Friday, 19 April 2013

Save That Coupon, Or Not

Mothers’ Day was in early March in Ireland. Along with my annual breakfast in bed—which came at 6.a.m, and thankfully Daddy rainchecked til 7:30am—I received a love coupon from 8yo Cutiepie.
Designed and crafted in school, I was totally expecting a voucher for a foot massage or an over abundance of kisses. Boy, was I wrong.
This coupon entitles the holder to:

Come again?

A day free of homework for my kid? Where’s MY evening without dishes or cuddles of endless hugs? Instead, Cutiepie is excused from homework? Go figure. Or wait, hold that calulation—maybe your mom has the same coupon?

Really. Some days I fail to understand school decisions.

Like when they break for two weeks Christmas holidays, yet prior to, teachers stop assigning homework for an additional two weeks because "it’s almost the holidays". Grrr.

Or, when it’s ‘golden hour’ every Friday where the kids watch movies like Cars or Toy Story. Couldn’t, at least, be an age-appropriate documentary?

Reluctantly grateful, I put the coupon to one side. Until Cutiepie solemnly inquired, “Are you ever going to use your coupon?”

I guess I’m an anomaly. Recently, I read a blogger mom complaining of  homework and the expectations it put on her, the mom. Sounds like she has the same scholastic migrane, only mine's without the homework.

While at the inlaws this week, the aunts, homework helpers, were loaded down with cousins and homework at the dinner table.

I guess it’s a chore. A chore I would relish. As children of a full-time working mom who commutes, my girls get their help from someone else, usually the au pair, maybe their Dad. 

Each Thursday, the eve of spelling tests, we host our own Spelling Bee. I try hard to make it all fun and play, but for me, I know they’re learning. I would jump at every chance to help with homework. In fact, I’ll take THAT coupon.

On Wednesday, Cutiepie’s test results put her second in her class. Hearing that, I scrambled for the coupon and told her not to forget it the next morning. She said, “But, I’ve already done my homework.” I told her to turn it in for the next day’s homework.

At which time, she proceeded to school me on how to use this coupon. “Really”, she says, “it’s an excuse.” Apparently she is not meant to turn it in until Friday morning when Thursday’s homework is expected. She says, seriously and with an all-knowing-slightly-cheeky grin, “you don’t USE an excuse, until something is expected of you, Mom!”

So adds another annoyance for my school’s list. Teaching my children excuses, rather than planning? Grr.

So on Thursday evening, eager to enjoy my coupon vicariously, I asked her how it felt to not do her homework. She casually said, “Oh, I did my homework today. Mammy, today’s homework was super easy. I’ll keep the coupon for when I have loads of homework!”

Ah, she’s PLANNING on how she’s gonna use her excuse. I’d like to think she learned that from me.

Monday, 15 April 2013

The Room, The Quilt

Two up, two down. A terrace home, two downstairs rooms and two upstairs rooms. The upstairs rooms are the main bedroom and a back room. The back room creates the memories for me. Then and still.

Then, we were newlyweds and visiting Ireland. My husband and I would travel from San Francisco to his home in Ireland. A welcome pint in a local pub and a full grill made by his mother Nodie awaited us, while, at the house, the back bedroom awaited our belongings and exhausted presence.

The years fell in and we were married and moved to Ireland, where full grills and pints would be standard occurrences. The room became a temporary home. During the night, we snuggled, though uncomfortably, as my 6'3" husband, my 1yo daughter, and me with a growing baby bump slept in the room's small double bed.

Over the years, the back room sat touched and untouched with a vacant bed, a lone nightstand and a cupboard overflowing with bedding and linen. On more than one curious occasion, I would thumb through the paper memories found inside the nightstand. Vintage photos, random notes, odd receipts and miscellaneous papers fill in my blanks of their family memory.

In 2006, as Nodie turned 70, I combined vintage photos with the present day and created a colourful memory quilt for her birthday. In the months and years to follow, I remarked quietly how the quilt sat folded safely and tidy in the back room linen cupboard. Time to time, I would steal a peak and finger the photos stitched in the quilt wishing the quilt were used and not stored.

Today, the bed is replaced with a hospital bed, the nightstand is overflowing with medication and Nodie, weak and frail, sleeps for long stretches under her memory quilt. As I sit with her one early morning, now thankful for the quilt’s defined and divine purpose, sadness fills the room. I struggle to reflect on the memories the back room holds, and in this moment, nothing can disguise her pain and our sorrow of what’s to come.

It is nearly certain that Nodie, who, for a lifetime, has made this house a home for so many of us, will die in this room. Here. In the back room belonging to us—where adult children returned, grandbabies napped, grandchildren played, and visitors like me, welcomed and comforted.
As she lay beneath her children and grandchildren, each a single deminsion stitched into the quilt, I again finger its patchwork and my mind understands. For years the quilt was kept safely stored away, while this room made memories.

Today, the quilt and its memories wrap Nodie resolutely, much like the room and its memories cloak me. For this room and this quilt memorialise a lifetime.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Colours of Love

I have an aunt who quilts the most charming projects. She says her trick is using cream and red shades. Everything looks lovely in a cream and red palette.

So when I signed up for the quilt by email, I was seeing red and cream. Colour choices can be the biggest hurdle for me. So much so, you'd think I was colour blind. I'm not.

The project quilt is adorned with hearts on the four corners of each block. It reminded me of a deck of cards in the biggest game of life: marriage. Sweet and stunning, this quilt would make a lovely gift for newlyweds. Red is perfect for lovers. Lucky for us, we have three couples needing wedding presents.

It's a challenge planning a quilt as a wedding present. There again, it's choosing the  right colour. The reason being, I like to give practical gifts, gifts that might be used. What if the wrong colours land in the wrong home? I'd like to think there's always a spare bed to be covered, but we all know that colouring is uber personal. Let's just hope their dog's already got bedding.

So I started thinking again. The words 'aunt' and 'charming' should have no part in selecting a wedding gift. Unless you're a rich aunt gifting a charming cottage to the lucky couple.  Safe and comfortable might just be boring and old to hip honeymooners in modern times. This quilt has a lot of background, and at that quantity, I plan to keep cream in the mix. It is plentiful in my stash, and if I'm going to break out the purse, I'd rather buy feature fat quarters to spice up the blocks.

So this morning auditions were held. Ol' safe standby reds and greens were pushed aside. It did not take long before a teal and grey pairing stole the show. The strong hue grey was contemporary yet, tone-on tone teal roses sweetened the combo. Immediately, I knew the grey would be a great sashing framework with teal and turquoise highlights in the blocks. My stash is low, if not empty, of quantities of these colours, but what's a few pennies for the lovebirds?
The first block was completed in good time. (Below  The block is on point. There are mock cream corners-this is where the hearts will appear.)
There is some time before I decide which newly married couple recieves this quilt. Logic would be chronological, first wed, first gifted. It may take a few more blocks before christening to the deserving couple. Ironically, we are on the the groom's side in each marriage, so grey is really appropriate.

Afterall, isn't red nothing more than a cliche for love?