Thursday, March 5, 2015

Change the World, with Priority Parenting

How's that for a title? But I honestly think when we can change the world, one family at a time.  One heart at a time.

This has been an interesting week.  We got back from Disneyland, and it was honestly amazing to be with my family, creating fun memories.  But, while we were there, my littlest one and I were sick.  Coming back, I thought we would get better, but not so much.  Now we know that he has walking pneumonia, and that I'm lucky enough to have a Dr. who will just call in a Rx when I know I need help too.

Being productive while sick is tricky.
Needless to say, time to quilt or be creative is almost laughable.  I've barely been able to do the bare minimum around here.  But... I have been able to think. (A blessing and a curse really).  And choices in parenting have really been on my mind.  There are days when I feel successful, and there are days when I feel like I've worked so hard, and yet, I didn't have a meaningful moment with my family.

As I was driving my cherubs to and fro, we were listening to a General Conference talk by L. Tom Perry called Finding Lasting Peace and Building Eternal Families.  As I was listening, this quote struck a cord with me:

We must carefully continue to evaluate our performance as parents. The most powerful teaching a child will ever receive will come from concerned and righteous fathers and mothers. Let us first look at the role of the mother. Listen to this quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“Women who make a house a home make a far greater contribution to society than those who command large armies or stand at the head of impressive corporations. Who can put a price tag on the influence a mother has on her children, a grandmother on her posterity, or aunts and sisters on their extended family?

“We cannot begin to measure or calculate the influence of women who, in their own ways, build stable family life and nurture for everlasting good the generations of the future. The decisions made by the women of this generation will be eternal in their consequences. May I suggest that the mothers of today have no greater opportunity and no more serious challenge than to do all they can to strengthen the [home]” (Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes [2000], 152).

These simple statements share the truth, that parents influence the world.  When we, as a country, as a world, focus on creating strong families, we have a HUGE influence for good. The things we teach our children, go on for generations.  On the flip side,  the things we neglect to teach our children, will be lost.

It reminded me of an article that I had read a few years ago from Julie Beck,  Nourishing and Protecting the Family.   Reading this article is a definite must, but I'll share a simple insight from it.  Parenting cannot be what is left over at the end of the day.  We have to prioritize, decide what will benefit our families most, schedule those things, reserve energy for those things, and let everything else find the left over moments.  I think too often, I have let parenting just happen, instead of making and creating teaching moments, I have waited for them to be presented to me.

When I first heard of this, I felt humbled.  I was not doing this.  I was definitely doing the best I could in the moment. But I was more  of a crazy mom running around.  At the time, I had 4 kids, 3 in different schools, and 1 kid in preschool (does that count as 4 kids in 4 different schools?).  I was trying to give each of my kids the best situation for them in that moment.  One kid at the junior high, one at a Charter school best suited for their abilities, one at the elementary school, and one at preschool.  We had just moved, buses for 2 of the kids weren't a possibility.  I spent, bare minimum 2 hours driving my kids to school and back, each day.  Plus there was piano, gymnastics, soccer, etc... I was trying to give my kids the best.  Catering to their needs, giving all I could.  Working hard during the day while they were gone, so I could get it all accomplished by driving time.

BUT....I was exhausted.  By the time I got home from the drive, I was beat.  And often, I would run upstairs once they got home and take a 10-15 minute nap.  Then I would run and get dinner ready, then start driving again to take them to their night time activities.

Yep.  I was there.  We were doing stuff.  I was trying hard.  But, was it what they needed?  So, I changed my thinking.  I needed to change my priorities.  Each day I got exhausted, it's just the truth. So, I started reserving some time before the carpool, to take the 10-15 minute nap, so I wasn't falling asleep on the drive.  Did that cut into my time of getting laundry done, and dishes, and budgeting, and church duties, and all the other to do's?  Yep. But did my laundry need me to be awake?  Or do my kids?  I was reserving my best work for my chores, and not for my children.

Now enter, priority parenting. I am not perfect at this, but I keep working on it.  There are important things I want to teach my kids.  Are they just going to learn it by osmosis? Or do I actually have to put some effort into it.  Parenting can't be something that just happens, I have to plan for it.  What I have noticed, when I am successful at planning for this, I feel happy.  I accomplish the things I need to.  It isn't harder.  There isn't more to do.  I don't feel more overwhelmed. Things just work.

Each family will want to prioritize different things.  But, in our family these are our priorities:

1. Teach the gospel.  Yes, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but I think all people need to make a special effort to teach children their beliefs about God.  Love, respect, morals, kindness, obedience, honesty.  There is so much we all can gain by making gospel study an important part of our day.

2. Be there.  Not everyone can be a stay at home mom.  But I can.  For me, and our family, I know the best thing for us, is for me to be at home, to be there to teach and nurture our children.  Not every family has the same chance.  I haven't always felt strongly about being a stay at home mom, but I have seen the difference this can make in a family.  This has been a serious blessing for our family.

3.  Eat Homemade Dinner Together.  There's a couple things here.  Eating dinner provides a time to chat, discuss the things of the day, to slow down a bit.  But, back it up a bit.  Making a homemade dinner does a couple other things.  It teaches children how to...make dinner, they will need that someday.  It also teaches the importance of nutrition, and working together.  There's lots of good things here, just by simply making a dinner and eating it together.

4.  Make Learning a Priority-  Make a time each day to teach your child something.  Maybe it's reading.  Maybe math.  Maybe they are in high school, and they need to learn to drive.  Whatever it is, make time for it. Let your kids know that learning is important, and actually FUN.  My biggest plug here is, it doesn't have to take tons of time.  5 minutes here, 10 minutes there.  But mindfully making the time to learn makes a difference.

5.  The Purpose of the Task is to Strengthen the Relationship-  I have this on my wall.  This helps me remember to change my focus.  The point of parenting isn't to get stuff done.  And accomplish all sorts of things, it's to strengthen the relationship.  It's to learn.  It's to grow.  I have to remind myself of this ALL THE TIME.

6. Listen- Take the time to listen to your kids.  Tuning out is easy.  But tuning in can be one of the biggest rewards.  Kids say amazing things, and they share their hearts. We have to listen when it's inconvenient, so our kids know they can trust us to listen when it is most important.

7. Let them See you have other Priorities-  I know this seems weird.  But, kids need to know the world doesn't revolve around them.  And they need to see you have interests in things unrelated to them.  I believe kids need to see mom/dad wanting to learn and grow.  They need to know the world continues to be interesting even when you get OLD.  Of course, these interests don't take over your life.  It's one of the priorities...but balanced.   I know for me, this is quilting. And photography.  And digital arts.  And decorating.  The thing I love about it, is I can get my kids involved with me.  My husband works with wood.  In these times where we get to do what we love, we can share our skills with our kids.  We grow.  Our kids grow.  And we all have fun together.

These are just a portion of the things I think we need to do as a family.  Each family should come up with their own priorities, but most importantly, I think we need to change our focus to purposeful priority parenting (alliteration rocks).  When we parent with a purpose, we can make a huge difference in the lives of our children.  That difference can be felt for generations. Let's not just spin our wheels, let's put some grips on them, and go somewhere.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Creative Eye Thursday-You Can Quilt IT!

Creative Eye 
You Can Quilt It!
by Deborah M. Poole

Martingale, 2014; used by permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved

After reading this book, the best description of how I feel is inspired and humbled.  Deborah has been long arm quilting for only 6 years...probably since this book was published, 7.  But even though that seems long to some, to be this accomplished after such a short time is wonderful.

I love that her message to all of us quilters, is perfect practice makes perfect.  This is definitely a physical task, its an art, and we need to train our muscles.  If we train them by doing something incorrectly, we won't be able to make the progress we desire.  (I feel like I try to teach this to our children all the time).

Just FYI...this is definitely from a long arm quilters perspective.  I wish with all my heart, I had a long arm quilting machine.  But I don't.  So some of these things are a little hard for me practice.  {But Luckily....sometimes I get to work on a long arm quilting machine}

Some of the gems I learned from this book are:
  • use templates
  • mark less, but use registration lines
  • imperfection is to be expected, give the illusion of perfection
  • use different feathers for different kinds of quilts
  • tips for using less thread
Deborah gives instruction for common mistakes, and their solutions.  She also gives solutions for tricky corners, she has all sorts of math tricks to make things work out perfect.  She even gives her favorite thread choices for blending.

If you have ever wanted to really tackle quilting, and challenge yourself to become amazing, you should definitely check this book out.

Martingale, 2014; used by permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved

Martingale, 2014; used by permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Make it....Frames

Yep, that beautiful, organized, and perfectly clean garage is mine.

Okay, this was during Christmas preparations.  This was a particularly difficult year in getting my Christmas plans done.  Luckily, a dear friend and I had already planned our Christmas neighbor gifts, and we had planned to make them together.  The parts we did do together were really fun, too bad, I wasn't as much help as I should have been.  But, that's why we have awesome friends...they forgive us when we are a little less awesome. to make it.

1.  Have fun crafty friends.

2.  Decide the size of frame you want.  And cut the wood to the appropriate size.
(Since we were making about 40-50 frames each, we decided to make them frames by taking thicker boards, and cutting it into 1 1/4" wide planks by about 22".  We really tried to get as many frames out of each plank we could, so measurements were a little free and easy)

3. Glue and Nail.  Instead of mitering the edges, we butted them together.  Dotting a little wood glue on each connection point, and then use a nail gun and nail those little babies.

4. Sand and Stain.   After the frames have dried from glueing, sand and distress the frames to your liking.  Remove the sawdust, and stain.  For our stain, we mixed a little brown and a little gray stain until it looked like we liked it.  (Super duper scientific and exact).

5.  Attach the chicken wire.
Holy bananas.  Get some leather gloves. And some awesome wire clippers, you are in for the long haul if you are making very many of these.  We made about 14 of the chicken wire variety before giving up.  I was cut to pieces all over my arms. My wrist hurt from all the wire cutting.  Let's just say it was unpleasant.
Use a staple gun.  AND A MILLION STAPLES.  To attach the chicken wire, using a staple on each intersection is necessary.  And crazy time consuming.  Just saying.  

6.  Maybe give up, and use STRING. 
After working on those chicken wire frames, which were super cute and fun, but 50?  Uh no.  So, we found this string solution.  SOOOOO much easier, less pain, and tons faster.

To make it easier, my hubby made a template from a wood yard stick, then marked where the string needed to be attached with staples.  Once the marks were made, staple, staple, staple.  And Done.

So fun!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Creative Eye Thursday - Stack, Shuffle, and Slide by Karla Alexander

Creative Eye Thursday

Martingale, 2014; used by permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved

When I started scanning through this book, I found a number of fun quilts. I also noticed, that I was looking at an author who loves individuality.  I love how Karla has her own take on quilting, she doesn't take herself too seriously, and her love of quilting shows.

Deciding which quilt to make wasn't hard.  I thought I was just going  to make one block, like every other time.  But, as I got into it, I realized that this is a method/technique book, and the stack and whack method definitely requires a little more fabric....stacks of it actually (ha ha ha).

At this moment I wished I had more solids.  I have tons of fabric, so I made due.  I mixed patterns, with solids, and I think it turned out well.  I really had a blast making this.  I spent every free second I had yesterday putting this together.  I definitely enjoy freestyle quilting, but it does take letting go of the "rules" a little bit.

These are the blocks I put together.  Because I was just trying this out, and not fully committing to a whole quilt, I ended up with 8 blocks.  Hmmm.  So I quick pieced together the top left block, and pretended it was a block that could fit.  It's freestyle, things work out.

Here it is.  My quilt top, the Sarah version.    There are a couple things I wish I had done differently, but putting this together was really fun.  This could be a really fun quilt idea to play with in the future.  

If you are the type of quilter that doesn't like strict rules, and that likes to be a little free, you should totally check out this book you will love it.  I loved everything about this.  Hopefully you will too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Remake Your Table for Almost Free

A few months ago I was sidelined with a surgery that had me out of commission for 6 weeks.  Nobody likes to be out of commission.  After 2 weeks I was itching to get something done.  Even though I had just barely started driving again, I thought.."I can totally paint a table and chairs."

Sometimes I am not the brightest.

So, I gathered the family and sent them to take the chairs apart and carry the furniture outside.  They are my awesome helpers.

I found this little tutorial on pinterest, and used the recipe that used Plaster of Paris.

It was pretty easy.  Just light coats of paint.  Dry.  Sand.. And Repeat.

Next was time for distressing.  I mean really, these were going to get distressed either way.

Covering the table and chairs with PolyAcrylic was next on the menu.  It was easy to do.  And I was pretty excited to get it done.  Even though this project wasn't hard, it wasn't fast.  And I am a fast worker.  Mostly, just really impatient.  Plus, I got really tired, really fast.  Maybe painting while recovering from surgery wasn't my very best idea ever.   (but it was still fun to have it done)

The chairs definitely needed another cover.  In keeping with the idea of having this be "free" I went to my stash of fabric.  Pulled out a few vinyl covered fabrics and let my 14 year old choose.  I think she did a pretty amazing job.

I was pretty thrilled to have a staple gun at this point.  I've tried with with a manual staple gun before, having a pressurized one was AMAZING.  So fast.  I got these covers done in about an hour.

It was all finished!!!

What do you think?  Maybe you can make something for free, from the leftovers in your house too....
What will you create today?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Creative Eye - Sew Practical

Creative Eye

Sew Practical

This week I got to look into the book, Sew Practical, by various designers.  These are all nice quick little projects anyone could finish in no time.  As I looked through this book, there were a bunch of things I wanted to make.  The cover shows those cute grocery bags, I thought for sure that's what I would make, but as I looked at the materials I needed, I didn't have everything on hand.  

 Martingale, 2014; used by permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved

And I found this adorable bag.  But, again, I didn't have all the supplies.   But it is so cute.

Collecto's Item Tote Bag, Adrienne Smitke, Martingale, 2014; used by permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved 

Apron Strings Waist Apron, Adrienne Smitke, Martingale, 2014; used by permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved
Girl's Cool Tool Case, Linda Lum DeBono, Martingale, 2014; used by permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved

And then I came upon Linda Lum DeBono's, Cool Girl's Tool Case, and not only did I love the way it looked, but I had everything on hand.

I got to work.  Luckily, I had some wool on hand, and I LOVE working with wool.  If you have never worked with wool, you should definitely give it a try.  Wool is the bomb.  

Things went together very smoothly, and this was a very easy project to make.  One tip I would give anyone making this is keep checking the measurements as you work.  I didn't, and even though I used  interfacing, my wool distorted slightly, making the measurements not perfect.   

The front and the inside of this Cool Girl's kit are made separately, and then hand sewn together, so having them turn out the same size is of vital importance.  If you know this before you sew, you might make some adjustments before you sew each side. thing I learned.. Beading.  I have never beaded before, and well, I loved it.  But, I love working with wool, so, I wasn't surprised I loved it.  What did I learn?  Embroidery needles and beading needles, are not the same thing.  Who knew?  Well, I do now, and I have a nice set of beading needles now (why does it matter? beading needles need to have a very small head to fit through the bead).

And here's my, Cool Girl's Tool Case.  What do you think?  Want to go make one for yourself?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Awesome, Fast, and Inexpensive Headbands Tutorial

This weekend I spent some time making headbands for my girls.  My own girls, and the young women I serve at church.  This was really no big deal.  And certainly, if you sew at all, you may already know how to make these things. But, why not share the love, right?

First of all, do you all know the hidden gem that is Tuesday Morning?  They have tons of stuff, like dishes, sheets, pillows, toys, luggage, decorating items, etc.   But did you know, they kind of have some amazing goodies in the craft department.  And honestly, they are always a good deal.  The stock on hand changes all the time, so going often is important.  Sometimes I find things I love, sometimes I walk away empty handed.

I'm sure you have seen the elastic headbands and ponytail holders that are sold now.  It's kinda crazy, they are sold for $3-5 for 4 elastics or 4 headbands.  I got two headbands out of each package, and it was 79 cents.  Better part?  These were super good quality. A little thicker, nice for headbands, not as great for ponytail holders.
Figuring out this morning, this is what I wanted to blog about, there was a little sadness that I didn't have some adorable models to show off the headbands.  But, luckily, I have a head, and I have a ton of hair.  So, I will do.  But focus on the head band.  It stays tight, without slipping around, even when you have a lions mane.  And this thing is comfortable.


  • Cut the 1 yard of fold over elastic in that's 18"
  • Right sides together, sew together with a zig zag stitch
  • Finish it off by sewing a straight stitch on each side of the zig zag. (Why???? it helps secure something that really stretches, make it strong)
  • Turn inside out, and put in your hair.
  • DONE!

So easy, so cheap, so perfect.  I love easy things, especially when they are cute, and useful.

Okay....I had to show something else I pulled together this weekend.  This head band is adorably cute.  It's an 18 1/2" strip of twill, covered with a white stretch elastic.  So comfortable, and even looks a little dressy.  It was super easy to put together.  I just wrapped the lace around the twill, and did a straight stitch around each edge.  So Simple.  Then, I used a soft elastic to join the two ends.

I honestly loved this, because it was kinda serendipity.  I went to the fabric store to get something else, and found this lace on the clearance table.  Then the idea for this headband came to me.  And it is cuter than the idea I originally had.  When those things happen, I love it.  Like it's meant to be.

Questions?  Ask me in the comments..