Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tips on Making Your Home a Refuge

"Ahhh. It's good to be home!" my husband said when he returned home from work.

"Are we going anywhere today?" my son asked. 
"No. Today is a stay-at-home day," I replied.
"Oh good!" he responded.

Does your family like being home? Or are they anxious to get out of there because it's not restful but chaotic? A restful, peaceful, home is a refuge for your family. They will love being home, and coming home, and simply being together when the environment and the tone of its management is positive.

So how do you get there? I'll be honest... it takes effort. The second law of thermodynamics is that "entropy always increases" or in other words, "everything tends to disorder". It's true, isn't it? Have you ever seen a child's room automatically stay clean? But a place that is desirable to live in looks welcoming, inviting, orderly, fun, and most of all is full of love and acceptance.

A home that is a refuge is a home where parenting is proactive. Establishing rules ahead of time on playtime and clean-up will give the boundaries. Planning special events, family times, creative times help make home a fun place to be. If you find yourself always playing catch-up, always after the kids who never seem to listen to clean up their messes, or resigning to clutter as status quo, then you are going about home management reactively.

Here are some tips to get turned around:

 *Begin with a schedule of a typical day. Wake people up about the same time each day, and then plan to go to bed about the same time each day. Avoid letting the kids "graze" for their meals. Instead establish three set meal times and do what you can to eat together. 

* In that set schedule there should be times for chores. We usually had a few regular chores in the morning before school, such as making your bed, gathering laundry, feeding the pets, etc. In the afternoon, however, we tackled bigger chores such as vacuuming, dusting, wiping bathroom, etc. And of course, after supper chores always included washing dishes, sweeping the floor, wiping the table, etc.

* Always leave a sizeable chunk of the day for playing and pretending. You can encourage play with proactively pre-planning what they might choose to do by setting out dress-up clothes, tea sets, building sets, cars and trucks, etc. You don't need to set out all of their toys at once, but something different each day.

* After play time there should be a pick up time. Pick-up time can be fun if you set a timer and see how fast they can do it. Be sure to have them pick up all of their toys every day before dinner so your home looks and feels peaceful for a nice meal together. I didn't want my husband coming home from work each evening having to navigate his way across the room as though he needed to hack his way through a jungle so we tried to do a pick up before he walked in the door.

* Plan fun times together. Dinner time is a great time to do fun things - how about a game? How about a discussion on a current event? How about asking everyone to bring a new fact to share? 

* Let your evenings be family times. Read books, play a game (hide and seek anyone?), take a walk, do devotions, sing together. This of course implies that your outside evening meetings and appointments are kept to a minimum.

* I've always hated the title of "housekeeper" to describe what I do (it's HOMEMAKER, thank you!) but admittedly there is a certain amount of housekeeping that you have to do. I found it much more manageable when I allocated the biggies for each day - so for example I mopped on Mondays, changed bedsheets on Tuesdays, etc. So when a dirty floor was staring at me in the face I could let it go knowing I was getting to it on Monday. I preferred to not leave it all for one day. However you choose to do it you absolutely have to keep up or it gets away from you - it's that entropy thing.

* And really... once your routine is established and your children are trained to help it doesn't take long. And then your home looks nice. And looking nice is key. I know this because I noticed that after I cleaned one room the kids would be in there. Then I would clean the room they vacated and as soon as that was cleaned they'd be in there again. You see, they loved being in cleaned spaces! And my husband does too. So instead of harboring bitterness about it, I served joyfully because in the end they all loved being home.

And now for a refashion...

Who wears slips? I do! But they're hard to find in the store because most women don't bother wearing them anymore. I think slips are necessary when you're wearing thin fabric dresses but so many of my dresses that I've recently updated are shorter than my slip! Have you ever had someone whisper to you, "Your slip is showing!" I never understood why people think a slip showing is not socially acceptable but a bra strap or boob is fine. Hmmm.

Anyway... I refashioned a lacy slip so it would fit better underneath my dresses:

I can't seem to find my "before" pic but all I did was cut off the last seven inches of the slip which included a nice lace trim. So I chopped off the lace that was on the bottom and resewed it back on the slip. In essence I shortened the slip by 4 inches.

Now I can wear my dresses with a slip that fits!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Calgon and Curtains

"Calgon - take me away!"

I recently texted that to my daughter after a crazy afternoon spent with school kids. She responded, "??" I realized she hadn't seen a Calgon commercial. They go back to the 70s and 80s.

What parent hasn't had a Calgon moment? And yes, a wonderful bubble bath helps to regroup and de-stress.

Proactive parenting requires that you take care of yourself so you have the wherewithal to manage your children. I am so sad when another parent rolls his eyes at the thought of caring for kids: "I can't stand 2 of them, how did you ever manage 4?" or "I'm dreading the summer... what will we do all summer long?"  If you've ever gotten to this point then you are parenting reactively not proactively. Check out my Summer Ideas page here.

Take time out regularly so you are never short with the kids. Go out on dates with your spouse, take regular walks, bubble baths, quiet times for prayer and Bible study, etc. The English have their tea time. The rich have their cocktail hour. The Mexicans have their siestas. We can all learn from them! I began a habit to stop what I was doing about 3pm every afternoon to just sit and drink a cup of tea. It felt so good! Then I was recharged to take on the evening.

Sewing is my creative outlet that uses another part of my brain and truly helps me relax. Here is a creation for you...

This is a simple yet elegant window treatment sewn from hand embroidered linen napkins.

First I opened the napkins and gave them a good pressing. Then I placed them at a diamond shape, and folded over the top corner of each one.
 Next I laid them out side by side, overlapping slightly. Then I simply stitched a wide seam straight across to allow a spring-loaded rod to go through.

The result is a beautiful vintage valence for your window. It allows plenty of sunlight!


Monday, July 11, 2016

Refashioners Challenge 2016

The Refashioners Challenge 2016 is here! This year it is a challenge to make something new out of old jeans. Find out about the contest here. The contest runs through August and September and you are to post your creation on the refashioner's pinterest board or through instagram.
I have already decided what I will do. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 9, 2016


"If you can't say somethin' nice don't say nothin' at all!" says Thumper in the movie, Bambi. What a great message for kids! But wait... hmm... it's a great message for adults too.

The lyrics from a song by Hawk Nelson called, "Words" expertly points out what words do: 
They've made me feel like a prisoner
They've made me feel set free
They've made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king
They've lifted my heart
To places I'd never been
And they've dragged me down
Back to where I began
Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out
Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don't wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You.

Words have likely brought us where we are today. I remember overhearing my grandmother say to my dad, "When Gail sets her mind on something she really can do it! Where there's a will there's a way!" And that sums up the course of my life - I've always been determined to get places and if I didn't know how- I learned. Those words and the encouragement behind them were wind beneath my wings. After I had my first baby I said to my mom, "I love him so much!" and she replied, "That's how I always felt about you!" Wow. How could I ever go wrong in life with such love and confidence in my choices?

So, what are YOU saying to your kids? Are they words of discouragement, anger, disappointment, or fear and anxiety? I hope you are speaking words that build them up. Fill them with truth - that they are loved, wanted, gifted, and fun to be with!

And now ... a fashion for you:

This is a summer shift made from colorful fabric from Sew Over It. I used a downloadable pattern from the shop, which is in London. 

Downloadable patterns are nice in that you can quickly get a pattern without waiting for a paper pattern to be mailed to you. The hard part is that they are printed from your printer onto 8 x 11 sheets of paper that you have to tape together carefully and then cut out the pieces. 

I wanted to compare Lisa Comfort's shift dress pattern (Sew Over It) with a similar shift pattern from New Look that I bought at Joann Fabrics. You can read my complete review here. The short of it is that  I made a couple of mistakes due to my unclear understanding of Lisa's directions. New Look was pretty easy to follow and took me under 4 hours to complete, but Sew Over It took a little longer, however it was very fun and versatile. The next one I make will be a wiz since I'll know what I'm doing!


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Training Children to be Parents

So, did you take a course in school to learn to be a parent?
Did you major in Parenting?
Maybe you sat in on a workshop or a seminar on disciplining techniques?

If you did, congratulations! But chances are you learned parenting from the school of hard knocks, by trial and error, and by the seat of your pants. And since most of us parent similarly to the way we were parented, we learned from our own parents.

Which brings me to my main thought for the day.... you are training your kids to be parents!

When I stop and let this sink in, I am overwhelmed, awed, and I tremble in fear and trepidation.

Our kids will talk to their kids the way we talk to them. Our kids will express anger, exhibit stress, manage their time and money, and even crack jokes the way we do. What would change in our discipline if we remembered that our kids might speak to their kids exactly the way we speak to them?

My friend grieved when he confessed calling his son, "You stupid!" He instantly remembered his own father calling him that and the pain that caused him.

And what could be different in our children's life decisions if our own were more self-controlled or righteous?

Another friend was confronted with his own chaos of life management when his daughter seemed to escape their home by running into the arms of a young man whose anger issues concerned him. Another friend has deep concerns about her adult son who can't seem to get off his computer to find a job. She realized her distant relationship with her own parents contributed to the lack of communication with her own son.

The Cat in the Cradle, hauntingly makes my point:
My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and there were bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away

And he was talking 'fore I knew it and as he grew
He'd say, "I'm gonna be like you, dad
You know, I'm gonna be like you"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when
We'll get together then, son, you know we'll have a good time then"

When my son turned ten just the other day
Said, "Thanks for the ball, dad, come on and let's play
Can you teach me to throw?" I said, "Not today
I got a lot to do" he said, "That's okay"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
Said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know, I'm gonna be like him"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when
We'll get together then, son, you know we'll have a good time then"

Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head and he said with a smile
"What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later
Can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when
But we'll get together then, dad, We're gonna have a good time then"

Well, I've long since retired and my son's moved away
Called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time"
"You see, my new job's a hassle and the kid's got the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"

And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

eah, and the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when
But we'll get together then, dad, we're gonna have a good time then."

So what can your do now to be the best parent for your children who will in turn pass on good discipline to their own children?

*First recognize you are a sinner raising sinners and you won't be able to raise perfect kids. I know. I tried! Trust God to fill in the gaps! I'm sure that while you are similar to your own parents, you've moade positive changes in your life. Your own kids will too!
* Choose words that you'd like to hear come out of your kids' mouths when they are speaking to their own kids.
* Talk, talk, talk! Talk about mistakes your parents made, and your own mistakes in life. Tell your kids how you are making changes. Encourage them to always seek wisdom.
* Don't be afraid to say, "I'm sorry" when you recognize you've handled something wrong. You can break the cycle of generational sin with confession and change. I'm always amazed how quickly and eager children are to forgive.
* Enjoy your kids every day by spending quality time with them. You won't regret it! It will bring joy to your heart to see your own kids love their own kids in the same way! (At least that's what I'm expecting to happen. I'll see firsthand after my first grandchild is born this September!)

And now for a fashion....

This time I'd like to share with you a dress made from fabric I purchased from Sew Over It in London.  Lisa Comfort is one of my favorite sewing bloggers. Her fabric is just beautiful and it didn't take long to arrive in the mail.

I chose New Look, pattern number 6145, dress A.  Many of their patterns are easy and the directions are clear.

Check out my tutorial on my technique for putting in a zipper.

I have another beautiful print from Sew Over It that I plan to make a similar shift from one of Lisa's downloadable patterns. I will have a review so say tuned!