Thursday, January 28, 2016

DIY | bow-tie or bow

When I was pregnant, & didn't know if the little one was a boy or girl, I cranked out a few bow-ties that I figured could double as bows if she happened to be, you know, a she. They were actually pretty simple, & I had fun on the sewing machine for the hour it took to make a few. 
Do you have some dapper littles in your life that need some adornment? Here's my tutorial (I'm no seamstress, as my paint-spattered cutting mat will attest ;)), just a disclaimer.

1. cut out two rectangles of fabric: one 8"x4.5", one 3"x1.5"
    I just used a quilt-weight cotton bag that my set of sheets came in. {FREE! woot.}

2. sew the long sides of both rectangles together, right sides facing each other, leaving a quarter inch seam allowance.

3. turn both rectangles right side out & roll them so the seam is in the middle instead of the side. (This will be the backside.)

4. Tuck the ends in. This isn't absolutely necessary, but will make the final bow look neater. The smaller rectangle is tricky. Use the end of a scissors to tuck in the ends if you have to. Or just don't worry about tucking. We're laid back around here. 

5. Fold your rectangles in half, & stitch ends together.

6. turn inside out so your newest seam is facing in like the photo shows. (This should be done to the smaller rectangle, too.)

7. My favorite! This is the step where the bow just springs to life. Take your larger rectangle, & pinch the middle together with the newest seam in the back. I hotglued it together to keep it pinched til the next step. You could probably sew it, too. I just know glue guns better.

8. Take your smaller rectangle. (This photo was taken before I turned the newest seam to the inside. Sorry. I'm a nube at step-by-step photos.)

8. Thread the bow you just hotglued through the smaller rectangle. 

10. Slide a pin back through the little rectangle.

10. Done!

Now go crazy making these for all the little men in your life. They use the tiniest scraps of fabric & if I can make them, you can make them!

Or, if you happen to have a little lady in your life instead, simply slide an alligator clip through the back instead of a pin. Just as darling, IMO! 

Her father tells me, "It looks like she's wearing a bow-tie on her head!" Bow-tie or not, she wears it well. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Fiona | 10 months

These photos sum it up: Fiona is a busy little girl these days. I couldn't get her to sit still long enough for my camera to focus. Oh well. I'm sure it will get better...cough, cough. 

Also, I just wanted to say thank you, all of you who reached out to me after my scary vulnerable honest blog post. I didn't know I would get such an encouraging response! You are all wonderful, wonderful women & make me want to keep on going. Also, I am doing much better:). So, thank you for your love & prayers & confessions of similar feelings. It helps so much to know I'm not alone. And YOU aren't alone either. Isn't it great?
Anyway, Fiona. We still love her dearly! She's been a little trooper lately, coping with a cough & some pink eye we picked up in Illinois. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but she did sleep for 13 hours the other night (I didn't know that could happen!) & she's been going to bed a little earlier than normal (read, earlier than 10:30). Normally, she sleeps pretty good, but she'll wake up once a night at least 3 nights a week. It feels very doable these days though. She may still get up at 5 am to eat, but she'll go back to sleep for a few more hours. She may be climbing on the coffee table, & opening my cupboards, & emptying the garbage, but at least she's entertaining herself & I can get some jobs done without a 15 pound ankle weight to lug around. She's actually almost 16 pounds (what I weighed at a year!! Featherweights, we are were.), which means she's gained a pound in the last month. She's been in the 9th percentile or less since she's been born. But I think she's gaining!
 It makes sense: she's been eating so much food. I'd been buying her squeezable applesauce pouches for the sake of convenience, & she would eat one in two feedings. Now she needs two at one feeding to satisfy her gluttony. Chicken, hamburger, beans, brussel sprouts, this girl will eat anything. It's reeeeally nice. I haven't bought baby food for a month! We're going to try goat's milk soon to see if she can digest that. Then I can quit buying the specialty formula.
She still loves going outside, which is a challenge this wet, sopping time of year. Crawling around in the muck & damp doesn't make her mother too happy. But sometimes we just have to get out. I keep thinking she's going to start walking. She was very, very close, & then suddenly decided she'd rather focus on climbing. Holding onto chairs, the coffee table, anything, she can get around pretty quickly. It's been so fun to watch her get stronger!

Maybe we're ignorant first-time parents, but I'm pretty sure she can say, "Dada", "mama", "bye-bye," & "bow-wow". She's a little inconsistent, but we're going to go with it.

Ten months. I can't believe we're so close to a year!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Illinois recap January 2016

*This post is totally random & is what happens when I'd rather be with the people than taking photos of them. Sorry for the choppiness & less than awesome photo-quality, but know between photos, I was thoroughly enjoying my family!

This is the #1 reason we went back to Illinois:
Did you ever see such sweetness? Little Harbor is much loved. 
{love this photo! Finn eats a gummy heart we used to bribe him onto the couch. And Harbor cries. Real life right here.}

And Shara makes four (four! Wasn't River just born? Now he's losing teeth!!) children look so easy. She's such a laid back mom. With exceptional taste in kid's attire:) (Fee gets all Madeira's hand-me-downs...) I've been looking up to her ever since we shared a bedroom growing up, & made her turn the lights off at 8 o'clock. She is a jewel. 
Fee was a wee bit jealous, I think. With baby William, & now Harbor, she wasn't quite sure what's so great about these tiny new humans anyway. 

Not that she didn't get absolutely spoiled while we were there. See if you can find the common thread in the next six photos.
 Jeremy + Fee
 Wendy + Fee {Wendy puts Fee to sleep. It's what she does.}
 Alex + Fee
 Ty + Fee (are you sensing a trend?)
Tory + Fee
 Carmen, Pierce, Alex, + Fee.
My family loves Fee. And she loves them, or at least tolerates them. I prepare myself every trip back for some hard-core stranging & fear of all the new people, but Fee's been a trooper every time. It warms my heart so much to see her in the arms of my family!

While Harbor was our my main reason for coming back to Illinois this time of year, we also celebrated a late Christmas. We had a good time, even though the little kids took turns having meltdowns, getting pinkeye, & ear infections. I had a mother of all colds the entire time, that got progressively worse as I got progressively further & further behind on my sleep. That said, we enjoyed our family time immensely. These next photos are just snapshots from the week. Enjoy the randomness that is my family!
Roxy & Kinsey building a gingerbread train
Madeira with her "food" gift--a tradition that's been going on since...forever. It's my favorite Christmas tradition. Mom used to buy us a special food she wouldn't the rest of the year & she & Dad would hide it while we all played in the basement. Then they'd call us up & we'd have a ball searching the house for our little Debbie snackcakes or Lucky Charms or whatever happened to be our gift. Such a fun tradition!

"Milk Toast": a favorite slur amongst the boys in the family. (shoulder shrug.) photo credits: Kenny

Gotta love the 6 week apart nephews in similar guzzling pose.

the only photo I got of the rib grill-off we had.

We pulled taffy one night. That was fun! I would write a step-by-step, but I wouldn't do a very succinct job, so just enjoy the photos. Maybe someday we'll reenact it, & I'll be more proactive about photos to break it down. 

Carmen grabbed my camera & so I was actually in a photo! I need to ask people to do that more often...

And that's it.

These photos capture a little bit what it was like to be back. They tell a little of the fun & togetherness. They tell of swarms of people & little ones & everyone pitching in & milling around. They don't capture the bittersweetness that overwhelms me every time we go back. It is such a good, hard time. I am most homesick when I am home. Aunt Carol was right. The nephews have grown up, my role is no longer there, I've missed out on countless conversations. I feel the 2,000 miles most when I'm right there.
But I would never want to quit going back. And I want Fiona to know "The Dotterer's" in all their quirkiness.  I have to remind myself that if it weren't hard, I wouldn't be as close to my family as I am. So we will keep coming back, & I will deal with the bittersweetness.

And someday, there won't be 2,000 miles between us anymore. Praise God!

Monday, January 11, 2016

an apron, a pincushion, a stool, & a set of dish towels

They are a collection of commonplace things: an apron, a worn leather stool, a set of flour sack dish towels, a pincushion made from mason jar rings. Nothing extraordinary about them.  They’re rather humble objects, even.  But I love them. I love the stories behind them. I love how useful, yet lovely they are. I love that they represent the dear lady they came from.

 I love that they remind me of her. I love that every time I use the velvety purple pincushion made from mason jar rings, I remember how Grammy told me a girl from Illinois made it for her years & years ago & gave it to her as a hostess gift when they came to Oregon to visit her.
 I am sitting beside her in her living room again, every time I see my embroidered dish towels, watching her at work, the hoop stretched tight, needle working up & down, her thin legs stretched out on her stool in front of her. I can still hear her sweet wavery voice lamenting, “I just don’t know what all these young girls think they are going to do when they are old without knowing how to do any handwork.” And I would be so relieved I knew how to knit & the basics of embroidery so I wasn’t “one of those young girls”.  
Her old leather stool is now my sewing machine perch, as it was hers. (And it’s a perfect toddler photo prop!) I can picture her there making clothes for her kids because she had to, for her “grandies” because she wanted to, & for her “great-grandies” because she still could. She was always, always giving. And I never heard a word of complaint.

Her apron surrounds me when I cook, & I think back to the many times we would take a meal to her. I took fried chicken once, & she dug into it with gusto, telling us how it reminded her of her childhood. I loved to listen to her talk. We never left early & hardly got a word in edgewise all night!
There are so many phrases that leap to my lips that I borrowed from her. Some of them are funny: “Looks aren’t everything…but they sure help!”; “Men. Sometimes you could just sell ‘em for a nickel! But we need ‘em.” Some of them are learned from a lifetime of hardship: “You can be happy if you decide to be.” “When it’s raining in Oregon, I just shut the blinds, turn on all the lights, & play some music.” “You don’t have to scoop rain.” Some of them make me cry: “I’m always so happy to come home to my little house. I just hope whoever gets it after I’m gone appreciates it as much as I do.” She told me that shortly before she died. I think she knew Dar & I would probably move there. I wish she would’ve been able to meet Fiona. She said as much, too, “Darwy, “ (she added a “y” on the end of all her “grandies” names.) “I wish I’d be here to meet your little one, but I’m afraid it’s just not to be.” I wish she would’ve been here to meet Fee, too.

I’m so glad I got to meet her, if only for a few brief years. She was a lady, & a virtuous woman. If I am like her someday, I will have lived a good life.
Until that day, I have an apron, a worn leather stool, a set of flour sack dish towels, a pincushion made from mason jar rings, & the memory of a dear Grammy to set a standard to live by.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

lovely, honest, & true

**this post has sat in my draft file for a week or two. I keep going to publish it, then wimping out. It's so...Honest. I'm not sure who all reads this little blog anymore or what they think of me. I'd like to maintain my facade of perfection & total togetherness (ha!), but if I am to abide by the calling to wherewith I am called, I need to post this. Read with mercy towards me. Here goes!

One of my goals for this blog is to be positive & in line with one of my favorite verses, Phillipians 4:9 “Whatsoever things are true...honest…just…pure…lovely…of a good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.” I tend to focus on the “lovely”. But this verse also directs us to think on the true & honest.
{let's pretend this verse is from Philippians 4. In real life, I don't have time to always finish the projects I start, so this verse will have to do.}

To be honest & true, I have to admit that life isn’t always lovely, at least by my definition. There was a stretch of time recently where I felt life was a little less than lovely. It was tough. Fiona was very needy, Dar seemed to be preoccupied with work & a business deal that had gone south, I was lonely & overwhelmed with all the holiday preparations. The expectations & standards I held myself to pre-Fee weren’t realistic now, but I was still holding myself to them & was failing miserably. Things kept getting bleaker & bleaker. Normally, I’m a mostly positive, bright-tomorrow kind of girl. But Christmas this year just felt daunting & to be quite frank, I wasn’t a bit excited about it. Wrapping gifts, decking the halls, goodwill toward men, it all felt impossible. The simplest tasks & decisions left me floundering & nearly in tears. I felt like I had to make the perfect decision or everything would fall apart. Time ticked by way too quickly & at the end of every day, I felt like I’d accomplished nothing, but was exhausted anyway.

I hated that I felt that way. In my mind, I knew that God was still there, that He was still good. My life was pretty much perfect & I told myself I had no reason whatsoever to feel blue or joyless. I felt ridiculous being overwhelmed with only one child, not working a job. There was no reason to feel the way I did, I told myself again & again. Lots of women were waaay busier than me & seemed to be coping just fine! But still, there were moments I wanted to quit trying & curl up in bed. I would try to fight it by saying over & over in my mind, “Lord, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I!” I thought maybe I was being too sedentary & tried to exercise more. I tried to plan fun outings & activities with friends to avoid being at home alone. But my heart struggled to find joy. I tried to hide it from everyone. Maybe I succeeded. But Dar noticed it.

He was a wonderful, wonderful husband through it. He gently talked me through my panicky irrational moments & helped me make decisions that I’m sure he didn’t really care about. He cut me slack when dinner was a woeful assortment of leftovers because I just couldn’t decide what to make for dinner. He encouraged me to talk to other moms & get advice on how to overcome this blue period. He asked why I wasn’t doing the things I used to find such joy in & suggested that I start doing them again. He told me to start blogging again! (I had no idea he even knew I wasn’t blogging anymore.) He prayed for me. If this little bout of being down happened for no other reason than to make me grateful & thankful for my husband, it will have been worth it.

Slowly though, life began to look a little brighter. Fee got less needy. Christmas came & went. I realized what an awesome, supportive husband I have. I revived my interest in blogging, creating, living. I began spending more time on my devotions in the morning, & writing my thoughts in a journal on what I’d read. I told myself it was okay if I didn’t get my list done for the day & that no one would die if I wore this shirt instead of that one. (It was really that bad!)

Now that that time is over, & I can look back, I wonder if I shouldn’t have been more open with others about it. But that seemed so hard at the time. Why is that? Why is it so hard to acknowledge that life isn’t always pretty & lovely? I know I don’t think any less of someone if they are going through a hard time. I know that I am grateful & honored when they deem me trustworthy & caring enough to share the nitty gritty. I want to pray for others when life is tough! That’s what being a family of believers is all about.

I share this for a few reasons. 1) to encourage other women, new moms especially, that it is okay to feel overwhelmed. But to cut yourself some slack & ask for help! If it weren’t for my wonderful in-laws watching Fee for me a few hours here & there, I’d have gone crazy. 2) to make myself accountable to being more open when, & if I am being honest with myself, it is when, this type of depression happens again. 3) to break this attitude of trying to appear perfect. I know I’m not. You know I’m not. Let’s all quit pretending. 4) to bring glory & honor to God for His grace & love in getting me through it!
There. Now you know. Maybe it isn’t my definition of lovely, but isn’t life, with all its very real & ugly challenges, lovely all the same?