Sunday, January 22, 2012

Giveaway - a gift in honor of my mom's birthday

As a thank you to my blog readers, I want to share a gift.

From my family to yours; a reminder that celebration comes in all shades and in all seasons. 

I hand-stitched the little felt bunting and the caption, and framed it in a 6.5" embroidery hoop. It's ready to hang wherever it will remind you to appreciate all of life's gifts.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post (include your email!) and I'll randomly select one comment on February 1st.

I made one for Mom, too.

Her birthday party was really special. We laughed a lot, listened to records my dad's been collecting from Goodwill (the nursing home's sound system is a little outdated), enjoyed our cheese and cracker platter and fruit juice courtesy of the dining hall, and ate cupcakes my sister made. So much love in one room.


Friday, January 20, 2012

A Gift From Me, To You, For Mom

Tomorrow is Mom's birthday. She'll be 59. Last month, we crossed the 5-year mark since her Alzheimer's diagnosis (dare I call it an anniversary?). We told her last weekend we wanted to celebrate her birthday together, and she seemed surprised. We assured we would remember her birthday even if she can't.

Celebrations are tricky things, these days. Wintertime has always been a string of parties for my family, with a December birthday, Christmas, New Years, and then three January birthdays, including Mom's. But this year we're all off kilter.

My December-born brother took a trip and celebrated by traveling solo. Mom was released from the hospital the week before Christmas, and couldn't leave the nursing home. That hurt so, so much (when we distributed gifts from under the tree, hers got set aside without a word. No one could comment, it was too hard). She didn't attend my January-born brother's birthday get together, and she won't attend my sister's birthday party next week. She's still pretty unsteady on her feet, and I'm afraid it would be too much chaos for her. I don't want her to feel overwhelmed or overlooked.

It sucks. Friends, it's hard to explain how much it sucks.

We're all wondering how Mom's birthday party is going to work in a nursing home. One of her sweet nurses told us the dining room is going to provide us with a platter of cheese and crackers. She seemed eager to decorate for us (we'll use the common room in Mom's wing), but then confessed, "We only have one birthday banner. And it's pirate themed." I don't think Mom will mind.

I haven't bought any gifts. The walls of her little shared room are almost completely covered with family artwork, photo-calenders, love notes, and art prints. She could use some new clothes, but I know they'll eventually disappear into the mysterious laundry system, so I'm not motivated to spend very much on outfits. For the past several birthdays, I bought her things that were sensory: soft blankets, aromatherapy, socks, pillows. But now I'm afraid they'll just clutter her room.

Today I had a brainstorm. I'm going to make a gift in her honor, and give it to one of you. Check back tomorrow for a birthday giveaway.

Having this blog has helped me process so many things. I don't know how many people read it, or if it even registers on anyone's radar as being meaningful, but it has been a life line to me. What better way to express my appreciation than with a gift? From me and Mom.

It's something she would do.

Mom and Roxy, the nursing home kitty

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Adventures of an Etsian

My goofiest items on Etsy sell the fastest. I'm not sure if it's my witty descriptions or the dirt-cheap, must-sell prices. I'll let you judge for yourself.

I posted this as an experiment, and it sold in a matter of days:

Chicken wire fabric? Really?
Fabric - Chicken wire pattern

Or what about this gem:

Sold within 48 hours.

Fabric - Sardines, nutmeg, and oregano

I've discovered that craft supplies sell better on Etsy than finished products. I think the majority of crafty shoppers think the same thing I do when I see the latest handmade trend: "I bet I could make that." Turns out my skills on the sewing machine are in lower demand than raw materials. So I gave away most of the projects I finished last year, and I'm selling fabric on Etsy instead.

I shop for vintage linens every time I go to my local consignment stores. I've found some real treasures lately, and it's fun to wash, iron, and cut the sheets and pillow cases into usable pieces.

Vintage sheet (1 yard) - patchwork candy land Vintage sheet fat quarter - Vera Neumann ferns and butterflies
Vintage sheet fat quarter - purple flower power Vintage sheet fat quarter - yellow/orange daisies and mums

Note: A couple of years ago (when my sewing obsession kicked into high gear) I finally figured out what a "fat quarter" was. I'll spare you an embarrassing Google search. A "fat quarter" is one quarter of a yard of fabric, cut 18" x 22" instead of 9" x 44."

Allow me to demonstrate, with an illustration by yours truly. Fabric off the bolt in stores is typically 44 - 45" wide, sold by the yard. But when you only need a little bit of fabric, you probably don't want a long skinny strip. 

 There you have it, folks! All my Etsy secrets, revealed!

Check out my shop for the latest and greatest.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I miss Mom most when I am sick. I miss being taken care of. I miss her calm and her attention.

I don't think this is just because of Alzheimer's. Even if she hadn't aged decades too fast, I would still miss being a little girl in her care. The fact that she lives in a nursing home now just amplifies my memories of her as nurse for all our childhood ailments.

I remember having the flu when I was four or five. Mom sat with me in the night-light-lit bathroom, reassuring me. I remember how scary it was to throw up, how out of control my little body felt, and how relieved I was when it was over. Mom cleaned up. Mom tucked me back into bed.

I had a 24-hour bout with the flu last week, and those memories resurfaced. I felt alone and weak and wished Mom could make it better; feed me applesauce and saltines, let ginger ale go flat and leave it by my bedside with a straw, check on me in bed.

At age twelve, I had pneumonia. I spent a day in the emergency room because my breathing was so shallow and my wheezing was so deep. I remember I wore my pink Beauty and the Beast T shirt. On the way home from the hospital, Mom bought me a roast beef sandwich at the grocery store. At home, while I waited several days for the inhalers and antibiotics to help, Mom spent nights with me on our hide-a-bed in the living room. This was the ultimate treatment. Only REALLY sick kids got Mom's full attention all night long, like when my sister had influenza, or when my brother broke both his wrists. I kept us both awake most the night coughing.

I remember when Mom was satisfied that I was out of danger, and it was safe to go back to my own room, which I shared with my then five year old sister. I was crushed. I remember crying uncontrollably as I dragged my pillows and blankets down the hall to my room. I was on the mend, I knew it was true, but I didn't want to be better because it meant no more special treatment. I wallowed in what felt like rejection (poor Mom, I know she was exhausted and ready to rejoin Dad in the master bedroom).

Being in her care was like being a celebrity.

It's not being waited on hand and foot that I miss, it's the memory of knowing it was going to be OK. Knowing for sure that I was in good hands.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year

For New Year's, I caught a cold. I made it to midnight, then went right to bed. The long weekend was spent with a Kleenex box and mugs of EmergenC and spicy chicken soup.

But all was not lost.

I had a REALLY good visit with Mom on Saturday.
I painted our bathroom (repairs are close to being finished, after The Disastrous Flood of 2011)
I caught up on laundry
I finished a quilt
I cleaned up the Christmas decor
I cooked from scratch
I slept a lot

Go me.
Three day weekends are my best friend.