The plight that prompted a poem

My last post featured a tongue-in-cheek quilt made for a friend who’d been grumbling about wild creatures having the audacity to invade our areas of suburban sprawl after being driven out of their habitats by developers.

I thought I’d stay on the same topic by sharing a poem I wrote based on the plight that just seems to keep growing and growing (in my area anyway). Hope you enjoy it.jason long_unsplash.com

The Meadow

Once there was a grassy trail,
Leading to a meadow hale

With buttery-cups and black-eyed Sues,
Hot pink clover, asters blue.

squirrelWhere crickets chirped and butterflies
Spread orange wings to opal skies.

Where songbirds trilled amidst the leaves
Of mighty oaks and maple trees,

And evergreens and silver birch,
Where chipmunks chattered
And horned owls perched.flowers2

The heady scent of sun-warmed blooms
And earth and pine—a sweet perfume.

Purple thistle leaking milk,
Silver cobwebs fine as silk.

The world then was an open place
With breathing space.

Where little boys and little girls
With rosy cheeks and happy shrieks,
Ran to and fro’ with arms spread wide,
‘round and ‘round
The Meadow.

urban-sprawl-america.jpg.662x0_q70_crop-scale2015
The meadow rests in peace beneath
An asphalt grid of cluttered streets,
Where brick forests loom and multiply,
To keep the children locked inside.

Unmindful that their Meadow died.ryan mcguire_gratisography

(First photo courtesy of Jason Long of https://unsplash.com/ / Second photo by Donna Marrin / Third photo by Donna MarrinFifth photo courtesy of Ryan McGuire of http://www.gratisography.com/ / Fourth photo courtesy of http://www.treehugger.com/urban-design/answer-congestion-not-build-roads-and-encourage-sprawl-its-get-people-out-their-cars.html )

Say hello to my little friend … Ricky Raccoon!

quilt_racoon1 copyOver the past several years, greedy developers—green-lighted by their equally greedy politico buddies—have claimed pretty much every square inch of green space in our municipality in order to overload it with conglomerations of bricks and mortar that, naturally, flow rivers of $$$ straight into their pockets.

Of course, all the animals that once called those green spaces home are now refugees, forced to forage for food in urban neighborhood garbage bins while trying to survive among a human populace that doesn’t want them here.

I have always believed that those developers who destroy wild animal habitats should be required by law to use a portion of their windfall to relocate these animals back into the undeveloped areas north of the city (that they, the developers, haven’t got their hooks into yet).

Recently a friend of mine was doing a lot of complaining about a family of raccoons trying to take up residence in his backyard shed and constantly knocking over his garbage cans to root through them.

quilt_racoon2 copyAnyone who knows me also knows that I have a pretty warped sense of humor. I had no choice but to make him a raccoon mini wall quilt.

When I gave it to him, he put his head in his hands and I think he wanted to throttle me. But he did keep it. And I think he’s even grown to like it a little. 🙂 When he has a grandchild, it will make a wonderful blankee, and that’s when he’ll finally be able to get rid of it.

As for the raccoons in his backyard? He made some calls to Animal Control and they captured them humanely and relocated them north, with no expense to the mega-rich developers of course.

Ricky Raccoon was fun to make. I used a line drawing of a raccoon that I found in a child’s colouring book and made applique pattern pieces from it. I cut the pieces from some fabric remnants I had in my cupboard and laid them out on a plain white fabric background, then zigzag stitched around them on my sewing machine. Next I sandwiched in some batting and chose a black and white floral fabric for the back, and lastly, used black binding to finish the edges and two big buttons for the eyes. I think the whole project took me a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon.

The lesson from this story: Don’t complain to me about the refugee animals in your backyard because I do feel sorry for them (even though I don’t particularly want them in my yard either).

You just might end up stuck with a quilted skunk or raccoon or possum to hang on your wall. 🙂

Is that sweet child of yours about to enter the teenage twilight zone years? Then listen up … you need to prepare your mind now for the long journey ahead.

Abig jen1I was looking back the other day through my files and found an article I’d written during my daughter’s teenage years. I’m happy to say that she has grown into a wonderful young woman who makes me proud to be her mother. I am also VERY happy in the knowledge that not only did I survive her teen years, I know I’ll never ever have to go through them again in this lifetime!

For now, I’ll share with all you parents out there the 20 lessons that I learned when my baby became a teenager*:

(*Note: I wrote this as the mother of a girl child, but I’m sure that some of it may apply to boy children too!)

20 things you will miss when your daughter turns into a … TEEN

It’s inevitable. The sweet little dumpling you rocked in your arms and who idolized you for so many years will eventually morph into an extraterrestrial creature that wisecracks about seeing your photo in the dictionary under the definition of embarrassing.

This transformation takes place around the same time that the suffix “teen” appears at the end of “thir.” The alien creature will become human again as soon as that suffix disappears, but until then, be prepared to find yourself looking back wistfully to those long-lost days of unicorns and rainbows. Here’s what you’ll miss:

  1. Adown the slideYou will miss having an excuse to go “whee” down the corkscrew slide in the playground.

Back then: An outing to the park was as much fun for you as it was for her. After giving my toddler a few perfunctory pushes on the swing, I’d race her to the corkscrew slide and challenge her to go down with me. Did I look ridiculous, shrieking as I spiraled down at the speed of light? Not as long as I had my toddler (in other words, prop) on my lap.

Now: As the mother of a teenager I am expected to act my age at all times, especially when I’m near a playground. No more sliding down the corkscrew. Not only would I be disowned faster than a pair of no-name jeans, I would need a chiropractor to help me walk upright again.

  1. You will miss hearing genuine compliments about your appearance.

Asad mommyBack then: I could be wearing old sweats and no makeup and if I stuck a sparkly clip in my hair, my daughter would gaze up at me and say, “Mommy, you look bee-yoo-tee-ful!” It’s extraordinary how oblivious young children are to their parents’ flaws. My little girl was the only human being with 20/20 vision who after seeing my naked body, actually said with a straight face, “Wow! Your boobies are big!”

Now: Having a teen and self-esteem at the same time is virtually unheard of. The kindest compliment I’ve received on my clothing in recent years is, “That colour doesn’t look bad on you. But you really need to suck in your gut.” Most of the time my teen feels that it’s her duty to break the news to me that: my outfit looks too youthful (“Are you trying to look like a teenager or something? Not even close!”); or too old (“If your hair was white and you had a few more wrinkles, you’d look just like grandma!”); I’m having a bad hair day (“You really need to go to a good hairdresser mom. And soon!”); or my face needs work (“Some more makeup would probably help, though it’s going to be dark where you’re going, right?”)

  1. AhugsYou will miss all those touchy-feely moments.

Back then: The opportunities for hugs and cuddles seemed endless when my child was little. Then it happened overnight…I was rebuffed so often I developed a habit of sniffing my armpits before approaching her.

Now: Any attempt to touch my teen elicits the facial contortions of a slasher-movie audience. This reaction evolved around the same time that her bedroom walls began to disappear under posters of boys wearing pants that are eight sizes too big…around the same time that the heavy bass thumping of music that gives me the urge to steal hubcaps began seeping from under her bedroom door. Which I am now forced to slam shut on a regular basis.

  1. You will miss learning the lyrics to all those silly kids’ songs.

AWheelsOnTheBusBack then: I knew every lyric to every song by every children’s entertainer from every PBS TV program. My voice may have sounded like nails on a blackboard to anyone else but in my daughter’s eyes, I was Aretha Franklin.

Now: If I were to attempt to decipher the lyrics of her favorite songs, I would have to filter her music through high-tech high-frequency decoding equipment found only in a CIA lab. Even then…

  1. You will miss taking bubble baths together.

Back then: I would fill the tub with clouds of fruity-smelling bubbAbubble bathles and warm water. Then I’d dive in with her. We’d make soap beards and play hairdresser, sail boats with little wooden men on them, and only come out once the water turned lukewarm and our skin looked like an apple doll’s.

Now: By the time I get my turn in the bathroom, I have to shampoo, soap up and rinse at Mach speed. Why? Because I’ve learned the hard way that the hot-water tank will have no more than a half-teaspoon of hot water left in it if my teen has showered before me.

  1. You will miss playing with toys.

AbarbieBack then: I’ll never forget the Christmas that my daughter got a toy kitchen and a collection of miniature groceries from Santa. I was mesmerized. This was exactly what I had pined for throughout my childhood but never received. Before the day was over, I had “fried” plastic eggs and bacon on the stove, mixed pretend cake batter in a tiny blender and put “perishables” away in the fridge. Other Christmas mornings I got to dress Barbie and Skipper in sparkly evening gowns and drive them around the living room in their own flashy pink convertible, whip up an assortment of pasta dishes with a play dough pizzeria, construct big gaudy bracelets and rings with a jewelry maker, and bake two-bite cakes in an Easy Bake microwave oven. Saying a final farewell to all of these toys at our yard sale was far more difficult for me than for her. No wonder…she was all over the cash proceeds faster than flies on roadkill.

Now: I have zero access to any of my teen’s belongings. I am forbidden to set one toe past her bedroom doorframe without a formal invitation. Sometimes when she’s not around, I sneak in like a common thief to borrow a lipstick or a bracelet or something else that I can no longer afford to buy for myself since her upkeep has drained my wallet of all disposable funds.

  1. Ajen & santaYou will miss visits from Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Back then: I’ll never forget the look of pure joy on her face the Christmas morning that we stamped big boot prints in the snow outside and told her that they belonged to Santa. Or the time she wondered aloud if the Easter Bunny was small like a real rabbit or adult size? And, how can he be strong enough to carry a basket that’s big enough to hold eggs for every child in the world? Ah, the innocence. The day that she asked me if it was true that no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny existed (thanks to a little blabbermouth at school during recess), I was devastated. Of course, I recited the whole song and dance about Santa being embodied in the spirit of Christmas and so on. But things were never the same. No more milk and cookies (or beer and peanuts—different strokes for different folks). No more Easter egg treasure hunts or tooth fairies. The magic had ended.

Now: These days she has no problem pretending that Santa is real, as long as he always makes sure her stocking is filled with makeup and other goodies and leaves an extra gift or two under the Christmas tree. In her own words, “Hey, as long as he continues to bring me stuff, then yeah! I do believe in Santa!”

  1. You will actually miss planning birthday parties.

Abirthday partyBack then: Believe it or not, you will have fond memories of all the birthday parties that, at the time, you bitched about having to plan. Back then it was just another major chore on my endless to-do list. I still remember counting down the days, buying trinkets for goody bags that ended up costing more than the gifts she received, making theme cakes with sunken areas that I had to camouflage with extra icing, planning game and craft activities (and wondering how the hell we would fill the time if the kids finished too early), buying party hats and blowers, balloons and streamers. Sighing in relief at the sight of the last kid toddling out the door. The warm and tingly feeling of satisfaction that I—supermom extraordinaire—had thrown a roaring success of a party. And, of course, getting to play with all those neat birthday gifts.

Now: My party-planning services have been terminated. “Nobody has birthday parties anymore, mom!” Instead, it’s now dinner out with her BFF (compliments of my credit card and chauffer services).

  1. Aone who knows everythingYou will miss your reputation as “the one who knows everything.”

Back then: When they are little, you are looked up to, mimicked, worshipped. You are no less than a God in the eyes of your child. I felt immortal during this time. Nothing I said or did was ever wrong. She believed that I knew the answers to absolutely everything. I even began to believe I knew it all. It was a blast while it lasted.

Now: Before you know what’s hit you, you are knocked back down to earth with all the subtlety of an anvil against steel. Overnight, your teen becomes an authority on pretty much everything and you are nothing more than a grunting Neanderthal, rated one notch above an amoeba on the intelligence scale.

  1. You will miss being able to choose their clothing.

Ababy dressBack then: I used to delight in dressing up my daughter in pretty little ruffled dresses and colourful socks. Cute little Mary Janes and sandals. Tights with rows of lace across the bum. I used to be able to shop for her clothing at any old department store.

Now: Unless it has a specific logo emblazoned on it, it’s “lame.” Accompanying me on a trip to Walmart? “Please tell me you’re kidding, mom!” Once or twice I was foolish enough to throw caution to the wind and buy her an item of clothing that I thought was cool. “Thanks anyway, mom. But I think it would look a lot better on you,” she said, patting my head like I was a good dog and returning to her room, from where I heard muffled giggles. Needless to say, standing for hours on end in Return Here lines is not how I enjoy spending my time. She is now master of her own clothing budget. And I can’t help but smile wistfully whenever I pass by a rack of little pink frilly things.

  1. Akids menuYou will miss paying Kiddie Menu prices.

Back then: Family dinners out were so simple. And affordable. We would order from the adult menu. She would order from the kiddie menu’s selection of $2.99 meals that included a drink and dessert. We were happy. She was happy.

Now: When teenagers eat at restaurants money is no object. Why would it be when it’s not coming from their own pockets? And they eat like hogs. Family meals out are no longer enjoyable when the bulk of your dinner conversation consists of, “NO! You canNOT order filet mignon, a jumbo shrimp cocktail, or just one beer!”

  1. You will miss having an excuse to watch Sesame Street.

Abert & ernieBack then: We used to watch this warm and fuzzy show together on a daily basis. I think I enjoyed Ernie, Bert, Oscar, Elmo and Big Bird as much as she did. I even learned a small vocabulary of French words, as well as how to count to ten in Spanish.

Now: It’s hard to admit this, but whenever I’m sick in bed, alone and feeling pathetically sorry for myself, I tune in to Sesame Street and guess what? I begin to feel a little better.

  1. You will miss experimenting with their hair.

Afirst day of schoolBack then: My daughter’s head of gorgeous hair fell to her derriere by kindergarten. I bought the whole colour spectrum in hair clips and ribbons and spent ages styling her hair into French braids, ponytails, pigtails, updos. Then again, now that I think about it, she also spent a lot of time kicking and screaming while I combed out tangles. I take this one back. Was I nuts? I should have just given her a pixie cut and enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Now: My teen refuses to leave the house unless her hair has been washed, moussed, blown dry, hot-ironed, combed into perfection, and inspected before every mirror in the house. Once she’s done I am not allowed to walk within three feet of her in case the breeze I stir messes her hair. If we’re in a car no windows can be opened, not even a crack—God forbid that her father should fart. All this for hair that just hangs loose and straight.

  1. You will miss attending recitals and school plays.
    Sort of.

AballetBack then: Your big reward for all those Saturday mornings spent racing to get your kids to their dance (or whatever) lessons? The recital. I’ll never forget the whirlwind of excitement leading up to my daughter’s yearly dance recitals. Dolled up in costumes befitting a Las Vegas revue (and costing almost as much). The relatives, stiff and uncomfortable in their dress-up attire, hunting for seats amidst the pandemonium of other families hunting for seats, and pretending to be delighted that we invited them to kill their entire Saturday afternoon in an over-heated auditorium. Watching performance after performance of hopeful ballerinas and tap dancers, the nerve endings in my hands numb after hours of clapping. Then finally! My own amazing, oh-so-talented daughter on stage, her awesome 60-second act making every minute of the past butt-anesthetizing three hours and forty-five minutes worthwhile.

Now: On a typical Saturday morning you will find me snoozing under the warmth of my comforter until my stomach tells me it’s time for brunch. Sunday mornings too. Um, remind me again what I’m supposed to be missing here?

  1. Arosy teethYou will miss seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

Back then: Since the passing of my own childhood, I had forgotten the wonders of the zoo until I observed the animals once again through the eyes of my child. Every outing, no matter how trivial, becomes a great adventure when your youngster paves the way to revisiting so many long-forgotten joys.

Now: The same events as seen through the eyes of a teen are “borrrr-ing” and “gross!” They now prompt remarks such as, “Give me a break” or “You’re so corny, Mom!” or “Puh-leeze.”

  1. You will miss taking photos of big toothy (and, at times, toothless) grins instead of smirks.

Asmiling jenBack then: My little daughter was a photographer’s dream. Within ten seconds of spotting a camera, she would transform into a supermodel, hamming it up, her beaming grin filling every frame.

Now: Before she agrees to appear in a photo, her hair must be styled to fall at the perfect angle over her shoulders. She must be wearing precisely the right colour of lipstick, eye makeup, etc. She will permit you to photograph her only if she’s wearing specific outfits and accessories. You must cool your heels while she determines the right pose. And after all that, she will not smile. Spent a fortune on orthodontics? Nobody will ever know. Her teeth will never appear in a photograph.

  1. AhalloweenYou will miss raiding her Halloween candy sack.

Back then: I took my daughter out trick-or-treating and she was thrilled to dress up in the simple costumes I made for her. Thrilled to be parading through the streets after dark. Thrilled to see so many other ghosts, goblins, witches and ghouls. Thrilled about all that candy! Back at home, we would empty her sack on the kitchen table and sort through all the candy, gum and chocolate bars. I would allow her to munch on some right there for good measure, but then I would have to “put away the remainder for another day.” Translation: Mommy and Daddy get to eat everything else since she’ll forget about her candy after about a week. Unfortunately, her capacity to forget soon dwindled.

Now: On Halloween night the only way I get any candy is if I shortchange the kids who come to my door. Of course, now that my daughter no longer goes out trick-or-treating, I don’t even get to do that anymore since she’s taken over the shelling out duties and elbowed me out of my job.

  1. You will miss reading picture books.

AbookBack then: I’ve always been a bookworm. When my daughter was little, I read Dr. Seuss instead of Stephen King. I delighted in reading children’s picture books. We took weekly trips to the local library to stock up. Every evening found us curled up together at bedtime, journeying to worlds where animals dressed in handsome clothing and threw tea parties, where good fairies and justice existed, where I was able to revisit the classic tales that my own mom had once read to me.

Now: I have all the time in the world for Stephen King, John Grisham and James Patterson. My daughter and I continue to make trips to the library but she goes her way and I go mine. Still, I often find myself in the children’s department sorting through the picture books, smiling at the sight of Green Eggs And Ham. Someday, I hope to read them all again to a grandchild on my lap. Mind you, that someday had better be far, far in the distant future.

  1. abc bookYou will miss your freedom of speech.

Back then: Once upon at time, my husband and I could say anything, right out in the open, including curse words, without our daughter comprehending any of it. How? We’d spell. It was fabulous, just the way I’d imagined it would be if I could speak another language that nobody else could understand. Well school ruined everything. I can still remember the day our freedom vanished for good. We were at the dinner table and her dad and I were discussing Christmas shopping. Without a second thought, I spelled aloud, “…we should go out this weekend and get the B-E-T-S-Y W-E-T-S-Y D-O-L-L and the B-L-I-N-K-Y W-I-N-K-Y D-O-L-L H-O-U-S-E.” A forkfull of spaghetti paused mid-air between my daughter’s plate and her mouth as she squealed, “Betsy Wetsy and the Blinky Winky doll house? That’s exactly what I want! Oh boy!” Oh boy, indeed.

Now: My husband and I have not had a decent argument in ten years. The only way we can discuss important issues privately is to leave the house. The same kid who cannot hear me shrieking at her to come to the table for dinner from the room next door can hear every syllable whispered in my husband’s ear while we’re in the basement and she’s in her second-storey bedroom with her stereo on full.

  1. You will miss all those odd-looking Mother’s Day gifts made at school.

Amothers day broochBack then: I still have the lopsided, neon-painted popsicle-stick box she made in third grade, filled with crudely cut blank squares of paper, intended as a box of note paper for my desk. The page on top still has her hand-printed message: “Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, No Mom Is Prettier Or Smarter Than You.” (This is a good example of the type of compliment that I don’t think I’ll be hearing again in this lifetime—See #2.) Next to my popsicle-stick box sits a pencil holder made out of a tomato soup can with two lumps of putty molded over it and little plastic jewels pressed randomly into the putty. It came to me with a construction paper gift tag that read: “I Love You, Mommy!!!” I have gifts from every elementary grade and I’ve kept them all. They mean so much more to me than a bouquet of flowers or a greeting card. And I really, really miss receiving them.

Now: My teen works part-time and loves to shop, so my gifts nowadays are pretty decent. But they will never compare to my nouveau art brooch that she made for me in sixth grade.
Abig jen2

Crochet yourself the best sun hat ever!

In my quest to put off looking like an apple doll for as long as is possible, I always wear a brimmed hat (along with sunblock) when I’m out in the sun.

hat_floppy brim cream & brown1bA couple of years ago, I made my first attempt at crocheting a brimmed hat and it turned out to be the best hat I’ve ever owned—better than any hat I’ve ever purchased! I’m about to wear it for my third summer and it doesn’t look any worse for wear. It does a fantastic job of keeping the sun off my face.

To find the pattern (free!), I first visited my favourite site http://www.allfreecrochet.com/Caps-With-Brims/Natural-Colored-Floppy-Brim-Hat which led me to this printable PDF pattern:

http://www.vogueknitting.com/Portals/VK/patterns/allfreepatterns/floppy-brim-hat.pdf

hat_floppy brim cream & brown1aThe instructions were very easy to follow, even for a beginner. I used a worsted-weight cream yarn and edged it with a brown worsted. I also crocheted a few matching flowers just to fancy it up a bit.

Once the hat was completed, the brim was floppy, so here’s how I stiffened it: I purchased a plain straw hat with a brim a bit narrower than my crocheted hat for just a buck at my local dollar store. Then I fit it into my crocheted hat and hand-stitched them together. The straw hat not only adds the stiff support that the crocheted hat needs, it also doubles up on helping to block the UV rays that I want to keep away from my skin.

hat_floppy brim cream & brown1cI thought that this cream colour would be difficult to keep clean, but it wears extremely well and still looks as new as the day I made it. I wear it out on my boat every weekend in the summer, as well as out and about in the yard and I take it with me on vacations down south, so it gets a lot of wear!

Try making one. I guarantee you’ll be impressed.

Come with me. Hold my hand and let’s take one step forward today.

if you are sad
if you are angry
if you are sick
if you are lost
if you are alone
if you are confused
if you are frustrated

No matter your complaint

Stop for a moment,
step away from yourself.

Then take one step forward.
Lift your chin
and appreciate the quiet expanse
of the sky above you.sky

Focus on the wondrousness
of a thing so simple,
a thing that is there
even on all the days you don’t see it.

Give thanks for the miracle of your eyes.
They allow you to see a sky
that many can only try to imagine.

Breathe deeply of the air that sustains you.
Basic. Base. There.
Such a blessingforest Path
to enjoy the simple act of breathing
without a thought, without a struggle.

Kneel to the ground
and smell the rich aroma of the earth
that supports you.
Draw up and fill your lungs
with flora, with fresh laundry,
with the scents of life
that ride on the breezes.
This gift. This blessing

Move those limbs that you can move.
Do you have legs?
Can you walk, run, jump, twirl?
Do you have arms, hands, fingers?
Can you clap them, flex them, write your name in the air?
Can you reach for the sky?
Rejoice in these simple freedoms
that so many must live without.

Who are you (you are thinking)bougainvillea
to sermonize to me
about counting my blessings?

Well
I, too, am guilty
of the human disease
called unmindful existence.
Called ingratitude-itis.

So today is the day
I will step away from myself,
take one step forward,
acknowledge how very blessed I am.

I have eyes that allow me to see
all that is right in front of me,
and awareness to clear my vision.

I can see.bird tree
I can feel.
I can breathe.
I can walk.
I can speak.
I can hear.
I can taste.
I can eat.
I can drink.
I can forgive.
I can love.
I can choose.
I can imagine.
I can make a difference.
I can hope.
For hope is always there
just waiting for you to believe.

I can walk outside
and I can look up at the infinite sky
and I can marvel at the magical synthesis
that produces such an astonishing shade of blue.

I can stand on land
that spreads in every direction
and know that it is possibleorange
to go anywhere I want to go.

I can peel an orange
and eat the flesh
and when the juice runs over my chin
I can splash cool water on my face
and feel grateful that the simplest things in life
are also some of the most magnificent.

The sadness, the anger, the frustration …
it will come, it will go, it will still be there.

But so will the simple blessings.

sunsetTake a step forward today with me.

What to do with nine crocheted squares? Hmmm…

Sometimes, you just want to play around with a couple of colours to see what evolves, so you decide to crochet some squares with no real project in mind.

By the time you’re on your ninth square, you begin to feel bored. You’re not in the mood to continue making squares until you have enough for a big old afghan because summer’s almost here and afghans remind you of long winter nights and that’s the last thing you want to be reminded of right now.

You stare at your nine lovely squares. You line them up into one big square and stare at them some more. They do look pretty together. But a block of nine 5” squares makes…what? It’s either a massive washcloth for Shaquille O’Neil or a bath mat for one of the Little People.

Suddenly you get a brainstorm. You recall seeing pictures on Pinterest of the cutest lovey blankets for babies, which are about that size, that have a teddy or dolly or puppy head sewn into the middle square, that a baby can cuddle up with during her nap.baby_blanket lovey bear1

Your nine squares would make the perfect lovey blanket! All you need to make is a cute softie head for the center square.

And that’s how I came up with my Teddy Bear Lovey Blankee.

You can use any square design of choice to make this project. To make my squares, I used a 6 mm hook, and chose a variegated yarn in Neopolitan ice-cream colours (vanilla, strawberry and chocolate) for the first two rounds and a mocha yarn for the rest of the square. Here’s the pattern:sample circle in a square1

R1: Chain (ch) 3; 12 double crochet (dc) in third ch from hook. Slip stitch (sl st) to join. (12 dc)

R2: Ch 2; 2 dc in each dc around. Sl st in top of ch-2 to join. (24 dc)

sample circle in a square2R3: In same space, (ch 3, 2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc). *Ch 1; skip (sk) next 2 dc; 3 dc in next dc. Ch 1, sk next 2 dc, (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in next dc. Repeat from * two more times. Ch 1; sk next 2 dc, 3 dc in next dc. Ch 1; sl st to top of ch-3 to close.

R4: Sl st over to the first ch-2 space. (Ch 3, 2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in space. *(Ch 1; 3 dc in next ch-1 space) two times. Ch 1; (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in corner ch-2 space. Repeat from * two more times. (Ch 1; 3 dc in next ch-1 space) two times. Ch 1; sl st to top of ch-3 to close.

To attach my squares, I first laid them out then hooked them all together with markers (or you can also use safety pins). Then I chose a matching pink yarn, and I used single crochet to seam them together on the right side so the pink would act as a border around each square, as well as a border around the entire blanket.baby_blanket lovey bear2

For the softie head you can use pretty much any animal or doll pattern of your preference, following just the head instructions in the pattern. Just make sure the size of the head is compatible with the size of your blanket—you wouldn’t want to use a tiny two-inch amigurumi animal head, but if you want to make the head from an amigurumi pattern, just increase the size of your crochet hook to one that’s a few sizes bigger than the hook that the pattern calls for.

Once you’ve made your softie animal head and stuffed it as per your pattern instructions, just use a yarn needle and matching yarn to sew it to the center square of your blanket.

For my teddy head I used mocha/vanilla variegated yarn and worked single crochet in rounds (increasing and then decreasing) to make a ball that I stuffed with Poly-Fil. Then I crocheted two triangular shapes in the same yarn to make the ears, and stitched them onto the ball. Then I crocheted a couple of rounds in vanilla yarn twice to make the eyes (and sewed a brown button in the center of each eye). Then I did a few rounds of vanilla to make a big circle for the muzzle. Then I used the pink border yarn to make a small pink triangle for the nose, and when everything was sewn into place on the head, I used a bit of pink yarn to stitch a mouth onto the muzzle under the nose. As a finishing touch, I weaved a few baby_hat pink brim1strands of yarn into the top of the head to look like a bit of hair and tied a piece of pink yarn around them into a bow.

Voila! A teddy blankee that any baby (or stuffed bear) would love to cuddle with.

Of course I got so excited about the blankee, I just had to make a littlebaby_hat pink brim2 hat to go with it. I just made it up as I went along and forgot to write down what I was doing, so I’ll try to figure out what I did and then share it in a future blog post.

Which is the better choice—the husband or the cat?

Picture this: I am a weight scale; my arms are stretched out at my sides.

My husband (who right this moment happens to be hypnotized by his computer screen as he watches round after round of YouTube videos instead of changing the furnace filter, which he promised to do three weeks ago) sits in the palm of my left hand.blue eyes

My adorable ragdoll cat sits in the palm of my right hand, purring and gazing up at me with his big blue watercolour-painting eyes.

As I weigh the pros and cons, the hand holding my husband suddenly drops to my side with all the weight of a mountain boulder. The hand holding my cat has risen to hover like a fluffy cloud above my head. The cat has tipped the scales big time.

Why the cat trumps the husband:

1. The cat will never keep you awake all night with his snoring.
No need to wear earplugs. No need to keep poking him to turn over. No need to mash the pillow over your head until you almost smother yourself. The cat = loads of beauty sleep.

purina cat chow2. The cat eats the same thing every day without complaint.
A bag of Purina cat chow does the trick. You simply pour it into a bowl on the floor. You don’t even have to set the table. Dinner is served in 10 seconds or less and every morsel is consumed gratefully without one word of bitching.

3. The cat will never litter your bedroom floor with dirty clothing.
My husband still does not understand that the l-a-u-n-d-r-y b-a-s-k-e-t was, in fact, manufactured for a specific purpose. Our bedroom always looks like Mark’s Work Warehouse toiletafter the bomb exploded. The only time I ever see anything in my husband’s laundry basket is when the cat is in there taking a nap.

4. The cat will never leave the toilet seat up, nor does he sprinkle when he tinkles.
Consider this—If men were trained to use litter boxes we would no longer need separate bathrooms!

oats with shoes5. The cat couldn’t care less how much you spend when you go shopping.
As long as you don’t betray him by buying tiny pet clothing to dress him up in, he will always be ecstatic to see you walk in the door with twenty or more new pairs of shoes.

6. The cat is happy to watch chick flicks all weekend long.
The cat does not care a whit if some old Super Bowl or Stanley Cup or US Open or other game is on TV at the same time that you want to watch a rerun of Sleepless In Seattle. Best of all, his paw can’t hold a remote control so…no need to compromise. Ever.

dented bumper7. The expression on the cat’s face will not change if you confess that you’ve put a ding in the car.
He doesn’t even know what a car is, so there’s nothing to fear if you accidentally back into a rather large, annoying curb that rips off the underside of the car (which you’ve been forced to leave behind in the mall parking lot).

oats with yarn8. Cats LOVE yarn and they totally want you to buy as much as you want, as often as you want.
The cat will not shake his head when you return home with yet another shopping bag brimming over with sale yarn from Michael’s. Whenever I crochet the cat watches raptly, his eyes glowing with appreciation. He would never ever dream of referring to my projects “dust collectors,” as does a certain other person.

9. The cat is devoid of opinions. Therefore, your way is always the right way.
You can say whatever you want and there’s no response to contend with. No opinions contrary to yours, no arguments, no passive-aggressive sarcasm, not a peep. You are always right, as you should be.

10. The cat would never DARE to ask if you’ve gained weight.
The cat will not give you that look if you so choose to hoover up a mega-size order of nachos and cheese and then chase it with a Peanut Buster Parfait from Dairy Queen. He doesn’t care that you can’t do up the top button on your jeans, that you haven’t bothered shaving your legs, that you woke up with hair that looks like Neanderthal man’s, that you’re wearing frayed granny panties. As long as you’ve dumped chow in his bowl on the floor, you are a goddess.

Ok. I have to admit. There are a few pros for the husband:
cat licks butt1. He can be useful for fixing stuff around the house.
2. When the car breaks down, it’s his problem.
3. He mows in the summer and shovels in the winter.
4. He brings a paycheque into the equation.
5. He never licks his ass.
6. You don’t have to have him castrated to keep his hormones in check.

And the cat and the husband are equals in some areas:sleeping oats
1. They both lose their hair on a regular basis.
sleepy oats2. They both despise vacuum cleaners.
3. They both take an awful lot of naps.
4. They both have a bad habit of falling asleep while I’m talking to them.

Stay tuned for my future blog post: Which would you rather live with under one roof for the next twenty-odd years of your precious life—the kids or the cat?playing cat

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