craft verb \'kraft\ to create with care, skill and intention

Monday, February 28, 2011

Resolution Check-in

Yikes! It's already time for another resolution check-in!

Resolution #1: To be more intentional about giving - I think we're doing pretty well in this area. I knit five baby hats (a couple at the edges of the photo got cut off). They are so fun to knit! I will post a baby hat pattern soon in case you would like to make some, too. I used a basic pattern and switched up the colors to make each hat cute and unique. My favorite hats are the two brightly colored ones at the front of this photo. My sweet little 8-year-old daughter knit those two on her Knifty Knitter. Precious!

The Caps for Good campaign ends today, so I will pop these little cuties in the mail this morning and send them on their way to Brooklyn, NY. From there they will be distributed to babies around the world!

 Remember when I said that I would take a photo of my cleaned-out yarns once I had some hats finished? Well, my hope at that time was that this pile of yarn wouldn't be quite so huge once I knit up a few hats. Unfortunately for my pile, baby hats are small and don't use much yarn. As you can see, the pile is, um, rather large.Since blankets use up a lot more yarn, I think I will turn my attention  to Project Linus for a while. Project Linus accepts knit, crochet, and fabric blankets (sewn or new-sew fleece), so join me!

I had intended to do a couple more of my switcheroos this month to build up our giving bank, but I only did one. We had cereal for dinner the other night and added $10 to our bank. Then we talked about what kind of organizations the kids are interested in supporting. That was a pretty fun conversation, really. Some want to donate to help animals, some want to help kids. It was neat to see how different things move each of the kids. Now I will do a little research, put a list together, and let the kids choose! I'll keep ya posted.

Resolution #2: To be more accepting of people (including myself) - Two words: Oy. Vay. Here's the dealio: I think I had the expectation that once I said, "I resolve to be more accepting of people," BOOM! I would instantly feel more accepting. Alas, that is not what has happened. In fact, since making that statement I have become more acutely aware of just how UN-accepting I am and it is painful! But I will soldier on. Progress, not perfection.

Resolution #3: To focus more on how to fulfill my kids' emotional needs and focus less on how my kids could fulfill my emotional needs - Another tough one. And it kind of goes hand-in-hand with being more accepting of people because this is a lot about being more accepting of my kids. I think we all enter parenthood with some (rather imaginative) ideas and expectations. (We tend to enter our marriages the same way, don't we?) At some point we run into a little thing called "reality." Then we have a choice: We can make ourselves (and our kids) crazy trying to force our children to comply with our preconceived notions of who/what they should be or we can support our children in their quests to become individuals. I believe that we actually have much more influence over the kind of individuals they become if we start with acceptance.

In some ways this resolution is easier than being more accepting of people in general because I love my kids so much and that love is unconditional. So the love aspect of acceptance is just a given and is really a non-issue. But it can be more difficult, too, because other relationships aren't charged with so many expectations. I'm definitely making progress on this resolution, but I'm starting to realize that this isn't one of those goals that I will ever actually reach. I won't wake up one day and say, "Okay, as of right now, I have met this goal and now I can move on to something else."  This will be an ongoing project for me. Recently I've been working on grace.

Resolution #4: To work throughout the year on handmade gifts instead of scrambling at the last minute - I haven't done a whole lot here, really. I have plans in my head to work on Mother's Day gifts in April and Father's Day gifts in May. It remains to be seen whether I will be able to follow through on those plans. The Hubs has a birthday coming up and if I get his gift finished this week (I do have all the supplies purchased and ready to go!), it will be scramble-free. If I do not get it finished this week, there will be scrambling indeed. And gnashing of teeth. And probably some swearing. Okay, definitely some swearing. I'm just sayin'.

Resolution #5: To stock my Etsy store - Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. FAIL. Yes, I finished the scarf that I want to be my first item listed. No, I did not list it. I could give you eleventy million excuses, but that is all they would be, just excuses.

How are you coming on your resolutions? What successes are you having? What kind of obstacles do you face?

P.S. Please stop back by here tomorrow! I will be unveiling my big bloggy plans for March! I have fun features and lots of useful content lined up for the whole month - woo hoo!

Friday, February 25, 2011


Do you guys ever have those moments when one of your kids does something completely awesome and you think to yourself, "You know, I'm doing a pretty darned good job here!" I had one of those a couple of weeks ago and it's a good thing that I didn't break my arm reaching around to pat myself on the back because that moment was short-lived. My 11-year-old daughter came in from shoveling a (pretty narrow) strip of snow down the driveway. Not wanting to discourage her effort, The Hubs gave her five bucks. She immediately came in and asked if she could put the money in our giving bank. I was dumbfounded. And impressed. Very impressed. I told her how wonderful that was. I offered profuse praise. I told every family member about her amazing act of generosity. I thought, "You know, I'm doing a pretty darned good job here!"

So you can imagine how stunned I was to discover a couple of hours later that she had taken the money back out of the bank. Oh well. I guess you win some and you lose some. I tortured myself trying to figure out if I should address this with her. And if I were to say something to her, what would I say? In the end, I decided to keep my mouth shut. I decided to let some of the grace that has been poured out onto me spill over onto her a bit. After all, I do not give as generously as I could at every opportunity.

I've been thinking about grace in parenting ever since. It's a fine line, isn't it? As parents we have a responsibility to direct and to correct our kids. But we also have a responsibility to connect with our kids, and constantly harping on every little offense interferes with that connection. I heard someone say once that "Rules without relationship equals rebellion." I have found that to be true. Sometimes issues come up with our kids that we simply must deal with, but some offenses are relatively small and we can just let them go. Just. Let. Them. Go.

I am working hard on this, but I find it very challenging. Harping seems to be my natural response :) So, once again, I find that I need to be very intentional in managing myself and my reactions. I must think before I speak. And sometimes I just have to shut my mouth. Ugh!

Help me out here. I want to know how you handle this in your life. How do you dole out grace with your kids? How do you decide when to correct and when to be quiet?

Monday, February 14, 2011

We have a winner!

Drumroll please...

And the winner is...

Congratulations Cindy! I'll get in touch with you to get your mailing info and pop your package in the mail in the next day or two! Thank you all so much for entering my very first giveaway. (Thanks also to my lovely little assistant!) I had so much fun with this that I am already scheming on another giveaway project. In the meantime, hop over to my friend's blog and enter her drawing for a chance to win a set of Penzey's Indian spices. Yum! Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pleasant Surprises & A Giveaway!!!!!

A while back, I asked my Facebook friends to share with me how they go about making giving real and important to their children. My aunt shared something with me that really made me think about the idea of giving in a new and interesting way. She said that she thinks it is important to teach kids about the giving of appreciation. She claimed that being appreciative makes a person more generous and I think she makes a very good point. She inspired me to think about some of the people I appreciate, which led to the realization that those people probably have no idea how much I appreciate them. Well, that just won't do! I sat down and made a list of a few women who make my world a better place. Then I got to work.

I made up some cotton washcloths (instructions below). On a funny note, this started out as a stash-busting activity with some colorful cotton yarn I found buried in my yarn pile - but I had so much fun with it that I ended up buying, like, 10 more skeins. Oh well, you know what they say about good intentions. I'm pairing it with a bar of my homemade soap. This soap turned out to be my favorite batch of soap that I have ever made. The Hubs even likes it. It is super conditioning with avocado oil and cocoa butter with a light spicy citrus scent. The soap is all-natural and scented with essential oils. Finally, I'm topping it off with a handmade card expressing exactly what I appreciate about that person. Each recipient will find this pleasant little surprise on her doorstep!

Clearly I am a huge dork and a crafting freak. You don't have to be as big a dork as I am to show someone how much you appreciate them. Send them a card (store-bought is perfectly acceptable), send them an email, pick out a small gift, or enter my giveaway. Say what? That's right! I'm having a giveaway!

To enter the giveaway, simply comment on this post by telling me about someone you appreciate and something you appreciate about them. I will choose a winner at random - likely some hi-tech method like having one of my kids draw names from a hat or something. So what do you get if you win? To show my appreciation to you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog, you will win one of the washcloth and soap combos. But wait! I will also send you a second washcloth and soap combo, along with a handmade card, for you to give to that special someone you appreciate. Fun!

Here's what you can win!

Just remember, it really is the thought that counts. Think of all of the junk mail and bills you get in your mailbox and email inbox. Now imagine finding a lovely note of appreciation tucked in there. Wouldn't that make your day? Pick ten people, five people, three people, one person - whatever you want to do - and show them a little appreciation. You will make their world a better place. (Plus you'll feel all warm and fuzzy inside!)

Here's the washcloth pattern I used. A disclaimer: Crochet is not my strong point. It's fun. I enjoy it. I am not the best crochet-pattern-writer in the world. I'm okay with that.
  1. Pick out a cheery worsted-weight cotton yarn and an appropriately-sized hook. I'm using a size "G." Guage is not super important here, so use what feels comfortable to you.
  2. Chain 28.
  3. Double crochet in the 4th chain from the hook and then DC in each chain across.
  4. Chain 3 (turning chain), turn, DC through the back loop in each DC across.
  5. Repeat step 4 until you have completed ten rows.
  6. Make 3 single crochets in a single space to form a corner. SC all the way around the cloth, working 3 SC at each corner.
  7. When you return to the first corner, slip stitch to join. Cut your yarn and draw the tail through the loop on the hook. Weave in ends.
  8. Voila!
This is a really basic cloth, no fancy decorative stitches. It is an appropriate project for someone who has never done crochet before. You can find easy instructions to learn how to crochet here.
Remember to comment about someone you appreciate so you will be entered in the giveaway! Be sure I have some way to contact you if you win. Drawing at noon on Monday, February 14th. Tell your friends so they can enter too!

P.S. I've gotten a couple of notes about comments being temperamental. If you have any trouble leaving a comment, just email me at and I will enter you in the drawing :-)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Resolution check-in

Wow! I can't believe January is already gone! But it is, and so it is time for me to do a little progress report on my New Year's resolutions.

Resolution #1 - To be more intentional about giving. We're working on it. We are working on building our giving bank, but we haven't chosen organizations we would like to support. Since cleaning out my yarn stash, I have been working on making knit baby caps. Two of my kiddos got curious about my cap-making and decided to join in, so they have been making caps on their Knifty Knitters. Fun!

Resolution #2 - To be more accepting of people (including myself.) Well, I'm working on it and that's about all I can say for myself on this one. It's hard!!!

Resolution #3 - To focus more on how to fulfill my kids' emotional needs and focus less on how my kids could fulfill my emotional needs. I think I am making progress in this area, but I have a long way to go still. As an adoptive parent, I run into situations a lot where I get frustrated because I feel like a glorified babysitter instead of a mom. This is mostly the case with the kids who were older when they came into our lives. But the thing is, it's not my kids' job to make me feel mom-ish. So, that's what this resolution is about. I'm trying to let go of feeling that our relationships are supposed to "look" a certain way and instead embrace the possibility of having the best relationship I can with each of my children. It's also important for me to accept that each relationship will look and feel different from the others and that that's okay, too.

Resolution #4 - To work throughout the year on handmade gifts instead of scrambling at the last minute! Believe it or not, I have already ordered the supplies for several gifts for Christmas 2011. I know that's only half of the deal...I still have to work on the projects (and actually finish them!). But even just having part of the equation under control is progress for me!

Resolution #5 - To stock my etsy store. I'm really excited about this one because I just finished the first item that I intend to list in my store. It's a scarf made from the most fabulous yarn I have ever used. It's Noro Iro, which is a blend of 75% wool and 25% silk that is hand-spun and hand-dyed in Japan. It was a lot of fun to work with and I'm thrilled with the finished scarf. So thrilled that I thought about just keeping it for myself :) But no, I will put it in the store. I just have to take pictures and list it, which I plan to do in the next couple of weeks.

I'm further along on some resolutions than on others, but even just making myself continue to be aware of these issues I need to work on (and this is in no way an exhaustive list!) is a step in the right direction. In the past I have made resolutions on January 1st and then moved on by January 2nd. But committing to monthly check-ins on my progress forces me to stay focused.

How do you keep yourself focused on your goals? And how are you coming on your resolutions?