Link UP Week: Sew Cute Tuesday

link up week

What the what? Three posts in one day? Yes, believe it folks… linking up has ignited an uncontrollable fire.  But this is that last link party of the day, I promise. I hadn’t originally intended on doing another but when I found this blog and party I decided it had to be done. Especially since I’d been meaning to share a project that will fit in perfectly with the theme!

Better Off Thread

Welcome to Sew Cute Tuesday hosted by Better Off Thread {hello adorable blog name}. It’s all about sewing or craft projects and it’s about time I shared one that I did back before Christmas. The hubs and I were trying to budget our spending for the holiday and I wanted to make something special for my new nephew, Spencer. I already had the fabric, snagged a few extra rolls of ribbon, and was on my way to making a sweet lovie {tag blanket} for my sweet love!

His nursery has a nautical-lighthouse theme so I wanted to do something along those lines and I decided to use the fishy fabric from Keelin’s 42 week onesie shoot. I had just bought some grey pop-dot fabric for the quilt I have still yet to finish, and decided it was the perfect soft back the blanket needed. I measured and cut the fabric to match and pinned them with the ‘right’ sides facing one another. You should know that I’m a terrible seamstress so my technique is terrible and probably WRONG in the grand scheme of things… but it gets the job done. In the photo below you can also see that I measured out 1/2″ on each edge to help guide me on the sewing machine… yeah, rookie.

tag blanket

I then placed the ribbon tags where I wanted them. I didn’t make any particular symmetry, just wanted enough on each side for him to really grab onto. Remove the pins in the area where you plan on placing a ribbon tag and slide between your pieces of fabric, making sure the end of the ribbon is lined up with the edge of the blanket.

tag blanket

Replace the pins {through the ribbon} and head to the sewing machine.

tag blanket

I assume since you found me on a sewing blog you can basically decipher the rest. I assume since you found me on a sewing blog you can basically decipher the rest. If not, sew each edge completely, making crisp, 90 degree corners. Leave a hole about 1″ to 1 1/2″ so you can flip the blanket right-side-out. I used the tip of my scissors to lightly press in each corner to make sure they were fully inverted. Close the hole and admire the cuteness.

tag blanket

It was a lot of fun to make and even more fun to see in a picture with my nephew!

tag blanket

Hopefully in the next week or so I can link up again to share progress on Keelin’s onesie fabric quilt. It does exist, and there has been progress… but it’s definitely not done. If you have a fun sewing project worth sharing, make sure you join the link party with Better Off Thread!

Until next time…

The mind is a mysterious beast

This is something I’ve wanted to write about for quite some time and I’m finally in a place where I’m OK to at least talk about it. It’s on the heavy-side, so forgive me for starting off your week on such a sullen note. I’m sure some of you can {unfortunately} relate to this experience, so I thought it was time to release the word vomit.

The mind is a mysterious beast.

I’ve been unlucky enough to face the scary and debilitating truth of someone you love “losing” their mind. I’m not talking about going to crazy-town after making a pit-stop in looney-ville. That’s an entirely different story.
I’m talking about losing the parts of your mind that make you who you are.
I’m talking about losing the memories and experiences that have formed your life and your place in it.
I’m talking about walking around the home you’ve lived in for over 50 years, without the ability to recognize that it’s your ‘home’.
Old age, dementia, Alzheimer’s… no matter what you call it or how it’s ‘clinically’ diagnosed… it sucks.

My maternal grandmother was always a fun-loving, active, silly, talented, and sophisticated inspiration. She was a brilliant painter, seamstress, and cook, made the world’s best dinner rolls and cinnamon buns, and always insisted you enjoyed seconds at dinner. But unfortunately, she doesn’t remember all of those wonderful attributes and it’s truly heartbreaking to sit and wonder where that person has gone. The mind is a mysterious beast.

2-3 years ago we started to see signs that something beyond just ‘getting older’ was affecting her memory. Things beyond just forgetting the date or now realizing that you’ve now told your husband the same story three times {heck, I do that}. Now, the same person who loved celebrating {and never forgot} my birthday because she remembered me running around telling everyone it was on “JOON TWELF”, now has to ask “Who is this?” when she looks at my wedding picture. The same person whose beautiful paintings are hanging on the walls of my home, my parent’s home, and my brother’s home {to name a few} now is amazed when she learns that she is the one who painted them. The same person who would smile and talk me through things as I watched in amazement while she made her famous cinnamon buns now can’t remember how to make breakfast.
What happened? Where did she go? Did she disappear completely or is she still in there somewhere wondering why everything is different now?

From time to time we will see glimpses of her humor or specs of remembrance from her childhood that remind us she is still the same Gamma.
When we ask her what flavor of cake she wants, and she responds with “both” as if we are silly for even asking.
When she looks at a side table in the living room and says, “You know who made this? My daddy made this.”
Those are the moment when we see the woman she used to be. Perhaps still is, but she’s unable to get out.

The mind is a mysterious beast.

Because things have progressed {or regressed, in this case} so quickly, it’s been difficult to wrap my head around it all. It’s hard to really understand how someone who was always on the move, whether it was cooking, walking around the neighborhood, or just cleaning up around the house, now sleeps the majority of the day. It’s impossible to understand how the person who was so excited to hear from me when I called her on her birthday last year, probably wouldn’t know who she was talking to if I talked to her today. It’s not fair that the home I remember LOVING to visit during the summer as a child is now just a house, since 1/2 of the duo that made it so bright and joyful can no longer take care of it, or herself.

It’s hard.
It’s impossible.
It’s not fair.
The mind is a mysterious beast.

I probably sound like a broken record to those of you who have dealt with this, or are currently dealing with it, in your family.  My husband’s grandmother has been slowly ‘losing her mind’ for many, many years now and while a part of me wishes I could have known her when she was the happy-go-lucky grandmother he remembers {there are still glimpses of that person too – she has the best sense of humor}, the other part is thankful I didn’t have to watch the disappearance from the start. She never really knew who I was, so I don’t get the same heartache when she shows me the Christmas present that I made her and asks, “Did you see this? Isn’t this nice?” That doesn’t mean the heartache was never there, or isn’t still in some way, but the circumstances have allowed his family to adapt to things more gradually, so the difficulty can be buffered with laughter and a sense that this is now ‘the norm’.

I’m not there yet.

I don’t know if I will ever be there. It’s actually kind of impossible to imagine a time when I’ll be okay with it all. I’ve gotten to a point where I can avoid tears when my mom calls to update me on the latest thing she’s forgotten, but then again I’m currently writing this with giant puddles in my eyes, making it very difficult to see my spelling errors, so what does that say about my level of “being ok”?

The mind is a mysterious beast for sure, and the idea of not having full control over your own is terrifying. This kind of thing is often passed down through the generations by the women of the family, so will my mother and I suffer the same fate? Will Keelin decades from now? Dear God, I hope not.
Is there a way to prevent it from happening all together, or at least get a few more ‘good’ years in before the disappearing act begins? Do ‘brain teasers’ and memory games really make a difference? Should I eat less chocolate, drink less sweat tea, spend less times staring at a computer screen? Who knows.

All I know is that I’m not okay. Not yet. And I miss my grandmother.

Until next time…

Igniting the Fire

Last night I had the pleasure of meeting the master minds behind my two favorite blogs: Young House Love and Bower Power. Here’s the tail of how it all went down and how a relaxed and friendly 5 minute ‘howdy-do’ ignited the spark I’ve been needing

The Petersik pair have been on the road and in the air on an EPIC book tour promoting their NEW YORK BEST TIMES selling book and Atlanta was their last stop. As soon as I learned they were coming to a flooring shop new me I registered and marked my calendar!
It was the first book signing I’d ever been to and even though I had read about some of their earlier tour stops, I had no idea what to expect. Part of me was imagining it would be in a huge room with mingling moms and bloggers all eager top hop in line and get their books signed and photos taken. The YHL all-stars would be seated behind a table, possibly up on a small stage, ready to answer questions and rub their jaws from excessive smiling.
My dreamed-up image was only partially true. There were plenty of eager moms and bloggers, even some adorable babes {including my very own bean} and a few four-legged friends. There was a book signing table, and two very sincere smiles coming from the stars of the evening. There was a room – a small one – but a room none the less.  There was also a line – a huge one. A line that not only wrapped out of the small room but down the block, looping around into the hall of a parking deck, then back lining the walls of not one, not two, but three rooms of an empty gallery. It was pretty comical watching new line-joiners walk into the cluttered and dimly lit rooms trying to find the end of the train. I’m sure people thought I was looney tunes walking in with a giant diaper bag and a squirmy bundled toddler who was constantly trying to run laps or find the next little piece of food buried in her bag. Thankfully I was not the only one who was looney tunes and Keelin was actually such a trooper.

Let me just add that I don’t use the term “trooper” lightly in this situation because this “long line” I speak of took us 3 hours to get through, part of which was outside in the cold windy February night. Trooper is the understatement of the lifetime.

So, when we finally got into the small room, the WARM small room, I was ecstatic. The end was near, we were so close to meeting my blogger idols, and the time frame for a possible toddler meltdown was getting smaller and smaller with every swipe of  the Petersik’s red sharpie. That’s not the only reason I was ecstatic, but I should back up a little to fully explain. {geez this post is turning into that never-ending line, isn’t it}
When the line finally brought us to a point where we could see into the shop {Flor in Atlanta} I noticed there wasn’t just a simple single-file stretch of people leading up to the signing table. There was another line leading away from them which I was convinced was where you would pay for your book if you hadn’t brought one you’d already purchased. Then I saw a counter in the back where it was clear people were purchasing books so I was all sorts of confused and submitted to the fact that I’d have to wait and see what the 2nd line was for. So, fast forward once more to when the doors opened, the burst of heat welcomed us, and the ‘end is near’ excitement set in. As soon as I got IN the store I made a point to look around to see what people were waiting for. As I scanned the left side of the store I saw a quaint snack table with sweet treats and beverages, I saw a stand labeled “photobooth” where people were snapping away  making goofy faces {totally wish I’d gotten pictures with Keelin and I – mom fail}, AND THEN I saw the reason for the 2nd line. Chatting it up like the local celebrity she is was the lovely Kate Bower. Not only that, but her sweet hubby Jeremy and their adorable new baby boy Weston were flashing smiles as well! Jackpot. Seriously, my two favorite blogs come to life in one room. So worth the wait…

So, after buying my book, getting back into the line, fixing my feeble attempt at a Katniss-esque side braid, getting out the little gift I made for John and Sherry’s daughter Clara {a custom creation from theKeenBean of course – nothing like a little self-promotion where I can get it!}, and keeping Keelin entertained enough to avoid a last-minute tantrum we finally got up to the table. Holy nicest-people-ever Batman. Seriously, such a sweet and genuine couple. They immediately thanked us for coming  and asked Keelin’s name.  Sherry was stoked about the headband for Clara and we bantered a bit about how fast it normally takes our kids to rip them off their heads. Sherry gave a huge grin when she saw the name of my Etsy shop, “theKeenBean, LOVE the name!” and we jabbed about me being an (804) native. They were attentive and honestly interested in who we were, which was so incredibly comforting. Seriously I want to be best friends with these people. Keelin and I swung around the back of the table for a quick photo-op and ended our meeting by John telling me he’d “Say hello to the 804 for you” and me telling them to let me know how long it took Clara to rip the headband off her head! You know, just chatting it up with famous people like we were besties. No biggie.

Young House Love

Then we waited {and snacked on raspberry shortbread cookies} to see Kate. Yes, it was late and Keelin was getting cranky, but I decided we’d waited all this time we may as well. I’m so glad we stayed because Kate is such a sweetheart. She and her hubby both complimented Keelin on being sooo beautiful {true, true} and I oogled over little Weston and even got a smile from him! What a sweet boy! Kate joked that she nursed him in the car the last time he ate but was considering just feeding him there in the store – to which I encouragingly told her “go ahead, just pop it out girl!” I also got all gooey and told her how I loved reading her birth stories and was in the process of becoming a birthing coach and doula – which she was super encouraging about. After another compliment to the bean, an autograph from Kate {she has a featured project in the YHL book} and shared a few laughs when Kate said she really wanted a girl and might steal mine, we were done.

It was 10:00pm, we were finally headed home, and it was totally worth the wait.

Now it might seem silly for me to be drooling over people who, in the GRAND scheme of celebrities aren’t exactly Ryan Gosling status, but being able to meet them and see how incredibly genuine and thankful they are for the support of a nobody like me, is incredibly encouraging. As you know I’ve recently put my own blog and Etsy shop on a bit of a pedestal and have decided to really ‘go for it’ to make them a success. Here in the last week or so I’ve been really down and unmotivated because I continuously see other bloggers {newer bloggers} who have greater fan-bases and a more solid interaction stream. I’ve made the mistake of comparing myself to those people and, as a result, have totally blown out my own flame. Getting to meet my ‘blog heroes’ helped me to remember that being a ‘blogger’ not about make money or being’popular’. It’s about sharing bits of yourself in a way that makes you happy. It’s about finding people with similar personalities to bounce ideas off of. It’s about forming relationships with some random person across the world because you both had pimento cheese cravings while you were pregnant.

I can’t have an ‘end goal’ when I take on the title of ‘professional blogger’. Yes, getting sponsors and having people pay me to jot down my thoughts would be aces, but if that’s all I’m doing this for… will I ever REALLY find success? Will the happiness that comes from sharing my thoughts and knowing some people out there appreciate them totally disappear when it becomes about money and ‘fame’?

Last night’s book signing really re-lit my fire. Not only did I learn what kind of patience {and muscle} it takes to hold a toddler for nearly three hours while wearing heels, but I learned that doing something because I love it is enough of a reward for me. I love blogging. I love sharing stories to keep friends and family updated on our lives and I love that I have gotten some more friends to share with along the way. I’m excited about moving forward thanks to my new flame and eager to see where it takes me. If you’re willing to come along with me on the journey, I will be happy to have you! And on a final note I’d like to give a huge thank you to the Petersik’s and the Bowers for being such wonderfully kind and inspiring people.

Until next time…

My Dolphin Friend

Some of you may not know, but my hubs works at the Georgia Aquarium as a performer in their Dolphin Tales show. No, he doesn’t swim with dolphins. No, he’s not actually a dolphin himself. No, he never actually touches the water – unless you count the splashes the dolphins shoot at him trying to get his attention. YES, he uses his gorgeous voice to narrate the show in melodious majesty! If you are ever up for an aquarium visit, be sure you see the show. It’s great for kids and you’ll probably end up feeling like one yourself!

So about a week ago Keelin and I went with Z to work for two major reasons. 1. So Keelin could see her daddy in the show {which she loved btw.} 2. To participate in a “Dolphin Interaction” .

Let me lay out this “Dolphin Interaction” for you real quick. We {all three of us} got to go behind the scenes of the Dolphin Tales show and INTERACT with one of the dolphins! Touch them, give commands for behaviors, play ball, etc. Now, hubs and I never got a honeymoon {accepting donations} so we don’t have photos of water splashing up our noses as we hang on to the dorsal fin of a swimming dolphin in some beautifully tropical and touristy location. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
But, now thanks to Z’s job and the fantastic trainers at the Georgia Aquarium, we do have these… Everyone, I’d like you to meet Lily!

We had a wonderful time and yes, my face in the photo holding Lily’s lateral fins explains my feeling the whole time. Giddy, giddy, giddy. Keelin was a little skeptical at first and wasn’t a huge fan of being that close to the pool but she was fascinated by Lily! Every time she would get close to us Keelin would say, “Oohhhh” and point. Adorable. Honestly this kid has one charmed life… just over a year old and she’s touched a dolphin. I couldn’t have asked for a better day spending time with my sweet family. We snapped many more pictures around the aquarium but far too many to post in one blog! I’ll try to share some later and will put a few favorites on Facebook {do you like my page… cause you should}!

Have you ever done one of the touristy dolphin interactions while on vacation? Were you giddy like a child?

Until next time…