29 June 2015

Mom's Stuff

I always have plans of posting more frequently, but then maybe the silence means I'm getting lots finished and ready to share? ;)  I did want to have a little show and tell, though.  Remember how those were always the best days at school?  We'd bring our favorite little treasure to share with (and brag a little) to our friends and beloved teacher.
When Ryan and I were first married, we were at my parent's house when my sister's friend, Zina, was sharing with us something she called "Mom's Stuff".  Her mom wasn't an apothecary by trade.  "Mom", or Lee, is an artist, married to a potter, both occupations requiring lots of hands-on and hand-washing.  Lee came up with Mom's Stuff because the purchased lotions and salves just weren't cutting it for their cracked hands.  They were too watered down and full of too many artificial chemicals.
This is our container that has lasted us for a few years.  (Seriously, it's like a bottomless container.) My kid's have come to know when they have any mystery rash, bumps, or general skin complaint, I will tell them to put on Mom's Stuff.  It's a heal-all type of salve.  I ran into Lee last year when she was selling Mom's Stuff at a local bizarre in Utah and she told me that a woman approached her about using Mom's Stuff after her breast cancer treatments.  The prescribed lotion/salve wasn't helping and she was in a lot of pain.  She began using it regularly and when she went in for another treatment, the technician couldn't believe what she saw.  Her skin was still very pink, but it looked so much better than the blackened or dark red skin she was used to seeing on patients.
Cracked heels from the summer sandal wearing?  Extra dry elbows in need of TLC?  Eczema that won't respond to anything?  Pesky diaper rash?  Give Mom's Stuff a try.  What's in Mom's Stuff that makes it work so well?!  The very best nature has to offer: Beeswax (hooray!), Olive Oil, PiƱon Pine Pitch, Sweet Almond Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Jojoba Oil, Lanolin, Comfrey, Tea Tree Oil, Rosemary Oil, Neem Oil, and Lavender Oil.  11 found-in-nature-all-natural ingredients that you can pronounce, naturally antibacterial and antifungal.  For now they just offer Mom's Stuff Salve, but I have it on good authority that they are going to be adding some new products to their line soon!
There's the regular plastic 4 oz container, the glass 4 oz container, and the 1.5 travel size that should go everywhere with you.  
 Are they paying me to write this? 
 Nope.
I just like to share a good thing with friends.  Bragging just a bit that I know these good people.  Plus the black and white bee packaging.  Couldn't get any better.  ;) Oh!  And they're offering my favorite No Big Dill readers a discount good through Friday!  Use code: NOBIGDILL20 to get 20% off your order of Mom's Stuff. Happy Monday!

19 June 2015

Firsts

It's rather embarrassing to go back through to the beginning of my blog.  I was shooting with a little point-and-shoot camera and wasn't knowledgeable on aperture or shutter speed.  I had never written instructions for sewing something.  I didn't even know what html was.  I still don't, really.  But I've learned by trial and error, how to share with you, my friends, what I have pictured in my head.  Jess of The Sewing Rabbit has put together a post of firsts.  13 sewing bloggers share their first project post, and Jess kindly included what we've been doing more recently.  Remember this skirt?  I still wear it, despite the poor photography skills. Go see a bunch of blogger firsts here! And happy weekend. Do something that makes you smile.

12 June 2015

Summertime Chores

Every single summer I wonder how we're going to keep from going crazy being home together all day, yet we manage to do it.  I have these idealistic expectations that we are going to sit around, making things together, playing games, and spending hours at the beach and pool without any arguments and button pushing.  It never seems to play out that way.
I'm the kind of person who likes to be home.  I like to have projects to do and to get things done around the house.  Many of my kids are that way, but that doesn't mean there isn't contention and messes while we do it.  Growing up, we had "hour jobs" during the summer.  Sometimes they would be outside (usually doled out by my dad), sometimes they would be in the house (I preferred these ones: less sweat and dirt).  We've carried on the tradition, much to the dismay of my six little Dills, but they are also learning how to work and to Get.  Things.  Done.
They have to be out of bed by 8 and breakfast ends at 9, so the kitchen isn't a mess all morning long. I wanted more structure than just one job per day (this is in addition to their kitchen jobs).  So, on day one, I told them they were expected to do several things each day: 1-hour job, 1/2 hour exercise, 1/2 hour training Scout (did you know we got a dog?!), 1/2 hour reading scriptures.  They are required to do an hour job for 4 of the days and the fifth day they make lunch, which includes planning what they want to make, and letting me know so I can buy the ingredients.  We did this last year and I got tired of eating macaroni and cheese every lunch, so I told them they couldn't repeat any meals this summer.  We will see what that entails. ;)
I also made a chart this year so we can keep track of who has done what.  I trust them to be honest when putting stickers on, but they also help each other stay honest. ;)

Ideas for hour jobs:

Younger Kids

  • Clean front of cupboards
  • Wipe down doorknobs and light switch plates
  • Scrub baseboards
  • Scrub grout
  • Tidy toys
  • Weed
Older Kids

  • Clean out fridge
  • Organize cupboards and closets
  • Touch-up paint 
  • Sweep/mop rooms
  • Do laundry
  • Clean out garage
  • Vacuum/clean car
  • Wash windows
If they don't complain all week about their assigned chore, I let them choose what they want to do for their last hour job of the week.  They will usually get everything completed in the morning and have the rest of the day to do whatever they like.
On Friday, once they've completed their hour job, we go to the library, out to lunch (for those with their stickers filled up), and to the pool or beach.  Sometimes we get a movie for those post-swim cuddle times, too.  After lunch we have one hour of "quiet time".  I let them take turns spending their quiet time with me so they have some undivided attention from me, even if it's just one hour.  I told my mom that I though, if I can get them to do all this, I wonder what else I should put on that chart! ;)

Recently, Divine and Pearl went with their church leader to help clean the house of a woman who had lost her husband.  I received this text from their leader: I love, love, love your girls.  To the moon and back.  Seriously.  Pearl and I were in the presence of the dirtiest bathtub I've ever seen--I gasped when I pulled back the curtain! Pearl's first response to my gasp was to ask if I was okay! Anyway, she looked at the tub and matter-of-factly said she had Lemi Shine at home that could clean it.  It wasn't strong enough, but she just assessed the situation in search of a solution.  No judgment.  It was very impressive!  They worked hard and did a good job.  It was more fun because we did it together.  Just thought you should know.

Every once in a while you get a glimpse of doing something right as a mother and you think, okay, I can do another day of this parenting thing. What do you do for summertime chores?

14 May 2015

Butterflies Being Born!

We've been hatching up a storm around here.  Not chickens, but butterflies!  Several years ago we bought a butterfly hatching kit, complete with caterpillars that came in the mail.  There were about three and you'd think we were watching our favorite television series the way we sat in front of the butterfly house.
Last year, a friend (who actually raises caterpillars) told me that all I have to do is have what caterpillars like to eat in my yard and they will come!  No mail order necessary!
She gave us a milkweed plant and we've been harvesting caterpillars ever since.  The eggs might be mistaken as something else because they're SO small.  See that little white dot up there in the first photo? That's it!  
We got extra good at finding them this year, as you can see by the amount of chrysalises hanging from our butterfly house.
You may want to research what kind of caterpillars do well in your area, but here are three that we are planning to invite into our garden this year:

monarch = milkweed
gulf fritillary = passionflower
black swallowtail = parsley, fennel, dill ;)

We typically just try to bring in the caterpillars because sometimes the eggs don't hatch when the leaves are dry and crispy.  Once you bring in the caterpillar, provide some fresh leaves everyday until they've formed their chrysalis.  I'm excited to see what the different caterpillars' chrysalises look like.  I love the slight gold touch that the monarch uses.
When they're about to emerge, the chrysalis goes from green to black to clear.  And it emerges in less than 2 minutes.

As I was looking for a source for the butterfly house, I found one on Amazon here, if you want one made specifically for butterflies.  My friend told me that she actually just uses a pop-up hamper that zips! That one is actually bigger and half as much.
Aren't they stunning?!  Every butterfly amazes me.  I started to carry the container with me when they turn black, but I miss it every single time.  You can't pick the kids up from school, you can't go to the bathroom or take a shower.  That's when they'll decide to emerge.
Pearl set up Ryan's ipad in front of the habitat and filmed it for 41 minutes and finally caught the butterfly emerging.  She condensed it into a two minute video that we've watched at least a dozen times.  After the two minutes, the abdomen elongates and the wings spread.

28 April 2015

Hope Bringing Hope

Recently my sister emailed me the story of her dear friend's 21-month old daughter, Hope.  Hope was recently diagnosed with cancer, a malignant tumor the size of a baseball grows at the base of her spine. She has started chemo therapy and because of it will lose most of her hearing. Her name is so very apropos, as I read these tender emails from her parents.  
 An account from Hope's dad:
Hope’s second five-day round of chemotherapy is staring us in the face. Part healing angel and part poisonous dragon, its enigmatic gaze enthralls and haunts. Irresistibly, we draw closer. Tomorrow seems here today. Are we staring at life or death? Or both? We can’t be sure. As Paul wrote, “Now we see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12), which is why we “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We know that what we see is only part of the reality that God—who perceives time as we perceive space—sees for Hope. Therefore, despite the darkness, we trust in Him, whatever may come.

While we wait upon Him, He gives us “tender mercies” (see Psalm 145:9) to shine flecks of light through sacred cracks in our dark glass. Tonight was no exception. As I brushed Hope’s teeth in preparation for bedtime, I couldn’t help but notice how much hair she had lost in the past few days. Patchy and brittle, her remaining strawberry blonde wisps were a painful reminder of her mortality. I winced as I saw her hair covering my pants. Its strands were so frail and lifeless. Were they so many harbingers of the future? I grappled with the thought and found solace in the truth that “a hair of [her] head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:116). I felt that God was deeply aware of Hope’s journey—and my heartache over it—and He did “not leave [me] comfortless.” In a tender way, He came to me (see John 14:18) a few minutes later.

As I read Hope a cute board book from Aunt Ashley, I used my silliest voice to ask, “What does the owl say?” and Hope said, “Whoo, Whoo!” She giggled sweetly. The hair in her lap didn’t seem to bother her at all. Then I asked, “And what does the cow say?” “Moo, moo!” she responded proudly and grinned from ear to ear. At that moment, a picture of the Savior on her bedroom wall caught my attention, and I felt prompted by the Spirit to ask an unplanned question. “Hopie,” I stammered, trying not to give away my emotion, “what does Jesus say?” I had never asked her that question, and I had never heard anyone else ask her, either. As I waited with anticipation, she snuggled into my shoulder, opened wide her big blue eyes, and whispered, “Hold you. Jesus say, ‘Hold you.’”

I burst into tears. I gently pulled her little body into mine and hugged her as I sobbed deep, heavy sobs. I couldn’t stop. For several seconds, with her little, pudgy arms, she held me, too, and then whispered, “Love you, Dada.” I couldn’t help but feel that God had given us that moment for a special reason and that, once again, Jesus was holding our family in His loving arms.

A few minutes later, I held her up to the light switch, so she could turn off her bedroom lamp. After saying goodnight to the trees in our front yard and a blue glass star that hangs in her window, she put her head on my shoulder. I began to sing her favorite song: the LDS children’s hymn “I Am a Child of God.” For some reason, though, when I started, I sang, “Hope is a child of God, and He has sent her here,” instead of the normal lyrics “I am a child of God, and He has sent me here.” I felt that I should continue in the way in which I had begun, so I sang, “Has given her an earthly home with parents kind and dear. Lead her, guide her, walk beside her, help her find the way.” Then I stopped. I knew all too well which words came next and had already started to think about when the “someday” in “to live with Him someday” would come for Hope. I couldn’t finish the song without breaking into the same deep, heavy sobs from before.

I didn’t want to scare her, but I just couldn’t stop. I hugged her close. She pushed away because she wanted to see my face. I smiled as much as I could in between the tears. All I could say was, “I love you, Hopie. Daddy loves you. Daddy loves you so much.” My mind was full of the doctors’ solemn reports that the second round of chemotherapy was usually when Cisplatin began taking a devastating toll on a little one’s hearing. We had already noticed that her little voice had started to sound different, but she could still communicate so well. It was heartrending to contemplate life without that little voice and those little, functioning ears. And worse, it was gut-wrenching to imagine a silent room: one completely silent, without even the pitter-patter of little feet.

All of a sudden, Hope sliced through the darkness of the room and my overactive imagination with a truth: “Daddy silly! Daddy silly!!” Her happy voice, and the words she spoke, snapped me out of my mental paralysis. She was smiling. Her little hands held my face. They held my heart. She was right. Daddy was being silly, and I told her so. I had been mourning races that had not yet been lost and the ice of winter in the midst of summer’s breezes, rather than treasuring the hearing, breathing child who bounced happily in my arms and trusting in the possibility of an endless stream of happy eternities with Daddy’s little girl.

Even though her gentle reminder allowed me to finish the song by singing, “Teach her all that she must do to live with Him someday,” I knew that, in that moment, she had been the one teaching me. And I was just praying to learn from her. As I put her down in her crib and kissed her goodnight, she told me again, “Love you, Dada!” and then, with a wry smile, pointed to the feeding tube in her nose, giggled, and whispered, “Tube nose!” In the darkness that seemed so much lighter than before, we held hands and laughed together for a perfect moment. Gentle, rolling tears trickled down my cheeks and wet her blanket, but this time they were tears of joy: joy for the Lord’s many tender mercies in my life, especially the twenty-one-month-old one in the crib beside me.
★     ★     ★     ★     ★     ★     ★     ★     ★     ★     ★     ★     ★     ★     ★     ★     ★     ★

Just moments later, this joyful update came from Hope's mom.  The tears began to roll as I read it: 
Even with the challenges of this hospital stay, though, Nick and I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. There has always been hope through the Atonement that all will be well regardless the outcome of this cancer. There will always be that hope. I can't even tell you the peace that comes with knowing that God is in control of this situation. As powerless as I may sometimes feel in this life  (and yes, the powerlessness can feel very profound when one has to watch a little child as precious and innocent as Hope suffer the effects of cancer and treatments), the knowledge that God knows the end from the beginning, that He knows and loves Hope even more than we do, and that what He allows/does in her life is really according to His plan and purposes for her fills us with the resolve that we need to move forward with a faith that carries us from day to day.

My favorite scripture for the past couple of years comes from the Book of Mormon: "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me" (Moroni 7:33). I have tried so hard to live this scripture in the daily challenges of life. Sometimes I fail in my efforts to be as faithful as I desire. But in this particular experience, I have felt and witnessed the truth of this promise from the Savior. He has seen that in this trial it is expedient for us to receive His power, and that power has poured from heaven like water from a faucet onto my parched soul, filling me with His love and with spiritual and physical strength beyond my meager abilities. I can rejoice with Alma and his people that the Lord has "ease[d] the burdens which are put upon [our] shoulders," and I can witness that the Lord is a god of truth, and when He has said, "I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions," (Mosiah 24:14) His promise is sure.

Now, on top of that unfailing power and hope stemming from the Atonement, we have hope that Hope's cancer fight is going in the right direction. The doctors decided to do an ultrasound on Hope's bladder yesterday so they could determine if the tumor had shrunk sufficiently to allow regular urination. They were hopeful that the tumor had responded enough so they could pull the catheter out, allowing Hope to have a more comfortable life and to decrease her chances of infection. We had seen enough evidence of shrinkage to also hope that this would be the case, but we never expected the news that our oncologist would bring us that evening.

The first news is that the tumor has shrunk enough to allow normal bladder function. During a chaotic diaper change, I ended up with urine all over me and wept at the sight. She has been urinating regularly for the first time in weeks. This alone is a miracle. She has also been sitting on her bottom more often, which is something she had completely given up on. This, to me, is another miracle that has filled me to the brim. But we were overwhelmed with the additional news that the tumor has responded so readily to the first round of chemo that it has decreased 70% from its original size. The chemical count in her bloodstream emitted from cancer cells has plummeted from 38,000 to a mere 1,300. I don't think anything could have prepared us for such results. The doctor was all smiles. This, he said, is the best anyone could ever hope for from only one round of chemo. We see it as nothing short of an incredible miracle. 
Hope can now fight and give us her classic "I'm done with you" look all she wants. We are joyful. All our efforts are making a difference. God is with her, allowing miracles to pave the way for her life on this earth. The road is still long. The plan is to have Hope undergo four rounds of chemotherapy before surgery in early July. We have side-effects to manage and difficult conversations to have with doctors and surgeons about how what we do now could possibly affect her future. We still do not know the end of this journey, but we rejoice this day that initial efforts have not been in vain and that this girl has a chance to come out on top. Regardless of the ultimate outcome of this war, we thank God for the battles that He has helped us fight and win. We thank God for his miracles, and we thank God for Hope! 
In the words of my sister, hold on to your little ones a little tighter and enjoy the moments--good, bad, messy, funny, heartbreaking, breathtaking and everything in between. Life is sure to happen and can change so quickly. 

24 April 2015

Creativity: Start Now

So this is where all their money is going.  My kids have had a sudden urge to earn money and then take walks down to the dollar store.  They've also been digging holes on the side of the house that is rarely seen.  Just digging and digging.  They've created a mermaid lagoon.  Didn't we all have that need to dig when we were little?  There was really no purpose other than to make a hole where there wasn't one, and then we'd figure out what we wanted that hole to become.  Not much has changed, really.  We all have a desire to create something that didn't exist before.  What has changed, however, is the ability to just begin.  We want it to not only be picture perfect, but pinterest-perfect. I feel like I need to have a clear picture of what the outcome should be, details worked out, and a nice clean summation of a project before I even start!  Sometimes my best projects start out with failures that have to be remedied by creative solutions and improvisations.  So, let's start digging holes!  The details can come later.  Just pick up that shovel (or fabric or paint brush or measuring cup or fill-in-the-blank your tool of preference) and begin.  What do we have to lose?

17 April 2015

Rainbowtized Planters for the Family

The previous owner of this house loved to garden, winning several "Garden of the Month" awards from our tiny city.  We have an acre of land and have found all sorts of gardening treasures, some half buried and broken, some just in need of a little TLC. And spray paint. Of course.
There was a giant stack of these old, faded green planters that I thought I'd spruce up, rainbowtize and give one to each of the kids in which to garden.  
I set them along the railing, and as we enter and exit each day, we inspect (and sometimes compare) the little sprouts. I think that's the key, to have them somewhere we see daily. Olive is winning with her giant cucumber sprouts, Divine's purple flowers have yet to make an appearance, and everyone else's are somewhere in between.  Clover jumps for joy (literally) and claps her hands each time she sees something new happening in her little square foot plot.  We had to learn that plants can actually get too much water sometimes. ;)
Check back in a month or two and we may just have watermelons growing on our porch!

15 April 2015

Easy, Professional Looking Maxi Skirt-DIY

Did you know there was such a month as National Serger Month?! I only learned of it this year, or I would have been celebrating all my life.  BabyLock has put together a free pattern book, all about sewing with a serger.  I have this easy Maxi Skirt included.  
Materials: 2-2 1/2 yards knit fabric
thread
waist circumference plus 1" of 1"-3" (depending on preference) elastic

1-Start by cutting an A-line skirt, flaring it as much as you prefer.  Cut the waist half your waist measurement adding 1/2" on both sides for seam allowance. I use my measuring tape to keep a straight line from the waist to the hem.
2-Cut your waistband double the width of your chosen size elastic, adding 1/2" on both sides.  The elastic as well as the waistband fabric should be the circumference of your waist plus 1".
3-Serge the waistband and the two sides of the skirt, right sides together.  Zig-zag stitch the elastic, overlapping 1/2".
4-Wrap waistband over elastic, lining up the seams.  Make sure the elastic is pressed up against the fold crease and that the raw edges of the fabric are lined up.
5-Pin the waistband to the skirt, RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER, lining the seem up in the center back of the skirt.
6-Serge waistband to skirt, stretching the fabrics, if necessary, to feed evenly through the serger.
7-Hem using a coverstitch on your serger, or a double needle on your sewing machine.  And there you have a covered, professional looking waistband maxi skirt!
Olive now matches my painted patio and I might make her just stay there so I can admire the coordination of the two. ;)


14 April 2015

I Wish My Life Had A Soundtrack

I lay awake at nights, thinking of all the posts I ought to do, posts I want to do, believe you me, there are lots, yet this space has been sitting quiet.  I've vowed that will change (because it's National Serging Month, did you know there was such a thing?!) and to start things off, or rather REstart things off, I wanted needed to share this video with you.  My brother-in-law, Craig, summarized all the fun we had at our family reunion last year with his GoPro video camera.  It makes me want to get one! (Notice he jumps in the water with it!)  I'm glad he added a soundtrack so you can't hear me singing...

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21 February 2015

Crushed Cans and Katy's Theory of Ratio Relativity

Thank you checking up on me with my long, unintentional absence here.  Whenever Ryan mentions he misses reading my blog thoughts, I know it's long overdue for a post.

We have a backyard hotdog/s'mores roast on the first Monday of each month.  It began when we moved into Magnolia Manor and had a backyard large enough to actually enjoy.  We use it as an "excuse" to invite others over because it's such an easy dinner...plus I don't have to clean my house to enjoy it.  I suppose you could say it's one of our new traditions, and traditions, as Ryan recently reminded me, are what the kids will remember.

One particular evening we had grapefruit juice to counteract, or at least help balance the negative effects of our hotdogs (all natural!).  Clover drank one up, ripped the tab off, and crushed it.  Now perhaps she was overly tired, or it was just one of those days, which even 6 year-olds have, but after seeing her cute little can crushed, she was immediately regretful.  She began to cry big, body-heaving sobs of sadness that she had crumpled her can.  I told her we could recycle it and that she would become new, bright and shiny.  This only increased the volume of the drama.  The rest of us, in hushed tones, wondered aloud why she was emotionally attached to her piece of tin, and stifled giggles that accompanied the amusement of the whole situation.  As I shooed her off to get showered and in bed, the can went with her.  She clutched it with her might, convinced that her gentle caressing would undo her actions.  She only let it out of her hands as Olive kindly offered to draw a face on it, personifying the recyclable even more. As she was getting in bed, she told me she was going to sleep with it.  

My first reaction was to laugh and lay down the law of being the parent, you are not going to sleep with a sticky, crumpled can.  But, in that moment we're often given as parents to change our gut reaction to what should be the rightful action, I agreed, because it all comes down to math.  To me, this was nothing more than Monday night hysterics of a 6 year-old, to be forgotten with the morning rush of school lunches and car line.  To Clover, it was much more than that.  While my worries and joys might seem bigger to me than hers are to her, I realized that they are the same ratio.  Her worries of homework and friends being mean versus the joys of having a playdate or being invited to a birthday party are very much the same ratio as mine, thus they are very much equal.  I was grateful that my mind worked faster than my mouth in this moment, that little grace to say the right thing.

I found this under the bathroom vanity yesterday and vowed to remember that her ratio is just as important as mine.  As is everyone's.

18 December 2014

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Do you need a last minute gift for your favorite foodie?!  Something homemade, but that doesn't take months to knit: Vanilla Extract! 
As simple as it is, it's super satisfying to use vanilla extract that has actual vanilla beans floating around.
We like to buy a vodka bottle that is simple and can be used for the extract (just remove the label).  Simply slit 5 (plus or minus a few) vanilla beans on one side so the vanilla seeds can seep out into the vodka.
No matter how many times I use a vanilla bean, I am still fascinated by the amount of seeds they contain, all the while breathing deeply that scent that is never recreated exactly.
Over time the infusion (and color saturation) gets stronger.  We refill our bottle with new vodka and more vanilla beans as we use it over time and just keep it going like a marathon.  You could even engrave it for a more personalized touch.
Tie a tidy bow and hand it over to a very happy (spoiled) foodie! ;)

17 December 2014

Stella Nova: The Game

**Edit: click through this link to get $10 off your purchase of Stella Nova through the end of the year!**

My kids are finally getting old enough where we can play board games other than Chutes 'n Ladders and Candyland.  We are embarking on some fun, new territory in game land.  
I know that a lot of people have the tradition of getting a new family game for Christmas each year, and I have happened upon a really great one, for several reasons.  Stella Nova means New Star, and it's a strategic game of wise men traveling to bring baby Jesus their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.  There are two categories of questions: Bible questions, specifically the story of Christ's birth (which are the easier of the two, and which include a bible reference if needed) and the second category being History & Geography, which will test even the most knowledgeable, but fun to be able to learn new facts.
You obtain provisions along the way to help you in your travels, navigating robbers, sandstorms, and fog.  Then you gather the three gifts before making your final destination to Bethlehem. One of my favorite things about Stella Nova is the absolute solid construction.  The board and game pieces are not flimsy, withstanding even the little hands of Drummer, and the box is sturdy enough to last many many Christmases to come.  
The kids have begged to play every day since we got it.  I would suggest kids 10+ are able to play unassisted, and we paired the younger kids with the older kids to help roll dice and answer questions.  The only things I would suggest is reading through all the directions before you attempt to play with the kids.  I thought we could just learn as we went along, but finally had the kids take a break while I read through the whole instruction sheet so we could play correctly.  We also had many jokes about the city Kush. ;)
Stella Nova will definitely be a game we look forward to pulling out each Christmas as a new tradition to be reminded of all that transpired around the birth of Christ. Meanwhile, someone ought to get going on all the pajama sewing that needs to be done before Christmas Eve... ;)

10 December 2014

Christ Themed Advent

Maybe it's because we lived in all-carpeted apartments and houses every time I was pregnant that I can't stand the smell of vacuums.  I admit to splurging on those scented vacuum bags to help mask the smell.  But that's when December comes into the picture.  We get our Christmas tree and all pine needles must be vacuumed.  Give that tree a hard shake before putting on the lights and trimming it with baubles and bells, then suck all the needles to make vacuuming happen more than frequently enough until it's time to change the bag again. ;)
This year we've started something new, a grand thanks to my mom.  She gathered 25 varying pieces of artwork to depict the life of Christ and printed corresponding scriptures on the back.  Instead of our regular scripture study, we take turns each morning reading one while holding a battery operated candle.  It's so wonderful to read about His life in such a condensed period of time, nudging my mind to think on Him more. I am hoping my mom makes these available for purchase next year because they are the very best type of count down to the celebration of Christ's birth.  I'll let you know when she does....;)
I came across this quote in a book I'm reading that really felt good: I am suspect of tidy history and squeaky clean people.  I believe Jesus Christ was perfect--not because He never got mad or always made everyone feel good.  He didn't.  He was perfect because He was the most grown up grown-up who has ever lived.  His responses to people and situations were consistently mature, principled, and selfless. -Neylan McBaine
He acknowledged that we all falter and make mistakes and lovingly encouraged us to be better.  It's hard for me to admit that the only person I can change is myself, because it hearts my heart to watch my children choose wrongly, but just as Christ allows us to make mistakes, he also made it possible to fix those mistakes, which is what I hope my kids will learn.  Nobody is a hopeless case.  There is hope enough to go around. :)

28 November 2014

Just For You: I'm in a book! {and a giveaway}

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We spent much of it on the beach enjoying a most beautiful day.  We don't do turkey, but we certainly didn't starve. ;)

It was so surreal when I brought the mail in from the mailbox, opened the manilla envelope to see me in a book! 
It's a book Just For You.  Not your kids, but you.  All types of projects, from clothes to accessories to phone covers. It's subtitled Selfish Sewing, but I don't think it's selfish to sew for one's self. It's important to do, in fact!
My project in the book is a faux leather belt, and you can see my silly fabric peeking bio picture.  It's not quite as professional as everyone else, but that's how I am, right? ;)  There are projects that just require measuring and there is also a sheet of patterns in the back for the more complex projects, something for everyone's skill level. :)
It was so fun to flip it over and see my friends Delia, Disney and Jessica's names on the back with mine!  And did you notice my matching nails with the dress?  Serendipitous! 
You can find it on Amazon and you can also win a copy right here! You can also win fabric for 4 projects over here.

+Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win. Answer this question: what would you like to see on my blog? What are your favorite types of posts?
+Enter until December 5th
+Open to everyone internationally!  U.S. winner will receive the actual hard copy, everyone else will receive the digital copy.