Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm Living the Party Life Now

You know, I'm not sure whose brilliant idea this New Year's party was, but it's OK. It's going to be fun. Around 5:00, I'm going to change all the clocks. The kids probably won't notice. Then we can ring in the new year a few hours early and send them to bed. It's all good.

I'm in the middle of making clock cookies and I'll post the results later. They are fabulous so far. That will be the only sweets we have tonight. Sister said she had powdered donuts for in the morning but I told her we cannot start the new year like that. We'll eat something healthier.

I just wanted to tell you about last New Year's Eve. Or maybe it was the year before. Anyway, we were at Walgreens picking up a prescription for one of the girls and there were all these people walking around in little black dresses. Well, not people.....women. Even at the nearby shopping center there were folks dressed up.

I looked at S and said, "WHY is everyone so dressed up?"

"It's New Year's Eve, Brenda." he said.


I didn't even realize what day it was. All these people were dressed up to go out and I was at the drugstore picking up meds for someone's snot. Don't I live the glamorous life?

And tonight I'll be having a bubble wrap stomp with the 10 and under set.

Don't envy me. You too can party like this!!!

Look for me on magazine covers soon.

(Happy New Year everyone!!!)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Starting Back

My birthday, all of my life, was the day we headed back to school from Christmas break. Or the day before. Or the day right after. Ug. Happy Birthday! Get up and go to school!

You know I have control over that now, right?

Still, since it's a Monday, we probably will start back on my birthday. It messes the week up when we skip Monday.

I have no plan or clue what we are going to do in January, and frankly I have no motivation to think about it yet. Maybe I need to get the Christmas decorations down? For sure I need to rearrange the playroom. Perhaps after New Year's I will feel more like planning.

Sister and I usually get the girls together over Christmas break to do something fun. For several years we did a Christmas cookie day in December. Last year we did snowman day. This year we decided to celebrate New Year's together.

We will be changing our clocks so that "midnight" is actually 10:00--a good hour past any one's bedtime. They probably won't even know. (Hee Hee) We'll eat supper together and then kick off the party. Among other things, we found these cute little bags for them to open each hour of the party. Those will be easy and free to make, and cheap to fill. (bubbles, a bit of candy, etc.)

We will make noisemakers from water bottles filled with dry beans and decorated with curly ribbon and stickers, etc.

There will be a bubble wrap stomp at "midnight." Along with the noisemakers.

We will decorate calendars and mark important dates for 2010. In other words, every one's birthday.

I am planning to attack clock cookies using JulieMom's tutorial on royal icing. These, and the whole party really, are inspired by a Max and Ruby episode. If they fail, I guess we'll let them eat cake.

I crack myself up.

So today necessitates the playroom being rearranged to fit four squealy girls in there on New Year's. Sigh. I guess I'd better get going.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Christmas 2009
The aftermath at our house.

Little Bit was very happy with the gift Grandma got her!
Sweetheart was pretty happy too! (My dad and S in the background)

Sweetheart and Moose at "the kids' table" ready for Christmas dinner.
Little Bit and Gnat. Didn't Sister and I do well coordinating our girls? Not planned.
Christmas night. The dolls were all tucked in. :) This just made me happy.
Sunday afternoon Little Bit lost her first tooth in her Dilly Bar.
My beautiful Sweetheart....
The tooth fairy came last night! See the fairy dust on her forehead? What a joyful Christmas weekend we had!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Arms are Sore, But I'm Typing Anyway

S bought me my birthday present early! He used all the gift cards he got for Christmas and bought me a Wii. (There was still some out-of-pocket but they helped!) Oh I have wanted one! We just have Wii Sports (not Wii Fit) but obviously that is enough for me as my arms are sore from boxing and the fitness test told me I am as fit as a 59 year old.

Hello 2010--the year of fitness.

We did pretty well on Christmas spending. I made a lot of gifts (yes, Brenda. WE KNOW.) and that helped with the expenses some. Still, Christmas just costs money. We made it without charging anything so I am proud of that. BUT, we really, really have to be good stewards of our money this year. As a wife who does not have a salary.....I will have to work hard to do what I can to use the money S makes wisely. There are lots of ways to do that but the most important thing is keeping up with the checkbook.

Hello 2010--the year of financial responsibility.

We have set a goal for our family to read through the Bible this year. I'm good at making that goal, by the way. My plan is for Sweetheart to read through her Day By Day Kid's Bible while Little Bit listens each day. S and I will read the real Bible using the One Year Bible plan. BOY is this going to take discipline!!!! But I am convinced there is nothing more important than God's Word for our family. We need it. We need it to get into our children.

Hello 2010--the year of Bible reading. And discipline.

I'm not about making resolutions. I do understand the word---resolve. As in, I resolve to....
I understand that. It makes sense. But I prefer to talk about New Year's goals. These are just a few of ours.

I also want to keep up with the housework, declutter more, make lots of progress in school, start our own company, eat healthier, etc. etc. etc.

However, this much I know: "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One More Normal Day

Well, the gifts are under the tree. The main areas of the house are picked up better than usual. The groceries are purchased. I'm DONE spending money. SO over it.

I have to tackle the homeschool room tomorrow because, as I've mentioned before, it is the first thing to your right as you enter our house. And there is no door on that room. I don't really WANT to tackle that room because I don't want to think about school until AFTER Christmas but oh well. At least I can stack everything nicely, huh?

On a good note, I found the floor of the sewing room today. I haven't seen it in a while. It was really, really, really bad in there and we had just been walking over it all for months. I thought about sharing pictures, but decided not to shame my husband in that way. :)

I'm excited to have my husband home for a few extra days and to spend time together as a family. I'm excited for the girls to open their gifts.

And I must confess, I've already fantasized about taking down the Christmas decorations.

Don't get me wrong--I LOVE Christmas. It's just that I remember how much I love restoring everything back to it's right order afterwards too. I was telling S tonight how pretty our house looks decorated for Christmas, but it's just so much stuff everywhere! It will feel like simplifying and decluttering all in one when I put it all away.

The girls have been playing together all day long for days now. I'm not sure what's going on. They have been getting along really well. I'm not complaining!!

I know blog reading is already down and there will be days and days of no traffic in blogland at all. So I just wanted to "sign off" and wish you all a Merry Christmas! Thanks again for walking with me through all the sewing this month. I'm happy to put that all away tomorrow.

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Doll Beds Are DONE

Did you hear me scream earlier? It's because I'm finished!!!!! I'll tell you, I am so pleased with these gifts. I just wanted to squeal the whole time I was working on them. Once it became apparent that wooden doll bunk beds were not going to happen, I kept thinking about the doll bed I had when I was little.

It was made from a cigar box spray painted white with white spools glued on the bottom for legs. There was a little mattress stuffed down inside and a tiny pillow. However, it was for a small doll. It was kind of the same concept that led me to make these for the girls' 18" dolls.

First, you need a Sterilite 28 quart container or something of similar size.
Then add a piece of 2" foam. Mine is covered with an old sheet and sewn up on the ends.

Add a bottom sheet. These are made like a pillowcase and the foam mattress just slips inside and I tucked the open end underneath.
Then you add a top sheet. These were left until the end when I saw I had enough fabric. They aren't completely necessary.

And a reversible comforter.
And a tiny pillow with a matching pillowcase.
And a decorative pillow.

Last, I used rub on scrapbook letters to add the doll's name to the lid. (Thanks JulieMom for that tip!)
Here are some of the other doll's beds.

The bedding for Sweetheart's Kit Kittredge doll was really a challenge for my brain. I knew it was important to Sweetheart that the bedding be authentic. Even though she doesn't even know she's getting doll beds.
So, I made Kit's sheets plain white. I also made the pillowcase white, but then Mom and I decided that rick rack would be authentic. Not really sure that it was on bedding, but they DID use rick rack back then for other things. My dad informed me he NEVER slept on anything but a plain old white pillowcase but oh well.
The bedspread is supposed to look like a quilt. I really like how it came out and how it doesn't look like modern bedding. And since Kit got plain old white sheets, I splurged and ordered Kit's Amelia Earhart doll for her bed.
The girls are really excited mostly because the presents are BIG. I can't wait for them to open them.
And I don't want to sew anything until 2010, m'kay?
Also, thank you to my bloggy friends for all the encouragement and tips along the way. I really don't know what people without blogs do when they have a problem! :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The To Do List

S asked me what I had to do tomorrow and I told him, "I just need to clean the house." And THEN, over the course of the next hour, I also remembered that I need to:

1. Catch up on the checkbook
2. Go grocery shopping (which means make a meal plan and a list)
3. Cut Sweetheart's hair
4. Go to the feed store
5. Get gas
6. something else I'll remember later

And suddenly, "clean the house" was all the way at the bottom of the list. See how that happens? The fact is, I need to do all those things tomorrow--including cleaning the house. Guess I better get up and at 'em in the morning!

I have one more thing to finish and I'm all done with Christmas gifts. Once I wrap that last one, there will be great rejoicing in heaven. Or at least here in Texas. And I really do have to clean the house well as we are hosting S's family on Christmas Eve. Since we are finished with school for 2009, we should have plenty of time to make the house look really nice.

But you see what already happened to my to do list, don't you?

I really am motivated to get everything in order because I'd like to start the new year with a straight and clean house. It's all I want for Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Progress Pictures

OK. Here are some pony tail scarves I made. These are for Sweetheart and I also made some for my niece Gnat. The other two little girls don't have enough hair for these. The tutorial is here.

Here is the bedding for one doll. This doll likes horses and is a cowgirl. (I know this because she came with a horse and a cowgirl outfit) The decorative pillow and the trim on the pillowcase are cut from a black bandanna.

It's reversible. And that yarn really is red even though it looks pink-ish in this picture.

Here are two other decorative pillows. Can you tell what THOSE dolls like? (And I know that because I asked Little Bit what her dolls like and she told me.)

The real challenge is going to be Kit Kittredge's bedding. Kit is the American Girl doll from the 193o's. I know she would have had white sheets so I'm using an old crib sheet for that. But she would not have had a comforter on her bed.....she would have had a quilt. Or perhaps a chenille bedspread but I'm not buying chenille for this project. The problem is, I don't quilt.

We'll see how that goes. I'm still thinking on it.
OK fine. Really, I'm putting it off while I work on easier things. Whatever.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's Almost Time to Panic

There are 7 days left until Christmas. SEVEN. As in, ONE WEEK.

I still have a LOT of sewing to do on those stupid doll beds. Whose idea was this anyway????

I have one bedspread sewn and just need to finish tying the yarn ties on it.

I have 3 of the "decorative" pillows taken care of. I have one more to go.

Then I just have to......

1. Sew 3 more bedspreads.
2. Finish sewing up the ends of 2 mattresses.
3. Sew sheets for all four beds.
4. Sew pillowcases for all 4 pillows.
5. Put their names on the lids of the boxes.
6. Wrap them.

And did I mention I can't really work on these while the girls are here and awake? That makes it tough since they are ALWAYS here and no one naps anymore.

Thank you for listening. I feel much better. I'm going to go sew a bone-shaped decorative pillow now and eat some Raisin Bran. Progress pictures tomorrow because it makes me feel good to show you how things are coming along.

And to gripe just a little too.

Whose idea WAS this???

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Better Catch Up!

Little Bit has completed books A, B, and C of Explode the Code. These books are really easy and only cover the consonant sounds. I didn't even have her do the handwriting pages and we haven't nearly finished her Handwriting Without Tears books. But, as usual, when Little Bit makes up her mind about something, it's set in stone.

I'm waiting until after Christmas to start her next phonics book. I didn't want to start and then stop it right away. Plus, I'm getting some homeschool stuff for Christmas that I'd like to use in her phonics time.

But apparently she's made up her mind it's time to read.

She sits in the backseat of the car and tries to read Berenstain Bear books. A bit hard, but you can't tell her that. Last night she took a library book about doll houses to bed with her and made a list in her diary of what she wants in her doll house.




brkbl stuf...breakable stuff

Seriously? Who tries to sound out "breakable stuff" when they are first starting out?

I think I'd better get with it. This one is ready to read!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Driving Foolishness Away

Lately I've been thinking about foolishness. There are many foolish adults in this world and many more foolish children. You can see them everywhere. I am constantly amazed by the way some children are allowed to behave. I don't want my children learning from their example and I have been thinking about HOW to raise children that are NOT fools.

The answer, of course, is found in God's word. I just flipped back to my concordance and found a plethora of verses on foolishness. Proverbs is full of this topic. I think we will be studying this in school. As we read what the Bible says about fools, the girls will form a picture of a fool in their heads. Hopefully, they will remember this character, "the fool" and recognize him when they see him in real life. Hopefully, they will recognize foolish behavior and know how important it is to stay away from it. And to not behave in that way.

The Bible tells us foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. It also tells us how to get rid of that foolishness. And I believe it. I don't even need to debate it with anyone. The world's wisdom tells us that this method will psychologically scar our children and lead them to be violent but I know better.

It isn't only about driving it out---although that is an important part of the deal--it's also about instructing. It is important. Very important. And it starts here.

This article, however controversial the author to some people, has really good things to say about it. We must guard what media is being fed to our children. We do not want them having fools for role models. That includes real-life people they are around too. Which is why middle school makes less and less sense to me every day. :)

The more I think about it, the more Proverbs becomes a gem in my mind. I have not been studying God's word with my girls they way I should, but these thoughts about fools has reminded me of the importance of it all.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Brenda Blathers On About Her Christmas Gifts

If you are just joining us, I'm making the girls doll beds this Christmas. Shhhh if you know my girls! :) I got the mattresses done and wanted to share some other things I have finished. Finishing feels good!

I bought 2 pieces of 4" thick foam at the fabric store, but when I started cutting it in half, I realized it was too thick. Since I couldn't return it, I just cut them all in half the other way so they are 2" thick. THEN I was able to return one of the foam pieces I hadn't touched since the one piece was enough for all four beds. It would be a lot easier to just buy 2" thick foam. That would be my suggestion. :)

Since the foam was now really ugly from being hacked by a too-short electric fish filleting knife, it needed to be covered. So I cut up an old sheet that was sort of bleached out on one side and we only used for covering plants and things like that. Don't worry, I washed it.

All done!

I have 3 more to sew up on the ends. Sigh. That bores me just thinking about it.

I tried to sew a button on the foam to make it look more like a cushioned mattress, but I couldn't get it to tie tight enough to stay pressed down. It wasn't worth the effort, but it would have been cute if it worked. Here is a bare-bones bed. You can't tell the scale from this pic, but the beds are actually quite large. The sides of the tub aren't straight, so at the top it's much bigger than the inside bottom is. Plenty of room to tuck in the bedding on the sides, thanks to the size of foam I bought.

My nieces are getting reversible aprons inspired by this tutorial. I realize the tutorial is for a doll quilt and I somehow got inspired to make aprons, but it was another great way to use those fabric samples my mom gets in the mail. I tried to grab their favorite colors for their aprons.

See? Reversible!

Oooh! Aaaah!

I will be adding a children's cookbook to this gift. And I'm getting them each a little toy too. They aren't old enough to get ALL practical gifts yet!

That comes later. Like when you are 38 and you find a $50 gift card in your old Christmas cards and you buy.......a vacuum cleaner and groceries with it.
And you are excited.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Handmade Christmas Progress

Our dining room table has been COVERED in sewing stuff, sewing machine, fabric, and 14,000 Wal-Mart sacks for a few weeks now. We call it "the dining room table" but let me explain that we do not also have a kitchen table. This is our only one.

I'm tired of cleaning it off and especially a few nights ago because I planned to sew right after dinner. So, I had a really big brainstorm that involved us eating on TV trays. I hauled chairs into the living room for the girls to sit in and we were going to sit on the couch. I got out our Christmas place mats to make it a more special occasion.

As we sat down to eat and watch a movie on TV that we thought came on at 7:00 but actually came on at 6:00....just as we were starting supper, Sweetheart said,

"Mom! We're just like Matilda's family!"

(If you don't know that movie, the horrible family sits around every evening with the lights off, mom wearing sunglasses, and watches stupid game shows while they eat TV dinners.)
Niiiice. Thank you dear.

And yes, I cleaned off the table the next night.

OK--on to the progress. I can't post sister's cute present here because she might see it. It's been very enjoyable to work on. Too bad it's kind of small and can't constitute her whole gift. Here are the pillows I've been making for my mom.

All she has to do is stuff the 16" pillow form into a different case for each season. I'm through with the winter pillow and here is the fabric for the backs of them all---most of it lovingly donated by a friend with an awesome craft closet. And with that donation, the only cost of this project was the muslin for the front and the pillow form. And muslin is cheap. The leaves were all these little sample squares my mom gets from some fabric company. She has boxes of these things and I was so glad to find a good use for them.

See? One for each season. Here is the tutorial for those pillows.

Here are some ornaments the girls made. Well, I hot glued the popsicle sticks together and they painted and I glittered. Maybe I should say WE made them. We are going to use them as gift tags. Glitter will be everywhere. I found that tutorial online also but now cannot find it anywhere! I did find several like it just by googling though.

I REALLY REALLY wanted to give the girls wooden bunk beds for their dolls. (They each have 2 special dolls). They were just too expensive and S said too difficult to make. I pleaded my case a few times to him and then stopped before I turned into a nag. :) But I REALLY wanted to give them doll beds for Christmas. So.....

I brainstormed some more and eventually found myself in WalMart with a tape measure borrowed from the hardware department measuring Sterilite containers. I found the 28 quart container was the right size to fit the bill. They were $4 each. Score!

Here are the pillows I made last night from pillow ticking scraps my mom had. Free? Double score!
The beds are going to be great. They don't bunk, but they can slide under the girls' beds when not in use, or stack up in the corner of the toy room. I'm going to paint each doll's name on the lid. Any tips for painting on plastic lids?
I'll keep you posted on bed progress. Tonight I hope to cover the mattresses.

Monday, December 7, 2009

NOT Cattle

We had to drive to a local Bible bookstore this weekend which just happens to be located near the biggest mall around. Oh my word, the traffic.

We drove past most of it to get to our destination but I couldn't help but stare at the LONG line of cars all trying to get into one lane and one place at the same time.

It reminded me of cattle. Moo. Get in line.

I went to college in a country town and the agricultural department had cows out by the highway. At milking time, the cows just automatically got in line to be milked. No questions asked. Moo.

May I just say......we are not cattle. Get out of line!

I was so glad we weren't in that line for the mall. And I was so glad to read this article today too.

Why are you doing what you are doing? Not just at Christmastime, but in all aspects of your life? Are you just in line doing what the other cows are doing? Or are you depending on God's road map for your life?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Evening Wrap-up

Whew! What a weekend!

We started out with snow on Friday. We had snow last year too (which is a record, by the way). I've lived here my entire life and I think it snowed 2 times in my childhood. This makes 3 times my children have seen snow here in Texas. Crazy!

We were at Giovanna's house for a playdate when it started. The kids went out and had fun for 5 minutes and we spent the next 30 minutes drying their clothes and warming them up. :)

I know it wasn't much if you are used to such things. It wasn't as much as last year. But we were excited anyway. When we got home, there was even more snow. (Shhh! Don't tell her kids.)

On Tuesday, it will be 70 something degrees here. Welcome to Texas.

On Friday night, S and I had a Christmas party to attend so the little girls ended up spending the night at Grandma and Grandpa's house. We went home to a quiet fun-filled night with the rabbits sheltered in the girls' bathroom. They are very active at night. We were really determined that they would be FINE outside. We had provided extra hay, a cardboard box, and a tarp over the house to cover the windows. Then we heard the freeze was expected to last 10-14 hours and it was going to be in the 20's most of the night. We were still determined they would be fine until a friend mentioned something about how devastated our girls would be if we killed their pets. FINE. Did I mention they are really active at night? And the girls' bathroom is right next to our bedroom?

Saturday I worked on the house. I mostly worked on sorting through toys with the girls. I thought we needed to get rid of a lot of toys but it really turned out we just needed to put things away where they go. (I will still be getting rid of some.) It was that maddening kind of sorting where you have piles and piles of tiny objects that all need to be put away because you had the nerve to look under furniture or behind shelves. I sat down and passed out objects to the girls for them to put in the correct place.

Polly Pockets. (a tiny shoe)
Lego. (a single pink Lego)
Pet Shops. (a little cast for a Pet Shop's foot)
Polly Pockets. (a miniature shirt)
Dollhouse. (a small chair)
Polly Pockets. (a microscopic hanger)
Robin Hood. (a little quiver of arrows)
Toy Story. (Mr. Potato Head's arm)

Repeat 462 times until pile is gone.

And I got about 1/116 of the sewing I need to do for Christmas....done.

So there's always that.

OH! And I started hacking through the homeschool room and yes--I rearranged a little. The jury's still out on how the furniture landed but we'll see.

We have S's work Christmas party this coming weekend and I have no shirt to wear--which is bound to make for a memorable evening.

Are you enjoying these tiny paragraphs of disjointed thoughts?

Is it any wonder women have trouble sleeping what with all this going through our heads?

So the word of the week is PRODUCTIVITY. I've got to get big things done around here. Actually that's not true. It's more like sorting through all those stupid little Polly Pocket shoes--I've got to get a lot of little things done but throw them all together and they make one big pile.

How's that for a visual?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Caroling We Will Go....Maybe

I am so excited about the Winter Choir I signed the girls up for. A homeschool mom is putting this together and I heard about it through someone in our homeschool group. After I signed them up, I was sent an e-mail with a list of songs for them to learn. We do all of the rehearsing here at home. There were links to lyrics and videos for them to sing along with. (Helpful for a non-reader!) I provide them with a green or red sweatshirt, and they will need to make an jingle bell instrument.

The whole choir will get together for one or two practices at a park, which will be a bit of a drive for me. Then they will perform 3 or 4 times in various places (nursing homes, caroling in a neighborhood, and a shopping center maybe) and you just come to whatever performances you can make it to.

Little Bit is not so sure. She's not much for getting up in front of people. Very unlike Sweetheart, who loves to do any new thing that comes her way.

That reminds me of when 5 or 6 year old Sweetheart played Mary in the Christmas play at church. The narrator said, "Mary gently lay the babe in the manger" and Sweetheart bent down to put the doll in the manger and all we heard was CLUNK! Everyone sitting near the manger got tickled and laughed. I was afraid she would be upset but she carried on like a trooper. When she sat down with us I hugged her and told her what a good job she did. She smiled and said, "Mommy? I a little bit dropped the baby."

Yeah. I heard. She loves that story.

So back to the choir. I told Little Bit she was going to the practices and that she would go caroling. As for the other performances, I'll leave that up to her. But she is going to learn the songs and they can perform them here at home for the grandparents and Daddy.

Anyway it sounds like a nice, relaxed way for them to participate in a choir. I haven't found any homeschooling thing yet that I can't attach the word "relaxed" to. I think that's one thing I really love about homeschooling.

And if you are not a homeschooler, would it surprise you to find that ALL ages are welcome in this choir? Even toddlers if they are so inclined to sing. Or wander.

Maybe it's because there is no money attached to our job, but homeschool moms are about as relaxed as they come.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Love Because He Loved Me When I Had Nothing

I tend to think of us as not well off. Oh, we aren't poor. I know that. Even in rich America, we aren't considered poor. We aren't comfortably well-off.....but definitely not poor. We could be comfortable if I went back to work. We used to have plenty of money. We didn't even need to keep a close eye on the checkbook because there was just enough money. And friends, we ate out a lot.

But that would go against so many things that we have come to cherish and hold in high priority. Our situation is the result of decisions we have made about what's important.

So what is my point of all this? Surely you didn't click over here to hear my State of the Finances Address.

It's just that earlier today I was worrying about spending too much on Christmas. I was thinking about how we need to be really careful and how there just isn't a lot of extra waiting in the wings.

Just now it hit me--God wants me to share anyway.

I have this....this....pre-thought in the back of my head. It's not really a conscious thought, but it's something that affects how I operate nevertheless. I have this pre-thought that if we just were more comfortable, then I would be able to share more. I would give to more charities. I would give more to church. I would help the poor. I would do all these things if I just had a bit more money myself.

God didn't say to help those in need if you have the means. He said to help those in need. He said whatever you have done for the least of one of these, you have done for Me. For Him. For our Lord.

Do I really think that we are so pitiful that I don't have anything to share? No. It's that I'm guarding what we do have. Or what we MIGHT need. I can't give our canned goods to the food drive, what would we eat? I can't spend $15 on fleece to make blankets for the people sleeping in their cars this winter....we might need that money. I can't just go foolishly giving away the things God has provided for our family!

Please forgive me, Lord. Everything we have came from You. I will share because You shared with me. I will give because You gave to me. I will help those in need because You told us to.

And you didn't put a stipulation about being comfortable first in that statement either.

I'm Dreaming of a Cheap Christmas

We have never gone ALL OUT for Christmas, as in really expensive stuff. But, I usually try to wrap everything up separately so they girls will have lots to open on Christmas morning. It gives the impression that we went all out when we really didn't. I always start out small, and add to my list until there is more under the tree than I intended.

Now. Having said that, I know that my children get more on Christmas morning than many, many children in the world do. Truly.

This year...not only because of money but also because of priorities, I decided to keep it to three gifts per girl. I can't remember who said it, (was it Dana? It sounds like Dana.) but "if it was good enough for the Lord, it's good enough for them." As I said before though, no gold, frankincense of myrrh here.

So I was really proud of all my hand-crafted ideas. Thought I was saving TONS of money. Well.

The fabric store robbed me today people! I didn't do so good on finding the cheapness even though everything I bought was on sale. Guess it just adds up after a while. No matter. The gifts will be fabulous and I really am working hard to keep everything cheap. I'm using lots of scrap buster projects. Can you say free?

Anyway, I've already caught myself adding to my original idea of three gifts so today I pulled in the reins. Decided I'm done. They have three things to open (well, you know, after I SEW THE FABRIC) and that is enough. I shall fight further temptation to add on.

I can work on that while I'm up all night sewing for the next three weeks.

Whose idea were these hand-made holidays anyway?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December is Different

Are you so over me re-posting old posts that I already posted? Me too. But we are back in town now so I can really write new posts again. Glory be!

Yesterday we put up our inside Christmas decorations. And the top 3rd of our pre-lit tree is already in darkness. Lovely. We had school in the "Christmas room" as Sweetheart called it yesterday (formerly known as the living room). We did that for 2 reasons. #1-we can't even set foot in our messy homeschool room and #2--we want to be in the Christmas room.

This happens every year. December rolls around and we just homeschool differently for a month. For one thing, we are halfway through several parts of our curriculum and can afford to take the month off from them. *Patting myself on the back for sticking with it from August-November.* That means a shorter school day, which Mommy needs because of the other thing that happens every year.

I try to hand-make most Christmas presents. That means a lot of crafting and sewing. Which means I need to be at the dining room table instead of off in the separated-from-the-rest-of-the-house homeschool room. We did this last year too, so I could sew and also because of the other thing that happens every year.

Our homeschool room is TRASHED people! The Berenstain Bears call it "messy build-up" and that is exactly what it is! This happened last year too. Three months of not putting things exactly back where they go, stacking instead of dealing with, dropping and not picking up, hanging work all over the walls, playing in there after school hours (which has been banned), art supplies being mixed in with school stuff....and we have ourselves an unusable room.

Don't worry, I'll tackle it. I used to get this in my classroom in public school too. By December, you just need a big 'ol teacher's workday to get re-organized. And that usually meant rearranging furniture too. Don't think I'm not itching to do that in our homeschool room because rearranging is in my blood.

But for now we'll be homeschooling by the Christmas tree, and in the dining room, and anywhere we can find. December is different and I love it!

Oh! Check out the December issue of Heart of the Matter Online magazine. I hear there is a really great article on...say, page 10.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Answer to Now What?

Last one! This is the conclusion of all my research earlier in the year. Tomorrow we are back to real blogging.

So the result of all my research into the topic of women's dress is that we must obey God's Word...dressing modestly and remembering that our true beauty doesn't come from our clothes. I knew those things already, so why couldn't I lay the issue to rest?

I felt a real call to look into these things and as I have, I have become more convinced about the need to dress more femininely. I know it isn't a command in the Bible and so if you think it's silly and there isn't any need to do it--I would understand your argument. But in light of my thoughts in this post, it just makes sense to me.

Having to put effort into looking feminine is a problem in this country and a recent one at that! Fifty or sixty years ago it was a non-issue. The opportunities and choices available to us today mean that it is acceptable for women to dress and behave very masculinely. I live around a lot of chemical plants and the women who work at those plants wear blue coveralls just like the men. Steel toed boots. Hard hats. The whole package. Women doing jobs like that is simply part of our world. However, I see no reason why a woman with a job that requires more masculine dress couldn't come home and transform herself! When she is not at work, she could still be feminine. I've said it before, doing "manly" things sometimes does NOT turn you into a man. You are still a woman--even clothes can't hide that.

But there is SO MUCH more to femininity than our clothes. THAT is the part I have learned. I have become an astute observer of people lately. I have observed what women wear, how they act, etc. You should try looking around you sometime. It's interesting.

Being feminine is how you act, how you talk, you dress, and how you are. You don't have to try to be a woman--you already are. But feminine takes a bit more work, especially in this time period when feminine behavior isn't particularly taught or expected.

A man a few computers down from me at the library let out a cuss word yesterday. It was a pretty big one. He looked to the side and saw me and said, "Excuse me" which I thought was terribly nice. Anyway, after that happened I wondered why he had to look over at me--did he not realize he was sitting next to a woman when he sat down? I suddenly saw myself. I was wearing jeans and a shirt--nothing that nice. I had my legs crossed like a guy and was leaned back in the chair. A picture of loveliness. You would have laughed to see me slowly sit up and uncross my legs, suddenly aware of how I looked.

That's what I'm talking about. I've seen very pretty women wearing lovely clothes who then opened their mouth and ruined the whole image with their ugly words, attitude, or rudeness. You can put a lovely skirt on me (and hopefully a shirt!) and if I'm smacking on gum, cussing, complaining, talking rudely to my husband, etc.....I'm not looking too feminine, you know?

So I'm striving to become more feminine and that does include different clothing than I usually wear. But it is so much more. I must figure this all out so I can teach and be an example to my daughters. And not only how to be feminine, but why it matters in the first place.

I think I've figured that last part out now.

So....Now What?

This post is going to tell of my struggle to get a grasp on femininity and my conclusions of the research I have done. I am not making conclusions for anyone else as I feel, after obedience to God...each woman (with input from her husband preferably) has to make a personal decision about what all this will mean in her own life. If you have not been reading this series, you can get caught up by clicking on the label "Women's Fashions" in the sidebar.


The book series I got most of my information from had a lot of pictures in them. I loved, loved, loved looking at all the pictures. Right up until the 1960s. From what I can tell, it all fell apart during that decade. A good example of that is the Beatles. They started the decade in matching suits and ended it in...well, I think we've all seen those pictures (or remember!). And that pretty much sums up what happened to fashion during that decade.

But prior to that, women looked so lovely! I especially love the dresses from the 1940s and 1950s. I'm not sure we will ever look that lovely again. Sigh. Don't get me wrong...I love me some comfortable blue jeans! And I really love capri pants. And even more, I love not owning pantyhose. I think I'm ruined.

What really matters in all of this? Well, what God has to say about it all is what matters. We covered that in this post. So the MAIN NUMBER 1 THING that I need to concern myself with is this: are the clothes my daughters and I are wearing modest?

I began a few summers ago weeding out the hand-me-downs. Even though I think chubby toddler arms look so sweet in a tank top with spaghetti straps, I will not want my daughters wearing tank tops with spaghetti straps when they are teenagers. I decided I should implement modesty standards right away instead of waiting until "it matters." Now when we get a bag of hand-me-downs, Sweetheart can immediately pull out the ones that she knows I would not allow. And she knows why too. So in all of our clothes, the first thing I check is that they are modest.

That is no small topic either! I have studied modesty and I know it is far more than just "clothes that cover you." I've read that modesty is actually a heart attitude, but there are very physical things to think about. There is the weight of the fabric to think about (is it see-through?), the fit (too snug?), the coverage...the list goes on and on. Still, I think it's pretty easy to be modest.

If you haven't read the results of The Modesty Survey (ESPECIALLY if you have daughters!), I would encourage you to do so because it covers things (Ha! No pun intended) that I would never ever think of in a million years.

I cannot end this post without thinking about the other thing the Bible says about clothing and that is it is not where our beauty should really come from. I suppose this is where some religious groups get the idea of plain clothing. So, in addition to ensuring modesty in our clothing, we must also remember that our beauty should come from other places.

This is important to me as the mother of girls. My attitudes, the things I say about my appearance, the time I spend on fixing myself up...all these things shape my girls' perception of beauty. That is something I need to spend some more time thinking about.

Next time...combining modesty and femininity.

The Influence of Circumstances

Thank you for allowing me to re-post this series while we were out of town. I will now post the conclusion of them and get back to real blogging. Hope the re-posts have helped someone, somewhere. :)

Royalty, high society, Paris, Hollywood...many things have influenced women's fashions over the years. There is one other thing that has caused major changes to what women wore and that is outside circumstances.

One thing that necessitated a change in clothing was the bicycle. As bicycling became more popular in the early 1900s, something had to be done to the dresses women were wearing at the time. In fact, during that time women became more physically active in general. The women's dress reform movement worked to improve women's health and comfort. It was met with great protest, but did succeed in changing women's undergarments and helping women have more sensible choices for activities like biking and swimming.

Another outside circumstance that necessitated change was wartime. Throughout recent history, clothing became more utilitarian and practical during times of war, and returned to more feminine styles during times of peace. I was very interested to learn that. Skirts became a bit shorter--thereby using less fabric. Cuffs, double yokes, knife pleats, full skirts...anything that used extra fabric unnecessarily was out. During the 40s there were rations on clothing that really affected how people dressed. Also during the war, women were urged to cut their hair shorter. Hairpins were unavailable, there were coupons for hats, and safety for women working in factories was a real concern. Some movie stars publicly cut their hair shorter in the hopes that their fans would follow suit.

Of course the Great Depression affected women's fashions as well. Mostly, women had to find a way to make do with what they already had. Women learned to turn collars that were worn out, jazz up the same dress with different accessories, and re-hem worn out dresses. Fashion was not on very many people's minds for a few years. In the same way, women had to make do without certain things during wartime. They painted "seams" on the backs of their legs when nylons were not available, and wore more functional, utilitarian dresses. Which personally, I think were still beautiful!

After World War II, longer, fuller skirts returned. With no more clothing restrictions, designers responded with lots of luxury and femininity. Women had enough of functional! I think it's very interesting that women who were used to wearing jeans and shirts for factory work would return to feminine dress after the war. Of course, the books don't say how many women wanted to return to that style, just that they did for the most part. There was a major advertising campaign encouraging women to go back home to make room for the returning men who needed jobs. So although they regained their femininity, they did not have such luck holding on to their new independence. I sure would love to hear from someone who remembers those days. Anyone got a Grandma they can ask?

Interesting things I've learned....I'm telling ya.

Just a Little While Ago

This post was originally from January 24, 2009.

For quite some time I have been thinking about how women dress these days as opposed to yesteryear. What was the big deal about pants/dresses anyway? That made me curious about how we got where we are today and I started researching.

I think the really big deal about pants vs. dresses, is that pants were kind of "the final frontier" that women conquered. It has been so recent in history that this change occurred that it still seems to be a topic of debate for those who think about such things. No matter what changes happened in women's fashion over the years, pants remained the men's territory.

My oldest sister was not allowed to wear pants to Kindergarten when she started! That was in the late 60s! My mom found a picture of our family before I was born that was taken at church. She assumed it must have been taken on a Sunday morning, for she had on a nice dress, earrings, etc. But when she looked on the back of the photo, she discovered it had been taken at Wednesday evening church. She couldn't even IMAGINE dressing up that much for mid-week services now! In the early to mid 90s when I began teaching, I wore a skirt or dress, heels, and hose 4 days a week. Once a week I wore dress slacks, flats, and trouser socks with a nice blouse or sweater.

One book that I checked out from the library showed sketches of military uniforms from World War I and World War II. They were very interesting. Nearly ALL of the women's uniforms included a skirt. In fact, only 2 did not. Those were an Army field nurse (other nurses' uniforms included skirts) and some type of pilot. Now many details about the uniforms were similar to the men's, except those skirts. It was impossible to not be able to tell the difference between the two uniforms.

These days many places of employment (Target, banks, etc.) require a form of uniforms for their employees. Do you know it? Yep, khaki pants and a polo type shirt with a name tag or the company logo on the shirt. If the two uniforms were hanging up, you would have a very difficult time trying to decide if they belonged to a man or a woman. There simply is no difference. I cannot think of a place of business that has pants for the men and skirts for the women. Even restaurants have women dressed up in black pants, white dress shirt, and a tie. Boy, talk about unisex clothing! Admit it, wouldn't it shock you just a bit to see the women who work at Target in a red blouse and khaki skirt?

This really is a recent change although our children are growing up this way. And boy is it hard! Sweetheart, my 9 year old, even remarked this week, "Mom? Karen and I are the only ones who wear dresses in Bible class. Everyone else wears jeans and a shirt." Now, I will tell you that "everyone else" includes probably 2 or 3 other girls. However, they are just a bit older than Sweetheart so she is probably looking up to them, so to speak. My poor child is wearing a skirt or dress to Bible class and feels out of place! Is there something wrong here?

I've told you before my concerns about this unisex movement. I feel that it is very tied up in feminism--that's issue number one. I feel that it stems from a rebellion against who God created us to be--that's issue number two. (Not that every lady who wears pants in rebellion to God--that's not what I am saying--just the movement in general) I feel that it greatly changes the relationship between men and women, and how we relate and act towards one another...including our husbands--issue number three.

What do you say about the gender blending and unisex movement?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Who Decides What We Wear?

This was originally posted January 21, 2009.

In the 1920s, upper class society and their social calendar set the stage for what would be fashionable each season. In the spring and summertime, the wealthy had grand balls, the races, garden parties, and art exhibitions to attend. So the "fashion houses" launched their new lines of clothing for each season...and the rest of the world watched.

Clothing designers were almost exclusively housed in France and that is where America got their fashions as well. After the new line was launched, America reported on it, and women got busy getting in style.

This was no small task! For the wealthy, many changes of clothes were required for each day as not only the season determined what was appropriate to wear, but also the time of day. Even maids had "morning" uniforms and "afternoon" uniforms! I know how exhausting it can be to change clothes several times a day because I used to do that when my babies would spit up on me several times a day! :) OK--I'm no wealthy, upper class woman!

Later, during World War II, Paris was cut off and American and British designers became the trendsetters for a time. New York became the fashion center and while Paris did regain their influence later, it was never exclusive again.

But in the 1930s, American women transitioned from watching Paris for all their fashion clues, to watching the movies. Many designers followed along and offered designs based on movies rather than whatever it was Europe was doing.

In fact, so strong was this "Hollywood influence" that pants became acceptable for women to wear in part because of two actresses photographed wearing them! One was Marlene Dietrich and the other was Katherine Hepburn. (here is an interesting letter written at the time--go to the 3rd paragraph of her post) Later, jeans (called dungarees) became popular with young people after Marilyn Monroe was photographed wearing them.

How easily molded are we?

More to come!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Royal Influence

This post was originally from Jan. 21, 2009.

This would be the longest post EVER if I tried to write it all at once. And since there is no way I can find that much uninterrupted time anyway, I'm going to do this in pieces today, OK?

Most of my research focused on this century, but if you go a bit further back, you will find that royalty was a major influence on fashion. I had a real DUH moment while I was reading. I never realized that "Victorian" referred to Queen Victoria's era. I know--I was appalled too. Queen Victoria did indeed have a major influence on women's clothing during her reign. Even black became fashionable when the Queen was widowed and began to wear her mourning clothes.

Even in the 1940's, young girls carefully watched what Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose wore. (Picture here.) In our own time, we have been witness to the influence of Princess Diana. Royalty has truly influenced fashion for a very, very long time.

In light of yesterday's events (that was the inauguration)...I think it's clear that America's answer to royalty is sometimes seen in the First Family. I've already heard enough of what Michelle is wearing, as well as her daughters. I can see it already--more influence is coming. Certain other former First Ladies have greatly influenced women's dress as well.

So, influence #1? Royalty. More to come!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Who Tells Us How to Dress?

This post was originally from January 20, 2009.

In attempting to answer the question, "What is feminine dress?" I had to go back in history just a little bit. Well, actually I began a few years ago with the Bible and found 1 Timothy 2:9...

"I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."

...and 1 Peter 3:3-5...

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful."

So when I study the Bible, I conclude that my clothing should be modest and that I shouldn't be worrying myself with fancy and expensive attire. I do not believe that these verses say "thou shall not wear jewelry or braid thy hair"! This is not a command against those things mentioned---just a reminder that our beauty should not come from these things. We should be far more concerned with our inner beauty.

That's it. That's all I read.

So where does this idea to dress more femininely come from?

Well, to begin with, I truly believe God intended for there to be a difference. I spoke about that here. I also touched on it here. At no other point in history have women had to worry about "trying" to dress like women! The unisex, blending of genders concerns me.

One reason it concerns me to see men and women's roles and clothing become indistinguishable from each other is that it severely breaks down the family. The Bible speaks of the order of things in Ephesians 5:22-23 and also in 1 Corinthians 11:3. When things get too blurry between a husband's and wife's roles...the order doesn't work so well. I think the way we often dress today also encourages/enables women to behave more masculinely than ever before. And when women behave more sometimes behave more femininely (metrosexual anyone?)...and it all really goes against God's creation.

So, who tells us how to dress? Well, the most important source is God's Word and we have discussed that now. Tomorrow we will explore the other influences on women's clothing.

Any thoughts so far?

So, What Is Feminine?

This is a re-post. This originally posted on Jan. 20, 2009.

So, if you agree with me that God did intend men and women to be different--we were created for different purposes AND were created physically different from one another--then we have another question to answer for ourselves.

Then what is feminine? If I am not to act or dress or look or become masculine....but instead to be what God made me to be--then what does that look like?

I understand what it looks like to fulfill my role as my husband's helper. I didn't say I always DO it perfectly...just that I understand it! :) God did not intend for men and women to do exactly the same things. Does that mean I cannot change the oil in my car if it's needed? I don't believe so. Even though that is generally assumed to be a "male" task, if the oil needs changing...I'll be happy to....take it to Jiffy Lube. Being feminine does not mean to me that I sit around in a Victorian era dress, writing lovely poems with a quill pen and ink, doing needlepoint, and having perfectly smooth skin. I am my husband's helper. And ladies--there's a lot of work in that job! When Adam was sent out of the garden, God told him that with great toil he would work the land for food. Adam had just become a farmer. Although it probably wasn't Eve's primary job, I am sure she helped him at times in that labor. Just as she probably helped him by cooking the food and caring for his children and many other things.

Of course I am speculating about them. And I'm not interested in writing an entire post about wives and husbands and all that. My main point is: I was created for a different reason than my husband. We have different God-given roles. I cannot be both husband and wife. I cannot be both feminine and masculine. And yes, even though single moms have to do a LOT of both tasks--I believe they are still a woman. You don't turn into a man by doing manly things sometimes.

I have so much more to say about all this. Later today (hopefully) I will share with you what I learned in my research these last few weeks.

So far, I have made two points: God intended there to be a distinction between the sexes and feminine is different than masculine. We were intended for different purposes and I believe our dress should reflect the difference as well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Distinction

I'm re-posting this series I did on Women's Fashion. This post originally was from January 12, 2009.

I've been studying and researching women's dress for a while now. I guess it really started about 2 or 3 years ago, but lately I've really been interested in how we got where we are today.

When I first began reading blogs, the argument of "dresses only" was brought to my attention. I had never heard of such a thing except in thinking of our Pentecostal friends growing up. I was completely unaware that there were many Christian women who considered pants to be sinful. This really was news to me! I studied the scriptures and looked at the arguments they presented. I couldn't come to the same conclusion. Oh, I agree that many, many pants are immodest and some skirts are too. I know for some it is an issue of (believed) Biblical mandate, and for others, modesty is the cited reason for their wardrobe choices. I laid the issue to rest, satisfied that I had studied scriptures about it.

But I haven't been able to completely shake it from my mind.

And it's not because I gained some new insight into scripture and guess what? it really does say we are supposed to wear only dresses! because...I don't believe that.

Still, there was something about it all. What was it?

The first time I heard that pants were sinful I was really thrown for a loop. WHAT? Women have worn pants for as long as I can remember. I was photographed with Santa when I was nearly 2 wearing blue corduroy overalls. (And yes, Santa did think I was a boy.) What exactly is the issue? Women have "women pants" and men have "men pants", right?

Then I heard about distinction and things started making a bit more sense. God created Adam and Even differently. I'm thinking since they were originally wearing no clothes, that distinction was glaringly obvious to them! There was no shame in their nakedness until sin entered the picture. So imagine, if you will, Adam in his birthday suit. He's been working in the Garden for a while now, he's named all the animals and no suitable helper was found for him. He was incomplete. God caused Adam to fall asleep and took one of his ribs and formed the woman. Now when Adam wakes up, there is beautiful, soft, curvy Eve, also in her original birthday suit. How beautiful she must have looked to Adam! God created her to be attractive to him, no doubt. He also made her to be a suitable helper for him--a purpose completely different than Adam's.

Can you agree with me that God made the two sexes distinctly different from each other? Not only were Adam and Eve looking at physical differences between the two of them, but they were created for entirely different purposes! When they were punished and sent out of the Garden, they were given entirely different curses. These two people...representative of all men and women to come...were very, very different from one another. God recognized this, and surely so did Adam and Eve.

Now let's flash forward to today--to 2009. The women's liberation movement has left it's big 'ol footprint on our society in so many ways that honestly, we don't even recognize it sometimes. For women my age and younger, well, we grew up with feminism. "Anything boys can do girls can do better!" is what we sang on the playground. When I was teaching they sang, "Girls rule, boys drool." Heaven knows what they are saying now! Feminism has affected our families, jobs, marriages, country, churches, government, children, the statistics of our population, and yes...our fashion. It's not even possible to discuss women's clothing and not include a study on the history of feminism.

But today I only want to make one point: God created men and women differently. Originally, there was a distinction. Guess what? There still is no matter how badly some would like to erase that fact. No matter what we say goes in marriage and family--only females can have babies--and you still need a male to participate in the making of that baby in some capacity. Physically, we are still different although we try to hide that fact with our clothing.

Do you suppose if women could totally mask the differences seen with the naked eye, then they would be treated as equal? Of course not! Women who join the military must have some things different. No matter how much they would prefer to be treated "just like any other soldier", women have their per*ods while they are in combat. I cannot even imagine that! Women who are soldiers get pregnant. Women who are soldiers are NOT able to do the same physical tasks that men can do.

You can dress like a man, talk like a man, walk like a man, hold a job like a man....but you are still a woman. We have smudged it, but it cannot be erased.

That's my point today. BUT, the crazy, mind-blowing part of all this is....

...people saw this coming!

I borrowed a book called Women Are Wonderful! A History in Cartoons of a Hundred Years With America's Most Controversial Figure. I'm giving full credit for this book, which was published in 1956 and edited by Cole and Robinson. I would like to share a few cartoons from this book with you.
The caption on this first one says, "In some cases it's hard to tell whether they're boys or girls--except by the earrings."
That cartoon above is from the late 1920's and was making fun of "the short skirts and boyish figures" popular during that time. Of course women weren't actually walking around looking that much like men, but the cartoonist saw the road ahead. Perhaps they thought they were only joking!

The woman in this next cartoon, from 1945 says: "I bet you're glad to see an American girl after those horrible savages in the Pacific." And of course, the young man is stricken. I have to say, this cartoon was just a bit convicting. I understand completely how this young sailor would have loved to come home to a lovely feminine girl and just look what he got! How is that different from my husband coming home at the end of the day? Gulp!

Amelia Bloomer popularized the baggy pantaloons worn under skirts that were intended to allow women to participate in more activities. They didn't catch on quite so well at first and were quite shocking to many.

Interesting to me that this cartoonist from the late 1800's saw much further down the road. I would have really thought that women were just fighting for dress reform. But if a cartoonist could see the end result of these changes, did the women (and their husbands) involved in the reform efforts also see the end result? It is entitled "The Bloomer Girl's Wedding."

And the book says, "A picture to put the fear of God into any man in 1896." But really, are you that shocked by it today?
Some think of it as purely a fashion thing. But I think it speaks of so much more.
What do you say about distinction between the sexes?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Raising Independent Kids

A few years ago my sister gave me this book.

Not to make light of my responsibilities of parenting and training my children, but this book was funny. I just liked her light-hearted look at NOT giving yourself a heart failure trying to get your baby into the best preschool. I liked her idea of letting the kids find their own entertainment instead of buying them all the newest electronic fads.

In some ways, I am a slacker mom.

Don't get me wrong, I take my role very seriously. It's just that I'm too lazy to do everything for my kids. I have no desire.
Oh, I used to. You would laugh if you could go back and see me with newborn Sweetheart. Oh the fussing and carrying on! The washing of toys in the sink every night. The sterilizing of things. The organization of her baby food cabinet. The bathing. The clothes folding. I LOVED being a mommy.

Somewhere along the line, I got over needing to do every single thing for my children. It's like when I was decorating Sweetheart's nursery. We had money back then and we ordered all new furniture for her room. Then my aunt offered an old crib mattress she had used for her grandbabies. My uncle told her, "Brenda won't want that! Don't you know new parents want to buy all new stuff for their baby?" I told her not to worry, I had gotten over THAT about $2,000 ago!
By the way, the girls are still using that furniture and I plan on sending it with them when they move out one day. So, it was a good investment.

But back to my story. Somewhere along the way, I stopped feeling the need to do everything for my kids. They make their own beds. And no, it isn't pretty. They get their own snacks and drinks. If Little Bit can't reach something I tell her, "Better get a stool." I spent 15 good minutes today making a list of things I needed the kids to do, complete with pictures from Google images, so Little Bit could read it. It took time to make that list, yes. But now they can independently do the tasks I need them to do.

I could have done it myself, but then they wouldn't know how.

Let's just say, I refuse to still be washing my children's clothes for them, fixing their plates, cleaning their rooms, and taking care of their every need when they are nearly young adults.

Will I help them? Yes. Will we do laundry together? Yes. Will I cook most of the time? Yes. I will not make them take over all the things I should be doing as a homemaker, but they will learn how. We will take turns. We will work together.

I tell them to think of their bedroom as their little apartment. One day they will have a whole house to take care of....their bedroom is an excellent training ground.

I was always appalled as a first grade teacher when I watched certain parents carry their child's backpack for them, hang it up, tie their shoes, tuck in their shirt, and wipe their nose. The child just stood there like a rag doll letting Mommy do every little thing for them.

And then their parents wondered why they couldn't complete their work in class. Hmm.

I don't know. Everyone has different tolerances. And raising boys is somewhat different. And when your kids are really is just easier to do it for them. But for me, with two elementary aged kiddos, teaching them to be independent works for me.

And it appeals to my inner slacker.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Handmade Christmas

For the last few years I have tried really hard to make most of our Christmas presents. We buy stuff for the girls, but for the grown ups in our life, we try to give handmade. Sew Mama Sew has been an indispensable help for the last few years, but I find tutorials all over the place. Here is what I gave last year (with links).

I can't share every one's presents here because people might see.....but I did want to share some. I saw this idea on Sew Mama Sew and it gave me an idea for my mom. My parents have a country home (aka "the trailer") but they are not there enough to decorate for each holiday. So I decided to make these pillow covers in each season. My mom can just switch out the pillowcase four times a year. I'll post pictures later. They are looking very cute and are made completely from scraps, besides the inexpensive muslin I bought for the case.

I found several other ideas in their scrap busters section, but I'll share those later. One of the really exciting things is the gift the girls are making. I like for them to give gifts to everyone so their Christmas is not just about getting. This year I decided for them to make sachets. Using scraps, I'm having Sweetheart sew 5"X7" pieces of fabric together. Then she turns and fixes the corners and hands them off to Little Bit. Her job is to stuff them with potpourri and tie them at the top with a piece of yarn. She can't do the whole bow yet, but she's doing really good tying the first part. Sweetheart has had her sewing machine for a few years but she's only sewed a few things on it. That's why I was SO impressed and proud that she was able to sew these on her own after only having my help on the first one.

Today I was pulling away from Hobby Lobby just shaking my head. I purchased materials for my sister's Christmas present, most of my nieces' presents, and 2 parts of my sisters-in-law's gifts and I only spent $8.00!!!! You cannot beat that.

I really love giving homemade gifts. What are you making this Christmas?

Friday, November 20, 2009


Today is a.....

stay in out of the rain
clean the kitchen
force ourselves to do school work
ignore the fact that today is the last day of school for public school students
work on Christmas presents
attack piles of paper
make the kids do chores
cook supper at home
Bible study tonight with friends
be productive EVEN THOUGH it's Friday

...kind of day.

What kind of day do you have in store?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How You Found Me

Oh SiteReader, you are so entertaining.

Let's see how people have stumbled up on The Family Revised this week, shall we?

Searched: Star Wars Lapbook
This was a popular choice this week. Homeschool Share? You really could help some moms out and make one of these. I haven't ever made one, but I think Suzanne and I discussed it in the comments section of a post. Sorry you didn't find what you were looking for when you found me, Google searcher.

Searched: Feminine Househusband Apron
Someone is getting a special Christmas present!!!! (If they find one.)

Searched: Community Helpers Lapbook
This I can actually help with! We made a Dora lapbook with some community helper stuff in it. And by the way, that search was from Asia. How cool is that?

Searched: the family revised
Hey, you found me!

Searched: how can you say you trust God when
Ah. I've been asking myself the same thing. Hope I helped. He is worth trusting!

Searched: How to start becoming organized
coughcoughcough Sorry. I've recovered now. May I just apologize? I think you have not found the site you need. However, if you want companionship on your journey, we can be great friends!!! :)

Searched: How to be a homemaker
See above.

Catching Up Day

There was no school at our house today. I felt the need to catch up on some responsibilities. I made a frugal menu plan, grocery list, and shopped. We are ready for one week of meals now. I also caught up on the check book (which I am terrible at doing) since I forgot to pay some bills last month and paid them later and so they came out of THIS paycheck instead of LAST paycheck. That, on top of extra expenses for Little Bit's birthday and just general carelessness on my part as far as spending goes, means we need to be REALLY careful for the next two weeks. I hate that. I hate that I could have done better but just didn't.

Well, it's a new day.

So today I had to let school go while I did these things. I also plan to clean out the refrigerator instead of thinking, "man, I need to clean this thing out!" for the 475th time as I shut the door. Who knows? I may get really crazy and do some laundry! I'm just tired of feeling like all these things are half done.

You know that mental running list that women keep? It's exhausting, isn't it?

On a good note, I started my mom's Christmas present and it's going really well and fast too! I also have ideas for my sisters and sisters-in-law. Now.....if I could just decide what the girls are getting. I thought I had it figured out, but my idea hasn't worked out so I'm back to square one. I know there are people out there who have finished all of their Christmas shopping. I know because I am related to some of them. They make me sick. I just wanted you to know that.

Still, I've been thinking today a lot about the Compassion El Salvador trip and how 10 people live in one house in such poverty. We really are blessed beyond measure. I pray that the Lord would help me to be a better steward of it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Character Education

It's part of our state homeschooling laws here in Texas--our curriculum is supposed to include character education. Any homeschooler, religious or not, can include character education in their schooling. But I want something more...

I stumbled on this chart of character quality definitions at the Duggar's website a few weeks ago and I was very interested. I poked around the internet a bit and discovered similar definitions at other websites, but not with a godly emphasis. Teaching good morals and character to your children is needed, but without the emphasis on Christ, its just another thing to teach.

I've been researching a bit more (only what can be found for free online) and have found some great resources! Today I bought 3 ring binders for each girl and we are going to make notebooks as we work on character ed. each day.

Here are printable posters to put in our notebooks. I will use these as dividers, I think.

There will definitely be illustrating going on towards the end of the week. Both girls like to draw, so after they have gained a good understanding of the character quality, they can illustrate it for their binder.

I found these great lesson plans also. From these I found Bible stories to go along with the quality of the week. I haven't looked at all of them, but today we began "Alertness." We read the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife as an illustration of alertness and sang "Oh Be Careful Little Eyes." It's nice that the resources are already gathered for me.

Also, when it applies, we will be reading from The Children's Book of Virtues.

I am SURE there are other resources out there, so if you know of any, please pass them on! I'd love to see other book lists to go along with each character quality.