December Snaps

Camellias outside my kitchen window

Holly tree in the neighbors' back yard

Preschooler and her tree (presents were already packed for our trip)

All Good Things

I watched Angels Sing, a Hallmark movie with Willie Nelson as Santa. No one prepared me for its sad themes. It was good, and I liked that the main character is a professor named Walker! And they lived in Austin! Maybe someday. I also really liked the singing, especially "Christmastime is Here." Wonder if there's a soundtrack. (LOL.)

I cooked all day yesterday and a bit today. We had a huge meal, the five of us -- Shawn, Jane, his parents and me. Here was the menu:
  • Pineapple cream cheese & pecan cheese ball/dip with crackers
  • Pigs in a blanket (li'l smokies wrapped in crescent rolls)
  • Honey ham
  • Dressing (no turkey, and I made this WAY too dry/used too much cornbread)
  • Corn casserole
  • Green bean casserole
  • Parker house rolls (from scratch -- I think this is the last time for those, even though they are scrumptious)
  • Deviled eggs (which FROZE in the top part of the fridge)
  • Broccoli, mushroom and onion salad (probably not making again -- it's good, but requires too many herbs so is expensive and is overshadowed by other, traditional comfort foods so we always have too much and have to throw some out)
  • Cranberry salad (will never stop making this ... so good)
  • Mashed sweet potatoes (I forgot about this and started them too late so we only had them with the leftovers)
  • Pumpkin pie
Ever time I cook here I swear it will be the LAST time. I can't find anything, there's not a sharp chef's knife anywhere, and it generally makes me stabby, ragey and upset. But it is nice to have a clean-up crew (my mother-in-law does all the dishes and cleanup).

I also made white velvet cutout cookies for the family get together on Saturday. We'll also take the second pan of dressing, although it's not right in any sense of the word. Boo hoo.

Jane opened more presents than necessary. Her favorite was a set of Daniel Tiger figures, and she's played a lot with them already. Precious.

Merry Christmas!

Stuffing a Toddler Stocking

I'm not sure if Jane is still a toddler at three, so maybe stuffing a preschooler stocking would be more accurate. I just wanted to list some of the things I have ready for her stocking this week (part of the ~30 pounds of gifts we brought on our trip that we'll have to bring back).
  • Imagine Ink mess free marker book ... OK, technically there isn't one of these in her stocking. But I did give her one for the trip (and she's used a couple others on our long road trips of late). These are a little expensive (about $6), but I've found them for $3 in the Target "dollar" spot. Amazon might be the place to go. Jane doesn't do the games yet, but she likes to see the color appear as she marks up every single page. It really keeps her still and focused for chunks of time. Might be a good church book. If only I could find more Imagine Ink books to use up all the markets we have now...
  • Color books and new crayons -- actually the books won't fit in her stocking, so she's getting a separate (Olaf) tote bag full of books that will include the color books. I bought the crayons on clearance during the year, and the color books were 50% off clearance ones I know she'll like.
  • Books from the Scholastic sale at her school. These will go in the Olaf bag too. I just kept buying more and it seemed like a good idea to hold them for a Christmas surprise!
  • Playdough -- a last minute addition when Jane asked for some. I got a pink and a white. She can play with them (and leave them) at Grandma Dale's!
  • Assorted mini toys from kids' meals. Despite my best efforts to feed Jane whole foods we have eaten a Sonic grilled cheese from time to time. I've saved the little toys from that (just to avoid/delay the requests for more Sonic trips because really a grilled cheese is a grilled cheese), so I'm giving them to her in her stocking.
  • Socks. She got new ones for her birthday but they are already starting to pinch her little ankles. I got these on Black Friday.
  • Teddy Bear. Jane randomly asked for a teddy bear, and then she kept repeating it whenever anyone asked what she wanted for Christmas. We have too many stuffed animals, so I just pulled out a teddy bear I'd bought her in Germany that had been hanging out in the "land of disappearing" (the guest room closet). 
  • Stickers and hair clips -- gifts from Gingie. There were some other stocking-stuffer gifts from Gingie too, but those are the two that I managed to bring with us.
I think there are a couple other things in there too, but even though I just packed them up yesterday I can't remember. I'll find out on Thursday with her! Next I need to catalog what I bought myself for my stocking, although I didn't cart any of it with us so will just let myself have it all when we get home.

Happy Christmas to you.

The Right Way to Celebrate?

Amidst the Christmas cheer and glad tidings of great joy I harbor confusion and crankiness.

I'm not sure I'm "doing Christmas" right. Not reverently enough. Not enough attention to Advent. Not even fully understanding Advent.

Christ already came, died and was resurrected. Shouldn't we be "Easter people" all the time?

In my attempts to do everything "right," for Jane, myself, our family, I wander ... or something. Trying to mold church tradition into my limited understanding and general doubts. Turning it over in my mind without it making any sense.

Shawn had to remind me that it's really about waiting for the second coming after I expressed my unease with this repetitive calendar cycle when nothing really changes. I know I'm approaching Christmas in the wrong way. And it makes me anxious.

Will I ever "get it"? There are sparks of clarity that are fleeting. My soul does cry out for Jesus -- come, Lord Jesus, come, even while he is here with me. How does that work?!

Teddy Afghan

Made for a friend's baby girl due in January. I am going to take a break from crocheting, at least through the end of this year. It's one of my favorite things though, so I know I won't stay away for long. I already have yarn to make myself a hat (treat yo' self and whatnot).

90 is Not Enough

November 30, 2014
Yesterday my Gran died. She was 90 years old and tired of being bedridden. She was at home with her family. I don't know what to do except write about it while I cry.

She's the underlying hum in all my faith stories and a leading figure in my religion, a shining example of constant faith.

I grew up just two blocks from her house, so she and my grandfather were a constant in my childhood from regular sleepovers, shopping trips and just being together. I learned to crochet from her fingers, I think she taught me the summer I was 16 and helped my grandpa take care of her after she had a fall and broken bones. Working with yarn is fun on its face but it's also always connected me to her.

Gran was not just part of my history but also a part of my weekly routine and life now. I would call her two or three times a week, usually in the afternoons when her helper had gone home but before her supper was delivered. She could chat and listen to whatever was on my mind and heart. I'm already feeling adrift without those calls or the possibility of them. And oh, how she loved Jane. Jane loves her too, and navigating this conversation with her is possibly the hardest part for me.

Gran was a teacher with a 30+ year career. So she touched countless lives through her classroom and interactions with children. Her work in her church, from Sunday school teacher to church board secretary and beyond, was critical to its functioning. And these are only the things I, as a child in her life, know about. I know her life was rich and full of love.

I selfishly would have liked more time. But I know she has moved on, that she was ready to go to the Lord. And I pray that her reward for a life so well lived is more than she ever dreamed of. I miss her so much and am so grateful she loved me.

Santa is Not my Tradition

I am kind of a Grinch about Christmas Christmas, I think. We don't "do" Santa at our house. It's just not my tradition or something I feel the need to do. The miracle of Christmas is far greater than a funny, magical character.

But this year it is hard to be different.

Jane is three, so an age where she is putting things together and excited about Santa. It doesn't help that he's shoved down her throat at every turn. From strangers asking her "What did you ask Santy Claus for?" (and receiving a blank look until I translated "What do you want for Christmas?") to a visit from Santa during our church's Advent Festival (Advent and Santa do not compute).

At the festival, too, the single craft for kids was "Reindeer Food," a brown bag that you filled with oats, glitter (which I hate for non-Grinchy reasons), sprinkles, etc. and then they stapled on a poem about sprinkling the mess on the lawn so the reindeer see your house and Santa will be sure to find you. Cute concept, I guess, but at church?! We let Jane make a glitter-free version, but I am not carting it to Virginia. In fact, I think it's already in the trash.

Aren't I the Grinchiest?!

We do read a lot of Christmas books, and Santa is featured in some. I don't want Jane to be ignorant of anything, including the Santa myth. I know it's confusing, but I just keep telling her that Santa is a funny, pretend character. I don't want her to go around and tell other kids "he's not real" (I never say those words). Childhood friends are still a little touchy about me ruining the magic for them in Kindergarten. But I will never pretend he's more than just a fictional character. I just hope we don't piss off anyone!

Sunrise Senior Living Center Holiday Fair

Today I was at the Sunrise Senior Living Center holiday market. If you stopped by my booth and are checking out my website, welcome!

silvermari crochet booth at Jingle Mingle 2014 (major bust, saleswise)

Jingle Mingle: Crochet Hats

Hats made in June because I haven't taken a picture today (!)
Thursday, December 4, is the Jingle Mingle at Jane's preschool. So I'm going to have a crochet hat booth. I'm excited and nervous. I have 47 hats ready.

I also have another sale for Saturday at a retirement community, so I've also made four thread starched ornaments. I'd like to make more, but we'll see about time and how long it takes these first four to dry. I don't expect every hat to sell tomorrow, but I might be running low for Saturday and need to spend all day Friday crocheting. Good thing I like crochet.

If you're visiting my site after seeing my work at the Jingle Mingle, welcome! If you'd like to order a custom hat, see my Want to Order a Crochet Hat? post for details on what measurements I need. I can probably still make a few hats before Christmas, so contact me if you have that deadline.

Want to Order a Crochet Hat?

Thanks for your interest in silvermari crochet hats . Most of what I make are sized for infants and toddlers, although I can size up and dow...