Making Things Pretty

Small Things-8608 Small Things-8738

Jonny and I oftentimes plan to watch a program (usually something on PBS Masterpiece) at night after the kids are in bed. Some nights though, we end up in conversation with our three older boys, and plans change. They may not always want to talk with us like this, or better yet, if we always welcome conversation, maybe…hopefully, they will. On a recent night when this happened, Gabe asked Keats, “What are your three favorite things to do?” He was echoing the same question that I had asked him earlier in the day. I like to keep my older kids thinking about what their interests are, encouraging answers outside of the realm of say, watching movies or going swimming at the lake.

Anyway, Keats threw out three things and then the question was turned on me. What are my three favorite things to do? My three big boys started answering for me, saying that this was easy. “Knitting, Cross-stitching, gardening, dyeing yarn…” they all took turns naming what were surely my favorites, and the list went on. Actually, I wasn’t sure at the time what my top three things were, and I’m still not. After thinking hard for a minute or so I gave my number one as, “Making things pretty.” Keats covered his face in his hands while exclaiming, “Mommy!” As in, “Mommy, that’s a ridiculous answer.” I answered back, “Hey, you named eating cookies  as one of your top three! Give me a break!”

I eventually came up with a proper answer: spending time in nature, making things (including knitting here), and of course, making things pretty. But honestly, I felt a little stumped. I’m not exactly sure what my three favorite things to do are. While I like to have my kids think about this sort of thing because I want them thinking towards careers eventually, as far as I go, I guess I don’t think often enough about what I want to be doing. Life is more often about what I ought to be doing. But the more I think about it, what I ought to be doing is often what I want to be doing if I look at the big picture. And maybe that’s the lesson I most want to teach my children. What you think you want to do with your life might not end up lining up with your actual vocation, in other words, what God wants you to do with your life. But, if you base your life choices on what you believe God is directing you towards, you will likely find that you enjoy doing what you ought to be doing, even if it ends up involving something quite different than what you originally envisioned.

Beatrix complained about doing something or other yesterday, and I told her just to do the work and she might end up liking it. I said, “I didn’t want to scrub all the toilets on Saturday, but once I got going I didn’t mind at all. And I was real pleased once I got all those toilets clean.” (I use the example of scrubbing toilets far too often with my kids!) Bea started dancing at this point, singing, or maybe rapping? “Who cleaned those toilets? Yeah, I did! I did!” I’ll probably hear her little voice in my head when I’m cleaning toilets from now on. I may even start rapping.

I hope I’m making sense here. I’ve been interrupted no less than a dozen times in writing these few paragraphs…such is my life these days.  Bottom line, I have certainly found ways to do what I ought to alongside things that I enjoy, and in doing so, some of the drudgery has become less so. And so much of it has to do with attitude, anyway. Of course I still stay up too late sometimes to knit and make things pretty when I ought to be sleeping. That’s how Mabel got that sweet little hat. And as her mother, I think I ought to do all I can to keep her sweet little head warm.

p.s. The pattern is called, Doe Cap, and it is in the latest Making magazine.

Respite for Mamas {and children}


Last week, a friend of mine, who is the director of a local (to us) women’s shelter, reached out for help for a mama of four who needed temporary housing this month. Soon after, a similar need was voiced for yet another mom and her children facing homelessness at Christmas. The need is great right now, but the shelter is full and the respite account is dry.

Mary’s Shelter is an amazing non-profit that provides long-term housing and assistance for pregnant mothers and their children, helping the moms get on their feet and work towards self-sufficiency. In addition to offering long-term help, the shelter offers respite to those needing short-term assistance. This might be in the form of paying for a hotel room for a couple of weeks until housing is secured.

Shelters that can take in women and their children, and do so in a home environment, in a way that helps them actually create better lives for themselves are so needed. This is exactly what Mary’s Shelter does. We are hoping that you might help us help them, through a raffle of some of our handmade items.

I finished knitting this beautiful shawl using naturally dyed, American wool yarn early this year, and then tucked it away hoping to put it to good use someday. You have an opportunity to win this shawl along with one of Jonny’s Little Bird shawl pins (a combined value of $250+) and support women and children in crisis as well!

How to enter:

A donation of $10 gives you a chance to win, and of course you can donate in larger amounts for more chances, in $10 increments. Just select the combination of entry options that equals your donation amount. If you need to, you can spread your entries over more than one day. Donations are tax deductible. The raffle will end on Monday night, at 12 a.m. EST. I will ship anywhere in the world. I’ll get this in the mail on Tuesday, so that if you are in the U.S. you should have it before Christmas!

To donate, go to this page and scroll down to the one-time donation button. Once you click that, you will have the option of entering your donation amount (you can pay by either paypal or credit card.) In the box that says, “special instructions to seller” please type: “respite fund.”  After you make your donation, you should receive an email with a transaction i.d. number. You will need to copy and paste that into the Rafflecopter widget below when you enter.

Thank you for helping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway