Tuesday, September 28, 2010

He Shields My Way

At church on Sunday we sang one of my favorite songs, At the Cross by Hillsong. As always, I sobbed when we got to, "You tore the veil, you made a way, when you said that it is done." But this time another part touched me even more: "You go before me. You shield my way."

Immediately I flashed back to last Thursday, when I had a meltdown on the way to a hair appointment. If you've been reading my blog long, you're probably not surprised at the idea of me having a meltdown, but this one was different: I was all by myself!

As always, I had waited to the very last minute to leave, yet I wasn't worried since it was midday and the traffic should be light. But I knew I was in trouble before I even reached the freeway. Not only was the traffic creeping across the overpass, but even the access road was backed up. I sent up a silent prayer. "Please help me get through here, God." (Because I have a very, very important hair appointment.) I drummed my hands on the steering wheel. "Come on, come on, come on!" I muttered.

And then I remembered one of my memory passages: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." I said another prayer and asked God to help me have peace as there was nothing I could do about this snarled traffic. Taking deep breaths, I forced my shoulders down and away from my ears, willing the tension to drain away.

Eight agonizing minutes later, I saw the cause of the delay. A firetruck and an ambulance were blocking the right lane, and paramedics were working on a man on a gurney, down on the golf course to the right of the freeway. "Forgive me for my impatience, God," I prayed. "Please help that man!"

Back at 70 miles per hour, I figured I could still almost make it to my 2:00 appointment. At this rate, I'd probably be five minutes late. What I didn't include in my calculations was taking the wrong exit. It had been about three months since my last appointment, and I wasn't sure of the exit. One exit looked familiar, but I thought, "Not this one. I think it was one exit past this."

I took the next exit, and it felt familiar. I took a right on Harwood Road and started looking for the salon on the left. It wasn't there. Well, maybe it was a bit farther than I remembered. I drove on through about four more intersections, all red lights. When I reached the street where Bill had lived before we got married, I knew I'd gone too far. So I turned around and went through the same four red lights I'd just sat through. I drove two more intersections past that--all red--and decided I'd gone too far again.

By now it was 2:10, and I thought of calling the stylist, but then I remembered that I'd given my appointment card to the girl I met at Women of Faith. That was the reason that I'd forgotten to show up for my last appointment just two weeks before. Now Angela would think I was standing her up two times in a row! "I'll call Bill," I thought. "I'll have him look up the number on the Internet. Except I can't remember what the salon is called.... He'll find it." I reached for my phone. That's when I realized I had left it charging on the kitchen counter. Argh!!!

I made a screechy U-turn and sat through the same six red lights again. As I sat at one of the lights, I remembered a story Sheila Walsh had told at Women of Faith. She said she had missed a connecting flight once due to storm delays, and she had to wait through some long lines to get a ticket on another flight. She was terribly frustrated, wondering why she had to go through all this aggravation. While she was waiting in line, she noticed a man with his arm around his wife, and she wondered if the woman was sick. The man saw her and whispered something to his wife, who turned around and burst into tears when she recognized Sheila. It turned out that the couple was going through a very hard time, and they had needed to get away, but they were stuck in the same delays that Sheila was going through. The wife was distraught, and the man had been praying that God would show her some sign of his love for her. And then she saw Sheila, whom she absolutely loved because she'd heard her at numerous Women of Faith events. Could God have grounded all those planes just to encourage one woman? Sheila thought so. She encouraged us to slow down the next time we found ourselves in a frustrating delay, and to ask God if there is a reason He wants us in this place at this time.

"Okay, God," I said, still clutching the wheel with white knuckles. "What's the purpose in this delay? Why can't I find the salon? Is there something I'm supposed to do, someone who needs my help in some way?"

There was no answer. As I stomped the brake at the next red light, I went on, "Is there a REASON why I have to hit every light red? EVERY LIGHT?? Why can't I catch one green light, God? Am I not supposed to get my hair cut? Is that the reason?"

Due to my broken radio, the silence was heavy. At the next red light, I started to yell and pound the steering wheel. "Why, God? Why does every light have to be red? WHERE is the salon?"

When I came to Bill's old street again, I turned around and went through the red lights one more time. By now I was sobbing. It was 2:20. I decided to go farther this time as there was no way I could have passed the salon four times and not recognized it, even though I couldn't remember what it was called. One more intersection down, I found it.

Now 25 minutes late, I didn't even bother to clean up the tear stains, just rushed inside. "I'm here for Angela," I gasped to the bemused receptionist. Angela rounded the corner with a welcoming smile.

"I'm so sorry!" I began, spilling out the whole story between sobs. We figured out that I had taken the wrong exit, and I should have made a left onto Harwood instead of a right.

"It's okay!" she said, easing me into a chair for a lovely shampoo and scalp massage. "Just relax. A hair appointment isn't supposed to be stressful!"

On the way home, I couldn't even enjoy my gorgeous hair. "I'm so sorry!" I began. "I don't know what got into me, God. But I know the mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart, so I obviously need you to work on my heart."

I was reminded of Allyson's sleepy tantrum just that morning, when she wailed about one thing after another. Looking over her head, I had exchanged a knowing smile with Bill before I folded her in a hug and planted a kiss on her cheek. I felt that God was smiling in gentle amusement at me now, and kissing my cheek. I sighed in contentment and just rested in the assurance of his love.

I never did figure out why I had to endure such frustrating delays. No one burst into tears of joy at the sight of me, nor did I narrowly miss a catastrophe (to my knowledge, anyway). Maybe it was just a test that I failed miserably, but still I learned a valuable lesson.

During Sunday's worship service,  I had a shiver of recognition when I realized God was surely shielding my way last Thursday, and every other day. Though I can never know it, I feel sure he has spared me from so many calamities.

Have you ever had an experience when things worked out for the best in an unexpected way? A time when you saw God shielding your way, or a time when He used a difficult situation for someone's good? I'd love to hear your story.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So Bill Was Right

I have to admit that I wasn't so much on board with building the pool at first, just because it was such a HUGE purchase. Bill and I discussed it several times before making the decision to proceed, and I finally decided to defer to him since he felt so strongly that the pool would enrich our family time.

We've had it about three weeks now, and I can see now that Bill was right. The kids have been in the water nearly every evening, and we've had lots of friends and family over to help us enjoy it. It really has brought us all together, and it's even enticed Ethan and his friends away from the video games and out into the sunshine.

We actually had to wait a full week after they filled it in order for the chemicals to be adjusted, and that was torture as we were having a major heat wave. On Friday, September 3--a much cooler day, ironically--we finally took the plunge. Ethan's friend Tin captured it on video:

The next day, we had a Labor Day party with my family, and then another party with friends on the actual holiday. My sister Amy had brought a "pool warming" gift: a giant beach towel, some diving toys, kids' goggles (including a pink pair for Allyson!), and a yellow and purple dinosaur. Allyson had been begging for goggles and pool toys, but the budget was decimated after all the pool expenses, so Amy's thoughtfulness was such a blessing.

Much to Allyson's dismay, the dinosaur has been a favorite with both children and adults. On Labor Day, Bill and his friend Troy even had a jousting match on the dinosaur and a walrus toy that Troy had brought over. It was hilarious! The toys were so tippy that the guys could scarcely stay on even when they weren't bludgeoning each other with the foam noodles.

Bill and the Dinosaur Prevail

Watching Bill pitch in head first over and over, I laughed until I couldn't breathe. But then I gave it a try myself, and I hurtled over the dinosaur's head just as quickly. I was determined to ride that toy, and I finally did manage to stay on for 30 seconds or so. Allyson is the only one who can ride it with ease, probably because it was designed for a kid her size.

Now For the Big News
As you could see on the video, Allyson has learned to swim! She started out with her floaties, then swam holding onto Daddy's fingers. By last week, she was able to swim a couple of feet on her own. She did it over and over, gasping and flailing and scaring us to death. It reminded me of her determination to ride her bike a few months ago, the way she'd ride two feet and put her feet down.

She stayed at it, practicing every afternoon, and on Sunday she finally did it! She still scares me to death, but she's getting more and more proficient with each day of practice. Tonight she learned to touch the bottom (about a foot over her head) and kick herself back up. That's a skill we definitely want her to have.

I can't believe she's also diving already. That's our girl!

Ethan's Exploits
Allyson isn't the only one who scares me. Ethan's favorite pastime is strapping diving weights to his waist and crawling across the bottom of the pool. He's only 5-1/2 feet down, but it still makes me nervous!

I'm so glad I let Bill convince me to buy the pool. I know we'll be enjoying it for years to come.

Note: You have to be on my blog site to play the video. If you're reading this on Facebook, or through an email, you can view the video by clicking the link to the original post.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Everything to Offer

Last Tuesday was the first night of my new ladies' Bible study, an intensive study of John's gospel. I've been looking forward to it for weeks, and especially to studying chapter 1. As you may recall, I had such an amazing revelation about that chapter during my last Bible study--about Jesus and the Word being one, and about how that Word is the same power that created the universe.

So far, the study is living up to and even exceeding my expectations. Last night Bill had a hockey game, and after I'd tucked Allyson in I had the house to myself for awhile. As I sat on the floor of the TV room and worked on my homework, the Word again came alive to me. This time what moved me most was the account of the first disciples meeting Jesus (John 1:35-51). I was struck by how He called them by name and said, "Come.... Follow me." And they did exactly that. They dropped everything and followed Him. The other thing that they did was to tell others about him. I loved Philip's words: "Come and see."

I tried to imagine what it must have been like to see and recognize the Messiah in the flesh. There in the quiet of the night, I felt that Jesus was calling me by name, saying "Come and see! Follow me."

One of the study questions asked me to mark my spiritual progress on this continuum:

I decided that I am just to the right of "trust." I definitely recognize Jesus as the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Over the past few years, I've learned to trust Him like never before. But I don't think I've truly followed Him--followed Him out of my safe, comfy life and into the plan that He has for me.

I knelt there, with my forehead on the carpet, and professed my faith to Jesus. "I want to follow you!" I prayed. "Please make me strong enough and teach me to hear your voice so I can obey. Help me to let go of everything that stands between you and me. And show me the opportunities you're giving me to tell others about you, to urge them to come and see."

I immediately thought about my upcoming shift in the prayer room this morning. What a great place to share the Good News with hurting people!  I prayed then that God would prepare me for whatever needs I would encounter.

I prayed that again over breakfast, and again in the car on the way to church. When I got to church, I went straight to the prayer room, where I hoped to spend some time alone with God before the first service ended. I was disappointed to discover that the room was in use and that I'd have to wait in the volunteer check-in room instead. Now I know God is everywhere, and I can pray anywhere, but there's just something so soothing about that prayer room. Plus, I really wanted to be alone. I tried to pray in the other room, but too many people were coming and going, and I found myself feeling anxious and unprepared for the task ahead.

I lurked outside the prayer room door until everyone filed out, and then I hurried in to enjoy that last five minutes of solitude. I sank thankfully into a plush chair and started talking to God. "Why do I feel this anxiety in my chest? I know you are with me, but why do I feel afraid? I've got nothing, God. I need you to give me the strength to pray with whoever needs encouragement today. Help me to rest in you. Let your peace rest on me now."

Breathing deeply, I was just starting to relax when one of the other volunteers walked in and asked how I was doing. I groaned inwardly. The last thing I wanted to do was talk to someone. I needed to steep myself in prayer!

I decided to tell the truth. "I'm doing okay, but today I'm feeling anxious, as if there's going to be a really big prayer request and I won't know how to respond. Today is just one of those days when I wonder why I'm here. I wonder what made me think I was right for this job."

"Why do you say that?" he asked.

"Well, it's just that... I don't know. There are some people who have a gift of prayer, of faith, and they pray with authority. I don't think I really have that."

"I think you're very good at praying with people," he said.

"It's because the Holy Spirit reminds me of scriptures, and I just pray them out loud," I explained. "That's His job, you know: to remind us of everything Jesus taught us."

"So why do you feel like you're not right for this job?"

"Well, I usually get so nervous. I don't know who will come in or what requests they'll have. Sometimes people have such serious requests, and I feel like saying, 'Oh my gosh! What are you going to do??'" I put a hand on each of my cheeks, my eyes open wide in a pantomime of shock.

We both laughed out loud, and he said he understood how I felt. Just then, the other volunteer for the day came in. At his quizzical look, I repeated what I'd said about my reaction to some requests. The three of us laughed together, and I concluded, "But God always gives us the words, doesn't He?"

The tears of laughter were still in my eyes when the first man came in. Sure enough, his request was A Big One, but I felt perfectly calm. One of my memory passages came to me right away, and I prayed part of it over him. But then I began to pray some things that I hadn't planned to say at all, and I felt that trembling that gives me a compelling sense of urgency and yet total calm at the same time. I thought of a scripture I'd recalled during my Bible study homework the night before, and I also remembered a couple of Psalms that seemed to apply.

I'm not sure exactly which part of the prayer moved him, but when I said amen, the man grabbed me by the shoulders and kissed my cheek! "Wow!" he said. "That was amazing. That was exactly what I needed to hear."

Tears filled my eyes, and I pulled him into a hug. I went into the second service rejoicing, and every worship song held a special meaning. When we sang about soaring on wings as eagles, I really felt that I was flying. To quote the man in the prayer room: "Wow!"

It wasn't until later in the day that I really grasped how God had answered my prayer in such a delightful and unexpected way. What I'd wanted was to be alone so I could prepare myself, but instead he sent a friend to make me laugh. All of my anxiety melted away in just a moment of laughter, and I was covered in peace just as I'd asked. And though in my own eyes that first request was huge, to God it was nothing. I didn't have to feel ready; I just had to be obedient and make myself available.

This afternoon I spent a couple of hours with my sister Amy while Bill and the kids were at the baseball game, and we had a good talk about it. I told her how I feel I'm not gifted in the area of faith, and how I think that's more of her gift. "I think my gift is encouragement," I said.

Amy reminded me about the church being a body that's made up of many parts, with every part being essential. "God doesn't need a person with lots of faith--he needs someone who is available. That's you. You're there, and you're being obedient, and God can use the gifts he gave you." That was the second time in two days that someone had reminded me about the body having many parts, and I've decided to take that to heart.

I'm going to stop deciding what I think I'm good at and focus instead on being obedient. It's not about me anyway. I really don't have anything to offer anyone. But God... God has everything to offer.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is There Anything That Man Can't Do?

Even after ten years together, Bill continues to surprise me with the things he's able to do. I vividly remember the first time he took on a handyman task. It was after he'd moved down to Texas but before we got married.  One of the many aggravations he had to deal with every weekend as he tried to bring life to the dead dust bowl in my backyard was a broken faucet under the kitchen window. I can't remember what was wrong with it, but I seem to recall that he had to use pliers to turn it on. I heard him cuss for the first time on the evening that the pipe snapped.

"Don't worry. I can fix it," he assured me as I stood behind him, wringing my hands.

"Have you ever fixed a pipe before?" I asked, eyebrows raised.

"No, but I know I can figure it out."


"Hush, woman. I need to get a blow torch."

I followed on his heels as he gathered the blow torch and whatever tools he thought he'd need. When he knelt in front of the pipe and got ready to do some welding, I said in a tiny voice, "Are you sure you don't want me to call a plumber?"

Bill glowered at me. "I said I can fix it."

And he did. I think it took two tries because it was still seeping after his first attempt, but he did fix that pipe. Since then, I've never dared to suggest calling a professional for anything. No matter what it is, Bill can figure it out:
  • Laying tile? Piece of cake.
  • Hanging wallpaper border? Not a problem. 
  • Designing and hanging a tile backsplash? Easy. 
  • Faux finish? Fun! 

  • Fixing the icemaker? $28.00. 
  • Changing my alternator? A Sunday afternoon.
  • Removing wallpaper and texturing the kitchen walls? No, better call a professional....  The professional did a sloppy job, so when it came time to texture the bathroom, Bill bought a hopper from Home Depot and applied that texture impeccably. It looked better than the "professional" job at a fraction of the cost.
Each time I watch Bill research something on the Internet and then flawlessly carry out the instructions, I admire him just a little bit more. But when it comes to showing off his bigger home improvement tasks to family and friends, my pride really swells. There's the shed that he designed and built with his own hands....

...and the patio extension, complete with slate tiles and a cedar pergola.

It was fun watching Bill mark out the curves using a big string, kind of like a human protractor. He built the wooden forms and then, with a little help from family and friends (and a big cement truck that he hired), he poured that deck.

But That's Not All! 
Not only does Bill excel at manly tasks like fixing and building things, he is also quite talented at... well, things that you might consider more feminine. Like braiding Allyson's hair--better than I can. He hasn't learned the French braid yet, but I'm sure he will when he sets his mind to it.

And then there was the pie crust. Last December, he announced that he'd found a great apple pie recipe that he wanted to make for Christmas dinner. "Honey, have you ever made a pie crust?" I asked.

"No, but how hard can it be? Have you made one?"

"No, but I've heard it's really tricky," I replied.  "I don't think you can just whip out a pie crust. You have to keep working at it until you get it right. You'll probably mess it up the first few times."

"So I'll make a practice crust tonight," he said.

With that, he got together the flour, ice-cold butter, and ice water, and drug out the big KitchenAid mixer (my favorite Christmas gift ever). I stood by and smirked while he and Allyson measured out the flour and butter and pulsed it in the mixer bowl.

But I had to eat my words--along with a big hunk of pie--when I saw his pie. It was PERFECT!

He made another pie for our Christmas dinner, and it was so good that it even enticed my dad, who was still recovering from an esophagectomy and had very little appetite, to take a second piece.

So why am I telling you about all of this now? Because Bill just surprised me again. Allyson's bangs had been getting longer and longer and were starting to really annoy her. As I mentioned in my last post, we've just started on a new  budget, and I hated to pay $15 to take her for a haircut.

One of my friends suggested cutting her bangs myself, but I had visions of a zig-zaggy line such as I've seen on other children whose mothers take the scissors into their own hands. I told Bill that I wanted to cut her bangs, but that I was afraid. "You should cut them," I said. "You can do anything else you set your mind to, so why not cut bangs?"

I was sort of joking, but he said mildly, "Yeah, I probably could."

So the next night (this past Tuesday), he sprayed down her bangs, combed them out straight, and then pinched them between his thumb and forefinger. I stood by with trembling hands, offering compulsive, unsolicited advice. "Cut them longer than you want them. That way we can take her to the salon if they get messed up.... Hold the piece you've already cut as a guide.... Careful! Not too short!... Oh, there's a long piece."

Two minutes later, her bangs hung in a perfectly straight line just above her eyebrows. They looked at least as good as they did after her last haircut. See?

I couldn't get her to stop pushing her bangs to the side, a habit she developed because they were constantly in her eyes, but hopefully you can see what a great job Bill did.

Yep, it's official. There really isn't anything that man can't do. Maybe I can even convince him to sew me some pads! Nah, because he knows I would blog about it. But I bet he could!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cake!...And Pads

Okay, so I initially promised Bill that I wouldn't blog about this experience, but how could I not?? I've had so much fun and laughed so hard that I just had to share. Guys, I'll give you the same warning I gave you the last time I wrote about pads: feel free to bail out at any time.

A couple of years ago, while I was researching the benefits of cloth diapers, I stumbled across something online that made me laugh until I cried. It was positively ludicrous, and I couldn't believe these people were for real. They were selling.... reusable menstrual pads! I thought the whole idea was so hilarious that I printed out some information on it and mailed it to a friend as a joke.

I did decide to try the cloth diapers, though, and absolutely loved them. They were so comfy and soft and cute, and they saved us tons of money. Also, all of Allyson's battles with diaper rash ended abruptly when we put her in cloth diapers. I was surprised to find that washing the diapers was really no big deal. I just soaked them in the washer, ran them through a cycle, and then fluffed them in the dryer for a few minutes. And then came the part I loved for some reason: hanging them out on the line to dry. I loved seeing those pretty colors flapping in the wind, and every time I did a load of diapers I felt so happy about doing a little something for the environment.

But I didn't think about the cloth pads again until I stumbled across them again last week. Bill and I had just started on a budget plan, and suddenly the idea of saving some money every month caused me to take a closer look. The pads looked so incredibly soft, made from soft flannel and fleece. So much nicer than paper! I spent a couple of hours online reading about other women's experiences.  Over and over, I read, "Once you try them you'll never go back to disposables" (which was exactly how I felt once we switched to cloth diapers).

So, I was convinced. There was only one problem: our new budget. The pads ranged in price from about $10 to over $20 each. I was sorely tempted to just order them on my credit card and deal with the bill later, but I'd made a promise to myself and even to God that I would stop making impulse buys--no matter how desperately I might think I needed something.

The next morning, this past Wednesday, we met Gentle, Liam, and Grace for a playdate at McDonald's. While our kids played, I told Gentle, "I just have to tell you about my latest temptation to make an impulse buy. You're not going to BELIEVE what I wanted to buy...."

Her eyes wide with shock, Gentle sputtered, "Sarah, that's crazy!!"

"But you just have to see them!" I persisted. "They look so... comfortable!" I went on to explain that I'd found some patterns that I hoped my mother would be able to make for me. "If only I could sew," I said.

I actually saw the light bulb go on in Gentle's brain. After a moment's silence, she said, "I know how to sew. And this might not be such a bad idea."

I knew she was hooked! One of the things I love about Gentle is that she excels at craftsy projects, and she's so creative and talented with making things. Once I'd planted the idea in her head, she was helpless to resist the challenge. Before we left, I agreed to email her a few links for pad patterns.

By bedtime, she had emailed a link of her own and a picture of some patterns she wanted to try. I replied, "I'm so tickled that you're on board with me on this. AND EVEN MORE EXCITED THAT YOU CAN SEW! You're probably the only girl I know that would be game to try something so off the wall. I'm excited too! Maybe we could arrange an outing to the fabric store tomorrow! You know, things like these are urgent. Just can't wait too long. ;-)"

Now Gentle is a very busy mom of a toddler and a preschooler, and she's also very organized. So I figured there was no way she'd be able to head to the fabric store on such short notice. But she was fired up! She called me on Thursday morning to arrange our shopping trip for that afternoon. Her husband was home with the kids, so it was just her, me, and Allyson.

We walked all over the store looking for 100% cotton batting (quilt stuffing), poly fleece, and a waterproof fabric called PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric). Several times we had to ask for help, and we were very evasive. Yes, the batting had to be 100% cotton, we said. One sales clerk surmised, "Oh, you must be wanting to make something organic. Here's what you're looking for. A lady came in the other day looking for 100% cotton batting, and she was making a cover for her coffee pot. Are you doing something like that?"

"Yes, organic is good," I replied, avoiding eye contact. "Thank you so much."

Next we tried to find the PUL, but as we weren't even sure what it looked like, we were soon asking for help again. We asked a different employee this time, and her answer was, "What?"

"P.U.L.," I said.

"Or maybe it's 'pull'," Gentle said.

The lady gave us a blank stare. "It's a waterproof fabric," I explained.

A couple of customers who were passing by jumped into the conversation. "Oh, you mean that stuff you make raincoats with," one said. "It's up front," the other gestured, pointing the way. "They call it pleather," the second lady added.

As soon as our backs were turned, I whispered, "Yes, that's it. We're making pleather raincoats." And I giggled at the idea of wearing a pad made of pleather. Gentle stared straight ahead and walked purposefully behind the clerk.

When we got to the right aisle, the clerk still wasn't sure which fabric was the PUL. She showed us rip-stop canvas, which would probably be waterproof, but also rather noisy. Gentle tried to give a bit more detail without being too specific. "You know how you can make a purse with a window for a photo on it? And you can throw the purse in the wash? We're looking for something flexible and light and washable."

"Oh," the lady said. "I think we have something like that back here."

We trailed behind her, and though I avoided Gentle's eyes, I still couldn't stop snickering. She showed us something that looked like clear see-through red plastic. "It's not too clear, though," she said apologetically.

"Oh, it doesn't necessarily have to be clear," Gentle said, and the poor clerk looked extremely confused. So we were making a photo purse but we didn't care if the photo window was transparent??

"We'll just keep looking around," Gentle said.

Back at the rip-stop canvas aisle, I discovered a tiny label on one of the bolts of pleather, which came in an array of pretty colors. "Look! It says PUL!" I said. But then I read the care instructions: wipe with a damp cloth. "Maybe it's not washable," I said, crestfallen.

While we hemmed and hawed, yet another saleslady came along. Without consulting Gentle, I took matters into my own hands. It was time for a more direct approach. "Excuse me," I said, leaning in close and cupping my hand around my mouth. I could feel my face burning, and I could barely speak around the laughter that spilled out. "We're making.... p-pads!"

"Oohh," the lady said.

"And we need something called PUL. That's PUL over there, but we need to know, is it washable?"

"Oh, yes! Lots of women buy that for cloth diapers. So it has to be washable." She smiled encouragingly. "What a great idea. If you're ever back in the store, you'll have to tell me how it goes!" 

At last, we carried our 100% cotton batting, pale pink PUL, and fuchsia poly fleece to the fabric counter. Thankfully, the woman who cut the cloth showed no interest in our matching fabrics. The lady at the checkout, however, was a little more nosy.

"What craft project are you girls making?" she asked cheerily. I was tempted to say, "Raincoats," but Gentle answered first. "Just some crazy stuff." She finished in a voice that was barely over a whisper. "It's too embarrassing." I wonder what that lady's imagination came up with. She must have thought we were a couple of kooks. (We are, I know!)

I had a feeling that Gentle would be up all night making a prototype, and she probably was. On Friday she sent a series of photos documenting her progress.

Layers for Main Pad

Layers for Insert

Man, I wish I could sew!

So yesterday we had our first pool party (more on that later). After everyone else had left, I had to tell my sister Emily all about our scheme. Her initial reaction was the same as Gentle's had been. "So Gentle wants to make menstrual pads?" she repeated.

"Well, it was actually my idea," I clarified. "But she's on board with it!"

"So you're the mastermind."

Bill rolled his eyes. "I don't know if mastermind is the right word."

"I just couldn't deal with it," Emily said. 

Her husband Paul shocked me by saying, "Hey, why not? It's no different than cloth diapers."

"Exactly!" I agreed.

"I couldn't deal with cloth diapers either," she said.

"Yes, but you never tried them," I reminded her.

I kept extolling the virtues of cloth pads--which I've yet to try, mind you--until I'd almost won her over.

"If Gentle can sew so well, she should start her own business," Paul said.

"Yes, maybe she should!" I agreed.

Emily told me then that she plans to take some cake decorating classes, and then she wants to start her own business.

"You could start a business together," Paul said.

"A sisters' business! And I know just the name for it." I said, laughing until tears rolled down my cheeks. "We'll call it Cake!... And Pads."

I'm not sure anyone else thought it was so amusing. I'm sure Bill was trying to avoid encouraging me. But I was still laughing as we walked them out into the cool night air. "Remember, Cake!... And Pads."

Paul said we should get a business plan together.

I emailed Emily the pictures, and she really liked the design. "Paul says you should definitely market these," she said. And she hasn't even gotten to feel the cushy softness yet. Today I went over to Gentle's and caressed the prototypes. I can't wait to try them out!
Liner and Insert

And then there are the circle pads. Aren't they cute?

Okay, enough about pads already. But seriously... want to buy some?


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