30 June 2006
happy birthday, dear blog
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, one year ago today a baby blog was born! And just look at it now, all full of words and pictures, with a happy circle of friends around the whole world!

To each and every one of you who come visit me here, I want to say thank you! You've filled an empty spot in my life, cheered me on when I've felt down, encouraged me when I was uncertain, steered me in different directions than I would've otherwise tried - in short, you have become dear friends to me and my life has been made richer through contact with you. Thank you!!!

As a birthday gift to my little blog, I've worked at lightening speed (for me) to get my block on Carol's neighborhood completed so I could post it. This one was tricky for me - Carol has such a beautiful, refined, realistic style that I felt very shy and insecure about my usual giant birds, looming houses, tiny trees ... I've learned a good bit about perspective the past week! Here is a close-up of the orchard. If you would like to see the whole block, please pop over to our neighborhood blog, where you can also see what the rest of us are up to these days.

A good friend asked me today if everything was okay because I hadn't been blogging as much as usual. In truth, I'd begun feeling sort of sad again. But my mom - in that magical way of mothers - seemed to understand exactly what I needed and a couple of days ago, I found this in the post. It's a bracelet with the name I wanted to give our baby. I've worn it every day since I got it and it's given me a lot of comfort. (Blogger won't let me load the photo, so this is from Photobucket.)

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On a more positive note, I've applied for a three year course beginning in September. I meet all the requirements, I'm only not sure if I got my application in early enough. I should hear early next week. Cross your fingers for me!

The kids are all doing great - Nicky and Rowen are both at a stage where they seem to develop by leaps & by bounds. Rowen's language has really taken off, and Nicky is ever his forward self. The other day in the supermarket checkout line, he proudly announced that he was a boy and had a penis. I managed to stop him before he proved his point! Max is looking forward to summer holiday, which begins next Friday.
posted by mainely stitching at 10:08 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 2 comments
25 June 2006
stitchy weekend

It was a relatively quiet weekend here, so I managed to work on my charity square for a little bit on Saturday and on Carol's neighborhood for a little bit this evening. (This picture is taken at an abrupt leave-off; the funny blue building is a gardening shed - gardens to follow!) The kids had a party at their daycare on Saturday that we also went to, and that was so fun! We stayed for the full two hours. Not too much else to add, but I'll leave you with a couple of progress pictures. And a big thank you for all the nice comments about my "Extreme" design so far.

posted by mainely stitching at 11:40 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 4 comments
19 June 2006
what are you going to be when you grow up?
Growing up, I wanted to be everything at one point or another. A trombonist in the Lawrence Welk band (I just loved those bubbles at the end of the show). A running back for the Rams. A famous downhill speed skiier. A vet. A lawyer. A university professor. A novelist/poet/essayist. A potter. Somehow, I wound up becoming a technical writer (after forays into retail, food services, and real estate!) and 8 years later I'm still wondering just what the heck I'm doing in this career. Here in the Netherlands, my education and background sort of limit me - I graduated with an English degree (and about enough psychology credits for a minor). My Dutch has never become what you could call fluent - I can get by, but it's obvious I'm a foreigner. So I needed a job where I could not only write/read in English, but where I could be in a mainly English-speaking environment. Computers! Which is just too funny because I'm the least technical person under 80 that you are likely to meet. I bet there are Amish people out there who are more savvy than I am.

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Lately I've begun to wake up and shake loose some of the syrup that my brain has been immersed in and to seriously question: "What now?" The winds of change have been blowing ... Do I want to gamble on returning to Maine (a more difficult undertaking than one might expect, as Max's biological father has blocked our efforts to even vacation in the US in the past)? Do I want to lay down even more permanent roots here by undertaking a new education to launch a new career? Both have very valid pros and cons.

But back to stitching! While I waited for Carol's neighborhood to arrive, I started another charity quilt square. I've designed this one myself - it's for a boy who would do extreme sports if not for his illness, so I'm creating an "extreme" sign in the middle that will look like a Caution road sign. There'll be a square border around the outside edges that pick up the diamond-shape and vibrant colors of the sign. And in the four corners, I'll stitch motifs from different extreme sports, like parachuting and stuff.

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However, Carol's NRR arrived today and that will take top priority so I can be sure to finish it and mail it on to Rachael before I leave for Maine next month. And I have no idea what to stitch on this one! It's so lovely, but so different than the patterns I have in my stash! Never fear, I'll start rummaging around this afternoon and no doubt something will appear. Kudos to Carol and Annemarie on their gorgeous stitching. I hope I don't let anyone down!!

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(Blogger is again refusing to upload my pictures so I had to use Photobucket. For a clickable picture of Carol's neighborhood, go see Our Neighborhood blog.)
18 June 2006
happy father's day!

To all the wonderful fathers in my life, who fill my days with love and happiness: Niek, Daddy and Jim! And my brother, who is a wonderful father, too!! Here's our little family at the breakfast table this morning when Niek opened and enjoyed his gifts from the kids.
posted by mainely stitching at 11:22 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
17 June 2006
the truth about dogs ... and birds?
Or alternatively titled: The birds and the dogs...

This morning when I came home from yoga, I found an addition to our family - a very lively little Jack Russell terrier had let herself in to the garden and the house and had promptly taken over. The kids were delighted, and we all enjoyed playing catch with her. Terra, as the doggie turned out to be named, was tremendously curious about Gilbert (and vice versa). Eventually we managed to track down the real owners, who had missed their little girl - but our kids were pretty sad to see her go.

I found a little bit of stitching time on this busy, sunny day to finally finish my Dumbo square for the circus quilt being assembled by Cross Stitching for Charity. I had a hard time with this one and asked myself more than once why I signed up for it. I do not have a single circus-themed pattern to my name. And this is a big square (9 inches square) to fill up! The Dumbo is actually a knitting pattern. The car is from an old DMC booklet. The seal and one clown were from another freebie site, and the final clown is one I made up. I'm pretty relieved to be done, and next time I will be more careful to sign up for projects that I can actually deliver. LOL!

Tomorrow is Father's Day and the kids have made some terrific gifts for their Daddy. We are hoping he'll sleep in a bit, so I can make pancakes for breakfast. I also made reservations at a smoke-free restaurant in Delft for dinner. I love eating out in Delft - or doing anything there. It's a beautiful city. Hopefully we'll also stop in to see some friends who just had a baby girl and also by an eBay seller who had some very nice books for sale that I sort of bought. Oops.
posted by mainely stitching at 10:19 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
15 June 2006
how did she know?
The mailman surprised me today with an unexpected packet. Very curious, I snapped it up before the kids could get at it and saw Cathy's name on the return address. By now I was very, very curious and quickly opened it up and found much-longed for Gingher scissors and a long-admired chart from The Cat's Whiskers for the Red Desert Scissor Pocket - with Dinky Dyes fibers and button! In her sweet card, Cathy explained this was a late birthday gift. It was also a "pick me up after too many sleepless nights and too many illnesses" gift! Thanks so much, Cathy! But how did you know how much I wanted these two items?? I don't remember ever mentioning it to anyone. You must've been reading my mind!

I've been "gambling" a bit on eBay lately (one of the hazards of listing items is that I spend too much time nosing around on the site) and won two gorgeous calendars from the Danish Handwork Guild. I am so eager to receive them, but the seller still hasn't answered my question about the shipping fee. (A serious pet peeve of mine is sellers who don't respond promptly to questions!) I also snagged a couple of pieces of fabric from Karen, though I missed the patterns I wanted. Now I really need to stay off the site till my own items are ready to ship out!

Max is feeling a lot better and will return to school tomorrow - just in time for me to get back to the office on my regular Friday schedule. Knock on wood, Nicky and Rowen haven't caught whatever he had.
posted by mainely stitching at 10:33 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 4 comments
14 June 2006
warning: you are entering a sleep-free zone

Even Niek admits it is beginning to feel like a conspiracy - we can't get any sleep. First, Nicky was having trouble with nightmares and fear of the dark. Then everyone came down with colds and other ailments. Then I came down ill. Then it got too hot to breathe, let alone sleep. Last night we had a thunderstorm and we both thought, "Relief at last!" But Max woke up with pain in his stomach. After some consultation we worried about how much his symptoms seemed like the onset of appendicitis, so at 2 am Niek ran him over to the doctor. It doesn't appear to be appendicitis, but no one is really sure what it is. Max still doesn't feel well, but the pain in his abdomen is much less so we are monitoring the situation. Or at least, I'm trying to keep my eyes open to monitor the situation. Poor Niek had to go to work, where we are undergoing a spot inspection by a big new potential client. Whoopee!

I did manage to make the time to list some stuff on eBay if anyone is interested in looking. I've got to make room for the stuff I know I will buy in the US, and there's just no point in hanging on to charts/kits I know I won't do (or I've done once and won't do again). I haven't listed on eBay in a long time because I felt like I was just giving it away, but this time I'm being very strict with myself. LOL.
13 June 2006
that was fun!
I just finished my block for Annemarie's neighborhood and I just have to tell you all how much fun I've had stitching this. I was just looking over my original rough sketch of what I'd stitch, and I can only laugh. Talk about adding on, and adding on! I like the full, cozy look of the block (especially now that Annemarie has set my mind at ease about the block being overfull). The design is made of borrowings from Carriage House Samplings (Goose, HoHRH house 11), The Goode Huswife (Dutch Strawberries), Elegant Designs (An All American Garden), The Workbasket (Country), Shepherd's Bush (Earth Song), Brightneedle (Four Friends Sampler), and Prairie Moon (EIEIO) - favorites of Annemarie, myself, or the both of us. Annemarie enjoys barns and sheep, and I love birds, so those are pretty key elements. I also had fun "texturizing" this block by using different sorts of fibers and blends. You can read more about it, and see the incredible block that Rachael made on my neighborhood, over at Our Neighborhood blog.

posted by mainely stitching at 12:54 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 3 comments
12 June 2006
hot & lazy weekend

Whew, summer arrived in full force this weekend and it's only supposed to get hotter and more humid this week! We took it easy this weekend and had a great time. Nicky is learning how to bike on Max's old bike and both he and Rowen are very excited about this new development. Rowen was very angry that she couldn't use a real bike, too, but now she's insisting that Nicky chauffeur her dolly around on the back of his bike. I snapped this picture of our wee beasties early yesterday morning in the back yard.

I stitched on my charity square, completing Dumbo and beginning the lower half of the design, which is an old-fashioned car and some cavorting clowns. I had hoped to finish it this weekend, but I'm just too slow. I'll have to set it aside to get the last few stitches in Annemarie's NRR so I can post that to Rachael on time. I'm looking forward to receiving Carol's NRR from Annemarie and beginning that one. Carol's has a totally different look, so it will be fun to see what I come up with for a design.

Our Maine vacation is coming ever nearer and we are all terribly excited. It's a major topic around the house. I just can't wait!
10 June 2006
those on the wagon, turn aside!
Remember I mentioned awhile ago that I'd fallen off the wagon with a thud hard enough to make a crater? Well, today the last of my goodies arrived and here are those stash pictures I promised you.

First off, I just joined the SB&B Monthly Bits (GAST fibers) and I wish I'd done that a long time ago. They send a freebie chart or two, the shipping is FREE and the selection is awesome. This month, Bobbie even included a little extra floss on a thread ring. I'd also ordered some thread rings, floss away bags, and the La-D-Da pattern from SB&B. The lovely linen I've laid the GAST fibers on is the piece that Annemarie gave me for my birthday. Also in this picture are the Fine Lines magazine, Pennsylvania Redware pattern, and old JCS issue I ordered from Traditional Stitches. Thanks for the tip, Carol!

Next up are two charts that I ordered from Cross Stitch Art. I've subscribed to their newsletter for awhile, but never ordered till I ran across mention of how good their charts are in someone's blog ... I thought it was Jenna's, but when I now check back, I can't find mention of it. As you can see here, the charts are remarkably clear, and the shipping was very fast.

And finally, I really splurged at Clare's Celtic Cornucopia (and if you are looking to drop a few bucks, I can really recommend this ONS!). Squint a bit at this picture because almost everything here is intended for gifts. That gorgeous dragon will be for Max, of course, though at the speed I'm stitching he may not get it till he goes away to college. LOL! Clare was wonderful to do business with, and I've warned her that she can expect to see me again. (Blogger refuses to accept this picture, so I've had to use Photobucket.)

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This weekend, the weather is like summer. It's sunny & warm, the day feels lazy & long. The kids are playing happily. Niek has begun teaching Nicky how to ride Max's old bike with training wheels. Where on earth does the time go? Max just outgrew this bike 2 years ago, and now Nicky is trying to ride it. Rowen is absolutely furious that she is too small to ride it and has been protesting loudly. She has a tricycle, but that's just too babyish compared to a real bike!

I hope that whatever you are doing, and whoever you're doing it with, you're smiling all the while!
08 June 2006
we have a winner!

Congratulations, Joy! I have no idea how you did it, but you guessed correctly! I was cracking up so much last night because when I saw the Q-Snap upside-down, I realized that this looked like nothing more than a dead chicken ... what a great subject for a charity square! I asked Niek what he thought I was stitching and he immediately asked why I'd stitch a dead chicken. Dumbo is more recognizable after a bit more stitching today. This is a free pattern that's actually intended for knitting, and it will eventually go to Cross Stitching for Charity as a part of a circus quilt.

Dianne, I measured and it's 16 count white aida. Definately not my favorite!
posted by mainely stitching at 10:25 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 2 comments
tempus fugit
Whew, June is flying by me. Help! Instead of being able to leisurely complete a few deadline projects, I find myself sweating the looming deadlines - I guess I am still stitching slower than usual. Or something.

Most important to finish up are Annemarie's NRR (I haven't put a stitch in it since my last update) and a funny project that had me laughing hysterically last night when I packed it up at bedtime. Anyone who can correctly identify the subject of this project will recieve a stash pack from me. (Note: the picture is not necessarily right-side-up.)

Edited to add: This project is a WIP. I'll try to post another picture tonight of my progress. :)

The kids and I are slowly recuperating. I have bronchitis and sinusitis, and the doc prescribed antibiotics. Nicky has a bacterial infection of the skin and she prescribed a salve that is working miracles. Rowen has 'fifth disease' - a harmless childhood viral infection that just makes her look awful but she feels fine. Niek and Max are battling colds. I'll soon be off to the store to buy some more vitamin C supplements! If only we'd get (and keep!) some warm, dry weather ... I hate to complain, knowing that other areas are suffering droughts. The sun is out this morning, though, so that's a great start.

Our upcoming trip to Maine is coming ever nearer. Max may be as excited about it as I am - he mentions it about 5 times every day. LOL! He can't wait to see his grandparents and play with his Grammie's dog. I'll soon need to start making lists of what to pack, what to buy while there, and so on. I can't wait!

Oh, before I forget, Natty tagged me. Here are my answers (I filled it out as soon as we came home, so the answers are a little dated now):
5 things in my fridge
Old milk (we forgot to give it to the neighbors before leaving for the weekend)
Philly cream cheese
sliced sandwich cheese
red peppers
apple juice

5 items in my closet
a pair of pants that needs to be hemmed
a black skirt I've worn once
several dress-up shirts I've not worn in years
a wool sweater that's too big but I like it anyway
a pair of shorts

5 items in my handbag/purse/tote
diaper & wipes
kitted-out charity project
kitted-out gift project
kitted-out March Hare project
a race car

5 items in my car
children's books
chewing gum
hay (Max had his bunny in the car)

5 people to tag
If you read this, you're it!
06 June 2006
what a great mini-holiday!

We had a wonderful time during our little holiday on the Veluwe, though we didn't actually do much of anything. Niek had rented a "kids' bungalow" which had a whole special play room for the kids and was a big hit. The house was large and very comfortable (in strong contrast to our CenterParcs experiences). The setting is as natural as possible (with something like 400 houses) and we were treated to some local wildlife including red squirrels (impossible to photograph), hares, and a "wild chicken" who joined us for breakfast on our first day.

There were activities for the kids, but we didn't make use of those. Instead, we enjoyed a family bike ride and even rented a family skelter to tour the surroundings. These things are heavy! Niek and I got our exercise!

On our last day, Max managed to get painted as a clown (by a face painter who appeared to be in rather a hurry) and went home like this. He was pretty disappointed that he had to wash his face before bed - he'd hoped to go to school like this!

Unfortunately, both Nicky and Rowen have come down with some sort of rash and mild fever, and I seem to have bronchitis again, so we're off to visit the doctor this afternoon. It didn't affect how much we enjoyed our vacation, though!
posted by mainely stitching at 11:52 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 2 comments
02 June 2006
oh happy day
Hi everyone - thank you so much for your birthday wishes! I had a great day! I had a chance to do a little stitching on Annemarie's neighborhood, though I didn't finish my block as I'd hoped to (Nicky's had a rough time sleeping, and Niek & I are impersonating zombies as a result). I am pretty close to being finished, though, and you can see my newfound mastery of French/Colonial knots on the lupins. LOL.

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We went out for dinner last night with our kids plus Max's best friend. We've taken the kids to this restaurant a number of times, but Max's buddy had never been ... so Max was transformed into Mr. Sophistication, leading his pal around and pointing everything out and even chatting to the cook and waitstaff! It was just too adorable. Rowen tucked in the way she always does when we go out for Chinese, and I think she ate nearly as much as Niek did. Every time someone would come around to clear plates & glasses off the table, she'd grab her plate and glare, muttering "I is not done yet!" Yesirre, look out for this one, world! And Nicky, though still not feeling quite 100% due to a mild fever and some sleepless nights, had a wonderful time looking at everything and walking around a bit and just soaking it all in. It was just a fantastic evening out.

But that wasn't all! I received gifts in the mail! Annemarie totally spoiled me with a huge packet that contained a Blackbird Desgins chart that I've wanted since forever, a gorgeous cut of linen from Naald & Draad in Roermond, a complete set of the new DMC color variations, a clover cutter so I can optimistically take it on our flight (like I can stitch with 3 kids on a plane! but one can dream...), and other goodies. Annemarie, you are just far too generous!!!

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And Karen V. sent me the most adorable Brightneedle project that, as she said in her card, really is appropriate given our recent run of misfortune. It is a beautiful project, and it will teach me how to make these lovely smalls. I've wanted to try this finishing technique but wasn't really sure how to do it. Now I can look at Karen's perfect technique and learn from it. Karen, I've displayed this in the living room where everyone can see and admire it. Thank you so much.

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And Isabelle surprised me by sending a second packet, containing a pattern to make little girls' dresses - as she said, she thought it would look perfect on Rowen, and it will. It's supposed to be an easy pattern, so hopefully even my limited skills will be up to the challenge. I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of this, but I will. Isabelle, thank you - perhaps one day, I'll become more proficient with my ancient sewing machine!

Finally, Niek surprised me by booking a vacation bungalow for the weekend in the Veluwe. We haven't done this since right after Rowen's birth, and it's been something I've really wanted to do. I love the Veluwe area - it's my favorite part of Holland other than the extreme north along the coast - and there is lots & lots of room for the kids to play and wander and explore. My favorite museum, the Kroller- Muller, is also nearby. We're going to pack up the bikes, the clothes, and even the bunny for a wonderful long weekend. Our neighbor has graciously agreed to feed Spin and Gilbert while we're gone. It will be great fun.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!!!