Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ten Years

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

~Elizabeth Barret Browning's Sonnet 43

Paul and I celebrated our 10th anniversary on March 17. I'm finally getting around to blogging about it.
I recently had dinner with a friend of mine who waxed eloquent about the kind of love she wants to find. She said something about "Sex and the City," at which point my ears become totally deaf, but at any rate, her words were something along the lines of finding love that is really passionate and crazy and all-consuming, etc. It's a really nice thought, but I told her that I think too many people are chasing movies and not finding what is actually REAL love. Love isn't always butterflies and giggles, or even amazing sex. Maybe this sounds disheartening to you. Maybe you've been married for a while and you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Please don't think that I'm saying that staying together means that eventually you hate each other. It's not that at all. It's just that we've been through so much history and have fought so many battles (some as friends and some as foes) that we've become accustomed to each other. Maybe we don't laugh at each other's jokes as much as we used to and maybe don't even close the door to the bathroom all the time, but what we have is the real thing.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem describes a love that IS all-consuming. It's a beautiful love that reaches every corner of the woman's soul. It's the kind of love that married people should strive for, no matter how many years.
REAL love is defintely passionate and all-consuming AT TIMES. But not all the time. Sometimes love is very quiet or even grumpy (Paul). Sometimes it flies off the handle at the simplest little thing (ahem--me). But it's constant. It survives. REAL love stands the test of time. Love stays even when all it wants is to leave. It forgives. It forgets. It rubs your feet. It holds your aching, laboring body when you're birthing a baby. Love will care for that baby on an early Saturday morning, too, just to let you sleep. Love will go to work every day to provide for the family. And it will come home at the end of the day to do it all over again. Love is making a choice to love, even when it doesn't feel like loving.
Paul, I'm so thankful for your incredible friendship and love. You're an amazing man, and I hope that you know that I love you more and more every day, even though sometimes it feels like the puppy love is gone. I love you so deeply that loving you has become part of me. I adore you--ten times more than I did on our wedding day. I'm so happy to be your partner, your love. "And, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death." Happy anniversary.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why are weekends so short?

Oh what a LOVELY weekend we had here in Virginia. It just couldn't have been more beautiful. We were able to spend some time at the park in between errands on Saturday, and tonight we had a little picnic in the courtyard of our condo complex. Here are a few pics:

This is one of Charlie's summer tops I made for her:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Charlie's Twirly-girly T-shirt Dress

That's what I'm naming this little dress that I created for my twirly-girly Charlie. Today I'm attempting my very first sewing tutorial.
I was inspired my my fashionista SIL, Kelly, who had on a really cute dress back at Christmas time, that was basically a silk skirt sewn to the hem of a designer T-shirt. I decided to make a couple of these for Charlie for summertime. It's a REALLY inexpensive article of clothing, costing about $4 for the T-shirt, $2 for the fabric for the skirt, and a few cents for the ribbon around the hem. I also added an iron-on design, but it certainly isn't necessary. For added embellishment, you could always sew a handmade fabric flower to the top or even a ruffle around the cuff. So, for $10 or less, you have an entire outfit that's perfect for your little girl's typical summer day and really cute!

What you'll need:
One T-shirt. I bought mine at AC Moore, but you can get these anywhere. You can also use something you already have on hand. I bought a 4T for my little girl, so these instructions will be for this size, but you can easily adjust them to be a little bigger or smaller. You may also want to pre-wash, and you definitely want to if you are planning to add an iron-on design.
Cotton fabric for your skirt. I used a fat quarter. If you're not familiar, it's called a fat quarter because it's cut half the width but twice the length as a quarter yard--a quarter yard being 9" x 44", a fat quarter is 18" x 22". Quilters use them a lot, but they're really great for small projects like this. Once you have your fat quarter, cut it in half lengthwise so that you now have two pieces that are 9" x 22". You can, by all means, use a piece of fabric that is not a fat quarter, and if you do, there is no need to cut it in two pieces. You can have one piece that is 9" x 44" (a quarter yard).
Ribbon for the hem. It should be about 46", just to give you a little wiggle room on the ends, and at least 3/4" wide.

1. With right sides together, sew (or serge) both pieces of skirt fabric together at the selvedge. There is no need to finish the edge here, since it's the selvedge. If you have one piece of fabric as opposed to a fat quarter, skip this step.
2. If you have a serger, finish the top and bottom edges by serging the lengths of the fabric. If you do not have a serger, fold about 1/8" of the fabric down twice (in order to hide the cut edge) and iron it to hold in place. Sew the folded edge down on both long edges.
3. Along one of the finished long edges, pin your ribbon to the right side, being careful to hide the shirt's hem behind the ribbon. Sew the ribbon in place.

4. Use a smocking technique to gather the skirt (or use a gathering feature on your machine if you have it. To use the smocking technique (which might sound intimidating, but it's really easy), about a 1/2 down from the top of your skirt (the long side without the ribbon), just straight stitch the whole length, and leave several inches of thread at the end once you've sewn. Then grab the bottom thread, and gently pull it through, gathering the fabric. When you have gotten the fabric to the desired size (it should be the same length as the hem of your T-shirt--use a measuring tape to be sure), then even out the gathering so that it's about the same fullness all the way around. Once you've gotten things to look right, straight stitch the length again to sew it all in place.
5. Now you're ready to attach your skirt to the T-shirt! Turn your shirt inside out, and lay the skirt on top, right side down and lining up the skirt's side edge to the shirt's side seam Now sew the top hem of your skirt to the shirt, careful to cover your skirt's upper seam behind the shirt's hem.

6. To sew the skirt's side seam, put right sides together and either serge, starting at the top, or straight stitch, starting at the top and being sure to fold the edges in again (like you did in Step 5).
7. When you've finished attaching the skirt to the shirt, you can add your embellishments. Voila! Your Twirly-girly T-shirt dress!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Seafood Fridays

Just wanted to share a couple of mouth-watering photos of our latest Seafood Friday. I told a friend yesterday that if I could choose my last meal, it would, no doubt, include crab legs. I get these about once a year, though the last time was a year and half ago. I remember because I was about 30 months pregnant at the beach in late August. I made Paul drive me a round to about 4 different restaurants before we found one that served crab legs and wasn't an all-you-can-eat-trough-I-mean-buffet. Yesterday I realized that they are not much more work to have at home than they are in a restaurant, given that most of the effort is put in at the table. They take about 5 mintues to steam, and they're done! I bought two pounds at Whole Foods, and it was more than enough for Paul, Charlie, and me. Judah didn't care for them, which is just as well. :) Anyway, I paid $7.99 per pound! Since they were so cheap, I also bought a half pound of already cooked shrimp cocktail (also on sale for $7.99 a pound), and served up our shellfish Red-Lobster-style with rice pilaf, steamed broccoli, and homemade garlic biscuits.
They were amazingly sweet, and oh my gosh, anything that you dip in melted butter, c'mon. My mouth is still watering . . .

The legs:
The biscuits:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rant Friday

It's not in my usual spirit of happy blogging, but I think I might start a new thing here. Maybe not. Maybe it'll just be today, but I have a few things that are getting on my nerves.

1. GPS. It makes people stupid. People no longer know street names or things like North, South, East, or West. People rely a little too much on these little machines to get them around. I know, I know, they have cool features like "Where is the nearest Chik-Fil-A?" And maybe I'm just jealous 'cause I don't have one, but lately hearing "I'm just doing what the GPS is telling me to do" is really bugging me.

2. So, I'm trying to find new children to watch in my home daycare, since a couple kids are going to be leaving me soon. I emailed and finally talked to one woman in particular who is currently and wants to continue to be a stay-at-home mom to her brand new 3-month-old little girl. The trouble is, "she's fussy and needs a lot of attention during the hours from 3-7 (i.e., 'the witching hour')." This brand new mom wants to take her baby somewhere and drop her off so that someone else can deal with her meltdown. WHAT?? Now I have no problem dealing with fussy babies--it's part of my job. I do, however, have a little trouble with the idea of someone paying me SPECIFICALLY to deal with her baby's difficult time. I mean, every mom who is with her children between afternoon naptime and dinnertime has to deal with this difficult behavior. And this mom wants to bring her little one here so that I can deal with my two kids, plus whatever other little one I'll have in my care at that time, PLUS her baby? Seriously? Is there some kind of a disconnect with the motherly instincts? Do people not understand that being a mother is HARD? You can't spend just the fun, happy times with your baby, right?

3. What is with people using the word I instead of me? As in: "Just between you and I." Drives me absolutely CRAZY!! The word me is a completely valid word and has its place. You do not sound smarter using the word I all the time. I know I was an English major and am therefore WAY sensitive to these kinds of things, but really.

I don't think it's a good idea to constantly dwell on things that are getting on our nerves, but I wanted to tell someone. Thanks for listening. Now I can stop thinking about this stuff and get on with real life. :) Tomorrow I'll post something on Charlie's new homemade summer clothes. Hope you all are having a fantastic Friday night and have a great weekend. I'm going to watch a movie now with Paul and relax for the first time today. Cheers!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Growth

What a lovely weekend we had here in Alexandria. The weather was just gorgeous for this time of year. A little chilly, but bearable with just a light jacket (or my bright red trench coat that makes me so happy). The sun shone so bright, and the sky had woken up from a long, hard winter and was just bursting an unbelievable blue. I know it's still technically winter, but we had such a nice taste of spring that I'm ready to pot my geraniums and sport my sandals. I always jump the gun this time of year and then regret it during our inevitable "Dogwood Winter." C'est la vie.
Anyway, yesterday was Alexandria's annual St. Patty's Day parade, and I won't bore you with pictures, because they would, no doubt, look a lot like last year's photos. We went and sat at our usual spot on the curb and had a blast, as we do every year. I love that this has become a family tradition for the Callahans. :)
Today we went to church and then spent some more time outside at the park. Oh, it is so wonderful to be outside in the warm sunshine! When it was time to leave, the poor kids had to tear themselves away. We just don't know when we'll see the sun again, you know?
While we were at the park, I tried to climb across the monkey bars like I used to as a kid, and I was (not very) surprised to find that I couldn't do it. It was the funniest thing to realize. Something that was so completely natural to me as a kid--I mean, I could have done that in my sleep--I just couldn't do, at least not without substantial effort. Then I started to think about the real topic of this post. It's something that I've been mulling over for quite a while but just couldn't think about how to tie it all together.
Paul and I have so much that we want to teach to our kids, but as far as specific character traits that we consciously want to instill, compassion and respect for others are at the top of the list. We've talked endlessly about how to model these traits for them and how to talk about them and create teaching moments in our daily lives.
Consciously teaching these traits is important, but the more Charlie grows up, the more I realize that this little girl embodies these characteristics. She seems to have this natural sensitivity toward others, as I believe many children have. Kids somehow see past things that their adult counterparts can't overcome. I've seen Charlie watch coverage of these recent awful earthquakes in Haiti and Chile with tears in her eyes. One night she watched a special about children with cleft palate and was genuinely concerned for these poor kids. She so enjoys making lunches with me for our Salvation Army volunteering and talks endlessly about hoping "the people like their sandwiches."
Our job as parents is to continue with the God-given natural ability and nurture it and cultivate it, shaping it while pointing always to Heaven. Just like zooming across monkey bars is so natural for a kid, I pray that she keeps her kind spirit and doesn't become conditioned like so many adults who find compassion and respect as unfamiliar as child's play.

Some welcome signs of spring:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hello again

I've been mulling over several posts in my head for a few days, and I'm not sure how they're going to turn out, or if I'll ever have time to blog again, but while Charlie's still in bed and Judah is shaving with Daddy, I just wanted to take a few minutes and express how unfathomably thankful I am (wow this is a long sentence!). Paul and my 10th anniversary is coming up (St. Patty's Day, in fact), and I'm just so thankful for this man and for these incredible children I get to see and care for every day. We don't always appreciate time with our loved ones like we should, so I just wanted to have said this.
I hope you all are having a wonderful time with the loved ones of your own.
Happy Thursday. :)