Friday, February 26, 2010

Blind Leading the Blind; Giant Bib Tutorial

So, you have messy kids like the ones you saw in my last post do you? And you are thinking to yourself, "There has to be a better way. A washcloth is just not cutting it!"

Well, have no fear! A tutorial for making a gigantic bib out of kitchen towels is here.

Before you get too excited, let me inform you of something very important. If you know how to sew at all, you are forbidden from reading this post.

Stop. I'm not kidding. Don't argue with me, it's not fair for you to sit there on the other end of the computer screen and laugh those post baby pounds right off at my expense. And that's just what you would be doing. So, I forbid it.

Okay, for those of you that are further allowed to read, we will struggle forward. But I warn, and I caution, I am NOT well versed in sewing. Let not the fancy machine or the made up sewing words deceive you. And promise me that you will NEVER tell my grandmother about this post. She would dig herself a grave just to roll over in if she knew that I didn't pick these things out fifty times until I got it right. (She's a perfectionist...and she sews like Dickens writes...hence my lack of interest in sewing.)

Okay. So, you will start by going to Target and buying one kitchen towel for each bib that you want to make in whatever colors you like. I chose to get 3 red, and 3 teal. One color for Smiles, and one color for Gumby. You could get all the fancy colors they have, which would be fun, but you will save money if you stick to a couple colors so that you don't have to buy as many colors of the next ingredient. Or you could get some that isn't the same color as your bib, but just coordinates with multiple colors. Whatever makes you smile.

Then head to the fabric store and pick out thread to match (no fancy stuff here...just the all purpose stuff) , and then some of this stuff...

(bias tape)

I'd be sure to get the wide stuff, but you don't need the quilt binding size (which I almost bought right next to it until I realized that it wasn't actually bias tape, but I'm sure it would function even if it did look funny). If you don't get the wide stuff then you might have some trouble. We reserve that for the people that are good.

And...well, we all admitted that we aren't so good at this sewing thing.

One pack should be good for about three bibs. At least that's what worked well for me.

Next, we get real fancy like. Find something in your home that is round and not really big. About the size of a roll of packing tape (duct tape would work too). Just be sure not to get too big! It may look small for your little one's neck, but trust me- this size is PLENTY big for any kid. And if you get too big then you will be crying. You'll cry because I will tease you and throw it in your face and say I told you so. I won't. We non-sewer folks have to stick together you know. But it will save you the cash that you would spend when you did find out that I was not lying to you.

Know how I know? Because my first try was trash because I cut WAY too big in the circle department. So be wise and learn from my mistakes.

Place your tape roll in the center of the width of the towel and about a Campbell's soup can (top of can on the hem, and bottom of can on the tape) length down the towel. See...fancy measurements for sure. And do make sure that you aren't using a family size can, though it would still do the job. You are trying to keep the front clean, so the back doesn't need all that fabric.

Next, trace around your tape roll...or whatever round thing you found. Perhaps it's a large container of yogurt, or the bottom of a mason jar. Trace around the outside of whatever the heck it is.

Now you should have your circle. (I didn't center perfectly. I just eyed it.)

Now you want to choose where you think the center of that circle is and cut straight down to it from the top hem of the towel. Like so:

Do that with all of your towels. And if you're like me, you won't throw those left over circles out. We're keeping them to make bean bags out of =).

Now you have reached the part that is my least favorite. My normal rule is- if it requires pins and you can't make do without them...DON'T DO IT. I hate pins. Apparently, my mother tells me this is due to the fact that I have mammoth pins and I need to buy "silk pins" (insert sassing my mother, nasal, I'm being obstinate because she's telling me what to do voice here). Who the crud knew there were different size pins anyway?!?


For the sake of my children's clothes, we trudge on and break the rules of no pinning. But nobody said it was going to look pretty.

Take your bias tape and open it up so that you can put the cut parts of your towel inside it. I started on the left side and worked my way around.

When you start, you will fold your bias tape just a tiny bit so that the ends are nice looking. (Like fold them up into the inside by 1/4 inch when you are pinning...does that make sense?) Then again at the other end when you are finishing.

This is mostly not too hard, except for the part where the circle meets the straight part. You have to do a corner...but if you can make your bed sheets, you can probably do this with a couple of tries.

Try to do a "hospital corner" like you do where the foot of the bed meets the side. Pin the straight side all the way up to the top, then you fold over making a sharp corner with your fold. After a few tries, or one if you are just really good like that, it should look something like this:

Pin it however you can make it work. I have no advice there...I just made it work as best I could.

I realized as I was writing that I didn't take any photos of the actual sewing. Go figure. I needed all of my hands to actually use the machine...because my skills are so advanced and all.

But all you need to do is start at the right side at the bottom. It will actually be the left side at the top because you will turn it around and feed into the machine with the edge at the top and the circle part near your belly. Hopefully that makes sense to you. I'm sorry that I am not more talented so that I could give you a photo example.

Work your way around the circle, sewing with your sewing machine foot on the bais tape. It's pretty much the size of the "tape" (which would adhere to the fabric if it worked like it sounds and that would make it much easier...who names these things?), so if you keep the stuff centered on the tape it should work okay.

And don't feel too bad if you go at the speed of molasses in winter. Cause it took me about 17 times the amount of time it would take one of those ladies I kicked out of our post. See why I did that now? A couple of other things. When you start and stop stitching, make sure to do that backwards stitching thing so that it will stay in for you. You don't want all your hard work to go out in the wash because then you would have to pin again. And we DON'T want to be doing that!

Once you get the neck part done, you are mostly finished and the rest isn't hard or precise at all.

Fold the bottom of the towel up to form a pocket. Try to make it straight...but it's not that necessary to be precise. It's a bib for Pete's sake. It's going to hold oatmeal and spaghetti! Put a pin in the top to hold it...and one in the bottom too. You know, since we have all that practice with it and all. Like so:

Also, do two to mark the middle. You'll sew about three quarters of the way up there so that your pocket isn't too flimsy. Or something like that. (I just realized that this photo was of the one where I did 3 pockets instead of two. I pinned at 1/3 and 1/3 on the towel. Not precise. But really, then I figured out that doing one in the middle was enough, and who wants to do more than they need to?! So you can just do one seam in the middle if you want to.)

Then you sew those. Straight line up and back stitch at the top of the pocket over the hem of the towel a few times to make sure it holds real well. (Back stitch all the way over the front and back of the hem- back and forth until the hem has been sewn over completely three or four times.) Go super slow here so that you don't break the needle because it's pretty thick. Like one stitch at a time, stopping-between-them slow.

You guessed it. I know that after breaking a needle. Yep, I like to learn the hard way. Again...learn from my mistakes. Trust me, it's not fun to learn how to use every function of your machine in one simple project.

Now, how are we going to get this bib to stay around the kid's neck? I'm glad you asked. We are going to use iron on Velcro. Who needs more sewing? Not me, that's for sure.

Take your iron on Velcro and stick it to the bottom section of the bib. Mine is cool and sticks like tape before you iron it. This makes it easy to be sure you have the Velcro in the right spot.

Now, take the top and put it over the bottom so that the sticky Velcro is covered up and on the non-hem part of the towel. Like this:

Next, we use our handy dandy iron on high heat with no steam. Make sure to get it good and hot. I'm sure the Velcro package will give instructions for this. Listen to what they say, it could be different for you than it was for mine.

Then flip it and heat up the other side. We want to make sure that both sides got good and heated so that they both adhere.

And there you go! You've got your bib that will keep even the messiest of kids clean.

As soon as the Velcro cools off, you are good to go on cleaning. Just wash it in the regular laundry.

I'll try to post a photo of the bibs on kids, but I'm still having trouble finding anything on this stinking computer. It's not my friend right now. AND we still don't have Photoshop installed. Ugh!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Gender Difference...

I'm sorry....

...but the people that say boys aren't that much different than girls...

...never lived at MY house.

Apparently, proof is actually... the oatmeal.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fortunate and Unfortunate

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to blog for a bit. Perhaps this matters not to you, but I have had quite a few things (with photos) that I have wanted to post. BUT...we have had some major computer issues that kept me from accessing anything that was on our main computer...where my photos are all stored. The issue began RIGHT AFTER I downloaded some new photos too. It was quite frustrating to say the least.

Fortunately, I have a tech savy husband who was able to fix it. After a few days of very hard work and a new hard drive.

Unfortunately, he changed the location of my photos to keep them more safe and hasn't reinstalled Photoshop I don't know where to find the photos to put them up and I can't do any editing.

Fortunately, I know where one little folder is and I have a couple of photos that I had in fact edited already.

Unfortunately, there are many that hadn't been done yet. And I had to use some flash for some of them. And for some reason we got red eyes...which I don't even have issues with like...EVER.

Fortunately, Curly is cute even with red eyes.

Unfortunately, it might be a little while before I can get those lovely photo posts up that I have been wanting to share.

Fortunately, I am going to stop typing now and get to some pictures for you =D.


This boy makes my heart flutter.


She was wearing a white shirt...sometimes it's best to remove the shirt while eating for Smiles and Gumby. (Depending on color of course.)


See those poor little red eyes =(...I'll get to fix that later.

...and here she makes sure to share her usual photogenic self...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Today's Thoughts...Which Apparently Requires Lots of Italics

Sitting in church today, my mind was full. Full of realization. Full of comprehension.

It’s God’s way to use the simple, to speak through who and what we do not expect. That’s not to say that I don’t expect to learn from the pastor, but I also recognize that this man is no extravagantly gifted speaker. He always speaks of simple things, but this allows God to work and get the glory. When I walk away after hearing Pastor “T” speak, my mind is not on Pastor “T”. If God has spoken, it’s clearly God. When I say that, I mean this, the message is designed and planned out to say one thing, but ends up teaching me something entirely different than the intent…something that works into my life with perfection because of key words that bring my mind to understand the ways of God a little better. Do you understand what I mean? I hope so.

The message is usually a story or principle that I have heard many times, spoken in a way that a child could understand as clearly as an adult. My mind is never thinking about how smart Pastor “T” is, or what an amazing sermon he prepared this week. Nope. He doesn’t leave me focused on him. A man of humble means never does. I think that is why God uses those that we wouldn’t see as strongly suited to something. Because of that, it’s clear to see where God’s Spirit has worked and to recognize Him as God, not the effect of a man’s gifts.

The first thing that my mind stayed fixed on was this- God sees men as who they will someday be, not who they are today. I suppose that is one of the benefits of being outside of time. He knows who I will be at the end of this life and during the between, and He blesses me with the grace necessary while I become. I become. This entire life, I become…though I am not. Though I am weak, though I am prideful, though I am uncontrolled in my temper, though I am afraid- God sees me as one that I have no clear vision of. Who I will be when He calls me home to Him is not for me to know. The process of getting there without knowing where there is remains a large part of what shapes and refines.

I have long thought that the way the Spirit of God works is to fill in the places where I need filling. What I am capable of doing, I do. When I reach the part where I need Him, He steps in. Now, I wonder if this is so true. Today I thought, my best days would be if I remembered to pray, with the desire to beg though I know it not necessary, that any part of me should be prevented from entering this day. I mess things up. I can’t handle it all, and I know that when I can, He is in control.

There was also a misprint in my understanding of how I recognized the Holy Spirit was at work. When I felt good feelings and the goose bumps that can accompany His presence- that was Him. That was knowing that He was there. (I knew that He was always there, but I guess I imagined Him sometimes dormant or something.) But these days I recognize a more subtle presence as well. I know that He has taken over because life is not chaos and I am making it. I am not loosing it and I can keep myself under control. And the funny thing is, it’s not that I have asked or prayed that today He would prevent me from the wreckage that is my choices, that is my lack of good judgment, that is my imperfection. No…it just seems that He does it. Mostly, I feel like me. I just feel like a different me. If I were not aware that it was the presence and work of the Holy Spirit, which honestly could be easily done because of the subtlety, I would just think I was having a good day. I was doing well and enjoying life.

But there are days when He lets me see that He doesn’t have to be there. He alone makes the choice of how much He will do for me each day. Some days it seems He wants me to try a little harder, but it doesn’t get too far out of comfortable, just enough to grow a little. Then there are days that I am surer than sure are just to remind me that I am a wretched soul were it not for Him. To remind me that were He not there I would not be who I sometimes think I am…who others might think I am. A little reminder that – hey, I’m here and I’m doing what I promised I would do when you gave your life to me. Those are days that make me feel shameful about who I really am. Those are the days I see myself as who I would be were it not for the transforming power of Christ. Those are the days that I don’t see myself as He sees me at all. And I do know that it’s not God’s desire for me to see myself as such, but I can also be such a prideful being and reality is a hard hit.

The second thing, a simple statement about God adopting us as His children. I thought on that. On the way we are adopted and the way that God also sees us as who we will be, not as who we are. I also read this week something about the difficult times in the start with children who have attachment issues. Our adoption, thankfully, did not bring us up against this. But many parents must deal with some very terrible things before their child is ready to show who they really are. Some children have to overcome some very painful things first. The author of this post stated that at this difficult point, the child is not your child, they are just a ball of behaviors, and you can’t love a bundle of behaviors.

When God adopts us, we are just a bundle of worldly behaviors. Thankfully, He created us and He knows who we are before we do. He is able, unlike a human adoptive parent, to actually love us from the start and doesn’t have to just go through the motions until real love develops.

As I watch Ana develop so quickly and grow and mature at a rapid rate now that she is home with us, loved and given the opportunity to do so, it helps me to relate to God and His love for me. The way He feels about me. There is something special that you can try to imagine, but it’s so different from the parent side of things, when a child that was written off by the world and thought to be incapable of amounting to anything comes home to love, and the expectation that she can. And then she does. “You believe I can do this mom? You really think that I can count for something?” She says inside herself, surprised that something is expected, even though she knew she was able to do more than they ever asked. “You are right mom.” She smiles in her heart with pride in herself, “I can be worth something. I am worth something.” And I think to myself, “Honey, you won’t just be part of this world, you will change it. You will change it because you are loved by God and you’ll know it.”

How many children are left? Really, that’s what I thought about. How often are children left unloved because it’s not the right time? It’s not the best time for me to adopt, but I would love to when my kids are a little older. I think someday I might adopt a child when my finances are in better order. I’ve thought about adoption in the future, but…(you fill in the blank). How many kids are left without love, IN OUR OWN COUNTRY, because it’s not the right time?

Then I thought, yes, not everyone is supposed to adopt. But it’s like that with so many things that God would have us do. We aren’t willing to step out in faith because we are still looking at life through the eyes of preparation and the world’s view of responsibility. And here I am sounding like I’m preaching at you. That’s really what I didn’t want to do. I wanted to share my heart and my thoughts about me…

See, we have some things we are working on. Decisions to make. Some are trivial, some pretty important, and I had to look at myself with honesty today and ask why I was thinking the way I was. Why did my preferences lie where they did? And I realized that the reasons that I wanted to lean in the direction I wanted to lean were not the reasons that mattered. The reality of the matter is that I still think in terms of “when I’m ready” instead of “when I am asked”. The point is that God asks when I am NOT ready. If I did things when it made sense, then I would be doing things in my own time. I would be doing things in my own power if I did them when it was a good time. And does that make any sense at all? Because the God I know likes to make His power known. He is all about loving people and changing lives, but that’s not all He is about. He is about making His power known in the process and bringing GLORY to HIS NAME in the process. If I want to wait until I’m ready…I am missing the point.

When it’s the right time requires little faith. When it’s the “right time” might never come. When it’s the “right time”, it won’t really require the power of the Holy Spirit to do it, will it? The “right time” is wanting to do something for the wrong reason. I think then it might be that I am thinking about my glory instead of God’s…if I’m being totally honest here. Pride is a very dangerous and deadly thing.

And these were my thoughts today.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gumby Love

I just wanted to make sure you all know, as I am pretty sure you do, that even though we aren't at the same place in our relationship as the mother child relationship with Curly and Smiles, I do love this little one. I love her so much more than any other child that I did not birth myself. We learn more about each other everyday and we grow that bond all the time. I no longer feel like I am taking care of someone's child. She is mine.

While I know that other adoptive parents do understand what I am talking about, I wanted to make sure that those that haven't adopted know that- while we aren't there, we are certainly progressing in the process. And the process is already totally worth every part of the relationship gained.

I figured you all knew that, but I had to make sure. (And really, who couldn't love that face?)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Lot Like Forgiveness

Learning. It's always going on, doesn't stop our whole lives. Though I do think that as adults we have more difficulty learning instead of just repeating the same lessons because we have to actually look for them.

There are experiences in my past that deal with forgiveness. I still have a hard time not harboring negative feelings when wronged, but I have learned some things about forgiveness. Forgiving deep hurt. It's definitely not in the easy category, that's for sure.

When someone has an offense against you that is on the high end of painful and it would be understood by all if you didn't forgive...if you just closed the door on the person who clearly trampled on your "rights" as a human being, it's very painful to extend forgiveness. Sometimes the person doesn't even want or think they need you to forgive them.

The thing is, there are stages and levels of forgiving and in the beginning it's a lot about going through the motions and not feeling it. That's something that people say all the time, but I guess things like that don't become cliche for no reason. When your decision to forgive a person who has hurt you starts, you may not feel like it. You may have to talk those feelings of resentment right out of your mind and you may have to try really hard not to be mean or cry every time you see them. But it does get easier and you do move on and grow as you continue making the choice to forgive. You do start to loose the feelings of hurt. You do start to see the person for who they really are again as opposed to seeing them through the goggles of offense.

I'm learning that love can be a lot like this too. Some people you fall in love with right away. You choose the spouse that you do because they make you feel a certain way. It doesn't usually start out as work and by the time you have to work through any major issues it's usually far enough in that you have built a foundation that you can work on top of. Most people wouldn't marry someone without having "sparks" at this point. I'm sure there are some, but marriage is about "love" and not "duty" these days. When you bring a baby home from the hospital, there are feelings that grow between you and that baby. You fall in love pretty quickly, and while you don't actually choose the child you will be birthing, God has given us a bond that comes from a spawning a little drooler that comes forth from your gene pool. There are even friends that we just click with from the start. Friendships that are easy to cultivate and just happen naturally. Usually with people that have lots of similarities to us that we can relate to well.

But what about the relationships that don't come quite that easy? It seems we are to love all of God's children as we love ourselves, not just the ones that come easy. The socially awkward people that you don't really know how to react or respond to. The neighbor who has the exact opposite opinion on politics or religion from you. The family member that everyone dreads seeing at family visits because they make everyone feel so awkward. These are all people we are called to love as ourselves. Right?

Well, I am not good at that. I am not good at cultivating love.

God gives us situations that force us to work out our issues and learn what we need to learn if we let Him. If we choose to learn the lessons He sets out before us. Ana is my "love child". (I know that means something different, but who cares.)

I don't love Gumby like I love Curly and Smiles yet. That's just the truth. When she is being naughty, it's easier for me to feel upset with her quicker. She teaches me patience. When she cries, it doesn't bring out maternal feelings as often. I just want her to stop. I am her mother anyway. When her diaper is filled with solids, it often makes me feel ill (she still has institutional smelling diapers). I change her diaper anyway, just like I would Smiles. I have no choice but to go through the motions most of the time. Sometimes I fail her. I am not the perfect mother to any of our children. I loose my temper and I mess things up. But everyday I am growing just like them.

While my heart and thoughts may differ still, the actions are made the same anyway. I act toward her as I would the others as much as I can. Messing up this time doesn't mean that I have to give up for next time. I can't give up. She is here to stay. She is my daughter matter how long it takes for me to feel that way.

And you know what? While I grow in my patience and while I practice love in those times that I really don't want to, love grows. Just like when I walk through the motions of forgiveness and eventually start to feel like I've forgiven...when I walk through the motions of love when I don't feel it, real love starts to grow too.