what i made monday No. 2

I made it to Orlando and back and managed to get a little bit of sewing in. It’s the busiest time of the year for educators, so work is a little demanding right now. I wanted to share a couple of my projects, though, just to make sure I stay on track. Little by little, I am learning how to embroider better and feeling more confident about trying more complicated designs.

The first thing I tackled after returning was a machine cover for my new Brother. I bought a PE770, and the hoops are much bigger. I love Brother machines and have decided I won’t ever buy a different brand. They are so easy to use, and there was no learning curve between the 770 and my 400. I bought the pattern from a group administrator on Facebook, and it was easy to make because her directions were perfect. I would like to embroider a pattern on the back, but for now, I’m happy.

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Here is a close-up of the monogram. For being so large, it stitched out nicely.

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My next project was a tote bag for my daughter, who teaches 8th grade science. She is a Hello Kitty maniac and always has been. If Hello Kitty came to town, Lauren would run away with her/him/it (no one really knows what Hello Kitty is, do they?). Forgive the water spots in the first picture – I was erasing the washable marking pen, and then Lauren took the bag so I couldn’t get a better picture.

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Here is the back side. the ruffles are unhemmed on purpose to get a fair amount of fray, but it also made the project go faster. It was a throw-away bag that I decided to keep and give to her. It was one of my first attempts at using software to manipulate a design.

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I made these two backpacks for Lauren and myself. I made mine first, and when I stitched hers, I increased the font so that it is bigger and changed the font of the name. I wish I had done the same to mine as I like hers much better. Hooping backpacks is a challenge, but I floated them in the hoop and pinned them tightly. I also pinned the bottom so that it didn’t drag. There were time consuming and scary, but I am happy with how they turned out.

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Speaking of difficult hooping, here are some converse knock-offs that I did on my single-needle machine. These were a real challenge because they are kid-sized and a much tighter tongue. If I do another pair, I would like a different font, but apparently people have a difficult time embroidering these, so I am kind of proud, relatively speaking. (Sorry for the cell phone pic, but sometimes that is just how I roll.)

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It was nice to get into my sewing room for a little bit. This weekend is my last long weekend before faculty return and then the semester starts. I’m getting my hair cut and colored (a major ordeal because it is so curly and unruly, lol), but I’m still hoping for a little time to create.

I’m going to share some pictures of a little reno in my upstairs bathroom this week, too.

I hope your week is great and you day is happy!

Shannon

what i made monday

I decided to start sharing my projects, hopefully, on Mondays. I was busy with embroidery this weekend, so here are a few pics.

I just got a new embroidery machine on Friday. It’s a Brother PE770, and the hoops are much bigger than my SE400.  With every machine, there is a learning curve, so these projects are not flawless by any means. However, through the weekend, I got a little better at learning the machine, so the stitches are a little better progressively. I looked at the pictures with up close views of the stitches and hesitated to post them, Then I reminded myself that I am not a professional, and I don’t have to be perfect. These are all good enough. So . . . here goes!

I embroidered this sleeveless blouse for my upcoming trip to Orlando. During the day at the conference, I’ll wear a sweater because the hotels are generally cool, but it will be perfect for running around in the evenings. I will add that some of the threads need to be clipped more closely and are not mishaps. It’s hard to see things like that until you see a picture pointing out all the flaws!

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I made a couple of pillow cases. I’m not happy with the puckering, but I have given myself permission to be less than perfect. I had to hoop this pattern multiple times to get it all the way around, and I added “Bonne Nuit,” French for “good night,” on the corner. Despite the puckering, the pattern fit perfectly and hooped easily. If you do any kind of machine embroidery, you may be familiar with “floating” in a hoop. It makes a huge difference in aligning patterns. I pinned the pillow cases because they are double fabric on the cuff that is not fused and, therefore, slippery. I think they will go nicely in the guest room.

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What I made Monday 007 This is a backpack I worked on. It was a pain to pin up to keep it under the machine so it didn’t drag, but once I got everything position well, it stitched out nicely. The backpack was less than twenty dollars at our local Wal-Mart, but they only had one, so I was a little concerned about ruining it. I had to stitch through the canvas and the plastic lining, so removing stitches would have been difficult, if not destructive. I’m happy with how it turned out. I used Metro thread for the cream color and Coats and Clark for the blue. I finally bought a couple of thread stands, and that has stopped most of the tangling I experienced with Coats and Clark thread. It is actually my favorite because it has a beautiful sheen, but it can get tangled in the notch. I also love, love Gutermann, but my Brother SE400 does not like it as much,and it tends to shred. I’ll try it on the 770 and see if it does better. What I made Monday 006

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I’ll be out of town next weekend, so I won’t have time to make anything, but hopefully, I’ll get some sewing done through the week. I have a couple of maxi dresses to hem. At an even five feet, I’m too short for everything. Even some petites are too long!

Have a great week, and have a great day!

Shannon

Where Bloggers Create 2015

I’m so excited to include my craft room in the Where Bloggers Create summer roundup. I’ve wanted to participate for several years, but things got in the way, so I jumped on it this year! Thank you, Karen, for letting all of us share our pages.

If you haven’t already, go check out her blog. This annual feature has a great collection of craft and sewing rooms, and the ideas are endless. I set aside a whole day each summer to browse and jot down ideas. Some of the rooms are too pretty to use!

If you followed the link, you are on the original post (and not here, so I’m not sure why I’m talking to you, lol), but in case you got here through some other way, I’m posting pictures again. I won’t waste too much time with comments because most people just want to see the pictures. If you have any questions, though, I am happy to answer them in the comments! I do want to say that my husband built all of the furniture for me and helped me design it so that it would be most usable. I know, right?! He’s perfect. Sometimes I just want to stare at him in amazement, but that’s for another post. Here we go . . .

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This is my room when you walk into the door. Complete with a fat cat.

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I couldn’t leave out Callie. She looks fat, but she’s just furry. This table is an old kitchen table that my wonderful, amazing husband refinished for me.

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This is the view from a different corner. The cart holds my paper, my Cricut and Silhouette, dies, stamps, and paper cutters. See the little wheels at the bottom? Yeah, my husband was smart enough to know we might need to move it to get something into the room, so he added wheels. The drawers are deep and sturdy. the cabinet next to it is storage for all kinds of things, mostly blanks and stabilizers for embroidery. The other cabinet holds fabric and polyfill, and the baskets hold glue, tape, paper bags, and other things.

The picture below shows the shelves on the cart, and I have lots of great things stored in baskets and bins. The inside of the cabinets, including the shelves, are left natural so that they will age and get a beautiful patina. He convinced me to paint the walls and trim white since the cabinets are painted in a wheat color, and I think it was a great decision because the room looks less busy.

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We didn’t want to do anything to cover the windows, so he built a window seat for me. He angled the bottom to allow the air vent to work properly.

This corner is my sewing corner. I have my Brother sewing machine and my Brother SE400 embroidery machine on my sewing table.  I made the curtains and the sewing machine cover. As you can see, my cats follow me everywhere. I’m including some closeup pictures so you can get an idea of some of my storage solutions.

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I made this little pin cushion from an egg cup I got at Pottery Barn. It is so much fun to use. You can also see the hole in the back of the cabinet for my sewing machine cords. It is really nice not to have to mess with them running down in front of the cabinet. 179

Around the other side, I have two window seats with storage underneath, and beside them is a shelf to hold mason jars. They are full of odds and ends that I use for crafting and home decor. It is amazing how much stuff you collect over the years, and these jars are stacked two deep! The cart is from Ikea and holds fabric I’m working on right now. The closet doors were old and heavy, like Thor’s hammer heavy, so we took them out, and I sewed a curtain to cover the closet. Next to that is a shelf for my fabric. I keep it folded on comic book boards, so he built it to dimension.

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This is the side by the door, which I painted with chalkboard paint that makes it a workable place to keep notes. The music cabinet holds plastic boxes with little bits for paper crafts, buttons, small tools, and other things. Underneath I keep large buckets of paint. The little rolling cart beside it holds wrapping paper.

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This is the corner behind the door where I have small paint and glitter along with dye new craft room 2 035and some rolls of Washi. I tried not to leave any space unused. I love Tim Holtz products for paper crafting.

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I love looking at how people arrange things, so I’m going to leave this post with a series of pictures.

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My last picture is one that my daughter made for me. She is the most creative person I know, and she loves tinkering with ideas. She made the little pink dump truck pin cushion for me. And then she made this lovely picture, which I think this is the most perfect exclamation point for my craft room.

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the backyard

We have suffered from serious drought for the past ten years. Serious drought. As in everything died. We lost grass, trees, plants, you name it. Unfortunately, the weeds survived.

This year we have had an abundance of blessed rain, so we (and by me, I mean Chris) planted a mulit-trunk burr oak, Cleveland pear trees, and a red maple. We re-seeded the part of the backyard with grass, and we planted bulbs and live plants to get our backyard in shape. We are looking for Bradford pears and a blue spruce for the front yard. We also need to replace a piece of wood over the front door, and then I’ll post pictures of the front yard. With our new metal roof. Eek!

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I can’t begin to describe what the yard looked like before, but we were lucky to have a few things survive, including vines and lilies. This is the street side of the backyard, and the fence is covered in grapevine and trumpet vine. It was already overgrown when we bought our house in 1998, and we thought it might damage the fence to tear it down, so we left it. It looks amazing!

back yard 039We had almost no grass back here, and within a month, it has grown into lush, deep green grass. The soft kind. Where you want to walk barefoot.

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This is our gorgeous smoke bush that was only supposed to grow to about six feet.

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In the spring, it blooms with feathery balls of brownish red fluff. It’s quite lovely in bloom.

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We have a continuous blooming rose-bush that made it through the drought. Behind it is our little apple tree that is loaded with apples.

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Another view of the back corner. I just love the trumpet vine on the fence. Next year, we are going to build a new gate. On this side of the fence, you can see nothing except gate, and I’ve been rounding up ideas for a new one as it faces the street and would look so elegant instead of the standard cedar gate.

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We have a shop on the back of our property that is a great wood shop for building. This vine grows over the shop, and you can see the fence in the background.

back yard 015As we transition over to the other side of the yard, you can see the effects of the drought. This part of our yard was covered in gorgeous hostas, and we had to replant all of them. You can see a little tree in the corner that is alive, but damaged. In this part of Texas, you give trees every benefit of the doubt before you take one out. They do not grow naturally around here, except mesquite, so trees are precious, and we left this little one in hopes of recovery.

back yard 013Along the back of the house, we did have some lilies survive and some vine. We planted elephant ears in the big pot on the patio. It took a while for them to peek out because this summer has been cooler than usual, but once they did, they grew like wildfire and have gotten nice and big.

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Another view of the elephant ears – see how big they are?

I love looking out the French doors and seeing the big leaves. We had a window here when we bought out house, and Chris put in the doors to open the den up more. It is one of my favorite things about our house now. In the winter when it’s snowy outside, it is such a delight to watch the snow gather in the yard while we sit inside all cozy and warm.

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Our mulberry tree is gigantic and shades most of the backyard. In this back corner, we will probably plant hostas next year, but we put caladiums in pots to give some color and then mulched.

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This area with the bench is Holly’s garden. She was my beagle and was the dog of my life. We have cats, but I haven’t been able to think about another dog. She is buried back here under the mulberry along with one of our cats. These three rocks came from Mom and Dad’s house. They are lava, flint, and quartz and were along the driveway. I also took a jar of dirt from their front flower bed and integrated it into the garden when we planted the bulbs. It is so peaceful to sit back here and know that I have a piece of my childhood. Holly loved going to Nanny and Poppy’s house, too, so I know she is happy to have these rocks.

back yard 045Here is the big mulberry. It was trimmed significantly last summer because it was so heavy and potentially damaging our roof. This picture doesn’t do it justice. You can see it way over the top of our two-story house, and it provides shade for the largest part of the back yard. If we ever lose it, we will have to rethink the whole landscape back here!

In the picture below, you can see the path. It is paved with native rocks we collected from a canyon behind one of my co-worker’s house. She let us take as many stones as we wanted, and Chris built a path with multiple division through the yard. It is really nice to be able to walk on the path and not disturb the plants. It is a little muddy from all the rain right now.

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I thought I would end with a couple of pictures of our day lilies blooming. The orange lilies glow at dusk, and it is magical to see. The bottom lily is an unusual combination with the buttery yellow and deep purple bloom.

I love walking through the yard and watching things grow. It is an incredible blessing to have had so much rain this summer, and the ten-day forecast has rain chances in eight of those days. We really don’t know what to do with all this water!

Have a great day!

Shannon

why I have a Pokey Puppy pail

One of the greatest gifts my mother ever gave me was a love for storytelling. She was an expert storyteller, the kind of person who could have made a living of it.

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She would weave tales about little animals and the bad things they did but their mothers loved them anyway, and I would drift off to sleep with images of strippety-stripety candy dancing around me.

She would never tell me what strippity-stripety candy was, and I imagined at as manna from heaven – the most beautiful candy in the whole world. I finally pestered her enough the she said (and rather flippantly, I might add) , “Oh, you know, it’s that ribbon candy you get at Christmas.”

I was devastated. Crushed. I felt the breath  leave as my lungs collapsed. I hated ribbon candy. It was yucky. It tasted like bugs. I guess she read my mind and added, “Oh, it just looks like that – pretty colors and wavy ribbons. But it tastes like,” she paused for effect while I held my breath (yes, the same breath I had lost moments before), “Butterfingers.”

I was alive again! Jumping up and gown with glee. The strippety-stripety candy I had imagined was, indeed, the most wonderful candy in the world.

So I added the Little Pokey Puppy pail to my guest room as a tribute to the stories my mother would tell and all the Little Golden Books she read to me and later patiently allowed me to stumble through words and read to her.

We loved the watercolorey pictures in Dick and Jane, flat,800x800,070,fand she let me read the stories over and over, and we would ooh and awe over Sally’s tea set and coveted Jane’s doll house together.

I keep her voices in my head – how she mewed for Fluffy White Kitty and stuttered as the voice of the little goat explaining to his mother how the wolf disguised his arms with flour and swallowed a whole bag of sugar so his voice would be sweet and they would mistake him as their own mama until that awful old wolf ran off with all the baby goats except the one little goat who hid in the clock case.

I hear her point her finger at Pottamanotus because he was a bad little boy for wrapping his puppy up in cabbage leaves and dragging a loaf of bread home by a string, covered in nails and snails and grass and glass.

I can hear her little girl voice as she told about the time she knocked a whole bee hive down on the head of her little sister because her golden curls were shining in the sun and my mom’s hair was brown and coarse.

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Here is a picture of my mom with her blond nemesis Georgie. Despite the beehive incident, they remained close friends all of their lives.

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Mom is standing slightly behind her dad in the center with Georgie beside and in front of her. This photo was probably taken shorty after my uncles returned home from WWII.

And even though her mother had been dead for years before I was born, I feel like I know “precious Mama” because of the stories my own precious mama told of her teaching the girls to iron by making them iron pillow cases and holding my mother’s hand when she almost died from a tonsil infection and the depth of her sadness and heartbreak when Mom’s sister Dixie Lee died at the age of seven from diphtheria.

All around the edges of my life are books and stories and memories of her teaching me to love words. So Nanny, I hope you smile at the Little Pokey Puppy and tell your precious mama how you raised us kids to believe in the magic of story telling.

the guest room

After losing Mom and Dad, we had to clear out their home. I took the bedroom furniture that was in my childhood bedroom and made a guest room. Our kids visit frequently enough to benefit from a bed instead of the air mattress we had been using, so it made sense to bring the furniture home with me.

This room was my first craft room before I moved to the other bedroom, and we didn’t have time to paint it before we moved the furniture in. Next summer, we will repaint it and repair the walls, so don’t judge! Some of the pictures are hung to cover previous hangers, so they aren’t the best placement, but they will end up being moved after we repaint.

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Mom loved cheerful colors and patterns, so I decorated in a way that reflects her but also makes me happy. I think I have buffalo check in every room of my house except my downstairs bedroom. It has mattress ticking, so it’s kind of the same thing. LOL

guest room 011The other side of the room houses this gigantic movie cabinet, which is pretty much full already.I had the bottom piece that was open shelving but solid wood. Chris added doors and then made the upper pieces to match. It has a bit of a ledge to set movies on, and the inside has shelves that are the perfect size for DVD’s. We keep movies in the top and television shows in the bottom. guest room 035 All of our blue-ray are stored in a different cabinet, and we are buying more and more movies on the cloud. We have an extensive collection.

guest room 007I sewed the curtain on the closet for my upstairs shower curtain, but when I redid the bathroom a few weeks ago, I moved this curtain downstairs, and it fits nicely. When we repaint, I’ll hang an appropriate curtain rod, but for now, this works fine.

guest room 018I love this chair. I hunted everywhere for one, and Wal-Mart had this one. It’s small, probably child size, but it’s a nice little rocker for me. I got the picnic basket at World Market a few years ago and had no idea what to do with it. Now it has a perfect place to sit. I sewed the curtains from chambray and added the buffalo check border. I left them short to expose the baseboards. In an old home like ours, I’ve learned to take advantage of the architectural features and not cover everything. I also added the borer on the sheers for a fun touch.

The plant on the floor is a rubber tree that the college sent when Mom died. I had it in my office and decided it needed more natural light before I killed it, so we repotted it and brought it into this room. It is recovering nicely. I do not have a green thumb at all, and I really want this little tree to live, so I’m trying to take good care of it.

I wanted to find lamps that were just right for the room, and I found this little red lantern. It lights up and is perfect for bedside reading. It sits on an Ikea stool that I use on occasion. It takes up less room than the side table takes up, so it fits perfectly in this corner.guest room 043

 

guest room 019I found this lamp online and purchased it because it is not overpowering and brings a nice blue glass into the room. The plant on the bed frame is one that the president of a neighboring community college (and my alma mater) sent when Dad died. I’m struggling with regulating the water it needs, but it’s been alive for nine months, and that is a miracle for me! I already had the basket on the wall for craft storage, so I put some silk hydrangeas in for color.

guest room 024This corner is one of my favorite spaces in our whole house. The window was original to the house, and I saved it when we installed new windows. I found the little concrete lion at a local flea, and his birthday hat is one that our daughter gave to our son for his 20th birthday. He let me keep it, and it is a cute accessory for the lion.

I made the sampler, and the bottom says ” . . . now I know.” Learning to read was the most important skill in my life, and I remember learning the alphabet in first grade and telling Mrs. Strickland that I was done with school. “I came to learn everything,” I told her, “and now I know.” That story passed around my little elementary school for years!

guest room 004I saw a painted lampshade like this on Pinterest and made one for myself. I held typing paper up to my computer screen and traced the pattern, then taped it inside the lamp, turned the lamp on, and traced it on the outside of the shade and painted it. The woman who posted it gave a great tutorial, but I didn’t have a printer that worked at the time, so I improvised.

guest room 017This is a painting my husband painted in a college art class based on a Monet painting. I absolutely love it, and when the room is painted, this painting will have a prominent place in the room. Right now it sits on an antique printer tray from the newspaper in Canadian, Texas. My dad was raised in a nearby town until he was ten or so, and Canadian was the place where everyone “went to town.” It is also the location of the farm where Tom Hanks finally delivers the Fed Ex package in Castaway.

guest room 047This was my dad’s shaving cup when he was a teenager, and I keep small toiletries in the pail for guests in case they forget something. The yellow marshmallow ducks are a tribute to my daughter. Once when she was about five, we went to the mall and bought a bag of Easter candy corn. While she was sleeping, I stayed up all night talking to my dear neighbor, Lyndall, about a difficult decision I needed to make. We ate all of Lauren’s candy corn, and she has never let me forget that!

guest room 053I embroidered this pillow to say, “home.” It’s always been important to me for our kids to feel like this was their home and will always be a welcoming place to return. I saw this on a Pinterest post and knew it was what I wanted. I want to add a couple of red pillows made from mattress ticking, but I haven’t figured out what I want them to look like yet.

guest room 052I love this room. I sewed the bed skirt and built everything around it. I found the perfect bedding and then added the chambray curtains. It makes me happy because it reminds me so much of Mom and what she loved in her own home. I know she would be happy here, and I know she is looking down and loving that I am taking care of her Ethan Allen furniture and honoring her life in the best possible way.

 

my world turned up side down . . .

My world turned upside down since the last time I posted.

Last July, I was waiting for approval to move on with my research on my dissertation, and I was helping tend to my ailing parents. When I posted last year, I thought that things were going to get back to normal very soon. But they didn’t. They didn’t at all.

My dad was battling a nasty infection in his foot, especially dangerous because he was diabetic. At the end of July, I got a call from my doctor who informed me that my blood work indicated I, too, was diabetic. I immediately began eating differently. Out of fear, but also out of a sort of respect for my dad. I knew that he could have managed his diabetes years ago had he eaten the way he was supposed to.

In September, we took him to the doctor, and they told him that he had to have his foot amputated. He decided not to go through with the surgery, so he and my mother talked to Hospice. He was at peace for the first time in two years after numerous falls and becoming incapacitated.

Dad in the Navy

Dad in the Navy

A week later I received notification that my dissertation was approved and started working on research. On Monday, September 15th, I conducted my first focus group, and on Wednesday, my dad passed away.

My mother was wheel-chair bound, suffering from COPD, and she would not let anyone driver her anywhere except me. Everyone else, she said, made her feel rushed and frantic. On the day of Dad’s funeral, she and I drove together to the cemetery. Everyone else drove separately, so we had time alone to talk about things. I remember reaching over, taking her hand, and saying, “Well, Nanny, if we have to take the ride, it is a privilege for me to take it with you.”

The next week, I did my second focus group and got busy writing my fourth and fifth chapters. I talked to my chair and told her that I had an opportunity that would require me to have my doctorate by December, so she agreed to help me reach that goal. I spent countless nights staying up until two or three in the morning writing, coding, rewriting, wash . . . rinse . . . repeat.

In the meantime, Mom’s health was failing. And I was teaching seven college classes with a full-time administrative job. Looking back, I am not sure how I held things together, but somehow I did, and on December 3, I defended my dissertation. My husband went with me, so the first person I called when I was done was Mom. Her birthday was the next day, and she was so excited for me. She never said anything to me, but I found out later that she called my sister and cried because my dad wasn’t there to know that I was now Dr. Shannon.

The college gave me a reception, and my sister took lots of pictures to show Mom, who couldn’t travel the hour drive to the college, and Mom was so happy to see the pictures. A couple of weeks later, I took her to the eye doctor, and we ordered her new glasses.

Our kids come home for Christmas, so we didn’t go to Mom’s like we usually did, but the day after Christmas, we went to see her. She was not doing well. Her legs were swollen, and she just felt miserable. My brother and I talked her into letting us call an ambulance so that she wouldn’t have to sit in the emergency room waiting.

At the hospital, they determined she had suffered a heart attack at some point during the day, and while there she had another one. They took her in for a heart cath and assured us that she would move into ICU for one day and then go to a regular room. She passed away during surgery. Exactly one hundred days after we lost Dad.

Mom and Starlite

Mom and my oldest sister shortly after she lost her own mother. She was such a tiny woman and so, so beautiful.

I have learned in the last six months to be grateful that she did not suffer through the last stages of COPD. I have learned that she had more faith than anyone I’ve ever known. But I also learned that she was lonely after she lost Dad. And I’ve dealt with guilt. A. Lot. Of. Guilt. That I didn’t do more, didn’t spend more time with her, didn’t put off things that turned out not to matter so that I could spend time with her.

But I’ve also realized that she wanted me to finish my degree. She told everyone, everywhere we went, that I was “her doctor.” I’m eternally grateful that she got to know that I finished. That she was alive when I defended.

I graduated in May, walking with several of the members of my cohort, and it was a wonderful day. My whole family came, and my sisters cried, and we drove three hours in pouring rain, the beginning of the end of the drought we had suffered in Texas for ten years. And in that rain, I realized that, no matter how bittersweet it was not to have Mom and Dad there, the rain was cleansing. It was a new beginning, a new stage in my life. And it would have made Mom and Dad very happy.

My childhood home

This is Mom and Dad’s house. Mom had the most beautiful mums in her flower bed.

My sisters, brother, and I have spent months clearing out their home, dividing their things, and wrestling over decisions we don’t want to make. We have not yet sold their home, and I know that locking the door for the very last time will be one of the worst days of my life.

I grew up in that house. Had my first kiss there, practiced ballet using my dresser as the barre, learned to drive a stick shift, got proposed to in the drive way, slept in “my” room for the last time the night before our wedding, watched my mom and daughter make mud pies in the sandbox, celebrated fifty Thanksgivings, watched a gazillion football games, and loaded up my mom in her wheelchair on the day of my dad’s funeral. I don’t know how to let that house go. How to detach myself from a place that symbolizes my childhood. Every good thing in my life happened while my parents lived in that house.

So I did something that I thought would be a horrible mistake and turned out to be a blessing.

I loaded up their living room furniture and my mom’s bedroom set that had been in my old room, and I took it home. And I sat on the couch and felt calm. Connected. Close to them. And I told my sisters and brothers to take things from the house so that they could feel the same peace I felt. And they took things. And they all have said they feel better having this piece of Mom and Dad with them. And we all plan to send these pieces down to our children, who loved Nanny and Poppy and know, without a doubt, that they had the very best grandparents of any kids they know.

So my blog is going to take a different direction. I started it with some misplaced, ill-conceived idea that it had to be perfect. It had to be themed. It had to appeal to people I don’t even know. And I realized that the blogs I love belong to women who have no full-time job outside of their home and who have a skill I don’t have. I don’t have a design degree. I don’t have an eye for things, and I don’t have “the knack.” And I don’t have any followers. LOL

But I do have things I want to talk about. Things I love. Things I know, and things I want to share. I am an expert at a few things. Mostly grammar and Anne Tyler, and now that my dissertation is done, the perceptions of community-college students in terms of the spaces in which they learn. I’m not an expert at films, but I love watching them, and my background in English gives me a fair amount of insight. I’m not thin or beautiful or rich, but I love dressing cute, and I have days where I want to share what I’m wearing.

My decree is to change the fabric of my blog so that it is a place where I speak from my heart, share some things that a few people might find interesting, and chronicle the life I live. It is a good life. No, it is a great life. It is full of laughter and learning and doing good things for people. It is also full of sadness and regret and hope for the future. It is what I have been given, and I will be honest about it. And I’ll jump, jump off the edge and believe that my family and friends will look kindly at this blog and this little corner farmhouse and find it interesting and insightful.

Wish me luck. Because the one promise that is hardest to keep is to be true to who I really am and believe that I am good enough.