Sunday, December 12, 2010

Suzy and Avery

I transcribed a conversation my four year old had with her friend and made a movie of it. Suzy's using her advanced manipulation skills to get her way. I think it's a cute idea to take the little funny stories and cute sayings of our children that we love so much and save them by making a cartoon of it. If I ever get a faster computer, I will make more of these. Right now it takes a shameful amount of time. My poor old iBook just can't handle it!

Another Step

I can't wait till Friday!
I can't wait till Friday!
(I'm doing a little uncoordinated shuffle dance will singing)
Friday we go to Memphis to have our individual interviews with our case worker. We'll also turn in a bunch of paperwork. I hope we can schedule the home inspection then as well. And, if I'm really good, Nate may take me to an Ethiopian restaurant for lunch and Muddy's Bakeshop for a cupcake. :o)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Physicals, Check

We got our physicals yesterday. That's another thing off the checklist!
I had to get a tetanus shot and some blood drawn . Now, I hate needles. I hate them so much that I gave birth to a nearly nine pound baby without drugs mainly because I had seen an epidural needle in the past. Look:

I did not want that shoved up my spine, thank you.*
And I get so squeamish when I get blood drawn, it's worse than a shot! So here I was getting shots and blood drawn, with Suzy in the room! Suzy, who has developed a paranoia that doctors and dentists will sneak up on her and poke her with needles. I wonder who she got that from? I knew for her sake I could not be the baby I usually am in such circumstances. As the nurse took my blood, I sang (in my head) "Thy word had promised good to me, Thy word my hope secures. You will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures." That didn't last quite long enough, so I had to repeat it a few times!
Suzy was watching intently. I got really queasy when I saw the vials of blood. But I didn't freak out (at least outwardly) because I could feel those little blue eyes on me. Though I nearly lost my breakfast when the nurse removed the cotton too soon and the blood oozed out a little. I am obviously not cut out for anything in the medical field. Then followed the tetanus shot and TB test. There were no tears or sobs. I imagined I had a poker face, though that was probably wishful thinking.
Soon it was over and the doctor, who is a very nice doctor, came in to fill out our chart. He asked why we were getting physicals, and we explained that we were adopting. He went on and on about how great that was, how completely selfless and what-not. I told Nate later he must have thought we said we were giving our kidneys to strangers. :o)

*Other reasons I had a drug-free birth with a midwife: I didn't want an IV or, dare I say it, an episiotomy. (Don't worry, no pictures of that!) My needle/cut aversion is such that I can only explain it this way: I felt the same way about the prospect of an IV, epidural, and episiotomy as you might feel being told that when you go into labor, they will shove bamboo under your nails and pour boiling water on your feet. I was going to do whatever I had to in order to avoid it! :o)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Little Progress...

We've finished our self-studies last week. Yay! Mine was twelve pages long, Nate's came in at 21 pages. He was very thorough and explained in detail. I gave basic answers with occasional jokes. In the end, I think they both reflect our personalities!
We got them in before the holiday, and got our joint interviews scheduled. We even got our sitter lined up. I was so excited, especially about the sitter part! (Thanks, Jennifer!) That has been the hardest part of the process so far, finding a sitter. Nothing makes you miss living near your mamma like trying to find a sitter and everyone's busy!
After the interviews, we'll schedule a home visit. Debbie, or social worker, doesn't know when that will be because her caseload is doubled. She said she needs to schedule it at a time when she can be reasonably sure she can write the report within thirty days of the visit.
My goal is to make use of the delay to get all the other stuff done. This week I'm calling to schedule physicals for Nate and I, drop off the physical form for Suzy's pediatrician to fill out, try to get fingerprinted, and take the background check papers to the sheriff. Let's see how that goes!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Poppy Headbands

This summer I saw a tutorial on Ruffles And Stuff for this headband and was inspired. I thought it was a brilliant use of resources! And it was so cute. I finally got around to making some in the early fall. I decided to sacrifice my only red purse for the project. It was too small anyway, so now it lives on in a more useful capacity. I like to think it's happier that way. :o)
I changed it up from the tutorial a little. I made poppies instead of bows, and I added some beads for the flower centers. I also did decorative stitching. And I didn't glue anything, I sewed the flowers on. So really I just took the idea of killing a purse to make mother-daughter headbands! Disney at Ruffles And Stuff is great for inspiration like that. She has a craft budget of 0.0001% of the household budget, same as me. So her projects are very do-able.
I love how ours turned out. I love poppies! I think we'll wear them often, since they'll go with most of our winter clothes. Well, most of my winter clothes. Suzy's wardrobe is still mainly pink and purple, whatever the season. :o)

A close-up of my pretty girl:

This is really blurry. I had to zoom in to crop out my face. Don't judge! Anyway, I think you get a vague idea of what it's supposed to look like:

And just because she wanted her picture with Daddy too:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Newest Project

I've had a big project brewing for a while now, but I've had to keep relatively quiet about it, despite my excitement!
So here's what I've been working on - an adoption!
Nate and I have wanted to adopt since the early days of our marriage, but the time (and finances) were never right. God has blessed us this year by finally making us debt-free, and opening the doors of adoption.
It's been a rocky process with a few false starts, but now we are in the middle of our home study and well underway. Initially, we only wanted international adoption, and domestic adoption appealed to us zero. God used an information meeting at Bethany Christian Services to open our eyes to the realities of domestic infant adoption, and then an instance of a near-adoption to open our hearts to it. So we are now in the process of domestic infant adoption through Bethany.
The home study process is one interview as a couple, then individual interviews, then a home inspection. We had our first interview with the adoption social worker, Debbie, on Oct. 29th. It was supposed to be and hour and a half, but it took three hours. We had a hard time staying on track. We got along really well and would end up just chatting and forgetting the matter at hand! During that interview, we got our paperwork packet.
It is a lot of paperwork. Though from what I understand, not nearly as much as an international adoption. We are plugging along through. I got all the easy "fill this out and sign here" stuff done the first night we got our paperwork packet! Before we can schedule our individual interviews, Debbie needs to have two papers. One is called Family History, which was a pretty easy to fill out document with basic information about parents and siblings, and medical history. That was among the papers done the first night. The second is called a Self-Study. This is basically 50+ essay questions. Like "Describe your parents' relationship while you were growing up, and now." Ha ha, Mom, I told them all I knew! Just kidding! Anyway, this takes a long time. It took me about a week, stealing time where I could. At this time Nate had finished none of the questions.
So, on a trip to Memphis, I brought my laptop, and he dictated his answers to me. In an hour and a half, we had finished the first five questions. Yeah. Out of more than fifty. But it was a huge step in the right direction. Several times that week I'd type Nate's answers for him. Sometimes we'd only have fifteen minutes or so, and get maybe one, or at least one half, a question done. We're down to the last sixteen questions.
I was really pushing yesterday, because I wanted to get the self-studies in so we could schedule our second interviews by Monday. The sooner we had those, the sooner we'd get the home inspection, and the sooner we'd (hopefully) get approved. Which meant the sooner we could get our baby! But I got an email from Debbie saying she was going on vacation next week, so this bought him a reprieve.
After we finish this, we'll move on to what I call the Errand Papers. That's the things we have to go and do, getting criminal background checks, fingerprints, physicals, making copies of personal documents like marriage license and birth certificate. Then making of our profile photo book. Which is a job too.
My hope, and time will show how realistic this is, is to have the home study done by the end of January, and (hope, hope, hope) a baby by May.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

First Week of Homeschool!

We finished our first week of homeschool last Thursday. We go Monday through Thursday, and then take Friday off since that's Nate's day off.
It went so well! We do Bible, Math, Reading, and Drawing. Suzy is really doing well. We're using Phonics Museum by Veritas Press. It combines art with reading and writing. I've already seen Suzy expanding her appreciation of art, and we're only a week in!
She came to me one day dressed in a tutu and a yellow tank top. She handed me a red hair scarf and said, "Will you put in my pretty peach ribbon?" I tied back her hair, and she struck a pose. She clasped her hands behind her back, and tilted her head back. "Look!" she said, "I'm Degas' Little Dancer!" It was so cute!
This Friday we took a family field trip to the Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis. Suzy was so excited to go! She chattered about it the entire one and a half hour drive. She loved looking at paintings of people, especially of queens and kings. She liked the jewelry! She's already asking when we can go back.
Tomorrow we start our second week, and I hope things continue as well as they have been!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Penland Academy for Young Ladies

Yesterday we received our home school curriculum. As Nate was pulling loads and loads of books out of the box, he was getting more and more excited, and I was getting less so. I began to have simultaneous feelings of happiness, self-doubt, and buyer's remorse!
I was happy because I love teaching Suzy, and I've been intentionally teaching her since she was 10 months old. I made little lesson plans, and had a checklist of developmental goals. I know, I know! But she’s my only one, so why not?
So, last year, she met all the preschool developmental goals. At that point, I had no idea what further to do with her. I had taught preschool for years, and poured all my training and experience into Suzy, and I flat-out hit a wall. I had no idea how to begin teaching reading beyond letter recognition. We decided that instead of the both Suzy and Momma languishing a whole year not knowing what to do, that we would start kindergarten early, with a complete, made-by-someone-else curriculum.
We went with Veritas Press. It’s a classical education, with a heavy emphasis on the arts and languages. We got the kindegarten-1st grade combo (so she’ll do it for two years) of their reading program, The Phonics Museum. It combines art history with reading. It seems like something we’ll like.
Also, since it’s a pretty good bet (given her parents) that she’ll be more artistically than mathematically gifted, we got “Drawing With Children”, a book to help parents teach their children the basics of drawing. I was dismayed to find that it was over an inch thick, with nearly a third being prepatory work for the teacher. This brought in the self-doubt. However, since Suzy already spends hours contentedly drawing, I think she’ll love it so much that it will be well worth it.
My one big area of doubt was the math curriculum. We bought Saxon K, even though Veritas Press recommends skipping it and doing Saxon 1 for kindergarten. But since she’s only four, we went with the K. Looking it over last night, I think about a half of it are concepts she already knows well. This brought the buyer’s remorse. I decided to just go ahead with it and skip the lessons that would be too boring. And it’s all based around a calendar workbook that starts in September. It’s October, so it makes it awkward. We may just skip to the September lessons all together.
Anyway, these are my first impressions of the curriculum. Tomorrow is my Teacher Work Day. Nate will keep Suzy, and I will haul all this stuff to the library and plan my lessons. I’m actually really looking forward to that! I am excellent at planning. Not so good on follow through, but excellent at the planning!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's 1996 Calling...

My husband decided to reduce our phone bill. His first effort was to cancel our unlimited long distance calling. But he forgot to tell, you know, Texas, Oklahoma, Lousiana, Alabam, Virginia...they all got called. I chatted my little heart out.
So the bill was WAY higher than before. He remembered to tell me about the long distance then. He went back to talking with the phone company, and decided to re-instate the long distance plan, and cancel voice mail. It irritated him that he was paying $120 a year for something so unhelpful. I say unhelpful, because I never checked it. The only notice that we had a message was a change in dial tone when you picked up the phone. I never noticed a change in tone, indeed, I hardly ever picked up the phone. It wasn't unusual for someone to ask if we got the message they left left last week. We would get home, and sure enough, there would be three or four messages from the previous few weeks. Everytime, Nate would explain, again, how I could call the voicemail and check messages. I never did, prefering to continue in my obliviousness.
After three years, my long-suffering husband decided to try another method of message recording. After cancelling the voice mail, he sent me to buy an answering machine.
I went, talking to nate on the cell phone all the while. I told him I couldn't find them. He said they were on the aisle with the phones. There was no aisle with phones. After asking for assistance, I was directed to a small shelf of phones nestled between shelves of DVDs. The worker said they didn't sell many phones anymore. After looking, I found one, and only one, answering machine.
Later that evening Nate watched some tapes he found in the attic. First, a 1996 Florida Gators football game. I was on facebook, constantly interrupted by his cries of, "Look, did you see that play? You're not even watching!" No sir, I was not. I have to draw the line somewhere, and watching football games from 15 years ago is that line. Afterwards, he watched a tape of the tourist attractions of southeast Alaska that he had bought when he went there in the late '90s. It too, was circa 1996. Seeing the boxy, unattractive clothes, the neat white ankle socks with black keds worn with unflattering shorts and giant tshirts, made me understand why no one has '90s parties.
Later, as I was getting ready for bed, I heard Nate in the other room setting up the answering machine. I listened to him practice out-going messages: "Hello, you've reached the Penland residence...Hello, this is the Penlands, please leave a message after the beep," ect, and the machine's voice saying "You have no unheard messages" over and over. I realized I hadn't set up an answering machine since 1999. That combined with the evening's viewings, made me feel warped back into time. It cracked me up. I laughed at the poor little machine. Nate didn't like my suggestion for an out-going message. "Hello, you've called the 1990's. Please hold while the space-time continium attempts to correct itself."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Taggy Blanket

I've neglected my poor little blog as bad as the withered English ivy I have on my kitchen counter. I don't know why I keep the plant corpse displayed like a monument to my ineptitude, but there it is to greet me every morning.
Back to the blog...I've been silent for a few months, but all the while I was taking before and after pictures of my projects, pictures of Suzy doing funny things, and anything else that I thought would be a good post.
Thursday I decided I really had to upload them and get back into the habit of posting regularly again. But they were gone! All my pictures! Hundreds! Except for about thirty pictures - pictures of the floor of the middle bedroom, the upper door frame of the same room, and some incriminating shots Yo Gabba Gabba and Dora on tv. Yes, my darling Suzy had deleted all my pictures and then played photographer.
So no cute before and after project posts. Nope. But not all proof that I haven't spent the past several months laying on the couch reading library books has been lost. My friend Mendi became my first-ever customer and commissioned me (it sounds so important!) to make a taggy blanket for her baby Lennox. I forgot to take pictures of it before I sent it, so Mendi went above the duty of a customer and took them for me. The bonus is that my four year old couldn't delete them.
So here it is:

A close-up of the print:

It's by Mary Englebert Breight. The illustrations are the same as in her book of fairy tales, which is one of the cutest I've ever seen.

Here are some close ups of the tags. I LOVED layering ribbons and trims to make the tags. They were so fun.

I embroidered Lennox's initials in the center. His name is Lennox Melville Carlson. That sounds so dignified, like a president or a transcendental author. But let us hope for better things for him. ;o)

This is what it looked like all wrapped up and ready to ship. Except it's after shipping because I forgot to take pictures. So all wrapped up and recieved:

And my favorite, of the little chunk of love himself using the taggy at nap time. Isn't he cute? And huge. I'm pretty sure when he's two, he'll be able to tackle Suzy to the ground!

Mendi was my first paying customer. Don't tell her, but I would have made it for her anyway. This is her:

When my mother-in-law Jan was diagnosed with cancer, Mendi donated her hair to Locks of Love in her name. She had never even met Jan. How can you not love a girl like that?

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Recipe

I tried this recipe last night. It’s Gordon Ramsay’s Sticky Baked Chicken. I made a lot of changes based on what I had in my pantry, so I’ve noted those in parenthesis.

Sticky Chicken
Olive oil, to drizzle
10 chicken drumsticks ( I had 13, so I cooked them all)
Sea salt and black pepper
For the glaze:
6 tablespoons honey (I used 7)
3 tablespoons fish sauce (I don’t do fish sauce – so I used Texas Pete’s hot sauce)
4 teaspoons light soy sauce (I was out of soy sauce, so I used Worchestershire sauce)
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons (I used a little over 1/2 cup of juice)
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (I had seasoned rice vinegar.)
4 teaspoons sesame oil (actually had that)


-Heat the oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a large baking dish. Season the drumsticks with salt and pepper and arrange in the dish in a single layer. Drizzle over a little olive oil and bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes.

-Prepare the glaze in the meantime. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl until evenly combined.

-Take the chicken out of the oven and pour over the glaze, to coat each drumstick. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, turning several times, until the chicken is tender and nicely glazed.

-Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.

I piled the chicken in a smaller dish and poured the glaze from the cooking pan over it. It was so good!

Monday, September 13, 2010


I haven't posted in a looong time. My mother-in-law passed away in July. That was very difficult. I thought that I'd write a post about her. I spent a long time thinking about it, and then a long time trying to write it. It's hard! So instead of having my blog languish while I muddle through, I thought I'd start it up again. So here I am! Hopefully I'll post some projects this week!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Little Redecorating...

...of my blog. I spruced it up a bit. Even whipped out the ol' Adobe Illustrator to personalize my header. If you are a secret stalker who goes to my blog every 10-15 minutes, tonight you'd have seen three backgrounds go whizzing by, and a lot of re-arranging of the gadgets. It's like a house. You paint the walls, and it makes you want to move the furniture around. Then you add in the accessories...I got a little blinky crazy. There may be more coming...if it gets so bad they start giving you seizures, let me know. Though I think I refrained from ones that actually blink.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ribbon Dresses

I made these two dresses at different times. I made Suzy's* dress last year, which is why it's a little short. I made Sydney's dress during her visit to us this spring.
These are super easy dresses. I simply took a length of fabric from selvage to selvage, and sewed the selvages together, leaving a couple inches at the top unsewed. Then I gathered the top, and attached it to ribbon for a bodice. I sewed the ribbon onto the wrong side, then flipped it and sewed it again to make a quick lining. At least, I did for Sydney's. Suzy's was just scratchy, poor thing!
I added some ribbon straps, a button and button hole in the back of the ribbon, hemmed it and added trim on the hemline, and I was done! The girls loved having matching dresses.
I made a couple of these dresses for Suzy last summer. I think I may try one in a heavier fabric to make a jumper for fall!
*Please excuse her wild fluff of hair. This was before I discovered curl creme!

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Unfortunate Grandchildren...

Yesterday Suzy told me when she grows up, she will get married, and then have babies. I asked her what she'd name them.
"Lisa,Eric, Erin, Ruben, Lisa..."
"You already said Lisa."
*Gives me a disparaging look* "I have lots of children." So many, they apparently don't get individual names.
"Any others?"
"Candeefra, Tanna, Hannah, Lisa..."
"Another Lisa!"
"Rick, Ruben..."
"You said Ruben already."
"...and the baby - Lisa."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sweet Promises

This year I went through a difficult time that left me feeling far from God. A sweet sister in Christ pointed me to these verses in Lamentations. If anyone knows about being down, it's the prophet Jeremiah! (He's the one who wrote Lamentations.)
"The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.

It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the LORD. "
-Lamentations 3:22-26
And then a wee bit further in the chapter:
v.32 "For if He causes grief,
Then He will have compassion
According to His abundant lovingkindness."

New Recipes!

One of my prayers is that I will glorify God in how I care for my home - how I take care of my family. One way that I love to do that is cooking for them. So we all noticed when I got in a rut cooking. Every week, I could only think of the same things over and over. It had been my policy previously to try one or two new recipes a month. I had some winners - La Madeliene's Tomato Soup and Chicken Yum Yum (don't mock the title! It's accurate!) and some losers. California Sushi Rolls didn't go over big with Nate or Suzy, but I believe Vanilla Butternut Squash Soup was the biggest bomb I ever made. But I had gotten so into a recipe rut that I hadn't even thought of looking for new recipes.
I mentioned it to Nate, and he agreed that it was getting a little boring eating the same thing week after week.
I flipped through my cookbooks, but nothing struck my fancy. I googled "recipes", "frugal recipes", "easy recipes", and "quick recipes." It gave me information overload! Millions-billions- of recipes...I couldn't even think, my eyes just glazed over. Finally I googled something like "in a recipe rut!" And a blog came up that was just what I was looking for - Breaking The Recipe Rut!
I very quickly found two do-able, affordable recipes. I made them last week, and they were both winners with the family!
I thought I'd share them here.
The first is a lowfat marinera sauce. I added a bag of frozen meatballs to it. The first night we had meatball subs, and another night we had spaghetti with meatballs. And I froze about half of the meatballs for later meals, so it ends up being super frugal.
Main Event Marinara Sauce
Olive Oil Spray
1 cup minced yellow or white onion
2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons no salt added tomato paste
2 teaspoons honey (I substituted 2 teaspoons sugar because I was out of honey)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt, to taste (optional)

Spray a medium nonstick saucepan with olive oil spray and place over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just becoming tender (they should not brown), 4-6 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and with a wooden spoon stir in the tomatoes, water, tomato paste, honey, oregano, basil, and pepper flakes until well combined. (I add the frozen meatballs at this point.) Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for at least one hour. Season with salt if needed.
This was a huge hit with Nate, so we will definitely have it again.

The second recipe is a white chili. It's actually a Racheal Ray recipe.
White Bean Chicken Chili
1 32-ounce box chicken stock
3 cans white beans, left undrained
5 cups cooked chicken, rotisserie or boiled (I used canned chicken)
1 16-ounce jar salsa
1 8-ounce block pepper jack cheese, grated
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used a teaspoon of garlic powder because I didnb't have time to chop the garlic!)
Black or white pepper to taste
1/2 cup finely crushed corn chips
Sour cream, for garnish

Place all ingredients except the corn chips in a crockpot. Cook on high until the cheese is melted (about 1 - 1 1/2 hours).
Chili may also be cooked on the stovetop over medium-high heat until cheese is melted.
When the chili is ready, add the crushed corn chips, if using, and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken. Garnish with more chips, cheese and/or sour cream and serve.
This made an enormous pot of chili! I should have immediately frozen half of it instead of letting it languish in the fridge.
Here's another recipe. I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds pretty ingenious, so I intend to. SInce I know most of you, like me, usually have frozen chicken breasts in the freezer, I thought I'd share it before I tested it. If you make it and it's good, let me know!
Easiest, Yummiest Chicken EVER!
When you are in a pinch and dinner is an hour away and all you have on hand is frozen chicken breasts, which are still as hard as a rock since you didn't even think to thaw them, this is the recipe for you! You'll fool everyone with the flavor and they'll all think you slaved away.

Here it is:

Frozen chicken breast
Mayonaise (we use Best Foods Lite)
Season Salt

That is it for ingredients, and we can't even count two of those items as ingredients! Wouldn't season salt be...a seasoning? Anyway...

Take a nice big square of foil, slap the frozen chicken breast down in the middle (do this for as many as you need to make). After the chicken is laying stiff as a board and cold as ice on the foil, take a tablespoon and drop a plop of mayo on each breast, being careful not to actually touch the spoon to the chicken. When all mayo is plopped, use the spoon to spread it across the frozen breast, then sprinkle each with a healthy dash of season salt.

Bring the corners of the foil up and pinch them together, forming an airtight tent around the chicken, but leaving air around the chicken itself. Place each bundle on a jelly roll pan and bake at around 350 or 375 for an hour or so (check for pinkness before serving. If I'm in a hurry, I'll bake at 400). Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes, then de-tent the chicken and place on a platter. Be sure and save the juices in the foil and pour those over the chicken.
Sounds easy, doesn't it?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mother-Daughter Aprons from a Shirt Jacket

I found this jacket at the dig store in Corinth:

It seemed like something a sweet old lady would wear to church. But I loved the fabric, and my friend Gabi encouraged my to make an apron out of it. Gabi is very bad about encouraging me to make aprons out of things. We went thrift shopping this weekend, and she set me up with an 80's dress and a muumuu. For aprons, I mean.

Anyway, back to this jacket. I cut it up, and played around with the pieces to see how it'd all fit together.

At this point I felt very guilty, thinking of the sweet silver-haired old lady that could have proudly worn this to a Wednesday night Bible study but for my butchery. I didn't know what I was going to do with it. And I must have sneezed or something while cutting the right sleeve, because I took out a huge chunk out of it. Then I remembered an old tablecloth that I thought would coordinate with the fabric. I got it out and chopped it up too. I found using it I could make one apron for me and a little bitty one for Suzy. I felt much less guilty and got to work.

She's feeling a little camera-shy in that last one!
I used the body of the jacket for the skirt of my apron, and a sleeve for the bodice. The sleeve had a notched cuff that I turned up to get a little extra length. I used the edging of the table cloth to make the ties.
For Suzy's apron, I made the skirt out of the other sleeve. I folded the cuff down for a cute waist detail. I made the bodice out of a piece of the table cloth. I used the last of the table cloth edging to make her ties and edge the skirt. Then I used the collar to make the neck tie for Suzy. It opens and closes with the collar button, and I added a button on the other side for symmetry.
I love how they turned out. Suzy is thrilled to have a big girl apron to match mine when she helps me in the kitchen. I'm so inspired, I think the muumuu and '80's dress will be turned into mother-daughter aprons as well!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Sounds of Silence...

I am musically unskilled in every way. I can't play an instrument. I can't even clap in rhythm. I most certainly cannot sing.
But I love it. So I do it anyway, when no one is around to suffer. No one except my daughter, that is. And she does suffer.
She went through a phase of wanting to take her Hello Kitty "earmuffins" with her whenever I drove anywhere. In the summer. I just thought she liked them, until the day she asked from the back seat, "Are you done singing now?" When I said I was, she said, "Good, now I can take off these ear muffins."
Yesterday I was belting out "I Need Thee Every Hour" (or the house-cleaning song) as we cleaned up her room. Suzy said she thought it was too loud. So I sang a verse more softly. She said that was still too loud. I sang a line very softly, and asked her if that was better. She said, "It is, but how about you sing like this?" at which point she began to silently mouth the words.
I burst out laughing, and then I was moved to pity. I passed the rest of the time listening to podcasts, and Suzy's audial suffering came to an end.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chore Chart Day 37..or Whatever

Yeah, my whole challenge week went down the tubes didn't it? I did actually finish the week, but then things happened that pushed it aside.
Thank you all for your prayers for my mother-in-law. She is precious to us and we are glad know she's getting stronger everyday. She starts radiation on July 2nd. She has six weeks of daily radiation, during which the little dynamo plans to go back to whipping her hooligans into line at Delgado Community College.
We enjoyed spending last week with her, but I think maybe she over-tired herself on Suzy's account. Not quite enough napping for either of them!
On the way back we stopped in Biloxi for a day. Suzy got to play on the beach. It was pretty sand, no oil, but jelly fish. Suzy got stung on her knee. I think the whole jellyfish ran into her right knee, and tentacles went around to her left. She screamed and when I picked her up she said, "It bit me, it bit me!" As I picked her up, I think the jelly fish slid off and onto my ankle. It burned, but it had gotten her much worse, so I can only imagine how bad Suzy was hurting. She had red welts for hours afterwards.
That night we took her to see Toy Story 3 in 3D, her first time in a theater. Thanks, Toy Story, for insuring that if I ever throw out a toy, my daughter will be utterly traumatized. Was I the only mom depressed by this movie? My little brother was about Suzy's age when the first one came out, and now he's a teenager. I got teary-eyed tucking Suzy in that night. She's growing up so fast!
We made it home the next night, after a 3 hour delay in Macon, Mississippi. In the Taco Bell parking lot. Weee! So much fun. We have a new starter now, so hopefully that part won't happen again.
So anyway, we're back home, and I'm looking forward to seeing people tomorrow!
p.s. Toy Story did make me get Clyde, my precious rag doll that I have had since I was 11 months old, off of the closet shelf. I sewed on a new button, and cleaned him up a little. I gave him to Suzy, and she has been loving on him all afternoon.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chore Chart Day 5 Failure

Ok, yesterday I didn't clean my living room. Instead I took a nap. Shame!
Actually, I had a headache (I'm not sure if it was a headache or if my brain just swelled to a size larger than my skull) and I couldn't do much except lay very still and hope the cerebral jiggling would stop.
I went grocery shopping in the early afternoon when the headache came on. I managed to come home, first stopping for sno-cones because I'm brilliant. Nothing cures a headache like brain freeze, right?
I get home and by sheer force of will get the child down for a nap and the perishables in the fridge before I collapse on the bed. Nate and I had an appointment at 6:30, which meant we had to get Suzy to the babysitter's at 6:15, which meant we had to eat dinner by at least 5:45, which meant I had to go pick up Nate by 5:30, and prepare the dinner before that. It was now 4:30. I could no longer mentally function enough to care. Somehow I managed to get up, get Suzy in the car, and go pick up Nate at 5:45. He drove home as I wept quietly from the pain and nausea the bright sunny day was causing my swelled brain.
Though I assure him they are only tears of intense pain and that I'll be fine once my bones harden again and the world stops flashing like a strobe light and maybe a pressure crack on my skill opens, which will surely happen in the next 15 minutes, he realizes he has to go it alone to the appointment. Once we get home, besides asking him to carry in the groceries in the back seat, I can't manage anything else but to lay on the couch and cover my eyes. So he goes, leaving Suzy.
I won't tell you what all she had for dinner, but it involved peaches and boiled eggs, and whatever else I could just hand her with minimal effort.
By that night it had reduced to just a regular headache and I became aware of my surroundings. And I notice a watermelon. In the living room armchair. I don't know why, but this cracks me up. I can imagine Nate coming in with the groceries, thinking, "Where to put the watermelon?...watermelon?...chair!" Though what really cracks me up is that he was probably thinking, "I'm late!" and wasn't even AWARE that he was carrying a watermelon, and just plopped it down with Suzy's flip-flops and jacket.
All this to justify why I haven't dusted my living room. Now I had better stop, or I'll be writing another justification tomorrow!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Chore Chart Day 3

I cleaned the office/guest room/family room. I switched out vaccuming with washing the bedding. That's an even trade, right?
The mulitple purposes of this room make it one of the worst to clean. There are little piles of papers and magazines everywhere, toys, books, and junky stuff we really don't have any other place for. Fortunately, Nate was out, so I was able to throw away about half of the papers. I found his Boris Yeltsein doll on top of the tv again, so I tossed that in the closet. I believe Suzy had gotten it out this time. She loves it, but Nate doesn't let her play with it. She coos over former Soviet leader Yeltsein like he's a precious baby. It's disturbing, I don't blame Nate for not letting her play with it. :o)
I know that this little challenge I've made to myself must make for pretty boring reading. I'm so sorry. If you want to go away and come back in four days, I'll understand!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Chore Chart, Day 2

Hmm, today wasn't that great. I wouldn't say fail, but barely passing. I cleaned Suzy's room at about 5 pm, and vaccuumed it at 9 pm while Nate was brushing her teeth for bedtime.
I spent two hours folding 2 loads of laundry - while attempting to play on the internet! Not a good strategy. But I did make myself finish. I hope I do better tomorrow.
This morning we went to the summer reading program at the local library. We left a little early because I hate tense situations. Yeah, it was. I may scoot out early next week too.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Confession and Challenge

Every woman who has ever had dinner at my house has noticed a schedule on my fridge that looks like this:

Daily: Laundry, Clean Countertops, & Sink

Monday- Room: Living and Dining Room, Laundry: Sheets & Towels
Tuesday- Room: My Bedroom & Bathroom, Laundry: Darks
Wednesday- Room: Kitchen, Laundry: Whites
Thursday- Room: Main Bathroom, Laundry: Darks
Friday- Room: Suzy's Room, Laundry: Whites
Saturday- Room: My Bedroom & Bathroom, Laundry: Darks

Living Room/Dining Room - Fabreeze furniture, dust, polish table, take care of plants, tidy up, sweep & mop.

Bedroom/Bathroom- Wash sheets & towels, vaccum, dust, tidy up, clean tub & toiler, mirror and sink, sweep & mop.

Kitchen- Clean appliances (inside microwave, toaster oven, fridge) wipe down cabinets & backsplash, sweep & mop.

Bathroom - Clean tub & toilet, wipe down counter, clean mirror, wash towels, sweep & mop.

Suzy's Room- Empty laundry hamper, change bedding, dust, tidy up, vaccum.

1st of the Month- wash bath mats

Isn't it impressive? All of you who've seen it comment on it, impressed by my organization and self-discipline. I usually answer with something about how I have to have it written down, or I won't do it. Isn't that self-deprecating?
Not really. Here's the truth: I'VE NEVER DONE IT. Ever. I mean, here and there, but I have NEVER followed it for an entire week.
So here's my challenge. This week, I will follow my schedule. I will post about it every day so you can see if I do. 93% chance you don't care, but I'm going to pretend that you do so I can encourage myself to keep it up!
Today is Thursday, and I've done the main bathroom and 2 loads of laundry (that still need to be put away.) So Day 1, doing good!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Air-head Moments...

Today I was at Butterflies and Bumblebees, a children's boutique in Selmer. Most of the clothes were wildly out of my price range, but as I was leaving, a small sign that said "$5" caught my eye. It was attatched to a small rack of clothes. The clerk told me that the price was actually three dollars, as they had been displayed on an outdoor rack, and were a little dusty. Woo-hoo! I started going through the clothes, looking for Suzy's size. Most of the things I found were tops that faded from a dark color at the bottom to a lighter color at the top. Not exactly my style, but for $3, I was willing to comprimise.
For a grand total $13.11, I left with over $200 worth of designer clothes - 3 tops and a skirt.
I was feeling super proud of myself. In the car, I took them out of the bag to show my haul to Suzy. That was when I noticed the fading seemed to be uniformly along the shoulders and sides, even on tops by different designers. They were sun-bleached! I could just picture the clothes hanging there forlornly, days on end. Because, who, really, with a brain, is going to spend $54 on a pink size 4T tshirt? So they began to fade away...
So now, instead of my little darling prancing around in a very trendy outfit, she's prancing around in aged, sun-bleached rags. Ha ha, I guess it's all in your perception? So don't tell her, she likes them!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Little Bo Peep Skirt

A couple weeks ago, I found this mini-skirt at my favorite thrift store (Designer Bargain Outlet in Corinth, Mississippi. Hey, Amy!) and intended to make a peasant skirt for Suzy out of it.

It was so easy in my mind. Simply rip out the zipper, and sew up that seam:

Then cut off the existing waistband, which had some funky elastic on the hips:

I folded down 1/4 inch and pressed it, then folded another 1/2 inch and pressed. I stitched it up, leaving 1 inch open to thread elastic through. I sewed the elastic ends together, and there was my skirt. Easy, simple, no hemming, no messing with pins...except it looked like this:

Not very practical for a four year old. So I went back into my sewing closet. I divided the hem into sixths. Every six part, I stitched two parallel lines, set on the longest stitch setting and low tension:

I tied off the threads at the top of the seams, then gathered from the bottom and tied those off as well.

Then I added a little blue bow by hand.

This is how it turned out:

Much better! I love how whimsical it is, and it makes everything Suzy does look dainty. Here she's showing you how to look like a lady while preparing to chunk a rock.

The end result was one happy little girl!

Growing Up

Today was momentous. Well, for me, anyway!
This morning I was in the living room, and Nate was in the guest room/office/family room. I was reading, and everything was pretty quiet but I heard a girl's voice. I couldn't quite make out any words. I thought Nate might be watching an ESPN video, but as far as I know, they have no preschool-age sportscasters. I thought maybe the neighbor's children were getting an early start on their outdoor playtime. Because surely, it couldn't be...I went down the hall and listened at Suzy's door. She was singing softly to herself and obviously playing with her doll house.
I opened the door, and there she sat, in her little long john pajamas (because she's so skinny she gets cold even in summer) merrily playing with her doll family. She smiled at me and said hello.
You're probably waiting for the momentous part. That was it. It was the first time in her entire LIFE that immediately upon waking, she did not run and search for me. We always start our day together with a snuggle. This was the first day she woke up, and didn't think, "MOMMA!"
I was more than a little sad. I lose more of my baby everyday. I'm gaining a delightful little girl, but how I miss that baby!
The up side to the whole thing was when I held my arms out, she ran into them, and we had our usual snuggle. Yesterday, I read this post at Femina, about our children's love metabolism, and (to keep with the theme) it gave me food for thought this morning. Here is my favorite quote from it:
"...just like food nourishes the body, love and attention nourishes their little souls. And fat souls are what we want."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Suzy's Birthday Campout

I took picutres, I promise. And I will upload them as soon as I find the camera! There was a scary moment when I thought I washed it with our camp bedding, but fortunately that wasn't the case.
Suzy wanted to go camping for her birthday. I thought it was a great idea. I assumed it would be much cheaper than a party. I was a fool! I'm pretty sure we could have gotten her a pony off of Craig's List cheaper than the camping supplies.
Anyway, Suzy was thrilled with the whole thing, so it was a huge success. She cried when we left to return home. So did I, but they were tears of joy.
I couldn't sleep that night for the noise! It's quieter in suburbia. Apparently what I thought was a secluded campsite was not far from a train track - a busy one- and an airport? I don't know, but something was droning on. And it wasn't me!
And no amount of bug spray kept off the ticks. So now I will have several days of itching to remind me of this glorious time.
But it was so worth it. Suzy roasted a marshmallow (strawberry pink, of course) for the first time and made a s'more. When Nate asked her how she liked it, she said, "I shook with joy!" That pretty much somes up her attitude the entire camp out. So totally worth it!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Making It Cute

I like to improve common items, to make them a bit more me. Nate teases me about my desire to make things cute, but he likes it. I think.
Today, between laundry and dishes, I convinced myself that I really should take pictures and make a post out of it. Because I'm sure you're dying to see, right?
First up, Suzy's breakfast. Oatmeal is the homliest of all breakfast foods, so I cute it up with a heart-shaped cookie cutter and rainbow sprinkles.

Isn't this pretty fabric? You'll never guess what it's on.

That's right, I sewed a coat for my spray bottle.
Next, my kitchen gloves. Just the Mr. Clean gloves from Walmart. Sooo plain. So I added a little lace trim. It may seem silly, but I have to wear those things three times a day, so I needed to enjoy looking at them. And they coordinate with my spray bottle and apron...though I admit I am the only one who cares!

And this is my lesson plan book. It came with a sterile green plastic cover that gave me chilly memories of grade school. I warmed it up with some fabric scraps.

Here's my daily planner. It was already cute on the inside (like so many of us) but very plain on the outside.

I just added a little ribbon to the cover to make it's outside more feminine.

Here is my Bible. It has a burgundy leather cover, half chewed up the spine by a puppy fond of over-stepping her bounds. Since it was the Bible Nate gave to me on the occasion of his second proposal to me, I made it this little cover to keep it protected from any future marauders.

I wanted a little journal in which I could write Scriptures that are significant to me. I looked many places for a cute one that was inexpensive. Finally I bought one with a plain cardboard cover for $4 at Borders. Or Barnes and Noble's. Or Books-a-Million. One of those bookstores that starts with a B. I knew it would be perfect, because I had enough fabric leftover from my Bible cover to make them match. How cute!

Look how cute they look with my coordinating sermon notebook, bought at the same B. bookstore:

For practicality, a 3 ring binder was ideal for my prayer journal. The plain white one I bought was so impersonal. I fixed it up with fabric from a vintage pillowcase and a scrap of ribbon.

Put all of them together, and it becomes clear the next thing I have to work on is developing a central color scheme:
Go here more people making it cute: