Saturday, August 15, 2009


We're back from our trip up to Paisley, Oregon and here are some highlights...

For those of you who don't know, the house originally was the Paisley schoolhouse in 1895.

Then it became a Catholic church (some of the stained glass windows are still there), and then a private residence.

We even found out that it was used as a storage facility for the local gas and electric company for a while. Gavin's family bought the house in the early 1980s.

Nadine has done such a wonderful job of restoring and renovating the house, and yet she managed to retain so much of its original charm.

We were in Paisley for a week, and during that time we visited with local friends and neighbors,

had another memorial service for Nadine complete with a potluck dinner,

went to the local swimming hole (called The Falls) of the Chewaucan River,

had dinner at the only restaurant in town, The Homestead, and spent a lot of time in the hammock,

watching the kids ride their bikes, reading and cleaning. It was a full week and it was worth every moment.

Despite our restful time in Oregon, I'm feeling like a deflated balloon. Although I'm looking forward to getting back into a schedule, I'm also exhausted by the mere idea of getting back to it.

It's still so surreal to think about all that we went through with Nadine this summer. My interactions with people feel strange, awkward. At the risk of sounding overdramatic (some might even admit to thinking I've been this way for a while), I'm thinking that we're forever changed from this experience of terminal illness. I know it'll just be time that brings us back into the present. Not that we want to forget, but that eventually these thoughts and feelings won't be so close to the surface anymore.

We were in such a mode of day-to-day living for so many months, not knowing what we might face at the beginning of each day. And then over the last few weeks, we were in 'go' mode for the memorial services, family visiting, and funeral arrangements. Now all that is behind us and we're feeling quite blah. Now we have a choice. We can either stay in this mode and isolate ourselves from others and from activities, or we can choose to participate in the things around us and start to gradually move on.

Life moves on, our family needs to continue to function, and our kids need us to keep going for them. It's all very strange. If I sound confused in my thoughts, believe me, I am.

Our first step to 'getting back to normal' (what is normal, anyway?), happened yesterday. We actually cleaned our house, and I started to go through some of the bags of stuff we brought up from Nadine's house. This week I'm planning a trip to donate things to the thrift shop, we're going to get to Nadine's paperwork and we have to start notifying the DMV, insurance, financial institutions, etc. with the death certificates (sorry to be blunt, no other way around it, I guess - it's reality).

Gavin goes back to work tomorrow and the kids start school on Wednesday. Soccer started last week too. I've busied myself with sewing activities - I even brought my machine up to Oregon.

I made an apron for myself (I know, it's blurry), and then the girls each wanted one of their own,

and then I made placemats with the leftover fabric I found.

We're leaving it all in the Paisley house so it's there for us to use during our visits. I also made a wrap skirt from the Sew What! Skirts book.

If you made it all the way through this blogpost, congratulations - it was a long one. Although this next week has potential to be exhausting, I'm looking forward to the changes, and to moving on. Thanks for listening.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Honoring Nadine

Nadine O'Sullivan
July 21, 1939 - July 22, 2009

Nadine's illness quickly progressed over the past 6 weeks and she went to be with the Lord this past Wednesday night. We are so glad that Gavin was able to be at her side when she passed. It truly was God's mercy because we knew she wasn't getting any better, and that last week was really hard. We are comforted that she got a chance to see her family and closest friends during these past 6 weeks and had a lot of precious moments with each person. Our kids even got to have some time with Nadine on Wednesday morning, and she was pretty coherent during that time.

Nadine is known best by her love for people and going the extra mile to help someone in need. She had a knack for rallying people together for a cause and mobilizing people for community outreach. She cared deeply for her close friends and family and loved time with her grandchildren more than anything else. During her past five years living in her cottage across our driveway, Nadine was a dedicated volunteer at the local Community Gift and Thrift Shop, a member of the Garden Club, volunteer for the Chamber of Commerce, and active with the local schools.

We knew this time was coming, and have thankfully had time to prepare ourselves as well as our kids. However, even though we were anticipating the 'sadness', there's no way to be prepared for the feeling of 'loss' the comes seeping in around the edges and eventually covers us in the day-to-day. We are just taking each day at a time and are trying to give ourselves the time to sit quietly and reflect, and reiterating to our kids over and over that it's ok to cry and be sad, and we'll continue to grieve for quite a while.

This next week is being consumed by all the arrangements for Nadine's memorial service in which we're trying to do our best in honoring the wishes she shared with us along with figuring out other details we didn't get a chance to talk with her about. Gavin's dad spent the weekend with us and was such an incredible help with sorting through all the photos and boxes of memories. We are so grateful, Mike, for your time and dedication. My mom arrives later today and will be here for the week. She's such a welcome distraction for the kids and just emanates warmth, love and comfort to us whenever she comes. Thanks, Mom!

Nadine's memorial service is this coming Saturday and we're hoping it'll just be a nice time for all of us to get together and enjoy reminiscing old stories. I'm usually not a socially outgoing person, and I'm not always comfortable in large groups, but having family around during this time has been so helpful and I'm looking forward to having everyone here together.

For me, I've been pretty reflective of my relationship with Nadine. Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law stereotypically aren't known for being close, and our relationship started out much that same way 15 years ago. But through the years we've worked through a lot. Asking Nadine to move essentially next door to us was just about the best thing God could have orchestrated in our lives. It forced Nadine and I to work through our differences and to settle our skirmishes quickly instead of letting distance drag them out. Totally separate from Gavin and the kids, she and I developed such a pleasant friendship and I just wish we had our 'girls nights out' more often than we did. God knew that we needed daily time with Nadine and she with us, knowing that our time would be cut short down the road. We are now filled with such precious memories and we get to chuckle with fondness at the things that used to bother us so much. I'm not the only one who has shared that Nadine taught me how to let go of things like the need to be on time, needing things to be 'just so', and making relationships more important than those things. In her own quiet way, Nadine was a rebel. She questioned authority, broke petty rules, and encouraged others to join in her shenanegans! And I'm really missing her!

Whenever there are such major events in our lives, it causes us to reflect and take stock of our own lives. I'm planning on taking hold of those moments and am going to try not to let busy-ness get in the way. We're leaning on God and He is so faithful to bring us comfort, blessings big and small, and His mercy.

After the Memorial Service, we're planning a trip up to Nadine's home-away-from-home, Paisley, Oregon. It's a small, tight-knit town and we know Nadine will be missed by many there. We've been going up to Paisley every year and it's been a place for us to unwind and have some peaceful family time. Now more than ever, we're looking forward to our visit there.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

i just couldn't resist

While the girls were in LA last week with Grammy, Boppa and Aunt Sandy, Worker Boy and I were home workin' on stuff. We decided that summer jammies would be a lot of fun and we got busy.

I almost ran out of fabric for Worker Boy's jammies, but I had enough for the girls and plenty leftover. I used the Bandana Pants pattern from Blue Yonder. Worker Boy had me add belt loops so he could wear his belt because, in his mind, these were not just for bedtime!

Upon hearing about the extra fabric when we talked on the phone last week, Sunshine Girl immediately begged,"Jammies for Nellie and Samantha! Pleeaasse?" So this is how it happened.

They've been parading around in the jammies all afternoon and can't go ANYWHERE without Nellie and Samantha! They even came to dinner on the patio at Gramma O's house.

Worker Boy couldn't help but get into the spotlight too!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

snippets and handbag fever

I've been back at my sewing machine and draining my fabric budget! (I don't really have a budget for fabric) I've been surprising my family with my new handbags that are so fast, fun and easy to make. Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol has been my source of inspiration.
Here is the Pleated Beauty Bag. It's such a great size, I think I'm going to make another one.

I've already made two of the Charming Handbags and I'm sure I'll make more soon.

Our 4th of July Parade was especially fun this year because our very own Pumpkin Girl played her flute with a marching band comprised of kids from 3 different area schools.

It was such a proud moment for us.

Gavin videotaped them in front of the judges and then followed them along the rest of the parade route. He almost got stopped by a bike cop along the way!

I've already been pretty sporadic with my blog posts - so different from my intentions at the beginning of the year. As I've previously mentioned, my mother-in-law has metastatic liver cancer and has been undergoing chemotherapy. About a month ago she went back to the hospital with complications and now she's back home (right across our driveway) with hospice care. We're trying to just soak up our time with her. It's been such a blessing to have her at home instead of at a care facility. Our kids have been able to come and go, and are very natural in their interactions with her instead of sterile and awkward if we were going for a visit. We've been hosting lots of family and friends who have come to help, spend quality time with her and to say good-bye. They've been such precious moments mixed with laughter and tears. Right now she's on a plateau and we're relieved that she's fairly comfortable most of the time. Hospice has been great as has all the help from local friends and our church. We don't know God's timing in all this, so we're just taking one day at a time and trying not to borrow worry from the next.

Friday, June 12, 2009

craft hope dolls

A few weeks ago we took a weekend trip to a friend's cabin with their family and my friend said she had a sewing project she planned to work on while we were there. It's this cool project for Craft Hope where they're sending handmade dolls to kids in an orphanage in Nicaraugua. A missionary is going to deliver them on her trip there. I hadn't touched my sewing machine in two months, so I wasn't sure whether I was 'in' or not, but nevertheless brought my machine, supplies and fabric scraps just in case. Our oldest kids (ages 7-10) were pretty interested in making the dolls, so we decided to at least get started. We didn't finish during our trip, but knew we had plenty of time before the deadline to complete and send off the dolls.

Well, the deadline is Saturday and my girls and I just finished the dolls and sent them off (Priority Mail, mind you) yesterday! Even though I helped with some of the assembly and I had to remind them to keep things simple (you wouldn't believe the embellishments they wanted to do!), they made the dolls all on their own and were very proud of their results.

Now they're ready to make more dolls, and this time I think I'll let them embellish however they want since we're not on such a short timeline. Of course we also have fabric waiting for the reading caddies they want to make for themselves ... we've also talked about making some skirts for the summer ... as well as more pj pants since their current matching pair seem to get smaller after every wash ... not to mention that Craft Hope will have a new project announcement on the 14th.

Not enough time!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


My oldest daughter's 4th grade class took me by surprise the other day. Last week was the end of school (yes, I'm a little late with this post), and like most of you, it's a scramble with teacher gifts, class parties, and deciding what to do with the massive amounts of projects that come home in that last week! Well, in the midst of the chaos, Pumpkin's class put together something pretty special for their volunteer Art Docent (aka: me).

They made watercolor pictures that incorporated their initials and tied it together to make a book. They also gave me pretty flowers and a few chocolate bars that are long gone. :)

I was totally blown away. Their such a thoughtful group of kids and they got so much pleasure out of watching someone receive something they had made. It truly was an honored moment for me.

The kids and I had fun working on gifts for their teachers, too! We decided to make reading caddies for their teachers. The girls made theirs completely on their own and I made the one for Worker's preschool teacher (unfortunately I forgot to take a photo!)

I also had fun making a tangy tomatillo salsa. Hubby was pretty excited that it hadn't all been given away!

Lastly, there were group gifts from the class to their teacher. I wasn't sure whether I would be able to pull all this together and was quite doubtful up to the last minute. Being the art docent for my daughters' classrooms, I have an opportunity to have the kids create something as a group that would be near impossible outside of school. Given that, I decided to make my final lessons of the year into something we could give to their teachers in appreciation.

For Sunshine's class, the kids made watercolor apples which I mounted on mat board and framed.

For Pumpkin's class, the kids watercolored small squares of paper with their names already on them and then, when dry, wrote something encouraging to their teacher. I decoupaged a small box and labeled it the Encouragement Box.

It was very fun doing all these projects, however, I discovered that all my normal downtime (you know, 5-10 min. sitting time, max!) was being taken up by these other activities. They were very fulfilling activities, but I definitely needed a break! And as my husband noted, what's going to happen next year? (I think I'm beginning to get a reputation at school - good or bad??)

Friday, May 1, 2009

more cuties

Our two blue cochins arrived the other day and, boy, did they cause quite a ruckus in the box! Our biggest chicks turned into well, for lack of a better word, chickens! They were trying to get as far away as possible from these little fuzzy newcomers. It was pretty funny to see. I kept checking in on them throughout the day to make sure no one turned on these little gals.

Introducing..... Speck

and Snips

Now they're all great friends and sleep in one big huddle.