Thursday, August 25, 2011

New friends

On the second day of school, I was asking Chickie about the new friends she was making. She was telling me the names that she remembered (an impressive number of names!) A couple of her comments made me laugh.

"Mom, why do you keep asking me if they're nice? They're all nice!" (Yay!!!)

"One of them is named Joey. But he's not a baby kangaroo." (Glad she clarified.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Crochet Giveaway!

It's time for a C. Beth Crochet giveaway! And this one will appeal to those of you who have a competitive streak.... Details are at the end of this post!

I just completed my second crocheted purse. This was for my mom. She helped pick the yarn/fabric combo, and I love it. In fact, while I am very fond of my own crocheted purse, I think the colors on this one are really more appealing.


The finished product is really cute.


Cute little rosette...


And plenty of pockets!



These purses are big projects. I could go on all day about how long one of them takes. But I think the best way to express it is to tell you how many crochet stitches were required for this bag.

Only I'm not going to tell you. That's where the contest comes in!

Guess the number of crochet stitches in this purse. If you guess closest, you'll win the prize of your choice, either...

...a cute flower headband. (You'll get to choose from various colors.) OR...

Photobucket Photobucket
...a little case suitable for a phone, pens/markers, or other small items. (You'll get to choose from various colors.) OR...

...$15 plus free shipping toward a hat or other crocheted project of your choice!

Okay, here are the details:

How to win:
  • Guess how many crochet stitches are in the purse I made for my mom. I am ONLY counting stitches on the front, back, sides, bottom, and straps. I didn't count stitches required to join all the pieces; the flower; or the little tabs that snap on the top and sides. For those of you who crochet, you may want to know that most of the stitches are HDC stitches.
  • Leave your guess here as a comment. Please also let me know if someone referred you to the contest (and their name!)
  • You may enter ONE additional time by going to the C. Beth Crochet Facebook Page. Again, guess the number of stitches. (You'll want to choose a different number than you use here!) Leave your guess as a comment by clicking here. You will need to "Like" the page before you can comment there.
The benefits of SHARING:
  • Share this contest on your blog, Facebook page, Twitter, billboards, public access television, by leaving annoying flyers on people's windshields...whatever!
  • When you share, be sure to tell people that in their entry they need to tell me that you sent them! You might want to copy and paste this text for Facebook: "C. Beth Crochet is doing a giveaway! Tell her I sent you--we could both win!" Or, for Twitter, "Crochet givewaway from @CBethTweet! Tell her I sent you--we could both win!", Please don't comment here telling me where you shared. Just make sure anyone you refer includes your name in their entry.
  • If your friend gives you credit in their winning entry (here or on the Facebook page), you win too! You'll both get to choose a prize!
Final details:
  • The contest will run through 11:59 p.m. Central time on 8/31/11. On 9/1/11 (my birthday!) I'll name the winner. Whoever guesses closest will win. In case of a tie, I will use as a tiebreaker. Winner will be announced here and on Facebook on or around 9/1/11. Please be sure that I have a way to contact you! If I don't hear back from the winner by the end of the day on 9/4/11, a new winner will be chosen.
  • Shipping to the U.S. or Canada is included. If you live in another country, you are welcome to enter. However, you'll need to pay to ship your prize.
Have fun!

I have a Kindergartener

The big day arrived yesterday--Chickie's first day of school!


We walked to school...

...and she settled in to do some drawing.

"Want to say goodbye to Mommy?" I asked her.

"'Bye, Mama," she replied. She barely looked up at me, if at all. I was glad to see that she was immediately comfortable in her classroom.

I felt a lump in my throat, realizing I'd be leaving her there all day. The lump returned a few more times throughout the day, but it never turned into true crying. We've just been so excited about her going to school, and, sure enough, she loved her first day!

I picked her up seven hours after dropping her off. Other moms claim that those seven hours fly by, and I'm sure that will be true soon...but Day One didn't fly by for me! I was so excited to pick her up and hear about her first day, and I was anxious to reunite her with her brother.

Thankfully, when she got in the car, she was ready to talk. My mom (who was in town) and I got to hear about new friends, and the book Chickie's teacher read, and recess, and P.E. It was a great, busy day, and the big lunch I packed for her was completely gone. She must have used up a lot of energy!

As I thought it might be, the day was hard for Zoodle. Over and over, he asked when Chickie would be home. He didn't want to go to McDonald's for ice cream after lunch, since Chickie was gone. Today we're going to meet friends for lunch, even though he says he doesn't want to. I hope he'll see that it's possible to have fun without his sister! It's very sweet that he misses her, but I really hope his transition is a quick one. I know I'm enjoying my extra cuddles with my little guy.

Overall, I loved school when I was a kid, and I'm so excited that our family has entered this phase!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Focusing on what I know

Several weeks ago we took Zoodle to the emergency room. Throughout the day, he'd been having occasional, sharp abdominal pain. We were naturally concerned, and a nurse on the phone confirmed that we needed to get him checked out.

The diagnosis? Constipation.

I groaned and laughed when I realized we'd taken him to the ER for constipation. But it was a nervous laugh, because I knew the hospital bill wouldn't be pretty. (And I knew that based on our particular health insurance plan and deductible, we would be responsible for the bill.)

Last night before bed (bad timing!), I logged on to our health insurance website to see how much we'd owe.

And...I freaked out. It was a lot higher than I expected. We've also had major car repair and maintenance bills recently. Carefully-saved cash savings can be spent so quickly, and that tends to undermine my sense of security.

It wasn't a pretty sight, last night. Tears, panicked worries about other anticipated expenses months in the future. Guilt that we haven't been as careful with discretionary expenses as we should be. I was a mess.

I sat down in a private place (which happened to be on top of the closed toilet in my bathroom!) and started to think and pray. As I mentioned recently, my faith in God has really been renewed lately. I knew I needed to look at this from a perspective that put God in the center of the situation instead of continuing to fight for air, drowning in the quicksand of "what ifs."

Lately there is a principle I've been telling myself, and it's really helped me to have less anxiety. Focus on what you do know, not on what you don't know.

I don't know what will happen when I call to discuss some hospital charges that don't make sense to me, or what other expenses will come up in the future, or exactly how much money we can save by making wiser choices, or exactly how much income will come into our household in the next six months. These are the things I worried about last night, even though they are things I don't--and can't--know.

What I do know is this:
  • God has provided for me every single day of my life, and He will continue.
  • According to Proverbs 3:5-6, if I trust in God instead of my own understanding, and if I submit to Him, He'll make my path straight. That means He'll show me the next step. And the next. And the next. What a relief!
  • I know all the comforting promises and truths of Matthew 6:25-34. When I seek God first, He will provide for me! Worry is pointless!
  • Jesus said that I should ask God for my daily bread. Sure, I can make wise plans about tomorrow, and next month, and retirement, but as long as I have my daily bread, I have what I need. I have my daily bread already, and much more.
  • Maybe at times we should have been more careful with how we've spent our money. But even if we've made mistakes, they are "as far [from us] as the east is from the west." God doesn't require me to be perfect in order for Him to provide for me.
As I sat there, my perspective shifted. The Holy Spirit in me did his job as my Comforter and Teacher. I was still emotional, but I became excited to see how God will provide for our family.

Honestly, I'm still having to fight against the desire to worry and to "figure it all out." But when that happens, I can choose to shift my focus. It can be tough, changing old thought patterns. But I know that this current situation will help me to more deeply learn a skill that brings so much peace:

Focus on what you do know, not on what you don't know.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rules of Civility: The Words Will Woo You

I recently read a delicious new novel called Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. If you enjoy the beauty of language, this is your type of book. I'll be honored if you read my review (for BlogHer Book Club), linked below. As always, comments are welcome!

Rules of Civility: The Words Will Woo You

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book, plus a small stipend for writing an honest review.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Adoption & a camera giveaway

My bloggy friend Lara and her family are adopting a sweet baby boy from Africa! This has been a wonderful journey, and now they're just waiting to hear about their court date so they can go, dot their i's, cross their t's, and bring their son home.

Of course, it's an expensive process, so some of Lara's friends are throwing her an online baby shower to help with expenses. If you donate $15 or more, you will be entered to win various prizes including a beautiful Canon Rebel camera. Or you can even comment on the post and enter without donating. But you need to do it tonight!

Click to check it out....

Baby A Shower

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Learning the days of the week

I realized yesterday...Chickie needs to learn the days of the week! (I'm a little embarrassed that she's 5 1/2 and doesn't know them. I'm not really sure when kids are supposed to have a handle on that!) So I came up with this little song to help.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My stash

I was at Walmart the other day, and saw some of those little plastic three-drawer storage chests. I thought about my yarn, which used to sit nicely in a storage bin and had somehow reproduced to the point that it was chaotically taking over a corner of my game room. Hmm, I thought, these drawers would be great for yarn storage.

So I grabbed two of the three-drawer units and brought them home, pleased to have found such an affordable storage solution.

At home, I sorted my yarn by color, and set other supplies (buttons, mailing envelopes, etc.) to the side. When I was done, I began to fill up the drawers.

And a little while later, I headed back to pick up three more of the drawer units. Oops...guess I have more yarn than I realized.

I now have 13 drawers of yarn and two drawers of supplies. And as I look at my new yarn storage...


...I think I have a problem. A yarn-buying problem. How many brands of black yarn does one really need?! I've been holding back lately, trying to use yarns from my stash when appropriate, but then a friend called about a bunch of yarn at a garage sale, and, well, it was a great deal, so I had to buy it! And I must say, I really think all this yarn is inspiring and beautiful, and fun to look at, and nice to touch. I just need to actually use it!

Anyone want to order a hat...or a hundred? (One for every degree on the thermometer?)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

World Breastfeeding Week

It's World Breastfeeding Week!

As I wrote on Facebook, "Happy World Breastfeeding week (Aug. 1-7, 2011) to...every breastfeeding mom (past or present); all dads who have supported their partners who nursed; anyone who's ever seen a mother breastfeeding in public and smiled encouragingly; and each adult who encourages the children in their lives to see breastfeeding as a normal activity, and to see breasts as vessels of nutrition!"

This isn't going to be a "Formula is EVIL!" post. Formula isn't evil, and how we feed babies shouldn't be a competition between moms! Instead, I'd like to focus on an aspect of breastfeeding that I feel passionately about.

Breasts should be seen, as I wrote above, as vessels of nutrition. In American society, breasts have been so sexualized that people have all sorts of hangups about breastfeeding. Some women feel weird having a child suckle at their breast, since most images of breasts we see are sensual images. Many people feel awkward seeing a woman breastfeeding in public, as if breasts themselves were somehow vulgar.

Of course, breasts are sexual. I have no problem with that. (In fact, I think it's pretty great!) But that's really not their primary purpose. It's so important to me that my kids grow up seeing breastfeeding as a normal thing. And to see it as normal...they need to see it!

If my kids accidentally see a glimpse of nipple while a woman is feeding her child...good! That will just remind them that long before bottle nipples were invented, breast nipples were "invented" so that babies could use them to eat! It's a beautiful thing to see those human nipples being put to such good use!

If you feel weird seeing a woman breastfeeding in public, that's okay. Depending on your upbringing and your adult experience, it may not be something you see often, and that may (very understandably) make you feel uncomfortable.

What I'd like, though, is for us to just decide that breastfeeding is normal, and that we're okay with seeing women doing it in public...just as we're okay with women using bottles in public. Then, despite any awkward emotions, we can choose to support nursing mothers. In other words, we can act according to our values, not our emotions.

Chickie nursed until she was almost 2 1/2, and I nursed Zoodle for over 18 months. Yep...that's a long time.'s kinda weird in our society (especially since for three months, I was nursing both of them!) But, for us anyway, it was normal. It was just right.

Breastfeeding is such a personal thing, between each mother and her child. So let's support nursing moms, whether they nurse for three weeks or three years. Let's consider all of that to be not only normal, but good and beautiful....something to be celebrated, not hidden.

Nursing Zoodle for the first time, shortly after his birth.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Three minutes with a three-year-old

This morning...

I sit in our red easy chair, a cup of coffee (cream, no sugar) next to me, Kindle in hand, to finish the book I've been reading. I've reached that spot in the book where I know I can complete it in an hour or so, and I've decided it's worth it to procrastinate on a bath and other necessary tasks.

Zoodle saunters in, still wearing his flannel Elmo pajamas. (Yes, he sometimes wears flannel in the summer; he likes to pick his own PJs.) He climbs up in the chair next to me, and he curls up comfortably next to me, his back leaning against me. He hasn't learned to be self-conscious with his affection yet, and his little warm body molds to mine in a way that I treasure.

"Mommy," he says, "Can I have...can I have...can I have...." He repeats this over and over, trying to decide what he wants to ask for. I glance back at my Kindle, but then remind myself that this morning I want to be patient with my kids, and enjoy them. I look at him, and listen.

Finally, he says, "Can I have American Elmo?" He giggles, and I do too. This is one of his bits of comedy these days, replacing the appropriate word with a silly one.

After we've both appreciated his humor, I ask, "Do you want American cheese?"

"Yeah" (with a smile.)

I agree, and he gets up and runs to the refrigerator.

"Will you get me one too?" I ask.

"Yeah." He comes back with two. "One for you," he says, handing me one, "and one for me."

I pull the plastic off my cheese, and say, "Do you want this one?"

"No," he says with a sweet patience that I want to share, "that one is yours." I pucker my lips, and he gives me a kiss. I smile and take his cheese, and peel the plastic off. I hand it to him, and he runs back to where he and Chickie have been playing a computer game together.

The moment is over, but it was a special one, and I want to remember it. Three magical minutes with a three-year-old.