Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Where have I been?

Nearly six weeks ago, on September 29th, I had a baby. He wasn't supposed to arrive until next week. So thats where I've been the past while. As far as my excuses for the past six months or so: 1. my computer is s.l.o.w. so it takes forever to write and publish a post. Also both the battery charging and wireless internet connecting capabilities are gone so I have to sit in the corner of the living room with a million (2) cords. 2. I lost the camera battery charger and the SD card, because I am not an organized person. Loading photos from my phone onto slow computer is excruciating. Who wants a post with no pictures? 3. I am not an organized person. 4. excuses, excuses 5. I was pregnant. 6. it was summer 7. I am a terrible blogger. But you already knew that. But now I've been lying awake in bed for 3 hours and I'm thinking it's about time I try this again. Reading other peoples successful blogs will do that to you.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Practicing our colors and shapes with balloons

Uh, yeah, I've been out for awhile. I know. You shouldn't be surprised.
I do have tons to share with you, but it's doubtful that I'll get around to showing you everything.
One thing you missed is the beginning of "homeschool" here at our house. Now, the kiddo is only 2 1/2, so he isn't big enough for school, I know.  But he has been BEGGING to go to school for over a year. So finally, I gave in. We are doing 'school'. (We do plan on homeschooling the little guy once the time comes, but for now there's no other option- schools don't take kids that small, nor could I part with him for any length of time)

So I will share with you how I've organized things and such a little later, for now I will just share with you an activity we did a few weeks ago. (yeah. I thought about changing the date on this post but then realized I might as well be honest with you.)

So one of my goals is to reinforce colors and shapes with him. He is pretty good at shapes, sometimes gets triangle and square mixed up, but knows circles, stars, hearts, diamonds, and is learning harder things like rectangles and hexagons.  Colors he is improving but it's been a hard concept. I started out by consistently pointing out things that were "green like grass" "blue like the sky" "red like a fire truck" etc, so that he could have some association to go with each color, rather than just the abstract concept of a color.  This worked great, however he started to say things like "this shirt is grass!" instead of "this shirt is green!" so now we are working on remembering the color name rather than the association, and it's working beautifully.

So one of the first 'school' activities we did for this year was to review colors and shapes (this also gave me an idea of which ones he knows well and which we need to focus more on).  Daddy brought home a big bouquet of helium balloons (salvaged from a work party), and we put them to good use! I cut out basic shapes (circle, square, triangle) out of colored paper (just red, blue, green, and yellow) and taped them to the bottom of the ribbons.  The ribbons hung to just the right height where Riley had to stand on his tiptoes to grab them.

Our balloon game set up in our schoolroom/kitchen
 There are a couple things we did with this:
-I would say "bring me a circle" and he would look for whatever shape I requested in any color.
-I would ask "can you find one that is red" and he would look for whatever color I requested in any shape.
-I would ask "can you find a yellow square" this was a bit more complicated for him as he had to remember both the color and the shape.  He got frustrated after only a couple so we stopped that.
-We switched and he would call out a color or shape for mommy to find, then I would bring it to him and ask if I was right. (I purposely did several of them wrong to see if he would correct me!)
-We sorted them out by color and then again by shape (all the reds in this corner of the room, etc)

Having fun with our game!
Riley loved it! It was more of a game than a 'school' thing, which is exactly what you should do with kids anyway. I am a strong believer in active learning, or learning through play.  It also helped us practice some motor activities - jumping, running, walking on tiptoe, and grasping small items!  You could adapt this activity to fit whatever your child needs to work on - letters, numbers, sight words, images of vocabulary words etc will hang from the balloon strings as well! :)

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TGIF Linky Party hosted by 123Homeschool4MePhotobucket

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Chores for Toddlers (part two) - vacuuming and mirrors

Okay, I know! For being "back" I'm sure not doing a very great job. I really don't know how these supermoms do it with several kids and yet they still post all the time, complete with cute pictures and super creative activities. I'm lucky if we've got clean clothes and food to eat.

Aaaanyway, back to Riley's chore chart.  We've been doing this for several weeks and it has been working pretty well.  He still thinks that getting to color in the picture is it's own reward, so we haven't had to set any goals or rewards.  He usually does three or more of the six things listed for each day, which I consider a major improvement. (He actually likes brushing his teeth now!)  So I thought I'd tell you how he accomplishes some of the more traditional 'chore' items on his chart.  Today we'll do vacuuming and washing the mirrors, because that's what I've taken photos of so far.

**Disclaimer: Of course, always watch your little ones! Especially if they are standing on a counter washing the mirror.  These are meant to be parent-guided chores!

Vacuuming for toddlers:
He used to HATE the vacuum, but once when he spilled cheerios all over the floor and I made him vacuum them up, he decided it was awesome!  Since the whole vacuum is too heavy for him to push, he just uses the hose and I help him move the big part (is that the technical term?) if needed.  He only does the living room rug, mostly because it's a small space and the majority of the mess is his anyway.  He focuses on the large noticeable pieces that are fun to suck up (and sometimes I throw a few cereal pieces on there to make it more exciting).  Of course I usually have to go back over it with the regular vacuumy part (no that's the technical term!), but thats okay!

Washing mirrors for toddlers:
This is what Riley calls "washy washy". I will spray the mirror and then let him stand on the counter with a paper towel and 'washy washy' away. He loves it so much that he usually wants to do it again and again (so sometimes he gets the bottom of the windows too...) He usually does a pretty decent job, although he does lean against the mirror with his other hand so I have to re-wash the mirror anyway to get his handprints off!

Other posts in the Chores for Toddlers series:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chores for Toddlers (part one) - chore chart

Last Sunday, my husband shared the idea that maybe we should make Riley a chore chart.  There is one thing you need to know about my husband... he is always right when it comes to these things.  He has a gift of knowing solutions to problems, and the problem we are having is organization and follow-through on tasks (even essential ones).  I blame it on me being sporadically sick - some days I feel great, and other days can't do anything - which means some days things get done, and other days we sit on the couch and watch PBS for hours on end.
So anyway, we are trying to establish some semblance of routine in our house, and a chore chart seemed a great way to get the little guy on board.  So last Monday I made this beauty:

Note that most of his "chores" are not really chores at all.  Things like "brush teeth", "bath" and "scripture/prayer" should happen automatically, right?  Sadly, not at our house.  Really the only one that we are awesome at is getting to church on Sunday (Never on time, of course. Even though the church is across the street.)

I thought about making this into a PDF for you to print out and use, but then I saw two problems with it - 1.) you would probably not have your kids doing the same chores, so it would be pointless. and 2.) I just got the pictures off google and have no rights to distribute any of them. 
So I am sure you can design your own.  I printed it and then put it in a sheet protector so he can color the pictures with a washable marker and then I can wipe it off and start all over the next week.

I was a little nervous that he wouldn't get the concept, and I admit it took a couple days, but now he understands we get to color one picture after we do whatever it says.  He actually really likes it, and usually gets excited about finding another thing we can do to color.  Sadly, my two year old is keeping me on track, not the other way around.

So, how did we do this week? Not too bad.  Ashamed to say that we only read scriptures with him once (another post on that later), and we really slacked off on Saturday, but otherwise it was great and it helped keep us on track and responsible for several days that week, better than we've done in months!

Now, I know there are going to be people who are thinking "You make your two year old do chores? What a mean parent!"  so I have to respond - yes. But like I said, I don't think that brushing your teeth and taking a bath are really 'chores', every human should do them.  Also, he starts vacuuming and washing dishes and watering plants on his own, several times a day, without me even mentioning it.  He just likes doing those things, so they are pretty much freebies for him.  Does he do a great job? No. Actually it usually makes a bigger mess, but I am not going to discourage him from helping and contributing to our family team.  I think this is a great way to get him used to having responsibilities while he's little.  And finally - "School"?  No, I do not send my two year old to school.  His 'school' is playing learning games or going to an activity at the library. I will be doing a post on this later on.

So tell me, has a chore chart worked for you? What kinds of chores have you had your kids do as toddlers and preschoolers?

Other posts in the Chores for Toddlers series:
Part 2 - Vacuuming and Mirrors

Monday, June 10, 2013

Back... finally!

Alright alright I know... I haven't posted anything since March. MARCH!! That is inexcuseable. I have valid reasons, like being sick for two months straight.  Morning sickness is hard when you've got a two year old.
But now I've been feeling good for a couple weeks, caught up on most of the chores that I put off all that time, and I'm ready to keep you updated on all my little projects. (Again, mostly so that I'm motivated to follow through on those projects!)  Trust me, while I wasn't blogging I was still thinking about blogging, and all the things I wanted to share with you.

Obviously in the time I was sick I completely fell off the bandwagon when it came to my cleaning schedule, and now that I'm looking at it I think I might have a better way to organize it.  My husband has been begging me to come up with a meal plan so that I can quit asking him for dinner ideas every day.  Also, we are getting ready for "school" with Riley. (yes, I know 2 1/2 isn't exactly school age, but you'll see more what I mean in the future.) So theres a few things you can look forward to hearing about.  And of course the usual billions of sewing projects, and this year's garden, a few inspirational thoughts, and every other random thing that I think to share with you.

Well, so soon and already I have to go. Hubby comes home in an hour and we haven't done any cleaning yet. Hopefully I'll be back in less than 10 weeks. :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Inspiration Sunday: What my shoes taught me

We recently had a youth activity with our girls that I thought was quite creative.  We called it "The Worth of 'Soles'" (as opposed to souls).  We gave each girl an assignment to bring a pair of shoes which would in some way describe them, had them all present their shoes to each other, then discussed how although we are all unique and different, we are all of equal worth to God.

Although us adult leaders didnt present our own shoes, I couldn't stop thinking about what I would have done if we had.  I would have brought my favorite shoes that I hardly ever wear:

I originally bought these shoes to be my wedding shoes.  I rarely splurge on something nice like fancy shoes, but I fell in love with these and hey, it was my wedding, right? They aren't the most comfortable to walk in, but I figured I'd mostly be standing around and just having photos taken, so it wouldn't be a big deal.  I had the perfect dress and the perfect shoes and it was going to be perfect.

So how do these shoes describe me? They describe me because I never did wear them for my wedding.  Now I can hear you thinking "Huh?" Let me explain.... Before I got married, I had this idea of what the perfect wedding would look like, of what my dress and my hair and my shoes would look like. Likewise, before I "grew up" (okay I'll admit it, I'm not totally grown up yet, but you know what I mean), I had an idea of what my perfect life would look like.  I would have this many (intelligent and well behaved) kids and that house and this car and everything else. 

Well, like I mentioned, my wedding didn't look the way I'd planned, even though I'd planned it for over two years.  I made the mistake of wearing my cute wedding shoes around town the day before - which involved walking for a couple miles.  The next day when I tried to put them on for my wedding, it hurt to bad to even put them on - there was no way I could wear them for the wedding!

Instead, I wore my favorite comfy tennis shoes. Flat, soft, roomy - and certainly not fancy or new.  But they were a birthday gift from my husband, and they were soooo comfortable.

After my wedding, my little sister asked if I was disappointed that I had to wear ugly shoes for my wedding.  She was pretty surprised when I said no.  I realized that even though it didn't look perfect, my wedding was perfect because I had all the essentials - I married the right person in the right place, surrounded by those who meant the most to me. Who cares that my dress was wrinkled and my slip kept slipping (haha as you can see in the photo) and my shoes were ugly? Who cares that we were late for our own wedding and most of our pictures didn't work out or that we were super uncomfortable because it was over 100 degrees?  What our wedding looked like didn't define our relationship or our love.
Okay so back to how this has to do with me.  My life so far hasn't turned out how my 'perfect' life plan looked.  I realize there are still plenty of years ahead, but I don't think it's going to turn out the way I expected.  Thats okay.  I am happy with the life I have because I have the essentials and because it is the life that God has given me.  It's okay if I don't have the right number of well behaved children.  It's okay if I don't have the right house or the right car or anything else.  It's okay that my house is a mess because I decided to play with the kiddo instead of clean, or that we're having macaroni and cheese (again) for dinner because thats just what sounds good.  Those things aren't what matters.
My wedding shoes taught me to be content with what I have and to realize what is most important.  I still own both pairs of shoes, and I probably will for a long time.  They remind me of this important lesson:

"I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
-Phillipians 4:11
"I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me."
-Alma 29:3


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Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Decor

I've always wanted to be one of those fun moms that decorates for all the holidays.  I'm just never on top of things, as anyone who hoped to have regular blog posts from me knows.
St. Patrick's day though, is one that I have been somewhat successful with.  To me, St. Patrick's day is the start of spring and a chance to celebrate our Irish heritage.  I usually make some traditional Irish food (we'll be having Irish stew and potato cakes tomorrow) and put out some simple decorations that brighten things up a bit.  Here is what I did this year:

This is our kitchen table centerpiece.  It was super cheap, super easy, and it's probably my favorite.  The dot fabric is a placemat I bought from the dollar store a couple years ago.  I intended on making a bag out of it but of course never got around to it. :)  The bottle is a sparkling cider bottle that I just took the lable off, and the shamrocks were cut out of paint samples from walmart then taped onto sticks. (I bought a 25 cent dowel and cut it up)  I am going to change the shamrocks to flowers this week to be an easter/spring decoration, maybe I'll post that too! Total cost (if you include the placemat) a whole $1.25. Sweet!

 This is another one that I am going to change with the seasons.  Here is another one of the same placemats.  The "candlesticks" are fancy glasses that I got from the thrift store for 30-50 cents apiece.  The candles cost $1 for all at the thrift store as well (wish they matched, but oh well)  And the ribbon is just wrapped around and pinned in the back, spent a whole 10 cents on a roll of clearance Christmas ribbon (which I should have also put on the top candle, but never did).  So this was more expensive, about $3.50 for everything, but it is something that is a permanent fixture on top of the piano and I will just change the mat and ribbon with the seasons.

This is one that I actually made two years ago when I was stuck in bed after giving birth to the kiddo.  I hand sewed the shamrocks out of an old green t-shirt and stuffed them with the stuffing out of an old pillow.  The words "lucky" and "Irish" are embroidered in leftover ribbon and they are strung on more leftover ribbon.  Because it was entirely recycled, I'm going to say it was FREE! (my apologies about the bad photo, its pretty impossible to get a good photo of this wall.)

What kind of simple/cheap decorating ideas have you done for different holidays? I'd love some ideas!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fire Truck Birthday Cake

Okay okay I know I'm WAAAAYYY behind the times. I get it.  For some reason, I think I am busier now that I stay at home. Can't explain that one.  Anyway, it's definitely time to catch up.

This is just short, but I want to share with you what we did for the kiddo's second birthday party last month. (I CANNOT believe he is already two!)  We did a firetruck themed birthday (at his request) and just invited some family for cake and ice cream.  I did not go all-out on the decor like I would have wanted, simply because his party was two days after my last day at work, so I was a little preoccupied and didn't get as much done as I'd hoped.  I hung up some red, yellow, and white balloons (those are fire-y colors, right?) and some red and white streamers (I admit, leftover from Christmas) and we brought his ride on fire truck, fireman hat, and fireman jacket from his room (he refused to sit in the truck, wear the hat, or wear the jacket) But I'm still proud of the cake (my first ever decorated cake!), so I'll share that with you.

First, we got this firetruck set from the dollar store:
It wasn't quite as firetruck-esque as I would have liked, but when he saw it he knew it was a fire truck, so that was enough for me.  We actually ended up getting two of these sets, so that I could use the extra road signs. (and because he couldn't bear to part with the truck long enough for it to be on the cake)
I just used a cake mix, which I usually think is gross, but somehow this cake turned out really yummy.  Maybe because I let him make his own cake:
Yes, I let him dump all the ingredients together and do the mixing. I let him do this quite often now, he loves to help in the kitchen! I hope I have a master chef on my hands, I'd love some good food around here!
Of course, after it was baked, I mixed up the frosting and did the decorating.  Here are a few shots of that:

Like I said, I've never really decorated a cake before, so this was a fun adventure.  The road is chocolate frosting, and the rest is buttercream with food coloring. I'd give you the recipe but there isn't one. (Yes, that makes it very frustrating to teach and to learn) It took me years to master and I still usually don't get it right.  But this is one of those family things that is just passed down from mom to daughter and is totally done by texture, not measurement.
So anyway, hopefully you can see my artistic vision here... the truck is going to put out this mound of yellow frosting with orange and red sprinkles that is overtaking the mounds of green frosting. Ahem, I mean, a forest fire. (we put the candles in the "fire" for added effect, but I didn't get a good shot of that as the lighting was bad)
You know me, always trying to do things super-cheap! In total, his birthday party cost a total of...maybe $10, if you include the balloons and streamers (which I already had) and the plates and forks (leftover from hubby's birthday).
Now, I promise I'll be better about posting in March... but you know how my promises go... :)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Simplicity 1776 Pattern Review

I made this dress way back in November (I know, I'm a slacker.)  I really like it, but had to make several alterations to the pattern.  I chose the longer sleeves, no pockets, and round neckline.

Simplicity 1776
I made this with a navy broadcloth base and a lace overlay.  Both came from Joanns.  The pattern was very simple and fun to make, so I thought it would be a nice one to practice my overlay skills.
However, although the pattern was simple it needed a lot of alterations to be something I would enjoy.  The first problems I knew before I started sewing: it is WAY short.  I had to add several inches to make it long enough for me.  The second was the exposed zipper.  Yuck.  I did an invisible zipper instead.  I also had to bring the neckline in a bit.
After I had sewn the dress and put it on, I saw more problems.  This dress is quite straight and shapeless.  I don't feel comfortable looking like a box.  I took in the sides at the waist but it was still pretty plain.  Then my brilliant husband suggested adding a belt.  I added a simple 1/2 in belt with a snap to hold it together and I think that relaly did the trick.  Overall, I love the dress, but it took a lot of alterations from the pattern to make me like it.  I'd suggest using the pattern as a base, but be aware it's something you might have to make some (or many) changes to.
Here is a rare photo of me, modeling the dress as I wore it to my husband's work Christmas party (the tights are navy, not black, I swear!):

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Simplicity 2226 Pattern Review

Another project I made back in December and am just getting around to posting.  This cute skirt was made with Simplicity 2226:

Simplicity 2226
This was another sale material, I believe it was a Red Tag Clearance from Joanns for $3/yd.  It is just a basic cotton with white, yellow, and red stripes.

The pattern is great!  I really recommend this one, especially for people who say they 'can't sew'.  It is a simple pattern for a great versetile skirt that is cute and comfortable (and has huge pockets! a plus!)  I had to lengthen it a bit, because I wanted it to go just below the knee, but that is a really easy alteration.  I also opted out of the belt loops and tie belt, just because I didn't like it.  I honestly whipped this whole thing together in I think two hours (including cutting) which is super fast for me.  The second I finished it I put it on a wore it to a class.  So again, if you want an easy cute and generally awesome skirt pattern, get this one. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Simplicity 2599 Pattern Review

Okay I am way behind (as usual) in posting some pattern reviews.  I made this shirt with Simplicity 2599 view B back in December.

Simplicity 2599
I scored this material for $1/yd at Walmart. It is a chiffon in what I would call a 'dirty yellow' color.  I couldn't (and still can't) decide if the color is ugly or not, but for $1/yd, it was worth it.  The pattern was pretty easy to follow, and is made specifically for these silky shapeless types of material.  My main problem was in the back (I added a loop for the button, because a buttonhole just sounded tacky) and in the front flounce ruffles.  A flouce ruffle is made by using a circle or spiral piece and stretching the smaller end straight.  The directions called for HEMMING a CHIFFON CIRCLE with a 1/4 in hem. For the record, that is IMPOSSIBLE. I tried it. It wasn't going to happen.  So I ended up doing a fake thin serge with a buttonhole stitch.  The ends must be finished because the material frays very easily.
I highly recommend this pattern, especially if you want to attempt to make a nice shirt out of something silky.  Some hints for sewing this shirt with a silky material: PINS PINS PINS. pins are your friend. use a million of them. Also make sure they are new and very sharp, because most silky materials will pull if you put the pin in slightly wrong, or if you put a dull pin in.  Second: use a new #9 needle on your machine.  A dull needle will pull and look terrible, and a #9 is made for these kinds of thin silky things.  Finally: patience. you'll need it, but it will be worth it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Journey Home part 4: Getting Organized

So I told you in a previous post that I was putting a schedule together to try to stay on track with my house cleaning and such.  I wanted to share that with you today and let you know how it is going so far.
First I want to say that when I first heard about a housekeeping schedule I thought it was pretty ridiculous.  Why not just clean what needs to be cleaned whenever it needs cleaning? Because then you will be cleaning all day every day and nothing will ever be finished. At least if you are me.  This is something that I based on what I learned reading the book 'The Art of Homemaking' by Daryl Hoole (one of the best books ever!)  She suggests certain chores that need to be done daily, and some that can be done weekly or bi-weekly.  So what I did first was determine what needs to be done daily.  I then split my house into 14 different sections.  I will focus on one section each day, so each room gets a good deep clean once every two weeks.

My schedule and calendar

My daily chores are:
-Wipe counter and oven
-organize kitchen table (a catch-all for mail and whatever else we bring into the house)
-a load of laundry
-vacuum downstairs rug (this could be done like 5 time a day.  That thing is abused!)
-make beds
-general pick-up of toys, putting dirty clothes in baskets, etc

Then my biweekly chores are:
-Master Bath
-Master Bedroom
-Master closet and laundry room
-Upstairs bath
-The kiddo's bedroom
-Sewing room
-Computer (yes, I counted cleaning up my computer files and organizing my blog, etc as a day of cleaning.)
-Living room
-Under stairs
-Guest bathroom and Pantry
-Dining area

I left the easier tasks for Sundays, and can push them into Monday if I feel it is too much work for a Sunday.

I listed everything that I need to do in each of those rooms so that I have specific goals to accomplish.
I also have printed out a calendar page for each month this year, so that I can keep track of tasks and appointments as well as which chores I need to do on which days.  The photo is what my calendar looked like on Friday.  Now it is quite full at least to the end of this week as well.

So far it has been going pretty well. I like having a specific goal written out of what to do each day, so I dont just wander around aimlessly cleaning and never accomplishing anything!  Yesterday I did the living room, which includes cleaning under the couch cushions and moving the couch and rug and cleaning underneath.  Guess what I found? The missing puzzle piece we looked EVERYWHERE for, the missing library book that I was going to have to pay for this Friday, $1 in change, and about an entire box of cereal that the kiddo had been hiding to make me think he ate his breakfast. (luckly he takes it dry with no milk!) It was a really great day!!  I also did 3 loads of laundry (which I hung to dry since our dryer isn't working at the moment), the dishes, ran errands, and made a lasagne before the hubby came home. Today is under the stairs day, which I am dreading.  (thats where all our shoes and jackets are dumped when we come in the house) But it should be fast which means I have time for more laundry, some sewing projects, and hubby requested leftovers for dinner (wahoo!) so no cooking there.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Journey Home Part 3: The Last Day

Image Source

Right now at this very moment I am sitting at my desk for my very last hour of work. I thought it would be so strange, sitting here in the same seat I have spent countless hours in for the past almost seven years, but it feels totally normal.  Knowing that this is the last time I will do this one thing that I have done a million times before.  Maybe it just hasn't set it that I'm not coming back next week.

People keep asking me if it feels so weird knowing this is my last day, but it doesn't.  It reminds me of our wedding day.  People kept asking me if I was nervous, but I never once felt nervous.  It just felt normal, like this is what is supposed to happen and this is when it is supposed to happen.  Hard to explain, but it helps me know that this is the right decision.

It has been so wonderful to see the support that I have been given from coworkers, even those that I never expected.  Most of my superiors are proud 'career women' - which is expanded further when you consider they fought their way in the male-dominated field of science.  But even they gave kind thoughts of "I really admire you, I wish I had the patience to have stayed home with my daughter" and "I even took a few years off when my kids were really young."  Others (admittedly, mostly men) have literally cheered when they heard why I was leaving (cheered in support, not in a 'hooray we got rid of her!' way).  Honestly one of my fears when I was preparing to hand in (ehh... e-mail) my notice was that people would put me down for this decision, (especially because I work in a laboratory with a very liberal culture) but it has actually been quite the opposite.  Many have told me that they believe we need more stay-at-home moms, that every sacrifice is worth staying home with your children, and even though I have always had these convictions, to hear these things coming from people that I always assumed would mock me for this decision is SO encouraging.

Over the next few days (okay, lets face it, probably weeks) I'll tell you more about my transition to domestic bliss, but I just wanted to share a bit of how I feel right now, just before the  start of a wonderful new beginning.

Monday, January 28, 2013

My Journey Home part 2: It takes a leap of faith

source for this image

I guess this also could have doubled as an Inspiration Sunday post. But we all know I've been slacking/"busy" lately and haven't done one of those in awhile. (But I do have ideas in my head, so thats something...)

This will be my last week at work.  It is so strange to say goodbye to something that has been such a major part of my life for the past seven years.  When I am at work, I wonder why I would ever want to leave, but when I am at home, I understand completely.  I do leave knowing that it is the right thing to do, however.

When we were first convicted to have me quit to stay home, we were wondering how we would do it, but of course we planned on that being a year or more away, and figured we'd come up with something.  However since our plans were expedited, when I handed in my notice we still hadn't come up with how to make ends meet.  Even though we knew it would be a very significant drop in income, we both knew it was the right thing and decided to take a leap of faith and trust that God would provide a way. (LDS friends: Bring a primary song to mind? "I will go, I will do, the things the Lord commands; I know the Lord provides a way, He wants me to obey!")

When I put in my notice at the end of December and knew for sure that I was leaving in a month, we did the financial math.  If we changed our eating habits (from super cheap to literally beans and rice for every meal) and bought absolutly zero extras and had no health problems, broken cars, or home repairs, most months we would spend every dollar my husband earned, and fall short a few months since he is paid on commission.  This is a scary thing to face, we've never had any debt aside from our mortgage, and have always maintained an emergency savings account.  We decided that if something came up we'd have to sell my car to pay for it.  But, seeing as we'd live, we did it anyway, still hoping that somehow we could come up with a way to earn an extra $100 or so each month.

A few days after I had put in my notice, a neighbor mentioned to me that she was looking for a piano teacher for her son.  I taught piano before we were married and knew her and her son, so I said I'd love to teach him.  Before the weekend was over, I had 10 other moms from the neighborhood ask if I could teach their kids as well.  I didn't ask her to spread the word or anything, but somehow the word got out anyway and our prayers were answered three-fold - $300 a month from teaching piano! Something I never thought of doing, and didn't even try to do, it just fell into my lap.

A few days after this, a local boutique that I have sewn for in the past called up.  They are looking to start manufacturing their own brand locally, and wanted to know if I would sew from home for them. They want at least 10 pieces a week for now ($200/month), with the possibility of me designing and drafting a children's clothing line for them later this year. So now our prayers for $100/month were answered five-fold. $500 a month in work (that I can do from home!) that was literally given to me. I never had to seek out these jobs.

About a week after I put in my notice and we were in awe of the miracle of the piano lessons and the sewing, some problems came up at hubby's office.  One of his coworkers ended up quitting on the spot because she couldn't handle it.  His direct superior asked if he would be willing to take on her responsibilities if offered a raise.  As a part of this deal, he would also be put on salary, so we wouldn't have to worry about making more some months and less others.  This raise resulted in about an extra $800 a month.  When he called to tell me this, I was speechless. We would now be making $300 more each month than we had when I was working. 

By taking that leap of faith and quitting when we knew it was right, even though we didn't know how to make it work, our prayers weren't just answered, They were answered 13 times better than we had hoped.  We had asked for $100 a month, and were willing to work to find it. We were given $1300, which was handed to us without our seeking it.  Our heavenly Father is wonderfully incredibly good.  I am certainly not a perfect person, but just look what He has done for us!  How could I ever doubt that this is the right direction to take, after witnessing such a miracle?

Back to the primary song mentioned before - remember the story of Nephi? (okay, you who aren't LDS won't remember because you've probably never heard it) Nephi was told by God to go into Jerusalem and get the plates.  He knew only that he needed to, but didn't know how it would happen.  I imagine he stood outside of the city and just stared, saying "I don't know how this is going to work, but I know it is right, and so I will do it."  Previous attempts had made this task seem impossible. He walked into the city, "not knowing beforehand the things which I should do," and God showed him the way.  We didn't know how we were going to make this work, but we did it anyway, trusting that God would show us the way - and He did.

I will close copying the words of Nephi, beacuse he said it better than I could:
"I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (1 Nephi 3:7)

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

My Journey Home, Part 1 - Goals

Okay so I'm failing miserably.  The plan was to post twice a week not twice a month. ehh.... This month has been extremely busy! I have been coming up with posts in my head but I never find the time to sit down and write them.  I am sorry, I am trying to do better!

The Long Road Home
Image Source
I want to tell you why January has been so busy.... I am leaving my full time job to stay at home. It's taken a lot more preparation than I thought, and has involved me pretty much working two jobs this month.  Here's the story:

I have been wanting to quit to stay at home forever, and it was the plan all along, but we just never felt it was quite the right time to do it.  Early last year we came up with a plan of me quitting in the fall of 2013, and were pretty set to that idea.  We did the math to figure out if we could afford it, what our budget would be, etc and knew it would be possible.  We were comfortable with the 18 months of buffer time to figure out some sort of part-time work for me or my husband, and were working to save up a good emergency fund.

Then, one day in October, my husband randomly called me up in the middle of the day and said "You know what, I don't think we should wait another year for you to quit.  You need to be at home." Let me tell you, those are probably the sweetest words any working mother can hear!  We decided it would be best to wait for the year and the holiday season to be over (okay, so that was a bit selfish - the extra holiday pay and one last quarterly bonus that would happen between then and now was quite the incentive.)  So much has happened since then, and I plan to tell you all about it (but in installments, because it's quite a long story, and isn't over yet).

So the first thing I've been trying to figure out is how I am going to adjust schedule-wise.  I am used to coming home from work at 2 a.m. I stay up that late on weekends (five hours after husband and child are asleep) so that I am not too tired on the days I work.  I try to wake up at 8, but it's realistically more like 10. Because I'm not home, I rarely cook dinner.  I usually am too tired to clean during the week, so I just let the house accumulate a week's worth of mess and clean it all on Saturday. This isn't what I want life to be like, it is what one of my best friends/mentors calls "survival mode" - it's what you have to do in order to achieve something better.

My big goals are:
- to sleep from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. This is a major adjustment! I have never been a morning person. I love staying up alone at night, watching TV shows the husband doesn't like, working on projects with no interruptions... it will be hard to give up that time.  How am I supposed to wake up at the crack of dawn and enjoy it? I have never experienced not being miserable in the morning.
- to make dinner. Real dinner with real food, not microwave stuff. I usually cook dinner like 2 days a week... I don't know if I can think of new meals every night!  This means I need to learn how to make a meal plan and stick to it.
-to actually spend time with the kiddo. Usually, when I'm with him, I'm struggling to stay awake and frantically get what little I can done.  This means he gets lots of TV time, lots of fast unhealthy foods, and very little play time with mommy.  I feel terrible about it, and it's time to change this!
-to keep the house clean consistently, rather than do it all in one day.  I have read some homemaking books to see what has worked for other people, and I am trying to get my own schedule in place.  This will definitely take some trial and error.  Right now I have a list of things to do every day (dishes, laundry, etc) and then I've divided the house into 14 sections so I can focus on one section each day - that way each room gets a good clean every two weeks. We will see how that works.

As you can tell, this is a lot.  This is a completely different lifestyle that what I have been living for... well, for my entire life.  It's what I want, but I am afraid of the difficulty that it will take to adjust.  I am afraid that I'm just going to give up and go back to my old ways.  I pray every night that I can do this.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tutorial: Sew your own leggings!

I'm usually not the trendiest woman in the world, but leggings and tights (or as my mom calls them, "leggins") have been 'in' long enough that I think I feel safe wearing them.  Especially when its been below freezing for several weeks (and it has, brrr!).
Last week, my local WalMart put out an incredible bin of sale fabric.  Chiffon, stretch lace, t-shirt knits, sweater knits, courderoy... all $1/yard!!! seriously. I think I bought like 20 yards of material, and would have bought more if I weren't afraid of what the hubby would say when he saw it all. 
So, my first project was some "leggins" made from brown stretch lace. (my only options were brown and pink, but you don't complain when its $1!) I know lots of people probably think its crazy to make your own leggings (mom included), but I'm a pretty crazy person.  Plus it really isn't hard. If you can make pajama pants, you can do this.

Step 1: find your material.  You can make leggings out of anything stretchy - t-shirt material, sweater material, swimsuit or leotard material, get creative!  Figure out how long you want your leggings, then add a couple inches, and thats how much you want to buy. I got 1 1/3 yds and had about 6 inches left over.

Step 2: make your pattern.  This is easiest if you already have some tight pants to trace. Other leggings, skinny jeans, exercise pants (or what I used, long thermal underwear).  If you dont, you'll end up having someone trace your legs onto tissue paper, and thats going to be awkward, and then your going to have to get the crotch worked out... frankly it will be a pain. If you are like me and don't have a lot of junk in the trunk, you can make your back and front identical.  Just fold your pants/leggings/whatever in half and get them to lay as flat as possible, and trace onto tissue paper adding an extra inch at the top and bottom (for your waistband and your hem) and a 1/4 inch seam allowance on all sides.  You should end up with something like this:
Pattern piece for leggings
Step 3: lay your material out flat. Find the selvedge edges (the manufactured edges) and the cut edges.  If you can't tell, stretch knit material should stretch more from selvedge to selvedge than it does from cut edge to cut edge.  Then, fold the selvedge edges in toward the middle, just as wide as the widest part of your pattern.  Place the long straight side of your pattern along the fold and pin. (if your pattern isn't totally straight, thats okay, just pretend it is.) then cut it out, and do the same on the other side.  You should end up with two pieces that look like this:
Leg pieces for leggings
Some general notes about sewing stretch knits before we continue:  It might seem wrong, but you want your clothes to stretch more side to side, not up and down.  For this reason, you always cut your pieces to be vetically parallel with the selvedge.  Also, if you don't have a serger, just use a tight zig zag stitch on a standard machine then cut close to your stitches.  Practice on some scraps to find the right length and width (I set mine to be a 2 width and a 2 length.)  If you used a really thin material, you may want to try a #9 needle.  Finally, pins are your friend.  Put your pins close together to prevent your material from stretching and sliding while you sew.

Step 4: Fold the pieces right sides together and pin the inside leg seams.  I put my pins vertically along the seam line when I sew knits to keep the material more steady.  Sew from the crotch to the hem with a 1/4 inch allowance (if you cut a little unevenly youd rather cut the hem straight than have a wonky crotch seam, right? right.) Now, clip close to your seams and continue.
see those pins? vertical and close together!
Step 5: turn one pant leg right side out and put it inside of the other, so that right sides are together.  Line up your inner leg seams and pin, then pin up to the waist band on both sides.  You should have a U shape to sew... now sew it with a 1/4 inch seam allowance and clip close to the seam. Then take the leg out from inside the other so it looks like inside out leggings now.
With one leg inside the other...You can kinda make out that U shape, right?

Step 6: make a waistband by cutting a piece of 1/4 inch elastic to be the size of the waist of your leggings plus a half inch.  pin elastic to the top (on the wrong side of the fabric), overlapping the extra, and sew with a wide zig zag stitch.  Then fold under again and sew with a wide zig zag stitch again, this time with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Elastic pinned to the waist
Sew the elastic on with a wide zig-zag stitch
Step 7: you can add a hem if you want.  I didn't. My material won't fray and the raw edges look just fine I think.

Step 8: turn right side out and admire your leggings, then put them on and keep your legs warm(er) when you wear a skirt and its 12 degrees outside! ta-da!
The finished leggings
Yeah, I made that.
p.s. if you make them for a little girl, I think you should add ruffles to the bottom, because when else can you get away with wearing ruffled leggings? I sure wish I could.

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Modest Monday

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Look 6026 Pattern Review


This top is New Look 6026 view D, which I made as a sample for JoAnn's.  I was excited to make this and think it turned out pretty cute, but it was much more difficult to make than I expected. There were a ton of little pieces and the instructions were a nightmare.  This was one of those projects where I had to ignore the instructions and do it myself!
So, while the end result is nice, I warn you that you will need to have patience because there are about 14 pieces in the neck and sleeve bands.  The ruffle at the bottom is a bit too ruffley for my taste, I plan on toning it down a bit. The sleeves are a bit to butterfly like.  Also, I was disappointed at how wide the neck is, you may want to consider altering it to be smaller unless you like your bra straps peeking out or you plan to wear a layering shirt under. 

Simplicity 1805 Pattern Review

This knit shirt is Simplicity 1805 view A, which I made as a sample for JoAnn's.  It is made from a thicker double stretch knit in a dark red. (the picture muted the color a bit)  I wasn't thrilled about making this shirt - I am a small person and feel like baggy things like this drown me out.  However, after trying this one on I actually really like it.  It isn't as baggy as I expected.  Beware that the directions on how to do the neck band are horribly wrong. (interfacing on a stretch knit?? what??)
So, If you do use this pattern, do not follow the instructions for the neck band.  Just sew the short ends together to form a loop, fold it in half wrong sides together, iron it nice, and pin it on the shirt body (also right side out) with the raw neck edge and the raw edges of your neck band together, then turn it in and iron it flat. Easy as that! (hey look, I made a rhyme!)

Simplicity 1943 Pattern Review

Simplicity 1943
I recently made Simplicity 1943 as a sample for JoAnn's.  This should have been a really simple bolero jacket, but my poor fabric choice really ruined things for me.  I did view F, which I was happy about, the others weren't really my style.  I think it is a cute addition to a strapless or sleeveless dress to make it modest.  I used a black taffeta for the shell from the special occassions collection at JoAnn's.  The material is really awesome (check out those swirls!) and was originally super expensive but I scored a great deal on it (I think 65% off?) by combining my discount card with a sale price.  The lining is black costume satin from WalMart.  Both of these were bad choices.  The taffeta is pretty for sure, but the swirls make it hard to sew, some places are thick and others are not, and this makes all the edges look jaggedy no matter how straight your seams are.  The costume satin was horrid! It was flimsy, slippery, and just DID NOT want to be sewn.  The pattern was easy enough, although it got a bit tricky when it came to turning the garment right side out and sewing up the side.  I ended up having to do it completely different, mostly because both my materials were threatening to rip and also because it wouldn't cooperate to be sewn that way.  So, there are some exposed seams under the arms. Nobody will care but me. The sizing was weird as well, I think the back piece is too big.  When I get it back I will experiment with cutting the back in half and sewing a back seam to make it a bit smaller. (unless someone medium-large out there is interested in owning this one?)  Would I recommend the pattern? Yes, but be prepared to make up your own directions and do some alterations.