Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Etiquette & Entertaining

I admit it, I enjoy reading etiquette books. I came across an ancient Amy Vanderbilt etiquette guide in high school, ate it up, and began dreaming about future bridal and baby showers, of the dinner parties I'd throw and how I'd manage my household once I was Mrs. Somebody. I've always been drawn to more traditional ways of everything and I love beauty, and etiquette guides ooze tradition and beauty. And then Gilmore Girls came out on TV and I was completely sold on the whole New England aristocracy bit. I wouldn't say that I'm a social climber, but that I love order and beauty; and that sort of lifestyle seems to capture it in a way that sits well with me.

Well, I am definitely a Mrs. Somebody now. Unfortunately, I married the youngest sibling and missed all the bridal showers and weddings of his siblings. All my friends live states away from me, so I have been unable to attend, let alone plan, any of their showers. My siblings all live in another country and I highly doubt I'll be planning or even attending their showers as well. I thought I had a shot with Denise's baby shower, but her family got to it before I could muster up enough energy (because I was pregnant as well) to claim it.

In recent weeks, I've been overcome with a desire to entertain. I'm sure you've noticed that the Brooke household goes a little gleeful when it comes to birthdays and holidays, but I'm salivating for more opportunities to celebrate and enjoy the company of my friends in a more formal atmosphere. We are having Little Lamb's blessing next month; and I decided, once I heard that you didn't have to have it at church, that we would have it in our home. This decision gave me full permission to go big: a fancy luncheon, elegant invitations, gorgeous decor...my imagination won a gold medal for the many things it dreamed up. The tentative guest list grew to 32 and I handed it to Mr. Brooke to ask if he wanted to invite anyone else...

But I had forgotten, somewhere in my dreams of white eyelet and gerbera daisies, that baby blessings are a rather personal affair. And Mr. Brooke reminded me of this when he gawked at the invite list and stammered that he thought having the blessing at home meant it would be a little more private. To which I responded that 32 people was a whole lot more private than the 400 you generally have sitting in sacrament meeting. But the look on his face told me everything I needed to know: He was looking forward to a very intimate gathering of family and close friends.

The guest list is now down to seven. (James and Denise were the only "non-family" to make the cut.)

Normally, I'd feel defeated and denied my opportunity to indulge my desire to throw a big gala. But, in the wake of my epiphany about happiness, I've come to the realization that you don't need to wait for a special occasion to have a party. I like having parties and seeing my friends; so darn it, I'm going to throw some parties and have fun with my friends. And I think I will let Bluebird, my little entertaining apprentice, throw a couple gatherings of her own. June is generally a rather slow month for us, so I think I'll set my sights on doing some partying come June. I'm thinking a princess or fairy tea party for Bluebird and some sort of elegant luncheon for my friends. And perhaps occasionally inviting some friends over for dinner.

It's always been my experience that people are almost giddy about an invitation to dinner or a party, and it's sad that regular life doesn't seem to encompass entertaining like it used to not so long ago. But never fear! Mrs. Brooke, and her never relenting desire to live in a black and white television set, are here to re-kindle the flame. Ha ha.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Happy Bookworm

I have spent the last few weeks consuming books with an incredibly voracious appetite. It's been great. I've always been an avid reader, but somewhere amidst high school I got into a stagnant rut of reading the same books over and over again, which never fails to squelch any appetite for reading.

College saw me too inundated with required reading for my classes to do any reading for pleasure, and seeing how I had a six month old when I graduated from college--books have been far down the list of priorities for the past few years. I've read a few here and there, mostly young adult literature because it's easier to digest. And the many volumes of knit lit and how-to books...fun to learn something new, but those types of books really aren't as satisfying as being mentally transported to another place and time.

So I'm making up for lost time. It's been lovely. I came to the conclusion a few weeks ago that I was going to make more room for the things I loved and enjoyed at the expense of kicking out various unsavory parts of my life. I figure it's a healthy choice, albeit a little tough on the people and things that I've categorized as unsavory. But hey, you only get one shot at life and you've got to make it as good as you can...I'm done with wasting my time with things that make me unhappy.

So, here's to more books, more gourmet cooking, gardening, playing with my girls, music, dates with Mr. Brooke and giving myself time to rest when I feel tired. Here's to allowing myself to buy something I love at full price instead of waiting for a sale and it being gone. More time just holding Little Lamb and smelling her skin, more time giving raspberries to Rabbit's tummy and more time sitting with Bluebird and watching her do whatever it is that she's asked me to watch. More reading out loud to my girls.

No more putting up with mean people because I feel obligated to maintain certain relationships, no more worrying about what people think about how I'm doing as a mother, wife, homemaker and person, no more worrying about things I can't do anything about or worrying about things that just really aren't all that important to me. More time spent pursuing things that are interesting and beautiful and meaningful. More time building up things that matter and will last. More time enjoying life, instead of dreading the work that accompanies it. Striving to live out my days with a smile in my heart and making the conscious choice to just be happy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Birthday Wish List, According to Bluebird

I told Bluebird last night that my birthday is the next "celebration" that we'll have and she got excited and started listing what presents everyone should give me:

Mr. Brooke: Should give me some tools and build me something.
Bluebird: Yarn
Rabbit: Books and a bookshelf
Little Lamb: Bowling balls

(Here's what I actually asked Mr. Brooke for. He's thinking it over.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Vacation Photos

I totally forgot to bring the camera to the Children's Museum and the zoo, so all I have are pictures from the hotel.
Rabbit fell into the pool after this shot and now she hates swimming.



Bluebird waiting for a warm bath after swimming.

My diaper girls.

Checking out.

Just Going With the Flow

I love fabric charm packs. Just stitch the squares together and you've got a quilt. This is going to be a quilt for Little Lamb, as I never got around to making a baby blanket for her. Rabbit, our blankie connoisseur, is under the impression that this will be her blanket and I'm having a hard time getting her to understand that it's for Little Lamb. Rabbit's been trying to adopt every single blanket that comes to this house as a gift for Little Lamb...it's been a little crazy.

Things around here are perfectly fine. We spent the weekend in Salt Lake, hitting up a bunch of children-friendly places and just having fun with no place to be at a certain time. It was quite therapeutic for us all to just be; the past couple of months have been rather stressful and we really benefitted from a relaxing and enjoyable weekend.

Since returning home, I've been infected with Spring Cleaning Fever and have been rather busy with that. There is so much around here that needs tending to, and I'm finally feeling up to the tasks ahead of me. It's so good to have energy again. I actually enjoyed cleaning out the pantry closet yesterday...I think I will turn that monstrous closet into a hideaway office.

Life is good. Spring is pushing its way through the door and my birthday is just around the corner--Mr. Brooke asked for a wish list yesterday. Good times, good times.

(Sorry that the picture isn't loading right now...Blogger is having issues.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another Bluebird-ism

(Overheard while she was playing with some dolls...)

Bluebird(Doll #1 Voice): "Wow, that was fun."

Bluebird(Doll #2 Voice): "Yeah, it was really kloo."

Bluebird(Doll #1 Voice): "Yeah, it was the coldest."

Aran Scarf Update

Mr. Aran is at 70% completion. I worked like a crazy person last week to get him back up to speed, but have only worked two days this week on the poor guy. (Hey, it was 80 degrees here on Tuesday--no way I'm staying inside with weather like that! I got work in on him the next day when it SNOWED. We have freakishly weird weather here.) So instead of another shot of yet another completed repeat, I thought I'd show you the yarn that he's made of.

In case you can't figure it out, it's Knit Pick's Main Line yarn. Now, as a general rule, I cannot stand to knit with cotton yarn. I don't know why, it just drives me insane with how it acts. It doesn't stretch like wool, it doesn't glide like wool...it just bugs me. But this cotton blend doesn't bother me at all; in fact, I rather like it...a lot. Something about that 25% merino wool being in there makes this cotton yarn pretty nice to work with. And joy of joys, Knit Picks is unveiling a few new colors for this yarn; which is good, because the selection beforehand was rather limited and not exactly inspiring. It's hard to find really vivid colors in cotton yarns. Another reason why wool is superior, I suppose.

For this particular pattern, one skein of yarn is getting me through two pattern repeats plus a couple of rows. I have five skeins for my planned ten repeats and it's going to work out almost perfectly, with a little bit leftover.

Just six more days of work on Mr. Aran and he'll be done. However, we've got big plans for tomorrow and the weekend, so I doubt that much will be done with him until next week. Oh well. Water off a duck's back, it'll get done with plenty of time to spare.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Little Lamb + Vaccinations = 4am Web Surfing

Oi.

Poor thing, she's having a rough go with this round of immunizations. I even took her for a little ride in the car earlier tonight, hoping that it would calm her down. And it did; I left her in her carrier to sleep and took a nap myself. But she woke up at 4 to eat and promptly spit up everything in her stomach in one of those lovely spit-up geysers that babies tend to do when they're stressed out. So now we're both in a fresh change of pajamas, I'm trying to not think about what the carpet looks like, and I'm doing a little web browsing while waiting for her swing to help her go back to sleep.

I love you Ravelry. You're a good friend in the wee hours.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Best Laid Plans...

My dear Bluebird, my first baby, gave her first talk at church yesterday. The Primary Secretary phoned me on Tuesday to ask if Bluebird was up for it; and, after asking Bluebird if she'd like to stand in front of her friends and talk about church into the microphone, Bluebird accepted the invitation to speak. My eyes felt very open as I realized that my first baby is old enough to give a talk at church...she's really, really growing up at an incredibly fast rate.

The topic was "following the prophet." Bluebird and I ran through her talk numerous times throughout the evenings to follow and it looked like things were going to go incredibly well, especially for a four year old's first attempt at public speaking.

The planned talk: I'd hold up a picture of Noah and the ark and Bluebird would say that Noah was a prophet and had tried to make people safe by inviting them on the ark. If the people had listened, they would have been safe. But they chose not to listen to their prophet and, unfortunately, they died in the flood. Then, I'd hold up a picture of President Monson and Bluebird would say that we have a prophet today too, and if we listened to him and did the things he asked us to do, then we'd be safe and happy.

Extremely simple and to the point--but I thought it was pretty good.

We got through sacrament meeting and dropped off Rabbit at nursery before Mr. Brooke and I took our seats in the Primary room. Bluebird was being sooo good; she was sitting perfectly still in her seat and turning to smile at us. One of the Primary leaders knelt down in front of her and asked if she was willing to sit at the front of the room, and Bluebird leapt up and claimed her chair excitedly. She sat there in front of everyone with her hands in her lap, smiling like it was the best day of her life. (Then she leaned back and put her feet up on the edge of her chair, inadvertently showing off her underwear...but I try not to remember that.)

When it was her turn to speak, I went up to the podium and helped her stand on the little block of wood that barely made it possible for her to speak into the microphone. (She couldn't see over the podium at all and that touched a place in my heart...) I held up the picture of Noah and the animals and Bluebird told the room what the picture was, and I spoon fed her lines to her about Noah being a prophet and how he'd told people about the flood.

We were reaching the end of the "Noah" portion of the talk...
Me: [whispering] "Noah told the people that a flood was coming..."
Bluebird: [Into the microphone] "Yeah."
Me: "Tell the class..."
Bluebird: [Into the microphone] "Noah said that people should get on the boat, but they didn't listen AND THEY DROWNED! In the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN!"

Then she skipped down from the podium and resumed her seat in front of the class, beaming triumphantly while I stared after her. And then I shrugged, smiled and said, "Alright then."

(Even though we only got through half of the talk, I still think it went extremely well for a four year old's first time talking in front of a group. And I'm also incredibly proud of her...embarassingly so.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Smiling Success!

I finally caught an actual smile on camera, instead of the usual smirks. Babies look so much older when they start with the facial expressions...it bothers me so much that my Little Lamb is already starting to grow up!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Slow and Steady...

Can I just say that I totally love this scarf?

Seriously, this has been a great knit. I love cables...it's so fun to watch them appear as you knit.

For those of you who are interested, you can find the pattern online for free! (Thus proving that this scarf is even cooler...free patterns are so nice to come by.)

We're at forty percent completion. It would be fifty percent if I had been able to find time to knit on it in the past two days. (That's why I aimed to finish this a month early; I knew there would be days where I could not knit.)

I might knit another one of these. That's saying a lot because I've never knitted the same thing twice. Ever.

Aran Scarf, you rock!

(Even if I'm kicking myself for signing up for ISE6. Really? A scarf exchange? With a newborn and two other little ones? While making three baby quilts? And after my husband has been newly diagnosed with kidney disease? I'm a flippin' moron!)

(But then I look at this beautiful concoction of yarn and think that it's worth it to have had the opportunity to discover this pattern and work with it.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mushrooms

Bluebird: "What are you doing, Mama?"

Me: "I'm cutting up mushrooms. Do you like mushrooms?" (Knowing full well that she does not.)

Bluebird: "I LOVE mushrooms!"

Me: "Really? I thought you weren't a fan of mushrooms."

Bluebird: "I like to sing about mushrooms."

Me: "Alright, let's hear you sing about mushrooms."

Bluebird: (clears throat) "Do you know the mushroom man? The mushroom man, the mushroom man..."

Me (and Mr. Brooke): (stifled laughter) (wild applause at the conclusion of the song) "You are such a good singer, [Bluebird]!"

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Seven Weeks Old

She has the cutest little smirk!

Yee Haw, Movin' Along...

Well, the Cowboy Quilt is officially pieced. All that stands between it and completion is a couple of trips to the quilting shop; one to pick out the fabric for the backing and binding, another to drop it off with its backing and batting to be quilted and one last trip to pick it up to take home and sew on the binding. (I'm going to have it professionally quilted because I don't like to machine quilt and, truthfully, their quilting just plain looks better than mine.)

Rabbit thinks the quilt top makes a swell picnic blanket. (Too bad she dumped that cup of water on it about five seconds after the picture was taken.)

Yes, the blanket seems small; but, in my experience, it's the smaller baby blankets (24 x 36 inches or so) that become children's favorites. I've made some 36 x 48" blankets, but that size seems to be too cumbersome for little people to tote. Both Bluebird and Rabbit have adopted "blankies" that are about 2 x 3 feet, so I started making my gift blankets that size as well.

Coming Out of Hibernation

It's been awhile, hasn't it? She's earmarked for a special little person and I've already finished with the tying, which seemed to suit her better than machine quilting...I don't know why, but I went with it.

Just some binding and she's good to go.

I'm Not Answering My Phone for a Few Hours

Some dude from Jamaica phoned me today in order to tell me that he had a $5,000 check to send to me via UPS if I'd wire him $150 for the shipping and handling. I pretended to be interested in order to get more information from him and he said he'd phone back in three hours to make sure I had wired the money.

After hanging up with him, I phoned my local police in order to let them in on it all. Sadly though, because they're running their little scam from outside the country, nothing can be done, even with the address and information I was able to secure. (Stupid smart crooks, denying me the opportunity to be a hero.)

I obviously am NOT sending the $150, so I'm also not answering the phone in case they do phone back. (Although I seriously doubt that he will phone back, despite his promises to do so.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It Was Only a Dream...

My subconscious played an April Fools on me, giving further proof that I'm perhaps a little too into blogging: I dreamed about my blog last night. And it was very exciting to me and I was quite disappointed when I woke up and realized that it wasn't real. The jist of the blogging portion of the dream was that I had received 370,008 hits on my blog in one day. And I remember that I was racking my brain, trying to figure out what post(s) had brought about such a large amount of cyber traffic.

But, sadly, it was only a dream. It was nice to be incredibly famous and sought after for a moment while I was unconscious; although I remember that I didn't want to check email and read what comments had been left because I had a feeling that they were going to be mean and anti-mormon.

I don't think I've ever dreamed about the blog before, but I had taken some of my leftover super pain killers from Little Lamb's birth because I've got a nasty patch of very angry muscles in my middle back right now. It gets worse when I bend over to lift Little Lamb out of her bassinet, when I hold her and whenever I use my left arm. It reached a new high point last night when inhaling became uncomfortable, so I resorted to new measures to deal with the misery. I tried to get an after hours appointment with my doctor, but back pain apparently isn't an urgent enough issue for them to hand out one of those precious time slots in the evening, so I'm going in this afternoon. Hopefully I can get some super pain killers that won't knock me out...because I am the sole caregiver of a lot of little people throughout the day and being high isn't exactly the best state of mind to be in when you've responsibilities like that.

(And I just looked into my daughters' cereal bowls and realized that I filled them with cereal and chocolate chips, instead of cereal and raisins...how do you do that?!?! Enjoy your breakfasts, girls...this is the only time you're getting that concoction. Seriously...I messed up cold cereal, I'm not sure if I should be the person in charge right now!)