Friday, December 28, 2012

Finish it up Friday

Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts sponsors "Finish it up Friday" so people can share the projects they finish each week.  I only finish a couple a year, but I've finished the Memory Quilt I was working on and thought I'd share.  All the blocks are made from our friend Tomi's shirts. He was killed in an auto accident last February. Tomi's family is is town from Slovenia and I'll be giving it to them today.
It measures ~60x80" after washing. I quilted it on the longarm at our local quilt shop - love longarm rental. It took about two hours, including setup.

Back of quilt, with label

The front, with gratuitous cat photobomb.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The End

As usual, content faded fast once the holiday hit. We had two cases of strep and a vomiting bug, and an asthma flare. November, you shall be remembered as the month of sick. Tom was out of town for his LEAD (management training) graduation, so this week was extra-long. Tomorrow we will bring out the Advent books and begin the Christmas countdown...2012 is drawing to a close.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Let me in...

Somebody loves tubby time!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Eight Months

Willem Jerome, how can you be eight months old already? You just got here!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thea and the Eel

At the Iowa River Museum in Dubuque. It was five years between our first and second trips, bit I'd like to get there more often. Lloyd of interesting stuff to see.

Monday, November 26, 2012


I really wanted to do a review of our new baby gate and fireplace screen today, but Tom's been at a meeting tonight and Willem is ready to go to bed. He's been asleep for a long time, but not sleeping I'm giving up on getting anything done and heading of to bed with a babe who needs some snuggles.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lost Tooth!

Käthe lost her third tooth today - the front right incisor has been getting more and more wiggly, and today was hanging by a thread.  She took great pleasure in pushing the tooth out of her mouth and then closing her lips.  So gross.
After dinner I took a piece of thread and wrapped it around the very top of her tooth, crisscrossing it in the front and pulling (like one does to cut cinnamon rolls) and it popped the tooth right out!
Now she looks like this:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fourth Thanksgiving in this dress...tomorrow I'll put in links to previous years.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Boy

I wish his face was in focus, rather than his shirt...but I just love this picture.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I think I finally cracked today. Someone (often many someones) have been sick for a couple of weeks. I'm exhausted. I'm behind in every conceivable way...laundry, cooking, cleaning. The baby's sleep is a mess because everyone is bored and crabby and LOUD. In my frustration I said mean things to my children just to spread the anger around.  I slammed my hand on the counter so hard I broke a blood vessel, while yelling about something I can't even remember now.
May there be grace and forgiveness and a better day tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2012


A new November illness: strep throat.  Poor Käthe...I knew her cold wasn't getting better, but when there was a new fever (after a week without) it was time for the doctor.  She complained exactly one time that her throat hurt (a few days ago) and her fever this morning was only around 100, so I was expecting sinus infection and not strep.  Hopefully the Zithromax kicks in and she feels better tomorrow. I hope it does the trick - she's allergic to the preferred penicillin.
Thankfully our doctor will be around all through the holiday, and told me to call if someone else shows symptoms - she will meet us at the clinic for a strep test and save a trip to urgent care.  I am pretty sure that we have the best family doc someone could hope for.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Every so often I decide that knitting something would be a good idea. I generally stick to wash cloths or kids' scarves, since they are small projects that don't make me too crazy when kiddos decide to pull out the needles or unravel the stitches. I started on a lace scarf a few days ago because I am hoping to turn it into a Christmas gift. The pattern, from Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders, is pretty simple (only one stitch that I hadn't done before, and a two row repeat). The problem with lace is that if you make a mistake you just have to rip out until you get to a correct row - and the waviness  in lace makes that pretty much impossible for me. Having had to rip it out and start over several times I was about at the end of my patience and ready to scrap the project.
Then...I had an idea - I would run a row of contrasting thread through the purl row every few inches. That way if when I have to rip out the stitches will be saved and "stuck" in place, and I can slip the needle back in and move on. I figured it was cheating a bit but low and behold, that is an actual procedure in knitting lace (thank you facebook friends, for pointing it out to me). So now I am putting a lifeline in every couple of inches and have gotten about 1/6 of the way to my desired length. I just might get it done in time for Christmas after all.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Teacher Gifts

One teacher gift down, four to go. I made a pattern based on my Envirosax, and the prototype turned out well enough to be giftable (though I'll make the closure straps longer on the next ones).

Friday, November 16, 2012

Let there be bread

Swedish Rye...the long loaf on the bottom has broiled bananas, walnuts, and chocolate chips inside.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Obligatory "It's November and we're sick" Post

That's really all there is to say - we had a round of vomiting go through (last week...I think it was just last week) and then a nasty cold crept in. Monday was a holiday from school, so there have been three days of school so far this week. Thea was home Tuesday, Käthe Wednesday, and Ella woke up with a fever today. My throat is burning, so I'm off to bed as well. Blerg, November...why so much sickness?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why yes, this cat food is incredibly tasty.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Veterans Day

Käthe and most of the girls in my Daisy troop led the Pledge of Allegiance at our local Legion Auxiliary Veterans Day Dinner tonight. They did a great job, and it was so nice to see our servicemen honored. I even saw a young sailor in dress blues, which is an odd sight here in landlocked Iowa. When I worked for VA I preferred when my research lab was in the Hospital Proper rather than off station. Nothing makes you appreciate freedom like seeing Veterans being treated for service related injuries every single day.

Monday, November 12, 2012

200 Posts

It appears that this will be post 200 for The Whompers. When I started this blog to do the first (ever, I believe) NaBloPoMo I had two kids, a nearly full time job in research, lived in a much smaller house, had more cash and little free time. Now I have four kids, two cats, no job, a bigger house, much less cash, and no free time.
I am a terribly inconsistent blogger. Some years, I only check in in November. I absolutely love going back and seeing what we were up to in years past, remembering things that were important. I'll never be a great blogger with regular, interesting posts. What I will have is a series of November snapshots, and I have NaBloPoMo to thank.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Girl Scout roller skating tonight...Käthe was sick and missed it. Poor girl was devastated, but the repeated refrains of "you're ruining my life" got a bit tiring!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Memory Quilt Progress

I've finished the cutting, laid out all the blocks and taken reference photos, and pinned together the first round for chain piecing. Time for the sewing to begin.

I'm kind of afraid to look back through my pictures, because I'm sure I have so many like this one. This is Tomi, Polona, and their daughter Lucka at our daughter Kathe's baptism. That shirt of Tomi's is in the quilt, you can see it in the blocks pictured above.

Friday, November 09, 2012


Willem's getting around....not crawling exactly, but managing to scoot and lunge all over the place. He's now sporting a head full of bruises from launching himself into various bits of furniture as  he tries to pull to standing. Time to get out the baby gate and invest in a fireplace screen!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

'50's Concert Night

1950's Concert at school tonight - both girls had a great time and looked cute in their poodle skirts.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

What we're afraid of...

Sometimes I hear those of a more liberal beat ask conservatives "What are you so afraid of?" Because of course we only disagree with liberal opinions out of fear or hatred or stupidity. A (pro-choice) friend of mine posted this article on her facebook wall, suggesting that we should be all for insured abortion because of this woman's very horrific story.

Heartbeat: My Involuntary Miscarriage and 'Voluntary Abortion' in Ohio
The pain of a fatal diagnosis for your unborn child is unfathomable, and I cannot imagine the grief. I have never faced her dilemma, nor wrestled with the pain of losing a much-wanted baby. I do take issue with Ms. Mann's rabbi, who declares that her baby has not drawn breath, and is therefore not a life:
The idea of "removing" my baby, my fetus, while its heart was still beating was simply unbearable. Was it living? Was it still growing? Would I be stopping the heartbeat, cutting short its life? And what do I do after the operation? Do I bury it? I didn't understand what I had inside of me and I didn't understand what I should do. I called a dear friend, an Orthodox rabbi, who I knew would be both compassionate and firm. After consulting with his rabbi, he said the case was clear. In situations where the mother's health is at risk and the fetus (he explicitly said fetus) is not viable, Jewish law errs on the side of the mother's health. I should have the operation and I should not bury the fetus -- it is not a life.

Perhaps this rabbi is unfamiliar with the Psalmist, who declares in Psalm 139 :13-16: 

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

As I continued to read, I discovered that there is indeed something that I, as a conservative, am afraid of. Ms. Mann writes:
The next morning I got the following message [from the physician's office],  "Because your fetus still has a heartbeat, it has been our experience that insurance companies in Ohio will not cover the costs of the operation. They consider it an optional abortion. Our office suggests that you go to Planned Parenthood, which will only run you $800. If you go to the hospital it will be over $10,000." I was stunned. What did my insurance company want, for me to have a dangerous late-stage miscarriage or go through the risks of labor to give birth to a stillborn?

That last line struck fear in my heart, because I suddenly wondered what would happen in the future if our country continues to devalue the life of the unborn. Could I, in the same situation, be forced to abort my baby because of a fatal prenatal diagnosis?  Would I face a time when the lowest cost option is the only option afforded by insurance? Would I have to exercise my "freedom of choice" and choose between an insurance-covered termination or monumental debt so that my child might live as long as possible, and die within the warm confines of my womb rather than at the hand of a physician?
I always thought of being pro-life as being "pro-the life of other people's babies." Now, I think, it would be wise for me to be consider voting pro-life as voting for the protection of my own babies as well, that their lives, created by the one who created us all, end only when He ordains it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Being the Mama

This gem from the Concordian Sisters is spot on. The little guy's sleep habits have become a bit unruly, and he doth protest muchly about being placed in his bed. This is frustrating, as I have "much to do," but I am trying to treasure the moments of incapacity by gazing at his sweet little face and remembering that I am his mama, and babyhood is so fleeting.
Käthe climbed on my lap on Sunday morning, and the busy me wanted to give her a  quick squeeze and get the ball rolling on the process of getting us ready for church. Instead, we sat, still and silent, while I counted the ticking clock.  Three whole wonderful minutes of being held tight by a girl who is usually in constant motion, before she spoke (and as is her fashion, demanded food). It was an eternity and twinkling all at the same time. What a precious, precious gift.

Monday, November 05, 2012

By the numbers...

I hope that some day (maybe in the not too distant future) I'll come back to this and cut my former self a little slack. I am super, super negative minded. I see what I haven't gotten done, what I've done wrong, things I could do better.  I spend a lot of time angry and ashamed of what's not "right." I've spent time in therapy trying to learn to speak positively to myself, to see the good, appreciate what's going well. So, in light of that, the good:

Breakfast of fresh cranberry-orange scones and bacon, because I am refusing to run to the store when we run out of things like cereal, bread, and malt-o-meal (oatmeal being inferior in the eyes of my children). It would appear that we need to be in such a destitute state more often.

Kiddos to school on time, with lunches and snacks and homework as needed.

Washed three loads of laundry (only diapers left to do, I needed to give the hot water heater a break). What is sad is that today is supposed to be just towels and diapers, but a load of kids clothes was already sitting by the washer so I did it too.) If I do a load or two every day I can keep on top if it, but we are in the "lots of clothes" season and if I am out for the day I get behind so, so quickly.

Put away a bazillion loads of laundry - almost finished. I counted once, as I was hanging up clothes: as a family we wear about 40 articles of clothing a day, almost none of which can be worn more than once because my children see my clothing as a personal napkin. Pajamas get multiple wearings if no one dumps their breakfast down their front or uses their sleeves as a tissue. The quantity of clothing is insane.

Baked Swedish Rye, due to the aforementioned lack of bread in the house. This recipe turned out great (my only pet peeve being that she doesn't consolidate measurements - don't measure 9 teaspoons of yeast, because 3 Tablespoons is more accurate).

Took a shower!

Unloaded and loaded the dishwasher (this will probably happen twice more today).

Attempted to vote (I didn't realize the early voting in my town was a one-day event LAST Monday, which means I'll need to try to vote with the crowds tomorrow).

Managed to get the children to do their homework and help with laundry with a minimum of grumbling, and no crying (on anyone's part).

Is there still quite a bit of laundry hanging out in piles to be put away? Did I dust or vacuum? These days I need to be accepting of "Good Enough" and enjoy the time with my babies.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Ol' Blue Eyes

This is the most kissable baby boy...and lucky for me he actually gives kisses too.  If I ask, he'll lean in very, very slowly until I get the faintest open-mouthed baby kiss. So, so sweet.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Willem Update

Our little guy is now 7 months old - my how time flies.  A few tidbits to remember:
At his 4 month appointment Dr. Hempy flipped him on his belly and we were both surprised at his upper body strength. Two days later I tried to lay Willem in the stroller on a partial recline and he strained to lean forward...up went the seat and in a week he was sitting unassisted.
At five and a half months he was gnawing on my finger (as he has always been quite the chewy baby) and I discovered that two teeth were pushing through. I was so sad, in a way, because I love little toothless babies and those teeth are a stark milestone when it comes to growing up.
At 7 months he is getting on hands and knees, spinning on circles on his belly, and going from sitting to laying down and back again.  Crawling will be here soon. A couple of weeks ago we dropped the crib mattress, and a few days later he pulled to standing in it using his musical aquarium.
He loves his big sisters, and daddy is the greatest. When Tom comes home Willem's whole demeanor lights up, and if Tom doesn't pick him up he usually starts to cry.  Willem loves Pippi and Sphinx, and gets super excited if they come near (which is rare, smart kitties). Thea got a stuffed kitty at Build A Bear on her birthday, and Willem seems to think it is real - it gets the same gleeful reaction as the real cats. He is still pretty bald, and his sleeping habits were diminished by the girls being home (and noisy) all summer. I hoped that they would get better after school started, but progress is slow (and there is still one loud sister at home). It doesn't help that it is nearly impossible to nurse him outside of a dark, quiet room; he is too easily distracted. Unfortunately he is making up for it by eating super often in the night - which I hate because I'm waking up so often, but love for the uninterrupted cuddle time.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Time Changes with Kiddos

Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend.  I know that you're supposed to turn clocks back on Saturday night, but since we don't have to be anywhere tomorrow I'm planning on doing it tonight (or maybe even this afternoon). Kids, especially the little ones who can't tell time, have a hard time adjusting to their meals and sleep times being shifted by an hour.  Changing the clocks a day early gives them a little more breathing room to adjust before they have to launch into a  school week with scheduled wake-ups, meals, and snacks. It also ensures that we will not be an hour early for church on Sunday!

Thursday, November 01, 2012


Is NaBloPoMo still a thing? I'll have to look. It is the first day of November, which is usually the only month I manage to post regularly. This first day of November is my "baby" girl's fourth time flies!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Hardest Quilt

Friday I received a very special bag of fabric. It traveled across the ocean, carried home in the luggage of a friend. Home, I say, because many of those fabrics were purchased right here in Iowa. They moved to Slovenia with their owner when he moved back. They are here temporarily, and will return to their Slovenian home reimagined, reshaped.
I didn't expect to remember him wearing them. In my mind, I expected to recognize the shirts. I knew Tomi for years, our daughters grew together, we work in the same lab, we spent so much time being family when our families were far away.  But somehow, I didn't expect to remember him wearing them. To look at the pieces of fabric and see him at his thesis defense, playing ultimate Frisbee, at our friends' wedding, hanging out.
When someone dies far away it is an abstract sort of thing. I wasn't there to cry with his family, to hike in his memory, attend his funeral. The memorial service here was wonderful, but bizarre. That time with Polona was filled with our girls, and my days-old baby, and no time or space to talk about the fresh raw grief.
The grief sneaks up on me - I avoid driving by the Frisbee field, I sneak peeks at photos late at night when I can remember without distraction. I wish that I could be there for Polona and Luci, that I had more time to keep in touch. To bring up Tomi in the brevity of a skype chat seems callous. Of course they miss him, of course they suffer; I never know if mentioning him is honoring his memory or just a cruel reminder.
Now, I have his shirts. I've chosen the pattern, sorted fabrics, set a schedule. When his family comes for Christmas I will give them his quilt. I hope that they will remember him wearing his shirts, see him doing the things he loved, and remember the warmth of his love under the warmth of his quilt.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Nursing in church...

I'll admit, I don't get the "big deal" about nursing in church.  I have always figured it is far more disruptive to traipse from our* front-row pew with angry baby than to sit and nurse.  My general get-up is camisole under my shirt, pulled down, with my shirt pulled up.  If somebody behind me stands up then they might see baby's nose and my shirt....but they should be looking ahead or have eyes closed in prayer. With a really tiny baby I might employ a blanket or sling. Here's what you're going to see:

*We have, as traditional Lutherans, staked out our own pew.  We have a whole box of tissues for the many little noses, and our Children's Hymnal. Contrary to tradition it happens to be in the front row. In the interest of full disclosure, our pastor has been asked (by an innocent third party, not myself) if there have been problems with immodest nursing...not in his experience.

"These cheeks aren't going to grow themselves!"

Last weekend we happened to have Adriane visiting our congregation; I was tempted to ask her to critique my technique but decided that probably wasn't "putting the best construction on everything".  :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Willem Jerome

He's here and he's fantastic.  Born Wednesday, March 28th at 10:08 pm, 8 lbs., 10 oz., 20.5 inches.

Everyone is in love: