Monday, March 30, 2009

"Sew" Fun!

Oh yes, oh yes! I had a "girls day out" with my friend Lori, a really talented quilter, much to Dale's chagrin. I have been searching for a pattern that struck my fancy and was doable in the amount of time between now and my niece's wedding in July. Many patterns were pretty, and fun, or quick.. but they were TOO simplistic, or TOO involved, or would take too much quilting, or.. or.. or... I really wasn't trying to be picky, but I wanted something quick and easy, and something I can machine quilt FAST! I also decided I wanted to step outside my comfort zone as far as what types of colors and fabrics I pick. My friend Lori has a wonderful sense of style and taste and leans towards more contemporary quilts. She graciously let me browse through some of her wonderful books Friday while she was here for tea. I actually found the pattern. You know how it is... a certain pattern or fabric just sticks in your imagination like glue, and you just HAVE to do something about it. Here is the pattern I chose:

Sorry about the flash in it, but you get the idea. I'm going to make a throw quilt instead of a queen sized. That way my niece and her hubby can have a comfy cozy cuddle up and read, play a game, or watch a movie type of quilt. If she doesn't like the colors, then it won't be taking over their bedroom. LOL

I am making some changes though. The pattern makes a 49" by 49" and I decided to add a couple rows to it so it will be a bigger cuddle quilt. That sent my friend and I on a math quest that would give my daughter Esther a major headache. We figured about 1/3 or a little more added to each amount. Also, if you see in the pic, the pinks are actually scraps. I am doing all one fabric for the pinks.

Speaking of fabric, we drove an hour to a really nice rag shop (that's New Englandese for fabric store) that sells wonderful fabric. You would normally pay $9 or $10 per yard for the quality I bought for $5 or $6 a yard. The fabric at JoAnn's would do in a pinch, but this is what I call a "high holy" quilt... it is for a wedding gift, after all, and I want it to be quality-made so it will last. Dale did reluctantly agree. I don't think he really knew what I was talking about but figured it was easier to trust me than to send me into a litany of what different fabrics are like and why and how come the better quality is necessary for this gift. He would have glazed over long before I made my point.

Oh, I got to drive the big van for the first time too! It drives very much like the SUV did, just longer. It was also a gorgeous spring day, and I had Isaac and the twins with us. Anyway, here is a pic of the fabric:

No muted tones for this quilt! These fabrics are Batiks. I've never used them before, but I can tell just from handling the fabric it is going to be heavenly using such luscious fabric. Picture the quilt like this... the muslin (which was $5 a yard for 90" wide.. the deal of the day, IMO.) will be the backing, the marbley fabric for wherever you see pink, and the deep, rich, indigo for wherever you see blue in the pattern, and the white with the subtle marble in it is the background.

This can very easily be rotary cut and assembly lined pieced. It is two simple blocks put together, the Shoo Fly, and Ohio Star. I am sure I will have leftover fabric too, isn't that a pity?

I also got some Tropical Breeze and a knit for two more nursing tops for this summer. That was on sale for $3 per yard, which is pretty good.

We went out for a late lunch/early supper after the shopping was done. I can't wait to get the fabric prepped and start working on that quilt! Before I do that I have a few necessities for the girls to do first. That quilt will be my reward for keeping up with the spring/summer sewing list.

And who can resist a wicked cute pic of a laughing baby? (By the way, he had the typical male reaction to being a fabric store. He was tired and cranky until he was able to fall asleep! He slept in the sling after that until we were ready to go, but my, what a mouth full of cry while I was choosing fabric! It's a good thing Lori was there to help me.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Greetings Comrades!

My dh has been doing this tongue-in-cheeck greeting since Obama was elected. Honestly, with the law about not being allowed to sell used children's clothing, the law against home gardening and now this... it is called the Congressional Commission on Civil Service Act. It is really just a socialist plan to FORCE people to volunteer time in working for free for others. Just another precarious step towards socialism.

One of the scary things about these bills and laws and whatnot is that they are being flown in under the publics radar. By the time we find out it is too late to do anything preventative.

I can't help but wonder what the not so distant future holds for homeschooling, or even church attending....

Here is the link for the law:
Congressional Commission on Civil Service Act

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Speech Therapy

One of the things that makes raising children is "training" aspect. It isn't just the parents' responsibility to feed and clothe and provide shelter. Parents wear many hats. As a mom, I can say that can leave a body feeling frazzled and brain dead by the end of the day. In the course of a day I may wear the hats for teacher, chief cook and bottle washer, launderer, tailor, seamstress, nurse, chef, secretary... the list goes on and on. Just depends on what the day brings.

In the midst of all the physical stuff like homeschooling and chores, there is also a nice category called "character training". This area is not as clear cut as the physical. It is more abstract. For example, training children to have a joyful attitude when doing a chore they don't like. Or training them to have and USE their manners.

Recently I have been meditating on speech. It started with me noticing how the children talk to each other. I would like to say my sweet little cherubs always speak to each other with grace and kindness. However, then I would be speaking with a forked tongue. We have the typical squabbles and "Hey gimme that" or the whining hollering of a siblings name, and placing two syllables where there should only be one.

What is with that anyway? Does adding that extra syllable add more forcefulness to their complaint or what?

I was scolding them for talking short to each other. Then one day I realized that maybe I wasn't being the example I should be as the parent.
"Don't do that."
"Do NOT run in the house!"
"If you hit her again you'll be disciplined!"
"What? Not now, can't you see I'm busy?"

Ouch. The Lord showed me that my speech needs to improve as well. There is a time and a place for sharpness and raised voices. In times of danger, for example. If one of my children are running out into the road, you bet I'm going to do a good fishwife holler at them. But most times, I have found, my voice could be modified a great deal. "No" can be said, and said kindly. Not in an irritated-I-didn't-get-enough-sleep-last-night-and-haven't-had-coffee-yet type of way. Or if they are hovering in my "personal space" when I am holding Isaac, I don't have to say "Back off, would ya? Give him some air!" I could ratchet that down to be more pleasant.

Another area I am trying to work on is the yelling. Not necessarily yelling in anger, I mean the general volume of the house. It is easy to slip into the yelling for someone in a small house. But then the children get the idea that loud voices are acceptable inside. So, instead of "Oh Elizabeth! Could you come here please???" I send someone with a message that I would like to see her. Or if there is fussing down the hall in the boys room, for example, I try not to holler "Hey, what is going on down there!" but go and SEE for myself. I have found you get a lot more information that way when you sneak up on them. Or, if I am nursing Isaac I will send one of the children who are behaving to tell the offending party or parties that Mama would like to see them, please. I and tell the messenger to give the message politely, not: "Hey, Mama wants to see you NOW!" with a vicious sound in their voice.

Back in February I read the following devotional and have been thinking about it since.

The Christians Speech

"Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." (Colossians 4:6)

A Christian's words are of transcendent importance, for Jesus has said: "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36). The word "answer" in the text above means more than simply an answer to a question. The Greek word is used 250 times in the New Testament, and in ever other instance, it is used in a simple narrative sense (such as, "he answered saying"). Thus it refers to ordinary conversation, indicating that every verbal response of a Christian should be gracious and tasteful- never crude, or hurtful, or bland.

The Scriptures include many other specifications for a Christian's speech. In the first place, there should not be too much of it! "Study to be quiet, and to do your own business" (1 Thessalonians 4:11). Our words should be carefully chosen, able to be substantiated - "sound speech, that cannot be condemned" (Titus 2:8). People should be able to rely on the truth of what we say. "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour" (Ephesians 4:25). Furthermore, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29). "But who ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth" (Colossians 3:8). Our words should always be edifying and helpful, wholesome and thoughtful.

But if this seems humanly impossible, remember God is able to tame our tongues, even though we cannot! The key is prayer - earnest and consistant prayer - not just that our speech become innocuous, but that it may edify, testify, and minister grace.
~Days of Praise, February 7, 2009, written by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D.

There are many verses that talk about our speech, our tongue and the uses and consequences of that one unruly member of our anatomy. A few weeks after reading the above devotional, a verse in Proverbs was talked about and the two devotionals dovetailed in my mind.

"She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her." ~Proverbs 3:18.

The writer of Provers used this tree of life and its health-giving qualities as a symbol of four attributes of a God centered, spiritual life which can bring blessing to all those touched by it.
1. True wisdom is like a tree of life, imparting true happiness to all those partaking of it, then guarding it.
2. "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise" (Proverbs 11:30). A life showing sincere and genuine righteousness, like one showing godly wisdom, with bring forth wholesome fruit to those in real contact with it.
3. "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; but when the desire cometh, it a tree of life" (Proverbs 13:12). I think of that verse all the time when I am holding Isaac. Those of you who know what we have been through in the last couple years will understand that application.
4. And here is the one that got me.... "a wholesome tongue is a tree of life"(Proverbs 15:4). If we use our tongue to make speech that is God-honoring, not complaining or criticizing, or being crude or foolish, it can be a tree of life to the hearer.

Something I have noticed... when I control my speech, I feel much more at peace. For example, you Mamas who are reading this. Have you ever "lost it" with your children? I mean, flying of the handle, yelling, type of "loosing it"? Well, I have. I'll raise my hand. You know what I discovered? All the energy expended to do the yelling doesn't help a thing. All it does it make me feel terrible on the inside, and it certainly doesn't change the circumstances that brought on the flying off the handle. But when I control my voice, and even if I have to speak sternly, not necessarily loudly, I feel much more at peace on the inside. Of course, then you have to make sure the law you lay down is reinforced, but that is a different post altogether.

Being a good example in controlling my speech has helped in my endeavor in training my children. No, we don't have it all perfect yet, that is for sure. But I am working on it, and though I try to control my voice, as an example, I do spend time trying to point out to the children how they can ask more nicely for a toy or a book from a sibling, or request more nicely that a sibling doesn't sit in their spot when they have to get up to go potty during a movie, or if they have a problem with a sibling how to take care of it in a more tactful and graceful way. Have we perfected this yet? Well, we are working on it.

Have a blessed day, with speech seasoned with grace!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sewing List Interlude

I got started on a couple dresses for the twins, then was approached by my friend Amy, (you know, the one whose driveway I got mucked down in) whose children are in private Christian school. Her only dd is about 10, and is very very tall and skinny. Her uniform jumper is about to her knees, and she is quickly outgrowing it. Amy has a great deal of trouble finding dresses or jumpers that fit and are modest, so she asked me with a little desperation in her voice, if I could PLEASE make her dd two uniform jumpers if she brought me the fabric. She wanted them the same style as the previous one I made her, a simple slip over the head, A-line skirt, lined-bodice style. Well, okay then! Those are quick and easy.

Last friday we had them over for "tea time" and I literally spelled out what Amy should be looking for at JoAnn's. Now you have to understand Amy has absolutely NO CLUE as to any of this sewing stuff. I think she is even less knowledgeable than my mom. :P The following Saturday morning we traded off piano lessons for math tutoring, and she had th fabric... and a headache. LOL.

After lunch when things settled down I cut out the jumpers and started sewing. Then we had the usual get ready for supper and church the next day evening routines. Sunday hit, and we had company and it being the Lord's Day, I don't usually sew anyway.

Monday I had the normal organizational routines down by lunchtime, and after a little nap with Isaac I did some more sewing. I had forgotten we had our Fibers of Faith monthly meeting when I first told Amy I would have the jumpers done by Tuesday, when she came here to tutor Esther. So, I lost a couple hours but that was okay. We had a very productive meeting, and I actually got a good chunk of time to knit!

Monday evening we had about a half an hour of family music practice for the missions conference, then family devotions, kids to bed, and I sewed like crazy until Isaac needed me. Then I sewed a little more... then crashed for the night.

This morning I was up early with Isaac, did my Bible reading then hit the sewing again. I delegated everything but diaper changing and feeding the baby to everyone else, and got the jumpers done at 10:25 am. Amy was due to come around 10:30. She was thrilled with them! Whew!

Back to my regularly scheduled sewing... which I was planning on tackling this afternoon, but Isaac fell asleep in the sling, then in the swing, which is right next to the sewing machine, so I put together the chicken enchiladas for supper and knitted for a while. I am making a lap robe out of a basketweave stitch. I am finally really enjoying knitting and getting much more relaxed with it.

Anyhoo... here is a pic of the jumpers. Amy picked a navy blue Kona cotton. The fabric was great to work on. Kona usually is!

Eventually I get back to the girls dresses... Isaac needs to be changed and fed, then I'll be going for a nice walk in this gorgeous weather! There is always this evening.. maybe!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring has Sprung!

Oh yes! We have finally some signs of spring. One sign is that we have officially entered what I call "mud season". ACK! I'll be glad when things dry out a bit and shoes and coats aren't so muddy.

Here is another sure sign of spring... crocuses!

After looking carefully at our lilac bushes I found the beginnings of the first buds:

Another sure sign is laundry hanging outside again! Yay! Not that I can do it everyday, but right now I will settle for the fresh outdoorsy scent on our sheets and pillowcases.

Last Friday we had a movie night. Note the popcorn containers... the big one we usually fill twice. Our family can eat popcorn to the size of the container, no matter how big it is!

Just can't resist a smiley pic of Isaac here. He is going through a phase where he smiles, giggles and squirms in delight when looking at our ceiling fans or the chandelier over the kitchen table. It is so funny to watch, and I always laugh when I see him doing it!

As spring is "sprunging" here, I am looking around making a mental note of what needs to be done. The garden needs to be fertilized, and the yards picked up of some debri... broken toys and leftovers from the furniture breaking-up we did last fall when we got the new-to-us loveseat and chairs for the rec. area in the basement.

As far as the house goes, I will be working on sewing for a bit, then we'll tackle some spring cleaning later in April. I cannot wait to plant the garden! We'll be starting with potatoes and peas, then later in May we'll do some green beans, corn, spinach, and squash of some sort. I'll be tidying up Aaron's memorial garden as well, and we usually do the flowers along the walkway at church, and the flower boxes outside the church. And then, of course, is our annual End of the year school stuff and birthday bash in May. Family members... I'll be contacting you about that soon!

Always lots to do, and lots to plan... of course, snuggling Isaac is still my priority around here. So, how much actually gets done is yet to be seen! :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Blessed Distractions

Caught in the act! Yes, that's right. I caught Isaac red- handed.
"Stick them up, kiddo! You're being arrested for misappropriation of nap time!"

I have this growth on my neck.

This is what I was doing yesterday afternoon instead of sewing. Pity, isn't it?

Actually, while Isaac is asleep in the sling, I can knit. But who wants to knit when you can kiss and smell and cuddle a baby?

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Recent Buzz at the Hive

The last several days have been a whirlwind of activity.. seems to be our constant state of being. It is just that season of life where our days are busy, even on days when we are relaxing.

Last Wednesday we went to the Science Center. We have been wanting to go for a while, and haven't been since... oohhh, I think last Octoberish? Yikes! Anyway, we just packed lunch and took off for the day. We got back in time to get ready for church. It was a busy day, and both Isaac and I were worn out! Here are some pics:

Thursday my mom came out for the weekend, which was a nice change in routine! I had a picture of her with Isaac but she threatened me as only a mother can if I posted it here on the blog. I don't know what her problem was.. I thought they were precious together!

Friday Dale went back to work and we did some tying up of loose ends for the school week and just enjoyed visiting in general. One of the loose ends was finishing up our Ancient Egypt lap book study. Whew! We started that in January and JUST finished it. Here are some pics of some coloring, pyramid, sarcphogus, and canopic jar crafts, and of course, the lapbooks.

Here are a few of the many, many links that I had bookmarked for the Ancient Egypt unit study that we enjoyed:

Nova Lost Empires

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt for Kids

Discover Kids: Tutenstein

Free Ancient Egypt Lapbook Printables

Cat of Bubastes by G.A. Henty free online

There are oodles and oodles of sites to explore! The problem was picking and choosing what to do. TONS of crafts, activities, etc. They even tried making a pyramid out of snow at one point and wrote in heiroglypics and learned all about the process of mummification. BTW.. a note to the faint of heart, or have low gastrointestinal fortitude, the mummification process is NOT a good topic at the dinner table. Ask me how I know.

Saturday we all piled into our new-to-us 15 passenger van and headed out to Bonch o appuls (Barnes and Noble in Jerusha language). Oooh, that was so fun! The kids had some gift cards they hadn't used up and each got a little treat. I hit the bargain tables and also found some books to go with our next unit study on Patriot's Day, or the Revolutionary war. All in the name of "investment" of our children's education, of course. ;)

We got back in time for a late lunch, and then I made a casserole to bring to a friend who just miscarried and had to have a D&C. I learned a lesson. The Astro van is NOT appropriate for off-road four wheeling in the mud. Ugh. Her driveway was as muddy as ours. And on an incline. I tried to K turn, but my front tires ended up off the driveway and in the yard and sunk out of site. I thought I could "gun it" and go down and hop back on the driveway at the bottom. Nuthin' doin. I got stuck in the mire and ended up having to call Dale. He and Benjamin came to my rescue with the big van, thinking he could tow me out if necessary. What we ended up doing was basically pushing the van out. Dale would throw the Astro into reverse, and Benjamin and I would push on the front. Then he would put it in drive, and we'd push from the back. After many minutes of this, we finally got the van out, but not before I got splattered from head to toe with MUD and MUCK from the rear tire. My guys thought that was hilarious. I rushed home to clean up, sure Isaac was crying himself inside out, and my mom had long since gone deaf.

I got a quick shower and fed Isaac (who was just barely starting to lose it) and Dale and Benjamin tried to flatten the most of the ruts in the yard. He then went to the door to appologize for my tearing up their yard. My friend Amy, was astonished because she had no idea that I was even stuck, and said not to worry about the yard. Apparently they drive over it all the time, but have sense enough to wait until the mud dries up.

Sunday was a blessed day of rest, and today marked the beginning of the first full work with Dale back at work. My day started at 5:45a.m. with Isaac up and then NOT going back to sleep until it was too late for me to join him. It has been a busy day of orginization for the week, laundry, and orchestrating music practicing, and of course snuggling with Isaac. I hate to say it, but I am pooped! I got very used to Dale being here as an extra set of eyes and hands. I am so spoiled! I have to readjust to flying solo during the day again.

A Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY: March 9th, 2009)...

Outside my window...It is a very gray and VERY rainy day.. maybe we should build and arc for schoolwork! :)

I am thinking... that it is going to be a very busy day with Dh back to work after a month off.

I am thankful for... The time we had with dh over the last month and for the unexpected visit from my mom this weekend.

From the learning rooms... We are starting a new unit study on Patriots Day

From the kitchen... Bread raising to be baked, and I need to take some venison out of the freezer for the crock pot tomorrow.

I am wearing... My brown 3 tiered skirt, and a nursing shirt with cows on it. Hardy har har.

I am creating... dresses for the girls, and working on some hand quilting and knitting when I have time here and there.

I am going... to the quilting shop nearby to get more hand quilting needles later this week.

I am reading... in 2 Chronicles in my Bible

I am hoping... to get all the orginizational stuff for the week out of the way today, hopefully before lunch, but it doesn't look good at this point.

I am hearing... The washer's happy hum, the twins getting Isaac to coo and gurgle and almost giggle, and a couple of children doing some schoolwork at the table.

Around the house... Just playing catch up on laundry and straightening up today. Later this week we'll be doing more intenseive cleaning.

One of my favorite things... Curling up with a good, long book in the evenings with my warm pj's on, and under a cozy afghan or quilt, and sipping on tea.

A few plans for the rest of the week: piano lessons, math tutoring, and cleaning the church and setting up the fellowship hall for our monthly church dinner this Sunday. Also, a TON of music to work on for our upcoming mission's conference, and I need to call the music shop and see if my flute is done.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Progress on the Sewing List!

Below are pics of some recently finished projects. The first two are of skirts with matching nursing tops. The tops are an Elizabeth Lee Design pattern. It is a mock twin set, made from a knit. The coordinating skirt is from the same pattern, made from matching cotton.

The next two pics are a jumper and a skirt I made for a friend's daughter. The daughter wanted to learn to sew, so we started her jumper together. I did the bodice lining and attaching to the skirt, and the hem. She doesn't know I finished it for her, so it will be a nice surprise. The skirt is from some leftover fabric from a maternity/nursing dress I made for her mom.

This last pic Elizabeth took of me working on some hand quilting. The project isn't done yet, but I try to work on it in all my spare time. Ha!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Monday Ramblings

Rule #1: NEVER wake a sleeping baby.
Rule #2: If you think you have to wake a sleeping baby, refer to Rule #1.

Oh yes, Oh yes! After my last post claiming Isaac to be a night owl, he has had two nights in a row where he slept 6 hour stints, and in compatable hours to OUR sleeping! For two nights in a row he has slept from about 12:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Whoohoo! Okay, one problem... can you nursing moms say ENGORGEMENT??? That poor boy had quite a time both times keeping up with the flow of things, but he managed. Last night I was sleeping on my arm apparently because when I woke up this morning (by my "alarm" clock in the crib) the sleeve to my nightgown was drenched. You get the picture. I didn't mind though, as I was feeling like a new woman with all that sleep in one stretch!

On a totally different subject, have you ever noticed when you comment on Blogger the verification words sound just enough like real words to catch your attention and wonder if you should get out the dictionary?

Seskiese - Any Trekkies out there? That is the language Seska spoke.
Sness - a loch ness monster with a lisp.
Sparm - smarmy spam
tashroni - japanese pasta
pencier - a french pencil maker

Okay... enough.. I love to play with words, in case you haven't figured that out. You all have a blessed day!