Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

He is Risen!  Alleluia!
We have enjoyed our weekend with family and look forward to a week filled with fun activities with friends.  I'm going to link with Grace's OTI linkup today, and Fine Linen and Purple's WIWS linkup tomorrow.  Here we are in our Easter best this morning!
Thomas was in hand-me-downs from Old Navy (he screamed when I tried to put on a tie with his white shirt, so I went plaid!). Steven Joseph got new clothes...tie from Target, shirt from Kohl's, and slacks from Old Navy. The girls picked out their dresses and they weren't my favorites (they look so old!!!), but they have their opinions, and their shoulders and knees were covered so that's that! Ellie's dress from Kohl's, Mary Clare's from Burlington Coat Factory, sandals from Ross.

Here they are sitting in front of the church. Oh I love the (Novus Ordo) Latin Mass; it was beautiful! We got to see lots of old friends.  And we talked to Msgr about scheduling Ellie's interview this week for her First Communion (hopefully) next weekend!  Please say a prayer for her!

Here's my outfit.  My photographers didn't do as well as my mirror self-portraits, LOL! And it started raining right when Mary Clare was trying to take them.  Oh well.  I was hoping to find a brighter, more spring-y dress, but never quite found what I was looking for. This navy maxi dress is from Burlington Coat Factory, and the cardi from Kohl's. Sandals from Marshall's.  I think the scarf was from Target.  At least this outfit was comfy to wear all day!

I hope that you and your families have had a glorious Easter Day and that the entire Easter season is filled with the joy of Jesus! 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tutorial: Adding Cap Sleeves to a Communion Dress

It's very difficult these days to find a First Communion Dress, or really any formal occasion dress, with sleeves.  Our family preferences for modesty in church are covered sleeves and knees for the girls.  So for both girls' First Holy Communion, we've bought a fairly inexpensive dress at Burlington Coat Factory, and then made plans to add sleeves.  We could have found a bolero or sweater, but I hate to cover up the beautiful dresses!

I attempted this feat with Mary Clare's dress 2 years ago, but I wasn't so successful (there's a small photo of my attempt on this post).  Here are two different posts with photos of how it turned out after we brought it to a seamstress to add the sleeves.

This year we were on a bit of a time crunch, and in a different city from the previous seamstress, so I was determined to figure out how to do it myself.  I did a lot of Google and Pinterest searching as to how to add sleeves, and here's what I came up with!  Please note that I am NOT a seamstress, nor do I know any technical sewing terms.  I don't measure and can't sew a straight line.  But I did it!

Here's the dress to start with.
Lovely lace and beading.

Here was the pattern for the sleeve I made out of striped fabric.
NOTE: This fabric is folded in half on the horizontal line.

I checked the size by pinning it on the dress.  The curved part goes along the dress and the straight side of the sleeve (the part folded in half, so it doesn't need a seam!) is the outer part.

Then I used the pattern to cut my fabric.  I guess it'd be considered a chiffon fabric.
It was about $8/yard and I only got 1/4 yard 
(it was barely wide enough once I folded it, though!), 
plus I had a coupon for 20% off my entire JoAnn's purchase.
I always check the retail coupon list on Surviving the Stores when I'm shopping!
So including the thread and ribbon, this project cost about $3! 
 I think the seamstress was $20-30 last time.

Here's the sleeve, and I cut out two of them.
Remember that it's folded in half on the horizontal line there, so it's a double layer of fabric.

Then I did a running stitch along the curved part of the sleeve 
(I think that's what it's called, you just sew up and down).

Here are both sleeves after sewing the running stitch
and pulling the fabric in to gather it.
I tried to match the two sleeves as much as I could.

I used my sewing machine to sew the sleeves onto a ribbon
I noticed the seamstress did this last time.

Here are the two sleeves sewed onto the ribbon.  I figured the scratchy edges 
wouldn't bother her as much under the ribbon.

Next, I pinned the sleeves on to try to make them look alike.
I ended up taking out the right one and ripping the seam off the ribbon
so I could gather it again and copy the way the other was gathered.
My 2nd try made it look more similar to the left sleeve.

I had Ellie try it on with the sleeves still pinned to make sure 
that it looked okay and that she could move her arms.

Finally, I turned the top of the dress inside-out
 and sewed the ribbon on by hand, just going through one layer of the dress.

Here you can see how far in the back part of the sleeve is on the dress.
I felt like the cap was too high and poofy otherwise.
Maybe making the sleeve pattern differently would help with this.

And here's what it looks like!

It's not perfect, but I think it will work.
As my seamstress sister-in-law said,
"For kids, don't worry about it unless you can 
tell while they're riding horseback!"

I'll add a photo of her in the dress once I have one!
I hope this little tutorial can help someone else!

Friday, March 29, 2013

a very Good Friday

Ah, so good for us, this Friday that Our Lord gave his life.  It didn't feel somber today, but joyful and hopeful.  There isn't a 7 Quick Takes link-up today, but I'll list 7 joys of this Good Friday:

1. I got to sleep in without feeling guilty.  Steven was home and kids were sleeping and not needing me.  Steven made biscuits and brought them to me in bed.  I had a really hard time getting out of bed!

2. Steven worked hard on the house and yard today.  He went out and bought some mice bait so we hopefully won't come home to a houseful of mouselings!   He also did a ton of yard work and figured out our sprinkler system!  The yard looks fantastic.

3. I made a delicious potato soup, if I do say so myself.  The last one (for our big house blessing dinner) turned into mashed potatoes, so I was happy that this came together as a real soup.  We brought it to our potluck at church this afternoon, which I claimed as the "best spread" our group has had in a long time.  It didn't seem like a sacrifice!

4. I've gotten most of the packing done, and some cleaning too!  Looks like weather during our trip ranges from the 40s to 80s, including rain, so it's not easy to pack for!  The kids suitcases are lined up and ready, and now I just need to pack my own.

5. We didn't make the Stations of the Cross at church at 3, because I was packing and cooking and Steven was working in the yard.  But I asked everyone to stop at 3, and we prayed the Stations on the back porch.  A nice little family moment recalling Our Lord's Passion.

6. We had a lovely afternoon with our friends at church.  The weather was gorgeous and the kids played and made their own coloring contest and obstacle course.  Steven took the boys home at 7, while I went to the Veneration of the Cross service with the girls.  I was so glad to be able to attend one of the Triduum services, and what a gift to be able to go up and kiss the cross of Christ.

7.  AND THE BEST PART OF THE DAY....Four of our family members got to go to Confession, including Ellie for the first time!!!  What a blessing to experience the healing power of that sacrament on the day that Christ died for us.  I'm so proud of my girls for the faith that they are taking as their own.  Slowly the knowledge we are passing down is taking root in their hearts as they form their own relationship with Jesus.

And now, if I could just get this toddler on a better sleep schedule!  This is the 2nd night this week he has fallen asleep at 7, and then woken at 10 happy and ready to play!  AHHHH!  At least I have had some company while packing.  But I'm going to have a rude awakening tomorrow morning.

Thank you Jesus, for dying on the cross for me.  Thank you for my loving family, my kind friends, our friendly parish, and all the other little things that allow us a comfortable life and a faith that can be nourished each day.

Thoughts on Holy Thursday

I always have a deep desire to share the Triduum services with my little family, but somehow I end up resigned to the reality that it just doesn't seem like our "season" to participate in all these services.  It makes me sad, because I have such fond memories of celebrating the beautiful liturgies while in college.  But it also makes me grateful to just be right where I am right now, living out these days in our own ways.  Oh, but I'm wistful while looking at photos of our friends at church tonight.  I actually just saw pictures of our own parish where the children did the feet washing!  Maybe next year...

The girls had their own special day today with Daddy.  It started before 5:00am when they suited up for their first hunting trip!  They went turkey hunting and had a wonderful time, even though they didn't come home with any turkeys.  Mary Clare really loved it and is now saying that's what she wants to do for her next birthday, which I told Steven was saying a lot with these girls.  Their birthday activities are big deals, planned months in advance.  We'll see if the birthday hunting party plan sticks around come next January!

As for our activities this evening, God knows what I need.  Once I was ready to acknowledge that the kids wouldn't be able to handle the mass tonight, I decided I'd go ahead and attend an essential oils class down the street by myself.  I had a difficult debate in my oils class compared to Holy Thursday Mass?  Why was there even a question of what the "right" thing to do would be?  And yet, to the oils class I went.  And God knew what I needed.  I needed another push to get back on the train of health for myself and my family.  I needed encouragement.  I needed to be inspired to make the decision once again (and every few days/weeks) that I can and will work on my diet and my own health so I can be a good mama for my kids.  I have all these local friends and now a mini-arsenal of essential oils to help treat mind and body of things that plague us.  I've had a rough few weeks with illness and motivation.  My eczema has given me so much pain and frustration, and Steven has been gone a lot.  I have needed some time to focus on me, and tonight was a real gift.

I love this photo of Ellie searching for ladybugs in her camo!

Tomorrow will hopefully be a better day of focus on Our Lord as we attend the Stations of the Cross, go to Confession (Ellie's First!), and have some time of fellowship with our friends.   As we head into Easter weekend and our own little Spring Break week, I hope that some time away from home is just what our minds and bodies need.  Maybe we'll get back in a better sleeping routine (the 2yr old slept until 10am and is still awake after midnight!), and I know our time with friends and family will nourish our spirits to make it through these last 2 months of the homeschooling year.  It should be a nice break from housework and homeschooling and our days that can sometimes seem monotonous.

May God's presence be known in a tangible way to each of us this Holy Triduum, whether in reverent liturgies, in joyful family gatherings, or in the little moments with our family and friends that help us to know that He loves us and gave ALL so that we could choose HIM.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Motivation and Insta-collage

some little moments from the past week...
 Top L: sleeping boys during ballet makes for quiet mommy time, Tommy loved the cows near the baseball field, and running down the sidewalk at baseball practice.
 2nd row: Steven scored a free globe from a guy down the hall from his office (we've always wanted a globe and he doesn't like my pink one I got with my Mom Cave gift card!), SJ took this pic in the backyard to email to NeNe, and fun at JoAnn Fabric store with the girls I'm pondering fabric for curtains in the master one day.
 3rd row: kids decided to wash the cars in their church clothes yesterday, working girls this morning with diaper clad toddler (he hates clothes), and Sam's pizza for yummy and cheesy!

One unique aspect of the past week or two hasn't been photographed, but is well imprinted in our minds.  MOUSE IN THE HOUSE!  I spotted the 2nd mouse in our house over the weekend and I think we've caught it.  The girls and I are all crazy freaked out about these critters.  I don't know where they're coming in and I am grateful that Steven is taking care of the traps and the disposal.  We like to keep the back door open during the beautiful weather, but maybe that's a bad idea.  Hoping we get this problem cleared up very soon!!!

And Holy Week begins.  It should be a regular week of activities, plus packing for Houston and prep for Ellie's sacraments.  I always struggle with how to participate in the Holy Week services with the children.  I would so very much love to attend all the services of the Triduum, but the kids are not at the point to be able to handle that.  This year, Steven will be off work on Good Friday, so I'm hoping we'll be able to attend the Stations of the Cross at 3:00 at our parish, as we also take Ellie to receive her First Confession there.  Maybe one of us can take the girls to the Holy Thursday Mass.  Easter Sunday will be spent with family in Houston joyfully sharing the Resurrection with those we love!  We can't wait!

Goals from last week:
1. Bills, update budget (YAY, I finally updated our budget on!)
2. Daily readings
3. Workout 2x (I'm having a very hard time making it to Zumba these days.  I think it's about time for a treadmill.)
4. Stay off white flour and sugar (I haven't done so well with this, but am trying to keep it minimal)
5. Read to the kids every day
6. Plan for Ellie's first confession
7. Stay calm and patient when prepping (1hr ahead) for ballet and baseball
8. Start the day with something fun
9. Spend a lot of time just sitting with them in the schoolroom
10. Work on intentional relationships with the kids, being sensitive to their needs and responsive to their feelings
11. Meals: Rotisserie chicken wraps and salad, baked chicken, breakfast for dinner, pizza, leftovers

Goals for this week:
1. File paperwork and make bill phone call
2. Daily readings
3. Workout 1x
4. Minimal white flour and sugar
5. Read to the kids daily
6. Prep for Ellie's First Confession on Good Friday
7. Early prep before ballet and t-ball
8. Pack for Houston
9. Mementos for Ellie's table at reception
10. Sew sleeves on her dress and take portraits
11. Meals: We have 2 t-ball games and 2 days of ballet, plus Steven will probably be out of town at some point.  This week will be scrounging, leftovers, and things like breakfast/cereal for dinner.

Hope you all have a blessed Holy Week.  If I don't make it back on again, we'll see you after Easter!!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What I Wore Sunday

We've had a nice Palm Sunday, a windy and cool day here!  I wore my comfy navy maxi skirt (Kohl's), tan tee, and turquoise sweater with my favorite colorful scarf and clogs (thrifted).

Jewelry handed down from my mommy :-)

And I thought I'd share my little beauties since they looked so cute today!
Ellie (left): dress (Target), leggings (Ross), sweater handed down.
Mary Clare (right): shirt (Gap kids), bolero (Target), skirt (resale), leggings (Children's Place), 
and headband she made this morning with supplies she bought yesterday at JoAnn's.

And to share some more fashion fun...
We got some great wedges for Easter yesterday!

Aren't they cute?
The girls' are from Ross and mine are from Marshall's.
We'll have to pretty-up our toes before Easter!
Love these shoes!  And mine are very comfortable, too.  Bonus!
They are "Born Concept" brand (b.o.c.), and I nearly missed them on a display.

I don't have any good Lenten thoughts today.  I'm honestly very ready for the Easter season!
The one thing that took my thoughts for a few moments at mass was this verse of the Sabat Mater:
"Make me feel as thou has felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ our Lord."
This week, may we feel as Our Lady felt, may our soul both glow, and melt, with love for Our Lord.

Go and see more Sunday best over at Fine Linen and Purple!

Friday, March 22, 2013

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Another day at the Botanical Gardens

round button chicken
~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life~
Every Thursday at Like Mother, Like Daughter

I'm a bit late, last night I was just tooooo tired to load the photos and post.  My toddler is reallllly giving me a run for my money with lack of sleep and just general toddlerness.  I am running out of steam in a major way, but just one more week until our Easter break where we'll spend a week visiting family and friends.  Can't wait!

Days like this Nature Club meeting help me to make it through the hard weeks.  I need the outdoors and interaction with other people who aren't on a Facebook screen.  Yay for beautiful days at the Botanical Gardens!

There were so many butterflies in the butterfly enclosure this time!
They've trimmed back all the plans and it looks great!  
We could have spent all morning in there!
Mary Clare even found a leaf shaped like a butterfly.

(No I have no idea where he got the scratch across his neck.
He woke up with it on Monday morning.)

There were these two butterflies that were....
Then they flew away connected to each other!

Lots of funny kids with the big butterfly wings!

Loving the nice deer sculpture...

Oh how really refreshing it is to be outdoors with a big group of friends!
(Birdwatching. They found a cardinal)

Outdoors+friends+pretty weather+painting=happy kids and happy mama!

So thankful for a really nice day!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Five Favorites


Finally joining Hallie with some of my favorite things this week!

Essential Oils
 These are becoming big in my circles here.  I hosted a party and bought this introductory set from doTerra.  I am still learning about their medicinal properties but I definitely love the smells!

Bulgarian Yogurt
 When one of my "whole foods" friends visited, she shared with me her love of this Bulgarian yogurt.  I like that it is non-fat, non-hormone, probiotic, high in protein, and made in Austin!  I also like the big glass jar and have been enjoying it in my morning fruit smoothies.  Last night I used it to coat chicken breasts before dipping them in shredded cheese and crackers.  It's one meal that most of our family likes (Crispy Cheddar Chicken)!

 Coconut oil and popcorn
I've been using a lot of coconut oil, with the essential oils, as a moisturizer for my currently bad eczema flare, and for cooking.  I used it to cook green beans last night (yum!), and use it a few times a week for popcorn.  We are big popcorn fans these days!

First Communion Fun
I love this season of preparing for First Holy Communion!  We shopped for dresses this past weekend and came home with this lovely number for my little lady (am going to add a cap sleeve).  We went with this store-bought veil this time, too, and bought some shoes with a little heel that sweet Ellie is so excited about!  I love seeing her dress hanging in the front of my closet!  Such a special time for her and for all of us.!

This is my favorite First Holy Communion resource, The King of the Golden City.  It's a beautiful allegory about a little girl and the King.  It's so sweet and I almost passed it up this time, thinking the symbolism would be above her head, but I'm so so glad I didn't.  We're enjoying reading several chapters each day!

Morning arts and crafts
 I decided I'd let the kids start each day this week with something fun.
On Monday we made homemade playdough on the stove (using this recipe 
and adding some essential oils), yesterday they made pancakes and played some games outside,

and today I let them start the day painting some wooden boxes with acrylic paints outside on the porch.  I also let them listen to Glory Stories and CatChat audio on EWTN kids (did you know you can listen to them FREE?) as we were all waking up.  Usually I make them do schoolwork before fun activities, but this week we've all needed a pick-me-up!  Colorful playdough, paints, and saint stories can definitely help make a happy morning :-)

Thanks for hosting, Hallie!  Check out her blog for other ladies' 5 favorite things!
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