Our Curious George.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Liam is officially 8 months old, though an official 8-month-old monthly post is yet to come because our big brown chair is hiding in the furthest back corner of our storage unit (so sad!). So for now... a few photos of our big 8-month-old who strangers guess is 14 months old and who is into everything. A lot of moms have warned me about this stage, saying, "Just wait until he's mobile..." with a furrowed brow and a sigh. But honestly, this stage is so much more fun for me than when he was sitting in one spot, needing toys and books and entertainment within his reach. I love that he can explore, can pull up, and is starting to cruise around the furniture. We've entered the stage of outlet guards, baby gates, and the like - but I am loving my little Curious George. And let's be honest... I'm loving his lack of knees, too. I think it's one of his best features. 

Internet safety: Something we can do.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I'm not normally one to sound the alarm when it comes to safety, and definitely not one to incite unnecessary levels of fear. There are times when I don't think much about safety at all. I realize that not worrying about my safety is a first world privilege, and not a reality for many, many women around the world.

I currently live in a very safe area where the main crimes usually involve petty theft from unlocked cars in mall parking lots.  But just in the last week, there was an attempted break in just down the street, so our senses have been heightened to strange looking cars, locked doors, and setting security alarms.

So on the topic of safety, internet safety is something we all need to be equally aware of, wherever we may live. Whether you have a blog, an Instagram account, a Facebook account, or none of the above - I think it's really important for each of us who live in this technology-driven, social-media-crazy world to pay attention to.

A friend sent this video to me the other night, and I watched with my jaw dropped for most of it. Once I got over the initial shock, though, I came away feeling more knowledgeable and aware that what I post from my phone can have major consequences. I (obviously) post plenty of pictures online, and while I'm really careful to never share specifics of where I live or what I drive, this seems just as important.

Here's what I saw...
The news story came out in 2010, so I'm assuming the technology has become even more advanced since then. But hey! There's something we can do about it! Just follow the instructions at the very end (around 3:15 on the video) to change your phone settings accordingly.

In the way he is going.

Monday, June 24, 2013

This is my son. This is my son eating playing with his food. I gave him some small bits of banana, and like always, they ended up nowhere near his mouth, smeared all over his tray and the floor. 

Had I followed the advice of most parenting books, he should be eating by now. We would've started with rice cereal and progressed from there. But because of my gluten intolerance and the likelihood that he will have trouble digesting grains, we're going a different route: starting with bananas, avocado, and sweet potato. He seems interested in all of them, but as soon as they touch his tongue, he grimaces and gags it out. He's still 100% breastfed and (obviously) growing well, so I'm not worried a bit that he's only had 3 tablespoons of food in his entire life. But I wish you could see the concerned faces of many a fellow mother when I tell them that he's almost 8 months old and hasn't had rice cereal.
It isn't just about food. Young and old mothers alike have opinions when it comes to diapering and sleeping and disciplining and the like. If you're a new mom, this isn't news to you. You've probably been bombarded by advice laced with good intentions, but it still leaves you feeling like you aren't doing things quite right. But did you know there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to mothering a child? That's the sweet lesson I'm learning these days: there's so much grace. There's a mother's God-given intuition. There's a lot of prayer. For believers, there's the Holy Spirit who guides us in how to parent our children. Not our neighbor's children or our sister's children or children in the nursery at church.

When I read Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel a few months ago, there was one insight that has freed me in parenting more than any other. Proverbs 22:6 is often quoted in regards to parenting, and rightly so: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." This verse is often applied to say, "Teach your children about God, pray with them, and make sure they never miss a Sunday at church... and when they are older, they will know God, pray, and never miss a Sunday at church." But that, according to Dr. Kimmel, is not what the verse actually means.

In the original Hebrew, that verse can be more accurately (and much more richly) translated, "Train up a child in the way he is going" or "according to his unique inner bent." In other words, listen to your child. Know the uniqueness of your child. Appreciate that he has been preciously, divinely created by God to be one of a kind - and that he should be parented that way. Trust that God didn't make a mistake when He created your child to like certain things or behave in certain ways.

That thought has been more freeing in my 7-month journey as a mom than any other. Liam is unique. Precious. And while I could easily get frustrated when other moms question why he isn't eating rice cereal (I write that and think - aren't there bigger fish to fry?!), I choose to love Liam deeply for who God created him to be. I commit to him to try not to compare him with other children - even other children of my own. And I believe that if he knows full well that he is loved for who God created him to be, I have mothered him well. 

Slow Fashion.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Modeling my newly made Sorbetto top and Brighter Day clutch 
Have you heard the term slow fashion before? It's new terminology to me, though the concept has been around for a while. Basically, slow fashion is an approach to clothing in direct opposition to what Americans are very accustomed to: mass-produced, fast fashion where we buy cheaply made items and, within a few weeks, it's out of style and thrown away. Slow fashion urges each of us to be more mindful of the clothes we consume, to buy less, and to care for and mend what we already own so it doesn't end up in a landfill. It also encourages upcycling, swapping, making your own clothing (my new favorite!), and supporting local artisans.

For me, it's about a lot more than just curbing consumerism and helping the environment. It's about people. It's about justice.

This year, the collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh opened lots of eyes to the truth of the horrendous conditions so many people are living and working in every day... in order to produce our clothes. The clothes these women were making are probably hanging in some of our closets right now (they produced clothes for the Children's Place and Walmart, to name a couple). They're cheap for us to buy, and costly for them to make. In this one incident, over 1100 lives were lost, including many children who were in a nursery facility in the building. By buying some of the clothes we do without a thought of where they came from, we are supporting this kind of hard labor in terrible conditions.

In addition, have you guys seen this website: SlaveryFootprint.org? It takes you through a quick but very insightful survey to find out how many human slaves are employed on your behalf by the things you consume. The number that I got at the end was frightening, and sheds light on just how much I consume without thinking a moment about where it came from or who made it.

The whole concept intrigues me and convicts me. Ultimately, when it comes to clothing, it inspires me to save up for more quality pieces that will last (a great pair of jeans, a beautiful jacket) that are timeless and ethically made. It also really inspires me to make my own clothes, which I've just begun to do (a dress, a shirt, and a skirt so far!). I really don't have any answers or big ideas when it comes to this - just food for thought right now.

What about you? Do you know about slow fashion? Any ideas about helping this cause and, in turn, promoting social justice?

More about the slow fashion movement here:
The Slow Fashion Movement... Reversing Environmental Damage
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

DIY Faux Metal Pendants

Thursday, June 20, 2013

While we had family in town (including my 5 girl cousins), we thought it would be the perfect time to have a crafting session together. We spent one rainy afternoon working on several projects with clay - including these clay rose earrings. We also made these faux silver metal pendants that have so much potential - you could make necklaces, bracelets, even key chains out of these. They look amazingly real (you wouldn't know they aren't metal until you touch them) and were so easy to make.

Here's what you need (all purchased at Joann's):

As pictured: oven bake clay, acrylic varnish gloss, silver liquid leaf, a paint brush that you don't mind tossing at the end, an old baking sheet, a hole punch (this one is made to punch thin sheets of metal), jump rings and necklace making supplies, jewelry pliers, and ring bases (totally optional).

The basic steps:
1. Roll a small piece of clay into a ball, then press it down into a flattened circle. You can leave it this way, or trim the edges with a paring knife to make a rectangle shape.
2. Using small letter stamps, stamp out your words into the clay.
3. Bake your clay at 230°F for 30 minutes, or according to package instructions.
4. Once the hardened clay cools, use the hole punch to punch a hole where you'll hang your pendant. You don't want to get too close to the edge and risk breaking off part of your clay in the process.
5. Next, paint both sides using silver liquid leaf. Note: I tried using silver metallic paint first, and it did not cover at all. The liquid leaf was amazing, but does not come off of surfaces once it's applied, so be so careful as you're applying it. It took quite a bit of scrubbing with Murphy's Oil Soap to get it off my fingers! If you're doing this project with a group, I'd suggest designating one steady handed person for this job.
6. Let it dry completely, then add a final coat of acrylic varnish to keep the liquid leaf from peeling off.
7. Add your jump ring, put it on a necklace or bracelet, and you're done!

**Optional: I didn't photograph this step, but some of us chose to paint the inside of the letters with black acrylic paint, then wipe it off quickly with a damp paper towel. It makes the letters stand out a bit, and is a fun option.

The best part? Doing it together. Love you, family!

Sewing Class

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hi friends. Just wanted to let you know we're having another sewing night here in Franklin, TN, and it's next week! We'll be making this super simple but functional tote bag that you'll bring home at the end of the night. Even if you've never done a project on your sewing machine, that's ok! As long as you have a sewing machine and can sew a straight line with it, you're good to go.

If you're interested, please email me soon as spots are limited.

PS - Thanks to my mom for modeling the bag and for helping me organize this!

The fam is here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Having these people all under one roof is the best. thing. ever.
(We miss you, Kels!)

Happy Father's Day.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dear Dad,

One summer afternoon during elementary school, I happened to see an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in which a child learns to play the drums. Suddenly, learning to play the drums became all I wanted. I told you about it, and without the slightest hesitation, you told me we could go to the music store to pick out a practice pad and some drumsticks. I was over the moon. My fleeting desire to play the drums lasted all of a day, but the fact that you took me seriously and supported me in my dream lasted a lot longer.

In high school, you'd wake up before the sun rose to watch me sprint across the dewy golf course behind our house as I trained for the upcoming cross country season. In college, you drove me to Atlanta to board a plane for the Amazon jungle, even though I'd never even been camping before. I know it probably wasn't how you pictured your teenage daughter spending the summer, but again, you supported my dreams.

I think we're a lot alike in that we're dreamers. You've lived by example that reaching those dreams is possible: for so many years, you've made a living playing the piano on stages around the world. And for a little girl to see her dad doing something he loves and supporting her in what she loves is rare and beautiful.

Just 7 months ago, you supported me in a way you'd probably dreamt of: walking into the hospital room to meet your first grandson. The emotion of this video says it all.
As Liam grows and inevitably dreams in strange and wonderful ways about what he might like to do, I want to follow your lead and not squelch those dreams. I want to support him - whether on the sidelines of the soccer field or the audience of a concert hall or a myriad of other places - because of how you've supported me. If I can be anything for him like you've been for me, I know it will mean the world.

I love you!

Happy Father's Day!

PS - To my Shawn, who we celebrate for the first time as a father this year, I hope today is so joyful for you! Liam is one lucky boy to have a front row seat to your job as a dad. Your love for him is so deep it brings tears to my eyes.
PPS - To my father-in-law, Don, we celebrate you today, too! Thank you for raising the man I love to be a man who follows hard after the Lord.

Daily dose of cuteness.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This is how we do baths in Tennessee, y'all. 

My Picnic Blanket Skirt.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Since watching Great British Sewing Bee, I've been really inspired by one contestant - Tilly - and her inspiring sewing blog. Her picnic blanket skirt tutorial caught my eye, and I set out to make one myself.
Without further ado... my picnic blanket skirt.
I followed her tutorial step by step, using a mint pique fabric and my own fabric covered buttons. In the process, I somehow grossly overestimated how large the waist should be, so I actually made it a wrap skirt (thought you can't tell in the photos). The top button is functional, along with a hidden button on the inside of the waistband, but the rest of the buttons are just for looks. Next time I make it I'll use correct measurements and make all the buttons functional. For now, though, I loved this first attempt. I do have one correction to make - the top button is sitting glaringly off-centered because, for some reason, I put the buttonhole in horizontally instead of vertically. I'll fix it soon and it'll be officially finished.

Thanks, Tilly, for such a great tutorial!

My first dress.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I wish you could've seen how intensely awkward this photo session was. I started out holding Liam (until he spit up all over himself), and Shawn asked, "Why are you holding him? You can't even see the dress."

Because I'm super uncomfortable having my picture taken by myself. And that's why we ended up with one picture. I would make the worst fashion blogger.

Anyway, the other night I needed something fun and creative to take my mind off the stress of our move. So after Liam went to bed, I tackled my first dress. It's actually the first garment I've ever made for myself. I used the Hazel dress pattern from Colette patterns and adored it. For a first time dressmaker, it was incredibly thorough and easy to understand. I grabbed some chambray-type fabric (not sure exactly what it is) from my stash and the entire thing took less than 4 hours from start to finish. Next time, I'll cut the skirt a bit longer so that I won't have to make such a tiny hem. It's lightweight, has pockets (!!!), is perfect for summer, and I have a feeling I'll be wearing it on repeat. (And making it again and again.)

And now I'm hooked. I want to make lots more clothes because a) it saves so much money and b) it's just seriously fun.

It's official.

Monday, June 3, 2013

We've moved.
The weekend wasn't without (major) speed bumps and a lot of stress, but we're thankful to be in our temporary home at my parents' house and done with the moving out process for now.
We could use your prayers. It seemed that when we lay our heads down last night, a lot of stress would have been lifted. But today has been laden with a lot more that we have to deal with. Running high on emotion and low on sleep, it feels pretty overwhelming.

All in all, though, we're so thankful to be to this point. We have Brighter Day all set up in my parents' upstairs bedroom, Liam is currently sleeping in his pack 'n play while being guarded by Keebler the dog, and we're trying to take a deep breath, eat our meals outside, and hear what the Lord has for us next.
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