Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tartan Scottie Dog

Miss M and Little Guy were invited to a Rockstar themed party for a little friend's first birthday!  We needed to come up with not only rockstar outfits, but also a gift for the birthday boy.  After all, he may be the youngest of five brothers, but he's a special and unique individual!  Miss M suggested a stuffed animal.  I remembered seeing this cutie on Pinterest, so I dashed off a copy of the pattern and got to work.

The tartan material is a polyester-blend suiting scrap I "inherited" from somewhere.  The scrap was just the right size for this pattern!  And since it was a gift for a young child, I sewed down the ribbon/bow and secured the button eyes extra tight.

My two sweet rockstars!  The night before the party, as we were going to bed, Little Guy took my face in his hands and asked ever so sweetly if I would draw a star on his eye for his rockstar outfit.  How could I refuse?  (Apparently he had seen an image like that when we were browsing Google images for outfit ideas).

This is his very best rockstar pose, uncaring expression and all.  Ha!  But they had so much fun! And the adorable tartan Scottie has found a loving home, though I'm pretty sure Little Guy wanted to keep him for himself.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Miss M's Favorite Gross Books

Miss M loves to read! She learned to read when she was just four. And I can't even take credit for it! I provided learning materials like the Bob Books and I've always read to her, but she really just taught herself. (Sorry to all you mom's who wonder how parents teach their kids to read. I'm no help! Maybe I'll have a chance to figure it out with Little Guy in the next few years). Recently, she's been fascinated with germs, bacteria, and poop. Seriously. She devours anything she can find on these topics! Her two favorite books lately have been:

Micro Mania: A Really Close-Up Look at Bacteria, Bedbugs, & the Zillions of Other Gross Little Creatures That Live In, On & All Around You! 

which she got for Christmas and now her new favorite is:

That's Gross!: Icky Facts That Will Test Your Gross-Out Factor.

Both are books you'd expect to fascinate a little boy (yep, that darn gender stereotyping again!), but no, my sweet little princess loves them!  You know how some folks find certain body parts/bodily functions like bottoms and toots to be absolutely hysterical?  Well, that's Miss M to a T!  She doesn't just dissolve into giggles either; nope, she whoops and hollers and is so LOUD about it!  It's impossible not to laugh along with her, no matter how unfunny I generally find germs and patooties to be.

Isn't it funny how different from us our kids can be?  And frankly, I'd rather have her read about microbiology than be obsessed with pink and princesses!

Do you have any other "gross" books to recommend for Miss M?  What do your kids like to read?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Country Buttermilk Bread

When Hubby and I were first married, I had a bread machine, but I couldn’t keep up with our bread needs since I was a full time student and later had a full time job.  Add in California commute times and it just wasn’t feasible.  So we mostly bought our bread.  We favored a particular brand of Country Buttermilk bread.  At over $4 a loaf, it wasn’t cheap, but there were only two of us and it was convenient.

Fast forward several years and the number of mouths to feed has doubled.  Not to mention my kids LOVE their carbs!  Buying that bread is no longer an option.  And since I stay home AND have the help of my trusty bread machine, I have no excuses either!
I took the original “white bread” recipe that came with the bread machine and over the years I’ve tweaked it according to our tastes.  My machine can bake a 2 pound loaf.  I use it to mix the dough, but not to bake it.  And I add the ingredients in this order (even though that’s not what the manual seems to work best this way!)

Country Buttermilk Bread
  • 2 cups buttermilk*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons wheat gluten**
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons instant yeast

Add all ingredients to the bread machine bowl.  Set it for “Dough” and press start.  My machine is getting old and I have to check about 10 minutes into the cycle to make sure the ingredients in the corners of the bowl are being combined.  I usually slip a wooden spoon in there to help dislodge any pockets of flour that aren’t being mixed.  After that it doesn’t need any more tending till it beeps.
When the Dough Cycle is finished, remove the dough and divide it into two equal portions.  Shape it into loaves and place each loaf in a greased 9x5 loaf pan.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Let them rise for 30-45 minutes (longer when the house is cool in winter, shorter when it’s warm in summer).  I cover my pans with a damp tea towel while they’re rising.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.  The loaves are easier to slice when fully cool, but it’s awfully hard to resist a nice warm slice of fresh bread drizzled with honey or slathered with strawberry jam! Mmmm!

This same recipe can be used with a more traditional, hands-on bread making method.

I make this recipe once a week and the two loaves usually last us the whole week.  Once they're fully cooled, I usually wrap one loaf in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil and toss it in the freezer.  Especially in the hot summer months, this keeps it fresh until the first loaf is used up.  Sometimes I'll bake some extra loaves to have on hand.  They make great gifts!

* You can substitute milk with some vinegar for the buttermilk.  Just fill your measuring cup almost full and then top off with vinegar.  Let it sit 10 minutes till it’s gotten thicker.  It doesn’t taste as good in my opinion, but it does work in a pinch!  Hubby can always tell when I haven’t used real buttermilk.
**You could use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour and wheat gluten.  I do it this way ‘cause it’s cheaper for me.  The wheat gluten makes the texture truly fantastic!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Healing of the Heart

By the time we are mothers, we've each lived long enough to have things in our past that are best left in the past.  For the most part, the ugly in my past stays there and doesn't poke its nose into my daily business.  But every now and then something happens that causes me to unpack the memories and take a look at them.  The other night was one of those times.  I'm not sure what exactly brought it on, but I started thinking about the events that transpired before I was married, while I was in college, when I left a church sometimes described as a cult.  That night, while the rest of the house was asleep, I wrote this:

It's been many years now since my heart was deeply wounded and, dare I say, a chunk was torn away.  But tonight as the circumstances surrounding the injury come to mind, I realize that the ragged gash has healed and for the first time I no longer feel pain at the thought of it.  The old sting of betrayal and bitterness of broken relationships has faded.  The memory of the pain remains, but the pain itself has gone.  Healing has come with time; time is a gift from God.  I never would have guessed that it would take so many years for the healing to be complete!  Indeed, there were times I believed the pain would remain with me always.  I cannot lay the blame for this wound entirely at others' feet. Much of it came from my own bumbling, and even sinful, ways.  I could have handled circumstances and people better than I did.  That's a regret I'll always carry.  But what relief in knowing that while I was busy living my life the Holy Spirit repaired the deepest gashes in my heart! I rejoice at the knowledge that my heart has been made new and pray that those I wounded as I made my escape have also been healed.

I am as guilty as sin as the saying goes.  Guilty of sin. Despicable sin.  Sin so ugly it would make your ears bleed if I told you the truth of it.  Sin that nailed my Savior to the cross.  While I was still a sinner, He sought me out. He died for me, knowing that it would only be through the blood He shed that I would find hope. Now my hope has been made complete because after Jesus died to pay the debt for my sins, He rose from the dead proving that death has no hold over Him. And if death has no hold over Him, then it has no hold over me, for He is our propitiation!

It's a night of deep thoughts and even deeper feelings.  A night to reflect on what has been and marvel at the fingerprints of God all along the way.  It's a night to fall on my face before God and adore Him for His lovingkindness, to stand in awe of His holiness, that a sinner such as I could even dream of approaching His throne, and yet He welcomes me! He draws me in and takes a personal interest in my story.

Thank you, Lord, for letting me take away the good from my experience in the past.  Thank you for building, rather for re-building, my trust in the assembly of the saints. Thank you for broadening my understanding of the world, of people from all walks of life, and for giving me your heart of love for them, that though they are lost and deceived, there is always hope for redemption. That You do heal the brokenhearted and proclaim release for the captive. You, Oh God, are truly the Almighty!

Monday, January 14, 2013

She Made It!: a skirt (or two)

Late last year, just before we got inundated with birthdays and weddings and holidays (and an illegal camera placed on our property by the police, but that's a story for another day!), Miss M decided she needed a new skirt.  Since the madness hadn't started yet, I let her pick out some fabric and sew herself a skirt!

She picked a pretty paisley baby wale corduroy my mom gave her and a simple gathered-rectangle type of skirt with an elastic waistband.

This was really the first time I let her use my machine on her own.  She was very cautious about the much so that she sometimes forgot to guide the fabric, so focused was she on keeping her hands out of the way.  But she soon got the hang of it!

Her favorite part was using the iron to press the elastic casing and lower hem.  No pictures of that part 'cause my assistance was much needed.

She cut, pinned, stitched, and pressed all by herself!  I was there the whole time to tell her what to do next, but she really did it herself! 

Putting the elastic through the waistband gave her some trouble until she got the hang of it, but once she did, she managed to get all the way around!

Ta da!  Her very own, one-of-a-kind corduroy skirt!  She was SO proud of herself!  The first thing she did was text a picture of herself to my mom. Hehe...

Fast forward a few months to January.  Miss M got an invitation to her best friend's birthday party!  But what to give her?  Miss M decided she wanted to make a skirt for her friend too.  So she picked out some fabric: a cute cotton print and some cotton-blend eyelet.  She also picked some pretty pink fabric for a blouse (and picked the pattern too, Ottobre 2/2005, #11, but without the shirring across the front).

Of course, she had to try it on before she gave it away!  I'm told the birthday girl was quite pleased with her handmade gift!  And a bit amazed that a little girl just like her made the skirt.

Do you let your kids use your sewing machine?  If your kid could make anything they wanted, what would it be?

I'm linking up to:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

At the Dentist

The kids had dentist appointments today. They both did GREAT!  It was Little Guy's first time to sit in the chair.  He had gone with us last month for my appointment, but somehow he didn't get on our insurance last year, so he had to wait till now. 

"Open your mouth wide like an alligator!"  He followed all their directions and was overall so compliant!  And he regaled the dentist and hygienist with sophisticated little conversations about ages and birthdays and pets and how he was not crying at the dentist.  QUITE the little charmer!

Poor Miss M had to have fillings today.  She also did wonderfully!  She went off all by herself with Hygienist Sue and got all prepped. They're so good with kids!  They told her all about what was going to happen, step by step, and demonstrated for her on her hand.  (I love it when adults treat kids with respect and speak to them as intelligent beings!)  I popped over and checked on her a couple times (she was just two stations over from Little Guy) and told her that if she wanted me to come hold my hand, she just had to tell them and I'd come.  So when it was time for her to get a little shot of anesthetic, I came and held one hand and Sue held the other.  She's such a little trooper!  Afterward she said the worst thing wasn't the shot or the numbness wearing off, it was that afterward she couldn't eat when she wanted and had to wait!

They're both going back later this month for the rest of their cavities...poor children, cursed with Hubby's and my genetically bad teeth!  Because, seriously, I don't let them eat candy, they don't drink much juice, and they do brush their teeth (and/or have their teeth brushed by Hubby or me)!  Can you tell I'm trying not to feel too badly about my parenting skills?  How have your kids fared at the dentist?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Welcome to my New Place!

Dear Readers,

You found me!  I was worried I would lose you in the move, but I'm so glad you've made the effort to come see my new place!  I *think* I managed to get all my old posts and comments moved over.  I know there are a few posts where strange, scraggly code got imported with some of my photos, but over time I hope to get all that cleaned up.  In the mean time, WELCOME!  Feel free to poke around and explore.  I will be working hard to post here more regularly, so I hope you'll come see me again soon!



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Activity Day: spin a web

That spandex-clad snarky teenager with radio-active blood affectionately known as Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man is very popular with both Miss M and Little Guy.  So when I asked Little Guy if he wanted to build a web in the kitchen today, he was ecstatic!  All it takes is a table and chairs and a spool of kite string.

We’ve done this activity before (where did all these spools of kite string come from anyway?), but this time Miss M was able to do all the “webbing” herself.

The results are magical! An airy suspended web for the kids to play in (and over and under and around and through).  They’ve been at it for over an hour already with nary a word of disagreement or squabble.

They even decided to eat their lunch in their “web kitchen in the real kitchen.”  Of course, they invited some plush friends to join them.

The best part?  Hubby is planning to take us all out to dinner tonight, so I don’t have to dismantle their web before supper time and they can play again tomorrow!  Homeschooling in a web-cave? Yes, please!

What sort of play structure do your kids like to build?