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.

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.