Creativity is the outward expression of the soul -or- Sewing, baby!

Lily in a dress I sewed.
28 July 2008

My mom bought this fabric (the fabric in the above picture) for “instant dress” when she visited this past summer.  She wanted to sew it together with Lily while she was here.  All you had to do was sew a seam up the back and sew on straps.  But we were so busy while Mom was here that she didn’t have time to do this project, so she asked me to make the dress.

Fast forward a couple of months, and I finally pull my sewing machine out.  Lily, being a child, is instantly curious and wants to be a part of the action.  So she puts the pins away as I pull them out, and she presses the “reverse” button on the sewing machine when I need to reverse.  We had a really good time together sewing this little dress.

Then Lily says that she wants to sew a princess dress together.  So we went to Jo-Ann Fabrics together, and she picked out a pattern and fabric (shiny candy-apple red by the way).  I read the How-to on the inside of the pattern last night, and there are all sorts of things that I do not know how to do: sewing darts, zippers, slipstitches, make “thread carriers” (whatever those are), working with slippery, shiny fabric, etc.  I’m very excited and a bit intimidated.  I plan to take it slow and with lots of help from my friend, the internet.

There is a stark contrast between my experience sewing and my experience writing.  Since I am a beginning seamstress, I don’t expect my work to be the most amazing thing ever created ever, and so I have a really good time sewing.  I torture myself when I write.  The joy was lost somewhere along the way between learning the craft and mastering the craft.  Who wants to be a master if the very thing you love is no longer enjoyable?

I’m looking forward to making this candy-apple red princess dress for Lily.  Now I just need to Google “sewing darts”…

July 29th, 2008 | Sewing | 1 Comment -

Sometimes all we need is permission

Grannie and Grandpa bought this little car
for Lily’s first Christmas. Damian has claimed
it as his own and scoots all around the house
on it. Lily follows him on her pink tricycle.
It’s very cute.

I constantly worry that I’m not working hard enough — that I have too much unfinished business I haven’t completed at the end of each day.  Then I stumbled upon this quote today:

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
                                 –Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love this quote.  It gives me permission to let go and be human.

July 28th, 2008 | General | No Comments -

The puzzle

Ben and Allison Woodings
21 June 2008
(We have four Mrs Woodingses now 😉 )

Sometimes I feel like I’m putting together a giant life puzzle.  Here are some of the various pieces:

A clean, welcoming home
A loving, healthy family
Financial security
Finding time to be with my husband
Run a marathon

These are just a few of the pieces; there are many many more pieces.  The edges of the puzzle are defined by time.  I feel if I can just figure it out — just somehow solve the puzzle — all the pieces will interlock with each other perfectly and the resulting picture would be me and the life I have chosen.

But I have not solved the puzzle yet.  I’m still fitting this piece with that, moving this other piece over there, taking a sip of water, and then trying a different tactic.  Sometimes I feel like I’m missing one crucial piece — the final piece with which all the other pieces will fall into place.

I feel that final piece is confidence or diligence or focus or faith… something… something that finally breaks the code.  I’m missing the key to my puzzle.

July 26th, 2008 | General | No Comments -

Digital Windows

Very cute picture of Nana and Clara in Conroe
06 July 2008

I just finished catching up on my brother’s blog (I hadn’t read it in awhile), and I discovered something: my brother is a bit dark.  He did just go through a divorce though, and I imagine that I would be pretty dark after a divorce.

Reading my brother’s blog illustrated perfectly why I like blogs so much.  Blogs are just our rambling thoughts — whatever we’re thinking or feeling at that moment.  When we physically interact with people, there are a couple of things going on:  1) We are responding to the other person’s words and body language; the conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.  2) We all put on masks — various different masks depending on who we are talking to and the situation — when we are face to face with people.

Blogs are just one person’s unedited thoughts.  You learn things about people — people you love very much and want to know intimately — that you would have never learned otherwise.  Blogs are digital windows.

I really like blogs.

July 25th, 2008 | General | No Comments -

The Judicious Use of Caffeine – or –
How the English Do It

Parents, in their omniscient wisdom, always insist
that children eat ice cream popsicles outside.
Here’s why (these are pictures of Clara, Damian,
and Logan eating popsicles with Nana on July 4th):

It’s so we can literally hose them down afterwards:

As someone who has not grown up in English culture but is constantly exposed to it in her adult life, I feel like an anthropologist studying the modern English social system — observing all the gentle lubricants the English apply in their daily life so the machine of society runs smoothly.

As any outsider will tell you, one of the first things we can’t help but notice is the use of tea.  It is ubiquitous, involves social rules, and is one of the main lubricants of English society.  I’ve truly enjoyed watching the rituals that revolve around tea, but on this last visit, I noticed how tea was used on a more mundane level for its caffeine.

In America, we have the most enormous mugs.  Sizes vary, but American mugs can hold from 10 ounces to 18 ounces of liquid.  I just bought a huge 18 ounce mug from Starbucks that has the picture of downtown Austin on it.  We fill our unusually large mugs with coffee and wake up our brains for work.

I think, like many things, we perhaps overdid it with the mugs and the coffee.  Tea has about half the caffeine as coffee and English mugs, as a general rule, tend to be smaller.  I always marvelled that the English would drink five cups of tea in a day until I realized that, by drinking tea in smaller cups, they were spreading their caffeine more evenly throughout the day instead of one giant jolt to the system in the morning and then another giant jolt in the afternoon.

As a firm believer in the use of caffeine as a motivational tool, I find the English system a little easier on the body and mind.  I don’t think Americans will be giving up their coffee or giant mugs anytime soon, but I thought I would just pass on what I had observed overseas. 🙂

July 24th, 2008 | England | No Comments -


People transform when they play with children.
In these pictures, look at the faces of the adults.
It’s like bringing a box of puppies into a 3rd grade classroom.

Auntie Allison with Lily
17 June 2008

Uncle Sam and Auntie Bev with Damian and Lily
20 June 2008

Andy with Damian and Lily
23 June 2008

Lindsey with Lily
23 June 2008

I’m attempting to write for  I’m attempting to pull wit, beauty, and insight from deep within my soul and weave these elements into a masterpiece of storytelling.

But fuck! is it hard!

Really.  I’m not kidding.  I can’t imagine training for a marathon would be any harder than writing.  And somewhere between fear and desire, I completely forget why I started writing in the first place:  I really really enjoy it.

I must somehow reclaim the joy of my childhood writing experiences.  I was fearless.  I was Supergirl.  I wrote for no other reason than it was fun.  Now I torture myself searching for the perfect word, the perfect nuance of character, the perfect twist of plot wrapped in the perfect cadence of poetic narrative.

I love to write.  Have you ever heard a toddler laugh?  Their laugh is pure joy and it makes everyone around them laugh.  The feeling you get when you hear a toddler laugh is the feeling I get when I am writing for the joy of it.  I have to let go of perfection and simply live in the experience.

As an adult, that is not an easy thing to do, but at least now I have a beacon when darkness descends on me while I’m writing.  When I begin to worry if I’m writing utter crap or if I’m struggling to find perfection, I need to remind myself that once I was Supergirl… and I can be her again. 🙂

July 19th, 2008 | Podcast | No Comments -

An anchor

Grannie and Lily in the water in Wells, England.
17 June 2008

I’m ready to have another try at  The overwhelming fear stopped me dead in my tracks for a little while, but I’m ready for another pass at my personal opponent: my own lack of self-confidence.  I love to write, so I need to get past this little bump in the road to get back to something which I enjoy so much.

I think it’s time to make a list.  I’ve been feeling a little lost since our crazy summertime schedule ended, and lists help center and ground me.  The world is spinning around me and I’m very dizzy.  I need a list to anchor everything.

I love lists. 🙂

July 18th, 2008 | Planning Nerd, Podcast | No Comments -

The quirks of Texans

Lily got her first haircut yesterday.
The impetus: our tiny fashion diva wanted bangs.
11 July 2008

I have lived in Texas my entire life with a brief two-year hiatus my sophomore and junior years of high school.  I’m 40-years-old by the way, so that is 38 years of soaking up Texas culture in its various forms: from blue-collar Houston to white-collar Dallas, from conservative rural College Station to liberal funky Austin, from the strong Hispanic culture of San Antonio to the deep religious right of East Texas to the sparsely populated southwest feel of West Texas to the German-influenced cowboy culture of Central Texas.  From the mountains and the desert in the west to the bayous and the pine forests in the east, from the Great Plains in the north to the Gulf Coast in the south, for 38 years Texas has been my home.

And as such, I truly enjoy reading an outsider’s view of Texas, especially if it is humorous.  And that is what I found with this blog entry over at Suburban Kamikaze.  Her blog entry could have easily been about my family.

July 12th, 2008 | Austin | 2 Comments -

Finally home

Lily, Sophia, Damian, and Logan
racing cars down the sloped patio.
Conroe, Texas
01 July 2008

I am so tired.  We have been on the go for a month.  This is the crazy schedule my family was just on:

July 13 – July 25: England
July 25 – July 30: Home, unpack, catch-up on house, laundry, pack
July 1 – July 8: Conroe (we got over the last of our jetlag in Conroe)
July 1 – July 12: Mom and Paul in town

By the time my mom flies out this coming Saturday, we will have been crazy busy and out-of-routine for a month.  My mom said that she wants to come down for a month at Christmas, and I told her that a month is too long to be away from your home.  She said that after seeing how we looked this month, she agrees and will probably only come down for three weeks.

I’m sooooooooooooooooooooooo glad to be home.  So very very glad to be home.  Matt said that we are not making any more plans until Thanksgiving in November, and even then it will just be a large family dinner here in Round Rock; we’re not planning on leaving our home.

Needless to say however, there will be lots of vacation photos for the next few blog entries.

Now to figure out where I left off with my life plans a month ago… where’s my pen and DIY planner…

July 10th, 2008 | General | No Comments -