Home on a Keychain

Our anniversary is tomorrow, and I decided to buy myself a gift. (I bought Shawn a custom rain gauge, and with all the rain we've been having I've been sorely tempted to give it to him so we can measure!)

As for me, I need a new keychain, as the one I've been using (these little plastic/paper things our church gave out around Lent for two years) are absolutely falling apart. I used to have a keychain with Owen's picture on it, but that one too wore out (it was perfect -- purple suede with room for a baby picture ... but I have not been able to find its match).

I like to support small businesses, and crafty people abound online. I didn't expect shopping for a keychain to lead me to question "where is home?"

A lot of the keychain options on Etsy were sentimental locations -- GPS coordinates; hearts on a map to indicate a couple places, maybe where you are and where you're from; a state cutout, etc.

(Aside: my favorite option, which I didn't get but maybe later, was a crochet hook that had been cut in half and turned into a keychain!)

While my home is Baton Rouge, I don't know that I'd want that on a keychain. And while I always expect to identify with my Oklahoma roots, I don't really see that as home anymore either (although I do love the state outline so maybe that would have been a good option).

My real home is with Shawn, and for at least the next 16 years with Jane. How do you put that on a keychain, and do you really want to? (I realize a picture of them would work, but somehow that wasn't the vibe I was looking for.)

In the end I bought a simple fabric key fob that's purple and white chevron. It was $6 with shipping and should arrive a few days after our anniversary (mainly because I didn't think of it in time). Isn't it romantic?

And I also kept reminding myself that I live in the strong and unshakable kingdom of God -- regardless of my GPS coordinates at any given time.

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Boring my Toddler

I've been feeling less-than-great at parenting this week, especially after our go-go-go week while Shawn was gone last week.

I am bored, but she is bored too.

I absentmindedly searched for "boring toddler" on Google the other day.

Sad stories came up in the search results about a toddler who died in a tractor accident in Boring, Oregon.

Way to put my whiny boringness and boredom into perspective.

Still I persist in being bothered by my own boredom and worries about not being "enough" for Jane.

Full-time mama life is hard, but it isn't that hard. It seems like it's getting harder as Jane wants to play more, and I'm finding I'm not such a good player. I can read books, but even that I get tired of. I'm not as good as Shawn at imaginative play with her cars or dollhouse. Shawn comes up with really funny scenarios that make us all laugh.

I've also picked up a bit of freelance work that's made me juggle -- and feel completely out of myself stressed when I have something to do work related but am involved with a Jane task, even a fun one.

All of this brings my inadequacies (and insecurities) into stark relief.

I know that this lull in activity is temporary. We have big travel plans coming up, and once the summer gets in swing we'll have regular activities to do -- a water exploration class, library story times and moms group activities.

But I'm still on edge...

Latest Hair Morph

Here's my latest haircut, about six or seven months since my last. It manages to be both too short AND too long at once. It has a distinct MULLET feel.


I went back to the first salon I tried in BR -- a different stylist because the one I originally went to has left, and in my hormonal state she was the reason I never went back (for leaving a small chunk of hair longer than the rest).

Shawn doesn't understand why I'm not more forceful -- I should have said "HEY! Can you cut some more off the back? I want it shorter." And I don't really understand either.

But when I'm in the chair I feel like I owe it to the professional to make the finishing touch decisions (although in my defense I did say I'd like it about shoulder length). The stylist was worried about how short it would be when curly, because it definitely does bounce up a lot. He said "better to have it too long than too short and end up looking like a Christmas tree." He didn't say it snarkily, but you get the point.

Also when I went in my hair was au naturel -- nothing in it, no styling, very wide and big and bushy -- looking exactly like a Christmas tree now that you mention it.

Maybe I can get used to it, but I think when the front dries curly it's going to be nightmarishly short, especially with longer in the back. Perhaps I could get the gumption to go back and ask for the back trimmed shorter if it is as bad as I expect when curly? I did in fact pay good money for the cut.


Bloggy Spruce Ups

I have owned the URL www.silvermari.com for several years now. There has been a home page there, and I even had a sub-site for our wedding stuff. I just deleted that today and redirected everything to be to this blog. Now www.silvermari.com IS this blog.

I hope everything is set correctly and that soon silvermari.com will redirect to www.silvermari.com (right now there is a random WordPress page coming up). Any bookmarks to silvermari.blogspot.com should still redirect to the corresponding page on silvermari.com. At least that's what the Google tutorial says. Please email me if there are any problems.

Unfortunately my host provider (100WebSpace.com) just automatically renewed my hosting, which I don't need if I'm going to have my site hosted as a blogger blog. It's not a lot of money, but it's still frustrating. Mainly I should have been paying better attention when I set up a recurring thing!

My next project is going to be getting actual content on mariwalker.com, which I procured in the last few months. I think I chose the wrong domain registrar (Network Solutions) because it's proving to be tres difficult to get a free Blogger blog (mariwalker7.blogspot.com) to work with the URL. All I really want is for the URL to host a resume. And it's only because I think it's cool to have your name as a URL. And perhaps someday I'll have more use for it and could develop a real site there separate from my online persona of silvermari.

Toddler Trail Time

Toddler Trail Time is a gem of an outing. It's at the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, and it includs coloring, a craft project, a lesson, a guided hike through the swamp, story time, a snack and a movie.
We've gone twice, and the second time we went there were more children, so the hike took a LOT longer because they asked SO.MANY.QUESTIONS! Because we had a big dry spell (which has ended, but it was still dry during our hike), all the water in the swamp had been sucked down to one little pond. This was where all the snakes of the swamp had congregated.

The guide told us they aren't venomous but they would bite. The boardwalk over this pond area had a rail at about 3 feet but nothing lower. All the children wanted to squat at the edge and look down at the snakes.

It was so nerve-wracking because I just knew one of them (likely MINE) would fall in. Even if they weren't bitten it was still a good 3-4 foot drop into muddy water. The other mothers were non-plussed by it all, but I'm not sure how to change my helicopter parent ways -- or if I even want to yet!

Jane was mad that I kept my hands on her the whole time we were stopped looking at the snakes, and if I had my way we would have just held hands the whole time.

There's also poison ivy along the edges of part of the trail, which adds an annoying element of danger. The guide points it out as best the can, but Jane is oblivious and walks into vegetation on the side all the time. So far we've been lucky... And fun tip -- the guide said to wash with Dawn dish detergent within 10 minutes of exposure to get rid of the oils and you can avoid the reaction all together.

We're signed up for one more trail time, the last one of the spring. At $7.50 for in-parish residents it's totally worth it, poison ivy-risk and all.

The boardwalk near the snake pond did NOT have the mesh below the rail like this does.

TIBTIL: Mr. Coffee Latte Maker

This Mr. Coffee Cafe Latte maker is a thing that I bought that I love.

It was a gift to myself after doing some freelance work. My mom bought one that I got to try out when I saw home in March, and I've coveted it ever since.

It doesn't make a true latte, because the coffee made is not espresso (it's just regular drip-coffee) and the milk isn't steamed, just warmed and frothed. It should probably technically be called cafe au lait. But it is so convenient and tastes GREAT that it beats a latte in my book. (Not to mention the savings if I were to compare the cost to a Starbucks or CC's latte.)

I've had it for almost a week, and I've made a latte at least once every day. It can make two at a time, so I usually drink two at a time! I use decaf coffee in the afternoons, and it still tastes deliciouso!

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Happy Mother's Day 2014

It is SO great to be this little girl's mama. I read a Jezebel article this week about some moms who don't like the role of parent. The comments too were weird -- with some saying things like "every parent I know regrets having kids" or something to that effect. It made me so sad that not everyone gets to feel this deep joy. I know a lot of us do, and that is what keeps us going during the not-so-fun parts of parenthood.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms who love being moms, to all the moms who don't like it as much, and to all the moms-to-be and those who want to be moms.

Crochet Hat Pattern: Vertical Stripes with Curliques

Red Heart acrylic yarn "hot pink" and "spring green"

I made this hat as a riff on the pumpkin baby hat crochet pattern at FaveCrafts, which was the very first thing I crocheted for Jane. I was able to make this hat larger than the newborn size just by increasing the starting chain and making more rows. I omitted the pumpkin stem and added several more curliques. Here's what I did for a toddler-sized hat:

In color A (green), chain 30.

Row 1: In back loop only, double crochet in third chain from hook and each stitch across.

Note: this is tough to do into a chain, and it's not a huge deal if you just regular double crochet into the chain -- or make a foundation double crochet chain.

Row 2: Chain 3, turn, and double crochet in each double crochet. Drop color A and pick up color B (pink) to complete final double crochet. Do not fasten off/keep color A attached.

Note: in my example hat shown above I crocheted in back loops only on every row. But it actually looks better with crochet in both loops when crocheting in the same color (on even rows).

Row 3: Chain 3 (with color B), turn and in back loop only double crochet in each double crochet.

Row 4: Chain 3, turn, and double crochet in each double crochet. Drop color B and pick up color A to complete final double crochet. Do not fasten off/keep color B attached.

Note: there will be a loop from where you stopped crocheting with color A to when you pick it up again here. This will be the top of the hat and is fine because you will crochet over it. Fewer ends to weave in!

Repeat rows 3 and 4, alternating colors A and B until you have 28 rows (each stripe is two rows, for a total of 14 stripes).

Line up the short edges of your work to create a tube. With the wrong side out, use one color (whichever you do not want as the top of your hat, in my case green) and loosely slip stitch the last row of double crochet to the starting chain. Fasten off that color.

Note: the right side of the work will look layered from crocheting in back loops only when changing colors. When you're working odd rows the right side is facing you.

At the top of the hat, with right side facing, pick up the other color (in my case pink) and evenly single crochet around the tube. After you reach the starting single crochet, single crochet two together. Work this stitch continuously around until the hat top is complete. Fasten off that color.

Create the curliques: Chain 15 then 2 single crochet in each chain. Fasten off, leaving tail for sewing. Repeat for number of curliques desired (I made six for this hat).

Note: you can change the length of the curl with a longer starting chain, and you can make a tighter curl by doing 3 single crochet in each chain. Also experiment with double crochet (starting in third chain from the hook) or half-double crochet (starting in second chain from hook) to make slightly fatter curliques.

Arrange the curliques as desired and sew to top of the hat. Weave in ends, roll up bottom cuff of hat and enjoy!

Note: I found that sewing the curliques together, weaving in almost all the ends and then sewing that mega-curlique to the top was easier.

Let me know if you have questions or corrections. This is my first try at writing down a pattern, so hopefully it makes sense to someone else. I just love this hat so much I thought it would be useful to others too.

Also the hat is easy to customize to any size head -- just make the starting chain long enough to go from crown of head to brow bone plus some extra for the cuff and crochet rows until the tube matches the head circumference (or a little smaller, as this will stretch if you use acrylic yarn like I did).

Another version I made -- this one I crocheted in back loops only when changing colors instead of every row.
And I made 32 rows before I sewed up the tube and crocheted the top so it is big enough to fit Jane's noggin.

Crochet: Cotton Toddler Sun Hat

Using this fantastic Toddler Sun Hat pattern from Stitch 11 and some cotton yarn I liberated from my Gran's stash I whipped up this darling hat for Jane in a matter of hours. I love-love-love the way it looks, the drape and feel of it. And Jane will actually wear it.

Unfortunately the skein of 90s-era yarn wasn't quite enough to make the full pattern. I omitted a row of DC from the crown (which actually worked out better for Jane's head) and had to cut the brim short. I'm thinking I'd like to try this again when I have two full skeins (or just a bigger starting skein). Fair skin little girls need lots of sun hats, right?

Crochet: Pink Bubbles Stripe

This blanket is just like those Twin Blankies: Pink & Blue Tonal Stripes. In fact this was the original pink version for that set, but I couldn't find blues to match, weight wise. I just used a mix of pinks that are all sport weight, so this has a better drape and feel than the straight up regular Red Heart stuff I used for the twin blankets.

I also wasn't as happy with the color shifts I did here. The "soft red" is more jarring somehow, and this definitely taught me that color selection is not my strong suit.

It is the same Bubbles pattern though, which I love. It doesn't have a home yet, but I'm sure a friend will have a baby girl who will claim it someday.

Clean Enough

I spend a lot of time in our home, and I spend more time cleaning it than I ever did while I was working. That's understandable, since I am here more, which means I make it dirtier, and Jane's presence adds to the cleaning duties. But for whatever reason it feels dirtier than before. I can see the baseboards need dusting, the staining in the bathtubs and on tile, the ceiling fans that need scrubbing and the kitchen counters and sink I never get fully shiny every time.

Last month we had a former colleague visit -- she had lunch with us and came to the house when we dropped off Jane. I made a comment about our house being "lived in" and that I would have cleaned more if she were staying longer. She later said our house looked very clean and I was being silly.

So what's clean enough?

You Look Pretty Today

via Flickr user busse
I'm not the greatest small talk-er, but I've noticed that a lot of initial small talk has to do with how you look. And I am the WORST at complimenting people on their looks, even when I think it to myself. It isn't too hard to comment on someone's clothes or new hairstyle, but to just say "You look great," isn't an easy thing for me to do.

Part of it is just my own awkward craziness or feeling like it comes off as disingenuous. But could part of it be an intentional stance against making appearance the paramount connection to other people? Or could it be my own appearance and my own belief about it?

On googling to find an image to go with this post I came across this blog post that sums it up a possible reason for my diversion, although on the flip side because she's writing about receiving compliments:
"I hate it because it reminds me how much people are constantly looking at each other and judging others’ entire lives based on thinness, youthful appearance and shallow versions of beauty."
I don't have as much of a reaction when someone comments on my appearance, mostly because that's rare, except when my weight fluctuates down -- then I get lots of "you look great" and "wow" type comments. They're nice, and they do make me feel good.

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...