Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ideas for Mommies

With my last few weeks of pregnancy staring me in the face and the realization that my spirit of grace is lacking more often than I like to mention. It has caused me to look in my 'bag of mommy' tricks that I have picked up over the last four years that help me cope with stressful days/weeks and keep my sanity.

Number 1: Keep schedule sanity.
If I know I am having a hard time keeping my cool, then I don't over schedule myself. Sorry friends, but if you don't see me much for the next six weeks, it is because I need as much focus as possible keeping my cool at home. I have a rough set limit of one out of the house activity a day. Thursdays is my exception to the rule. If I push myself beyond that at this point, my hips hurt, I don't remember to drink enough water and I turn into 'mean mommy' well before it is time to put my children safely in their beds.

Number 2: Treat yourself.
This could could look like an extra nap if my husband has the kids under control. It could be drinking a favorite fruit drink (or even just ice water with lemon) out of a fancy glass. It could be hiding my face in the pantry to shove a handful of dark chocolate chips in my mouth while the kids aren't looking. It could be taking a walk. It almost never costs money.

Number 3: Plan a Picnic.
When I am feeling stressed or tired, the last thing I want to do is clean up a big mess at the end of dinner. So every so often, when I want a no-brainer kind of meal, I plan a picnic dinner. My kids love it, are pre-occupied with the change in scenery (I find the scenery therapeutic as well), and at the end I didn't have to clean up much of anything.

Number 4: Early baths & then a movie.
The name says it all. When my kids are up in my business and I need them to chill out and leave me alone so I can pull my sanity back, I give them a bath. They love it, they are self contained in the bathroom, I don't worry about the water mess (mine are girls, maybe if you have boys they make more water mess?), and at the end they are calmer (and clean) most of the time. Or maybe I'm just calmer to have had that 20+ minute break while they splashed around. Then, to take it a step further sometimes. To keep them from making a big mess before bed, we just have movie night. Since we don't watch many movies, they love this and we snuggle and by the end of the movie I again feel like maybe I am a decent mommy.

Number 5: Simple Dinners.
When it has been 'one of those' days, then I always have a back up plan for dinners. Ingredients on hand that are simple and quick to throw together; something the kids will eat and I can enjoy too. Nothing worse than being at your wits end and then have to come home to cook something that takes an hour. When I can't bear the thought of standing at the counter chopping/prepping dinner, I pull out one of my no-fail recipes. My two favorites: eggs and toast & 30 min. tuna casserole.  I also use hot dogs and homemade mac n cheese (if my husband hasn't eaten all the hot dogs). These are recipes that are not focused on health per say, so much as they feed my mental health with their simplicity.

Hope these were helpful to you. If you have any creative ways you keep your sanity on days when you feeling it slipping, please post a comment. I'm always happy to add more tricks to my bag.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Nursing Chair Inovation

Okay, so I have been getting all ready these last few days for baby boy to arrive. I have all his clothes washed and folded and bedding ready to put in the crib (which is not yet assembled, but hopefully soon.)
Today however I came to the conclusion that I would need a place to nurse that was both comfy and small. Our bedroom is not that big since we will have our king bed, dresser and a crib. Even a master bedroom has its limitations.
So I got to searching online to see what kind of small floor-type chairs I could find.....turns out what I was looking for was called a foam chair bed. Something like this one here.

The examples I found though either had horrible reviews for comfort/durability, or they were so outrageously expensive that I couldn't even consider them. So I moved on to high end bean bag chairs. I bought my girls a bean bag chair a couple of years back from Target for about $20 on sale, so I figured I could get a nice one for about $50-80. Ha, yeah right.
I was looking for something like this.

What I found was anything like this that is nice and had decent reviews is about $100 at the start. Whoa, way more than I want to spend on something that I will only need for a few months.  Once baby boy is big enough to figure out nursing in a lying down position, we won't necessarily need the chair....
So I got to thinking.
My daughter's bean bag is pink, which is a bad clash for the bedroom, but I would be willing to get over that if I hadn't sucked out a large portion of the beans to make it easier for her to sit in. Now it doesn't have enough 'guts' to hold someone like me and it doesn't keep a comfy shape by itself. I would have to keep it shoved up against the wall to have any back support.
So I got to thinking some more.
What did I use with my second child.....trying to remember. Sometimes my pregnancy brain is so hard to make cooperate, but finally it did. I remembered that I had used a solid bedrest pillow with arms. It had worked perfectly on the floor except that my tail bone would hurt after a while of sitting on the not so soft carpet.
Our carpet here is no softer, and so I got creative. I call it my nursing chair inovation. Here is what I came up with.
Hope you're not all disappointed, it isn't luxurious,
just functional and free.

Neutral colors, moveable pieces, recycled from items already in my home, and accommodates me in the exact position I like to be in when nursing. Happiness sigh.
I am probably overly proud of this creation, but only because it fits my exact needs. After searching online and seeing what I thought I wanted selling for no less than $100, I do feel pretty smug when I can come up with a solution for free.
Speaking of more cheap ways to prepare for a baby, I use pre-fold cloth diapers for burp clothes, and I buy fleece by the yard for swaddling blankets. This time however, with my first summer baby, I have switched to lighter weight flannel for the blankets. Seriously, have you ever priced swaddling blankets, and I tend to hate all the baby prints they come in anyways. So buying bulk fleece/flannel and cutting my own size blankets is so much more economical.
The only thing I couldn't come up with this time that was more economical to make myself was a nursing cover. I can buy a decent size one at Target for only about $10. Not only would the fabric itself cost me about the same to make my own.....I save all the time in having to make it. Time is money, and sewing is work when you are in your third trimester.
This week was a full moon. I tell you what, my braxton hicks contractions have been off the charts because of it. If baby boy was lower at this point I might actually be concerned that these suckers were producing some progress, but alas, he is not dropped, and so therefore no worries.
All that to say though....sewing is not on the agenda for this week.....maybe next week as the moon waxes/wanes.

What leads to Mercy?

I have at least two loads of laundry to do and I really need a nap, but since writing that blog post about mercy, I feel inclined to write another about what repentance is? They go together like peas and carrots (forrest gump), and it is another biblical concept that I love but don't always feel is well defined. It is also something the Lord has talked to me a lot about, because I feel such a desire to fully understand what is being accomplished when I pray for forgiveness. I want so badly to have right concepts about what true repentance is and what it isn't. I know it says the Father forgives us when we repent. What makes Him forgive and then forget?

So again, lets start with the online, official dictionary definitions.

     1. remorse for your past conduct.

Okay, so what the heck is remorse?

     1.  moral anguish arising from repentance for past misdeeds; bitter/sorrowful
             regret for past action.

The way I would sum those two up would be to say, "feeling very sorry for what you have done, so much so that you don't ever want to do it again."
So when I have a truly repentant heart, then it means I am so sad for hurting the Lord's heart by not keeping His law/commandments, that I never want to break that rule again.  Inevitably we do break the rules again, even the same rules, over and over again. Ugh.
Yet when we sincerely and genuinely repent over and over again, He keeps forgiving it over and over again.
Let's break down sincerely and genuinely.

   1. Not feigned
   2. Being without hypocrisy (duplicity/deceitfulness)

   1. Truly; actually possessing the alleged quality or apparent attribute or
   2. Not counterfeit; but authentic

Okay, so what does all this word defining mean? It means when we repent for something we do wrong, we have to really be sorry. We can't just be sorry we got caught doing the wrong things, we have to never want to do them again and we have to mean every word we say.
So how do we know when someone truly repents?
Well, 'we' don't, but the Lord does and the person who is doing the repenting does. It may take years for their actions to match up with their words of repentance, especially in an area of addiction or bondage to a certain sin, but if they really mean what they say (and the Lord sees their hearts), then in time the fruit of their hearts will show up in their actions.
So where does mercy play into this?
My favorite Bible example of the way true repentance and mercy play together on center stage is the prodigal son.  The son went off, made bad choices, did things that were unlawful for good Jewish boys to do and found himself in the depths of despair caused by his own misdeeds.
Then he came to his senses, decided to go home and ask to work in his father's houses as a servant, knowing he did not deserve to be a son any longer because of his actions, but perhaps he could earn his keep and survive a bit longer.
What does his father do though? If you have never heard the whole story, go read it: Luke 15: 11-32.
He runs to the son and hugs and kisses him. The son tries to say his piece about being just a servant, but the father ignores his words and throws a lavish party for the return of his son. He is given his sonship back in a heartbeat. Wow!
That is mercy!

Even in my own weak mind I would hope I could be so merciful, but maybe not all at once like that. I would maybe welcome the son back and say, "hey, I love you son," but then I would probably give it like a trial run or something. To make sure he was actually going to stick around this time. I wouldn't throw a lavish party right away. I might wait a week or two to make sure his words of regret were genuine. See if he really earned his keep around the farm.  The Father doesn't do that.
He has the ability to see the heart of his son, even from a long way off and runs to him, seeing the true repentance like only the Father God can and restores fully all the love, joy and emotions of sonship back on this son in lavish proportions.
It isn't fair. Super not fair. Instead it is mercy.
The son gets what he doesn't deserve, but the Father is generous because He sees the heart and sees the true repentance.
That is how God relates to us. When we truly repent for something, God sees it and our son/daughter-ship is immediately restored, no matter how long we have been in rebellion or compromise.
Let's be real for a moment though. That son probably came back with some bad habits from his time away. He might have had a drinking problem, maybe had crude speech, no work ethic, poor manners, etc. Those weren't cured overnight just because he was back in his father's house. His heart is what was changed, and that is all it takes for the Father God to welcome us back into His house.

He sees our hearts.

When our hearts are for God, He is fully for us. Even when we are still weak and immature in that love, and when our actions don't match our hearts, He is still for us. It is His mercy toward us, we don't earn it, and we never can.
There is so much more I could say about is such a beautiful subject to me. Repentance and mercy.
With repentance there is overwhelming mercy available to us. We are restored to full son/daughter-ship as soon as we repent, nothing is withheld. No probationary period. No outward documentation required. Just mercy.
The reality: God longs to show us mercy, He longs for us to repent so He can show us mercy. The lie of the enemy is that we do not deserve mercy nor will we receive it, but God is watching on the horizon for a chance to show us each the lavishness of His mercy.
Free will comes in though, because He will not force us to repent. He did not chase down the lost son and manipulate him into repentance. So until we return to Him in repentance,  He can not show us the full extent of His mercy.

Gonna end this one with a song that I love - called what else but "the Prodigal" by Pas Neos. Beautiful, says it all. Enjoy.


Friday, May 4, 2012


Lately I have been thinking a lot about mercy. It is one of those things that we like but I wouldn't say I always fully understand it.
In relationship to the Word of God, what is mercy, being merciful, etc? Before we go there though, lets look online.

The online definition:
            1. Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within
                  one's power to punish or harm.
            2. An event to be grateful for, especially because its occurrence prevents
                  something unpleasant or provides relief from suffering.

Ooooh, I like the sounds of those. They sound like they could have come right out of the New Testament describing the Father God, or how our relationship with Him works.
Which leads into my next thought perfectly. I've been thinking more about how the Father God parents us as His children, and how I should be paralleling/modeling that in my own parenting venture. With two small toddlers, how do I act out what I am receiving from the Lord near daily!

Before we explore that I should mention though, that I'm a rule girl. I like rules. I probably would have done very well as a Pharisee in the Bible. I would have most likely been like Saul, who saw people 'breaking' the rules by preaching Jesus, and been onboard with projects to bring those 'rule breakers' to justice.
Now that I've said that, let me just say that I have learned a lot about grace and mercy being in the body of Christ and having Holy Spirit as my personal mentor on such things. My heart is so thankful for the Spirit's instruction on what does not come naturally for me.
However, rules are not bad. Instead, I've learned that they can become damaging when there is no love or relationship involved. Rules for the sake of rules can wound people. Rules in place to prevent people from harming themselves and others are different.
When the children (us) come to realize that the rules (that God gives us) are there to keep us safe, happy and whole, then it makes it easier for us to embrace the rules, even without the threat of a direct punishment. Every rule the Lord gives us is for our own good. I have learned that in theory and I have walked it and learned it in real life as well. He is a good Father who wants the best for us completely, He is not just a rule-maker who wants to control us.
So again I say, how do I teach that to my children?
As a parent, I make a lot of 'rules' and I have consequences associated with the rules that are broken. It keeps peace, sanity, and order in my home, and my children for the most part thrive because they know what to expect from me.  Then there has been the introduction of mercy into the mix.
Mercy from the Lord is present in my own life, and I have been trying to introduce it into my children's lives as well. It is something that I want them to know about the Lord, so I need to show them what it looks like. The challenge is how, so here are a few things I have tried.
Mercy certainly shows up when they are sick. They don't have to clean up toys, they get snacks even when the didn't eat all of their dinner (healthy snacks of course), and they get to sit in my lap even when they are fussing and whining (usually fussing/whining happens in our rooms alone until we can compose ourselves).
Yet I have been trying to show it in other ways too. Like when I know we have had a hard day, all of us, and I would usually require them to clean up toys, but instead I clean them all up for my girls so they can go to bed. When they see me cleaning, they sometimes get alarmed, because trading chores is a consequence in our house for when they refuse to clean up/do their own chores. If I clean up their toys for them because they refused to clean up, then they have to do one of my chores later (typically scrubbing a floor or weeding the flower beds).
Mercy days work different though. I clean up their toys without asking them to trade with me. I didn't ask them to do their share of the work, I just did it all to bless and love them. Kinsey is still a little baffled as to why I would ever do such a thing or what gets leads up to me giving them a mercy day.
Here is another example. Last night was a rough late night. So this morning I showed Kalei mercy by not making her finish her dinner from the night before. She got oatmeal, same as Kinsey. That stirred up a great discussion between my four year old and me that really got me thinking hard about what mercy is.
She asks, "Why doesn't Kalei have to finish her dinner? Why does she get oatmeal like me?"
My reply was, "It is a mercy day, we were up late, and so Mommy decided to show mercy by allowing Kalei to have the same as you."
Some would look at this and say - that is unfair. They would be right. Mercy is not fair.
This is actually what it is all about. We don't get what we deserve. We get the same as those who have followed the rules all the days of their lives.
Look at the New Testament.
Prostitutes and sinners were entering the Kingdom of God ahead of the Pharisees, and the prodigal son got to share in the inheritance with the brother who had stayed behind and worked diligently.
Oh how that chaffs the flesh, even my own. Even now.
Another story of this is the landowner and the vineyard (Matthew 20) where the landowner goes out and hires the first crew in the morning to work for a certain wage. Then went out and hired more people at all hours of the day to work the remaining portion of the day. Then when he paid the workers, he paid them all the same wage, even those who had only worked one hour! The first workers were indignant, and I love what the Landowner says.
"Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?" (Matthew 20:1-16)
Oooh, it still chaffs my flesh, but my heart (which is being renewed through Christ daily) rejoices in the fact that we do not get what we deserve. If life was fair, then we would all be on our way to Hell, and I say that with an overwhelming since of gratitude for the Lord's mercy toward us.

So what is my point? Well I guess my reason for writing about the subject of mercy was more to organize my own thoughts on the subject rather than to instruct anyone. I'm no expert, lets be clear on that note.
When something has been splashing around in my mind for days, weeks, and so forth though, sometimes it just helps to write it all out. While at the same time putting that writing in a place where others who might be thinking/wondering about the same subject can find it and ponder further with me.
Process with me on this one. If the Father God shows us such great mercy and tender compassions, then how can we teach that to our children without forsaking rules/consistency in our homes? How can we teach them the rules and still show mercy?
Although my children are still quite young, I think I can start introducing this idea of mercy in the home even now, and with vision from Holy Spirit I can see it blossoming into even more beautiful pictures of grace and mercy as they grow. I want to illustrate the Father's heart toward us as my girls get bigger and can grasp the concept more, but I want to start here and now too. They are sponges, and these are the foundational ideas of what it means to build a relationship with Christ.

My kids are not to young to understand love, they are not too young to understand consequences, and so they are not too young to grasp mercy, especially in its simplest form - that we do not always get what we deserve.
Thank you Jesus for Your mercy!

Got thoughts? Questions? Constructive comments? on the subject, I would love to hear them.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Update on Projects

So I never seem to stay on task. As new projects pop up on pinterest, I am inspired to try to start making them....immediately!
Today I was on one of my favorite blogs, Cluck, Cluck, Sew, and found this little project. Couldn't pass it up. Deliciously cute!

via Cluck, Cluck, Sew

Besides, it was for a good cause that I was side tracking my project list to make this. A sweet friend of mine who is starting to sew was complaining about her pins being a mess, having no pin cushion. None at all!
When I found this, I knew I had to make her one using my left over crushed walnut shells. Mine isn't as cute perhaps, but still pretty my opinion.

In addition to this rabbit trail of a project, I have my scrap quilt all laid out and organized now. From here I just need to start sewing strips of squares together.
Here is my first attempt at laying it out.... ran out of room in my living room.

So today I moved the whole project to my church where I knew of a big room with great light and space to lay it out. Here is today's attempt and success in completing the lay out process.

Thanks to my new lovely friend Bethany for saving my preggo hips from all the bending over and crawling! She laid the whole thing out according to my instructions, and then picked it all back up. Happy sigh!
All I had to do was pick and place new squares to extend the quilt three more rows wide. Yeah, this project is nearing an end, finally.
Yet, already I'm being inspired by new quilt projects, which I can't in all good consciousness start before finishing my previous. I also can't justify the cost when I know that in reality I might not even start new said quilting project until well after baby boy arrives. Ugh, so for now I am left to just drool over jelly rolls and layer cakes.
Here are a few of my favorites currently - all via

Oh, also completed is a first round of burp cloths which I hadn't planned on posting about until after they were all given as gifts. Now, however, the first set has been given, so the preggo friends in my life already know what to expect. Here they are, took the pictures after they were wrapped and ready to be given, so you can't see the diamond quilted tops, but I think it added a nice touch to something that will be eventually covered in spit up and boogers.

Burp clothes - boy colors/neutrals. 
Although I am not in love with these fabrics (flannel), I bought what I felt was cost effective and boy/neutral, since most of us preggos are having boys.
My consolation for making such a practical choice in fabrics is that these are a practical type gift.
Spitting up babies and the mommies doing the catching, don't really care what it looks like as long as it is super absorbant and washes well. These probably won't make it into the 'keepsake' category, but they are absorbant and will wash well. Another happy sigh.

So that is about it. What I have been doing....

Note: I do not do tutorials on most of my stuff, because seriously, what is the point. I get most of my ideas from online tutorials, and so why pretend I've reinvented the wheel.
If I do complete a project via an online tutorial, I always try to post the link with it. If I have failed to do so on a project you are interested in, please let me know and I'd be happy to provide the link.
Happy crafting fellow crafters.