25 Apr

Finally (I Think)

It started about four years ago with a drawing by my daughter of her daddy. I thought he looked military (which may or may not have been intentional on her part) and needed to become a patch on a messenger bag.

About a year ago, I found the perfect pattern and went so far as to make custom fabric using my kids’ drawings.

Last November I finally got around to making the bag, but I wasn’t happy with some of the choices I had made — namely stiff Peltex/Timtex instead of fusible batting as called for in the pattern (that will teach me).

So, I took it apart. And so it sat for the last four months, taunting me with it’s un-finishedness, taking up space on the futon in my guest room/sewing studio. It really bugged me to have to keep moving it’s pile around whenever guests came to visit. But I was mad at it for not being perfectly crafted. To the bag’s credit, it came apart easily and was mostly salvageable. But I was still mad at it.

Finally, I jumped in and finished it a few days ago. I used black binding which worked better than the green, and the softer batting in the body of the bag made all the difference in terms of  maneuverability for sewing.

But, once again, I did not heed the warning on the pattern, and I accidentally ironed the strap — making black smudges on the green facing in my lining. And though the black topstitching looks good on the outside of the bag, I don’t like it on the interior, especially as there is under-stitching as well and a couple of hiccups where the thread broke.

It would not be a huge project to take out the interior, replace the green strip and re-sew it all. But, I’m kind of over this project for a while.

12 Nov

When you know it’s going wrong, but keep at it anyway.

I’ve been wanting to make a messenger bag for  loooooooong time, based on one of my daughter’s drawings. Nearly a year ago, I found the perfect pattern via You SEW Girl, and it’s taken me this long to get around to making it.

I was intimidated by my vision for the drawings, but finally having my hubby home so I could dive deep into experiments and problem solving without worrying about homework or lunch got me through that. I was also intimidated by the pattern which actually required that I read it! Once into it though, I realized it’s thorough, but not difficult.

What was difficult however, was using thick Peltex interfacing rather than the batting called for in the pattern. It made the whole thing cumbersome. My seams and top stitching suffered from the extra bulk and the lack of maneuverability. But I pressed on because over-all, it was looking like my vision. Certainly it would pass the galloping horse rule. Which would be fine if I wanted to carry this around as an everyday purse.

But no-oo, I have this vision in my head of a gallery-worthy collection of textile pieces inspired by my kids’ art. And that needs Craftsmanship with a capital C. Frustrated, I was ready to ditch the whole thing last night. Instead, I slept on it, and realized this morning that yes, I’d never use the bag — because I was disappointed with it. I also realized that I could salvage more from it than I had originally thought — like the whole interior. And the base with the cool feet. So, today will probably see the deconstruction of the bag, but not it’s permanent demise.

01 Nov

How it Works (He’s Back!)

A soldier coming home from a deployment doesn’t quite work the same way as grandma coming for a visit. They don’t get to buy a plane ticket months in advance and arrive at a prescribed date and time. Sure, the deployment as a whole is specified in advance on the unit’s deployment orders, so one can be pretty sure of the no-later-than date for their soldier’s return.


But I’m hesitant to set my heart on any specific date because after nearly 15 years with the army, I know that the only constant is change. My strategy has always been to view the end of a deployment in broad terms like “next month” or “a few weeks” instead of absolutes like “before the 30th.” I usually prepare the kids for the farthest date out so when daddy comes home earlier, they are surprised, and when he comes home later, it’s still when they expected so they aren’t disappointed. I know some families that do countdowns, but how can you count down when the date is really just a window?

We knew the window was open when Mr. Incredible moved out of his Containerized Housing Unit and into a bay. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the flight out. Leaving Iraq is by Air Force plane. Their flight plans are not like a commercial airline’s. If they don’t want to fly in a sandstorm, they don’t (and I gotta respect that). But that also doesn’t mean that when the sandstorm ends the plane is waiting there to pick up where they left off. They might be off doing other things. So although one might be on the list to go home on Monday, it’s just as likely they’ll actually fly on Wednesday. Or the next Monday. Most of the trip home is on a plane chartered for the purpose. Once on the charter plane, it’s much easier to gauge when the soldiers will be home.


We got our official phone call two days ago — Mr. Incredible is wheels up and on his way! Now we knew that he was due Sunday morning (though we had our suspicions that he had finally gotten on a plane when the silly emails forwarding LOLcats stopped and the Facebook posts went silent). Once back on US soil, Mr. Incredible was able to check in with us at the designated fuel stops. Many kudos go to the greeters in Bangor, Maine who not only had coffee and snacks, but cell phones for soldiers to call home with. Then we got another official phone call last night confirming they were still on time.


First thing this morning, we drove to the airfield for the welcoming ceremony. Banners and flags and cheesy “Rocky” music as the soldiers entered the hangar. Then the less cheesy Division march and the Army song, followed by The Star Spangled Banner and a blessing. A very few words by the ranking guy there and everyone was released to go home with their families!

04 Sep



Here’s what the kids helped me pack tonight for IBOL’s super secret project #3. It was not easy distracting them from their usual activities of homework, playtime with friends, books and screen time for a project so far removed from themselves. We went to Walmart tonight to get undies so we looked around to see if there was anything else that might be good to include and Katja enjoyed picking out hair thingiess and chose sparkly beads and string for making jewelry, while we distracted Zavi from Bakugan just long enough for him to endorse some Fimo-type clay. They dumped all the stuff from the house and our shopping trip in their respective “Boy” and “Girl” boxes and that was about it from them.


Until bedtime when Katja was, for the first time since the week daddy deployed, in tears. Doing a project for him brought to the surface just how much she misses her dad.

23 Jul

Shout Out

I got a card in the mail from my hubby today. He emails pretty regularly, but occasionally he sends a card just for fun. I had to stop everything and blog this one though.

Hero Card


Obviously the person who made it spent a lot of time, energy and love on it. It shows. Even if it’s not necessarily my style, I know that it was made with care. My man got it from Cards For Heroes. It was a quick “I love you” from him, but it also said so much more to me about support on the home front. It said that someone was thinking about him and all the other deployed service members too. Thank you Cards for Heroes! My soldier appreciates your work and so do I.

20 May

…But R&R is Pretty Great!

When I tell people my husband is deployed, one of the first questions is if he will be able to come home for a visit. On previos six month deployments to Bosnia and Kosovo, and the many four month TDYs (temporary duty assignments) the answer was always no. But for his current 12 month deployment to Iraq, he can come home. Soldiers deployed for 12 or more months get two weeks of R&R (rest and recuperation). We were planning on Art’s being in August.

He’s into surprises though. Many may remember how I was the last to know that we were moving to Hawai’i last year. With several our friends’ husbands coming home for R&R in the past few weeks, I actually had a dream that Art came striding unannounced across our back yard and into the house. Funny because to stride across our yard takes about two steps depth-wise, and with walls on three sides there’s no place to stride from.

He rang the front doorbell at 10:00pm Friday night though. Scared the you-know-what out of me, but in the end, should have been expected. It was a good surprise. The kids were incredulous the next morning.

In case anyone is wondering what it takes to get a soldier from Iraq  or Afghanistan to the US for R&R, Mr. Incredible has a few blog posts on the adventure. With a two day delay on the front end, it took 65 hours and 13 time zones. I think he’s posted a cool map on his Facebook account  (I don’t know since I don’t Facebook, which is part of how he surprised me). He took planes, buses and automobiles, both military and commercial and stopped in several countries along the way. It’s quite the dance they choreograph adding and dropping off soldiers as they criss cross their way over the globe. Along the way, my soldier and his fellow travelers met generous people who made their way a little easier, not because anyone said they had to, but because they were happy to.

If you meet, in your travels, a service member returning from deployment, or for R&R, consider the many hours and myriad modes of transportation they’ve been navigating, and the beacon of home at the other end, and maybe buy them a drink or a sandwich, let them cut in line, scootch over so they can lay down on the chairs, give them a smile and wish them pleasant travels.

Meanwhile, we’ll be making the most of our two weeks together, being, as my daughter pointed out this morning, four people again.

14 Apr

Good News, Bad News

First, the good news: I think I’ve found the perfect Flammkuchen recipe!! Flammkuchen is Weinfest (Wine Festival) food. It’s for hot September evenings at the Biergarten. It’s for when you want something simple and honest, and NOT fast food. It is one of my very favorite foods. It’s also one of my bacon-loving son’s favorites too. I hope that the one tarte will be enough to feed both of us. Luckily my daughter won’t eat it (obviously she may not really be my daughter). Because of it’s summery-ness, a Flammkuchen recipe needs to be simple — and this one is just that. The major win here is the crust. I’ve been making do with pizza dough recipes and they’re just too thick (though I think I need a pizza stone as my Silpat mat seems to inhibit browning).

Now, the bad news: this Flammkuchen REALLY NEEDS to be enjoyed with wine or beer. And I have neither in the house. Sure, I could close up shop, pack the kids in the car and go get a bottle, but that’s a lot of work mid-dinner making. I could leave the kids in charge and go the whopping one mile myself; maybe with a soup that needed occasional stirring, but not with bacon in the pan. No, what I really need is for Mr. Incredible to be here so that I can send him out for the necessities while not losing my own cooking momentum.

This situation is one of those annoying deployment things that doesn’t make the papers. It’s not heart wrenching or heroic. However, I think it’s the kind of thing that wears on a person. All those little things that would just be so much simpler, or pleasant (like sipping a nice white wine with my delicious Flammkuchen) with the other person around — but they’re not around. I can understand why some couples kind of give up on the relationship — because the longer or more frequent the deployment, the less like a partnership it seems. Obviously it will take more than the lack of proper beverage accompaniment to break up this marriage, but as long as I’m sharing deployment related anecdotes, it’s food for thought.