Friday, May 27, 2011

Suzy Homemaker

This vintage toy washer/dryer resides with Douglas' grandmother, where it has delighted children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren. The top lid is missing, but a child can still spin the interior and push buttons to his or her heart's content. (My husband remembers doing so as a boy!)

Suzy Homemaker

I've looked for small toy versions of certain domestic tasks so that Edmund and any future children can learn to be helpful around the house. My discovery has been that "homemaking" toys are hard to find these days. My mom found a wooden toy iron at a specialty store in Ohio, and I recently bought a tot-sized push-broom (at Jo-Ann Fabrics, of all places!).

I was intrigued by the brand name "Suzy Homemaker" -- a small glimpse into a time when little girls aspired to be like their mommies and keep house!

Do you recollect any favorite homemaking toys you played with as a child?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Comments, etc.

A few people have told me lately that they have tried to leave comments on my blog, but their comment wouldn't go through -- so if this has been the case with anyone else, my apologies! Part of the fun of blogging is the interactive nature of commenting, so I put on my thinking cap to see if I could discover the problem. I currently have the comments set up so that you do not need to wait for me to approve your comment (unless you are commenting on a post over two weeks old), so if you comment on a new post and it does not show up right away, then your comment did not go through for one reason or another. (I only delete spammy comments.)

After a bit of investigation, I think the problem may be the "word verification" feature -- if you are unfamiliar with how this works and why it is there, it is easy to miss! If you are trying to leave a comment but do not have a Blogger account, you may choose to comment as "Name/URL" from the drop down menu. (A URL is basically a web address -- if you do not have a personal website, just leave that field blank.) Once you hit "Post Comment," you will be asked to verify that you are not a spambot by re-typing a randomly generated "word" image, like the one below:


In this case, you would type "twartme" into the blank field before hitting the "Post Comment" button for the final time. The verification "word" changes at random, and appears "wavy," to fool spambots -- it is easier for an intelligent human to discern letters, despite any distortions, than an automatic script.

(The "handicapped" symbol next to the blank field is for those who are vision-impaired or cannot discern the verification word. Instead, by clicking on the symbol, you will listen to a series of numbers read aloud against a background of "gibberish" and type the numbers you hear.)

In my mom's case, she was using Internet Explorer and the word verification feature was not even loading. My husband fixed this by going to Tools --> Internet Options --> Content --> Clear SSL State. Why that worked is beyond my Internet knowledge. ;-) So if your problem is like my mom's and you're not even seeing the word verification option, consult your nearest computer nerd. :-)

That wraps up my little tutorial! I hope it helps anyone who's been having troubles leaving comments.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

"The real way to travel..."

Edmund's car

[Toad, disguised as a washerwoman and hitching a ride after his prison-break, feels his old cravings for reckless driving rising once again...]

"Please, Sir," he said, "I wish you would kindly let me try and drive the car for a little. I've been watching you carefully, and it looks so easy and so interesting, and I should like to be able to tell my friends that once I had driven a motor-car!"

The driver laughed at the proposal, so heartily that the gentleman inquired what the matter was. When he heard, he said, to Toad's delight, "Bravo, ma'am! I like your spirit. Let her have a try, and look after her. She won't do any harm."

Toad eagerly scrambled into the seat vacated by the driver, took the steering-wheel in his hands, listened with affected humility to the instructions given him, and set the car in motion, but very slowly and carefully at first, for he was determined to be prudent.

The gentlemen behind clapped their hands and applauded, and Toad heard them saying, "How well she does it! Fancy a washerwoman driving a car as well as that, the first time!"

Toad went a little faster; then faster still, and faster.

He heard the gentlemen call out warningly, "Be careful, washerwoman!" And this annoyed him, and he began to lose his head.

The driver tried to interfere, but he pinned him down in his seat with one elbow, and put on full speed. The rush of air in his face, the hum of the engines, and the light jump of the car beneath him intoxicated his weak brain. "Washerwoman, indeed!" he shouted recklessly. "Ho! ho! I am the Toad, the motor-car snatcher, the prison-breaker, the Toad who always escapes! Sit still, and you shall know what driving really is, for you are in the hands of the famous, the skilful, the entirely fearless Toad!"

--The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, first published 1908

Edmund's car

Thankfully, Edmund's new toy pedal-car at Grandma and Grandpa's house will never reach break-neck speeds. In fact, at just under 18 months, he'd rather push the car than "drive" it.

Edmund's car

My dad can pull Edmund down the sidewalk with the help of a bungee cord attached to the hood ornament. (I told Dad he really looked the part of a Grandpa with his slippers and argyle socks.) ;-)

Grandpa and Edmund

I'm not sure who's more thrilled with Edmund's new toy, him or his vintage-loving mommy and car-loving daddy!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

the "Emily Rose" skirt

tiered summer skirt

So named because it is a copycat version of a skirt owned by my sweet young friend, Emily Rose. She kindly let me borrow the original for a few days so I could see how it was constructed and take some measurements. I tailored it to my own size and height (being 5'10" means that most maxi skirts and dresses sold in stores are not really maxi). I also added a 2-inch elastic waistband covered with jersey knit -- not because I have any baby news to share, but because I am all about those "transitional" pieces that work for multiple seasons of a mom's life! I figure I can at least wear this through the first half of pregnancy when God sends us another little one.

This is one of the quickest projects I've done in a while -- from drafting the pattern to finishing the skirt was just 24 hours. (My sweet husband even got in on the act and drafted the third tier for me. It's the best-looking one, isn't it?) ;-) The skirt is constructed of circular flounces cut on the bias that gradually increase in size. The "tucks" are a result of lapping the edges of each flounce, rather than sewing "right sides together" as one would normally sew a seam. I was very blessed by my good friend Leah, who let me come over to her house and use her serger to make rolled hems on the tiers. It was so quick and easy!

The fabric is a linen blend I got for a great price at Hancock Fabrics last fall when shopping for fabrics for our medieval costumes. I ended up not using this particular length for our costumes, but it was perfect for this skirt.

So thanks again to Emily Rose, Douglas, and Leah for your help! I couldn't have done it without you. ;-)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Her Children Arise and Call Her Blessed

Mother and daughter
[Photo by Melenbacker Photography]

Now that I am a mom myself, my own mother has become that much more dear to me. When I envision the type of mother I want to be, my mom's example comes to mind again and again. Above all else, I want to emulate her selflessness. I cannot stress enough how much my mom uses her life to serve others (Matthew 23:11). As I've grown older and met more and more people, I've come to realize how unusual this is. More times than I can count, I have been the recipient of her thoughtfulness, creativity, and generosity, and I have often witnessed her giving in the same way to others.

My mom practices hospitality (Romans 12:13), often inviting those who are unmarried or have no nearby family to her home. I have known other women who practice hospitality, but what sets my mom apart is her faithfulness in doing so. It is easy to invite someone over, then think to yourself, "OK, I've done my duty," and proceed to neglect the friendship you've just initiated, or wait for them to make the next move (been there, done that). Mom frequently invites the same unmarried or widowed friends over for Sunday meals and has done so for the past five or six years. Her recurring invitations show her genuine love for her guests. And beyond meals, she has also offered her spare beds to countless overnight visitors, whose stays have ranged from one night to a year or more.

My mom is creative. When my brother and I were young, we lived in a neighborhood with lots of kids, but not as much parental involvement from other families. Mom was often the one guiding our collective energy into wholesome and entertaining activities. One time, we hosted a miniature bake sale, baking lots of diminutive treats to sell at bargain prices to our friends. Another time, all the kids got involved in putting on an elaborate circus in our backyard. My brother and I always had wonderfully fun and creative "theme" birthday parties (we got to choose each year's theme, and my mom would do the planning and hard work!). You can imagine how this creativity extended into our homeschool time, too.

Mom "does not eat the bread of idleness" (Proverbs 31:27). I never see her sit down to aimlessly surf the web, watch a movie (unless she is joining others for a social activity), or read frivolously for excessive amounts of time (I have been guilty of all three). Although she does find opportunities to rest and relax, she is wise with her time and does not waste it in idle pursuits. She is also generous and energetic with her time and resources. Whenever she comes to visit me, she is always willing to pitch in and help me with whatever tasks need doing. During her latest visit, she did some hand-stitching for me, washed my kitchen floor (even moving the fridge and stove!), helped me cook, played with Edmund, went shopping with me for groceries, vacuumed my carpet, and many other helpful things, too.

My mom loves God and His Word. When I was living at home before my marriage, I would often come down in the morning to find my mom sitting on the couch or her favorite armchair, patiently tolerating my cat on her lap and poring over her Bible. She takes opportunities to memorize scripture and hymns, and often has an apt verse on her lips for whatever life situation arises. Her love of God is evident in the fruit of the Spirit that marks her life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Mom, I love and admire you, and I'm so grateful for your godly example. May the Lord bless you as you have blessed others!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Edmund's reading nook

Edmund's reading nook
[Edmund catches a rare shaft of sunlight in his reading nook this morning --
we have been having the most dreadfully dreary spring!]

Edmund has developed a real love of books already, for which I am thankful. Almost anytime he sees Douglas or me sitting down, he'll bring us a book from his shelf to read to him. Some of our favorites right now are the "Little Golden Book Classics" vintage reprints, especially the titles that are illustrated by Tibor Gergely. His artwork has that late '40s/early '50s charm and there is always a lot to discover within each picture. Edmund's personal collection includes The Little Red Caboose, The Fire Engine Book, The Happy Man and His Dump Truck, and Scuffy the Tugboat.