Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Patron of Mothers

120 years ago today, on January 29, 1893, Pope Leo XIII beatified Gerard Majella. St. Gerard, pray for us!

For those of you who are not familiar with this saint, he is the patron of the expectant mother, mothers in general and childbirth. I have a very special place in my heart for Saint Gerard. It is through his intercession that we have our little Adam Gerard.

Om September 8th, we had a sonogram appointment to check up on our little 10 week old unborn baby. Much to our dismay, this baby had died in my womb and was lifeless. I will never forget that image on the screen. My baby had died. I was devastated. One day later, I miscarried. I will not go into all of the details, but I will tell you that I was very devastated. This had been our third miscarriage.

I remember crying a lot. I knew that I had a booklet about St. Gerard with my other Catholic prayer books and days after the miscarriage I prayed the novena at the back of the book. I cried pitifully through the prayers each night. I begged Saint Gerard to bless us with another child. I even promised him that I would name the baby after him.

If you have read my blog before, you will probably already know that we got pregnant shortly afterward with our little Adam. Before we conceived, my husband had a dream. In that dream, he was told to name his baby Adam Gerard. We were thrilled to find out that we were expecting only weeks later. At 19 weeks, we found out that we were having a boy! Saint Gerard had interceded for us in ways beyond all of our comprehension. I was in shock. We had been blessed after such devastation and loss. All of the tears and cries were heard.

Needless to say, I have a special love and devotion to Saint Gerard.

I know that I have posted this before (but it was a long time ago), but I would like to post it again. If you have suffered a miscarriage, are trying to conceive or want special help from Saint Gerard, you can get a little devotional and prayer kit from St. Lucy's Church and the National Shrine of Saint Gerard. It is free of charge. After my second miscarriage, I called there and they sent me a medal, handkerchief and prayer card with the novena. I wore the medal through the entire pregnancy with Patrick (the second youngest) and you can see him holding it in this picture.

St. Gerard Majella, pray for us.

The Needle and Thread Network (TN&TN) for January 29th

This my first TN and TN post in a very long time. I reworked the blog and am ready to get sewing. I try to spend nap time and weekends at my machine. I have mentioned many times in the past that I love to sew. This hasn't always been the case. At one time, I stitch ripped more than I sewed.

I was up really early this morning and managed to sew the December block for Bloggers Block of the Month Quilt Along hosted by Peach Path Quilts.

My daughter is working on a block for the My Favorite Block Quilt Along. This is going to a really scrappy looking sampler. The first block is going to be a wonky log cabin pieced as courthouse steps.

These are just two of our very many WIP's. We hope you are having a great week. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Some More Blocks

I have been really busy all week and haven't gotten much sewing done. C'est la vie! After all, I am a homeschool mom and I was needed a lot more than usual. I have had to tweak a few of the kids' programs to work a little better for them and that meant a lot of time spent on more important things than sewing.

I did manage to get three blocks done for a Quilt Along. I decided to join a few 'quilt alongs' and a mug rug swap. I really want hone my skills before I open up my own etsy shop. It's coming, I promise.

The first Quilt Along that I joined, was the Bloggers Block of the Month Quilt Along hosted by Peach Patch Quilts. This is the quilt that I made the blocks for.

September 2012 Block ~ Fun in the Middle Block
October 2012 Block ~ Churn Dash
November 2012 Block ~ Big and Little
I think that these blocks turned out really nice. I am hoping to make this quilt into a lap quilt for my daughter. She could use a small quilt to cuddle up in when she is cold. I haven't made her a 'real' quilt yet. She has a rag quilt, but that one isn't my best work nor is it pretty. She deserves a pretty quilt. With four boys in this house, we could really use a little bit of femininity around here. I really want to highlight the flowers, fairies, pinks and yellows.

The other quilt along that I joined is called "My Favorite Block Quilt Along" by Persimon Dreams. I haven't started that one yet, but it is on my list of to do's. The next blocks are coming out on Tuesday. I am really excited about that. I haven't decided on a color theme yet, but I am thinking something along the lines of 1930's or 1940's reproduction fabrics with a white background.

I also joined the "Mug Rug Swap" hosted by the Quilting Gallery using designs from The Patchsmith. I am awaiting confirmation on this one. I can't wait to receive the patterns. I am excited to do some applique. I have never done any applique and I need to get over my fear. Why not learn and share what I have learned?

On another note, I have printed out a blog planner and hope to get a little more organized in terms of blogging. I hope to get more organized in general and will blog about it if I ever get my act together enough to let you know what is working for us. I am really hopeful that I will have a bit better time management, more productive homeschool and essentially a lot more time for me.  It all begins with prayer and that is where I would like to end today. I hope that you have had a wonderful weekend.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Daybook for January 21st

Outside my window... sunny and cold. I love when the sun shines bright in the winter, don't you?

I am thinking... that I should be doing a million other things.

I am thankful for... a new week with a fresh start.

From the lesson plans... Beatrix Potter unit study. I had no idea that her books were originally letters to her little friends. 

From the kitchen... something with chicken and potatoes. Perhaps Greek Chicken?

I am wearing... jeans and a three quarter length t-shirt and a scarf.

I am creating... too many things. Owen wants me to make him a stuffed fish. It is all cut out and ready to sew. I am making a vintage sheet quilt for the living room. It is cold in there and our fleece blankets are all starting to fall apart at the seams. Jogging pants for Patrick are all cut and ready to sew. I can't forget hubby's pillows that I started last weekend. A crochet pillow cover to match the quilt for the living room. Oh and all of the UFO's in the green bin.
I am planning... to breath. I am planning to do one thing at a time and stop doing a crappy job at everything because I am multi-tasking.

I am reading... The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

I am hoping... that I can get my act together, be more organized, learn more, give more, pray more and get fit again.

I am hearing... the kids play Wii Sport Resort. (phys ed.)

Around the house... lots of unfinished projects (see above), a bathroom that needs cleaning and a bit of laundry that needs tending.

I am going... to lose the inches. I signed up for the T-Tapp 60 Day Challenge as a bit of a kick start and a motivation. 

I am praying for... hubby's promotion to finally go through. We have been praying for this for months. It would mean a lot in terms of job security and stability.

For the rest of the week... lots of school, sewing (hopefully) and getting caught up on housework.

A quote for the day...
Oh, how precious time is! Blessed are those who know how to make good use of it. Oh, if only all could understand how precious time is, undoubtedly everyone would do his best to spend it in a praiseworthy manner! ~ Padre Pio

A picture thought...
Maria (10) made this log cabin block as part of her study on Beatrix Potter. She plans to make a few more and make them into a pillow cover.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

When School Doesn't Go As Planned

Prior to Adam's birth this past August, I sat down and planned our school year. The plans were made, the books were ordered and hope lingered. There was hope that this year would be different, more productive, just plain better.

We are nearing the end of January and were are behind schedule according to my plan. In the past, we tried hopelessly to cram more lessons in a day in order to catch up. We fought with ourselves (especially me) to learn more, faster and just like everyone else. Did it work? Some days we could breeze through the lessons, but for the most part we struggled. The kids lost their zeal for learning and I just wanted to throw in the towel. I had failed. Just look at all of those blogging mamas who did so much, made up lessons, shared them online. Oh and did you see the birthday party plans and the newly painted kitchen or the hand-knit socks and, and, and? Why did I even bother to make plans in the first place when I know that we never seem to
measure up?

Upon reading this verse, I am enlightened. Not only do I not have to do all of the things that Mrs. Jones does, but I shouldn't. I need to discern more. It is ok when school doesn't go as planned. I need to do what is good and pleasing to God. What does this mean, though? I thought that I had discerned and prayed about what to teach my children. Perhaps, not enough or I was too proud and planned too much and didn't allow enough time for life to happen.
Since getting back to our studies this new year, I have taken a relaxed approach. We have slowed down and tried to learn more in depth. We have been taking a more accurate approach. Mia is having trouble with grammar, so we ditched the grammar book for now and have started to review what she does know and build upon that. She needs a better foundation. I need to prepare her differently. She needs more time, but she is learning better.
Owen doesn't fit the normal mold in anyway. He looks like a normal kid and is for the most part, but he has a really difficult time remembering ANYTHING that he has been taught. He needs more review than I had hoped he would. We strongly suspect that he is dyslexic. He is a struggling reader. We have tried a few different methods, but are using a combination of All About Reading, Seton Phonics, Starfall, online games and regular games. It is the variation and the combination that seems to be working. He just needs a lot more practice than other kids. This is his second go at grade 1. He is doing TouchMath, now instead of the traditional math programs that most families use. Guess what? It is working and he getting it.
It may seem obvious to others, but I am learning to teach each child for who they are. When school doesn't go as planned, you pray and you make changes. The children are learning using the methods that work best for them. Owen needs lots of multi-sensory stimulation, whereas Noah needs to read and discuss to learn. I am not comparing (as much) and being gentler on myself. I don't know it all and I struggle everyday. I try to pray more and spend more time listening instead doing all of the talking to God. I am discerning and learning as I go. So if it looks like I have it all together, I don't. I learn as I go. I am learning to do things my way and not copy what others are doing. It is hard to not conform, but it is even harder to try not to conform. I must remind myself that I have different gifts and different crosses than others. 

School in our house does not represent what happens in a school as I remember it. I teach while rocking a baby, or sitting on the floor. I teach math while baking bread or while I entertain a toddler. I think I would like to try unschooling, but have to discern it more. I have to learn more to be the mother and teacher God is calling me to be. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Thrifty Finds

We went thrifting again this afternoon. It is always fun to go thrifting, don't you think? It is even more fun when you find some really great things, like we did today.

The virgin Mary statue was really dirty, but with the help of Mr. Clean and his magic eraser, she is looking beautiful again.
 This figurine is intended to be a gift for Owen who will be receiving his First Holy Communion later this year. I don't think he saw it, so please don't tell him.
 This little music box is my favorite find today (after Mary of course). He spins around playing the Happy Birthday song. So cute and in impeccable condition.
 I couldn't resist this one either. Isn't she a darling on her little chair with her dolly?
 These vintage Christmas ornaments were in a bag with some hideous ornaments, but for $1.99, I couldn't leave them there.

You can never have too many nativity sets, in my opinion. This is a really cute porcelain set for Nick. I guess Nick didn't want them because now they are ours.
 I love this "Last Supper" plaque that we found for $0.99. It was made in El Salvador. It now dons a special spot on the shelf with other Catholic knickknacks and what-nots.
For $2.99, I scored a 1990's fabric bundle. The teddy bear piece is from Debbie Mumm and the bunnies are from Daisy Kingdom. These pieces will make a cute doll quilt for sure. I have a Debbie Mumm quilting book and I am sure that the perfect project is in there.
These three 1983 quilting magazines were $0.50 each. They have some really neat patterns and some funny pictures of women of the time. The ladies were dressed in 1970's attire and bright pink make-up. 

Noah got a pair of jeans and the kids got a few VHS tapes and a German board game. My German hubby was looking at the board games when another guy was reading the writing on it to his son. He was poking fun at it and told his son that it is useless, it is German. Good for us that we can speak and read German. It was only $0.99. It is a popular German board game. If you come over, we can teach you how to play.
That was quite the booty for one day! There was also another music box without a price tag on it that I really wanted. (I am sorry for not coveting this one) It was a vintage Minnie Mouse music box. When hubby asked how much it was, she told him that she didn't feel comfortable pricing it and put it in the back. End of story. I pleaded with her to call me on Monday when it is priced an to hold it for me. Cross your fingers for me, please. I hardly fall in love with any "thing", but this was so sweet and a collectible for sure. 

I hope that you are all having a wonderful weekend. God bless.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Needle & Thread

In addition to all of the projects that I had going on last weekend, and the pants for Patrick, I managed to make a quick table runner. I used a pattern that I found online. I used the Bookish Charms that I got for my birthday. I especially love the blocks that look like library card date stamps. I remember getting my first library card when I was around 12 years old. On Saturdays, when my godfather went into town to get groceries, he would drop me off at the public library. I would load myself up with books and be ready to be picked up when he was finished with his errands.
This is a really quick quilt project. I finished this one in about 2 naps plus a few evenings binding. I had to stop to feed the baby, so my time gauge isn't very reliable. 

I still love to read, but I tend to use spare time to quilt and sew rather than read. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel is still waiting for me at chapter four. As a family, we are reading The Hobbit. We are sharing two books and this is proving to be a little difficult. I might have to get an audio book of this one from the library in order to keep up with the kids.

Don't forget to stop by Elizabeth's blog and see what everyone has been sewing and reading.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dancing with Your Children

Let them praise his name in dance, make music with tambourine and lyre. Psalm 149:3

I am not an expert on anything, really, but I love to dance. I am not a dancer. I have two left feet, but I must move to the music. I woke up this morning and had to dance. I danced and danced.

I am not sure what I was doing in the living room can be considered dancing, but I twirled with a two year old on my hip to the music. Do you dance with your children? If you don't, you should. Here is my meager attempt to convince you...

1. It is good for your heart.  Sure it is exercise and it gets the heart pumping, but dancing is much more than that. It releases endorphins and makes you happier. It is good for the well being of your heart. If your heart could smile, I am sure it would.
Baby Mia loved to dance with mama.
2. It encourages bonding. Whether you are dancing with your toddler or your teenager, you develop a stronger bond. You must communicate. You work together. You smile and have fun together.
3. It is refreshing. If you are in a slump and your brain is sluggish and you need a break, dance! Boogie to a quick song and you will feel better, trust me. We sometimes interrupt school to dance. It can breath new life into a tired and weary child. It can help him or her focus again.
4. It encourages a good sleep. If have never danced with a baby, do it (if you can). Grab that baby and waltz around the living room. You don't need to know all of the right steps, just move. The baby will love it. I have often danced a fussy baby to sleep.
That is my grandma in the turquoise dress.
5. It creates memories. I remember dancing in the farmhouse kitchen growing up. Sundays after Mass and brunch, we danced. At weddings, we danced and danced. At grandma's, we danced and sung and danced some more.
daddy - daughter dance at my wedding
6. It is fun. You don't need to be a Fred Astaire to dance with your children. Just get up and dance. Have you ever done the bird dance or the hokey pokey with your children? Did they laugh at the way you boogied? Did you laugh at the way you boogied? Go ahead and laugh at my bad dancing, I'm going to dance anyway. It is fun and I love it. 

My kids love to be twirled and to groove with mom. They love it so much that we bought Just Dance Kids 2 and Just Dance: Disney Party for the Wii. And guess what? They are better than I am! When it is -20C outside, we dance inside. We dance and make memories, bond and have lots of fun. Will you dance today? Twirl your kids and give them something to remember you by.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Who Are You?

Do you watch Downton Abbey? I wasn't a fan at first, but then I really got into it. We watched a Downton marathon on DVD from the library at the end of my pregnancy. Then we put the second season on hold and watched it during our babymoon period. Does anyone know what channel it is on in Canada? We are watching reruns on VisionTV for now and hope that they too will run season 3.

I am Lady Edith Crawley

Job-hopper, Edith's numerous jobs are right for you. You like helping out and the feeling of self-worth derived from good work, and you are excellent (and impeccably dressed), whatever your responsibilities. But whether it's impulsive behavior, romantic inclinations, or global circumstances beyond your control, something always spurs you to move on. Try to figure out what you truly want in your career, and then channel your considerable passion and skill into achieving it. Stability and other rewards may follow.

Who are you? You can take the quiz here and find out what job best suits you. Thanks Jamie for blogging this.

Vinyl Records & Radio Shows

When I was growing up, the radio was an really important piece of electronic equipment in our house. I was never allowed to touch it and I didn't dare change the station. I remember listening to the radio shows, especially during the summer holidays. The radio went on first thing in the morning and I don't remember when it was turned off at night.

I grew up on a farm in mid-western Ontario. Country music channels were abundant enough. I grew up listening to Crystal Gale, Johnny Cash and the likes. I remember my godmother writing out songs that she had taped off of the radio. She would figure out the chords and she would sing them. I grew up singing these songs, too. But in truth, my favorite listening time was spent listening to the stories. I still love the old time radio shows. I don't listen to the radio that much anymore. But I do love the shows. I also love the records with stories.

We had one those mid-century modern hi-fi record player consoles. I believe it still stands in the farmhouse kitchen. It looked something like this. Do you remember these?
I would love to own one again, but we really don't have the room for one. We do have a smaller record player that we play old vinyl records on. You can get children's records at thrift stores and garage sales for really cheap, if you are lucky. My kids love listening to the fairy stories and the music. But truth be known, we live in a modern world and good quality records are hard to come by. That is why I am thankful for people who reproduce the vinyl records and radio shows into convenient mp3 files.

You can download mp3 files and burn them onto a cd or load onto your nifty Ipod or generic mp3 player and enjoy the music and stories all over again. One such website is Kiddie Records Weekly. They have converted a few hundred vinyl records from their own personal collection in downloadable mp3 files. Another great source for good old-fashioned radio shows is on the homeschool freebie of the day website. The Erskine family runs this website. They offer something free everyday and use their radio show packages to fund the website. If you subscribe to their newsletter, you can get really great deals. The really good radio show packages are offered once or twice a year and are fairly cheap. You get so much for your money, it is really worth it. The kids and I have not been disappointed by anything we purchased from them. I am not receiving any profits from mentioning the above named vendors for mentioning them here. I just want to share with you some good old fashioned fun that we happen to love. 

If you know of any other great resources that are free or are inexpensive, please let me know. The kids and I love to listen to stories. We are also great fans of audio books, but that is a whole other story.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sewing for Boys

How many of you sew for boys? Do you have any go to patterns? I have a hard time finding sewing patterns for boys, that I actually like. When you find a pattern that works for you, do you make the same thing over and over again?

I bought the Fuddie Duddie Pants Pattern before the baby was born, with the intention of making most of my boys pants. Truth be known, I haven't made all that many pairs yet because I realized that I really don't like sewing clothes. I prefer to sew doll cloths, baby bibs and of course quilts. Making boys pants can be actually quite frugal. They don't take long to sew, you can use fabric from the sale section and make them how every you like. I tend to reinforce the knees on the pants I make. This makes them last longer. With four boys, I have seen dozens of pants go through at the knees within a few weeks of purchasing them. That is why I like to sew my own.

I made the following pair without reinforced knees with the hopes that these would be worn when we go out and not necessarily for romping, sword-fighting, car playing or mud-pie making. I guess I should design the matching straight jacket. Just kidding.

As easy as the pants are to make, they are really difficult to photograph. My little guy is such a clown and wouldn't stay still.

A Productive Weekend

The first week back to school is behind us and I had a chance to do a number of little projects in my sewing room. The sewing room is also our home office and school room. It is a tiny room, but we have organized and reorganized it to make it work for us.

Not a square inch of space can be wasted in a room this size. I have spent a lot of time trying to make this room pretty like all of those craft rooms on Pinterest, but let's face it. The family and I use this room and it will never look staged. It is functional and that is what counts.

For my birthday, hubby bought me a design wall, some fabric and some really neat quilting tools. I got a chance to play with some of those things this past weekend.
I bought a piece of Marvel comics fabric before Christmas (actually my dearest bought it) with the intention to make some pillows for the man cave the media room. Hubby's Elvis&car quilt and pillows live down there and need some company. Is it weird when a man requests more pillows? I love my man and don't mind making pillow cases. I paired the marvels with some 1940's reproduction fabrics. Odd combination? He loves them. 

The snowman wall hanging isn't something that I worked on this past weekend, but rather on my birthday. Hubby bought the material on my 34th birthday and I just started it on my 35th birthday. He is joking with me that it won't get done until my 46th birthday. We'll see about that!

The bottom left project was also a "before Christmas" project that Mia and I worked on together. It is based on the 15 minutes of play concept. I think this will end up in the man-cave, too.

The Incredible block is the "whirly-gig" block from the Pioneer Sampler Quilt on BOM. Again this will be made into another pillow and hubby picked out the materials.

Finally, the bottom right quilt is going to be a wall hanging for my Raggedy Ann fan. He helped me pick out the materials and made some of the decisions in regards to color and placement. I just love the playfulness of this one. I am hand quilting it, so it might take a few more days to finish.

I didn't just get sewing done, I got in some family fun time. We played Wii, went thrifting and read a bit. I found a few neat things while thrifting, including a yard of dinosaur print flannel, a cute storage box and a new pyrex dish to add to the collection. There were a few other things that I will post about if I get a chance.

All in all, we had a great weekend. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by a family that is full of love and energy. So what did you do this past weekend?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Needle & Thread

While I haven't been posting as much as I would like, I have been very busy. Before Christmas, I was determined to make lots of Christmas presents. I finished all but one, but that is ok. It shouldn't take me long to finish once I get motivated enough to finish it.

SO, this week I want to share some of the creations that I worked so hard on.

From top to bottom, left to right: Hubby's retro quilt. I started it a long time ago using this pattern. Next is the   dress for my daughter's Maplea girl (a.k.a Canadian Girl) from oliver + s. I made it using vintage sheets. Maria's Our Generation doll is sporting a t-shirt made from the Liberty Jane free t-shirt pattern and the jeans I made using the Liberty Jane jeans pattern. I realized that I love making doll clothes for these dolls. If you are going to pay for a pattern, then Liberty Jane patterns are the ones to put money on. They are worth it because they are easy to read and follow, even for beginners. The next photo is of my Raggedy Ann fan. He and Raggedy are sitting on a little pinwheel doll quilt that I made. I used vintage Raggedy Ann fabric that I found on Etsy. They both love this little quilt. Lastly, is a wall hanging for my horse loving daughter. The horse is embroidered and the rest is pieced and machine quilted. When I was digging up these photos, I realized that I hadn't taken pictures of all of my projects. So for today, this is it.

I am currently reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level. The first was recommended by someone writing one of these posts and I am not far enough into it to give any real opinion on it. I will say that it is quite humorous so far. The latter book is a big book and I have been picking out bits and pieces. It seems as if my little guy is dyslexic. Apparently, they don't test here for dyslexia until a child is at least in grade three. I can't wait until next year. We are acting now and are already seeing results. Please pray for our little guy as he is really struggling.

Don't forget to take a look at Elizabeth's blog and see what she and the others have been working on.

Back Again

I am such an on again, off again blogger. It is a wonder that anyone ever stops by to read. If you are here, I most appreciate it. I have a lot of plans for this new year. I have even changed the name of the blog, AGAIN! Sorry. But as the time goes by, I feel the need to change and grow.

I recently celebrated my 35th birthday. It is only in the last few months that I have begun to allow me to be exactly that, ME. I have always tried to be like others. While that is not entirely bad, it is not necessarily good either. I have always looked at others' grass and saw that it was without exception greener and in the meantime, neglected my own yard. It is time to make my grass greener, healthier and stronger.

This year I vow to pray more, to nurture more, to care more. I resolve to pick myself up when I fall (or better yet, ask for help) and to be more humble. I don't have to do it all (even if everyone else does) and I don't have to always have it together. I will learn more about my faith and spend more quality time with the family. I also plan to blog more. So please come back and see what we are up to.

God Bless and thank you for stopping by.
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