Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Results

So here they are:

This one is my favorite. Simple, A-line cut with a ribbon and flowers.

This is my second favorite. It has a simple gathered skirt with trim at the bottom and of course, a bow in the back.

I think this is her favorite. A "Fourth of July Dress". She was adamant that it had to have stripes on the red skirt, so I added trim to make the stripes. She hasn't seen the finished product yet since she was asleep when I finished it.

These are the capris or long shorts. She really likes these and asked for more. They were actually quite simple to make once I figured them out. I sewed most of this with odds and ends of pieces I had lying around in my sewing box and used old sheets for the linings on the dresses.

Little Girls?

What is it with clothing manufacturers? For some reason, they all think that just because my daughter has outgrown size six, she should dress like she is 16 and on the hunt for attention! I've shopped and shopped, but it is nearly impossible to find "cute" clothes for little girls that still let them look, well, little.

I gave up. I started to sew. Thank God for the old Mennonite ladies that I helped one summer by hauling boxes while they sewed rags into useful clothes. Thank God for the wedding dress designer who I lived with for a year in school. Drinking tea and watching her cut dresses out of paper to plan designs, I learned things. I am not a great sewer. I am not a perfectionist who specializes in little flounces and ribbons, but I am a practical sewer with a love of fun. So far, I have made three different little sun dresses, and this afternoon, I cut a pattern off a pair of her capris and made a pair of long shorts with a slit on the side and little bows at the slits. She loved those - she's into comfort, and they were comfortable. I think with the sundress pattern, I can make a matching shirt by just putting the "skirt" part of it down just a little past the waist line, but no more. We're going to a hotter climate for the summer, and my daughter is always hot, even in the snow, so I am working on some cool cotton outfits that she can play in, but will also look nice in because... well, you know... "we have to look nice". As if missionary kids did not like to go get filthy, too.

When I get the dresses hemmed, I might post pictures of them. (If I can find my camera.) Then I am going to work on some skirts for myself, light-weight playful ones. I bought one I love and looking down at in on Sunday, I thought, "I could make this!" It is a simple pattern of a long skinny rectangle with a triangle attached repeated over and over. So I bought some fun colors and am going to make a few fun ones for me.

Speaking of fithy kids .... my boys are older now.... they've arrived at that stinky stage of getting older... oh, my... I'll have to stay on top of them for visits with people. No, you can not go running and climbing and then still smell nice. Maybe I'll get a big water gun and use it to shower them at rest stops where we clean up before knocking on our host's door. That and a course in "Introduction to Deodorant and Why YOU Need to Use It."


Appearances are not always correct. I thought my middle son was a fairly neat person. I thought that, that is, until I went to spring clean his bedroom.

He's not neat. He's just adept at hiding his messes.

I think he has "cleaned" his room all year by simply stuffing things in drawers. Last night I cleaned his room without his input. Yes, he helped, but I did not go through the time-consuming process of asking if he wanted to keep this or that. I made the decisions. It is clean now. I don't think he will miss much - he couldn't find it anyway!

I gave him the job of sorting through his way too many clothes. He only wears two T-shirts anyway - hates all the others. I made him make three piles: "ones I hate", "ones I don't really like", and "ones I love". I kept the "ones I love" pile and pulled two decent ones off the "ones I don't really like", and took the rest up to his brother's room. This morning, we went through the little guy's drawers, but his were not so messy since I regularly check his.

I quit half way through the little guy's room. I'm tired. I've got him packed for our trip, and his clothes sorted. I just need to haul some boxes to storage and others to give away. My oldest is supposedly working on his room on his own before I come to look at it. It shouldn't be that bad since I did go through all his stuff when we moved him back into his redone room after the leaks.

We're getting there.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Well... when spring just never really shows up, spring cleaning gets pushed to early summer.

We've been working on cleaning this week. Got a lot done so far - garage, shed, basement, and a good basic clean in all the bedrooms. We still need to dig into the closets and drawers in the bedrooms, but bit by bit. My daughter, bless her heart, consented to try on every outfit she owned yesterday to see what she had outgrown. Then we went shopping to fill in the blanks. She's grown quite a bit! We gathered a big bag full of really nice hand-me-downs and saved them. We have a new family joining us in a few months with a daughter a year or two younger than mine, so she should fit the clothes just fine. I need to do the same with my boy's clothes, too.

We organized the storage shed with neatly labeled boxes and emptied and swept out the garage so we can reach our bikes without any hassle. I haven't planted my garden yet since it only warmed up and there will be construction next week on the fence between our neighbor and our yards. If I had planted anything, it would have been trampled on, so I just didn't. In two weeks, we are leaving anyway. I think we have house sitters for our house, but I am not sure how much gardening they want to do, so I may not put in the full garden, but simply fill it up with some cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes which will do well if someone is watching them or not.

Then, it was birthday party season. The weather had been so bad that most kids postponed their parties, and now that it is gorgeous, we've had three parties to go to this week. Thankfully, they are simple affairs with swimming, water balloons, or a trip to the park.

Life is still peaceful here. My husband is going to his weekly meetings with the pastor, and life at home is pretty good. We head off in two weeks to do our church visits. Can't say I am looking forward to it because I feel like we are at least half failing, and I have a hard time pretending things are fine when I talk to people all day and visit. Pretense makes me tired. But, it is also a time with some extra rest built in this time, and I am hoping that the rest will be good for us all.

Got to go now.... time to pick up kids from party #4.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Ahh... school's out. Not that I dislike school. I rather like it, actually. It is just that the last few weeks of school are tiring. The teachers are tired. The kids are squirmy. The weather is hot - oh, scratch that... this year forgot to get hot. All the last things need to be done - last parties, last trips, last reports, last presentations, last exams.... Then report cards and cleaning.

I'm tired.

Oh, yeah, and today, with only three hours of school left to go - the last lice checks... not again! I am becoming intimately acquainted with these kid's hair! We opted not to send them home with only two hours and the end of school barbecue to go. That would just be a bit too cruel.

I watch these teachers totally amazed. Their life is insanely busy with school, family, and then extended family, and church obligations all hitting this week. Wishing I could do more to help carry the load, but there was little I could do. I did what I could, that is all.

And now, school is out. We kicked back a little this evening, and drew chalk pictures of ourselves on the sidewalk. We copied out our feet in walking patterns across the driveway. The kids crawled up on the Jeep and tried to see how far they could throw popcorn, and I let them. They turned on the water and mixed it with chalk to make a multicolored mush. We wrapped up the evening watching Huckleberry Finn which my daughter did not quite understand and kept interrupting to ask questions. She is not one to let something she doesn't grasp slide by.

A few days ago, we watched an old, old movie, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". She didn't get that one, either. My oldest two boys killed themselves laughing, both at the story and at the people bursting into song at the oddest moments. At one point, the brothers sang a song about the Romans seeing the Sabean women swimming in the bay in their "me, oh my's". My daughter turned to me, "Mommy, what is a me-oh-my?" I nonchalantly said it was swimming with nothing on, and she shrugged, "Oh, you mean skinny dipping!" (WHERE did she hear about that?!)

So, school is out. We are all tired.

This summer, we travel. We will be headed back to visit a few churches. I'm not really looking forward to it, but part of me is.

Things at home are going slightly better. My husband is very, very busy with a building project. It's very different than his desk job. I think building is good for him. He interacts with people all day, and that suits him. He gets to be active and wears himself out. Then, he gets to see things take shape, and he is proud of that. So he is relatively peaceful. I don't know what is going to happen next. I need to write out a longer blog and catch people up, but.... the end of school... it's crazy!

This summer, also, I plan to clean my kid's rooms to where they can keep them clean. If it means just two shirts and two shorts, that is it. We'll work up from there. My oldest needs practice with writing and reading. Me second needs a attitude adjustment.... but we'll work on that along with order and quality work. If one kid's best is typically a low C, but he has worked very diligently and pulled his grades up to a low B, I'm thrilled. Then there is the other who can easily without effort get low A's, and this year, he got low C's..... I need to work on obedience, attitude, and quality work on him. Number three.... attention to detail... attention in general.... My daughter won an award for obedience and brought home a report card filled with A's and B's, but she loves to do school, and finds it easy. We do need to keep reading with her and drill math facts into her so she won't struggle with speed next year, but she is easy.

So, those are my sumer goals - discipline and routine in the kids (it's been a crazy year), and extra school work help. I'd like to do it in a fun way as a family project. We'll see. I might blog about my attempts and how they go.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I like this green better. It's a little bit calmer.

Oh, I had to be part of a team interviewing someone last night.... ok, I'll admit it. I like grammar. There. It's off my chest. This man was sitting there telling me he is strong in English and writing, and I was staring at his letter of introduction and statement of faith and trying, trying so hard to resist putting in commas where he needed them!

So, maybe our team leader is not too far off. I don't think I have a contrary spirit, but perhaps a constructively critical one? :-) I just like grammar and commas.

So, on the more serious side... My husband did come and apologize to his two oldest boys yesterday and that was good. He also apologized to me for the month of silence. That was ok, good even. But not a word about the words in that month that were not silent. The hurtful ones. And the apology was not, like with the boys, followed with a "I love you". So I asked, "Do you love me?" and got this unencouraging answer, "I don't know. It is hard."

I guess... there is a point where my truth-loving side of me says that was a good answer. Truthful. Open. But another side of me screams, "What do you mean you don't know??!!" But, honestly, that is probably how I feel right now, too. I do. I know I do because I have to. Yet how I feel may be very different right now.

But it is step one. All great distances are covered by beginning with one step, so we will accept and appreciate the step of yesterday.

Today's step? Well, - go cover your kid's eyes - I kissed him goodbye when he left. That is all. A small step. So that is two steps now....

Then today also contained an encouraging conversation with a friend. I like encouragement. So I am relatively happy - also because I cleaned my house. I like clean houses, too. Just not my favorite thing to do!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Some Good

There have been some good. Not great, but good. And it is late after a long, long day, so I am not writing. Just thanks for praying and keep at it, and I will try to write, really.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What is in a Word?

#3 - who else?

He was reading a list of stories and got to "Pus in Boots"

No, it's "Puss in Boots"

"Yeah, same difference. It's the same thing."

I didn't want to explain, so I let it go. But the thought of pus in boots - ugh!

Time for a Change

So... do we like green? Maybe.

I'd like to try something new and fun, but I don't know enough about computers and don't feel like learning right now. But the green is different. Not my usual color, but I sort of like it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Checking In

There are days I feel like talking and days I don't feel like talking. It doesn't necessarily mean that things have changed, improved, worsened, or anything. Just that I do not feel like talking. not sure what to say.

I had a meeting with my team leader while he was in town and our here pastor. I also had a phone conversation with my home pastor. I am feeling right now like a piece of rope used in a three way tug-a-war.

In brief:

My team leader feels that
1. My husband's anger is in large part my fault because I have a "contrary spirit". (Hey, he's moved on from the psychological disorder at least!)
2. We should get a real counselor to work with us.

My here pastor feels that:
1. My husband's anger is his own fault, while we do have relationship issues.
2. We should not get a counselor but keep working with him because "the Bible is all we need"

My home pastor feels that:
1. My husband's anger is his own fault, and needs to be addressed separately.
2. We should get a real counselor to work with us.

And I feel like a rope being tugged three ways.
I feel that:
1. My husband's anger is his own responsibility, and while we do have relationship problems which likely exacerbate his anger, his anger also exacerbate the relationship problems.
2. We should see a real counselor, while I do respect and like my here pastor.

I do believe that the Bible has all we need in it for counseling. I feel that way in the same way that I feel that a scalpel is likely all that is needed to remove my gallbladder (ok, in a simplified way), but if I was to have my gallbladder removed, I'd prefer someone who had experience wielding that scalpel in that specific situation! I don't go to a GP for surgery, not even a GP I really like.

But I am tired. Really tired today. I told my husband last night about the counselor which the teacher recommended, and asked if he was willing to go. His response? Anger. There is no reason to go see someone. He only has one problem and that is me, so why should he go to get help?

He went on and on last night on his regular speil of angry words... not yelling this time, but a calm laughing at me, sarcastic. I asked him to stop, saying I only wanted to ask that question, but he would not. So I am tired today.

But today, he is fairly calm. Happy that the kids and I cleaned out the storage room. Happy that I came with him to see a potential house for his friends. Happy that I appeared happy and fine during the time with people. Happy that I made one of his favorite meals.

But all this happiness doesn't take away the anger of the night before for me. For him, he thinks it does. If we pretend to be happy, then obviously we are happy. This is what he told me last night, "Just decide to be happy and stop being tense and enjoy life. I'm tired of you being sad."

Yeah. Hard to do. I've tried smiling when he yells before - pretending to be happy. It is painful.

Anyway, he has a meeting tomorrow with our here pastor. I suspect that will not go too well. Can you all pray for that? Also pray for the rest of the day then - likely he will come home angry from that meeting, and likely I'll be up all night again being told how horrible I am to dare tell people bad things about him.

I'm just tired right now. Wishing God would just step in and give him a good kick in the ... umm... well the whatever at this point!

I'm reading one of John White's books to the children. It is a good thing to be reading right now.
I'm struggling to emotionally survive right now. I can't listen to music - it makes me cry. But I am memorizing again. It is a discipline which helps me, calms me, and gets scripture into me so I have it to remember later. Over several years (not that it took that long, but because I gave up and was lazy about it), I memorized Hebrews. Last week, I memorized Philemon - that was a nice, short, fun one. I'm going to work on Titus next. Just randomly curious if it is possible to memorize the Epistles.... But memorizing is good for me, calming, repetitive. Forces me to slow down my mind and my restless thoughts and questions and focus on what the passage is saying. Then when I go for walks, I take my Bible with me in my head and "read" it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bald is Beautiful - and lice free!

Well, especially when it is a shaved head.... I love rubbing bald heads. Now I do restrain myself around adults unless they have Alzheimers, but I love bald heads. I love the little fuzzy hair and the round funny shapes of kid's heads and how their ears stick out. And with kids, I can rub them.

I rub my old people's heads, too. When they are confused and crying and anxious, I rub their head and sing to them, and they close their eyes and rest. I did ask permission and rub my brother-in-law's bald head... but I'm related to him!

We have two bald heads in my daughter's class now. Two parents took my free advice that shaving is so much easier than nit picking! I suspect the next boy will be back in school tomorrow as the third bald head around. I'm going to shave my youngest son since one is his best friend and he is feeling self-conscious. They are so adorably cute with their little heads shaved! Just cute.

Oh, today... I was helping out testing kindergartners. I had to ask them true or false questions, so we used the "did it happen or did it not happen" approach. I checked with an unbelievable and a obvious statement to make sure they understood how to answer.

It worked well until I told one little boy, "An octopus came in your classroom today and ate your teacher."


"That really happened?"


"Um, octopus don't come in the classroom."

"Yes. There are octopus in the ocean."

"I know. But.. did one really eat your teacher and she is dead?"


I just looked at him, and then he clicked his tongue, shook his head, and elaborated, "My mom was afraid that was going to happen."

Ok, I lost it then! Trying very hard to keep a straight face, we went on.....

Turns out, the kid has a huge imagination and is always telling unbelievable stories... but still...??!!

Oh, and come to think about it, octopus are bald, too. So I don't need to separate these topics!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nit Picking


I spent my day nit picking. A friend and her kids had lice, and even after treatment, she still found one on her kid, so she called for help. Five heads in the house - I declined to check her husband's small beard.... :-) She can do that! The little baby is only a month old, so it was a bit overwhelming to try to nit pick so many wiggly heads! Armed with a new video from my collection, some treats, and a good comb, I went over. I think they are clean now. I hope so... nit picking is exhausting!

Meeting is canceled for Wednesday, and might be on for Thursday.... maybe..... It's only been three years that I have been asking for a chance to talk to our team leader about this, but... he's just always busy.... Yeah, I get used to it after awhile. Whether he talks or not, there will be action taken. I have back up. My home church pastor found out what is going on and phoned me.

Ok. I'll admit it - I should have listened to him about four years ago, but honestly, it was frightening. I was in a new place, all alone, and without support. The thought of confronting my husband then terrified me. Now I am more settled, with friends and support systems around me.

I'm too tired after nitpicking tonight to write about that conversation, but I'll try to get a note in soon. There was something our home pastor said that made me smile, and I haven't quit smiling yet. It was a huge weight taken off my shoulders. Good news. So, I'll try to write tomorrow, but I'm wiped out tonight and am dreaming of a hot shower.... especially after the thought of nits....

Feeling better... tired... but only from nitpicking, and from being set aside one more time... but less tired emotionally.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hanging In

Life gets so busy this time of year with all the last minute things at school. I have to wrap up Kayla's teaching, although I will tutor her this summer, and get a grade and comments for her report card. The kids have all their parties and field trips and stuff. Big projects are due, so we are working on those.... by the last day, we will be ready for a break! But I will miss school... my daily chance to see people and be with people where I am loved and appreciated.... my kid's chance to be out of the house and interacting with friends....

Speaking of school, I spent the day there today.... It is a small school, so no nurse. I diagnosed a case of suspected pink eye, checked out a tummy ache, and checked 36 heads of hair for lice. Sent four kids home with nits and, since they were boys, the free advice that the easiest thing to do is shave them and let them enjoy a short cut for summer. A few other families were going to go short crew cut even at the mention of lice, so it will be an in-style look for the little kids. Hey, I'm buzzing mine tonight! My daughter, who has waist length beautiful hair.... I'm praying.... no, please no...

Pray. Our team leader is coming to town, and I have to talk with him and our pastor again. Any hope he will see it as a problem? I doubt it, but we keep hoping. At least I have some guidance now as to what to do and feel a bit more on solid ground. Well, perhaps as solid as my garden I dug yesterday - spongy mud, but if you stand real still you can balance on it.

Things at home are at the standstill stage. The silence is wearing off into small talk. Usually what happens next is he waits and eventually I talk to him and after begging and begging for forgiveness for "making him mad", he will slowly relent and forgive me and things are good again. I'm not going to to that. If we want to have an adult conversation about the day he got mad, I could ask forgiveness for what I did wrong, but it was a small thing, and I did not "make him mad". He chose that, and he will have to deal with it. I'm not turning the wheel again back to "start" to go 'round the circle again.

My daughter has a tape player which I dislike. When it gets to the end of the tape, it does not turn off. It sits there making a faint hum and clicking noise. If she is asleep, it will do it all night. You have to go in and push the off button or turn it over. I feel like that now - our relationship is making a humming, clicking noise, but I am not going to turn the tape over. He's going to have to push the "stop" button. Stop the anger. I'm tired of rollercoasters and merry-go-rounds.

Anyway, off to teach... we're on to fractions now; which, after starting off the year with adding, is pretty good!