Monday–oops, Tuesday miscellany

  • Back from travels to LA, where we not only got in some continuing medical education credits for Marc, but also got to hang out with and enjoy our son and daughter-in-law, Marc (Jr)  and Kaylee. It was sweet to be able to see their space, meet their cat, see Kaylee’s workspace, see Marc’s workspace (that would be: their apartment :)), experience some of their favorite haunts around the town, and have some good, more in-depth conversations.  These are some cool people.  We’re glad we know them. :) Kaylee, Marc, Marc
  • I can now add LA to the list of large cities that I have successfully driven in, assisted by my awesome navigator, Marc. (I am a terrible navigator and also get carsick if I look down too much–so this arrangement works well for us. )  Other cities on the list: Dallas, Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, Seattle….there might be some others that I’m forgetting.  I’m thinking that if I can drive in LA, I can probably drive most anywhere. Also–it is true what they say about LA traffic–although getting around at 9 am on Sunday was pretty easy-breezy. :)
  • While we were in LA, Matt was with the high school band on a trip to Victoria, BC: two parades and a concert. He is now an international traveler. :)
  • Goals achieved: celebrating son-in-law Andrew’s official commencement and receiving of his doctorate! And we will celebrate Zach’s high school graduation in a couple of weeks (I know–they run on a later schedule out here)!
  • Anna and friends are here for a few days on their beginning of summer west coast trip. It’s nice to be a destination spot, as well as a free room and board spot. :)
  • I’m in that time lull, sewing-wise: post-Easter, pre-birthdays or Christmas. I think I am going to to try to do a “summer sewing school” for myself–doing the classes that I have signed up for on Craftsy, and honing some of my skills, while I make something for myself. The first item will either be the Sassy Librarian blouse or else the Ultimate T shirt.
  • We were thinking about re-doing our bathroom, but when we discovered more “soft” spots in our deck, our priorities shifted. New deck is in the works; the only question now is, will it be done before the kids come to visit in late June??
  • Blog posts rolling around in my head: books read update (since November–yikes); thoughts on grief; thoughts on memorizing/meditating on Scripture. Maybe if I list them here, I will be more likely to actually write them.

God’s economy

We sold our house in Nebraska; we closed on it in March.

After seventeen months on the market.

Seventeen. 

Two mortgages for seventeen months.

Needless to say, we were quite relieved and thankful for the sale to finally happen.

There was a lot of waiting, and wondering, and impatience, and then peace, and then impatience and wondering again, during that time.

“Come on, God!  What’s the deal? You are the one who moved us; why aren’t you selling this house?!”

(interspersed with times of peace, where I acknowledged that God knows what he’s doing, he has it under control, he is taking care of us, I need not worry, etc.)

I was reading in Matthew 26 recently (v. 6-13). Jesus is reclining at the table, when a woman comes and breaks open a flask made out of alabaster, filled with expensive ointment, and pours it over Jesus’ head. The disciples are indignant about it, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.”

Jesus, though, was not upset about this extravagance, but instead praises the woman for her generosity and love toward him.

As I was reading this passage, I was struck with how my attitude toward our house in Nebraska and its (in my mind) late-in-coming sale was so similar to that of the disciples.  “Why isn’t this selling? We could be giving so much more to you, if we weren’t spending so much on the mortgage and the upkeep of that house!  (plus we could be using it for other good things that we want, and paying off debt, and etc. etc. for us….) Don’t you know what you’re doing, God?!  Come on, get with it—sell the dang house!”

It came to me that even as I confessed with my mouth that the house belonged to God (and in my heart, I did believe that), there was still a part of me that struggled to understand God’s ways, and was in essence criticizing the way God was doing things.

Criticizing the way God was using his house.  His property. What belongs to him.

I was critical of the God of the universe and his so-called wastefulness.

In my mind during the months when the house sat, I sometimes indulged in the daydream/thought that it probably was going to be that we would end up selling it for way more than we thought we would, and that was the reason it was sitting so long!

Because there had to be a reason, that made sense to me…..right?

But the reality is, God’s ways are not my ways. Even when his ways don’t make sense to me, or wouldn’t be the way that I would do things.  (If they always aligned perfectly, wouldn’t that make me….God?)

I confessed my critical attitude, and again affirmed that the house belonged to God; whatever he wanted to do with it, it was his to do.  Whatever he wanted to do with our finances, it was his to do. Whatever he wanted to do with whatever was ours, it’s really his, and just ours to steward, so he can do what he wants with it.

I confessed it.

Again, and again, and again.

Daily.

And slowly, it became a reality in my heart.

There is a peace and a freedom that comes with actually believing and acting as if God is sovereign and in control, and will take care of you. (It’s called trust. :)) I didn’t have to worry about when and how the house would sell and whether we would make money or lose money or just break even. It was his, and his to dispense with.  He knew our situation, he knew what was going on, he knew what he was doing.

And finally, at just the right time, it sold.

We ended up breaking even on the house sale.  We didn’t have to bring money to the table, to close on it.

And we were grateful for that.

I was also grateful for the reminder that all I have belongs to him, and I don’t have to worry that he won’t take care of us.

I am so thankful that he knows me, and he knows what I need, more than I do.

He knows that my heart tends toward putting my trust in financial security instead of the One who owns the universe.

He knows that I don’t like waste and inefficiency.

He knows that I don’t always understand what he is doing.

But he is gently teaching me that, in His economy, everything is accounted for, and there is no waste.

Do you hear that, heart of mine?

Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.

And he is working out a greater harvest in me, something far more valuable than dollars and cents, than I can even imagine.

Easter outfits 2014: part 2

As promised: actual little people in actual outfits, actually sewn by a grammie in Washington and sent to them to wear on Easter.

And they FIT.

First, the Minnesotans.

MN 1

MN2

MN3

Ah, the sweetness of siblings.  Till they start pulling each other’s hair or something.

It looks like everything fits! Bethany said she loves how Addie looks like a 1950s housewife. :)

Addie1

And look—it was even warm enough to stroll along on the starting-to-get-green Minnesota grass.  At least long enough for a photo.

Addie2

Can’t leave without a photo of the whole beautiful family.

Hansens

Gnaw on that wrist, Townsend.  Gnaw away!

As you can see in this photo, T’s pants are a bit long.  But that’s no biggie, especially if he lengthens out faster than his waist expands. (It could go either way, at this age.)

I still love how they coordinate with that Lotta Jansdotter fabric, without being carbon copies of each other.

Travel with me down to Texas now.

Ambrose 1

Ambrose 2

It fits!  With a little room to grow.

I forgot to mention in the first post that there are pockets on this dress.  Not that Rosie needs them for her iPhone, or can even put rocks and precious treasures from her walks outside yet; but they are a sweet detail that her mama appreciated. :)

Sarah and Rosie

Matt and Rosie

What a sweet family, y’all!

(throwback to Christmas: note the custom made tie :) :))

Seeing the kids in the clothes made me so happy. It’s the icing on the sewing cake!

Happy Easter and beyond, everyone!

(photos:  Bethany Hansen; Sarah Odum.  Patterns:  Oliver + S Library Dress, Art Museum Vest and Trousers, Playtime Dress)

Easter outfits 2014: part 1

Once upon a time, I had an idea.  What if I made Easter dresses/outfits for my grandkids every year?

This was a great idea…..when I had only one grandchild. :)

Just kidding! I truly enjoyed sewing for all three grands. It just took a bit more time and planning and effort.

(As my friend Rebecca says–it may balloon to sweatshop-type work if/when all of my kids have children of their own.)

At least I started planning early.  I got these 3 Oliver+s patterns during a 50% off Black Friday sale! Yay for 50% off!

patterns

I also had the advantage of Easter falling rather late this year–April 20.

But that really doesn’t help you, if you still procrastinate. Ah, well.

I got them done on time, in spite of myself, and even sent in the mail with time to spare!

For Adeline, I chose the Library Dress pattern. I had purchased this garden/veggie print fabric from Ikea a long time ago, knowing that Addie would love to have something made out of it. The veggies are so cute with their little faces.

For the contrasting waistband, I had “imagined” in my head a gingham-type print in blue, but not really a traditional gingham, more of a modern look to it…..
Lo and behold, I found what I was looking for at a (fabulously well stocked) local fabric store. A Lotta Jansdotter print! (Olavi in Blueberry in the Glimma line, for anyone who cares.) It was perfect.
And it would be just right for a vest for Townsend. Matching, but not too match-y.

The dress went together pretty well with few issues (there are always a few issues, but you know…that’s what seam rippers are for ;)).

addie dress I was really pleased to find that I had 8 vintage blue buttons from my grandma’s stash that worked out just right, down the back of the dress.

addie dress 2The buttonholes were harder than usual; I had to use my Bernina machine with the old-timey way of making buttonholes, since my newer Baby Lock machine is acting funky again (the 0 and 1 buttons to push to do different stitches will not work :P). But I managed to make them work okay.  Hopefully they won’t unravel until after Easter. :)

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I do regret not putting a lining in the dress; the pattern did not call for one, and I didn’t realize until later that the fabric was a little more sheer than I thought. With the colorful pattern, however, it probably won’t be a problem. (Tights? Shorts?  I’ll let her mother come up with a creative solution if it’s needed. :))

I used the Art Museum Vest and Trousers for T: the Jansdotter print for the front of the vest, and chambray fabric for the back of the vest and lining, and the pants. There was a lot of fiddly parts to these: the welt pockets, lining, regular pockets plus a welt pocket on the pants, a faux fly…..In retrospect, I probably should’ve just made the vest, and then a more simple pair of pants. But I was pretty proud of the welt pockets. Lined with chambray on the vest!

welt pocket

vest welt pocket

lining vest

IMG_4597IMG_4596I had a bit of trouble understanding the directions on the waistband of the pants. I ended up doing them wrong; however, they will still fit/work on T. They just aren’t very pretty on the inside—lots of threads, etc. I think that in the future, when I don’t understand a direction, even though I have read and re-read the instructions, I need to take a break from the project. It seems like usually my mind can eventually figure it out. But I was feeling pressed for time, and forged on, when I should’ve taken a breather. Live and learn.

interior waistbandSee what I mean?  Liesl would be disappointed, no doubt.

(For a look at how the inside waistband should  look, see Froo and Boo’s Art Museum Trousers.  Ah.  Perfection.)

Maybe the next time I make them….

I only put one welt pocket on the back (because seriously, how many welt pockets does a 6 month old need??)

IMG_4603And there’s the faux fly.  Not a real one, thank goodness.  That probably would have added 10 hours on to the project.

faux fly(That left side pocket looks a little funky, too.  I really do need to make these again, just to fix all of the problems.)

Here’s the vest and pants together.

IMG_4595And Adeline’s dress with Townsend’s outfit. Look how cute they are together!

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Ambrose’s pattern was a more simple one: the Playtime Dress and Tunic. I found this sweet fabric at the same quilt fabric store as the Jansdotter print; it is Potluck by American Jane Patterns; Sandy Klop for Moda. I made the sleeves short instead of long, since Rosie lives in Texas. One of the details that was really sweet is the contrasting thread used to make a faux collar of sorts. See the blue thread?

IMG_4614back rosie's dressI used snaps instead of buttonholes, because I was so. done. with the buttonholes. :)

Rosie dressThis post is Part one, because of course, you want to see the kids in their actual outfits, right?? As soon as I get photos from their mamas, I will post them, so you can see for yourself either a) what a great job I did, or b) the outfits don’t fit at all, or c) something in between. :)

I did get a preview text of when Rosie got her dress. She looks excited about that fabric!

rosie and dress

 

And a preview of Townsend!

t vest

(He may want to reconsider his shirt choice. :))

Full photos of all three in Part 2!

 

 

mom

“Would any of you like to say something at the service?”

The pastor looked around at us.

I knew what my answer would be.  There were lots of things that I wanted to say about about my mom—but there was no way that I thought I could actually get the words out, and not just end up standing up at the podium, crying my eyes out.

( I know –this goes against my general reputation of being dead inside. :))

My sister had asked me to write up a little something, to fill out the back of the memorial service bulletin. She gave me an example of something she had seen at a friend’s funeral.

I wrote. But it was far too long for the back of the bulletin.

I suggested we edit it down (even though I didn’t really want to :)).

Or (I said) maybe we should do a bulletin insert, and leave it the length that it was.

My sisters agreed to it.

The baby of the family got her way, again. :)

**************

As I re-read later what I had written for mom’s service, I realized that perhaps it could appear that we all thought Mom was perfect, or a better person than most, or something.

Not true.

Mom had her faults.

She could be stubborn. I can remember the set of her chin and mouth when she was unwilling to concede a point.

She could be sharp with her words with my dad.  I remember her asking me to pray for her in this regard. (His not being able to hear her, in spite of his hearing aids, and her frustration with this, seemed to be a common irritant for both of them.)

She had her down days, contrary to her usual positive nature.

But she was generous. She loved celebrations and birthdays, and celebrated her own birthday with her friends the entire month of April. She was interested in her kids’ and grandkids’ activities, and tried to continue to connect with adult grandkids–even when it was more difficult than when they were little kids, running around at grandpa and grandma’s house. She gave visitors to her church homemade bread (well, made from frozen bread dough purchased at the supermarket.  And laughed and enjoyed it when people asked for her “recipe”).

She showed people Christ, in her, every day.  His perfection shone through the cracks in her “jar of clay”, and pointed people to Him.

****************

Even though I didn’t get up and speak at her memorial, I got to say most everything I wanted to say–through the bulletin insert, and through this.

Except for this last thing: my mom was a special person, and one of my best friends.

I am going to miss her.  A lot.

I am thankful that this is only goodbye for a little while.

*************************

The following is what I wrote for Mom’s memorial service insert.

 

Dee had a joy that the Lord gave her, and it spilled out naturally to those around her.  Her positive attitude was a light to everyone around her.

Psalm 118:24—This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.

Nehemiah 8:10—The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Psalm 30: 5—Weeping may tarry for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

 

Dee was a great encourager, and always was urging us all on, no matter what difficulty we might find ourselves in.

Isaiah 35:3—Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.

1 Thessalonians 5:11—Encourage one another and build each other up.

Proverbs 17:22—A joyful heart is good medicine.

 

Dee was a hard worker with a can-do attitude. She not only helped Arn get into the rental business, but started and successfully ran two businesses (preschool and daycares), which helped put their kids through college, as well as supplementing her and Arn’s generous giving.

Prov. 31:16; 20, 27-28—She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard…She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy….She looks well to the ways of her household and dos not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

 

Dee’s creativity was a reflection of her Creator. Whether it was in decorating her home, doing crafts, flower gardening, playing the piano, or writing her monthly e-mails to friends and family,  she poured out beauty, and glorified her Lord through all of it.

Colossians 3:17—And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

Dee’s faith in her strong Redeemer kept her close to his side. She was a woman of prayer and the Word. Throughout her life, in the midst of the normal trials and joys, as well as the deeper suffering of cancer, she was steadfast and persevering, holding steady to the hope of Jesus.

Isaiah 43:1-3—Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Romans 8:37-39—No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels not rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of Dee’s life, in all of ours.

random thoughts, once again

Random thoughts—on a Wednesday this time, just to mix it up…..

  • Got back from a medical meeting trip to West Palm Beach, Florida, where it was sunny and gorgeous every day we were there. A welcome shot of vitamin D in the midst of winter! And I was able to connect with an internet friend, Kate, and have the best key lime pie ever. Yummmm.
  • High school basketball season is over; Matt played enough varsity to earn a letter, and also was a “scholar-athlete” (3.5 gpa or above).  Although the team was less successful than hoped, he still enjoyed the season. 
  • Zach got a job at Ferino’s Pizza. Meal provided by employer when you work a shift = decent perk for a teenaged boy.
  • There are a couple of us here that have been Nebraska men’s basketball fans for quite awhile—we even had season tickets a couple of years. So it’s exciting to see the season the Huskers are putting together. We are on the bubble for the NCAA tournament—unbelievable.  Coach Tim Miles is doing a great job.  (I’m sure the new arena isn’t hurting things, either.) Even Marc has jumped on the bandwagon. :)
  • Anna is doing a showing of her art with another fellow artist, March 7, for First Fridays in Lincoln.  6-9 pm at the Redeemer building at 8th and D. So excited for this opportunity for her to show her pieces!
  • Had a 4 hour layover on our return trip, through Dallas, so we were able to connect with the Odums.  It was Rosie’s 6 month birthday.  She celebrated by scowling at us. :)  
  • My finger is healing well; going to physical therapy twice a week, and seeing improvement in my mobility.  I get to have my splint off when I am doing “sedentary activity”.  Which for me is about 80% of the time, so that’s cool. :) Exercises and heating pad 4 times a day. Maybe my finger will look straight and not curved, eventually, some day.
  • Started sewing Easter dress for Adeline; vest and pants for Townsend, and a dress for Ambrose, to follow. Excited to use the excellent patterns from oliver + s; so well designed and with clearly written directions and drawings!  What a novel idea. :P
  • Also need to get started on tax prep. Not so excited about that……
  • It’s a beautiful, clear, sunny day again here, after many days of rain.  Sunrise behind the Cascades as we got up, a glorious view of the Olympic Mountains as I crossed the Hood Canal Bridge–will I ever tire of these mountains??!  (I don’t think so.)

handmade Christmas 2013

Broken finger or no, I am going to attempt to post my handmade gifts for Chirstmas. Because my discriminating readers are probably dying to see them all.

Or else they have forgotten that I even know how to sew, since it’s been so long since I posted anything in that regard.

On with the review!

I already showed you the soft play balls I made for the babies; they are a hit as they are soft enough for infant fingers to grasp (once they start grasping  things, that is), and good for general chewing upon.

I love to re-purpose old fabric or clothing items. I sorted through a bunch of the boys’ clothes in their closets with them, and saved some good stuff out to re-use, before donating the rest.  One such item proved perfect for a cardigan for Townsend (his mama had requested a cardi for him).

IMG_4174

I used a Schwin and Schwin vest pattern that I used previously. I wasn’t planing on lining it, but then the fabric was pretty thin, so I followed the original vest instructions.
IMG_4349
I added in sleeves, made out of the original sleeves, and managed to ease them in without it looking like too much of a mess! The knit seemed a bit tricky to add buttonholes, so I used some of the neck binding to make a couple of button loops instead.IMG_4348

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And here’s the little man himself!

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Next up is my reworking of a Nebraska long-sleeved tee into a short sleeved tee for Ambrose.  Her other grandparents are from Georgia, and had given her a GA stocking cap.  Of course, with the Husker-Bulldogs game coming up on New Year’s Day, we had to make sure that she was properly outfitted with attire from her mother’s alma mater.

IMG_4237

The original shirt had this cool embroidered logo on it, and I wanted to incorporate it into the new shirt if I could.

I made an envelope tee from Growing Up Sew Liberated ( Meg McElwee), and used Wonder Under fusible stuff to attach the logos. Then I stitched with a zigzag around it, to secure it firmly. White knit ribbing, and zigzag hems finished it off.

IMG_4238 IMG_4239

She wore it during the game, with her Georgia hat. (Glad the shirt prevailed!)

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Go Big Red!

For Addie, I found some cute fabric from Girl Charlee that I knew would be perfect for my animal-loving granddaughter.

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I made pajamas for her from the same Sew Liberated for Kids book.

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She loved them!

(I did, too.  They turned out so nicely!)

Girl Charlee also has this awesome moose fabric.  Maybe some matching pjs for Townsend and/or Ambrose??

For the girls, I made zippered pouches from this pattern by Noodlehead.  My mom had given me a bunch of zippers from her stash, and they were great for these. I was able to use up a bunch of scrap fabric as well.  It was fun to get them out and see what fabrics might go together for the lining and outer fabrics.

IMG_4345 IMG_4256

For some of the guys, I made ties, from a pattern from the Purl Bee.

They ended up being a little more intensive than I thought they might be, mostly because there is very little machine-sewing, and a lot of pressing and hand-sewing.  Having said that, they weren’t as hard as I thought they might be.

Image 2

It was also interesting because I used a different type and weight of fabric for each one.  The orange one is a sort of linen; the multi-colored stripe is a fairly heavy cotton; and the tan and blue stripe is a softer, lighter cotton.  All three had their pluses and minuses, but the linen was probably the easier to work with for this particular project.

The last handmade project was not a Christmas gift, but came about because Sarah mentioned that Ambrose needed some kind of soft shoe, to keep her feet warm when it was chillier out, instead of just having socks on.  I immediately said, “I can make that!” (nothing like an overconfident attitude) , and set about to find a pattern to do so.  I  ended up using this pattern from Schwin and Schwin, and used some heavy gray flannel-ish fabric along with some dark green vinyl for the sole.

I have to say that the instructions and photos on the shoe pattern aren’t the clearest, but after a bit of monkeying around with it and turning it this way and that, I figured out how to sew it all together like it was supposed to be.

We did have a bit of trouble with one of the shoes wanting to slide off of her foot, so I hand-sewed a bit of rug-grippie stuff to the inside heel of the shoes.

IMG_4425Image

Snaps sewn on the inside of the flap help keep it all in place.

They worked out so well, I made a pair for her cousin, too. ;)

Next up on the sewing horizon: Easter outfits for the grands.  I got these adorable oliver + s patterns for 50% off on their Black Friday Week sale!

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Hoping my recovering finger won’t impede me too much.  Stay tuned!