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March 2009

commentary and weekend sewing

Before getting into my own gushing commentary on Weekend Sewing, let's talk about YOUR comments! I'm not sure if you are aware of Typepad Connect ... a new, discussion-oriented comments feature that allows everyone to respond directly to others' comments. After seeing it on Stefani's rockin' blog and scratching my chin for several minutes (which is about the level of patience I have for techno-related things) I figured that she had the feature just because she was cool (which she is, of course) and that I would have to wait for Typepad to switch me over to "cool" status once the feature was out of beta testing. Not so! Thanks to Amanda for clarifying! If you have a Typepad blog, just go directly to Typepad Connect and sign up. If you don't have a Typepad blog but would like to have your own profile and be able to connect to other readers more directly, go here.

I'm really optimistic about this new feature in great part because I am SO BAD at responding to comments. I love, love, love all of your thoughtfulness and responses, but as soon as I read one in my inbox (and I do read every one!) it somehow falls into the black hole of my gmail account - awaiting a response that keeps on getting put off until it is lost forever. Some people put off the laundry. Others put off the dishes. I put off my emails. And now? Things are especially bad what with my workday schedule of 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. This book writing has been a real hoot, but it sure has filled my days to the brim, causing many things to overflow - the most noticeable being my emails. So I've made a deal with myself. I need to accept that it's just too much for me to think about, let alone respond to, every email I've received in the last month or so. I need to accept that I just can't do it all! But now, with this wonderful new comment format, I will be able to respond directly to you if you have a question, etc. simply by clicking "reply" at the bottom of your comment on my blog. You'll receive an email from me, and other readers might get their questions answered as well. Also, feel free to hit "reply" below a comment to respond to other commenters directly! I just love the possibilities here - it's so much more conversational and community-oriented.

From now on, look for my responses to your comments directly in the comment thread (or in your email inbox, if I respond directly to your comment). I'm the one with the cherry blossom belly pic!


weekend sewing by heather ross

Okay. First off, thank you for all of your birthday wishes a few days back! I enjoyed a relaxing day which began with a walk and brunch with my mom and my dear girlfriend from way-back-when, who also happened to be the maid of honor in our wedding almost five (gasp!) years ago.

As is my custom, I did something for myself for my birthday. This isn't always a purchase (on past birthdays it has been as simple as making a favorite dish or hanging out by the river and doing nothing). This year, I decided to buy myself Heather Ross's new book, Weekend Sewing . Boy oh boy, am I glad that I did!

weekend sewing huck finn pants

You must understand that, among the many things that I have learned while writing my own sewing book, the first is the amount of love, time, and dedication it takes to design, sew up, and write all of the projects and their instructions. Heather has forty projects in this book, and I want to personally give her a hug and thank her for all of her hard work. She really did a splendid job.

weekend sewing lucy's newborn kimono

Of course, being all baby-brained in pregnancy week 34, I was immediately drawn to the ankle pants and the newborn kimono. I'm bummed that the pants are only sized between 12 and 24 months. I might try to work up something in a tiny size anyway.

The little kimono looks super simple, and I'm a big fan of kimono-style shirts for the little teensy babes. It seems like it would be easier to get them dressed in one of these than in a pull-over-the-head onesie.

Both of these projects are on my "as soon as the manuscript is mailed fury of baby sewing" list that you'll be seeing around these parts very soon!

weekend sewing kimono dress

Here's a dress that I will definitely make for myself. Again, the construction looks simple and quick - perfect for a naptime project. We have a wedding to go to this coming August (my best guy friend from high school is marrying Patrick's cousin - they met at our wedding) and I wouldn't miss it for the world. The thing is, I'll only be three months postpartum and I'll be breastfeeding - not the best combo for dress shopping, right? That's why this dress looks so perfect - it has cross-over V-neck for easy food access, plus the waist is done up with elastic thread. Just in case I haven't lost all 31 pounds by the wedding (ha!).

Heather uses elastic thread in many of the book projects - I can't wait to try it out and make it my best friend.

weekend sewing pj pants

Finally, I'll be working up these elastic-waist pajama pants in a vintage sheet that I've had lying around. I'm hoping that I'll have enough sheet left over to make a matching short bathrobe for those special, post-baby-hang-out-in-bed days.

Hopefully, one day very soon, I'll have a finished sewing project that I can actually show you!


Update - can any of you see the comments at the end of this post? They look great for the previous posts, but they aren't showing up for me when I click on the "comments" link at the bottom of this post in particular. I'm getting your comments in my inbox, but ?? I'm confused here. Hopefully I'll get this up and working sooner rather than later!

behind the scenes 1

cherry blossom belly, 34 weeks, duke gardens
cherry blossom belly taken by Patrick, 34 weeks, Duke gardens

patrick taking a belly photo in duke gardens, by emily
Patrick doing the photo dance while taking the above shot, taken by my friend Emily

There's nothing quite like going for a stroll through blooming gardens with friends and family. We're all equally enraptured by the flowers bursting out all over, and the cameras are constantly wielded. Many different views of the same shot are downloaded and shared, and we get a privileged behind-the-scenes tour of both gardens and people.

I just love how seeing a photograph from a different perspective provides another glimpse at what would have been a forgotten moment - one that would have inevitably melded into the dominant viewpoint, lost to the limitations of human memory.

Everything, it seems, is made better with the presence of loved ones. Even photography.

swaggering into Spring

orchid in bedroom

Thoughts on my last day being 27 ...
...I bought an orchid for our bedroom. It survived the cat gravity experiment.
...Lots of waddling swaggering around town makes for a tired pregnant lady at 8:34 p.m.
...Mom and Dad are here visiting. I'm going to the airport to pick up my dear friend from high school. The last birthday I spent with any of them was exactly 10 years ago, on my 18th.
...The baby shower is on Saturday. No corny games, co-ed, with strawberry shortcake and mimosas for those who aren't in the process of making a human being.
...How cool. I'm making a human being.
...Did I mention that I am tired?

julie andrews philosophy and a sponsor offer

Happy weekending to you! A big thanks to once again to Maya, Marcy, Jennifer and Grace for their beautiful and thoughtful reflections on motherhood - and for giving me the opportunity to spend a very productive week focused on book writing. Things will be back to "normal" here next week, even though I still have plenty of work to do on the book. April 1st is my deadline. Until that day, I must continue to sing this song. (Is it just me, or is there a Julie Andrews song for every human situation? Yes, I think so. Well, then ... so much for the degree in philosophy ... I should have majored in musical theater!)

Today's sponsor offer is from LuSa Organics - I can personally attest to the wonderful yumminess of their stuff. I received my baby basket the other day, and I can't wait to bust it out come May. I'm particularly excited about the baby massage oil, as we will be receiving in-home instruction in the art of infant massage after the arrival of the babe. That, and I'll be spoiled with a professional postpartum massage. Isn't my dear Patrick the best?

Anyway, read on to learn more about LuSa.


LuSa Organics began as a hobby for environmental educator Rachel Wolf in 1997. After years of formulating recipes that denied logic in their deliciousness and sensory-magic-making, Rachel and husband Pete launched LuSa Organics in 2008, revealing a fresh new line of truly natural body care for mamas, babies, children, and the rest of us.


As for their name, LuSa stands for Lupine and Sage, Pete and Rachel's two favorite small people - their kids. The business orbits their children's lives as they live, work, play, and homeschool together each day. Their intention is to leave the world a better, happier, and yes, cleaner, so LuSa is inspired by all kids, not just their own.

LuSa Organics and the Wolf clan are based in Viroqua, Wisconsin — arguably the most magical small town on earth. All products are handcrafted by a loving collection of people dedicated to creating a more pleasurable and joyful world.


Add a scratch and dent Booty Balm to your order and with coupon code sdtravel3 it will be free! Booty Balm is great for diaper rash, but equally amazing for hang nails, wind burn, skinned knees, heat rash - any red, rashy, or sore skin.

motherhood is ...

What an honor it is to have Grace from Uncommon Grace visiting here today for the last reflection in the "Motherhood is ..." series. You see, Grace has just given birth to her third baby - a beautiful little girl. I'm sure so many of you can appreciate the life transitions that occur when a family grows in number... new sibling relationships are formed, papas go back to work, and life moves forward in beautiful yet sometimes challenging ways until you settle into a new "normal." So please go and visit Grace in her thoughtful, Waldorf-inspired home, and wish her well!


...the hardest, best, funnest, and most motivating thing I have ever done

...getting to know each of your children as individuals: realizing how very different all people really are

...the opportunity to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel everything afresh baby bliss

...rough nights with the confused emotions of a three-year-old

...having to say "no": to family, friends, your partner, yourself, playdates, classes, the latest critically-acclaimed novel, and even, sometimes, to your children


...learning to live in the moment, even if it's the hardest life lesson you've ever had to learn

...holding a tarantula and telling your squeamish daughter that it's "no big deal", even though you'd rather be doing anything else in the whole world

...nursing while typing

...that first (second, third...) terrifying drive to the emergency room

...knowing everything about another person and still being surprised every single day by their very being

...needing your own mother again


...wanting to freeze time, and knowing you can't

motherhood is ... an awakening

The exceptionally talented, generous, and uplifting Jennifer from JCHandmade is not only a prolific knitter and a wonder-worker with her sewing machine, she is the mother of twin girls. I love visiting her space, being inspired, and knowing that I'll leave feeling refreshed. Thank you, Jennifer, for making this world a little brighter for all of us!

motherhood is

motherhood is an awakening.

slowly you rise each morning to draw back the curtain on your tiny window to the world. you swoon at the luminous colors cast across the sky by each sunrise and sunset. you go about your days, do your thing, life is what it is.

and then one day a door opens. a door which had previously been obscured from view now lies open. it invites you to pass through. and as you do, you find yourself in a vast castle with more rooms and corridors than one could ever possibly imagine. and as you set foot into this new space, life as you know it is irrevocably changed.

with each sunrise, you make your way down a corridor trying the door handles as you go. eventually one opens and you enter, drawing back the curtain on yet another tiny window to the world. some days the sun streams in with such brilliance you are knocked off your feet as it warms your very essence and fuels your soul. and then there are days when you find only darkness in your space, challenging your course, eating away at your energy. as you stumble, you come to find that the only one tripping you up is you. and so you pause, you breathe, and you try your best to embrace the moment for what it is: an opportunity. over time, you come to truly appreciate the light and warmth as it allows you to step back and gain perspective of precisely where you are, and to be thankful for your journey thus far. and though it is tempting to look ahead, you learn to savor the bliss of each moment in each room in time.

motherhood has been and continues to be the greatest gift I have been given. even if I could, I would not alter the course that has brought us to our here and now. as each new door opens, I gain a tiny bit more perspective on the world and our particular moment in time. we continue down the path that lies ahead: some days we will guide, some days we will be guided. getting to that place – being in that place – is sublime. xoxo

~jennifer casa [march 2009]

motherhood is ... so worth it

Today we welcome Marcy from Life is Good. Marcy is a fellow Montessorian, and I wouldn't be surprised if she was the first person who ever bothered to read this blog, way back in February 2007 when it was still "Montessori By Hand!" I've thoroughly enjoyed reading Marcy's witty, honest, and uplifting posts about her journey through pregnancy and motherhood - she and her son Donovan are just a step ahead of me and my little boy! When you get a chance, check out some of Marcy's gorgeous photos.


When Meg first asked me to write a post with the theme of "Motherhood is..." I thought it would be a pretty simple and easy one to write. But when I started thinking more concretely about what to say, I realized that it would actually be kinda hard. And that right there sums up motherhood in a way. Motherhood is in some ways such a simple, easy, natural thing. It is also so, so difficult and complex. Motherhood is a uniting force, but it can also feel very lonely. Motherhood is an experience so universal, and at the same time so unique and personal.

I became a mother a little over a year ago. It's not much of a stretch to say that the past year has been the hardest of my life. I've been sleep-deprived through most of it, feeling more exhausted than I ever thought possible. I have worried endlessly about this little boy that came into my life and into my care, constantly second-guessing my decisions and whether I was doing a good enough job. I have read countless parenting books, and become deeply annoyed by most of them. I have been "on call" 24/7, with never more than maybe a couple of hours "off" every once in a while. There have been tears, anger, and frustration. Yes, it has been tough.

But as that old, but so true, cliche goes, motherhood is both the hardest job I've ever had, and also the most rewarding. I think my son has made me laugh-- really laugh, those deep belly laughs-- at least once a day, every single day of his existence. My husband and I often turn to each other and gush about our little boy, wondering how in the world we wound up with a child who is so adorable, so smart, and so awesome. I'll watch him as he falls alseep at night, and my heart fills with such love for him and I wish I could just freeze that moment in time and keep it in my heart forever. I am in awe of him, seeing the world through his eyes as he absorbs everything around him. His every achievement, no matter how small, fills me with pride and joy. I adore him to death, and feel so honored to be his mother.

I know I have many years of more worrying, questioning, and probably some more tears ahead of me in my continuing journey into motherhood. I also know I would never trade this for anything in the world. Motherhood is so worth it.

motherhood is ... finding balance

A warm welcome to the ever-thoughtful, supremely creative Maya of maya*made! I just love her words of wisdom, which are such a wonderful reminder even if you aren't a mother!


Motherhood is... finding balance
~ when to hold your child's hand and when to let it go
~ when to listen to others' advice and how to hear your own wisdom
~ how to give to yourself, while you provide so much to everyone else
~ learning how to play and still get work done
~ learning how to get work done and still play
~ figuring out what is too much and what is just enough
~ flexibility vs. structure
~ spontaneity vs. routine

Motherhood is a bit like walking on a tightrope and balance is what keeps us putting one foot in front of the other.

I'd love to hear about your balancing acts...

a glimpse at montessori parenting :: edison's day

Hello there! I'm back, but only briefly. Book writing and project making continues at full speed ahead. I'm somehow managing to remain sane. I think I can ... I think I can ... the top of this long hill is definitely in sight.

Here's some good news for both you and my sanity - I'll have the pleasure of sharing this space with some of my favorite bloggers, Maya, Grace, Marcy, and Jennifer, who will be posting here Tuesday through Friday. These women have been inspirational for me as I embark upon this journey into motherhood. Please give them a warm welcome as they share their reflections on the theme "motherhood is ...".

I'll leave you with this must-watch video, Edison's Day. It's about a typical day in the life of a 20 month-old boy being raised by his Montessori-trained parents. (If I recall, his mother, Sarah, is the one behind Primrose Materials - I'm not sure if they're still in business, as it's been years since their website was updated.) In it you will find abundant ideas on how to set up a home environment for a young child. My favorites? The "Feeding the Cat" practical life exercise (we'll definitely have that one in this house!) and the water spout at child's height. I also adore how his activities are dispersed throughout the house and aren't corded off in his room. He's clearly involved in every aspect of daily life in their household.

Back in February 2007, while attending the Montessori Centenary Celebration in San Francisco, I had the privilege of watching the premier of Edison's Day. Since then, I've been hoping that it would pop up somewhere in cyberspace, both to show Patrick and to watch it over and over and over again. Thank you, Kirsten, for sending me the link! Enjoy!

Edisons Day -

I just found some more useful links for parents - this video preview, as well as NAMTA's (North American Montessori Teacher's Association) parent resources. Doesn't that little toddler cookbook look fun?