For Baby L, I used our long-drive to Phoenix and this FAB new baby yarn (seriously, yarn people...this is probably my new favorite yarn--so soft and easy to work with, though it did tend to split just a tad) to create a blankie for her.

I used this pattern, but double the rows to make the stripes thicker. I had just enough yarn left to make her a little hat and a flower embellishment. And even a second hat for baby J!


Friday, August 27, 2010

"When a dog runs at you, whistle for him."

I need to admit that this post has weighed heavy on my heart for months. So heavy in fact, that I could not write it until our recent trip.

I love dogs. I love all animals; I think they are beautiful testaments of our Heavenly Father's existence, but above other animals, I love dogs. To be truthful, my immediate reaction towards people who don't love dogs is mistrust. (Which is troublesome in my Thoreau love...I know he didn't keep a dog, but I can't help but imagine him circling Walden Pond each morning with a hound lumbering at his side.) 

Many people who know me don't quite understand my love for our two canines--Titan and Zucchini. They are the same breed, pugs, but remarkably opposite in nature. The first, mild tempered, sleepy and portly: 

The latter, mostly insane, hyperactive, ornery and playful:

When I was pregnant, I was constantly infuriated by the comments people made to my dogs, beloved members of my family ("Oh, no...soon as baby comes, it's to the pound for you.") or to me ("You know when baby arrives, you're going to hate those dogs.") 

Other moms probably judge harshly my opinions about keeping dogs as pets: that if a child picks on your dog, she probably deserves to be bit; that if your dog is making you crazy, it's probably your fault and not his; that pets give us far more than we actually give them--companionship, absolute faithfulness, warm feet--; and that our children need pets to bless their lives with the elusive understandings every parent wants them to pick up--responsibility, kindness, empathy, loss. 

But I love my dogs in a ferocious sort of way. So much so, that when I was offered the job at the University where I now live and work--the job that was perhaps the most tangible answer to prayer we had ever received--, the only reason I stopped in fear was that I knew we'd be unable to keep my pugs with me as part of my home. My daughter would feel their absence, and my son, so young at the move, would never know their presence. This, though baffling to most of the people around me, was nothing short of devastating. 

When we packed up and left for Idaho, we filled the cars to the absolute max. Days of planning and diagramming on the Mister's part meant airtight packing (one of his unique talents!). There remained in all our belongings, literally, only enough space for the bodies going on the trip. As we finished our final preparations, and prepared to leave on that December morning, the pugs knew something was up. They followed us exactly at our heels--much closer than usual--they broke my heart with their bulging, sad, watery eyes. And finally, as we prepared to get in our body-hugging seats, I found these sweet creatures had lept into the only space they could find in their angst: 

(Okay...TELL me that doesn't break your heart.)  

Thankfully, in this time there were a few people who understood me--the selfless and amazing friends I had made while volunteering for the Arizona Pug Rescue and Adoption Network (APARN), one of the largest pug rescues in the nation. In the midst of people telling me to simply say goodbye to my dears, abandon them, or sell them, several wonderful women came out of the woodwork and offered to keep my pugs for me "until." Even though we didn't know how long that "until" would last, these women understood that Titan and Zucchi were my first babies, and I couldn't just send them off like all the old belongings we were shedding. So my sweet old man and my crazy girl, Titan and Zucchini, went off to live with Laura, who probably gave them more attention and care than we could! 

The image of my pugs begging me not to leave them left me in tears for months. I wanted them to understand that I hadn't left them forever, that "someday" they would be back in our home, and always in our hearts. I wanted to make them see that they are still our family--pictures in our home and names spoken at our dinner table. I missed them snuggled up to me in my bed, I missed their devotion to my human babies. I missed them so much that even Laura's gracious emails about how well they were doing caused me to burst into sobs. This lasted 8 long months, "until"...

"Until" finally came on our trip to Phoenix, when our whole family re-united. The Mister's sister and husband, having just bought their first home only 3 hours from us, had offered to keep them for us until the next "until." We spent three weeks with them--they barely left my side. I crocheted and read with one under each arm, slept with a pug curled up on each side, and spent my time telling them how much we had missed them. We traveled north with them, gave them many hugs and kisses and left them again, nearer, but still far enough it hurts a bit. We get to see them regularly, and in my heart, I hope that they know that this next place, another unknown, is not about uncertainty, but about certainty...about always keeping them as part of our family, as part of our lives, as near as possible, until the next "until." 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Three weeks away, and we were all feeling this way about the last leg of our journey...but are so very glad to be home...

Now that we are finally home, I hope to be around a bit more. Posts may stay short, since we are T-minus 10 days before the school year starts and 120 new college freshmen move in!

Link love:
Check out this lovely post over at Anna Maria Horner's blog about passion.


"Wealth is the ability to fully experience life."

Summer's nearly over and we have certainly been experiencing a lot of life...lest I never catch up, snippets from summer vacay:

Upper Mesa Falls, Caribou-Targhee Nat'l Forest:

(I know a 3 year old in desperate need of a haircut....)

The much-anticipated "Rainbow Candy" third b-day party:


Cousins at Bear World:

Hope your summer has been full of experience too! 


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On the road again...

Events led us to spend a couple weeks in Phoenix and then Utah with family. Funny how quickly we've acclimatized to the Idaho weather. We are roasting away in Phoenix, and as far as summers go, it's pretty mild!


Sunday, August 1, 2010


These past few weeks have just been a whirlwind for us. The semester ended, and the Mister officially has a whole YEAR of school behind him (thanks to the trimester program here) with pitch perfect grades!  Say HALLELUJAH with me! This journey has been one wild and crazy ride and it is such a huge milestone for us. He is positively amazing!

Then, with the end of the semester and the summer break, the apartments we manage cleared out; much paperwork and many meetings accompanied the girls' departure, and I am only just emerging from that.

Additionally, my fabulous family came to visit during that last week of the semester and we played and played and played. I'm sure I'll be posting lots of photos from our fun.

Finally, I am so blessed to have such an awesome spouse who gave me what amounted to a three day vacation to attend BYU-Idaho Education Week. It was such an incredibly uplifting experience. The amount of light and understanding that came into my mind and heart over those three days was astounding.

One of the highlights was getting to hear Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak. He gave a beautiful talk about being on the Lord's side. One of the things he spent considerable time talking about was the trial of wealth. He quoted Brigham Young and Ezra Taft Benson as it relates to this trial.

Pres. Young:
“The worst fear I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution and be true. But my greatest fear is that they cannot stand wealth.” 

Pres. Benson:

"This particular test [the test of wealth] seems like no test at all . . . and so could be the most deceiving of all tests.
Do you know what peace and prosperity can do to a people--it can put them to sleep. . . .
The Lord has on the earth some potential spiritual giants whom He saved for some six thousand years to help bear off the Kingdom triumphantly, and the devil is trying to put them to sleep.

Throughout Education Week, I was struck again and again about the need we have to dedicate our time and our talents and our means to the kingdom, of our responsibility to save the literal seed of Abraham and bring all God's children into the covenant. The Mister is ultimately on a course that he hopes will lead to medical school, and we talk often of how we want to use the means from a medical career to serve others, both temporally and spiritually, and not to live the "good life" for ourselves. Even now though, it is so easy to fall into the trap of the "I wannas." Because of the lifestyle change we have undergone in the last year, there is much we deny ourselves, usually out of necessity. While we often talk about remembering to live well within our means as our circumstances change in the future, Elder Bednar's talk was a good reminder to be grateful for what we have now.

After listening to Elder Bednar, I am reminded that one of the surprising blessings we find ourselves in possession of is our considerable lack of wealth. I am grateful that in this time of busyness and a significant NEED to have constant help from the Savior--help we rely on for my work with the girls we watch over and the Mister's help in his schoolwork--we don't have to face the trial of wealth. We don't run the risk of relying on the earthly blessings and forgetting who they come from. Our humble circumstances bless us because they keep us in a position close to the Lord and keep us from falling asleep when we so desperately need the guidance of the Lord.

I may not have fancy clothes or a big screen television, but we have enough. In fact, we have enough for our needs, enough to share a little with those who have less, and some left over. And in this I find myself full of gratitude, my Spirit fed, and my life rich.