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, yes...how 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.


So.


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 masculinely...men 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 younger....it 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

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
laundry
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.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 2 Flu

Is better than Day 1. Yesterday was mostly about taking temperature and wet rags on the head and giving Tylenol and soothing and comforting and cleaning up puke. Little Bit told me today that puke is another word for throw up. I gave her a few more synonyms and she said, "I like that cookie one." :)

Gah I've just turned into a mom blog.

Anyway, today she has felt good enough to sit up on the couch. She's watched TV and colored and talked. She's not hungry but she is. She's bored. I'm the entertainment.

The birthday plans are shot but exactly WHEN we will celebrate is still up in the air. I'd like to wait until she feels good enough to be excited about her gifts and good enough to play with them.

And good enough to not get cookies on them, you know?

Thanks, everyone, for the prayers.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Around Here

Little Bit celebrated her 6th birthday yesterday and then promptly came down with the flu. She has been so miserably sick today and her party this weekend is in real jeopardy. She also had to miss the field trip she was looking so forward to today. Why can't they get sick when you've got nothing goin' on? Goodness knows there are a lot of weekends like that around here.

So, with the birthday and the fever, school has not been going on so much these last few days. Gotta get back on track. Hopefully I can use the extra time this weekend to make some plans for next week.

I love Thanksgiving. It is one of my most favorite holidays. I hate that it gets blown over. I don't WANT to see the Christmas stuff the day after Halloween, OK? We don't have any plans for Thanksgiving yet per se....but we will get it together. What I know is I want to bring back the tradition that my aunt and I used to have where we made a Christmas craft after Thanksgiving dinner. I want to make Christmas shirts with the girls. Anyone seen any cute ideas?

Well, I just wanted to check in here. Not much going on but temperature taking and Tylenol administering and TV watching.

So basically, this was 5 minutes of your life you will never get back. Sorry. :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Standing Out

Today's sermon touched on the point that, as Christians, we should not blend in with the rest of the world. We should stand out.

After our worship service, we dismiss to small groups where we discuss the morning's message. So we talked about it. Yes, everyone agreed. We should not blend in. Yes, we all agreed, Christians should look different.

But we never exactly pinpointed HOW that looks. I wondered at lunch to S how many folks would go home and think hard about that message this morning. How many folks, do you think, will go home and question their family's decisions? I wondered because right after the sermon I passed several of our teens at church who have piercings in their face and the latest fashions on. I wondered because of the things I see on people's Facebook pages.

It's not just about outward appearance, I know. Oh there is so much to think about. This topic is near and dear to my heart as it's what this blog is ABOUT.

I've told this story before, but years ago I watched one of the first specials about the Duggar family on TV. I was pretty impressed and curious about this family. I began reading and poking around online and what impressed me the most was......for every decision in their lives, they had a scripture to back it up. This interested me. Most people, including us at the time, live their lives pretty much like everyone around them, except they read their Bible and go to church.

So I began praying for God to change our family to how He wanted us to be. I talked to S about it too. We decided that, other than where we spent our time on Sundays.....we weren't too different than any other young family. Sure, there were all the things we didn't do.....we didn't drink, or smoke, or cuss, or go to bars. But did we stand out? Were we really living like we were different? Were we just reading God's word for encouragement, or using God's word to base our decisions on? Big difference.

Since that time, oh my word, I have re-thought (or rather thought-for-the-first-time) many, many things. How should I wear my hair? How should I dress? What does modesty mean? How should I treat my husband? What are my responsibilities as a parent? As a wife and mother, what would God have me to do? Who should be training and teaching our children? What hobbies should we have? What should we watch on TV? What music should we listen to? How should we treat others?

Oh I know I'm not listing everything there (feel free to throw some more things out in the comments) but the point is, the way we were living, and expected to live in the future.....changed. When we considered God first, decisions were different.

If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have told you our kids would go to school (hopefully not in full-time daycare before they started), date, graduate, go to college, get married, etc. And us? We would work until we paid off the college and then work toward retirement.

That plan is pretty much shot now. Thankfully, God has set us on a different path. We cannot honestly tell you what will happen in a few years, but we know that the Lord's will comes first. And I know we have been blessed by the changes in our life.

So what do you say? How should Christians stand out from the world. Surely it's more than just an internal change. And yes, I understand that the Lord is the one who makes us new---we cannot just "decide" to change our lives. But when we are living in obedience to Him.....how do we then stand out? What do you say?

Friday, November 6, 2009

A New Math Game

Little Bit is working her way through the Math U See Primer book. We haven't gotten very far past the lesson when they are supposed to learn what numeral the blocks stand for. She had no problem naming the blocks the first day and never forgot what she named them, but she wasn't having as much luck remembering the numeral they corresponded to. She's also been having trouble recognizing several numerals. She knows ALL the letters of the alphabet in both upper and lowercase, but for some reason numbers just weren't sticking.

So, last week we made a book. Here are the first few pages. She named the green unit block "green grass", the 2 block "duck feet", the 3 block, "three little pigs", and the 4 block "sunshine."

Then yesterday I got an idea from Math U See's Facebook page and a new game was born. Actually 2 new games were born.

I found some dice (I refuse to call them die, ok? Hate that word. I know it's correct but, ug.) and realized that Little Bit wouldn't be able to easily recognize what number she had rolled. Also, a dice would only allow her to practice her Math U See blocks up to 6. And she knows those lower numbers pretty well.

Then I enlisted Sweetheart to quickly add the dice (she can use the practice in adding QUICKLY) and call out the number to Little Bit, who then had to locate the correct block. They had a lot of fun doing this and taking turns shaking the dice.
Concentrate, Sweetheart!!!
Yeah!!! She finally learned 9!!!!

When Sweetheart had enough of that game, Little Bit wanted to play some more. She and I got in the floor and made up a new game. I rolled the dice and called out the number to her and we attached them to a hundreds block base as we went. This has the potential for good things further down the road as she will figure out that if she already put a 4 block down, she'll need a 6 block to complete that row (4+6=10). Towards the end, she was figuring out what she needed to roll to finish the whole block and beginning to recognize the dice patterns.
I need to roll a 2 and a 1 Mom!


We decided when we were finished that next time we will add one thing to our game. Whenever anyone rolls an 8, we shall eat an M&M. (Chocol-8!) It's a win-win game.
Hey, Moms need some motivation too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Never Enough

I work really hard to please my husband. I'm sure it doesn't look like it when you look around our house, but every day he is on my mind. I WANT the house to be clean and wonderful looking when he gets home. I have every intention of it happening. It just never seems to come to fruition like it does in my mind.

I want to fix great suppers that the whole family likes and have everyone full and satisfied at the end of the meal, but it's a crap shoot. I feel like I just make something really quick every night. I WANT to be one of these women who make great home cooked meals that spell love to their family and everyone wants to come eat at their house. I have every intention of learning to do that. It just never seems to actually happen. We have hot dogs a lot.

I want to be really organized and track our finances and save for the future and take care of all the paperwork so my husband has no cares. I want the laundry room to look like it does in my imagination. I want the laundry to be done. I want to spend less time on the house and more time on sewing. I want to have people over more. I want to be thinner.

I want to feel like I'm doing something.....just one thing....really, really well.

Thank goodness we can't work for our salvation. Thank goodness that God's love for me is not dependent upon my performance. It doesn't feel good to always be holding a measuring stick up to yourself and be found wanting.

People in some religions feel this way. They are never really sure. They have to DO a lot of things. They cannot afford to mess up.

I am thankful for the gift of God's grace. For the Salvation offered to me by our Lord. For freedom in Christ. For His love. For His forgiveness.

I am thankful that I don't have to be enough....or do enough.

I am thankful our God is who He is.

Book Club Jr.

Sweetheart is part of a book club. It's made up of homeschooled students from about 8-12 years old (or thereabouts). It was started by some friends and let me tell you.....we have read many, many books that I would never have chosen otherwise because of this book club.
I think I might be becoming literate.

See, I went to public school my whole life. Can I blame that for the reason I have never read The Three Musketeers or The Secret Garden or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? Actually, I was discussing 20,000 Leagues with my sister and we were talking about the author Jules Verne. I told her he wrote about futuristic things in his time. She wondered how I knew that and I showed her.

So....yes. MTV obviously trumps literature courses. Oh wait, actually I would have learned that from VH1's Pop Up Video. See? I read.

We enjoyed The Tale of Despereaux before the movie came out. We also read The Trumpet of the Swan, which I owned my whole life but never read. It's been really neat.

Last year I had to read most of the books to Sweetheart but this year she is flying through them on her own. That is very cool! We have sort of gotten hooked on the Great Illustrated Classics. They seem to be a really good fit for most of our kids.


Well, last year the little sisters sort of just played during book club. Sometimes they sat in on the activities but they didn't get a whole lot out of it. This year, since they are all now officially school-aged (Little Bit is the youngest), I decided I wanted them to get to do something too. I was talking with one of the other moms about how the littlest one is always along for the ride, but the activities are so rarely about them.
(OK good grief. She's not THAT much younger. She's so short in this picture but she's only 6 months younger than the girl on the far left!)

So Book Club Jr. was born. I have three sweet little girls who are three different ages, but are a nice fit with each other. We've only met once but we had fun. For the first meeting I tried to keep it light. (I wanted them to have a good impression of Book Club Jr.!) We read Ira Sleeps Over and I had everyone bring their bear. They got to introduce their bear to everyone and then we did some crafts. We had a few minutes extra at the end so I brought some bears for them to play with. It was fun, but I'm looking forward to doing more challenging stuff with them.
Today we are going to read The Napping House, which may not have been the best choice because there is no food involved. We made soup for Despereaux (obviously), and ate spaghetti and meatballs before we read and went to see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. I'm all about the food books.
Oh. But I'm supposed to be teaching the children about reading. Right.