My Shop

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What I Did Over my Summer Vacation

This last summer, I knew we'd be traveling a great deal as a family and so I created a sash for my daughter to keep pins and patches from all of the places we visited.  In the course of three short months, our little girl chalked up a lot of miles and has visited several Western states.  It has become a cherished keepsake that reminds us of so many fond memories of a fun summer vacation spent with family and friends. Also, knowing we wanted to fill the sash with pins collected on our travels, made all those inevitable tours through tourist gifts shops a lot more fun (and drama-free) as we had the challenge of finding a pin or patch to go on her sash versus mindless wandering and impulse purchases of junky toys she really didn't need. Some other moms thought it was a pretty good idea too, and they are using their sashes (made by me) as a motivational tool for potty training, etc.  They wrote about it here.

She's really proud of her sash and it means a lot to all of us in the family. If we visited a place that didn't offer a hat-pin or patch she was really disappointed.  "Mommy, how will I remember that we were here if I don't have a pin for my sash?" she'd ask.  Oh, we'll have pictures and we'll remember in our hearts, yes, but the sash is fun too.   My older kids have all expressed that they wish that I would have thought of this sooner and they wish that they had their own sashes full of pins, even though I know for a fact that they walked away with their fair-share of gift shop fodder over the years. All my children are masters at what I term "guilting mother."  No worries though, I still retain so many fond memories of many family outings that we shared.  And I made tons of matching outfits for them to wear on those journeys and I know they loved wearing those (see song lyrics below).

Sash or no sash, my children have always had a knack for making family moments memorable.  Will I ever forget the Ketchup and Mustard song they made up on a family camping trip?  Try as I might, the lyrics are stuck in my head:

Ketchup and Mustard had a kid...
They named him Mayonnaise, yes they did.
Mayonnaise ran away from home
 because he hated his dad and mom.
Then Ketchup and Mustard had no kids...

Maybe Mr. and Mrs. Condiment should have gotten a sash for little Mayonnaise and things would have ended differently... Just sayin'

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One of "Those Mothers"

After having five children pass through the doors of our local elementary school for the first day of Kindergarten,  I can tell you that it never really gets easier to send them off to school.  If anything, it gets harder.  With our youngest child having just taken that all-important first step on her educational journey, I know a few things inevitably happen on those first few days of school:

1. The teacher will read The Kissing Hand.

2.  I will cry.

3. Color-of-the-days will shortly begin to occur.

4. I will sign up to volunteer in the classroom so I can spy on my child.

Now, I am sure Audrey Penn is a lovely person.  I truly hold her no ill-will, but her book, The Kissing Hand has caused more poor mothers to shed a sea of tears as they have sent their little babies off into the big scary world of school and big kids (have you seen some of those third graders? They're enormous!) than any other book in the history of the printed word (this is a rough estimate of course).  The first time I was exposed to this storybook was when it was read aloud the day I sent my twins off to school.  They were my youngest at the time and having them begin Kindergarten left a very huge hole in my day and my heart...  That sadness was renewed and amplified when they left for college (out-of-state) this year.  Thirteen years later, I thought I was a little more prepared to endure the emotional torture of sitting through a reading of that book as I had steeled myself to the potential of it being read.  It was no use.  See #2 above.  By the time the teacher read the penultimate page, where Mrs. Raccoon exclaims, "Chester loves me! Chester loves me!" I was a blubbering mess.  I was in good company as all the other moms (and one tender-hearted daddy) were in tears as well.

The reading of the dreaded book.

Now, I find we are in the midst of "Color Days."  For you uninitiated moms out there, on a given color day, your Kindergartner is to wear the color of the day or face complete social and academic annihilation for the remainder of their school career.  If you neglect to dress your child in red, for example, on Red Day, it is my understanding that child-protective services will be notified and that the chance that your child may have one day attended Harvard will be completely nixed.  The phrase, "This child has a bad mother" will likewise be stamped (ironically in red ink) on your poor child's permanent record.  Out of fear of ruining my children forever,  I have spent more than one school morning scrambling to find a red shirt, neck-tie, or even a red toothpick to hold between their teeth all day in order that a child of mine could fulfill a Color Day requirement... You'll have to ask my kids which one of them had to go school wearing two red Christmas stockings instead of shoes. Again, tears were shed.

During that thirteen year gap between our twins and the baby, I have had time to prepare.  And this year, I am ready for those dreaded Color Days!  I have purchased a T-shirt in every color imaginable and even machine embroidered the color names on them- I am particularly looking forward to "Chartreuse Day."  Because I have turned into one of "those mothers."  You know, the ones that do crazy stuff like give out hand-made Valentines, and give awesome hand-crafted teacher gifts that make everybody else look lame at Christmas time, or  volunteer to be the room-mother (although I didn't do THAT, I have my limits after-all). 

Not really, I did it for fun and because I want to continue to be an important part of this darling child's life, even as she enters the big world of school and friends and teachers.  Yesterday, as we walked up to the school and I held her still chubby little hand in mine, I closed me eyes for a second and told myself to remember this fleeting moment when she will still let me hold her hand in public and dress her in silly color day shirts.  I know from experience that it will all pass too quickly, but for now, my little "raccoon" still loves me best... although I know school is a close second...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Imogenes

My Grandmother, Imogene Talbot Anderson
I am often asked about the name of my little company, and so, I am reposting an earlier blog entry about why  it's call Imogene's Tea Garden...When I decided to share my love of sewing for children publicly, I decided to name my little business after some of my other great loves: Imogene was my grandmother. She was, in my estimation, a pretty amazing woman. Orphaned at the age of nine, she and her younger sister and brother were raised on her grandfather’s (my great-great grandfather) farm. To put it mildly, she did not have a wonderful childhood. I think because of the hardships she faced at an early age, she resolved to improve her circumstances. She went to nursing school, worked many years as a nurse, and ultimately earned her Master’s degree in an era when very few women sought advanced degrees. When she and my grandfather retired, they determined to be the best grandparent s they could be to us grandkids.
I cherish the memory of countless weekends spent at my grandparents’ house. They encouraged creativity by providing us with many open-ended activities. There was the woodworking bench in the garage and always a ready stock of lumber for the grandkids to saw, hammer, and build into creations of our own designing. They kept a box of empty plastic containers for us to play store. There was always a stack of paper, scissors, glue, and old magazines from which we cut out pictures to make “books” and just create in general. In the evenings, my grandmother would teach us the lost arts, of crochet and other needlework. Though an educated woman, these crafts and project were by no means beneath her. I think she understood that women, in particular, thrive when they are engaged in creating something. The few afghans that I own that she crocheted remain among my most treasured possessions.
My little "Imogene"
Skipping ahead several decades to the time our family was blessed with our youngest child – a true miracle by all accounts – it seemed only natural that we name her after my grandmother, giving her the middle name Imogene. She has breathed new life into our family of five children and is a constant joy to all of us. Most of the items I have created have been inspired by her. I am always seeking to create things that will help her to experience to some small degree the joy of creative discovery and imaginary play that I experienced at my grandmother’s home.
Reaching across the generations, I see similarities between the two Imogenes who have graced my life. Among other things, they both have taught me how to love unconditionally and to truly embrace each day. To be my authentic self and do things that I love to make other people happy. And so, I have named my little business after them to honor them and to remind me each day how lucky I am to have had these Imogenes in my life to love me, inspire me and challenge me to strive to make them proud.

...As for the "Tea" and "Garden" in my business name, well heck, who doesn't love a good cup of tea??? Keep reading, and soon I'll tell you all about my garden.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Leap Year

I cannot imagine anyone will appreciate an "extra" day this year more than I will!  It has been a busy and exciting time here at our house.  My eighteen-year-old twins have gotten their letters of acceptance to the colleges they will attend.  My oldest daughter is finishing up her student teaching and will be looking for a job as a Kindergarten teacher... AND my youngest daughter will be starting Kindergarten. It is fun to think that both my big girl and my little girl will be off to Kindergarten at the same time.   Lots of fun and excitement to say the least. 

Business at Imogene's Tea Garden has been booming!  It has been so fun to extend my reach into international markets.  It is a strange thing to know that at the same time my "chicks" are leaving the nest, that things that I have made are traveling the world.  The joint is really jumping around here!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Have the Best Job

My finger puppets at a holiday crafts open house hosted by a dear friend.
After the Christmas rush was finally over, and the last stitch had been sewn. I boarded a plane for California for some much-needed time with my husband and five children.  We had a wonderful trip.  When we returned, I was greeted by so many messages of thanks from my clients, I was blown away.  There was a common thread throughout all of them, "our kids loved their Christmas gifts made by you!"  With all the craziness surrounding the holidays, I never quite forgot that I was making items that would end up under someone's Christmas tree, but to hear that my creations actually made children smile on Christmas morning kind-of blew me away.  It was truly humbling.

Why I do what I do.
Then, I had the opportunity to visit the home of a friend for whom I had made capes for her girls.  They didn't realize that I had made the capes "from Santa" for them, but their mom had them model them for me.  They even took them for a test run around the house.  As I left their home, I became a little emotional and turned to my husband and said, "I truly have the best job.  I get to sew things for little children that make them happy." Now what could be better than that? I do something I love to benefit the best people on earth: little children.

 There is almost always a real feeling of good-will between my clients and me.  I am always so happy to hear that my finger puppets were a hit at the birthday party, etc.  Because really, who can think of little ones and not smile at least just a little.