Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mini Tree Quilt

My grandma recently sent me two huge lawn-and-leaf bags full of fabric, eyelet, lace, trims, buttons, well, a whole bunch of wonderful supplies!  There's a huge piece of polar fleece, that I suspect is at least partial wool content (my nose tells me so, but I haven't done a burn test yet)...super soft and cuddly!  And scraps of Thinsulate -- the perfect size for making a coat for Miss M or the new baby. Also doll making supplies -- joints, eyes, hair, long doll-making needles, etc.  I probably won't use them, but I'm sure someone somewhere would be glad to trade for something I would use.  So, as a thank you for her thoughtful gift (I'm just 1 out of her 8 kids and 33 grandkids, so I'm sure she could have passed it all on to someone else!), I decided to make her a mini tree quilt.

It's my first time ever doing a quilt binding and while it didn't turn out perfectly, I'm quite pleased overall!  I'm planning to make three slightly larger ones to hang on the walls in Miss M's room.  I just have to do some other things first...like finish sewing diapers and her halloween costume.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The beginning of Fall

Miss M and I went on a short walk into the nearby park and took a few pictures.  We thought we'd share!

According to my wildflower book, this sunny yellow fellow is Oxeye.

The thistles are going to seed, see the fluffy thistledown?

There were busy honey bees everywhere! Which is good because the local bee population has been suffering the past few years (or so I've been told).

It took a while to identify these berries.  At first my dad thought they were hackberries, but I wasn't so sure since the arrangement on the branches didn't seem quite right.  So I kept looking and I'm pretty sure they're coralberries.  Whatever they are, aren't they pretty?!

The leaves are just starting to change on the trees around here...this must have been one of the first to fall. Isn't it stunning?  I'm afraid my photography doesn't quite do it justice.  I do believe fall is my favorite season!  What's yours?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I finally made a mei tai for ME!

This is the fourth mei tai I've made from Kristen's Scandi Mei Tai tutorial.  I love every one of them!  The first three were gifts for friends and cousins having their first babies.  I finally made one for me! Here it is being tried out for the first time by hubby and Miss M. (Just imagine me trying to carry her around while 7 months pregnant...nah, I'll let hubby do the heavy work!)

(You can click on it to see it a bit bigger).

You can see how neglected Miss M is when I sew...that pathetic falling-down ponytail!  Oh well, at least she kept herself busy with stickers (you should have seen my pant legs)!

Here's some shots of the ones I gave away.  I hear they are much loved!

These two were for two of my cousins.  My other cousin picked out the fabric and I did the sewing.  Funny, I just realized that all of these were for boy babies!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The decision to cloth diaper

When Miss M was born, we lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment.  The on-site laundry facilities consisted of a single coin-operated washer and two dryers.  Whenever I did laundry, I always washed the adult clothes first so the final load of baby stuff would have as little "contamination" as possible -- particularly the residue of other people's laundry detergents and fabric softeners.  Miss M had such bad eczema that her tiny baby cheeks would bleed on her crib sheets at night.  Prescription ointments didn't work.  I wonder now if cloth diapering would have helped with her sensitive skin, but it really wouldn't have been feasible for us what with the time involved and the expense of coin-operated laundering.  We finally discovered Aquaphor by Eucerin; it helped keep the worst of the eczema at bay until she outgrew her hypersensitivity.

This time around, however, I have my own washer and dryer (hallelujah!) and have decided to cloth diaper the new baby.  It was a bit of a mental dilemma to come to the decision to cloth diaper.  See, it's a giant Unknown.  I've never been around anyone who has cloth diapered.  I haven't seen it done in real life.  I've read quite a bit about it online, but I just don't have any real life experience with it, no matter how indirect.  (Okay, so my little sister was cloth diapered, but I was only 5-6 at the time and I really don't remember anything other than the plastic pants she had on).  So it was a matter of me deciding to take a leap into the Unknown.

One night it came to me that this isn't the first Unknown I've met and surmounted thus far in my life.  College was an enormous Unknown.  My mom hadn't gone to college and I didn't really have anyone to guide me as I struggled through college applications, financial aid, registering for classes, etc.  I felt so overwhelmed my first year of college as I tried to navigate the world of academics, not even knowing what questions I needed to ask to get the information I needed to have.  (I consciously made the most of being a "Freshman" because I figured by the second year I would be expected to know how it all worked...at least as a Freshman I had a bit of an excuse for my stupidity).  Thankfully I spent my Freshman year at a private university...the personnel there were much more pleasant and helpful than at the state university I attended later on.  Slowly the Unknown became the Familiar and I learned to successfully navigate the bureaucracy.  Once I realized it was only the Unknown holding me back from cloth diapering, it was easy to decide.

I hate disposable diapers.  Not only do I hate how rough and "unnatural" they are (I couldn't bear to put anything other than Pampers on Miss M when she was an infant because they were so much softer than anything else I tried -- don't even get me started on the Costco-sized box of Huggies some one gave us!), but I hate spending the money for them!  I hate knowing that they go into a landfill.  I hate being dependant on the stores to have them in stock.  And silly as it seems, I hate having characters on them -- Sesame Street, Disney, etc. -- if I have to go with disposable diapers, I just want to have plain ol' diapers!

Having finally made the decision to cloth diaper, I went about searching the internet for patterns and materials.  Hubby and I went to a few thrift shops this weekend (Labor Day sales made it a bit of a zoo) and I spent a whopping total of $17 for an armload of flannel sheets and wool sweaters.  It may not be enough for the duration, but it's definitely enough to get started on...and possibly enough for the first year.

I printed out the Ottobre diaper pattern, read some reviews on it, made a few minor adjustments, and whipped up my first cloth diaper.  It turned out to be about equivalent to a size 4 disposable (with the changes I made).  So I re-drew the pattern to make it approximate a newborn size disposable and whipped up my second cloth diaper.  I love them both!  They are so soft!  They won't go into a landfill!  They're soft!  They cost mere pennies to make!  Did I mention how soft they are?  And cute to boot!

That's a newborn size disposable in the last frame for size comparison.

I used a quarter inch seam allowance, sewed right sides together, turned and topstitched; rather than the way the pattern has you sew wrong sides together and serge the edges...both for neatness and to make it turn out a bit smaller since the reviews I read said the pattern runs large.  I can't wait to get started on a whole supply!  But I'll need some more velcro soon...

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Essence of Etiquette is consideration and love

I was recently given a few old books by a neighbor who is moving.  Lovely copies of Treasure Island, Rebecca, and an old book on etiquette called Social Etiquette, or Manners and Customs of Polite Society published about 1900. (I discovered that you can read the full text online for free since it falls outside modern copyright laws). There is much in the book that is no longer applicable in today's society such as how and when to leave calling cards and when men should lift their hats in greeting.  However, the core premise of the book, the very essence of etiquette, is something that will be appropriate for all peoples, at all times, in all places. Truly good manners, truly good breeding come from cultivating goodness from within. If we try to "put on" good manners when we go out or for special occasions "they will fit but illy, as borrowed plumes are wont to do" (p. 20). And all this is based on one thing: the Golden Rule from Scripture which says, "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets," (Matthew 7:12).  True etiquette doesn't mean following a list of rules or using some stiff old-fashioned language, it means considering other people's feelings and needs and accommodating them out of love -- love for them, but most of all, love for God who first loved you!  People tend to think that if someone treats them poorly, it gives them an excuse to be rude and unkind back, but since good manners ultimately stem from our love of God, such behavior is inexcusable.  I remember taking an etiquette class at church when I was an early teen, but I somehow never got that it's all based on our love for God, that was a bit of a revelation to me.

I really enjoyed this list of the "Rules of Etiquette" given in the first few pages of the book.
1. Learn to govern yourself and to be gentle and patient.
2. Guard your temper, especially in seasons of ill-health, irritation and trouble, and soften it by a sense of your own shortcomings and errors.
3. Never speak or act in anger.
4. Remember that, valuable as is the gift of speech, silence is often more valuable.
5. Do not expect too much from others, but forbear and forgive, as you desire forbearance and forgiveness yourself.
6. Never retort a sharp or angry word. It is the second word that makes the quarrel.
7. Beware of the first disagreement.
8. Learn to speak in a gentle tone of voice.
9. Learn to say kind and pleasant things when opportunity offers.
10. Study the characters of those with whom you come in contact, and sympathize with them in all their troubles, however small.
11. Do not neglect little things if they can affect the comfort of others in the smallest degree.
12. Avoid moods, and pets, and fits of sulkiness.
13. Learn to deny yourself and prefer others.
14. Beware of meddlers and tale-bearers.
15. Never charge a bad motive, if a good one is conceivable.

Number 2 seemed especially appropriate for women who somehow think their monthly period is an excuse to "bitch" and be all around disagreeable.  Number 8 and 9 are important for me when Miss M is fussing and whining non-stop. That doesn't give me an excuse to speak harshly back to her. I must remember to be gentle and speak kindly.  Number 12 seems to apply to many situations -- teens, adults, ME!  And number 15 would solve much of our propensity to gossip if we would simply assume the best in people, even knowing we are likely to be wrong a portion of the time.

I don't know who decided along the way that children no longer need to be taught good manners, but the result is clearly evident anytime you go into public and interact with people.  It won't be easy, but I pray I can raise my kids to be well-mannered, considerate, loving people that are a pleasure to be around.  It'll start with me. I must first cultivate etiquette in myself that I may be the best example to my children.  Then we may stand together and shine like a city on a hill that people may see our good deeds and praise God in heaven.