Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Missing a marathon and ripping out knitting

I'm not a planner by nature.  I don't really like to plan long term because something always comes up and I just hate feeling committed to something that I'm not sure will take place.  I make long term plans reluctantly.

Last January, I signed up to run the Columbus marathon that took place last weekend.  I had done the half twice and just KNEW that I was ready for the whole thing!  I got a book with a training plan and circled the date on my calendar....told everyone about it....I was ready.  And guess what?  I ended up not running; long term plans foiled again.

In July, Mark and I were running a 10 mile race and I stepped into this little dip in the road and twisted my ankle.  Instead of stopping, I finished the race (the twist happened at about mile 2), limping along yet determined to finish so I could wear my t-shirt.  That was a mistake.  My ankle just didn't get better and my training suffered and around the beginning of September, I realized that the full marathon was out of the question.  I switched my entry back to the half, knowing I could complete that, and continuing on with a lighter training schedule.

The first of October rolls around and I get sick.  Now, I never get sick; the rest of my family could be hacking up a lung or running a raging fever and I don't get as much as a sniffle.  But this time, I got a horrible cold that continued to get worse and became bronchitis.  The week before the race I realized that I wouldn't be able to run at all and ended up not even going to Ohio.

Knitting projects are also long term commitments because once one starts, one has to finish.  I usually don't do big projects because they require too much time and commitment and, again, I don't like that.  I also have a knack for making some mistake about 3/4 of the way through something and have to rip out half of it to fix it.  Now, if you don't knit, you have no idea how frustrating it is to have to rip out all of those rows of knitting, and how time consuming!!!  Each stitch has to be removed and placed onto the other needle and rows must be carefully counted to the pattern doesn't get messed up.

But I've learned some important lessons from my missed marathon and my ripped out knitting.  First, my plans don't count for anything because my plans are made in my own selfish humanness.  God has a plan and purpose for each and every day of my life, each and every moment of that day.  I have to be open to what He wants for me, not what I want for myself.  The best part of that is that His plan is always so much better than what I've planned!!!!  Because I didn't go to that marathon, I got to be here for Andrew's soccer tournament and he was named to the all tournament team.  I got to spend some great time with Lily, picking out pumpkins and going for a train ride. Ripping out that knitting often causes some changes to a pattern that makes it better, or I find another mistake that I missed that I get to correct. 

Disappointments are part of life.  Learn from the changed plans and enjoy the ride.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Nothing gold can stay

"Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay."

  - Robert Frost

I love this poem.  (I love Robert Frost!  My favorite poem - The Road Not Taken - is something I think of every year during graduation....)  Over the years, the images and emotions these eight little lines bring to mind have changed, but I always think of how things change; of how fleeting every moment is and how I need to burn the memories into my mind.

Autumn is a beautiful yet bittersweet time.  All of the colors and smells and sounds....football, pumpkins, Halloween, crisp and sunny days.....I love it all.  Yet I am reminded that it changes in an instant, that the beautiful fall day becomes the snowstorm the next.

Yesterday I drove to Richland Center, WI for the last soccer tournament I will attend as the parent of a player.  Andrew had a great day and a great game; he had several great saves and was named to the all tournament team!  It was a glorious, yet cold and windy autumn day and it was great to spend it with my old and new friends.  As I sat and watched and cheered, I thought of the eight years I have spent as the mom of an MAHS soccer player; of the days of watching Garry struggle as a young player to his senior year and the skilled player he became, to Margo taking on the boys, to Andrew taking over the goalie position for his team.  My kids grew up with this team, with these players, with these families and now they are all moving on to college and careers and families of their own.

These days of homeschooling and soccer and debate and everything else are truly gold.  I've been blessed to be home with my kids and enjoy the gold of every day and every moment.  In a blink of an eye they have all gone from sweet little babies to wonderful young adults with wonderful plans and goals and big hearts.  While the gold can't stay and in so many ways is sad to see fade, the gold is often replaced with something more precious and wonderful. 

Just for today, enjoy the gold.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

You can do this!!!

I came across this idea from a post I got on my Facebook page yesterday.  They are called comfort dolls and are used to bring comfort to children who have lost parents in the AIDS pandemic in Africa.

Here's the link if you are interested:


As many of you know, my beautiful daughter, Lily, is from Ethiopia, one of the countries that has been devastated by HIV/AIDS.  After finding this link, I thought that it would be awesome to get some of my friends and fellow knitters together and make some of these to send to Ethiopia for the kids in the care centers and other homes so they have something soft to hug, and to know that there are people in the world who really care about them.

The instructions include a pattern for young children to be able to knit some.  It is VERY simple....even if you know nothing about knitting, you could probably knit one of these!

I have a TON of stash yarn...you know, that yarn that just accumulates and finally there are bins and bins of it stacked in the basement or other spare room.  Any of you who would like to join me in project comfort doll, please let me know!  We can have a little class on them and have some tea and muffins, then knit something for some very special children.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Simple life?

I love all the talk and blogs about living the simple life, which is code for some sort of nirvana where we all frolic in green meadows, eat beautiful and organic produce whipped into luscious dishes, and the house is minimalist and clean.  Families read and create while listening to lovely music and we all lounge comfortably in our stylish, yet second hand clothing.

This simple life seems to be unattainable for me.  No matter what I do, life is just more complicated!  Here are just a couple of examples of my failure in the simple life pursuit......

1)  A garden.  For some reason, gardens are synonymous with simple living.  I think someone forgot about all of the work a garden is.  My garden is completely overtaken by the acorn squash I planted, the lettuce never grew, the chili peppers are so prolific that I could probably start my own company, and my family doesn't really like tomatoes so the 70 pounds of cherry tomatoes are rotting now.  Everyone was so enthusiastic about the garden until the weeds needed to be pulled and it was 101 degrees.  There is nothing simple about a garden and all of those pictures of families enjoying time in one are staged.

2)  Home schooling.  This has got to be the most ridiculous myth ever created - that home schooling is part of the simple life.  There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING simple about home schooling!  I had that image in my mind when we first started home schooling almost 11 years ago - that wonderful image of kids around the table, with a fire roaring, and everyone working diligently on their lessons.  We would all take a morning cocoa break and have a little devotional and it would be wonderful.  The reality was that no one wanted to sit at the table, everyone whined about the lessons, I was pulling my hair out with lesson plans and trying to get 12 hours of schooling into the day along with everything else, and my kids hated everything that I tried to do with them.  We have tweaked our curriculum and our styles over the years and have settled into a routine, but home schooling is time consuming and hard and if you think you will experience the simple life by having your kids home and with you 24/7, you need to buy some swampland in Florida.

3) Crafts.  Crafting is not simple and not cheap.  I'm a knitter and I love to make things for people.  I probably have enough yarn in my basement to make stuff for the next 132 years and enough knitting needles for the entire Village of Waunakee to knit.  However, I never actually have the needles that I need for a project or I can't find the ones I have and the yarn I have isn't the correct color or I don't have enough of it.  I'll be making gifts and end up staying up until 5 AM trying to finish that last hat, or I'm dragging a suitcase full of afghan with me to the soccer field so I can finish it.  Craft supplies come with a price tag and it seems that that one little thing you need to finish your project is never around and you have to run to JoAnn's or Michael's to get that last glue stick or whatever. 

Every simple life site should have a picture of a cat.  Cats are the only animals that actually have simple life:  they eat, they sleep, they use their litter box, and they get attention when they want.  In my next life, I want to be a cat.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

October the 8th?

Is it really October 8th?  It feels more like August 8th....it was 81 degrees today!

Not wanting to pull out the wool scarf I am knitting, I worked on some wristlets all day as I bounced back and forth between soccer games, spending time with Miss Lily, and watching football.  I have several small projects going, but it's too hot to pull out some of them. 

Andrew's soccer team played in a tournament today and lost both games.  His team isn't very good and they were down about 6 players, so we weren't surprised.  He has sort of gotten used to losing this year!

It was still an overall good day for him; he got his driver's license today!  We now have five drivers in the house AND I only have to play taxi to one child now!

It's been a long week.....wish I could just lie around the house like Princess Ella.....

Friday, October 7, 2011

No introduction necessary

The title of my blog says it all....I am the crazy cat lady.
Well, not quite yet. I always joke to Mr. Helen that I am going to be one of those old, crazy cat ladies with something like 873 cats living in our house and giving them all the food while we eat beans. Of course, Mr. Helen isn't exactly thrilled with that and informs me that, as long as he lives, I will NOT become the old crazy cat lady.
We currently have three cats: Leonardo, our old man, who is a spry 13; Gizmo, the fat, lazy, black giant who is 7; and baby Ella, the princess, who just turned one. We also have our crazy dog, Axel, who joined the family this summer and just turned 2. Gotta have a dog in the mix, right?
I have been crazy about cats since I was a little girl and have had many over the years. I would LOVE to have a small farm someday and have rescue cats, with a small shop where I can sell yarn, serve hot tea with fresh baked goods, and welcome friends and family to share in all the simple pleasures of life.
Join me as I share a bit of this and that. I hope we can all get to know one another much better!