Friday, August 29, 2008


"America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone." (Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, August 28, 2008)

Wow. What a speech. What an inspiration. I can't wait until this man is the leader of our country. I know I'm going to work to make that happen.

Speaking of politics, my politically named godson, Lincoln, was among those in Springfield for the rally where Obama announced Joe Biden as his running mate. There he is meeting Biden!

And there he is getting kissed by Michelle Obama!

If that wasn't exciting enough, we got some even more exciting news the next morning. Vietnam, here we come!!!!! Believe it or not, we leave in seven days. Sam, we're bringing you home so you can live the American promise Barack talked about. Finally.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In Stitches

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." (French author Antoine De Saint Exupery)

As we continue to wait (and wait and wait) for final approval to travel to Vietnam to get our son, I got a nice distraction last weekend at the Stitches Midwest fiber arts convention. My mom and her friends Marge and Carrie came into Schaumburg (a suburb of Chicago) for it and invited me to come along. This is becoming an annual tradition (photo of us last year here).

We spent most of Friday shopping at the marketplace then went to the fashion show. There was lots of wonderful yarn, patterns and other knitting stuff there, but what caught my eye was this tote bag at one of the booths. I immediately noticed that it was Vietnamese writing and loved the funkiness of how it's made out of the heavy plastic from fish bags. It's made by Lantern Moon, an organization that sells handcrafted items (including knitting needles) produced by an education and income-generation project in Vietnam. I fell in love with the bag, so of course my generous mom bought it for me! Thanks, Mom!

She also bought me this sock yarn, called Sockina, which creates a cool Fair Isle pattern automatically when you knit socks. It's a nice thick cotton in a pretty blue/green/brown color. Here's what the socks look like:

After the fashion show, we had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, then stayed at the Holiday Inn in Schaumburg. It had so many pools (two lap pools, two jacuzzis and one big pool) but I was too pooped to swim. But it was a fun day, plus my mom taught me how to do duplicate stitch, so I can finish the watermelon hat I knit a few weeks ago. Thanks again, Mom, for a fun day together.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Thrifty wedding

"Come, walk on the water with me! I'm in the mood for impossible things!" (Macrina Wiederkehr)

Thrifters often like to brag about their "big score." Well, this one isn't mine, but it's worth sharing. My friend Delia, who got married earlier this month to Liam, bought her wedding dress at a thrift store. Isn't it gorgeous (and she looked stunning in it). It was a simple silk Vera Wang dress. The cost: $4.95.

It was a beautiful and meaningful ceremony and nice outdoor reception. Here are what we affectionately call "the men's auxiliary" of my long-time women's group. They are from left Mike (D'Arcy's husband), Tim (Staci's husband), Jeff (Karen's husband), Ed (Suzanne's boyfriend), Ed (my hubby) and Jason (Lourdes' husband). Handsome group of guys, huh?

A shot of Ed and me, since I know my mother-in-law will want to see one!

I just finished their wedding gift and delivered it today. I made a table runner out of this gold drapery fabric. I know it matches their dining room perfectly, because we both have the same color (Benjamin Moore Dorset Gold--which my sister also used) on our walls.

I also stitched some ginkgo leaves on some flour sack dish towels (a hand-embroidered dish towel or two is becoming my new wedding gift). Delia and Liam used the ginkgo leaf as a symbol for their wedding invites and programs because their first kiss was under a ginkgo tree. This quote was on their programs:

This leaf from a tree in the East,
Has been given to my garden.
It reveals a certain secret,
Which pleases me and thoughtful people.
Does it represent One living creature,
Which has divided itself?
Or are these Two, which have decided,
That they should be as One?
To reply to such a Question,
I found the right answer:
Do you notice in my songs and verses
That I am One and Two?
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friday, August 15, 2008

White sox

"Let me light the lamp," says the star, "and never debate if it will help to remove the darkness." (Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore)

Not THOSE White Sox--I'm a Cubs fan! Here is the completed camping knitting: two itsy-bitsy baby socks and a little hat in white (left) and a slightly larger pair of cotton off-white baby socks.

I got the white fingering yarn at the thrift store, and although it felt wooly, I wasn't sure if it was wool, a blend, or just acrylic. My mom reminded me of the burn test: If you burn wool yarn, you end up with ash; if you burn acrylic, it's kind of melts. This melted.

This cotton is also a blend (70% cotton, 30% acrylic). Not sure where I got this yarn; I think someone gave it to me. I'm trying to knit my stash into gifts to have on hand. I can decorate these basic white and off-white baby things with pink ribbon or little dinosaur buttons or something as appropriate. More stash-busting to be shared soon.

And, yes, these pictures are taken on my Notre Dame beach towel, which I've been using a lot. I swam 18 laps yesterday and 20 today. Michael Phelps I'm not; I'm slow and steady. And you know what they say about that. I keep thinking of it as a metaphor for our adoption.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chinese cherry pie

"A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song." (Chinese proverb)

Our friends John and Leigh Ann had people over to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in China. We ordered--what else?--Chinese food, and I brought dessert. Ta-da! My first made-from-scratch (even the crust) cherry pie. The cherries, of course, are from our Door County camping trip. I will admit that I didn't pick them myself! I'm pretty proud of how pretty this turned out, with the lattice crust and all. And it tasted pretty yummy, too. I was happy to share it with friends at a party.

The opening ceremonies were awesome. A lot of people in the adoption community have mixed feelings about the Olympics. Some are so frustrated with the long wait for a baby from China and wish the Chinese government would spend more on their orphanages, rather than pyrotechnics to impress the world. Others were proud of the presentation of their future child's culture. I'm more of the latter.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wilderness knitting

"You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you." (Actress Mary Tyler Moore)

How's that for chutzpah--I brought white knitting on our camping trip to Door County! I just grabbed the most portable project already on my needles and it was a baby hat in white fingering yarn from my stash. Believe it or not, I kept it clean!

Ed and I have made a tradition of going camping at Newport State Park in Door County, Wisconsin every summer or early fall since the year before we got married (previous years here and here). So this was Camping Trip #4--and (as we've been saying almost every year) our last one without kids. It will be car camping after that. We hike in about two miles with our packs, although this year we weren't able to get our beloved Site #8 and instead had to settle for #9. (There were wild raspberries everywhere!) This was the first year that we arrived in time to set up our tent before dark. We even had time to spare!

Site #9 had better water access and we actually went swimming off our site (after walking down a fairly long path). We also swam at the public park swimming hole, where it was pretty mucky. But it was HOT this trip, and Site #9 is not as shady, so we had to move our chairs to the shady spot near the water (where I knit).

For a Schlumpf-Butler camping trip, this one was pretty uneventful: no rain, no visits from critters. Thunderstorms were forecast for all three days but we only saw rain on the drive up. I've learned that tissues stuck in my ears as earplugs help me sleep without imagining every very little twig snap to be a bear visiting our site. Attractive look, huh? (The headlamp is to read my book before bed. I finished River, Cross My Heart.) I know I've written this before, but I really hope this is our last camping trip without kids.

Monday, August 11, 2008


"The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough." (Randy Pausch)

While in Wisconsin for my dad's birthday party, Ed and I and my parents went to State Fair in Milwaukee. We love seeing the animals (the cows are my favorite). After some nudging, Ed went last year and this year didn't even have to be coerced.

We saw lots of baby animals, including these piglets nursing from a sow, in the children's discovery barn. We kept saying, "We can't wait to bring Sam and Sophie to this." I am trying to be patient, but we keep having wrinkles with this last step in our approval process before we travel. It's rather frustrating, because it's our government, not Vietnam's, and quite honestly I'm not that impressed with how they keep misplacing our paperwork. (That quote about brick walls, which I found at The Knitting Curmudgeon, is speaking to me these days.)

The day was primarily about eating--and eating dairy at that. I had macaroni and cheese on a stick (deep fried, of course). It was fun to say I ate it, but quite honestly I wouldn't get it again. Too greasy! We also had some garlicky cheese curds from the Wisconsin Products pavilion.

And of course cream puffs (recipe here). On the way out we all got a 25-cent glass of flavored milk. I got coffee, but I have to admit my mom's root beer milk was the best. She and I looked at all the knitting and sewing. There were some amazing things, but not that many, in my opinion.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

70 years young!

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." (C.S. Lewis)

My Dad turned 70 on the last day of July. Here's a 10-minute video of his surprise party. About 60 people came, including my Auntie Sue and Uncle John from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and my Uncle Jim from Green Bay. Lots of friends and neighbors. There was a really great Dixieland jazz band playing and lots of food and drink. My dad was really surprised.

Ed and I stayed a few extra days at my parents' on the lake. The weather was gorgeous. Still to come: pictures from State Fair and Wisconsin camping.