Guest Book Quilt

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Last fall we had a 70th anniversary party for my grandparents. My Meemaw and Pappy are just so spunky and we are so blessed to have them in our lives and in great health! My Pap makes quite an impression. He says the wildest things and tells the funniest stories. He has a knack for finding amazing deals and making a quick profit. He also makes wooden crosses in his workshop and carries them in his pocket to give away. My Meemaw is such a sweetheart and, although she might flare her nostrils at him from time to time, she tolerates his antics with a little smile. She still sings in the choir and volunteers at church. She comes to as many of her great-grandchildren's sporting events as she can. (Her senior admission card is falling apart but she is so proud of it!) She pretty much just radiates sweetness and love.

70th anniversary guest book quilt

We celebrated their anniversary (and Pap's 90th birthday) with a party last fall. As an alternative to a guest book, I offered to make a quilt. I had several charm packs (sets of assorted 5" squares of fabric) that I had won in giveaways and I cut some additional 5" blocks from solid white. The guests used fabric markers to sign the squares or add a special message.

Then, after letting them sit on my desk for a few months, I finally got around to making the quilt. I just did basic patchwork, arranging the squares pretty randomly and even using the unsigned squares in case anyone wants to sign it later. I added a white border and then did free motion quilting. I am not very good at free motion quilting. I need a lot more practice. I basically just decided that finished was better than perfect.

It is just a lap size quilt. I probably could have added in some other quilt squares to make it bigger, but I kind of just picture this draped over Meemaw's couch or Pap covering up with it while sitting on his recliner. :)

I was running out of daylight to take these pics- and we had snow- but I am going to now bombard you with quilt pictures because this was a fun project and it has been awhile since I actually finished a quilt:

Scrappy Guest Book Quilt

70th Anniversary Autograph Quilt

Scrappy Guest Book Quilt Idea

 

Anniversary Party Guest Book Signed Quilt

How to make a guest book quilt...

Make a guest book quilt using charm packs!

Charm squares make an easy guest book alternative quilt!

Instead of a guest book have each guest sign a quilt square- great way to use charm packs!

If you would like to pin this idea for later... I mean, it isn't anything super original, but it will get much more use than a regular guest book and the charm squares did make it significantly easier!

Guest Book Quilt Idea- use charm packs and a fabric marker!

Raising Farm Kids

Spring is in full swing here with flowers, rain, baby animals, pollen allergies, and softball games. We seem to always go from one busy season or challenge to another. I don't think things will ever settle down, so I need to learn to embrace the busy and enjoy where we are in life. Our garden is woefully behind schedule but the animals are doing well. The new additions are three adorable Hereford calves, 75 chicks, five keets (guineas), and eight kittens.

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I love that our children can experience farm life. We make a lot of sacrifices to try a little bit of farming, but there are so many rewards. Our kids can go out in the yard and play ball anytime they want; there is so much room to run and play. The animals are a great resource for learning about biology.  (Sometimes their teachers and classmates are a bit taken aback by the graphic, veterinary terminology used in sharing time!) They learn how to work hard and will hopefully be able to appreciate everything that goes into raising/growing food. Farm kids also learn to drive on tractors.

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We may not have the newest and best of everything, but these experiences are priceless. I know as they get older and their classmates flaunt cell phones and gadgets and all the brand names it gets harder for them. Those things will only last so long. Memories and knowledge will last much longer.

Getting My Act Together

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At the beginning of the year I was challenged to come up with a word to focus on this year. I couldn't really come up with a specific word, but I had the general idea that I wanted to "get my act together."

I bought a cute planner and decided I was going to be organized. I love my planner and it is a great start, but sometimes it gets lost on the mess of my desk. I wanted to get the entire house decluttered, but stalled out before tackling the bedrooms. I had all of these grand ideas that if I could get the house organized and cleaned, if I could tackle the laundry pile I call Mount Washmore, if I could send out birthday cards on time, if I could finish all of my half-completed craft projects, if I could be on time for everything, if I could get a healthy supper on the table at a reasonable time each night, if, if, if... And guess what? It isn't happening. That is not real life. We have 6 kids and a little wanna-be farm. I try, but something will always be a mess and I can't get everything done.

Just because everything isn't Pinterest-perfect doesn't mean that I am failing. I am such a perfectionist about certain things, as I have confessed before, and I am slowly chipping away, learning to let go. I get to a point where I completely run myself into the ground. So, really, "getting my act together" is more about getting my attitude together and prioritizing.

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I didn't sew the rest of the Easter dresses on time again this year. I ordered some fabric that came a few days ago and I didn't want to stress myself out to get them done. So I didn't. Instead, we made a ton of peanut butter eggs and did a lot of cleaning, both of which were very necessary.  We didn't get to any egg hunts besides the ones at family gatherings because of vehicle problems. Instead, the girls played outside and we painted our toenails on the sidewalk.  Probably the most shocking... I didn't give my kids anything in their Easter baskets. It was a personal decision to combat a materialistic attitude some of them have been displaying.  (When did Easter become the spring version of Christmas?)  Instead, we opened resurrection eggs on Easter morning as a family and took turns reading from the Bible.

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This Easter I think I found a little more peace. I realized that I can't get everything done, so I have to choose what is important to me. I can let go of some traditions that aren't working, postpone them, or even just take a break from them. I am pretty sure that my kids aren't going to be scarred for life because they missed out on a chocolate bunny. A few years ago I would have been up all night sewing to get dresses finished and baskets filled. This year, I curled up on the couch with a book waiting to shower and relaxed! I can see that part of getting my act together isn't doing more, but learning to be OK with doing less.

An Imperfectly Merry Christmas

It has been awhile. I know. I have been super busy, so I have a lot to update here on the blog. If you are looking for something crafty, there is not so much of that in this post. However, I feel the need to do more writing about real life.

In November, I was asked to be a part of a MOPS panel on Holiday traditions and encouraging thankfulness and kindness in our children. I did mention some of the things that our family does, but I also confessed many of the ways I have messed up over the years struggling to keep up with traditions that weren't working and striving for Pinterest-worthy Christmas perfection. I have come to realize that I need to simplify many areas of my life.

A few weeks later, a last-minute, long term subbing position came up at the elementary school. I thought it sounded like fun and a good challenge for me! I love staying home with my youngest, but this was only for a few weeks leading up until Christmas and it helped our family financially.

There were so many things that I never saw coming...

First, I remembered how much I miss teaching!

Second, I am now a coffee drinker.

Third, there were some extra challenges for our family. I knew it would be hard and that we would all have to pitch in to make it work. Oh, but we faced trials that left me scratching my head and wondering why I ever thought I should take this position. Seriously. It was the worst possible timing. I was broken and humbled, stressed out and reduced to tears. But, I had to put it aside and put on a smile for my class because that is what they needed.

On my last day, I mentioned my pefectionistic tendencies and someone was surprised that I still had any of that left with having six children. It dawned on me that with so many of the things I had been going through, I had no other choice but to let go of some of my perfectionism over the past few weeks. I can see that more and more of it has been chipping away over time, with a larger chunk knocked off more recently.

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For our school's Christmas Around the World, we presented the country of Italy. One of the things that we taught the students was about the legend of La Befana. Here is the gist of it... La Befana was an old woman who was very dedicated to cleaning her house. The three wise men stopped to ask directions to Bethlehem and invited her to come with them to see the Christ Child. She was too busy sweeping her house, so she declined. However, that night when she saw the great light in the sky she realized her mistake. She grabbed a bag with some toys that had belonged to her own child and ran to catch up with the wise men. She ran so fast that she began to fly on her broomstick. She never could find the Christ Child, so instead she leaves gifts in the stockings of the children of Italy each year.

This really made me think. I may not be consumed with having a perfectly clean house (a great housekeeper I am not!), but I do get wrapped up in my tasks and my quest for perfection in other areas instead of seeking Christ.

Last year, I ruined Christmas Eve for my family with a meltdown/tantrum that involved my failure to sew new stockings, a poor movie choice by others, an attempted new tradition of Christmas pajamas that were opened without me, complete flipping out, tears, and apologies. It was MY FAULT, MY PERFECTIONISM, MY SELFISHNESS. I promised myself that this year would be better.

But, to do that, I had to let go and simplify.

Instead of stockings, which I still haven't made, I stuffed everything in gift bags. I even let the kids help wrap each others' gifts (although they were threatened to maintain secrecy). It was a way for the girls and I to get some one-on-one time together on Christmas Eve Eve and they loved being in on the Christmas secrets. We had a Merry Christmas!

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How to wrap earmuffs!

I hardly did any decorating. I let the kids put things wherever they wanted. Less hassle for me. More fun for them. My pumpkins and mums were still on the porch up until Christmas Day, when the boys took the pumpkins away... to use them for target practice. My poinsettia lost all of its leaves, but the girls liked seeing the new growth on it and won't let me throw it out. Even without fabulous decorations, we STILL had a Merry Christmas!

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I hand delivered a lot of our Christmas cards and the rest were last-minute or late. I am sure the recipients did not love them any less and I bet they still had a Merry Christmas!

I started decorating our tree with colored lights and changed my mind halfway through. Then, the white lights stopped working on half of the strand. I planned to fix it later, but while I was upstairs, the girls decorated it. The ribbon was perfectly spaced, but the few ornaments they put on did not match. I never had time to fix it, so we were left with a very original tree that made people smile. It was still a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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So, things might be a hot mess around here, but letting go of my own ridiculous ideas and perfectionism feels so freeing. I am so grateful for even those awful trials that helped me to simplify this year!

Merry Christmas!

 

 

What Moms Really Need for Mother's Day

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I want to be totally honest.

I am not Super Mom.

Things are not always sunshine and roses around here. Yes, I squeeze in a lot of crafty things, but there are a lot of things I don't do.

When it comes to school, I am one of those slacker moms.

I don't check my kids' school folders. Yes, I know that I should. The first kid or two I was all over that. Now, not so much. If I get to it once or twice a week that is pretty good for me.

I don't do the homework thing. They need to learn to be responsible. I might as well start them young. Kindergarten homework is the worst. It is really homework for me. We are supposed to read X number of books during the month. I don't even know where April's calendar is. My brain is still back in March and now the calendar says May!?!

I don't keep a very clean house. Now, it isn't something that could be reported to the authorities, but there are cobwebs and dust bunnies and please, oh, please, don't ever look under the couch cushions. The kids have there own methods of "cleaning" so just don't look. Things get cluttered up. That is an ongoing battle around here. I mop, but clean floors never last, and it even gets me locked out of the house in my nightie if I am not careful! (See that story here.)

I don't weed my flower beds. OK, I do weed them sometimes, but I am losing the battle here. I have to do some major work in those. Every other year I seem to find myself pregnant or having a young baby and that one in between year there was a yellow jacket nest... Excuses, I know. I like flowers, but you will only ever see me taking pictures of the pretty flowers up close- there are too many weeds underneath them.

I don't keep up on the mending, even though I sew. I reserve the iron for quilting and sewing- clothes go in the dryer or you are on your own. My husband knows how to starch his own shirts if he so chooses. I am happy if the clothes are washed. Line drying and/or folding earns me bonus points.

I don't keep my temper in check. I yell at the kids, at my husband, at other people when I am driving (although I have now scaled that back to calling them names that my Kindergartener might use and, yes, I called someone a "stupid stoopeyhead" and a "dummy" yesterday.) I even throw a tantrum sometimes.

But, I am doing the best that I can. And you know what? I bet you are, too.

C.S. Lewis said that Motherhood is the Ultimate Career. Well, I think it is also the Ultimate Challenge.

Mother's Day is coming up this month and everyone makes a big deal about getting Mom a nice gift- maybe flowers or a card or chocolate (hint, hint). I think what a mom really needs is some grace, compassion, encouragement, appreciation,...

And maybe some sleep. Oh, wait. Sleep? What is that? How did that get in there?

But, seriously, let's try to encourage each other and build each other up. Us moms can either criticize and judge (I am guilty right here) or we can  recognize that we may do things differently but we all love our children.

And while we are at it, let's cut ourselves some slack, too. Yes, we mess up. I mess up A LOT. This is the toughest job there is, after all. I can either dwell on it, or I can learn from it, ask for forgiveness, hope that my kids don't need counseling, and move on. They say the days are long, but the years are short. Yes, they are much too short for this negativity junk. In the words of Elsa, "Let it go!"

Happy Mother's Day!