Sharing Mabel (+dishcloths are here!)


(Beatrix had refused to wash the “beautiful butterfly” off of her face the night before…)

We were at a party with friends over the weekend when my friend, Eve, mentioned that Mabel looked cold.  (She had a bit of bare leg showing between her pants and her socks and Eve is a member of The Cold Baby Police.)  I quickly remedied the situation by adding a pair of wool pants under her outfit along with a hat and sweater.  I’m so happy to be able to start pulling out all the woollies (details on all at the end of the post)!

The party was a welcome distraction for us because we learned on Friday that our dear Ms. Nell had died, suddenly and unexpectedly.  I kept the information to myself until Saturday, needing to process it on my own before telling the girls.  I can’t tell you how much I dreaded that conversation with them.  It’s really, really hard to tell your children that someone they love has died, and it seems that I have had to do it too many times.  The last time we visited Ms. Nell it was with a new baby for her to meet (Mabel!) and bouquets of flowers from all my younger children.  I’m so thankful that we ended on that note, her knowing she was loved by us.  Reminding my girls of that didn’t do much to ease their grief, though.  Beatrix spent time wandering the backyard after I told her, crying and periodically looking up to the sky, mouthing words that only she could hear.  She wanted to be alone with her sadness, and it broke my heart.  Larkspur keeps saying that she can’t believe we can’t visit her anymore, and I agree.  Death never becomes commonplace or easy to accept.  But I’m grateful for the relationships we have in our community, the friends who are our family.  The more people you love, the more you open yourself up to hurt, but the love always outweighs the grief.


(Ms. Nell with baby Silas)

I stopped at our farmer’s market on Friday, shortly after learning of Ms. Nell’s death.  An older woman who works there, who hadn’t yet met Mabel, immediately asked if she could hold her when I got out of the van.  I happily handed her over, and, oh my goodness, I’ve never seen someone love on a baby that doesn’t belong to them so completely and unabashedly.  She would lift Mabel into the air and Mabel would look down at her, smiling big.  Then she would pull her down into her chest, hug her tight, and smother her in kisses.  Mabel loved every second of it.  The woman, whose name I can’t believe I’ve never asked for, told me, “We never had children.  By the time we thought we could afford them, it was too late.  I always thought if I had a baby of my own, I’d kiss it to death.”  She didn’t seem bitter or sad though, just more than happy to love on Mabel, and I was grateful to be able to share her, if only for a few minutes.


When I got home that evening, I had an email from my mom with the subject line, “Beautiful you,” waiting for me in my inbox.  She found this photo of the two of us from 1979 in an album at her sister’s, (my Aunt Genie’s), house.  She had never seen it before, and neither had I.  I don’t know why, but I dissolved into tears seeing it, and I wasn’t even sure if I was happy or sad.  Maybe it was just another expression of the passing of time, but more than that I think it was a reminder of love and life.  So many things to ponder lately…the joy that babies bring, the sadness over the death of a beloved elderly friend.  All the life that happens in between, both the good and the painful.  We soldier on, thankful for every minute.


p.s. I have received several emails recently asking if we would be selling dishcloths as a fundraiser for Gabe and Keats’ travel baseball fees this year.  Yes, we are!  As many of you know, they are made at a small mill in the U.S.A. and I have been using them in my home for years. They are a polyester/cotton blend. The polyester content helps them last longer, and it also helps them maintain softness and stretchiness even after many, many washes. The one caveat is that they aren’t great for wiping up spills, but that’s not how I use them. These are the cloths that I use to wipe down my kitchen table and counter-tops. Their texture makes them great for light scrubbing.  They are great for washing dishes, dusting furniture, or scrubbing the bathtub. After their first wash they fluff up and shrink to roughly 11 inches square. I love the colored stripes, and their vintage look. I sell them by the dozen, and you will receive 3 each of 4 colors (this year: red, blue, green, and purple), so you could designate certain colors for certain rooms or tasks. These make lovely, practical gifts, and it is always nice to toss those old cruddy rags and replace them with fresh ones! They are for $20 + $6 for usps priority shipping in the U.S. for a dozen, and orders for 2 dozen or more are welcome as well. You can buy them via the button below. (I don’t ship outside the U.S. because the shipping would cost more than the cloths!)  Thanks for supporting our boys, and saving us from having to sell donuts!

p.p.s. Knits:  Mabel’s hat was knit by Tania, and her Ravelry notes are here.  My notes on her yellow sweater are hereKaren’s notes on her pink and white sweater are here.  My yellow barn sweater notes are here.  Not a knit, but Mabel’s bib was purchased here.


Scatterbrain post today:

Silas and Job found a blue chicken egg the other day and proudly brought it in.  I asked where they found it, and got mixed answers.  The big chicken coop?  The little one?  They answered, “Yes” to both places.  “It’s a really pretty egg,” I told them.  We usually get green eggs, and this one was decidedly blue.  A little while later I heard crying from the kitchen.  Evidently, Silas knocked the egg off the counter and it cracked, so he picked it up and threw it outside.  When I walked in the room, Job was sobbing loudly at the back door, “The pretty egg!” he cried over and over.  Silas walked over to him, and in his most matter-of-fact little grown-up voice said, “There’s no hope for it.”

Driving home the other night, somehow we got on the topic of me putting my foot in my mouth.  I feel like it used to happen bi-annually at most, (but when it did it was bad).  The past year things have gotten a little out of control.  Jonny thinks it’s hilarious.  In my defense, my hearing isn’t awesome, maybe too many punk shows with me standing near the speakers.  Sometimes I misunderstand what someone says and reply with something completely wrong for the situation and come across as snobby or rude.  I’m also so introverted that I blurt things out of nervousness.  Though we’ve never had a particularly isolated lifestyle, I am finding myself in way more social situations than I used to.  I guess because of all the kids and their sports.  Then there are church functions, homeschooling co-op, and various get-togethers.  The opportunities to say embarrassing things have really multiplied.  A couple of weeks ago I told my friend, Angie, that seeing her husband at co-op for the first time, I could see the resemblance between him and all of her children.  I can’t remember exactly what I said, but something like, “They really favor him!”  “That’s not my husband,” she replied.  He was actually another co-op mom’s husband, and friend of Angie’s family, which explained why her toddler son was following him around, but not the resemblance I thought I saw.  I was pretty embarrassed at my mistake, but explained that I tend to say stupid stuff.  Angie is very gracious and didn’t give me a hard time.  At any rate, it was classic for me.  “Your kids sure do resemble your friend’s husband!”  Good one, Ginny.

Several people have asked me how it’s going with the chore chart… Those who know me well have asked with a knowing chuckle. Honestly, we’re using it, but no so much as a chore chart. The kids who are using it are Gabe, Keats, Larkspur, and Beatrix. (Seth will have no part of it.) The boys are using it for school subject reminders rather than chores. The girls are using it for school and chores. Because Gabe and Keats are participating in a homeschooling co op, they have quite a few subjects this year. Their assignments are all on Google docs, so I don’t write them out anymore like I used to. Having a tag to flip for each subject helps them keep up with what they have done, and helps me to know when to remind them. The system is working! I’ll add chore tags for the little boys eventually.

Jonny takes over beekeeping when I’m pregnant and postpartum.  This was a busy summer, and that translated to not much beekeeping.  We’re trying to quickly get the bees ready for winter, kind of last minute.  We’re down to six hives, and I hope they survive the winter!

Thank you for all the orders!  I am shipping most of them Friday, and the rest on Monday Tuesday (It was pointed out to me that Monday is a holiday. )  My latest dyeing experiment was with avocado pits.  They make a pretty, soft pink.  Next up, acorns!

p.s. I bought Mabel’s bib from Kinder Sprouts.  She can’t be without one!  So. much. drool.