Welcome to my wonderfully crazy life!

Homeschooling 6 blessings (so far) is teaching me a few things about grace, passion, patience, mercy, love and home management. I want to share these things! While some people love reading my long chatty emails, others insist that email should be done in memo form. Spoilsports! To save the sanity of those lovely folk, I will blog. I hope you will follow us on the amazing adventure the Lord has set before us.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Oh, The Things People Say

OK, listen carefully people. I've politely ignored. I've thanked people for their advice, I've answered the inane comments as nicely as I can, but now I am giving fair warning. If you are easily offended, male, or under the age of 18, now would be a good time to stop reading. You have been warned, proceed at your own risk.

Here is the deal. When you hear someone is pregnant with her 7th (or 5th, or 10th, or any number) you may not tell her that she is very fertile, may be fertile well into her 40's and needs to think of ways to prevent pregnancy. Let me be REALLY clear with you. I probably know more than you do about how my body works.

1. It's MY body. I've lived in it for over 37 years and I know how it ticks.

2. I have always been really interested in how this all works and I have read everything I can get my hands on to learn more about it. Unless you want an earful, don't put a quarter in or you will get more than your money's worth on this subject. Unless you are a midwife or OB/GYN, I'm pretty sure I know at least as much as you do about how women's bodies work, especially the one I live in.

3. I have actually had two medical professionals tell me "Wow, you really know how your body works." See? I officially know my body.

I am not stupid. I know, there are women who have many babies to collect the welfare check. I know, there are women who are addicted to something and just have babies because they are out of it. I know some women are or were forced by their husbands to have many children. If you don't know me well enough to know that I don't fit in those categories, you don't know me well enough to discuss reproduction with me.

Please understand that if I have many children that does not prevent someone else from having children. It's not like there is just one big ovary from which all eggs flow. That's just not how it works. Yes, I really have had people suggest that it does work that way.

I am not worried about overpopulating Earth. Really, as many articles and studies as you might throw at me about overpopulation, I could also toss articles and studies at you about how population is in decline in many countries and the dire consequences of such a trend.

If you are concerned about how I will pay to put my children through college, feel free to contribute. If you can't afford to contribute, then keep your mouth shut. We have a plan, however, I am considering charging a stupid tax when people ask stupid questions and that should help considerably.

Please don't tell me I am wasting my degree by "just" raising my children. The work I do is really important and harder than anything I have ever done. Frankly, I've seen enough to know that when someone fails to do a good job rearing a child, everybody suffers. Also, when you say I am wasting my education, I have to wonder if you think only uneducated or ignorant people should raise children. That doesn't sound like a good plan.

Finally, don't say "better you than me," "I can't stand the two I have," or anything else that makes children sound awful, especially in front of your children. Ouch. Really, don't you know they hear you? If you hate them, I can't really help you, but you might at least keep it to yourself and save yourself the cost of psych appointments later in life. Sheesh.

Dan loves babies. I love babies. The day we can't have any more somebody is going to have to work to convince us that we can't just spend every Sunday morning in the nursery rocking other people's babies. We love children. We even like the difficult ones. No, really. We would be just fine with having 12 children. No doctor or medical professional has ever told me I shouldn't have any more children. We have no difficulty caring for the children we have (although if you are concerned you are welcome to come fold laundry anytime, but if you make any of these stupid comments, I will attempt to drown you in mismatched socks.) We believe children are a blessing from God. We believe that God always provides for his children. We have seen it happen and have no doubt provision will continue. If those statements cause you to cringe, there is a fundamental difference between us and you might want to just let it go.

I believe most people would agree that it is unkind and unwise to make the following statements to someone who has one child or no children -

"Well, do you know how to conceive a child?"
"Gosh, don't you think your child will be lonely?"
"Who will take care of you in your old age?"
"Are you infertile, or did you choose to let your ovaries shrivel up and die?"
"Wow, you look so old to have no children."
"What a waste of a perfectly good uterus."
"Don't you like children?"
"Don't you know if you don't have children there won't be enough people paying into Social Security? You are killing our country! The Muslims are going to take over!!!" (This is outrageous, I agree, please don't throw things at me.)

If it would be wrong to say these things, and I think it would be, why is it okay for anyone to say the opposite to a mother with more than a couple children?

Ahhh, rant over. You can go back to what you were doing now.

Monday, May 14, 2012

toy management

In a house with 6 children, toy management can be quite an issue.  Each stage of development means a new set of fun, "essential" toys.  Some people show their love by giving lots of gifts.  If you happen to have one of these people as grandparent to your children, you may find yourself with an overwhelming amount of toys even if you only have one child.  Our family has found a way to manage toys that works pretty well.  It took a couple years to perfect the system, but now we have it down.

The first thing we did was divide the toys.  Each category has a labeled 20 gallon Rubbermaid type box.  We lean toward using the solid colored boxes with the handles that hold the lids on, because they seem to be the most durable and stay closed.  Right now, we have 8 boxes - cars, blocks, rescue heros, little people, baby toys, trains, doll house, and dolls.  Only one category is allowed out at a time, except the girls always have a few dolls and the boys always have legos.  There is also a small basket of baby toys in my room and a basket of toddler toys in the living room (because we often have visiting toddlers.)

In each child's bedroom, we have an easy to use storage system.  The system has to be easy enough to use that the children who live in that room can easily clean up their toys without much adult assistance.  I have found if putting toys away requires the children to place things in a container in a precise fashion or order, cleaning up is too overwhelming and time consuming.  That leads to frustration and anger for both mom and child.  No good.  So, we use low sturdy shelves with bins that are about twice the size of a shoebox and enough bins to hold all the toys in one category with room to spare.  This way, the children can just scoop up toys and toss them in the bins.  The older ones can sort them if they want.

The boxes that are out of rotation get locked away in the boys' and girls' room closets.  We don't have huge closets in our house, but they are big enough that 3 boxes can sit on that top shelf (that none of my kids can reach anyway) and two boxes can fit side by side on the floor without interfering with hanging clothes.  Each closet has a child lock on it that only my 3 oldest can unlock.  As each child has figured out how to unlock those locks, we have gone through a brief transition time where we have had to teach the child that ability does not equal consent.  Yeah.  Not a fun thing to walk into a bedroom and find ALL the toys out.  However, the child who unlocked the door and pulled all the toys out, or left the door unlocked so that a younger sibling could get them all out, helps with the clean up and that is usually enough to teach them why the locks are essential. 

When it seems like the toys are spending significant time on the floor being stepped on, I know it is time for a toy rotation and purge.  We go through the category that is out and take out anything that is broken, torn, dirty beyond washing, inappropriate or annoying.  We take this as an oppotunity to do away with annoying toys like Chicken Dance Elmo.  If a category of toy no longer fits in the assigned bin, it is time to purge that category of toys or, buy a bigger bin. 

We set aside any toys that are of sentimental value, decide how many more toys in that category need to go away and we let the kids decide.  With stuffed animals (do they multiply when we are sleeping at night or what?) I asked the kids to pick their two favorite stuffies and the rest went to Goodwill.  With their enormous collection of Little People, we decided that it was wisest to just give away the two big things that will never fit in a bin.  I don't think the kids even realize those toys are gone. 

With this system in place, rooms are generally neat and tidy (or easy to make neat and tidy) and when a toy rotation occurs, it is as if the kids have a bunch of new toys.  It works for us.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keeping Christmas Blessings From Becoming Bah Humbug!

In a large family, Christmas can be tricky.  Our family wants to keep the focus on Christ and we don't want to let Christmas get too materialistic or commercialized.  Also, with 8 people opening gifts on Christmas morning, we can not just let everyone tear in.  Well, we could let everyone tear in, but past experience has shown that the situation quickly dissolves into tears, tantrums and frustration and that is just my reaction.  No, Christmas in a large family requires either a little organization or a lot of parental patience.  The parental units in this family use up astronomical amounts of patience every day and would like to enjoy Christmas too, so we go with a little organization.

We have little traditions that are special to us.   All of the children open a new pair of pajamas after Christmas Eve services, which is just a nice way to start Christmas fun that night and it helps get everyone excited about going to bed.  We run a young adult ministry and the children help us put together college care packages at the very beginning of December.  We also have each child put together an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox.  They pick out all the things to put in and pack the box, with lots of parental assistance.  This year we add the tradition of packing care packages for my brothers, one in the Air Force and one in the Marines, about to go out on his first deployment. 
We feel these things help our family focus on the idea of Christ's arrival on Christmas morning being less about getting presents and more about giving.  He came to die for us so that we could have the ultimate gifts, forgiveness for all of our sins and eternal life in Heaven.  Having the children focus on serving others at Christmas time helps them to realize how blessed they are to have their house, family, toys, clothes and food.  I think it has also helped curb the tendency toward "gimmies" in our children.

We also have done some kind of advent activity most years.  One year I painted a Jesse Tree on our sliding glass door.  www.jesse-trees.com/what-is-a-jesse-tree.html  Every day we put an ornament up that was supposed to help us remember the story of Jesus' birth, death on the cross and resurrection.  One year we just read a little bit about Jesus' life every day and opened one door on a traditional advent calendar.  One year we did nothing at all because I never got my act together.  This year, I think we will be doing this Names of Jesus activity -www.easyfunschool.com/article1679.html  I think I may paint another tree on the sliding glass door, or, if I really get it together, I will pain the tree on felt and these ornaments can be attached to felt and it will be a great big Felt Board activity!  YES!  No!  I have a newborn, I will probably just paint a simple tree trunk and branches on the sliding glass door, print the ornaments on simple paper and tape them up on the door.  By the end of December, the ornaments will be tattered from being caught in the door over and over again.  Whatever, we will have done something.
Presents can be a problem in a family with this many children.  I want my children to give each other something.  I know they want to give, too.  However, if every sibling in this family gives every sibling a present, plus presents from parents, grandparents and friends, it is a bit much.  Plus, the children all have limited incomes.  Actually, they have no incomes at all.  All the money they "make" comes from the money Dan makes.  In the past, we have taken two children at a time to Five Below, the Dollar Store, Target, Big Lots, Walmart or some other inexpensive place to buy a gift for each of their siblings.  This meant either each sibling was getting cheap junk that would be tossed in the trash by the end of the year or we spent a LOT of money.

Last year, I had each sibling make something for the other.  That was sweet, lovely, a lot of work and somewhat unsuccessful.  Ethan hand stitched teddy bears out of fleece for all of his siblings and every one of those teddy bears fell apart by the end of January.  Jacob made crayons for all the siblings and those were fairly successful, but a bit of a mess.  Really, J peeled and sorted the crayons and I was the one that did the rest.  I can't really remember what I had Amelia do, so that speaks loudly, I suppose, of how successful it was.  We are not totally giving up on the idea of hand made gifts.  I think it is a great idea to have older children hand make things for their siblings.  However, this year, I have a newborn and not enough time or energy to do the whole hand made Christmas idea. 

This year, we drew names.  I knew we would get to that eventually.  I envisioned all of our children grown, married, with children of their own tossing all those many names into a hat and each person playing "Santa" for whoever they picked.  As Dan and I were contemplating our budget for Christmas this year and the quality of gifts given in previous years, we decided the time for picking names was now.  The only thing is, how do you get each child out to shop for their buddy without that buddy finding out and without having to take 5 or 6 separate trips.  When it takes 30 minutes to get to a shopping place, you have to combine trips and no way was I adding one more stop to my grocery trip that many times!  Thankfully, it ended up that all the boys are giving gifts to girls and vice versa.  That was not engineered by us, it is just how the names were pulled.  Whew.  We will do two trips, one for the boys, with daddy, and they will buy all the girls gifts, including mine and the same for the girls, shopping with mommy.  Easy.

I don't believe in asking children to make Christmas lists.  First of all, the children change their lists as often as Brett Favre changes his retirement decisions (Oh, yes!  A sports reference, albeit an old one.)  Second, what if there is no way on God's green earth I am going to give my child anything on their list?  Seriously, what if all Amelia wants is a pony for Christmas?  We don't have the money or acreage for such an animal and Miriam is petrified of anything with 4 legs.  So, rather than having each child make a list for themselves, I am having each child make a list of what they think each sibling would like to have.  Aha, getting them to think of others first.  Plus, this gives each person at least 4 ideas of what their buddy might like to have.  It also will teach them to be grateful for the thought, attention and love that each of their siblings put into picking out a gift for them.  We can also increase the amount each child spends.  Instead of spending, lets say $5 on each of 5 siblings, they can spend $25 on one sibling and get something a little nicer.  I am excited to see how this all turns out.
All of that helps keep our minds and hearts focused on the reason for the season, but the day itself can still be hectic without a few tools in place.  First off, we have a baby gate at the top of our stairs.  It is not used every night, unless we have a toddler who has free roam at night.  However, it is always closed and locked on Christmas Eve.  The children know they are not to go downstairs without us, but the gate helps them remember.  We all go downstairs together.  Okay, technically, I go first so that I can get photos of them coming down the stairs on Christmas morning. 

Our Christmas Stockings are actually tools too.  Dan and I recognized early on that our children really want to open all of their gift immediately, but they really need to eat something first.  The stockings are a compromise.  They usually include, healthy protein heavy trail mix, granola cereal bars, an apple, banana and orange, a few packets of hot cocoa or herbal tea, a little Christmas Candy and a few small toys.  The children can open these things immediately and eat a few things and play with their few toys while Dan and I get breakfast started.  We have scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls and coffee, tea or hot chocolate for breakfast, then we open the rest of the gifts.  This way, nobody is hungry and irrational while we open gifts, but they do get the immediate gratification of opening something. 
We also designate Christmas Elves.  One Elf takes care of the trash, one reads the tag, one delivers the gift to the proper recipient, one Elf keeps track of what was given for thank you notes, and one Elf helps the youngest child open their gifts.  Generally, the older children have the jobs of reading tags and helping the littlest one open their gifts.  Dan and I keep the thank you list.  The littlest ones stay near us and the middle ones take turns delivering gifts to the recipient or taking care of trash.  We only open one gift at a time, that way Dan and I can keep track of what was given.  We do not open the packaging, just unwrap the gift.  We have found, if toys are opened and played with while unwrapping is still happening, it is a certainty that parts will be lost.  So, toys stay in the packaging until all unwrapping is done.  We try to take turns opening gifts, but sometimes one of the children will get two or three gifts in a row because that is just how they are arranged under the tree.  When it is time to open the actual packaging, Dan and I do that, again, to make sure no parts are lost. 

Christmas toys stay in the living room for about a week or so.  By the end of a week, I am usually ready to start finding permanent homes for these toys.  That means, if we have not recently done a toy purge, we do one while Dan is home. 

The last tradition of this holiday season, is to give one last, small gift to each other on Epiphany.  This is the day we celebrate the wise men coming to visit the infant Jesus and presenting him with Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh.  Of course, Jesus was not a new born when the Three Wise Guys (per Ethan, age 6) finally found their way to him, he was probably 2 or 3 and, I doubt he appreciated those gifts very much.  He probably was more interested in the boxes they came in and/or whether they had good throwing or chewing value.  Just my thoughts on the matter.  However, I am certain that Mary and Joseph treasured those gifts greatly as yet another sign of the majesty of their son and the amazing things that were to come.
It does seem to require a little more work to have a fun Christmas in a large family, especially when the children are still young.  However, there is nothing like the fun of all these children learning about and celebrating this most important season, all at home together.  It is worth the work.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

To Aunt Doodle

In February 2008, my Aunt Sue was very ill and many of us anticipated she was going to die.  However, it happened far faster than expected.  I had intended to go down and see her again, with my youngest, while she was alive.  Having foolishly postponed that trip, under the errant belief that she would be home from the hospital soon, I was faced instead with the trip to Texas for her funeral.  I made fast arrangements, packed up my 13 month old son and got on a plane for Dallas. 

It was just me and Isaac travelling.  Since my Uncle Gene had to go ahead to Aunt Sue's hometown to make arrangements for her funeral, he would not be there to greet me.  I landed in Dallas, rented a car, installed a car seat, wrangled my cranky toddler into the car and praised God for the GPS unit I rented, since it helped me to find my way.  It also kept encouraging me to turn right onto a railroad track, but never mind that it did not like me, it helped me get to Uncle Gene and Aunt Sue's.  Walking into that house was so strange.  My Aunt Sue was the energetic sort who always had something going on.  She and Uncle Gene had wanted children but had never been able to have any of their own.  Aunt Sue filled that void by loving on her nieces and nephews and all neighbor children who crossed her path.  Walking into a house without that energy, warmth and noise made it clear that Aunt Sue was gone.  I felt so alone.  I made myself and Isaac as comfortable as I could and tried to sleep.

The next day, I drove four hours to the town where Aunt Sue would be buried.  I met up with Uncle Gene and Uncle Doug and we had the funeral, burial and lunch after.  It was amazing how many people came up and told me how glad they were I was there and how glad Aunt Sue would be that Isaac was there.  This was especially comforting to hear as Isaac played and danced on graves at her burial.  I know this would have been highly inappropriate at most funerals, but I know, had Aunt Sue been there, she would have been playing with him and cuddling him close enough to make him squirm.  That night my Uncle Gene, Uncle Doug, Isaac and I stayed at the home of one of Aunt Sue's cousins.  That was where I met my Aunt Sue's Aunt Doodle.

Aunt Doodle was very old and obviously somewhat on the delicate side.  However, she cooked for us and loved on Isaac and hugged me in exactly the same way Aunt Sue would have.  Throughout the trip family members of my Aunt could not seem to stop hugging and kissing on cheeks.  Isaac had be snuggled and passed around and enjoyed and loved on.  I was beginning to truly understand where Aunt Sue got her love for children and learned how to express that love.  Aunt Doodle was the epitome of this love.  She was lovely and sweet.  She and her daughter made sure that we felt welcome and comfortable.  They truly treated us like family they knew and loved, though this was the first time I had ever met any of them.

Over a year later, just after Christmas, I was nearly ready to have our daughter Miriam and I was running out of patience with being so hugely pregnant.  I was also having one of those days in which the children were doing their utmost to try my patience and make me wonder why I love them so much.  I sought respite on the porch and two of them tried to follow me.  I had to bite my tongue to keep from snapping at them to go away.  I managed to convince them they were not missing anything exciting and I was not running away. 

They went back in the house and I wandered to the end of the driveway, hoping a few minutes of sunshine and fresh air would equip me to finish the day ahead.  There in the mail box was a totally unexpected pick me up.  The card started "Dearest Sweet Sara, I am your Aunt Sue's Aunt Doodle.  I was thinking of you and your beautiful family."  It was a warm, sweet, loving card and emphasized what a blessing she felt Isaac and I were to her during the time of Aunt Sue's funeral. 

I sat on my porch swing and cried.  I thought about my Aunt Sue and how she would have loved to meet the little one who was about to be born.  It made me sad that she would never meet this daughter of mine on this side of Heaven.  I also was thinking of how truly loved and welcome I felt when I was with her family.  I found myself thanking God for the angel in human skin who had loved us so well for those two short days.  Here she was again, brightening a difficult and dark day.  She signed the card "Your Aunt Doodle."  What a true blessing that card was. 

I made sure to send her a birth announcement, but that year we did not send Christmas cards and I don't think I heard from her again.  I thought of her often as I ran across her card in unexpected places.  This year, I decided to send her a copy of our family picture and a Christmas card to tell her what a lovely woman she is and a blessing to me.  I hoped it would brighten her day as she had brightened mine and I knew she would appreciate seeing all of the children.

Today, I received a card from her daughter.  As soon as I saw the address I knew what had happened.  The card explained that last September, Aunt Doodle had a fall and broke her hip and arm.  Six weeks later, while getting herself into her wheelchair, she fell again, suffered a brain hemorrhage and died.  She thanked me for remembering her mother and sending such a lovely card and picture of my precious family.  I found myself crying over the loss of a woman I had met once and "spoken" to twice.  She had touched me and in so doing had brightened and softened a little part of my heart. 

I believe God has heart tenderizing people scattered in our lives.  They are the people who do such a wonderful job of thoroughly loving everyone around them.  I don't know what it was exactly about Aunt Doodle, but I felt like she took a special liking to me.  In reality, I know she was simply one of those amazing souls who makes every single person in her world feel special and loved.  I have been blessed to have a few such people in my life.  I wish I knew how these people manage to love like that. 

I shared all this because such a sweet woman should be remembered.  I also shared because I wanted to assure people that little things matter.  I treasure thank you notes and cards that are sent to me.  I know I am not the only one.  It seems some people want to make the grand gesture, or nothing at all.  A card sent to someone who is sick, or just someone you were thinking of, can brighten that person's day.  A phone call can do the same.  I suppose a text or email can too, but there really is something about a card, with handwritten words that just has more feeling to it.  Maybe because it takes more effort to buy the card, write the note, seal the envelope, buy the stamps and send the card, than it does to shoot off an email.  I know that I neglect a lot of people and there are probably some reading this now thinking, "Huh, a tad hypocritical of you, Sara."  Yeah, I know.  I am not talking about me here, just saying, we all could stand to learn a lot from the Aunt Doodles of the world. 

To my Aunt Sue's Aunt Doodle (who became my Aunt Doodle, even if for just a short while),  Thank you for loving me unselfishly and without gain.  Thank you for being a little bit of God's love in human skin.  You surely will be remember by many more people than you ever could have thought possible.    Thank you, God, for placing people on this earth who give us just a small taste of how You love us.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Because You Should!

No time to blog, so this one will not be edited.  I was sitting here, wasting time I should spend some other way, E came up and told me he wiped all the counters off and the kitchen was ready for me to make biscuits. I told him, "Thank you!  I knew I loved you for some good reason!" and put my hand out to catch his 'five'.  This began a game of 'slap catch'.  You know the game, you try to catch the person's hand when they are giving you five and they try to not be caught.  He was really good, so I finally looked at him and was smiling at the look of sheer determination on his face.  He was determined to not be caught by my hand.  I was not even close to catching him.  He started just sticking his finger on my hand and then he suddenly pulled back.  He got this funny, kinda wicked look on his face.  Then, suddenly, he threw his arms around me and gave me a big hug and held on.  I wrapped my arms around him and held on until HE was ready to let go.

Why is it so important I wait until HE is ready to let go?  Well, how many of those impromptu, unsolicited hugs from my Fabulous Firstborn will be coming my way in the near future?  He is getting so big, 10 years old, tall enough to make people think he is way older, hands starting to look like little man hands, and his feet are doing the same.  It won't be long before he may not want to hug me as much, then he won't be around as much and then, before I know it, I will blink and my firstborn will be out on his own.  I will blink again and he will be introducing me to a young woman he is interested in.  Another blink and he will be presenting me with beautiful red headed grand babies.  Just a blink and he will be off in his own life.

When the opportunity is presented, I hold on, tight, so tight.  I thank him for the hug and I tell him I love him.  In my brain, it is a moment of worship, not of my E, though he is amazing, no, it is a moment to worship God, who created this amazing kid!  All I could think was "Oh, thank you God!  Thank you!  We truly are fearfully and wonderfully made.  I know this full well.  Thank you for giving me this boy.  I know he is yours and you could have given him to any woman on the planet.  You let me be his mom and I am soo blessed to have him.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"  One little hug and I have tears in my eyes and my breath taken away.  This is what moms need to know.  One little hug can change your whole day. 

So, hug your kids, not just the little sideways obligatory hugs!  Scoop them up, squeeze them, love them, tell them they are wonderful and that you are so glad they are your kiddos!  Don't blink when you don't have to.  Hug them when they want to be hugged, not just because you should, but because someday you will want to and they won't be as easy to get a hold of.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Celebrating 10 Years

As of yesterday, I have been at this parenting gig ten years.  Here is what I have learned, in no particular order.

Labor is labor.
No matter how long or short, it is hard work.

When your baby is born, it is as if a piece of your heart is now outside of your body and oh so vulnerable!

You don't know what love is until you hold your baby.

My pre-parenting self and my current self are two totally different people and I like them both!

You can not hold a baby too much.

It is okay to put your baby down and go breathe for a minute, if necessary.

Babywearing is amazing!

It is okay to do things differently than everyone else.

Toddlers are too much fun to be considered scary, so celebrate those first steps! You now have someone to help you with housework!

The 'terrible twos' are rather terrific, but watch out for the Frightening Fours!

Your children can lose teeth and you don't have to reward them for it!

Six and seven year olds know the rules better than you do and they know who is breaking them.

Six and seven year olds are not required to follow those rules, so they think.

Children can do way more than you think.

Children should contribute to the world around them and to their family's well being.

You can never have too many children.

You will not love one child the same way you love the others and that is okay.

The amazing thing about having children is that the love grows and multiplies and becomes like a web holding the whole family up.

Each child will need to be disciplined and raised differently, because each child IS different.  Treating them all the same would be truly unfair.

Lots of moms have favorites, the good ones make sure their children never know.

There is enough busyness in my house that visitors don't notice a little mess!

I know the difference between good noise and bad noise.

I can spot a hungry baby at 30 paces and it hurts when the mama won't feed the baby.

You should never yell at a mama for not feeding her baby, you don't want to make motherhood any harder for her than it already is and she probably thinks she can't feed her baby right now.

A kind word spoken to a mother blesses her and all of her children, thus brightening a handful of lives!

I would kill for my kids and part of me would die if they were seriously hurt.

I can't do this job perfectly, no matter how hard I try.

Watching my children converse intelligibly with each other was a milestone nobody told me to watch for, but it is amazing!

There are days I dread getting up, but one little smile can turn it all around.

Children are stealthy and creative, pray they don't combine these two traits.

I don't have to cook foods that everyone likes all the time, they will not starve overnight.

It is incredibly important that my children learn to obey and respect me when they are young. If they can't do it then, when will they? If they can't obey and respect the woman who gave birth to them (and is loving to them) who will they obey and respect?

Every mom truly does think her child/ren are the cutest, smartest, sweetest, etc.

Most moms are smart enough not to tell you they think their child is better than yours.

Surround yourself with the kind of mom you want to be and it will be an easier goal to acheive.

People who call their kids names when they are calm and the kids are not around are not people I want to spend time with.

Babies really do grow up far too fast, but if you study them while they sleep, you will see the baby is still there, until they are about 6.

Even ten-year-olds sometimes need their mommy to come and hold them.

When your biggest kid needs a hug or wants to cuddle DO IT, NOW, no matter what.

Hugs and cuddles expire without warning.

The days and nights are long, but the years go by quickly.

I would do anything for my kids, but sometimes the best thing I can do for them is nothing, that is hard.

Ten-year-olds smell funny, act funny, talk funny, walk funny, look funny and yet you love them.

Children convict you of your own habits and bad behaviors better than anything on this planet.

Motherhood is the hardest and most important job I will ever do.

Sadly, while many people pay lip service to the idea of motherhood being important, the
actions of society as a whole say that if a woman makes childrearing the focus of her adult life she is wasting her time, talents and energy.

Make sure you set aside every little positive comment you receive about your children, cherish and be thankful for each one. Someday, they may be difficult and you will need to remember those positive comments!

Moms can not quit on their children, not ever.

I see more beauty around me and enjoy life more, now that I have children.

Knowing what I know now, all the pain, exhaustion, hard labor, long nights, hugs, kisses, firsts and joys experienced in the past ten years, if given the chance, I would go back and do it all over again, no hesitation!

Children really are a blessing and I praise God for letting me be a mom!

Happy Birthday to my Polar Bear, Chug Bug, Big E, E-man, Little Guy, The Puker, Sir Barfs-a-Lot, First Sweet, Gangly Guy, Little Dude, hot tempered, sweet souled, on fire first born! Who knew one little baby could make so many changes?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Reuse Those Old Duds, Darlin'

I love giving my clothes, and whatever else I no longer need, to people who can use them.  However, there comes a time when an item, no matter how lovely, cute or useful it once was, must die.  I consider myself to be the place where old baby clothes come to die.  If I receive a hand-me-down item of baby clothing with stains on it, I will treat and wash it once, if the stain does not come out, it is retired to my fabric pile and made useful.  I will not throw an item out if I can come up with a use for it, but I will not pass stained or ripped stuff on. 

I feel guilty buying fabric to make things when so many things have fabric that I can use long after the original garment will no longer work.  A stain on the shoulder of a t-shirt means it really can not be worn out of the house, but the rest of the fabric is fine and can be used.  Think back a hundred years.  When a garment was no longer good for it's original use, the fabric was repurposed and if nothing else it was put in the rag bag or might be made into a quilt.  This is my version of the same.

In no particular order, here are things I have done or heard of being done with various items that have outlived their original use. In some cases a serger or sewing machine make these projects easier or things last longer, but in other cases a pair of scissors is all you need.

Towels When they raggedy or worn thin in spots you can -

Cut them down and use them for dirtier jobs, bleach jobs, etc.

Cut down, serge on the sides and use as wash cloths, diaper wipes, face wipes. These are good to have in a bag in the car for cleaning messy faces. I keep a bottle of water in the car, get one at a time wet as I need them and scrub away. They get the job done and don't leave stickiness or a funky smell in their wake.

Use a big bath towel that has gotten raggedy on the edges to make a pillow case for your throw pillows. I am planning to do this so that I can easily cover the pillows when a child is sick and spending time on the couch. That way the pillow case is absorbent and washable and maybe it will save your nice couch pillows from the possible yuck.

We also have simply cut off the strings and retired towels to the rag drawer for catching spills in the kitchen and wiping dirty paws and feet. 

Wedding Dresses and Other Fancy, Never Going To Wear Again, Duds

I know, in some cases a daughter or daughter-in-law may want to wear a wedding dress. Then again, in many cases the size is not going to work and can not be made to work and sometimes a dress is...errrr....not timeless.  Here are some other ways to save the sentimental items.

Use the material from a wedding dress to make a baptism gown, first communion gown, or ring pillow. These items can then be passed around for generations and be heirlooms.

Use some material to make a fancy cover for a wedding album.

Beads could be restrung and given as a gift to a young girl when she reaches a certain age. Even if they are not pricey, they hold sentimental value.

Lace can be saved to be used on a future wedding dress.

Lining material can be made into a playsilk, or play skirt for a little girl, or as a slip or liner for another dress.

Or, you could follow my mother's upcycling technique and let your dog sleep on your wedding dress.  Ahem.  :)


Cut into 2 inch wide strips, braid three of these strips together, as you get close to the end of one strip, you sew another on to the end (adding length) and continue braiding until you have a long coil of braid. Once you have lots of braid coiled up (you can use lots of color shirts and add on as tees wear out) you stitch them together in a circle, heart, oval, square, whatever and you have a throw rug.  Some people do this with their white undershirts and sorta tie dye the braid before sewing.  Pretty cool.

Make fitted diapers out of them - yes really, there are tutorials online here www.naturalviolet.blogspot.com/2009/04/recycled-t-shirt-diaper.html  and here you can just use the t-shirt as a diaper, not cutting needed, cool!  www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL7ZF3jlVgc

Use a serger to make them into face cloths, diaper wipes, etc.

Of course, soft tees make great dust cloths.

A little creative cutting and ribbon makes a super cute dress for a little girl look online for t-shirt made into dress tutorials.  Ohhh, I can't find the tutorial!  This one is complex, but great!  www.indietutes.blogspot.com/2007/06/adult-tee-to-childs-dress-recon.html  What I did was more like this pillow case tutorial, I just cut the sleeves off an old shirt of mine.  www.everythingsewing.net/pillowcase_dress_how_to.htm


Cut offs, really, you knew that already, right?  I have serged, rolled and put a few quick stitches in to make for nicer denim shorts.  Not the most stylish things, but my boys really do not care.

Make a pair of jeans into a skirt using an online tutorial.  www.savvyseams.com/clothing/jeanskirt.php

What about when the tear is in the crotch (hard to repair) and what about the fabric you cut off below that nasty knee tear? AHA!

Save these scraps and unuseable denim pants. Cut the good fabric on them into 6" or 8" squares, you can incorporate any fancy trim or pockets for a funky look. Sew them together with flannel squares on the back. Leave the edges raw so they fray and you have a great picnic quilt.  I got this idea from the amazing Deb of Diapers by Deb at http://www.madebymama.com/.  Here is a tutorial I found  www.patchwork-and-quilting.com/rag-quilt.html  I am working on one of these this winter and will post pictures when I finish it. 

You can also save the long bits that are left over after you cut the squares off the legs and give them the same treatment we gave the t-shirts. That's right, make a braided rug. However, sewing these bad boys is not for the faint of heart!  www.craftown.com/instruction/rugs.htm

What about the butt part? Make a cute purse. You could even make the straps by braiding denim strips together. Suggested by Liz.  I would leave the lining out, but I guess that does make it nicer.  www.threadbanger.com/post/2642/how-to-turn-old-jeans-into-a-sweet-new-purse

Children's pants

Dress pants with tattered knees get the cut off treatment, serged, rolled and stitched to make dressy shorts.

Sweat pants with tattered knees get the cut off treatment.

The legs of those sweats are cut open to lay flat, anything hard (elastic or a seam) is cut off.  Then, I cut the fabric into appropriate lengths to use as diaper liners.  The fabric is thick enough to keep diaper rash cream away from your diapers!  After a use or two I don't feel bad throwing these away (the rash cream never completely washes out and WILL affect the absorbency of your diapers, so DO NOT wash liners with diapers!)

Other odds and ends

When flannel shirts are past their prime they are often soft. If that is the case, I will cut them into handkerchiefs for the kids. These are not necessarily pretty, but they get the job done and don't rub little faces raw. Also, flannel scraps are used to make the back of the denim quilt above!

I replaced the fabric on my dining room chairs and used the old fabric to make dish cloths. The fabric is really nubby and does a GREAT job of scrubbing.

Just about any material can be made into a diaper. If you have thought about switching to cloth diapers, but cringed at the cost, consider making your own from worn out clothing you already have or can find at thrift stores. I would reccomend using hemp, microfiber or at least flannel for the absorbent inner parts, but that would still make for a really cheap, just as effective diaper and leave you only purchasing the PUL covers.  You could also go to the thrift store, buy old wool sweaters and make those into covers!

A friend recently used parts of old favorite pants to make a cute skirt. The waist was a waistband from a comfy pair of pants and she used legs from pants to create panels. Enough panels sewn together and sewn to the waist band and voila, a cute, free and comfy skirt! I would totally do this with pants that I no longer can wear, if I still love the pattern.

I know not all of these ideas would be appealing to everyone, but I hope this will make you think twice before you throw away an item of clothing that looks like it is beyond redemption.