Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday wantings

Hello! Hope you had a most lovely Thanksgiving weekend. Mine was so nice, I was in Iowa with Steve and his family. As always, it was a whirl-wind weekend, but we did a lot, and I'll write about it later.

I'm exhausted. We left Iowa yesterday at 3am and didn't get back to DC until after 10pm. Yes, that is roughly 20 hours on the road, when it is normally around 13. It's a long drive, but easier then flying, we think. We were making really good time until PA, when it took six hours to get from the PA to MD border, and then a million more hours to get through Maryland. Ughhhh.

Meanwhile. Does anyone have a Christmas cactus? Where did you get it? I really want one, but I have no idea where to buy them! Ideas?

Friday, November 27, 2009

two giveaways!

I thought I'd post about these two lovely giveaways you might be interested in.

First, over at Pink Pincushion, you could win the following---

This giveaway includes a handmade loyalty wallet, to keep your punch cards in. A pincushion out of Rouenneries fabrics using the Sugar Pumpkin pattern by Fig Tree Quilts, and the wonderful French Inspired Home book by Kaari Meng.

Love it!

Read more about the giveaway, and a story, here. This is a quilting blog that I enjoy. She's so talented and has pictures of some of her creations. Inspiring!

The second giveaway is being hosted by Jennifer over at The Pink Chick and she is giving away a gorgeous scarf by TDM Designs. I will definitely be looking into this company. This is a company that makes Nepali scarves and looks to "create opportunities for poverty-stricken women to generate sustainable income in Nepal." They are also "invested in a literacy and education campaign throughout the country."

I think you all know how I feel about literacy causes :)

So, go have a look at them, and maybe you'll get lucky!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

a big winner

I've seen many gratitude posts in the last few weeks, and I intended to play along, but clearly, that hasn't happened, so I thought I'd do them all in one today, since Thanksgiving is a mere two days away. I do try to be thankful year-round, but like most others, I get a bit wrapped up in life and sometimes don't remember how blessed I am.

I came home today and found a Thanksgiving card from my grandmother in my mailbox. Years and years ago, she and my Grandfather began what has become a silly and beloved family tradition of sending five scratch-off lottery tickets to each of us for holidays. Usually, one of us (the five grandchildren) will maybe win a dollar or two. Occasionally I win $2, and it is an exciting moment. Tonight, I scratched off ticket one, and came up empty. Ticket two brought me $2, followed by another $2 on ticket three. Ticket four was another loser, but I was pretty thrilled with my big $4 win, until I got to ticket five.


That means $29 total. So, so exciting.

So, in addition to being thankful for the NH lottery, some of the many thing that I am thankful for include cupcakes and Albanian babies, the DC public library and my sewing machine.

Of course, I am so thankful for my amazing family, friends and boyfriend, but really, I think that goes without saying.

I'm heading to Iowa this afternoon to spend the holiday with Steve's family. I haven't actually been out there in more than a year. We'll go to the Festival of the Trees and visit the Amana Colonies, both of which I adore.

I'm excited.

How will you spend your holiday? What are you thankful for this year?

Monday, November 23, 2009

she's an ex for a reason

I survived Friday night and meeting the ex.

(note that I didn't write MHE)

Yup, that's right. I didn't totally hate her.

I don't think that we are going to be holding hands and singing kumbayah anytime soon, but she wasn't completely awful and I was my usual sweet-as-pie self.

She hugged me and told me how nice it was to finally meet me. Hmmmm.

Since this is the first time in five years that I've met her, and in that time, Steve has only seen her a handful of times, I suppose I can be a big girl and be nice, right?

It may have also helped that she brought funfetti cupcakes with pink frosting.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

case of the ex, part two

I am not looking forward to tomorrow.

I am meeting her.

The ex.

The most hated ex (MHE).

Apparently she and her boyfriend are passing through DC tomorrow on their way to North Carolina, and are staying over for the night. At Steve's house, in the guest room. Yes, clearly I will be there too, ensuring that the bedroom doors are securely locked from the inside.

As I've said before, I have no desire whatsoever to know or even meet this girl. None. Yes, she's a friend of his, but I don't need anymore friends, especially not ones who have a past with my boyfriend. I know that I am hardly alone in feeling this way. I don't really want her staying over, but since it is his house, not mine, and I don't even live there, I really don't have much say in the matter.

Apparently she's really looking forward to meeting me.

Sorry, the feeling is not mutual.

Have you ever been in this situation? Any words of wisdom or advice for me?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

happy baptismaversary Jackson!

I'm not sure if Hallmark makes a card for this, but two years ago today my best friend Renee's son Jackson was baptised and she and her husband asked me to be his godmother.

Of course, I was thrilled and honored.

Look at this guy, how could I not?!

I remember the day when Renee called me and told me that she was pregnant; I was in Iowa and Steve and I were driving to visit some friends of his. It was mid-morning, I think the day before Thanksgiving. He was born the following summer, on July 4th. When I got off the phone with Renee, I called my mother at school to tell her the news, and then I think I called my father, my grandmother and my sister, haha. Of course, we were all so excited and happy.

Now, two and a half years later, Jackson is really the funniest boy I know. He's a rascal, he's rambunctious and just hilarious. The stories that Renee tells never fails to make me laugh and my biggest regret is that I live so far from him and can't see him every day or every week or even once a month. Despite that, he knows me and remembers me and every time he does see me, I get big hugs and kisses, and really, what is better than that?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

now's the time that we need to share

I know I'm not the only one who can't believe how quickly the holidays are approaching. Even my darling sister, who begins her Christmas countdown in September set her facebook status today to "what has happened to November?" or something similar.

Of course, with the holidays come buying gifts for friends and loved ones (side note- is it just me, or is that phrase slightly odd? friends and loved ones? are my friends not loved?). Along with those gifts, I always like to do some extra donations to charity. While I complain about my tiny apartment, or how I wish I had an iphone, I need to remember how blessed I really am. I have an amazing family and really wonderful friends. I have a loving boyfriend, an education and a job, a roof over my head, a fridge full of food and legs/metro card to get me where I need to go. There are a lot, a lot, of people in this world who are not as fortunate as I am, so I like to try to do what I can to help. By no means am I wealthy, but I can help in small ways, and I think that is an important thing to do. I know that the economy isn't great right now, and people are struggling everywhere, so I like to think that the little that I do, makes a tiny difference in someone's life.

As you know, I sponsor two little girls through World Vision. At the holidays, I send them an extra donation, which I do a few times throughout the year as well. $75 can buy a lot more in Albania than it can here, and since I just began sponsoring Boikokobetso in South Africa, I haven't done this yet for her, but I imagine it is more than in Albania (am I wrong?). Also, around the holidays, World Vision has a gift catalog where you can donate things like sheep, ducks, chickens, tree seedlings, soccer balls and so much more to needy families in developing nations. $25 will buy two chickens, and $30? Five ducks! Both will have lots of eggs, something that can both be eaten and also sold. Both good things. Last year, I sent along some chickens, ducks and seeds. Oh, and two soccer balls for $16! I don't know where they went, but I know they were well received.

The last few years, I also did the Angel Tree program. A friend had a tree at her office, so she brought me an angel. It listed the name, age and sizes of a child, and I went out and bought a few things for the child. I think I had to wrap them, and then my friend took them back to her office for me and they were delivered. She and I are no longer friends, so this won't happen this year, but maybe I will try it through the website. I have to have a better look at their site, but I like to pick out the gifts myself, rather than just donate money directly (am I strange?).

One year, I also did the Letter to Santa, which was local to DC, though they seem to have it elsewhere. I only did this once, several years ago, and it was a bit hard. I say that, because I went to the post office and picked through a basket full of letters to Santa. Most were written by the mothers, and the majority of them had five or six children (or more) of various ages, most asking for things like ipods or a wii. At the time, I didn't really have the extra cash for an ipod for myself, much less a family of eight. I finally found a letter from a mother of two children, one around eight and one around three. I bought them each a fleecie pullover, a toy and a book.

Every morning and most afternoons, I see Marines at my metro stop, holding a sign for Toys for Tots. I'm thinking that I may go with this one this year. I have a daily reminder to buy a few toys, and there are several drop-off locations in DC, so I think this will be fun. Maybe I will buy a Cabbage Patch Doll! Of course, I'll buy books. Every child needs books. Oh yes, oh yes they do.

There is also a food drive going on at work, it will run through December 31. I've gone through my cabinets and picked out several things to bring in. Also, when I've gone grocery shopping, I've made it a habit to pick up a few extra cans to donate. Many canned goods are less than a dollar each, so picking out a few cans of beans or the like won't put a huge dent in my grocery bill, and local soup kitchens really need the goods. I know that my office is hardly the only one doing this, it is all over the country. I'm sure the Salvation Army takes year-round donations too.

Do you do anything like this at the holidays? What is your favorite organization to support? Please share with me, I'd love to see more!

Monday, November 16, 2009

in my life, I've loved them all

I've been listening to a lot of music by the Beatles lately. Maybe I've been feeling nostalgic, but the song "In My Life" always seems to make me a bit misty-eyed. It's a lovely song, wouldn't you say?

There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I'll love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I'll love you more

Apparently it is a very popular wedding song, for the bride and groom's first dance. I can see that, as the song really is lovely, especially "there is no one compares with you" and "these memories lose their meaning." At the same time though, the song repeats that one will never lose affection for people before...and frankly, at my wedding, I don't think I'd want a song sung about past lovers! I'd rather my husband forget all those before me, and he certainly doesn't need to have any affection for them :)

What do you think of the song? Would you use it? Am I being silly?

Probably :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Waldorf education

I know that many of you are in the education field, and I am curious about something. What do you know about Waldorf education? I have a friend who is very into incorporating many aspects of Waldorf philosophies and teachings into her family, and I don't know a lot about it. I've read a bit, but should read more before I form my opinion, but I thought I'd ask, in case anyone has experience in this field.

Some distinctive features of Waldorf education include the following:

  • Academics are de-emphasized in the early years of schooling. There is no academic content in the Waldorf kindergarten experience (although there is a good deal of cultivation of pre-academic skills), and minimal academics in first grade. Literacy readiness begins in kindergarten with formal reading instruction beginning in grade one. Most children are reading independently by the middle or end of second grade. (note- I think you are all well-aware of my feelings towards early literacy, so I don't totally agree with this and would certainly be teaching my children from a very early age to read and hope to give them a love of reading. I want my children reading before second grade! )

  • During the elementary school years (grades 1-8) the students have a class (or "main lesson") teacher. The ideal and goal is that the class teacher stays with the same class for the entire eight years of elementary school. This, however, is not always the case, for many different reasons, one being the high demand this puts on the versatility of the teacher

  • Certain activities which are often considered "frills" at mainstream schools are central at Waldorf schools: art, music, gardening, and foreign languages (usually two in elementary grades), to name a few. In the younger grades, all subjects are introduced through artistic mediums, use the children respond better to this medium than to dry lecturing and rote learning. All children learn to play recorder and to knit. (I love this! I want my children learning other languages from an early age, and I love the idea of them learning to knit!)
  • There are no "textbooks" as such in the first through fifth grades. All children have "main lesson books", which are their own workbooks which they fill in during the course of the year. They essentially produce their own "textbooks" which record their experiences and what they've learned. In some schools upper grades may use textbooks to supplement skills development, especially in math and grammar.
  • Learning in a Waldorf school is a noncompetitive activity. There are no grades given at the elementary level; the teacher writes a detailed evaluation of the child at the end of each school year.
  • The use of electronic media, particularly television, by young children is strongly discouraged in Waldorf schools.

With regards to the first point, they specifically mention reading...

9. How is reading taught in a Waldorf school? Why do Waldorf students wait until 2nd grade to begin learning to read?

Waldorf education is deeply bound up with the oral tradition, typically beginning with the teacher telling the children fairy tales throughout kindergarten and first grade. The oral approach is used all through Waldorf education: mastery of oral communication is seen as being integral to all learning.

Reading instruction, as such, is deferred. Instead, writing is taught first. During the first grade year the children explore how our alphabet came about, discovering, as the ancients did, how each letter's form evolved out of a pictograph. Writing thus evolves out of the children's art, and their ability to read likewise evolves as a natural and, indeed, comparatively effortless stage of their mastery of language.

Interesting approach, wouldn't you say? I still want my children reading well before then...

Thoughts? Opinions?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

one of those days

I am exhausted. I was up until after 2am last night because my upstairs neighbor was blaring her tv. I am so sick of this, I've complained about it and nothing seems to happen. I left a note on her mailbox this morning on my way out, but I was late to work in the process (mainly because it took so long to fall asleep, not because I was leaving the note!). Ugh, I despise rude people, and this girl sure isn't very considerate. The rain isn't helping my mood either.

Funny related story. Last week, I came home and found my Glamour magazine in my mailbox. I skimmed it that night. The next day, I came home to find another Glamour in my mailbox. I looked at the label, it was addressed to me. I looked at the label from the one that arrived the day before, and it belongs to my upstairs neighbor. Ooops. I was going to bring her mine with a note on it, apologizing, but since she's so loud and obnoxious, I don't think I will. No Michelle Obama as Woman of the Year for her. Ha! That's my attempt at revenge :)

Hope you had a nice day off yesterday. I called my favorite vet last night, my best friend. She spent a year in Kuwait and her husband in Iraq back in 2003 and 2004. Funny, because when she was in Kuwait, I was in Poland. I'd write her letters and used her military address, of course, whatever it was, APO AE, etc. I'd take these letters to the Polish post office and had the hardest time trying to mail them...since they didn't list a country destination, the postal clerk could never figure out where they went! In my terrible Polish, I tried to explain that it was a military address, but they never got it. I finally began writing USA at the bottom, and it worked. It always amused me that the letters would come back here to the States before crossing the Atlantic again!

The other night, I went to a volunteer info session for different opportunities here in DC. I was sent a calendar of possibilities, and it seems nearly endless. I was thrilled to see that there is a horse rescue league nearby, so I may try to volunteer there once a month. It's a bit far, so Steve would need to drive me. I used to ride, and have been really missing it lately, so I think this might be a great opportunity. I don't know if they'd let me work the horses, it might just be grooming them and such, but still, just being around them again would really be wonderful. There are many other volunteer needs, of course, such as working in food kitchens or reading to children, or playing with puppies at adoption fairs (!!!), so I really want to try a few different things, to see what I like best.

This Saturday, I am going to a sewing lounge, put on by DC Threads, which seems pretty neat. There will be people there to help with the projects that you are working on, which is great, because I need someone to show me how to bind my quilts! I've read tutorials and watched online, but I think I need to see it in real life, because my bindings aren't coming out too well! It is all free too, which is really nice. I am looking forward to it, and hopefully, will come home with a finished project!

In other exciting news, I discovered a Christmas Tree Shop not too far away, in Hagerstown, MD, which was thrilling. I love that store, and if you don't have one near you, you are missing out! I found pens with my name on it, which was so exciting. I rarely find things with my name on it, so I usually buy them when I do!

How are things with you?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

assault on Maryland Ave

Yesterday morning, I left my apartment to head to the metro for work. It was cool and crisp, and I was just thinking how nice it was and reminded myself that it is now November, and how much I love November.

I was crossing the street and saw acorns falling all around me. I then thought how funny it would be to get hit in the head with a falling acorn. Next thing I knew,


I got hit in the head with a falling acorn! I couldn't believe it, it was literally ten seconds after I had that thought! It really hurt too.

Clearly I jinxed myself, eh?

I had a headache the rest of the you think it was related?

Monday, November 2, 2009

crafty UFO challenge!

I just discovered a new blog, called Tallgrass Prairie Studio. She is a quilter, and posts amazing photos of her creations. She is having a challenge to finish all of your UFO's...of course, since I am a quilting newbie, I asked exactly what that meant, and she replied with this---

ufo's are whatever unfinished objects you have. for me they are quilt tops, but feel free to include whatever unfinished things are at your house. folks are trying to finish dresses, christmas gifts, knitting...all sorts of things. we are bad about using all those'll see WIP in progress.

I think this sounds like fun, and will be good for me! I've started several projects, but haven't been good about finishing them and this challenge gives people two months to finish as many current projects as you can.

So, if you are a quilter, or knitter or crafter, go here to read about how to be involved!

all the world at rest

I spent some time yesterday reading through a folder full of emails from my time in Krakow. My father actually saved every single email I sent to him and burned them onto a cd for me. I saved them to my laptop, in case the cd ever goes missing! They will come in handy when I finally write my book, but that is another story!

I found this one, and it struck me, as I wrote it six years ago this weekend. Like the expression says, it seems like just yesterday. I can still remember the feeling I had that evening in the cemetery and I can feel the goosebumps I had. It was such a moving experience and I wanted to try to share it with my parents and aunt (my aunt and mother are sisters, and their mother, my grandmother is Polish- her father, my great-grandfather was born in the Krakow area and moved to the U.S. at a young age).

From : Lexilooo
Sent : Saturday, November 1, 2003 2:45 PM
To : Mum, Daddy, Auntie
Subject : All Soul's Day

So today is All Souls Day in Poland. Well, I guess it is
everywhere, but here, it's a big deal and a national holiday.
People go to the cemetery and light candles on the graves of
their loved ones. I hadn't gone last year, because I didn't
quite realize the significance of the day, but we decided to
go today. We waited until dusk, because then you can see all
the lit candles and all. We went to Rackowicki, the biggest
cemetery in Krakow. It's actually not too far from the flat I
lived in all year. As we were getting closer, you could see
the candles burning in the different colored holders. It
really was incredible. There were little kiosks along the way
set up so you could buy candles if you didn't have any with
you. There were so many people there, I couldn't believe it.
Because of the burning candles and since it was dark, there
were shadows everywhere and it was hard to see where you were
walking and I was afraid I was going to fall. We just walked
around for a while, looking at the different gravestones. Some
were so old and falling over, some were brand new. There were
also large ones for families, then ones with just one or two
people on the stone. I was looking at names, and I saw one
that could have been Grammy's family, but I am not sure. The
problem is that I am not sure exactly how she spelled her
maiden name, but also, there are variations in spelling. It
was Komoszinski, but the sz makes a sh sound, or it could be
just an s with an accent, which also makes that sound. It
looked pretty old and I couldn't make out any of the dates on
it. Plus, of course, the lighting was very poor, as we were
relying on candle flames to read inscriptions. There is a
chapel inside, and there was a priest inside who was reading
names off a list. When you walked in the gates, you could give
money to someone and they'd add your loved ones name to the
list that would be read. I guess it's like when people dedicate
masses at home, but there are so many people, that they can't
do that. It was so eerie though, hearing this voice boom down
from what seemed like the Heavens, listing out name after name
after name..."Stanslawa, Agnieszka, Irena, Francuszka,
Wiktoria, Magdalena, Przemyslaw, etc..." After so many names,
he would stop, and you'd hear this bell ringing, and I had
chills going up and down my spine. I wish I could adequately
describe the feeling and the mood, but there is no way. You'd
look around and there were candles burning for what seemed
like miles around you. They were in those little plastic
holders that were different colors, so in a weird way, it
seemed like Christmas, because you could see the different
colors surrounding the flames. I would have taken a picture,
but it wouldn't have come out and also, it seemed a bit
disrespectful to me. It was like how at Auschwitz, you are
allowed, but the first two times I was there, I couldn't bring
myself to do it, but the third time I went, I took a few. I'd
like to go there once more before I come home, I think.
Anyway. Really though, it was such an incredible feeling and I
wish that you could have seen it. I wish Grammy could be here.
How was she yesterday? I was thinking of her all day and
wanted to call, but I don't have a phone, so I couldn't. She
was in my thoughts though, please let her know that. I sent a
note, but it may not have arrived on time.

I'm going home now. I'm tired. I didn't do much all day, but I
am still exhausted. I think the the nights of staying up
working on the thesis are catching up with me and now that I
am done, I can reward myself with extra sleep.

Much love,


I remember the feeling I had when I saw the grave marker with what could have been my family name. As I said in the email, I wasn't sure, because of the possible spelling variations, in addition to the stone being quite old. I wanted to go back the next day, to see it in the daylight, but I knew that there was no way I'd ever find it again, because we made so many turns, I had no idea where it was.

This weekend would also be my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. My grandfather passed away very suddenly the December prior to this, so that was their first anniversary for my grandmother without him. They had the most amazing love, like no other I've ever seen. I can only hope that my marriage will emulate theirs, but I'm not sure that anything else ever could. The love they shared was like none other.

Many of my memories of Krakow have been tucked back into a corner of my heart, to be kept safe for always. There are some moments, like this one, that I don't want to ever forget.