A Week of Basic Sewing

Last week, I set a goal to finally start sewing up this fabric into Fall clothes for the kidlets.  My school/craft room is in order….err…organized chaotic order?….who let those kids have glue sticks and paper anyways…..

In my spare moments, I was able to trace and cut 7 shirts from my favorite pattern for littles.  This is a free hoodie pattern found (here) and only goes up to a 5t. It runs small, so Zeke and Glory are my last two to wear it, thus this is my last year to use this pattern for my small people.

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Glory has an incredible amount of these hoodies passed down from Grace, who barely wore them last year.  Zeke, however, has no shirts to be passed down.  Tanner would have to grow a lot in order to pass down his clothes, and as of yet, these two are not in similar sizing.

You see this poor baby’s nose? He had an unfortunate collision between himself and the train table.  It’s hard to get dressed in the morning by yourself ya’ll.

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This shirt is my favorite, but only because it is the softest and most snuggly of them all.  Seriously, I need one in my size.

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Listen, when you have muscles, you have to flaunt them man.

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These shirts come together so incredibly fast.  I mean, who doesn’t love an adorable and quick sew! Especially when you have 6 kids and very little time.

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This one was Zeke’s favorite.  He absolutely adores anything monster truck.  Who knew, I pulled this out of the scrap pile from a bunch of clothes I had made him when he was a teeny baby.

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He really was a good sport about modelling all of these shirts, one right after another.

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But then again, I am lucky, all of my kids love love love getting something from “the machines.”  They love mom-made clothes.  They are also, all of them, expecting mom-made halloween costumes….I’ve done this to myself really.

A week’s worth of shirts, sewn in a week’s worth of time.

Who am I kidding….he’s three….this is what…2 days worth of clothes?!!!

Push Away, Move Closer


This little one has been home nearly 7 months now.  Seven months of adjusting to being family, to being her mother, her adjusting to finally having a mother. She has a fiery spirit, she’s a fighter, and although it helped her as an orphan….it is a hindrance to bonding. 

She pushes away.

She begs for closeness. 

Her mind is full of emotions that her three year old self cannot evaluate and process. I myself have problems evaluating and processing emotions sometimes, and I’m an adult, so it makes sense that she lets her emotions present in shrieking. Oh the shrieking. Logically, we know why the fits happen. Aside from normal 3 year old development, she is developing a new language that doesn’t yet allow her to communicate and express herself fully. She is subconsciously holding a resentment towards me for taking her from her home. I can’t say that I blame her. She also just plain ole doesn’t like to be told what to do, not even in the most “here are your choices” kind of way.

There is one thing I have noticed, that is not much different from what we faced when we adopted Anna and Tanner. She has an expected failure mentality. She often says, “I can’t do it.” Sometimes it is feigned helplessness, sometimes it is her literally thinking she can’t. There are many of these moments throughout our day. I tell her she can do it, she is capable, sometimes she tries and succeeds right away. Sometimes she throws a fit, then tries and succeeds. 

So many emotions for this little one. 

What is the saying? Those who need love the most, ask for it in the most unloving ways.

This is truth. So we push forward, forging a path of our own, stealing moments to bond and making the most of them. 

We just keep trying….all of us. 

Thoughts On Grief

This year, I have been witness to as well as purveyor of, much grief.  I have watched my daughter grieve the loss of her country, her family, her language, and everything that she knew as her life.  Although I know what would have happened if she had stayed, she had no idea, and even if she did, it would not have lessened her grief and loss.

I have witnessed my Grandmother saying goodbye to her husband of almost 60 years. Watched as she said, “it’s okay….I’m going to be alright….you go and rest.” Witnessed her tears as his life slipped away to heave, leaving her here to exist on this side…half of her gone.

My aunt died unexpectedly, and I witnessed the gut-wrenching sobs of her siblings and mother….of my siblings…myself…as we tried to wrap our minds around what happened, as we tried to acknowledge that she is no longer here.

Again, I witnessed the sobs of my aunt when she called to tell me that my dad had died.  My Granny had to say goodbye to her son, accept that he was gone, that his life did not resolve how we had hoped it one day would.

A friend that I’ve known for 20 years lost her husband at only 34 years old.  A sudden loss of life so young, she had to say goodbye.

Grief is frustrating. It cannot be hidden from, it presents itself in a million different ways, and you can’t fight it no matter how hard you try.

I HATE GRIEF!

Grief is raw, bringing the deepest hurt from a person, to the surface of reality.  It takes up occupancy in every hour…every second, of every day.  There is seemingly no end to grief when one is deep within.  It is all consuming and all feeling.

Grief does not have a handbook.  Oh there are many books out there that try to guide people through it, they try to contain grief into bulleted steps with which one can work through.  It doesn’t work that way though.  My loss of my Grandpa is nothing like the loss my Grandmother had when he passed.  My daughter’s loss over her whole world, is nothing like the loss two of my other children experienced when they left Ukraine.

Every person is different.  Every person will experience grief in a unique way, that only they can.  For some, they will cry at every commercial, every hour in which the loved one died, and in general, at every moment that their loved one crosses their mind.  This can go on for days….months…..

For some people, they may get angry at the ones they feel responsible for their loss.  My daughter throws tantrums and rages through her feelings of loss.  Some people stop eating, some people camp out at the grave site, some people eat constantly, some people withdraw and speak to no one for a while, some pretend to move on, some journal, some paint, some throw things, etc….etc…etc…

There is NO WRONG way to grieve. (Aside from illegal drug use of course).

Give people space to grieve.  Don’t try to force them to feel better in order to make you feel better.  Don’t ask them if they are okay.  Undoubtedly, they will tell you yes they are okay, because it is uncomfortable for you to hear that NO….their life sucks right now….they are hurting.

So they hide behind a veil of “okay.” Resulting in you thinking they are okay, and lessening your support, acceptance of their behavior, and concern.

Coming through grief and learning to live life again is not easy.  Give people space.  Love them with acceptance and freedom to have their feelings.  Rejoice when they smile and enjoy life again, but don’t try to rush it in order to make yourself feel better.

 

Making It Through

“You have already survived 100% of your hardest days so far.”

I have no idea where this quote originated, but there is power in this thought.  This is not me pretending to have all of the answers, but I do have thirty-three years of hard life experience, thus a little insight.

I am a strong woman.

This isn’t hubris speaking, this is someone who faces hard and triumphs…..eventually.

This is me saying, I have been broken by many things, and I picked myself up and kept moving forward. I have smashed my face into the seemingly endless hole of failure, and I have clawed my way back out.

We have two choices in life.  We can stop.  We can stand still and wallow, reliving our sorrows over and over.  We can look behind us constantly and never look forward.  The world and those around us will move on and grow, but we will be there with tears of the past raining on every part of our life. OR we can look back and learn, then turn around, and explode into the future.

Odds are that if you are broken, you have been broken before.  You survived before and you have the power to survive now.  Maybe you are lonely.  I bet you have been devastatingly lonely before, and you survived.  Maybe you are grieved.  Those tears spill as your pain resonates throughout your environment.  You are fallen.  You are laying on the ground in a pit of sorrow…….

And you have likely been here before.  Maybe a different hard, but a hard that tested your will as a human none the less.

And you survived.

That does not make the weight of your pain any lighter.  However, it does offer you something to look forward to.  There will be a day when the clouds are lifted, the shadow that drives your sorrow, will fade into sunshine.  Keep moving forward.  Keep trying.

Find help.

There are people out there who have faced your hard.  The circumstances may not be exact, but they are likely similar and just as devastating.  Those people are survivors and they can help you.  Find a counselor to help work through the hard.  You do not have to carry the burden of pain bottled up inside forever.  It will create a vortex inside that all happy things will be sucked into and it will eventually take over your entire life.  You will have a mere thin veil of happiness through which everything is shaded by the bad things you have stored.  Find medicine, there is no shame in using medicine to help during the healing journey.  A lot of Christians see using medicine as failure.  If it is non-habit forming medicine that can help heal your mind, the devil is not part of that.  The devil doesn’t want you to be happy.  The devil wants you to live in that dark place, be tormented by it, and eventually let it destroy you.

Find an outlet.

There is something out there that will give your hands/mind/feet/body a way to let out the grief.  Maybe you like to read, write your feelings, create art of some sort, walk around the block, fish, sit outside in the grass and just soak in nature’s sweet song.  As long as the outlet is something positive that will not further degrade your person/health, do that.  Sometimes these outlets provide a way to escape for a bit.  Then a bit more, and then we work through our hard, and all of a sudden we are okay.

You can be okay.

Just don’t stop trying.

Keep moving forward and looking back less.

 

 

To Alisha, For Your Peanut

My sister’s good friend is having a baby soon.  She has really been a great support to my sister through all of our family’s losses this year, and I wanted to make her a little something for her peanut.

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The blanket is just a series of alternating double crochet and single crochet with a border of single crochet in the back loops only.

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This is a very simple stitch pattern that makes for a beautifully textured blanket.  The yarn that I used for this was a Caron Cake in Boston Creme. The Caron Cakes are self striping, and for this type of blanket, I’m not sure how I feel about the long lengths of color.  I like chunking, just not how it abruptly changes.

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The hat was a free pattern I found on ravelry.  I added a puff ball at the top to add a little cuteness…..and because I bought these puff ball makers a long time ago, and never got around to using them.  Now I need to make ALL THE PUFF HATS.

These items are off to my sister this weekend, so she can deliver them to the expectant momma!

To Granny, With Love

I finished this blanket last week for my Granny.  This was my first large corner to corner (c2c) blanket.  It is still about lap sized for my Granny, which is kind of perfect for summer air conditioning.

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This is the Spring into Summer blanket from the Felted Button.

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I used the Red Heart Unforgettable in Candied just like she did, not because she did, but because I bought a bunch of this yarn years ago intending to make a cute blanket.  I made the shawl for my Mawmaw with the same yarn in a different colorway.  I must admit, I hated working with it the first time.  It is different thicknesses throughout, and it kind of threw me for a loop at first.  However, it is squishy soft and beautiful, and after you work with it, it’s not so bad.

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This colorway really is beautiful in person.  I didn’t have time to capture pics outside like I had hoped (6 kids and all).  Grace is absolutely clamoring to have a blanket like this, she calls it the mermaid blanket 🙂 It’s on it’s way to my Granny as we speak, hopefully she likes it.

Onto the next project…..

To Mamaw With Love

This shawl has been quite the work in progress for a sometime now.  I started it last year as a present to my Mamaw, knowing that she would appreciate a prayer shawl.

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When my Papaw got sick, I began to work on this in earnest.  I really wanted to have this ready for my Mamaw asap.

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Many prayers were put into this shawl along with the many hours it took to make it.

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My Papaw passed away last month, and I gave this to my Mamaw on Mother’s Day.  I hope that she feels wrapped in prayer when she wraps up in it. The colors are amazing, this is Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in Tidal, and while I wasn’t a super fan of working with it at first, it is definitely growing on me.

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A Time to Sow

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The Bible says to everything there is a season.  A time to die and a time to be born, a time to plant and a time to uproot.  This is our time to plant.  Spring has sprung, and hopefully we have said goodbye to Mr. Frost for a good long while.

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Gardening around here is a family affair.  We planned it that way.  Digging in the dirt is good for the soul….as is a little hard work.

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For one of my kids, that life seems to be a constant challenge, gardening is life.  This particular person can have a few moments of peace when they have dirt and a shovel.

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Some of our children haven’t found the love yet.  That is okay.  They do not have to love it, they just have to pitch in a bit.  We are not intense farmers or anything.  We bought this land in order to offer our children a place to learn life skills, be free to explore, and develop a sense of work ethic.

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The garden itself has had a facelift this year.

Can I just admit something to y’all?

Pinterest is deceptive.  The work involved in the projects that look easy, isn’t so easy.

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Over the last six years, we have tried wood chip gardening (Eden gardens), regular tilled gardening, and wooden box raised beds.  We have not been super successful, nor has any of them yielding a long-term plan.

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This year we I came up with the big idea (from pinterest) to use cinder blocks for raised beds.  This would provide a non-toxic perimeter for our beds that would ultimately (hopefully next year) be weed proof.

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I underestimated the amount of work this new system would entail.

I underestimated how heavy those blocks would be.

Whew!

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We have three complete though, and for this summer….three is enough.  We are also going to use three wooden raised boxes from last year and till a bit for a watermelon patch.

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The plan is to add three beds each year.  The ground has to be leveled and the block has to be paid for, so three each year is good for me.  I am just happy that we actually planted on time this year.

We might actually be successful gardeners for once.

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Miss Grace has worked hard to break up the old compost pile and create her own little garden this year.  I must say, I am very impressed with her wanting to do the extra work and grow her own things.

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Of course, right after planting these seeds she exclaimed, “I planted a spring garden….we will come back tomorrow and pick it so we can eat!”

Not quite how that works peanut.

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Anna has really blossomed this year with gardening as well.  It is hard to believe that this is the same little girl who cried just having to walk across the parking lot seven years ago.  I love the fact that our children have an idea about how to grow food for themselves.  They enjoy working out there with John and myself, they are soaking in the fresh air, and they are learning big life lessons.

Got Jokes!

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My Grandpa is being laid to rest tomorrow.  This man who walked me down the aisle and laughed his behind off at (to his face) the preacher who started the wedding ceremony without me, is resting in Heaven.  My heart broke to say goodbye, but I know he is saved, and I know that we will get through this pain….probably with inappropriate humor.

This is life.

My grandparents lived hard, my mom lived hard, for the first half of my life….I lived hard.  And in a way I still do.  Parenting six children (four having special needs) is hard.  So how do we get through this life without being swallowed up whole by the sting?

We laugh in my family y’all.

We laugh A LOT.

I’m so thankful that I married a man with a good sense of humor.  Life would be too hard without laughter. God gave us the gift of humor for a reason.  I know that not everything in life is humorous.  However, we can find the lighthearted silver lining in most situations. If my husband had been a boring potato, I might not have survived this long.

At the end, in the hospice bed, my grandpa had jokes!

I love that man.  He could poke fun at just about anyone or anything including himself.  He was never too serious, and boy am I glad to have inherited that trait.  It isn’t easy to get up a million times at night, have a migraine, have two kids literally screaming all day, one kid puking, and one kid smear feces everywhere to punish you.  Those days are tough.  And sometimes they require potty humor.  Like literal potty humor, some prayer, some grace, and a lot of cleaning supplies.

Jesus and laughter my friends.

Through the tears my family was able to sit around and find a way to roll with laughter.  We sat there and grew closer, relied on the strength of one another, and celebrated life.

Celebrate life people. It is a gift and it is fragile and it will pass by quickly.

Life is hard.  In the end we can only hold on to two definites.

Jesus is the way to eternal life.

What doesn’t kill us makes us funnier.

33 And No Hard Feelings

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So here I am, writing another marriage post this week.

It’s my blog, I can write what I want.  Also, it’s my birthday so…..

I LOVE birthdays! I love celebrating people, and really try to make those around me feel special on their birthdays.  My kids all get a special date with just me, that I really try to make memorable.  I bake a fancy cake and make a decadent meal.  For the hubs, I take the children to get him gifts and have them make cards, as well as try to find something I know he will like.  I just love birthdays so much.  We live a good life worth celebrating. Any life that is rooted in Jesus has good reason to celebrate.

Now, as much as I love doing the birthday thing….I married a man who fails basically every year at this.

Let me tell you how.

Today, he had to work so I knew there would be no celebration to speak of.  However, he did manage to stop this morning and get me a card.  BUT this afternoon he spent the last 20 minutes before work having the children call his dad and sing happy birthday to him (his birthday was yesterday), and there I was…..

I plan for his birthday months in advance, like literally planning now.

I stopped last week and bought steaks for him to grill me at some point in the future (he did marinade them).  I picked out a gift a few months ago that is basically something we needed for the house.  He just doesn’t have it in him to succeed on this day.

This used to hurt my feelings.

When we were first married and well, for about 8 years, this was something that really bothered me.  I felt like he didn’t care enough to try for me like I did for him.  It hurt.  And then time went on, and I began to put aside the hurt and understand my husband.

He would NEVER intentionally hurt my feelings.  In fact, he spends his life trying to please me.

He is just wired differently.

There are random times throughout the year that he will come home with a dozen roses (my favorite) just to brighten my day.  He rallied last week with the care of the home and kids as well as trying to keep everything clean the way I like it, so that I didn’t carry more burden with the hurt I had from losing my grandpa.  If he sees me struggling emotionally, he will do whatever he can to help me.  If he sees me struggling physically, he will do whatever he can to help….sometimes  he doesn’t see (he is wired differently), and those moments are also times when I try not to get hurt.  Again, this has taken years to mature to this level.  I really had to learn to look past my hurt to see him  for who he is.

He really and truly cares.

He really and truly stinks at birthday and Mother’s day.

Today when I spent the day alone dealing with whining kids and wiping butts (and a nauseating migraine), I had to laugh when instead of having the children sing to me, he had them call his dad.  It was just classic John.  He said the same, “I’m sorry I didn’t get you anything, life has just been crazy this week.”

I could choose to feel hurt.  I could say he doesn’t value me enough to make my special day something special since I do spend so much time doing it for others.  I could be mad.

But then what would I gain?  A brief moment of self indignation and time to wallow in self pity?

I choose instead to see his true heart and understand his failures are not intentional hurt.  I choose to know that he does value me in the way that he cares for me, and to know that he has a disconnect with holidays (oh yeah, he’s pretty bad with Christmas to lol).  I choose to love him and forgive him instead of holding a grudge.  I choose to put my marriage above my own briefly damaged pride, and I choose to understand beyond just the presenting circumstances.

It took a long time to develop this understanding and appreciation for one another.  I am so glad that we were able to not give up on each other for all of the hurt we caused; as we muddled through that first year decade, of learning how to be married to another human being with all of their own flaws/thoughts/opinions.

I am 33 today…. I think I may have finally grown up 😉