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Archive for July, 2009

Weaving a Life

photo courtesy of Mimi_K

My precious Lord has been weaving the most beautiful and exciting threads into the fabric of my life the past several months. I am awed and humbled by His handiwork.  I feel as if I have been standing still watching with my mouth hanging open as He takes the design in directions I never even began to imagine it would go.  I have been waiting and waiting, sometimes patiently and sometimes impatiently, trying to figure out where He is going so I can chase along, joining Him in His work.

I am learning to live loved.

For a time, I am going to take a break from blogging. I encourage you to enjoy the wonderful blogs in my blog list.  I am not sure when I will pick up my blog again – maybe a few weeks or maybe longer.  We’ll see!

With Love,

Christine

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Wow.

That is all I can say to this wonderful way of feeding from God’s word together as a family.  I hope you will enjoy this idea as much as I did from Ann Voskamp’s beautiful blog, A Holy Experience.

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I have been cloth diapering all of my babies since our first baby was born over 15 years ago. I have used a few different types of diapers, most of them made by me.  In fact, a number of years ago, I had a diaper business, Sweet Bambino Diapers and Accessories, in which I made fitted premium diapers and covers for sale.  I loved my diaper business, but it just got too busy for me and I was sewing all the time, so I decided to end it.

When we were expecting baby guy (who is now 16 months), I realized our diapers were in a sorry state. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so after some investigation, we chose to give prefolds a try.  I immediately loved them — their simplicity, their absorbency and their price!  The only thing I really didn’t like was their bulk.  I have tried folding them different ways, using a Snappi or not using a Snappi and using different covers.  Nothing really helped.  I loved the diapers, but did miss the old days of my nice thin, fitted diapers that could fit under any pants!

Recently, I came across an article entitled, “Trimming Prefolds” about a mama who (gasp!) cut her prefolds to shorten the rise. She was very pleased with the results, so yesterday I cut two of mine to give them a try.  Perfect!

Untrimmed and Trimmed Prefolds

My Untrimmed and Trimmed Prefolds

When baby guy went down for his nap today, I took the scissors and sewing machine to mine and shortened them all to a 14″ length. I didn’t sew the end into the middle as Karen did.  I just zig-zagged the end closed.  If you are considering doing this, I do have a couple of recommendations.

First of all, I wouldn’t bother trying to use your serger. Sergers are actually more finicky than sewing machines and while mine is a very good serger, it was not at all impressed with my attempt to use it to shorten prefolds.  Prefolds that have been washed and dried already are thickened significantly and are probably too bulky for most sergers.  I suppose if you were to do this to brand new prefolds, you might get away with it on the serger, but I’m not sure how you’d know where to cut for length to account for shrinking in the wash.

Second, you will need to use at least a 16/100 universal needle. If you are able to get a 18/110 (which is a denim needle), that would probably be better.  Make sure your needle is new and a good brand and toss it out after you finish sewing your diapers.  Good needles are essential to your sewing machine functioning as you want it to.

I thought some nice new diaper covers were in order to go along with our ‘new’ diapers. I made up four, assembly-line style, also during baby guy’s nap.  (Good thing he is such a terrific napper!)  The pattern I use for making my covers is called Diaper Cover Deluxe.  It is a fabulous pattern.  The covers I made this time are the ‘Quick Wrap’ style.  I shortened the rise a little, about a 1/2″ each at the front and back.  Mine are made out of PUL and trimmed with Fold-Over Elastic.

One nap's worth of work -- 24 shortened prefolds and 4 covers

One nap's worth of work -- 24 shortened prefolds and 4 covers

I took a few pictures of baby guy. He wasn’t too impressed, but hopefully these will give you an overall idea of the difference.

BEFORE:

Before Trimming

Before Trimming

Untrimmed diaper under pants

Untrimmed diaper under pants

AFTER:

After Trimming

After Trimming

Trimmed diaper under pants

Trimmed diaper under pants

I don’t know if you can see a difference under pants in these pictures, but it is definitely obvious in real life.  I think I’m going to like these.  🙂

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The Big Honkin’ Van.

A long time ago, a girl met a boy and they fell in love. They spent hours driving to and from their dates in his very cool Ford Mustang.  The boy would sometimes show off for the girl by doing donuts in a parking lot on a snowy day.  Although, as an adult, the girl does not condone this, the boy once showed his masculinity by passing three transport trucks in a row!  What a cool and fast car he had.

About 2 1/2 years after the boy and girl met, they got married.  The boy sold the mustang to buy a more sensible car, hopefully one that would not get him into so much trouble.  You see, just before he married the girl, the boy had to go for an interview with the Ministry of Transportation to explain why he should be allowed to keep his Driver’s License when he had received such a plethora of speeding tickets (six) in the past year.

Before too long, the boy and girl had their first little baby — a girl!  She was so sweet and so small that they happily fit into their little car.  They easily tootled around town, zipping in and out of small parking spots.

Several years later, a new baby arrived — a little brother.  The boy’s parents had a lovely minivan which they offered to sell the boy and girl for an unbeatable price. The boy and girl had been hoping for more babies in the future, so they decided that, even though they still fit in their little car, they would buy the minivan.

Shortly thereafter, there was another baby and then another and then the girl delightedly found out she was expecting a fifth baby.  Their minivan (which was a newer one — this time a gift from the boy’s parents) was getting very squishy with all the carseats.  The boy and girl decided they would by a bigger van that would hold them all easily.

Two years after baby five arrived, there was another sweet baby to love in the boy and girl’s family.  This time, the bigger van was feeling tight.  The boy and girl’s older children complained that they were squeezed in between the car seats.  They were also upset that they could never bring any friends home from church because there were no empty seats.

The boy and girl were very grateful and blessed to have the van.  Secretly, though, they were starting to dislike the rust and the ugly white colour!  They also wanted to have plenty of room for whatever God would send their way, either in terms of family or friends.  So, the boy started looking for a Big Honkin’ Van.  A true homeschool-mobile.  The boy had a truck license from his college days of driving for Coca-Cola, but the girl felt nervous about her ability to drive such a big vehicle.

The boy managed to find the family a lovely, wonderful van.  It was in beautiful condition and was owned by a family with six children who were growing up and whose mama often found herself driving The Big Honkin’ Van by herself.  They were sad to see the van go, but had been hoping it would be able to go to a large family.

Here is The Big Honkin’ Van:

The Big Honkin' Van

The Big Honkin' Van

The girl is still wondering how she is going to manage to do errands and Christmas shopping and to park downtown…but she feels very blessed and she thinks the boy was very smart to find his family such a great vehicle.

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Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking has an excellent entry entitled Tips on Maintaining a Simple Home, posted yesterday.  It is definitely worth a read.  I particularly like the idea of the annual re-haul of the entire home.  I think I will start to work on that one.

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I am finding that writing about cultivating the habit of calm is going much differently than I imagined. I thought it would end up as more of a 10 step plan with straightforward things we could all do to keep our cool.  However, when I sit down to write to you, I realize that all of the best ideas are worthless without the motivation of love behind them.  I will scatter some practical idea posts in, too, but I really hope to inspire you to build your hearts, as moms, instead of just your heads.  When love is flowing, the other things naturally flow out.

I am participating in a wonderful small group for the summer with some of my beloved friends (Hi ladies!).  We are reading together the book, The Mom Walk by Sally Clarkson.  As in any of Sally’s writing, it is obvious to me that she is a woman who embraces motherhood.

At our meeting this week, we discussed taking joy in the little things — things that we mostly take for granted as mundane — offering them to God for His glory. I recently finished reading The Shack.  In the book, the central character, Mack, comes to the realization that if anything matters then everything matters.  If it matters to God one time when I snuggle a child I would prefer to yell at, then every little thing I do matters.

I find that in my life, neither guilt nor the drudgery of duty motivates me for long and it is certainly not what our loving Heavenly Father wants from us, either. He tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light!  We could make a big list of all the things we should do better and try really hard to do them, but we will certainly find ourselves failing.  God’s plan is really much simpler.  He only asks us to stick close to Him.  Because of this we learn to love like He does a little more each day.  Our outward behaviour (the fruits of the Spirit) will flow naturally from this relationship.

One of the most natural and significant learning opportunities for learning to love happens when we become mothers. Do you remember the moment you first realized the depth of love for your first baby?  For me, that desperate mother/baby bond seems to come several hours after our babies are born when the hustle and bustle of the birth is over and baby and I are tucked away together.  With our first baby, I was absolutely astonished at the depth of those feelings.  At that moment, I knew I would do anything for this new little person.

In a discussion with a dear friend of mine, we realized that many women seem to hold back when expressing this love. She said it appeared they were afraid to really embrace motherhood to which I readily agreed.  Later I pondered her statement.  Why would anyone be afraid to embrace motherhood — one of the most fulfilling love relationships on earth?  I don’t know, but I have some ideas.  I would love you to share your thoughts with me, too.

Maybe women are afraid that if they lavish love on their children outwardly to the extent they love them inwardly, their children will become self-centred and spoiled. Also, even though we generally attribute it to men, I think that many women hold back from loving to their heart’s content for fear of appearing (or actually becoming) weak — losing control, losing perspective and losing authority.

The trouble with all of these worries is that, while understandable, they are completely false beliefs.  True love never does any of these things.  In fact, holding back from outwardly loving our children ends up accomplishing many of these things itself.  Children who feel unloved and insignificant become self-centred and spoiled, as they need to look after themselves.  We have discussed how respect for our authority is actually increased with our children when we show our children love outwardly.  And, sadly, the best way to be weak and lose perspective is to continually fight against the plans of our dear Lord.  After all, it is His idea that we love with abandon.

We are told that, with respect to motherhood,  it is okay to express disappointment, frustration and discouragement. Indeed, it is okay.  We will certainly have those feelings as mothers and sometimes we just need to get them off our chest.  However, we certainly have plenty of complaining in this world and while an occasional complaint is not a big deal, a stream of them will only hurt us and those around us.

I think that what we really need to be told is that it is okay to express joy, happiness and love, too! What we really need on this earth are more mothers who are not afraid to say, “I just can’t get enough of my baby!” or “When I found my six year old sleeping curled up on the floor of my room this morning, my heart poured out with love for her,” or “My teen is just so perceptive.  She said today…” Can you imagine if more moms in your life talked like this?

When we give ourselves permission first, to think this way and, second, to voice these thoughts it can’t help but cultivate calm in our lives. It will happen automatically and that’s what the Lord means when He says His yoke is easy and His burden light. When I am allowing myself to see the Lord to pointing out to me my own love for my children, I find my heart contented and my perspective clear.

Let’s not hold back today — let’s let ourselves go and love our children recklessly.

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Socks for Steve

These are knitted from the free pattern, Temperance by Liz Abinante. I really like the way they turned out, though they took me a very long time to knit.  I did the 80 stitch version with 2mm needles.  As usual, they were knitted toe-up and two at a time.  I bought the yarn, Kettle-Dyed Essential in the Oak colourway from KnitPicks (on Sale!).

Temperance Socks

Temperance Socks

If I were to knit these again, I would probably go up to 2.25mm needles and I would also not do the twisted stitches as the pattern suggests. I found the pattern’s method very time consuming and fiddly and wish I’d thought to switch methods before I was on the last repeat!  In the end, I switched to the method used for cabling without a cable needle.  Ahhhh.  Much better.

If you would like to learn how to cable without a cable needle, I suggest checking out the quick how-to video at Knitting Help. If you go to advanced techniques and scroll down, you will see the video marked, “Crossing Cables without a cable needle”.  Don’t worry — it’s a cinch.

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