Favorite things

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Before we left California, I stole something.

And by "stole" I mean I announced to Mama Syd that I liked a particular item and would like it for the baby.

"Take it." she said.

"But it belongs to my brother . . . "

"What makes you say that?"

"Um . . . his name is on it."

She assured me my brother wouldn't mind.  Maybe stealing is too harsh a term for whatever offense it is that I made . . .

I never really knew my Nana Mickey's mother.  I met her a few times, saw us together in pictures and owned doll-size quilts she made for us.  Those quilts were the greatest connection I felt to her.  Garrish and loud with uneven edges, they were well played with but not particularly beloved.

Then I grew up and became a mother.  I learned some more about Grandma Ruby and life and the few things I have of her I treasure.  Then I lost my own grandmother and suddenly the love and thought that went into those quilts, the memories they hold, well, they were very important.

This quilt I claimed for Sixtus, I don't remember being around.  It's larger than a doll's blanket and has Grandma Ruby's record on the back.  It says it was made in 1972 though my brother wasn't born until 1982.  Maybe she had a stock pile?

The loud, dated colors that didn't impress me as a kid are just right to me now.  I love that the pieces are real live scraps and patches.  I dig the terry towels printed with flowers used near the plaid.  There are silks and flannels and all sorts of polyesters.  My favorite piece is the nose of a golden lion.  Just the nose and whiskers.  Awesome.

It was a little worse for wear.  It's 41 years old if the date is right.  The quilt needed a little TLC to be sure.  I set about embroidering over seams.  This evolved into cutting out frayed pieces (just 3!) and patching over the blank spaces.  I loved adding my touches to a piece my great-grandmother made but even better was when the girls asked if they could help.

Yes, they were eager and sometimes impatient, but they were serious and overjoyed to be making something for Sixtus.  We talked about Grandma Ruby and Nana Mickey while they worked.  This piece, this simple blanket for a sibling they don't know yet already loved, was made by their great-great-grandmother. They don't know her either but I'm pretty sure that while sewing on her quilt, they came to love her, too.

Tess outlined a cat on the patch with the Dutch woman.  Ellie chose to embroider a "swirl" on a floral piece.  They both searched out any holes that needed to be covered and picked out the thread for the spiderwebs I stitched over them.

When we were done, we washed the blanket and held our breath.  We all oohed an ahhed when it came out softer and just a little brighter than when it had gone in.  Now it sits patiently in the Suburban with the car seat, waiting for baby's ride home.

"Do you think Sixtus will like it?" Ellie was anxious to know. I assured her I think he'll love it as much a we all do.  "What piece will be his favorite?" she wondered.  Only time will tell, but I hope when this child can understand he will love the whole of it and the memory of the woman who made it, too.

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This picture because it makes me laugh


Afternoon naps.  Best thing in the world.  Now if only I could convince the eldest 3 of this fact . . .

Candy Corn Oreos. Kinda like the birthday ones, more like the regular golden ones, they're awesome.

Speaking of food, Haagen Daas Butter Pecan ice cream is the best kind of mid-night snack.  This is why my clothes don't fit.

And speaking of clothes, Jac's my favorite for ordering long sleeved things for this final stretch.  Old Navy Maternity scoop neck tees are lovely.

Doctor Who, season 2.  I've been a sci-fi fan from an early age thanks to Papa Chris so the 10th Doctor's sense of humor and the crazy aliens are right up my alley.  (Also up my alley, how my husband ques up a show and will watch it with me just because I like it.  It's not on his fave list.)

Checking things off my to-do list.  Feels so good.

I have a friend who makes LEGO rosaries.  LEGO! They are completely necessary as stocking stuffers for the boys this year.  If you live locally, they are available at the Mustard Seed Catholic Bookstore downtown.  If you are far away, I can get you her contact info.  She does custom orders!  Good stuff.

Community Theater.  Namely, Black Hills Community Theater and their Les Miserables production.  Coming soon: Pirates of Penzance and The Miracle Worker.

Garnier Fructis Anti-Frizz Serum.  It smells amazing,really does calm The Frizz (it's an entity) and makes a great beard oil.  Fr. C. reports that it's not so good as hand soap though.

Reading "Love is a Choice" by Drs. Hamfelt, Minirth, and Meier.  Written about co-dependency from a Christian perspective, it's a winner.

World Market's Dulce de Leche White Hot Cocoa mix.  When it got cold last week, I busted it out because last fall, remember, there was no dairy for me.  Bring it on this year, baby! Alas, there are no World Markets within spitting distance of us so it will be rationed.  It makes it that much better.

I love the blog Under the Sycamore. Ashley is a Jesus loving, faith living, homeschooling mom of 5 who is super crafty and muy artistico with a camera.  Her blog always lifts my spirits.

When I can finally take my neoprene belly bands off at the end of the day.  Best. Feeling. Ever.

Gemma's lisp.  Jac taught her how to say 'Sasquatch' tonight just so we could hear it.  Sweetest thing all day.

Any favorites from you I should know about?

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.  ~Cynthia Ozick

For this reminder.

For beautiful mail from beautiful friends.  "Ooooh! That's fancy!" said Max

For finding things in the nick of time.

For this little monkey and cheap, sturdy gates.

For this guy.

For autumn walks with friends.

For beautiful sunsets.

For sleeping babies. Always, always thankful for that.


It's Monday.


First day of school here in Rapid means it will be mighty quiet on these streets and the air will be tinged with purpose.  It should make me jump for joy and do a little dance but . . .

It's Monday. Yes, we had a very productive/restful weekend (it is possible for this to happen!) but doggone, we've got something every night this week and it's got me feeling tired before we even begin.


As Jac tells me all the time, "It's all in your head, Melman."  So, instead of moping (oh, how I love a good mope!) I will share some things that are making me happiest right now.

- A full night's sleep.  Gemma slept through the night last night in her crib. !!!!!  I woke up feeling like a new person!

- Date nights.  Jac always plans these and finds the sitter.  Add that guy to my favorites list. . . Anyway, this weekend's night out was thanks to the Wittes who gifted me with kid watching and supper for my birthday.  Thanks, guys!

- When the waitress on date night is shocked and then refuses to believe we have five kids because we look too young.  I almost got up and hugged her.  Almost.

- Highway 36.  Last week it was Highway 40.  Both are achingly beautiful and had me deciding that we need some land in the Hills pronto.  Country drives are just sooo gooood.

- Homeschool field trips.  That's what caused the drive on Highway 36 - an end of summer hurrah at Legion Lake with the home schoolers. Picnic lunch, sunburns, sand caked bodies-CHECK!  Good times.

- Kids that fall asleep in the car before it's rolling.  LOVE IT!

- New Favorite Album: The Okie Dokie Brothers - Can You Canoe Max recieved this as a feast day gift from the Minnesota Yantes Clan.  Many, many thanks!  It was played all the way to and from Custer State park and every car ride since.  Something about the banjos and lyrics and the promise of adventure makes my throat ache, in a good way, so thanks for that.  We laugh out loud during some of the songs and get misty eyed over others.  They've been in our heads and on our lips all weekend.  Check out Haul Away Joe. I can't stop singing it.

- Picking up our fair winnings.  Not as good a haul as last year (those judges were brutal!  Says Jac, "Well, they are JUDGES." Got it.) but more than we had before!  We talked it all over and explained it all, but when I handed the envelopes directly to the kids, Ellie went wide eyed and yelled, "Mama!  There's money in here!"  She hasn't let the envelop out of her hands since.

- Reading about this family's adoption journey.  They meet their daughter for the first time today.  How exciting! Pray for them, please!

- Seeing this woman at Armadillos with her kids.  It was like seeing a wolf.  Or maybe a celebrity.  Either way, awesome.  I just smiled and tried not to be all, "OHMYGEEZ! I know you!"

- Armadillos.

- Audible Books.  Most specifically Adam Carolla's Not Taco Bell Material. We laughed until we couldn't breathe.  Tears streaked down our faces.  We had to rewind and listen again.  It's language is atrocious so I can't recommend it. Don't tell my mom I listen to things like that.

- This YouTube channel.  Jac found it and it's just so ridiculous and cool AND features British accents! Don't watch the paintball one.  Okay fine, but I warned you!

- This movie trailer remix.  Before the Okie Dokie Brothers it was the song that was stuck in our heads. Afro Circus is a Top Ten Phrase in Casa De Daniel now.

- This company is amazing.  No, really.  Jac has dubbed it "The Magic Cloth" and it totally lives up to the name.  I was so impressed, I'm hosting my very first grown-up home-sale party.  This Friday!  Excited and terrified all at once.  But I love these Magic Cloths!

- When couples love their photos. Even better when they're fun folks. Congrats you crazy kids!

Would ya look at that? I feel better about today already! Happy Monday, friends!


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NOT practical. But fun to try on.

The year Max was born, Papa Bill gifted me with a stock pot for Christmas. It was heavy duty - it's heft told me it was made with purpose - with a thick bottom and non stick coating. It came with a tight fitting lid, was large and all sorts of beautiful. I was smitten at once. I beamed and oohed and ahhed and lovingly placed all my other gifts in it's cavernous Depths.

"I knew it. I knew it!" Papa muttered and shook his head. "I've been right all along."

When questioned about what he was talking about, he elaborated.

"My whole life I've heard that women don't want practical gifts like vacuum cleaners or cooking pots. Folks say women only want lipstick or jewelry. But I knew that couldn't be true. And now you've proved it." He was triumphant.

I was, too. And excited. At the time, the Newman Center was experiencing growing pains. I was feeding 40 college kids out of the old kitchen and I didn't have cooking equipment to handle the quantity of food that was needed. That stock pot was a dream come true.

To this day, if my 14" frying pan is the king of the kitchen, that pot is the queen. I learned that practical and useful gifts are awesome.

That said, I was a little taken aback when Jac gave me a new set of bath towels for our anniversary last year. Granted, he also gave me a gorgeous pair of diamond-ish studs buuuut. . . towels?

They were so soft and fluffy, they felt as if they were made of fleece. Jac, the informed consumer and loving husband that he is, had heavily researched bath towels. These, it seemed, we're the best on the market (for the price. . .) and we're made of bamboo.


Apparently, bamboo is a miracle fiber. These towels are just shy of heavenly. They, like my pot, are heavy and send the message that they are serious. The drying ability is remarkable. Mama Syd, doubtful about their fluffiness, remarked that they seemed to wick moisture away. Perhaps the most impressive feature of these towels is how they have managed to stay soft. And not just marginally soft, either. No. These towels could double as a blanket for a baby any day despite the number of times they have been washed.

I love them.

This morning, however, I was forced to dry with a regular towel( the bamboo ones are so nice the kids steal them for themselves after showering. No big deal, except they then leave them in a pile on their floor. NOT cool.). It was, I'm not kidding, like drying with sand paper. Or, at best, those brown paper towels one uses in a gas station bathroom. Far from a pleasant experience to say the least. It was then that I decided that these anniversary towels might be my favorite gift ever. Practical AND posh, something I use all the time yet didn't know I needed. Extravagant (I would never have bought a fancy towel for myself. . . ) and everyday.

Practically perfect.

*Because you don't know what you're missing, you can find the wonder towels here. Ours are white, STILL, after daily use for a year. Amazing!