needle & thREAD




It's nearly spring recital time, so "sewing" looks like this around here today. I admit; I kind of love this kind of "to do" list. 

I've been reading Shakespeare with the kids this week. We're loosely following this plan. I love this plan. I loved it when we wrote and love it even more today, because there it was, ready and waiting for me. And we are tightly following the syllabus of the class Christian is taking. Yesterday morning, when big bodies and littles one were all sitting in the great room listening intently to "Much Ado About Nothing," I couldn't help but breathe a giant "thank you" heavenward for the inspiration all those years ago to do something really crazy and educate these children in our home.  They thought nothing unusual about being gathered on a June morning–this crew from 4-21–to listen to Tales from Shakespeare

I have days–many, many days–when I question the sanity of the way we live. Yesterday was not one of them.

I've also begun to read Katrina Kenison's new book, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment. Many years ago, when both Katrina and I had two little boys, I read Mitten Strings for God and truly loved it. It was a book that filled me up, inspired me, and resonated deep in my heart. A couple (maybe 3?) years ago, I eagerly looked forward to The Gift of An Ordinary Day. I tried, but I really couldn't dig into it. It made me sad, the way it makes me sad when a friend from many years ago has drifted away. 

I'm only a few pages into this new one, but I admit I am eagerly looking forward to sitting in the waiting room at 8 AM this morning while Mary Beth has an hour of physical therapy. This book will make that time feel like an indulgence. Here is the obligatory caveat: If you are the kind of person who can hang out in the park and watch your kids play, while chatting with a neighbor who doesn't share your faith or even your particular philosophical bent, but still come away from the conversation having learned something and, especially, having acknowledged that women can share some of the deepest true feelings of a mother's heart without coming from the same worldview, you might like this book. If you wouldn't be inclined to have the conversation at all or if you'd spend the whole time arguing with her in your head, don't bother.

I'm eyeing that quilt fabric and thinking the moment is around the corner. As soon as the recital is over, I'm looking to start some home dec sewing. What about you? What are you sewing or reading?



  1. says

    I haven’t done any sewing as of late. Usually after performance sewing I have difficulty picking anything up. But, I want to make pajama shorts for my girls and blouses and skirts. I think your caveat is perfect. I’m on a book buying moratorium, but will try to pick it up at the library. ;)

  2. says

    The Gift of an Ordinary Day makes me sad too. I have to be very careful to avoid things like that.
    I made the Family Reunion Dress last week. I’m not sure it’s going to be written into a post today, but I have high hopes. I’m craving scrappy patchwork in a big way. Summer time always puts me in a quilting mood.

  3. Selena says

    Elizabeth, I wonder if you can give some advice about bringing children together to listen to readalouds? My family has lost our way on this one. Seven children aged 11 years to 3 months. My little boys yell and disrupt constantly. Older girls want to leave if it does not interest them. How can I start the habit again?

  4. says

    Reading this book, I better understand the last one. Still, the last one wasn’t good for me at all. I’ve just read the second chapter of this one, which is a memoir of the days she spent with a dying friend. It’s the kind of thinking i would have avoided had I known, but there it was and I made myself read it. I saw a lot of parallels in my own thoughts as I travel a similar path. I proud of myself from not shrinking away from the chapter. There is something about this one that hints of hope at the beginning. I didn’t get that from the last one. This time, I get the sense that she’s figured out something valuable… Special warning for you, because I know the tender spots of your heart a little: she is absolutely grappling with the reality of an empty nest. Just so you know…

  5. Marla Lynch says

    These books sound lovely. Thank-you for telling us about them. My own children are almost 25, 23, and almost 21. There has been a gradual, yet huge, shift in our family relationships and home life. But, as I learn let go of the old (sometimes gracefully and sometimes not), I am discovering that there is so much wonderful yet to come. I am finding that the rewards and satisfactions of having adult children are just as great, though not the same as, the rewards and satisfactions of having little ones.

  6. says

    My little girls would pine to dress up in that dress let alone get to dance in it! Sooooo pretty. I have lots of summer sewing plans but haven’t yet carved out my time to begin. This week though, I’m suffering from withdrawal :). And thanks for the clarification on the salad, its for a potluck tomorrow night. Have a great weekend!

  7. says

    Thanks for the book recommendation; I would consider reading it now. I, too, felt sad after reading her second book, and I wasn’t really sure why. It was just so different, to me, from her first. So many memoir writers whose early work I admired and enjoyed, even when our worldviews differed, have written some really sad-making stuff a they’ve gotten older. I think it goes back to a conversation you’ve started earlier on your blog, Elizabeth, about how our culture views midlife for women and how little really good stuff is out there for us.

  8. Jennifer says

    I loved Gift of An Ordinary Day! I return to it every summer, along with Mitten Strings for God. I started Magical Journey but put it down after a few pages. I will try again this summer…

  9. Christine Scarlett says

    I liked Mitten Strings a lot. I read, but cannot remember much about Ordinary Day. I just requested the latest one from my library. While visiting a bookstore with my daughter recently, I was flipping through a magazine. An interviewer asked Martha Stewart if she has any regrets. A mother of one, Martha said her biggest regret was not having more children. I thought it was sad and interesting that this rich, powerful, but very secular icon would be willing to share that.

  10. says

    As I’m reading this one, the glaring difference is that, though we began our mothering journey at about the same time, she has no more children at home. On the other hand, I have seven right now. Midlife is midlife and many of the feelings are the same but her feelings bounce off the walls in an empty house. On the other hand, my midlife book remains only half written and I probably won’t have time to finish it until I’m no longer in this stage of life;-).

  11. Mary Lou Shookhoff says

    i am reading some wonderful books right now! The first is Saint Francis of Assissi by Leon Christiani. I just love the way he writes about one of my all time favorite saints. He just pulls my heart into wherever we are in Francis’ life. It also brings back lovely memories of my favorite CCD teacher, a convert, who always liked to end the lesson by reading a book a chapter a week. She was a good reader and when she read us the early part of Francis’ life when he imbibed a little (okay a lot) too much, went up into the church’s bell tower (in the middle of the night) and woke up the whole town one week and then read about Francis using that same joy to trade his clothes with a beggar or ask people the help he build a church. And in my senior year of high school the Latin club went to Italy and on the agenda was a trip to Assissi. I thanked God that I had taken 4 years of Latin and then ended up walking the same streets that Saint Francis and Saint Clare walked. What a joy!!!!!
    I can’t sew yet because my lymphedema in my lower legs is too bad at the moment so I knit. And since I cannot buy socks, I make them. I just use size 4 or 5 DP needles and the real secret is in the cast on and first few rows because that’s where it’s usually too tight. I discovered (probably most of you know about this) the tubular cast on. You start with half the number of stitches using a different color yarn and after 4 rows you double your stitches to the correct number by stitching the stitch on the needle AND stitching on the “bump on the back. This is NOT an easy cast on but oh, how beautiful it looks when done right!!!!! There are some great directions on the web. Just look until you find one you understand. For me it was the fewer the directions, the easier it was for me to follow. Then EXPECT to rip it out multiple times. I’m finally (usually) past that point and I have to say that the edges of my work, no matter what I’m making look gorgeous,
    Oh, I forgot, I’m also reading the diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. Wow, what a book! When you read about her early life and know that she had a minimum education (? 6th grade) and then get , how can I say it, truly smacked in the face (your secular self) and in your soul (your inner self) to see such great truths come from such a simple soul. She reminds me of St. Bernadette.
    When I went to college, a man had to check with the desk on the main floor and have the person manning the desk call you if you were going out on a date None of this co-ed floors! And Syracuse what not a particularly Catholic university. So I was shocked when we came back to find the TV room filled to capacity with people watching the TV. What was playing? “Song of Bernadette”. We joined the crowd of course. And what a wonderful movie!!! I still like watching it.

  12. Heidi says

    I squealed as soon as I saw the first picture on this post: my daughter had the same recital costume this year! And we also had to add straps (the whole class did) :) We loved it, it was simply lovely. I showed her your pictures and she got a huge smile on her face.
    I love all the resources you give in your Shakespeare plan, and hope in the near future we will be doing the same kind of thing.

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