Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sparky the Robot

Meet Sparky the Robot! He is my first knitted toy! I made this little guy for my nephew's second birthday and included a couple of robot books. He truly was a joy to make, and I grew quite fond of him during our hours upon hours spent together. It was actually a little difficult to give him away. Particularly when the birthday-boy was most engaged with the plastic, colored toys that make noise. :)

It reminded me of a quilting class my mom and I took with the most amazing instructor, Ruth Ann. She was a great teacher who I keep meaning to take several more classes from...she's that good. Anyways, Ruth Ann showed us some of her personal quilts, and they would take your breath away. I, somewhere along the line, made a comment such as "Wow, your family must loove to receive such beautiful things as gifts!" Ruth Ann looked at me with a shocked expression and said, "Oh, no! I never, ever give my quilts away! They are like my children! Besides, my family would never appreciate them." I later regaled this story with much disdain for not sharing such a talent with others, but...

After Sparky, I kind of understood.

You spend hours of your time, yourself, on making a homemade gift, and your heart is a bit in your throat when the receiver opens your hard work. I think that's why I love receiving homemade things so much...they are so personal, a true gift of self.

So how do you feel when you give away something you made yourself? Anyone relate?

Funny story: Madalyn watched Owen open our gift, recognized the robot as the same one that's been hanging out at our house all these days, and proceeded to calmly walk up and snatch it away. It took quite a bit of explaining to get her to understand the time had come to part with our dear Sparky!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dusty, Vivid, Telling, Full of Heart...

...just a few words I would use to describe my latest read:Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, came highly recommend from two trustworthy sources: 1) Dan's Aunt Jane Carney, who I absolutely love. She never married, recently retired from her job as a librarian in an Erie, PA school, and now enjoys traveling and her book club that she has belonged to for ages. I have always wanted to be in a book club. Anyways, I was lamenting to her on a visit over the summer, complaining about how I absolutely adore reading, but never know where to look next for a good pick. Part of the reason is that I came out of a conservative background where everything I read was "Christian," and there is only so much of that genre I can take, although I do still enjoy a good Karen Kingsbury or Francine Rivers, don't get me wrong.

But I digress. The point is that Aunt Jane told me about Water for Elephants and I jotted down the title in my journal. And then promptly forgot about it.

Until source number (2) reminded me: my beloved Real Simple magazine. Last month they did a write-in survey entitled "What's Your Favorite Book Club Book?" I hungrily read every last response, and Water for Elephants was the very first novel listed. Convinced, I placed a hold online through our local library's website (how much I absolutely LOVE the fact that I can request a book online and then have it set aside, waiting for me, when I arrive at the library is, entirely, another post altogether.) I picked it up and read it in a matter of two days, tops.

I loved it.

Here is my disclaimer: there are some sections that are, um, not suitable for readers under maybe 21, or preferably not for non-married readers. But those are short in length. The overall tone of the book is so rich and deep. You will keep turning pages. There is just enough sentiment, just enough mystery, just enough of your own memories of the circus to keep every one of your senses engaged. You can taste the cotton candy, feel a fine layer of dust and sweat on your skin, and hear your heart pounding when the acts begin. And there are unexpected layers and emotions you won't anticipate in a circus novel.

The story is beautifully crafted, and the ending is absolutely what every author aspires the ending of her novel to be: perfectly satisfying and just a little cheeky.

O-kay, I promise to end what it beginning to feel like a book report (wow, it's been awhile since I've done one of those!), but I do promise to keep posting about the books I read, because I know how much I appreciate a good recommendation.

As a side note, Real Simple has started what they call a "no-obligation" book club online that you can check out. I'm planning to follow along, so I'll post some thoughts here.

Go forth and read, fellow bookworms!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jesus Is True...

...That is what Madalyn will tell you if you ask her what she learned in her class at church on Sunday. I asked later Sunday afternoon, not hoping for much of a response, and those three little words caught me completely off guard.

She was wearing a sticker on her dress when she came out that said "The Bible Is True," so I am pretty sure she was spot on with remembering what she had learned.

I so want to bring her up to know how BIG God is, that He can be trusted, that He is good and made her very, very good too. I want her to know what I am still trying to learn: that He loves us and that even when things go horribly awry, when situations are hurtful or devastating, when we are let way, way down, it is really, on a very eternal, deep level, o-kay. We are loved and protected. There is always, always reason to hope and reason for joy.

And sometimes we have to throw a big, old-fashioned fit and get it out of our system when we are disappointed. That's o-kay because it is honest. It is raw hurt and disappointment expressed.

He can take it. He expects it.

I want her to know Him. But on a primal level, God is showing me that is largely His job. My relationship with Jesus has always been intensely personal; it's about me and Him. It has been since my childhood. I pray He gives Dan and I the words, the actions, the love to show Maddy truth. But in the end, it is He who will whisper His words, uttered uniquely for her ears, spoken in the way she can best understand...

Jesus is true.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Love A Rainy Day...

It has decided to start raining here and never stop. Consequently, we've had lots of indoor play days where Play-doh and tea parties abound. Here are some pictures of our days inside, watching the rain pour down. This is Madalyn's inaugural experience with Play-doh. I know that makes me a slightly bad mom for waiting this long to let her play with it, but all I can say was that none of it was consumed, and she loved it. Mom only let her have one color at a time, but that's just the kind of OCD she has to get used to around here. We can't have colors getting mixed up. Maybe when she's four I'll step it up to two colors...:)

Funny story: Madalyn is playing happily with play-doh when she suddenly begins begging me to "Make a lion, Mama! Make a lion with Play-doh!" I have no idea where she is getting this from, and then I spot the barrel the play-doh came in:

Oh, sure, I'll just whip him right up! :) You want a pig and frog while I'm at it?!

Dress up days are also fun...

One of Maddy's latest accomplishments was putting several crates of toys completely away, all by herself, while I was in another room. I told her to pick them up if she wanted to move on to another activity, and she did, without me helping and continuously encouraging. I was so proud of her, but my heart swelled even more when I picked her up from the Church nursery today. Before she knew we were there, with her back to Dan and I, I saw her picking up toys and putting them away with the one telling her to at all.

I'll tell you what, there may be challenges but...

That's my girl.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Know You Love It

One more thing, friends. Do you like this shirt?
Wait, you don't need to answer because I already know you do. How do I know? Because it's so cool, and well designed, and original. It would look just marvelous on you, darling. And here's the really cool part: our friend, Brad Ruggles, a way-cool blogger and graphic designer, came up with it! The even cooler part? This shirt is entered in a contest to benefit Compassion International's Global Food Crisis Fund. If it wins, you'd be able to purchase this awesomeness and help hungry people have a good meal. Brad won't make any money off the proceeds, but I think you'll agree, he deserves some serious praise for his graphic skills.

So go vote right now! The contest ends tomorrow!

I mean it...right now :)! Uh-oh, that was the Mama-tone of voice coming out....better not mess with it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Accident Forgiveness

So potty training has certainly stepped up my workload throughout the day! Instead of allowing Madalyn to play quietly in her room to her heart's content, I now must check to make sure all that silence isn't adding up to a nice poo-poo on the floor. I must cart the potty around with us in order to have close proximity hopefully aid us in success.

She has already discovered that "Mommy, I need to put my poo-poos in the potty" will get her out of her crib and into a few more minutes of staying up quicker than a wink. Why don't we just take a chance, you ask, after all, she does have a diaper on at bedtime? The answer, dear reader, lies in the "artwork" that she "painted" all over her walls when the poo-poos were indeed deposited in her diaper. Now the simple idea of her repeating her artistic glory is enough to wisk her to the potty each and every time she merely suggests a need to go.

All of these challenges, you know, they're tough. But Dan and I apparently felt the need to step it up a notch. Apparently we were all like,

"Yeah, this potty-training stuff is work, but we need something more to shake up our lives. What else could we do to complicate things further?"

I know! Put Maddy in a big-girl bed! Messing with bedtime seemed like as good of an idea as any.

Seriously, it was in an attempt to avoid further "incidents" as described above. If you've got poo-poos, baby girl, just scoot your heiny out of bed and come tell me. No need to express yourself creatively.

Dan and I have considered getting her an easel and finger paints to allow for artistic freedom, but Dan is afraid it will only encourage her study of the medium.

Anyways, I heart Craigslist, because we scooped up a pretty much brand-spanking-new, beautiful toddler bed and nightstand for $50.00. I was morally opposed to toddler beds (I've been known to call them "a waste of money"), but Dan kept telling me a twin was too big for Maddy. "What if she falls out?" No matter how many times I explained the concept of guardrails, it fell on deaf ears. So Dan finds the toddler bed/nightstand online, shows me the price, throws in that we wouldn't have to spring for a mattress right now since you can just use a crib-sized one, and I caved. Dan picked up the set from another Father-Of-A-Precious-Baby-Girl who was selling it near his work. The guy explained to my husband that his daughter had finally graduated to a twin. He says, "Yeah, my wife wanted to put her right into a twin from her crib, but I was too afraid she'd fall out, so we purchased this set."

Ahh, a kindred spirit for D.

He was only too excited to come tell me that story.

Of course he hasn't been the one to try and wedge his body into the dollhouse-sized bed when Maddy demands "Snuggle me!" at bedtime.

I'll let him have that job a few times, and we'll see how quickly we move up in the furniture world.

In other news, Maddy had her first Gym & Swim class today. Up until now, she has only had Swim, but I thought gymnastics would be a fun add-on. However, all she did for the entire session was half-heartedly walk up and down the balance beam, while asking "Time to go in the pool, Mama?" every 30 seconds.

She was like, "Mom, Michael Phelps doesn't do this ridiculous cross-training. Let's hit the pool and get serious."

You have to admire her dedication to the sport.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My Likeness

Dear Madalyn,

You reflect so much of your Daddy. Many people have said that it is just crazy to see the two of you look at one another, mirroring the same blue eyes, thick lashes, and expressions. You look so much like him.

As for you and I, well, we share the same freckle on our left ankles. And that's pretty much where the physical similarities begin and end. Some try and say your hair takes after mine because it is curly, but, truth be told, my hair at your age was snow white and about 80% less!

No, we don't resemble one another physically.

But the other day, much to my time-standing-still, slow-motion, prayers-furiously-hurled-towards-heaven horror, you feel down the stairs. Head over feet, all the way from the tippy top to the bitter end. I ran down after you, repeating, "oh no, oh no, oh no" over and over. You must have seen the pure terror on my face. All I wanted to do was scoop you up, assess for broken bones or head injury, and than hold you and make it all better. Praise God, thank You so very, very much, you, my sweet child, were unharmed.

And here is where our similarities begin.

At the bottom of the stairs, in your fear and hurt, you did just like your mama used to do as a child. Like your mama still does. You ran away. You did not want me to hold you or comfort you, did not want my kisses and assurances. You needed to be alone with your pain, to try it on for size, to test your own reserves first. I always did this too. I remember whacking my knee on the table, stubbing my toe, burning my finger, etc., as a child, and running out of the offending room, into a place of solitude. I didn't want anyone to touch me, talk to me, until the pain subsided to a manageable amount.

You, my most precious one, are fiercely independent. Deeply dramatic. Pure girl. And so perceptive of others at such a young age. You told your Aunt Rebekah the other day, out of no where, "You have very pretty eyes." You've been known to tell complete strangers at the playground, "Oh, I like your shoes, girl." You brighten the day of others with your kind words.

I love you more than I can tell you, show you. So, when you fall, baby girl, take all the time you need. Have it all out. But know that I am always here and will do everything in my power to let you know I am always for you.

We like to sing "I'll Stand By You" together (the Carrie Underwood version :). Here's part of it:


If you're mad, get mad

Don't hold it all inside

C'mon and talk to me now


What you got to hide?

I get angry too

Well, I'm a lot like you.

When you're standing at the crossroads

And don't know which path to chose

Let me come along

Cause even if you're wrong,

I'll stand by you..."



Tuesday, September 2, 2008

In The Thros...

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. Of course, I have all the pat excuses: we were out of town, it was Labor Day weekend, I celebrated my birthday (smile). All worth posts in and of themselves.

But none of those are the true reasons.

It's officially potty-training time at the Carney house. With the world's most independent toddler. And the world's most determined Mama.

So things are getting interesting.

Any prayers that you can offer up on our behalf are coveted and advice is appreciated ;)!