Little Home, Big World

…what would Ma do?

Taking My Own Advice June 20, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Thoughts — bethanyjoy @ 8:40 am
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Irony is posting about rolling with life’s challenges, and then having a couple big ones wallop you good a few days later.

I find myself taking my own advice, or rather, trying to  – there’s a fine line at times between acceptance and denial. One will help you move on; the other just prolongs the battle. If you’re anything like me, you spend a few days bouncing from one to the other.

I’m also spending a lot of time breathing deep. Looking outside at the trees and the lake, and when I can’t sleep, the moon and stars. Did I mention breathing? Lots and lots of that. In with Mr. Good Air, out with Mr. Bad Air…

And looking at the good stuff. There’s always good stuff. Even when jobs are in the air and housing in flux, there is good stuff. Healthy kids. A somewhat chaotic and wacky family, but one that loves intensely. Sunshine. Summer breezes. The joy of a good book. The feeling of sand beneath your bare feet. A favourite song on the radio, right when you need to hear it. Imagination. Creativity. Pink hair. Yummy-smelling bodywash. Beautiful yarn. Chocolate-peanut-butter-cup-ice-cream.

If you open your mind and think about it, there’s always more good stuff. Hold onto it with both hands. The sun sets on good days and bad days, but we’ll only see the beauty of it if we take the time to look.


30 Before 30: Redux June 3, 2011

Filed under: 30 before 30,Blahging — bethanyjoy @ 9:00 am
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I had great plans last summer to complete my 30 before 30 list. Then life happened. Which is fine…my motivation behind the original list was a desire to live with intent, rather than letting life sweep me along. Intentional living involves planning…but it also involves seizing the opportunities as they come, rather than being so fixated on any given goal that you miss the chances that grow out of a busy life. Here’s where the 30 before 30 list ended up:

Bethany’s (revised and altered) 30 before 30

(for the original list, click here)

  1. Go to an amusement park without the kids and ride all the big roller-coasters August 8, 2010
  2. Assemble a family tree picture wall. It didn’t happen quite as I envisioned it…but I did sort, print, and frame a bunch of family photos…and even got them up on the wall. September 2010
  3. Start jogging with my 6-year-old. He wins.
  4. Sew a slipcover for the couch.  July 2010
  5. Knit Bry a sweater. October 2010
  6. Design and publish at least two new knitting/crocheting patterns.  They aren’t online yet, but I’ve written a few for the students in my knitting class. January 2011
  7. Find super comfy jeans that fit. May 2011 (This is always worth celebrating. 😉 )
  8. Stop biting my fingernails  April 2011
  9. Write another NANOWRIMO novel.  Completed November 29, 2010! 54, 755 words. Woot-woot!
  10. Write my 3rd novel. In progress…
  11. Spend weekend stripping wallpaper, painting, and visiting with my Nana. Nov. 2010
  12. Get a book I own signed by the author  “The Gathering” signed by Kelley Armstrong, May 2011
  13. Learn how to make really.really.really.yummy custard. Mmmm. April 2011
  14. Find a new band/musical artist that I *love*. Mumford & Sons! February 2011
  15. Start writing poetry again. Ongoing!
  16. Make my own pasta. Not quite…but I’ve developed kickass bread-baking skills instead. Yum!
  17. Learn to make beaded stitch markers. Knitting bling. It’s all that. 😉
  18. Share written work with others for critique and input. Winter/Spring 2011 – This is probably the goal I’m most proud of, it required a massive amount of willpower/courage for me, but has proved incredibly helpful and encouraging.
  19. Go away with hubby for longer than 24 hours! We owe the Ultimate Uncle and Awesomest Aunt big-time. 🙂
  20. Discover new (to me) authors I enjoy: Jeanine Frost, Seanan McGuire, Lois Macmaster Bujold, Rob Thurman, Jennifer Estep, Scott Westerfield.
  21. Use the camera on my iPhone. So it’s not DSLR…but since it’s always within reach, at least I’m using it to document life on a regular basis. 🙂
  22. Grow hair out. Although, I’m not giving up on the purple yet…
  23. Find & attend a writing circle. Winter 2011
  24. Learn how to remember people’s names when I meet them. Still needs improvement, but I’m getting better. The key is to use the name at least 3 times in the initial meeting, if possible.
  25. Go downhill skiing. No…but I went zip-lining instead. Wheeeeeee!
  26. Learn to knit with beads. Lace with beads, even. Mad skillz, those… 😉
  27. Get a part-time job. This one was an unplanned goal, and has had a major impact on the changes to this list. It’s been good, though – a few hours out of the house each week is good for one’s sanity.
  28. Complete ACE English (final grade: 95%)
  29. Start teaching knitting classes. Another unexpected event! One of my favorite things now…
  30. Take bellydancing lessons. I still want to do this! Unfortunately I’ve somehow ended up taking math instead. Don’t ask me how THAT happened. *sigh*

And since this post is all about lists, here’s another:

Lessons Learned in the Last Year:

  1. Perfection is a foolish goal. Strive for excellence instead.
  2. You’re less likely to say something in anger that you’ll regret later if you sit down, lower your voice, and look the other person in the eyes during an argument.
  3. Colorful scarves and nail polish make any day better.
  4. Deep breathing is almost as good as chocolate when you’re feeling stressed. (Chocolate + breathing = even better.)
  5. Peace comes from knowing who you are, what you need, and where you want to go.

Just Another Day April 13, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Kids,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 8:37 pm
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1 cup of coffee

2 lunches packed

2 children taken to school

2 others brought back

1 more cup of coffee (ok, I’ll admit to 2)

1,980 words written

2 block towers built and kicked

3 sinks of dishes washed

1 handful of bubbles hurled

3 meals made and shared

1,560 stitches knit

8 little snacks prepared

2 loads of laundry processed

5 chapters of a favorite book

1 child taken to ER

1 prescription filled

1 of 30 doses given

1 blog post shared

Just another day in an ordinary life.

A little bit crazy, and a little bit fun.

A  little bit excitement, and a little bit dull.

A little bit of wonder, a little bit of fear.

Just another day. Just another year…


Making Time: A Pep Talk In Pictures March 30, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Kids,Simplicity,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 9:48 am
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Some days, I feel like this:

Other days, I feel like this:


What makes the difference?

What lights you up inside?

Find out, and make it happen every day, even if only for a minute or two.

Trust me, it’s not being selfish. It’s being smart. Charge your light, and let it shine…

because everyone in your world will feel it if you don’t. 😉


Antidote March 23, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,D.I.Why,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 10:45 am
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(click for project details)

Knitting is the antidote to a world that is always changing and too often hostile.

It’s a simple act that provides you with multiple choices to which there are no wrong answers – wool or silk, cotton or linen, solid color or a variegated rainbow? The options are initially overwhelming, but you soon learn to revel in them, to embrace this opportunity to answer to only yourself.

Knitting also helps you understand that you have the power to effect change. Maybe the pattern you’re following has long sleeves but you want them to be three-quarter length, or perhaps you need a few extra inches of length in the body to avoid a chilly midriff. As you knit, you learn to analyze what you need and want, and develop strategies for tweaking and reworking a pattern until it’s exactly right for you.

Finally, knitting gives you control. When stock markets crash and your in-laws gripe and your children proudly reveal a permanently autographed sofa, you can pick up your knitting and wield utter and complete control over that one small part of your world.

Knitting reminds you of the power you have to make your own choices, work towards your goals, and take pleasure in the results, no matter what the world throws at you.


Muscle Memory February 15, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 8:50 pm
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“It’s this damn stroke,” she says, with an emphasis on the “damn” that my generation lacks. Pursing her cherry-lipstick mouth, she sits up a little straighter – her posture already puts mine to shame – and smoothes a hand over her well-ironed slacks. “I was never sick a day in my life, until two years ago.”
I don’t ask, but she must see the curiosity on my face because she adds, “I’m ninety-two.”
“So you used to knit a lot, before the stroke?” I ask, steering us back to the reason she’s sitting here with me in the quiet little shop where I work.
“I knit almost everything in the Mary Maxim catalogue, even those awful sweaters that my daughters wanted.” Frustration tugs the corners of her bright lips down. “But I can’t remember a thing now.”
I start with a simple, step-by-step demonstration of the knit stitch, explaining each step. She has me repeat it a few times, watching intently. “Does it look familiar?”
“No.” She takes the needles and yarn from me almost reluctantly.
I talk her through a stitch – needle in, yarn around, pull it through, slide it off.
She’s concentrating so intently, she doesn’t notice another customer casually wander past. Every bit of her attention is focused on  two shiny needles and fuzzy purple wool, as if they represent her personal Everest. Her hands are surprisingly steady, and she executes each step of the next stitch with periods:
Needle in.
Yarn around.
Pull it through.
Slide it off.
Brow furrowed, she suddenly changes the way she’s holding the yarn, wrapping it around her age-spotted hands like a version of cat’s cradle that only she knows.
And then she’s knitting.
I watch, mesmerized, as the needles flash and click, stitches flying rapidly from one to the other. She looks up at me, embarrassed. “I’m making a mess of this, aren’t I?”
“No!” I resist the urge to get up and happy-dance, and instead smile so big my cheeks hurt. “You’re knitting faster than I can.”
“But I don’t remember how,” she protests.
“Your hands remember.”
Surprised, she looks down, and stares. “That’s knitting?”
“That‘s knitting.”
“Well.” Baffled, she glances up at me,  and as she does her hands move confidently, almost of their own volition, stitches forming in perfect rhythm. “Isn’t that the damnedest thing?”


Unplugged Kids: Finger Knitting January 12, 2011

Filed under: D.I.Why,Kids,Simplicity — bethanyjoy @ 12:14 pm
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Is it just me, or is it growing increasingly more difficult to get kids “unplugged”? Not that it’s surprising, given the way technology has taken over life in general…in the process of putting together this post, I used my cellphone/camera and netbook, internet, and multiple apps. Ironic, no? Well, it is what it is! 🙂 So, this is the first techology-produced post in a series of posts designed to help us get our kids doing more low-tech activities. Once you’re over the inherent contradiction there, I hope you’ll give the following activity a whirl!

Unplugged Kids #1 – Finger Knitting

  • Why Try? Finger knitting improves fine motor skills, gives you an excuse (not that you need one!) to snuggle up together on the couch for a few minutes and provides an opportunity for your child to experience the thrill of “making something” – collars like those shown above or scarves for stuffies are a BIG hit at my house – C&E made the ones in the picture in less than 20 minutes. Added bonus? A children’s therapist shared with me a very helpful tidbit of information: activities that involve the hands in rhythmic, side-to-side motions are incredibly calming for kids. Even my bouncy-tigger boy loves finger knitting – it’s one of the few activities where he will voluntarily sit still. 🙂  
  • Age Range – 4+ (A 3 year old with excellent dexterity could probably manage, but my kids all figured this out at the same age they learned to read.)
  • Level of Difficulty: Easier than getting them into their snowsuits!
  • Materials Needed: thick yarn (bulky, bright and fuzzy seem to be popular with the kindergarten crowd) – once they’ve figured out the technique, you can mix different yarns by holding two strands together. But for starters, choose something thick and fluffy.
  • How To: I was going to do a tutorial, but then I thought, “Hey, self, save yourself some time and just link them to the awesome tutorial that you used to teach yourself!” So, go check out Pretty Ditty’s Finger Knitting Tutorial for a great step-by-step visual. (You can also achieve the same result by wrapping the second row of yarn around your fingers above the first in the same manner – ie, looping it around each finger – and then passing the bottom loops over the top ones.)

Let me know if you give this a try! I’d also love to hear any suggestions you have for Unplugged Kids activities – what quick, easy, simple projects or activities work for you and your kids?


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