Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lost and found

Lost. . . .

I had big plans, big ideas.  I opened another Etsy shop, wanting to fill it with hand-embroidered felt goodies.  I would focus on badges, brooches and teeny banners to share and give to others -- an award and merit badge sort of theme.

Buuut, I lost momentum.  I lost the desire.  And I really just don't have the time.  :(

So I want to share some merit badges I had made for a swap (which actually inspired me to open the shop in the first place!)  They're about 2.5" to 3" in size. . . . lots of fun, teeny tiny stitches!

I couldn't stop smiling as I stitched these.  These were silly or real awards, for things the swap partner felt they deserved, or wanted to earn.  I imagined the smiles on their faces when they opened their packages. . . .

 . . . and I thought, "Everybody deserves a badge for something."  Wouldn't it be nice to surprise someone with one?  Or even to give a little happy gift to yourself for something achieved, dreamt of or imagined?   I want to make badges for everyone.  :)

And found. . . .

An AMAZING, local thrift store!  Oh, yes, I am overjoyed!  I found over twenty-five vintage pillowcases on their shelves.  Don't locals know what a treasure these are?

And these are just a sampling of the ones that came home with me. . . .

I can hardly wait to go back and raid their shelves hunt for more treasures!

A very sincere thank you for the comments and emails I received last week regarding our losses.  They were exactly what I needed, and I appreciate your kindness and prayers.  Thank you!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I am not OK

I am not OK.

If you asked, I would probably tell you that I am. But that would be a lie.

You see, I am not OK with losing my three babies. I think of them, miss them, every single day.  But their deaths became a catalyst for radical, unforeseeable change in me.  Change both terrible and beneficial.

Over the past 20 years, I carefully fabricated a very secure-looking façade. I imagined it to be a happy, got-it-together façade. I believed it.

When our ninth child died last year, my façade crumbled. An indescribable, unimaginable pain ripped through my heart, my mind, my body, my soul, leaving me mangled and raw. Everything I thought I believed, thought I knew, disintegrated in a single moment. Reality turned on its head. A secret flood gate was opened and suddenly, pain from years past, cautiously packed, stuffed, suffocated away, came pouring out. Rushing out. I couldn’t stop the flood.

I am helpless.

Pain has been my constant companion since July of 2009. My mind weeps, my heart aches, my arms long, my body rebels. I hate this pain, and beg for it to end. I want to “move on,” but I am stuck. Lost. The past pains pile onto the new pains… burying me, suffocating me.

But, recently -- and I can't explain it, so I won't try -- strangely, miraculously really, I begin to see a glimmer of hope. Maybe I will be OK. Although I’m not now, perhaps I can be.  I believe it.

God found me, crumpled and dying.  God is now leading me on a path, unfamiliar, frightening. I am learning to trust for the very first time in my life. I flail and stumble, again and again. He picks me up, again and again. My trust flounders, but His strength never fails.

I have to reevaluate my life, every day. I am taught painful, valuable lessons, every day. I’m relearning gratitude. I’m practicing patience, and usually failing, but usually getting back up to at least practice again. I’d like to work on forgiveness, and temperance, and humility next, but I’d better take it slow, a tiny step at a time.

I pray this is a path of healing for me. Of old wounds and new. Of broken hearts and bonds.

I also pray that anyone reading this, who identifies with these words in any small way. . . that you may find your own path of radical change, terrifying trust, miraculous healing. You are in my prayers. Please keep me in yours.

We’ll be OK, someday.

(Candles pictured above were lit tonight for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. . . . in memory of my son Justus and my twins, daughter Catherine and son Robert, for my nephew Cole and my niece Hope, for Mary Emma, and for other precious babes.  We love and miss you all.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

UbaFest! Plus a mini-tutorial

Last night's UbaFest was a success!

What is UbaFest, you ask?  Only my dear Monkey 1's sixteenth birthday party. . . the campfire edition!  Which means:  a relatively inexpensive, simple, mostly handmade shindig, with the main focus on family and just being together.  We feasted on tender smoked brisket (slowly cooked by my mother-in-law) and homemade potato salad, s'mores and red velvet cake balls.  Plus {unfortunately} lots of junk food.  We played lots of silly games, and chatted and laughed 'til we cried.  Simple, but so much fun.

Since this was a campfire theme, there was an option for camping (in the back yard) for those who were brave enough or just didn't care to get a good night's sleep. . . .

(The tents were filled to capacity -- many thanks to all the good sports!)  :)

Now, for the crafty stuff. . . . 

Monkey 1 and her sisters made the "UbaFest" bunting, as well as the tissue paper poms!  I love that we can use the buntings year after year (totally inspired by Erin's post,) and after the party, the girls claimed the poms to decorate their rooms.

This next project was a late-night, last-minute idea, and I totally love how it turned out.   I used:
  • cheapo $1.50/yard polyester fabric (abandoned from a previous failed craft project)
  • cotton twill tape (thrift store score: 25 cents for 10 yards) 
  • acrylic felt scraps
  • sewing machine + thread

And I came up with poppy garlands!

The largest poppies are about 5" in diameter.  I stitched the largest (bottom)  petal to cotton twill tape from edge to edge (stopping about 1/4" from the singed edge).  This kept the flower from flopping downward or sagging.  I then tacked the next layers of petals to that large petal base with a few zigzag stitches in the center.  And to finish with the black centers, I stitched a big X across the diameter of the black felt circles.  I made this batch of garlands in ~3-foot strands, to hang vertically, but it would be so easy to link them to each other to drape and hang horizontally, too.  And that's it!  Super-easy, right? 

I just love how these all seemed to glow! 

Also glowing. . .

and particularly my beautiful not-so-baby girl.  :)


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stitching away the hours. . . .

I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted!  I'm so sorry. . . .  I wanted to post, really, but I just didn't have anything interesting to show or tell or share.  Seriously, no one wants to hear "oh, our hens laid 5 eggs today" or "Owen is in a pour-out-all-liquids-on-any-surface phase."  So I spared you the mundane, until I finally had something pretty to share!

I absolutely loved stitching this piece.  I was inspired by this photograph, and I stitched it up for {what else?} a Craftster swap.  (If you want to be totally wowed, check out the gallery.)

I used a split stitch to fill the wings.  I started at the outer edges of a particular section or shape, and then filled in the spaces in a spiral, basically.  The white spots are my favorite stitches -- french knots -- that I tacked down with a single strand to make them less round, more irregular. 

I worked on this piece for about a week, a few hours (or a few episodes of Hoarders or Columbo) at a time.  I've posted a few in-progress photos over on flickr if you'd like to take a gander.

Now, I have a couple of orders to finish up, and then tomorrow we'll be going into Insanely Frantic Party Preparation Mode for my lovely daughter's 16th birthday party! 

I can't believe she's 16.  She is so kind and artistic, patient and funny.  I'm so proud of her.  But we do have a lot to do now, like finish painting the trim in our living room:

YES!  We finally painted something! 

And then whip up some fabric banners, table cloths, and fabric-mache pumpkins.  So I'll be gone for a few more days, but I promise to be back soon.  And hopefully with some more pretty pictures.  See you then!

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