Friday, July 11, 2014

After More Than 20 Years It's Finished

My mom started this jean quilt more than 20 years ago during a decidedly transitional period in our lives.  Without getting into details, let's just say times were hard.
I remember the stacks of jeans that she used to cut the pieces from. The jeans were given to her by various friends and family members. I remember them going with us wherever we moved.  I don't think I really appreciated (or even thought much about) the reason why we were carrying it all with us.  It was just there.  A part of us, a part of our lives.   
The quilt top was finished a few years later.  After all the moving and being stored in places it was decidedly dirty and so my mom washed the quilt top at which point some parts frayed and some seams were undone.  And so the quilt was put away again.
A couple of years ago, while my mom was out visiting us, she brought the quilt with her.  We shopped at Joann's for some batting and backing fabric together and the project was handed on to me.  This was about the time I had completed my first quilt for Ladybug.
Another baby and a couple of years later, I decided it was time to finish my mom's quilt.  I looked up ideas on fixing quilts and decided on applique.  I'd never tried that before, but figured now was as good a time as any.  I planned on twelve little flowers in various places around the quilt, but after the first one, decided two were plenty.  Not only did I not want to overwhelm the quilt itself, all that stitching was tiresome and it was time for the quilt to be finished.  (Plus I want to take it with us on our upcoming road trip to Seattle!) 
After the applique, the rest was simple.  I cut off any frays from the back of the quilt top, positioned the batting and backing and tied the quilt and finished the edges.  Done!  Enough talk.  Want to see some pictures (pardon their quality)?

It's much more warmth than we need in this climate, but is perfect for a picnic blanket, and maybe someday a family heirloom.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Tale of Two Scales - {phfr}

round button chicken

A little teaser about an almost finished quilt.  I'll post about it when it's done.  This quilt has a story!
 {happy, funny, and real}

While pregnant with Froggy I gained...quite a bit of weight.  But after he was born I lost 30 pounds of it immediately.  This put me in between the 165 and 170 mark according to my scale at home (you can figure out what I weighed by a little math).  I'm 5'4" so...yeah I still had a ways to go.

Months went by.  Sometimes the number on the scale would read 165.  Sometimes 170.  But that's it.  No other loss.  And I was nursing!  But I was also eating cookies and ice cream and chocolate like crazy.  So.  Not going to lose a lot of weight on the all sugar diet.

And then one day when Froggy was about 7 or 8 months old, my neighbor across the street patted my belly and asked if I was pregnant again.  I shrugged it off and went home...and ate a whole plate of brownies in my sorrow.  (My husband was out of town that week as well.  Lots of emotions.)

It was after this that I started to do the Couch to 5K thing again.  That lasted all of three runs before I remembered how much I dislike running.  And the timing was always so hard to figure out.  Do I get up early and try to run before everyone else is awake?  But I've been up with the baby half the night!  Do I wait until my husband gets home at 5:30?  Who's going to make dinner?  What about after dinner?  Running on a full stomach?!  Do I put both big kids on bikes and both babies in the bike stroller and run that way?  Sounds like fun! (Not even.)

I tried doing my exercise videos at home, but never could really get into them.  And through all this the numbers on the scale never changed.

Enter a few weeks ago when I was so tired of my fat, tired self that I broke down and bought the streaming version of Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred on Amazon (affiliate link).  I did that work out one day and the next day I was so sore I could barely walk.  The soreness went on for three days.  I complained (in my usual habit) to my husband, who knew the results of a good workout when he saw them, and he decided to give it a try too.

So the two of us have been trying to shred ourselves on Level 1, and I've noticed that I can almost keep up with the video now doing jumping jacks and butt kicks!  And I'm not sore anymore after a workout.  Working out with my husband has been kind of fun and he wants to do it, so that makes me keep doing it.

But still the numbers on the scale were not moving.  Not one. little. bit.  165. 170. 165. 170.  My goal is 142 so knowing that I have almost 30 pounds to lose and nothing is changing is very discouraging.

Enter 11:30 last night.  My husband finally decided to weigh himself (he had been avoiding the scale) and was shocked to see the number (I'm not going to post his numbers).  "No way!  I cannot weigh &*^!  Not possible!"  This was a very high number which he had never ever weighed before.  "The scale has got to be wrong!"

Wrong?!  The scale is wrong?!  How wrong?!  How long has it been wrong?!

My husband sped (well, I don't think he actually sped, but you know what I mean) to Walmart where he jumped on the scale at the wellness area.  It read...his actual weight, which was about 25 pounds lighter than the scale said at home.  He called me and told me the good news and then picked up a new scale.

When he got home we both tested our new scale.  157.  Fully dressed and with wet hair. 1.5.7.  NOT 170!  This morning I did an accurate weigh in and was 155.

How's that for losing 15 pounds overnight?  I'm coming for you Jillian!

Go visit Like Mother, Like Daughter to see other contented people.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nothing Like An Arizona Summer

I keep sending my kids outside to go play and they come back in a few minutes later saying, "It's too hot!"  I guess they have a point:

Know any good games to play inside?

Monday, June 30, 2014

On Boys and Girls

We are currently reading aloud The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit {affiliate link} and have found it to be wonderful.  This passage from last night so struck me that I wanted to post it here.

'Well,' said the Doctor, 'you know men have to do the work of the world and not be afraid of anything - so they have to be hardy and brave.  But women have to take care of their babies and cuddle them and nurse them and be very patient and gentle.'

'Yes,' said Peter, wondering what was coming next.

'Well then, you see.  Boys and girls are only little men and women.  And we are much harder and hardier than they are' - (Peter like the 'we'.  Perhaps the Doctor had known he would.) - 'and much stronger, and things that hurt them don't hurt us.  You know you mustn't hit a girl -'

'I should think not, indeed,' muttered Peter, indignantly.

'Not even if she's your own sister.  That's because girls are so much softer and weaker than we are; they have to be, you know,' he added, 'because if they weren't, it wouldn't be nice for the babies.  And that's why all the animals are so good to the mother animals.  They never fight them, you know.'

'I know,' said Peter, interested; 'two buck rabbits will fight all day if you let them, but they won't hurt a doe.'

'No; and quite wild beasts - lions and elephant - they're immensely gentle with the female beasts.  And we've got to be, too.'

'I see,' said Peter.

'And their hearts are soft, too,' the Doctor went on, 'and things that we shouldn't think anything of hurt them dreadfully.  So that a man has to be very careful, not only of his fists, but of his words.  They're awfully brave, you know,' he went on.  'Think of [Roberta] waiting alone in the tunnel with that poor chap.  It's an odd thing - the softer and more easily hurt a woman is the better she can screw herself up to do what has to be done.  I've seen some brave women...'

If you haven't read this one aloud to your children, I highly recommend it.  My seven year old son has been so inspired by this book ("They saved the train, Mom!") and my five year old has listened pretty intently to the story, and I am finding it captivating as well.

I'll leave you with a few pictures of my girls and boys, just doing what boys and girls do best, playing:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Got It Good

I signed my children up for swim lessons.  Those lessons put our family at the pool's side every day except Monday from 9 until 11:30 for the next two weeks.  Sounds luxurious right?  Sitting by the pool everyday with nothing else to do except eat pretzels and bask in the sunshine...Not exactly.

By 9am it's about 90 degrees here and by the time we left at 11:30 it was 102, but that's fine.  There's a pool to cool us off.  Sunflower has the first lesson and the older two children jump in and swim around and have a grand time, and I have only to keep the baby entertained and keep an eye on things.  This is as close as it gets to the luxury stated above and I will admit it is quite fun.  It is a bonus that a good friend is there during this time as well.

As time goes on it gets hotter and the baby gets less willing to hang out in his stroller.  After Sunflower's lesson we have a lull when none of my children are in a lesson.  This is when it gets a little...wonky.  Ensuring Fritter is not getting too wild doing his jumps and twists off the side of the pool, that Ladybug is staying close to the edge, that the baby has a steady supply of pretzels or that his little floaty boat stays within reach, and that my daring little Sunflower (now made braver by her lessons "Look mom I can float sink!") does not run off to dive into the deep end or that she stays firmly attached with her arms around my neck in the pool.

When 11:30 hits, we are ready to come home and have a hearty lunch of Peanut Butter & Honey (a staple in this house) and take naps, waking up to realize that the almost forgotten and hastily applied sunblock barely did it's job.  We have got it good.

Note for tomorrow...put sunblock on before you leave the house.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Good Book

Last night my husband and I got very little sleep.  This was not the fault of our children, nor was it the fault of ...well maybe the coke ice cream floats had something to do with it, but it just happened that both of us happened to be reading very good books and we just could not put. them. down.

I was in the last couple of chapters of With God in Russia by Father Walter Ciszek.  The book is an autobiographical account of an American Jesuit priest who went into Russia for missionary work in 1939 and was very soon arrested as "a Vatican spy".  He spent four (or five?) years in basically solitary confinment in prison before being sent to work for 15 years in the prison camps of Siberia, plus a few years of undefined status in a couple of towns in Siberia.  The story is amazing and last night at about midnight my husband asked what I was still doing up.  I told him there was no way I was going to bed until I found out if he makes it out of Russia.  And then when I was done with the book, I did just a little research and found this website dedicated to Father Ciszek's cause for cannonization.

I could have asked my husband what he was doing up as well, but his answer would have been the same thing.  He has started reading Quo Vadis and cannot put it down.  He read 100 pages last night and said he understands why it is one of the best-selling books of all time.

There is nothing like a good book to make you lose sleep.  It's like spending the evening chatting away with a good friend.  Read anything good lately?  There are lots of good books out there right now.  My next read is Something Other Than God, which, if the reviews are true, just may make me lose more sleep.

I like to keep several books going at once.  Yesterday I also finished reading the Charlotte Mason Companion, which was filled with great ideas I hope to implement in our school next year (and some this summer too) and I'm also reading The Little Oratory which will now take most of my daytime reading since I finished CM.

I once had a dream of being a librarian.  My house certainly isn't as quiet as a library, but I like to pretend.  I've even taken a step to realizing my dream...instead of referring to our front room as (wait for it) the front room, I've taken to calling it "the library".  My children look at me funny, but they'll catch on someday.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Little Oratory - A Review

I have long since been a fan of Auntie Leila and her blog Like Mother, Like Daughter.  I think that is probably apparent since it seems I only blog during her link up anymore.  As a convert and an only child, I often find lost navigating the waters of largish (by today's standards, but really smallish) family life and trying to "build the culture" as Auntie Leila calls it.  So often I feel as if I am reinventing the wheel.  And that's where Like Mother, Like Daughter comes in.  I have found encouragement AND practical help there.  Where else can you read about Taking a Shower, Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping, Laundry 101 (and 202), Homeschooling, Child Discipline, Thrifting, and Crafting all in one place?  In a way that is approachable and doesn't make you feel as if you could never, ever do any of that in a million years?  I know of only one place.
So imagine how thrilled I was when I heard that Auntie Leila had written a book?  On prayer?  In the home?  Of course I pre-ordered it as soon as I could and the day I received it in the mail turned out to be a pretty awesome day:
I had gotten a pedicure that morning.  Yes sir, that was a special day!
 Just as I suspected the book is just like having Leila here to chat with.  Now I don't have to stalk her blog waiting for a new post!  I can just open the book!  (That doesn't mean I'm not still stalking the blog, or going back and reading the archives, I totally am).  I'm not even all the way through the book, but I have read enough to know that this book is a treasure.  The Little Oratory is centered around making a prayer corner in the home and then practical ways to pray with the family, especially the Liturgy of the Hours.  But, true to Auntie Leila's style, it is really so much more.  There is a little section about stain removal (for the cloth for the prayer table of course) that I am going to copy and hang in my laundry room for reference.  There are pearls of wisdom throughout the book and I could go on and on.  Including what to do with spent matches!  How clever!

The Little Oratory was co-written by David Clayton and it includes icons he created that you can pull out and frame for your prayer table.  They are beautiful and as soon as I could go to the store and pick up some frames (I found a few 3-packs of 5x7's at Target for $5) I got to work.  I hung two of the icons at the foot of our bed (we already had the little shelf and crucifix up), and I love how finished they seem to make this spot.

Here's out a little so you can see it in context.  Window to the right and my dresser to the left.

Zoomed in a little.  These walls are white.  The lighting in here is just weird.
We already had a little "altar" of sorts set up in our front room, I posted about it once here, but after reading all the possibilities and ideas, I realized that I really could do better than that.  With just a little thought, I moved a few tables around (this one I stole from our front door area) and voila:
 This little prayer spot is so functional and (to me) beautiful.  Going from the top down let's look at it a little closer:
Three more icons from the book.  My husband really loves these ones.
 I'm not sold on the cloth, but it's what I had on hand for now.  I wrote down in my little idea book that I want to find a decent cloth and possibly do some embroidery, but for now this works.  I'll switch out the color cloth for appropriate colors during the liturgical year.  The cross was a gift from one of my grandmothers.  The statue on the left is of St. Joseph and as you can see from the little prayer card, he's a pretty special saint for our family.  The box on the left holds our rosaries.  The little box in the center of the table holds matches with the striker plate glued on the inside lid (again from Leila's idea on her blog, but she also writes about it in her book).  The little clay pot holds spent matches (this is a temporary thing, I have my eye out for something more permanent at thrift stores).
 This picture is grainy but you get the idea.  The bottom shelf of this table holds my little prayer basket which has small prayer books, a journal, some pens, ect.  We have our Breviary, Dan and my personal Bibles plus the family Bible, a Catechism, and other little devotional type books.
And there you have it.  If you haven't picked up your own copy of The Little Oratory, maybe because...well, I can't think of a reason why you wouldn't have it!  But if you don't have one, I can only tell you that this book is one that should be on every Catholic family's book shelf.
*I am linking this post up (even if my pictures happen to be a little grainy) with Leila's Little Oratory Link-up.  Do go see what other people are being inspired to create in their own homes!  It's very encouraging!  When the button is ready I will post that at the top.*