Monday, December 31, 2012

Year End Highlights!


Check out some fun stats!

Most Popular Posts:
This year's most popular posts happened around blogging events, with one exception.

First, we had the flip flop to adopt fundraiser. Three posts around that were in the top ten. It wasn't one of the top posts, but if you missed it, here is the conclusion!

Next, we celebrated what would have been Garrett's first birthday with a series of guest posts. You can see all of them here but these were the three most viewed:
Tamara
Mike
Christine

The last of the 2012 top posts is our adoption journey announcement!

A few randomly trending posts from 2011:
Session 2 with the trainer
I am the Face of Stillbirth
Merry Christmas!

Most amusing search term:
goiter or fat neck

Top Referring Sites:
Hospital Mom
slate.com (from an Ask Prudence article)
SheLoves Magazine
Small Bird Studios

It's been a great blogging year! More to come next year, starting with Christmas projects and a new sponsor!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Unlikely Things



It snowed here Christmas night. Not much. Just enough to coat everything with white and enough to tickle us all. For the most part, the snow was too wet to really have fun in but we had a nice romp through the backyard, making the snow fall through the holes in the table in the back, whacking tree branches, and leaving foot trails everywhere.

Autumn decided to explore over where we (not very successfully) planted strawberries over the summer and suddenly yelled, "MAMA, THERE IS A GIANT PINK FLOWER!" I had no idea what it could be but sure enough, a bush that had never flowered before and seemed randomly planted had pink buds all over it and five or six large flowers. I cut some of them and we have this lovely bouquet. In the dead of winter! I think these are winter camellias and what an amazing surprise to discover after two and a half years of living in this home.



I posted this on facebook and a friend of mine commented with the word grace. And it is! I feel like it's a picture of our holiday season. Or our story of Garrett. Definitely the story of Garrett. At first it's just darkness, sadness, cold...but in the midst of it all, a beautiful bloom. Something beautiful and uplifting, against all odds. Doesn't it just make you smile?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas, friends


This week Autumn has asked a lot of questions about Garrett and why he didn't get to stay here. I'm not entirely certain why it's on her mind...although, really, it may just be because it's the holidays. I guess there isn't any reason that kids shouldn't feel loss more strongly at this time of year. Although it's tough sometimes, I feel like we've been able to have some great conversations. I tell her that because Jesus came (which is what Christmas celebrates), died, and came back to life (what Easter celebrates), we get to come back to life in Heaven when we die. And that's where Garrett is waiting on us.

I know many of you are missing loved ones this holiday season. I pray that you and your families experience the comfort and hope that comes from Jesus. I'll leave you for now with a bit Autumn and I read tonight from the Storybook Bible:

This baby would be like that bright star shining in the sky that night. A Light to light up the whole world. Chasing away darkness. Helping people to see. And the darker the night got, the brighter the star would shine.

May the Light shine bright, even and especially in the darkness.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Warrior Snowflakes

Today I taught my last kids' aikido class until January 8. I am so going to miss the kids but I need the break. I went to the doctor yesterday annnnnnd I really was sick! I have a double ear infection, pharyngitis, and a sinus infection. I am armed with an arsenal that will horrify my most granola friends but I DON'T CARE because I already feel better. Still tired. So the rest will be nice.

I happened to come across a great project today. The Sandy Hook Elementary PTSA is collecting home made snowflakes to decorate the school when the kids get back. Here's some more information if you're interested in participating:

The Connecticut PTSA has created a special way that PTA leaders, school employees and families can show their support for Sandy Hook Elementary School. Please encourage local schools and communities to send paper snowflakes for the school via the Connecticut PTSA by Jan. 12:
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514

And a link to a paper snowflake tutorial in case you're like me and need a refresher!

I decided to do this project with the kids at aikido. I spoke to each parent individually before class to see how much they had told their kids. Most told them what I told Autumn when she asked why the flags were half staff. I told her that something sad happened Friday and when she pressed, I said that someone did something bad and a lot of people got hurt and even died. I was concerned about telling her but it went really well and led to good conversation.

By the way, here's another link. This one is to a blog post at KidPower.org. I use their curriculum in my aikido classes and even in my self defense talks. At the end of the post, there are a number of other useful links for talking to your kids about emotional safety after tragedy and answering questions about school shootings. It's good information and not too unlike what we talked to Autumn about after Garrett died.

I had already planned to share a book called Tree of Cranes about a boy's first Christmas in Japan. I read it to my Thursday class and they loved it. It's a beautiful book and mentions the tradition of folding paper cranes for a wish to be granted. The book is not a Christian one and the mother descibes Christmas day as a day when enemies do not fight and there is peace. And that we need more of those days. Appropriate, right?

Afterward, I talked to my students about being compassionate warriors, especially since we practice aikido. The founder of aikido has these kinds of quotes:
To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury is Aikido.

Aikido is not a way to fight with or defeat enemies; it is a way to reconcile the world and make all human beings one family.

And so we made snowflakes!


Some of them are a little interesting but I'm going to send them all!


Then we had Japanese Christmas Cake! The one I made today was prettier but I didn't take a picture of it.


An unusual aikido class but still very aiki!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Recovery

I'm eating crackers and drinking honey water because I have no voice. I do have a fever, though, which is not a good trade. I'm not sure what the fever is all about. I've had this sinus thing for a week zapping all my energy. I think I pushed my voice over the edge when I cried from about noon until I had to pick Autumn up from school Friday. Saturday, I taught class silently. It was actually kind of fun. And maybe I should talk less when I teach anyway because everyone was amazing. The did a great job! And it was fun tapping out rhythms with my jo because I couldn't count. I felt like an anime character.

We had a really fantastic Saturday night. I talk about this all the time but the best thing we have done since Autumn was born was cultivating friendships. We had our community group party and like it was nice being with friends in aikido in the wake of Friday's tragedy (a local police officer and mother of 4 was also killed Friday), being with our community group was wonderful. I made korean barbecue. The others brought sweets. We played dirty santa and about 2 hours of apples to apples. I gave away our terrifying lamb with a demonic voice reciting Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Mike gave a freebie bag he got at a convention. He also added a book, a regifted movie, aaaand a can of tuna. He got...this...in return.

I didn't take any photos because we were having so much fun--I hate that! I did get a few snaps of the house before everyone came. I'm guessing the fever is partly because of the huge burst of energy I used up yesterday after teaching to finish cleaning. This is the finished Merry Bright Twinkle canvas. I did a Martha Stewart tuxedo bow and nailed the length of ribbon to the canvas frame. This made the piece easier to hang, too. I mentioned before that the wire spilled over the back too much and made it tough to lay flat. Hanging it from the ribbon and bow made it easier!

You don't even want to know how long this took. I feel like the table needs something else. Candle sticks?

I think the mantel looks better this year than last. Less empty, possibly. And, if anyone has any rug ideas, I am totally open.

Here's yet another thing that took far, far, far too long! Two things. I hate the phrase first world problem but putting up two trees is certainly a first world problem. We got the skinny tree that's in Mike's office when we were in our tiny house before this one. It's pre-lit and only has 3 parts. We still had the bigger tree we used that formerly belonged to Mike's grandmother who passed away before Autumn was born. The tree is in a box with about 100 pieces! Worth it, though. It definitely helps the living room feel less cavernous.

The writing on the board...I am not an artist. I can do layout. I can sew. I cannot draw. I am extremely proud of that sign! I found a chalkboard with writing and decoration I liked online and copied it. Here's the china cabinet. I was really worried about doing this but it wasn't too bad!

Here's the china cabinet with the table. Very festive. Possibly a little overboard. >.>

So I went light on the bar/desk thing.

And that's it. For now, at least. In the meantime, I am thankful for the people we love and who love us. And I pray for those who will desperately need the comfort of their friends for the rest of their lives.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Unthinkable


I wish I could unhear the news.

I wish I couldn't vividly picture the kids being asked to cover their eyes.

I wish that the first responders, survivors, funeral home people, parents, siblings...everyone...didn't have to go through this.

I wish I didn't know what it's like to explain to a child about death.

I wish I could stop seeing Garrett's casket and thinking of all the caskets that will be coming.

I wish Jesus would come back.

I wish He would tell me why.

I wish He would tell everyone why.

I wish I didn't know all the "right" answers.

Or maybe I wish the right answers actually helped.

My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
Psalm 119:28

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Cards

There's still time to order Christmas Cards! Pop over to my etsy shop to see our selection of cards and banners as well as other invitations and gift cards. If you get a Christmas card, I usually have a turnaround of less than a day so you have plenty of time to send it off to the one hour photo!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

ahhh, memories

(click to embiggen)

I thought you might like this piece from Carly Marie of Project Heal. One of the best things I got from the GriefShare curriculum from last year is that it's my job to make people feel comfortable about mentioning our lost loved one. I've never forgotten that and I make an effort to talk about Garrett casually or reference the time I was pregnant, things like that. Not in a maudlin or depressing way, just, "hey, this was part of my life the same way my pregnancy with Autumn was. And he's with me all the time in my heart, actions, and reasons for actions so I'm not going to pretend he isn't there." Not that anyone really expects me to forget him (I totally don't spend time with those people anymore!) but I like to think that makes it easier for people to say his name to me.

Here another interesting article about the former Kate Middleton's pregnancy. I guess I hadn't really thought about it but I have been hiding all the news on my home page about her severe morning sickness because I remember my own so strongly. I had morning sickness with Autumn until about 20/22 weeks and with Garrett for about 18/20. It was so terrible. I even have plug in scent things in the hallway because the damp, winter smell of the hallway brings the morning sickness back so vividly that I feel ill. One morning sickness recollection that makes me smile is of a day when I was teaching. We were sitting and doing toe touches when, as one parent said, I turned green. Their feet. It was so. bad. By sheer force of will I didn't puke and made it through the class! The mom said she was impressed, haha. After that, I sent notes home telling parents that their kids needed to wear socks with their shoes. A rule that still stands!

Anyway, sorry. Memory lane dragged me in a little! And gross memories at that!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

LANDMARK MOMENT!

You guys, today was one of my BEST DAYS EVER. Look what I got to present to Autumn...her very first colored belt in aikido!!


She did such a great job. All the kids did! I tested almost everyone at the Collierville location for the first time since I started teaching them in June. We had a good parental turnout and everyone did a great job with very few corrections needed. I am so proud of them! I need to ask the parents' permission to post their kids on the blog but after every test, we do a serious photo and a silly photo. So, of course, Autumn wanted a silly photo.


The only real hiccup was the belt presentation. Autumn went first because her certificate was on top after I finished signing them. She was supposed to be last. Poor thing got all confused about which hand to shake with and which hand to take her new yellow belt!


I'm also super happy because stephan came out and sat on the testing panel with me. I'm still in that early stage where I need to uke for the kids (let them throw me) because I don't really have a student who can do the advanced stuff. With Stephan there, I could uke but still have someone official looking watching the test. I've been at Mullins for a couple of years now and I have a few students who are definitely developing into test ukes. It's so great to see the kids grow.

By the way, if you want to check it out, here's our new website. I'm still building it, and site development is NOT one of my strengths so it will take a bit but at least it's getting there! And, have I posted our new logo here? My friend and former kali instructor Will Dixon (he still teaches, I just can't train with him with all the aikido I'm doing) drew this for us!


He based it off this photo of me throwing one of our old students during my first kyu (one rank before black belt) test. I believe I am doing a koshinage.


I wasn't expecting him to use that photo of me so I was very surprised. It's cool but a little weird! I made a couple of practice tshirts with the logo on that back and I feel a little strange about wearing myself, hahaha. I'll post some photos of that soon!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Recharging the Happy Tank

Man. Today I went to Hobby Lobby to get a few things. I am making a dress for Autumn and needed some tulle for the petticoat. I also found out our insurance is no longer paying for her occupational therapy, leaving us with a pretty decent balance on what they changed their mind about paying. That means I'm back to furiously researching to make a few things to help her myself. So, I got the materials to make this calming jar.

I also decided to look for something Christmas-y to put on Garrett's grave. Ug. Usually it isn't a terrible thing to do but I guess with all the people and happiness and "Santa Stops Here" stuff, I got all funky. And then this mom with a little girl standing (!) in the cart came by and she was singing an adorably garbled version of Jingle Bells. I just got my basket, headed to the checkouts, and left without everything I needed. I was about to burst into tears but there was this Salvation Army guy outside the store and he greeted me with such a big smile and happy hello that I couldn't help but smile back. Now I am home. I have my electric blanket and a mug of hot chocolate and I am going to blog about fun stuff.

On Thanksgiving morning, Autumn and I got up, had breakfast, and then we turned on the parade and crafted. Both were fun! I haven't watched the parade in years and I'm not sure Autumn has ever seen one, even on TV. Autumn worked on these.


I got the tutorial from Skip to My Lou. They look a little funky (too stuffed maybe?) but we had fun. Autumn drew and stuffed them and I sewed and pinking sheared. We have some more to make for friends but we'll get to them this weekend! I had my own projects on Wednesday and Thursday.


I'd like to put more stuff on the walls because our walls are pretty bare but I want to do it in a thrifty manner. I had these two canvases and the lights so I put together this little thing. I'm going to put some ribbon over the hanging wires and will post a photo when that is done. This is the link to my original inspiration. The project cost me about $1 since all I bought were the letters. I didn't expect the shiny letters to reflect so well so I am happy. If you want to make one, all I did was cut a small slash in the unpainted canvas (it was already white) with an xacto knife and I slipped the light bulb through the slit. Don't make it too big or you'll have to use glue or tape. I also suggest using either a deep canvas or lights with thinner wires than I used because it's kind of a pain to hang with everything bulging out the back.


Now, I am really proud of this one! It took FOREVER but I'm really pleased with the results! I took a styrofoam wreath core and wrapped it in grey and white yarn. And then I made coffee filter flowers! This is another one of those less than $10 projects! Hobby Lobby always has stuff on sale and they always have 40% off coupons so I got the yarn, wreath, and gold leaves on sale. I already had the coffee filters. Mike uses an aeropress to make coffee now so I've had those in a bag to give to someone. So glad I kept forgetting about it!


Here is a link to the tutorial I used to make the flowers. In the spring, I might try one of the dyed coffee filter flowers projects! And possibly one of the more complex flowers. I tried doing the kind where you cut a spiral and roll it together and that didn't look quite as nice and I have no idea why.


The chandelier is in the way but this is where I hung the wreath. That wall has been blank as long as we've lived in this house. I got the sconces on clearance at a little store nearby and that frame used to hold a painting that Lainey gave us that didn't really match anything anymore. I took the painting out and stored it in the hall closet. I really like it! I need to get candles for the sconces--and guess who has them 50% off right now, haha. Oh, and I got the idea for this wreath from this blog post.


All in all, although the holidays have their bittersweet moments, it's nice to remember how much fun this time of year can be. One of the best parts?


This one has so much fun being a helper. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Potential Adoption Update

I know many of our friends have been praying with and for us about a potential adoption. Unfortunately, the mother did not make it to her appointment. So, we continue to wait and pray, although perhaps slightly less expectantly!

More profile book, click to embiggen.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving and some adoption happenings

I hope my US friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a good day. In the past, we have gone to Birmingham to visit Mike's extended family so I think this might be the first Thanksgiving we spent at home. The family recently decided to do Memorial Day Weekend together in May and do a holiday gathering the Saturday before Christmas to spread out how often we see each other all together.

Autumn and I particularly had fun and having her around and excited about the things we did (post on that later!!) balanced out the vague melancholy I had all day. Nothing bad, just feeling a little meh. Holidays are always odd because I can't help but think of the one we are missing. It probably didn't help that as we were leaving Mike's parents' house, a family friend came by unexpectedly with her newborn. Mike and I were walking out as they were coming in so we were really surprised when Mike's mom turned around with a baby in her arms. I managed to be minimally awkward but Mike said he was so concerned he was outright weird that he thought about calling his dad to apologize. A strange thing for both of us to get all flustered since we aren't often bothered by babies. Mike even works in the nursery again at church!

I think it might partly be that we got a phone call Tuesday about a potential baby. Bethany sent our book out of state to an expectant mother whose baby is due Christmas. She has some special criteria that match up with the criteria we marked that we would consider which is why we got the call about a baby several states away. We're attempting to keep our hopes tempered but it's kind of difficult to not live in expectation. Her meeting is Tuesday. I rather enjoyed not ever knowing if our book made it to an expectant parents' table, you know? We'd really appreciate it if you would pray for that mom. And for us, of course, but I know that she is having the tougher time of it right now.

Oh, and don't forget about our friends' $10 for 10 days fundraiser! They leave in less than a week to bring home their little girls. So exciting! And, um, if the mom chooses us, we might be having our own fundraiser! I have a couple of fun ideas but if you have any, do share. Anyway, have a page from our profile book. I keep meaning to put them up here and now seems as good a time as any. You can click it to see it bigger.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hair!!

I recently read an article about a lady who doesn't wear makeup and believes that by skipping that step, she has more time to spend with God. I don't think that she meant it to be a blanket statement of womanhood, like all women should eschew grooming rituals for holiness (I'm sure there's an argument for grooming rituals being holy!). At least I hope not. While that is great for her, in case you haven't noticed, I don't really subscribe to that theory, hahaha. I love all the faces and colors and styles that are out there. Everyone is so beautiful. I have friends who are earthy, friends who are glamorous and friends who are funky and every kind in between. I fall more in the fun category. I smile at colors, shapes, shimmers and changes. And there isn't much I won't try or try on!

Because I had the same hair for so long, I think I'm getting hair changes out of my system! I had so much fun with my red hair but when I went in to get a new do, the stylist and I really got into the idea of something new! Now, I am orange and red and angles! Also, none of these photos are great. They are from my phone because I was too impatient to set my camera up for Mike to use it!


Mike doesn't love the bangs and the orange is on the edge of how much funk he can handle so I don't think this is a permanent change but so fun! And Mike said he can cope with it because I am so happy. :) The cut is angled. The front edges come to a point, there's a small v shape on the right and a deep angle on the left and everything kind of sweeps over towards that smaller v.


Even better? The guy who did my hair asked if I might like to be a hair model for the website after the first of the year! My answer was OF COURSE and I really hope he doesn't forget!! Hopefully soon I'll have some better photos. This weekend we're going to dress up and do some family photos while Mike's siblings are around and can take turn snapping photos. Fun!

Friday, November 16, 2012

More Etsy Stuff!

Well, I'm getting myself in gear and listing Christmas and winter items! Here's one of the Christmas cards in the shop now. It's a card I made some time back but I updated the colors and fonts to something a little more 2012.
Etsy link

I can't remember if I linked this before, but if you want a custom design or want to give someone a custom item--card, invitation, announcement, whatever--this is what you want to buy! My shop also accepts the Etsy Gift Cards they just launched.
Etsy link

The last of the Christmas things I've added this week is a banner. Penny asked me to make a banner for her Christmas photos and I like how it turned out so much that I made myself one! Her photo is on the listing if you want to see it. Here is mine:
Etsy link

The one on my fireplace is polka dots.

Penny's has stripes. And you can buy either!

This one has a funny story. I originally started this as a custom design for a friend throwing a party. When I sent the first draft, she liked it but her friend who helped her plan the party hated it so much she didn't want to work with me on a next draft! Which is fine but a first, hahaha. I had invested a decent bit of time on it so I finished up the invitation and listed it.
Etsy Link

And then I made a printable package! I looooove how this party theme turned out!
Etsy link

I still have a custom Christmas card to finish and I have zero inspiration on what our Christmas card will look like but I need to get it done. I really want to work on a dress for Autumn now. And maybe one for me. I wonder what it is about winter that makes me productive. The dress might have to wait--can you believe that next week is Thanksgiving??

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Not so Bulletproof



To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. 
~CS Lewis

Sunday's service was intense for me. Seriously, if you can, click here to listen to it. I'm not even sure I could do a good recap of it--I feel like I remember moments in strobe light snippets, if that makes any sense at all. I know that I poked Mike and told him that I needed to post a link on the blog because I feel like Passing Pinwheels is all about how we heal our hearts instead of closing them down and shutting away all of our feelings. I know he used the above quote, because I wrote that down. I spent the rest the sermon soaking in the words and didn't write a thing down. I'll listen to it again.


After the sermon, they played a video by the Family Pastor about the 1.17 ministry. I can't find the video but I will link it if the post it. The ministry gets its name from Isaiah 1:17, Learn to do good. Seek Justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless. Anyone who knows me in person is smiling because I am all about justice! So, obviously I love this verse and because we are adopting, the video definitely tugged at my heart strings.

Before the video, Mike left to run to the bathroom and when he saw that they were going to play something on foster care and adoption, he decided to stay outside because he already felt a bit emotional.

I was fine, for the most part. But then Mark got up on stage. He started to speak. And then his voice broke. He said, "I cried when I filmed that video and I am going to cry now..."

I got up. I marched to the back of the room. As I burst out of the doors, raised my hands to hide my eyes and started weeping, Mike was already rushing towards where he knew I was going to come out. Because, you see, Mark did Garrett's funeral. And he cried the entire time he honored our Garrett's far too short life.

Mark's compassion and love for children is beautiful. And I am so thankful for it, even though I suspect I will cry every time I see him cry.

I asked Mike if we'd ever stop having moments like this. He said, "probably not." I don't really like it but, I'm also kind of thankful. Because it means I'm not titanium. My heart is not locked away for all that sometimes I wish I could make the hurting stop.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Holiday Gift Exchange


I wanted to give you a heads up that Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope is doing a Holiday Gift Exchange. I signed up to participate! From the blog post:

The upcoming holiday season is supposed to be ‘the most wonderful time of the year.’ But we all know, it’s these ‘special’ times that can really hurt the most. For many of us, the holidays are an incredibly bittersweet time, and a painful reminder of the little one(s) who should be there to celebrate them with us.
We hope this gift exchange will help brighten up the holidays for those of us missing our babies. Participants in the exchange will be matched with another Mom or Dad and can buy or hand-make their partner something in honor of their baby – an ornament, a special candle, anything! Participating is not only a great way to honor and include your child(ren) this holiday season, but a chance to connect with someone you may not have ‘met’ before.

For more information or to sign up, click here. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Making the Saya in the Baro't Saya

I have really enjoyed my serger! I'm going to use it today to finally hem some workout pants I've been avoiding for some time because it's silky fabric and a huge pain to hem. But, it is getting cold and it MUST BE DONE or my legs will freeze. It was 32 degrees this morning and there were kids walking to school in shorts!! I get cold when it's about 60 degrees.

Anyway, I made a super simple 10 minute skirt with my serger! Autumn's school had a multicultural parade last Friday. My mom happened to have a baro, a gauzy blouse-like top that people in her part of the Philippines wear over a camisole. I ran over to Hancock where I got some pretty pink plaid fabric for $2. And voila! Autumn had the makings of the baro't saya!

I'm glad we did it because she was the only one with a costume from the Philippines--which they spelled wrong on her sign! The head covering is just a square of the leftover skirt fabric. Here's the top my mom had. I should have tacked the top under the arms to make big sleeves but I didn't want the top to tear and I didn't know how active the parade would be. This one's a little big for her, too.

Once upon a time, it would have been made of pineapple cloth but those weavers are more rare now so it'd be pricey to get a really authentic pineapple cloth outfit. Here's the full view.

I can't believe how easy the skirt was. A lot of times, the traditional skirt is a wrap around but I don't know if Autumn can handle one of those. It might drive her sensory issues crazy with how it sits! So, I took two cone shaped pieces of fabric and sewed them right sides together. Soooo easy with my new serger. Then, I used the rolled hem feature to hem the bottom. Last, I took elastic, stretched it over the waist of the skirt and serged them together!

I did make one mistake. I cut the elastic about an inch smaller than the waist measurement. I really should have cut it two or three inches smaller but for my first time cheating this way? I am so not worried about it. Yay!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Helping out some friends

Earlier this year, Mike and I were really prayerfully considering the family history of our future child as our home study wound down. For those of you who haven't had to fill out that yes, no, will consider form, it can be a brutally soul searching process.

Right about that time, a member of our church named Kathy went up to Mike one Sunday morning and introduced herself to him. Kathy and her husband live behind Mike's best friend from childhood Frank and his wife Emily. She knew a little about us through them and felt led to share her story. You can read more at Kathy's blog so I won't spoil the story but I'm not sure she'll ever know what an encouragement and blessing she was that day to Mike. They sat in the foyer of the church and talked the entire service.

Not too long after that, after talks with family, talks with the pastor, talks with each other, and talks with Autumn (you get the idea--lots of talking) we finished the form. There are almost zero no boxes checked on that family history form. This isn't the answer for everyone but we're pretty much open to whatever baby God chooses to send our way.

Anyway, I tell that story because Kathy and her husband are stepping out in faith in the coming weeks--well, everything about their journey has been a step of faith but you know what I mean! They are trying to raise the $10,000 needed to travel to China to bring home two daughters before December 12. They are asking people to donate $10 for the 10 days of their travel, only $1 a day. Please visit their site and consider donating. I know times are tough and there are so many needs so if you aren't in a position to give, please pray! Kathy was such an encouragement to us that I hope I can send some encouragement to her family!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Semi-homemade Halloween

It is SUCH a lovely day today! Breezy and warm but feels like fall! I did most of my chores already so I'm doing this post while listening to Mike and Autumn rake leaves outside the playroom window. I looooove this time of year! I thought I'd go ahead and do the costume posting before it got so far from Halloween that it feels weird, haha. I didn't make anything for Autumn's costume, although I did rather want to give the mermaid a try. Lainey found this adorable costume, though, so I'm happy.


Here we are all together on Halloween night. I made the banner in the background! made the original for Penny who wanted a small one to hold in their Christmas card photos. I liked the banner so much that I changed the colors to orange/black/purple and the font to one of my favorites. Super quick and I love how it turned out.


This is Mike's Sherlock Holmes costume! It's the semi-homemade one. I got the hat for $5 on Amazon! The price went up right after I bought it. I didn't like how stark the houndstooth was so I used a cheap Rit dye to make it brown. Because Mike can't deal with being hot, he didn't want to wear his trench coat with the hat. I have to admit, I didn't love how they looked together myself. I went out to this great Salvation Army in the Bartlett area and found EXACTLY what I was looking for!


This is the picture I sent to Mike when I found it. I also found a tweed suit that would have worked but after finding someone Mike's size to put it on for me (ha), I think it would have been too small. I took the tie, opened it up, pressed it and BAM a DIY ascot! I didn't need it to be perfect so it was great! But if you want something nicer, here's a good tutorial.


It wasn't necessary but I switched out the original buttons for gold ones. A small change but I think it made the vest pop!


Mike already had a pipe and I got him a small magnifying glass. The magnifying glass wasn't a huge addition to the costume because it stayed in his pocket most of the time but I also bought it because it would look good on his desk as decoration. By the way, all that stuff in the background? It's Autumn's "hotel."


My costume started out really simple. I ordered an inexpensive white hakama and figured I'd dye one of my old gis blue. Add a cross shaped scar and I would be Himura Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin! SO NOT THAT SIMPLE.


I ordered the hakama in plenty of time and the delivery window was before the party. But after the initial ship notification, nothing happened until 2 days before the party. There was no way it'd get to Memphis from LA in time so I went to plan B and started the refund process for the white hakama. I decided to be Jin from Samurai Champloo. He isn't as recognizable as Kenshin but he has a similar gi top and I already have a black hakama.


Dying the gi did NOT work out. I used Rit navy blue and the gi turned lavendar. Not gonna work. I recently got a serger so I decided making a gi might not be too bad. It wasn't! I used a tutorial but I didn't like the way the top turned out so I'm not going to bother linking it. I ended up tweaking the sleeves and the fit on my own. Don't ask me how, though, because I would not do it that way again. Jin's blue top is actually a yukata, I think, and if I did do it again, I'd make it longer so the bottom wouldn't show in the hakama slits. And one thing worked out very well--I used a gi two sizes smaller than the one I train in for the yukata underlining.


The white squares are some fabric I had on hand. I cut them with a craft knife and hot glued the shape onto the yukata. Not the way I would do it if I had more time but it worked out perfectly. I made Jin's beads out of one of Autumn's broken princess necklace, haha. And the obi? It's the pirate sash Mike wore two years ago! I already have tabi socks (I found my white ones in time for Halloween but had to wear black to the party)so I wore those with flip flops. I didn't want to bother with authentic shoes. :)


If I were really cosplaying Jin, I would have a wig but I think what I did do was enough. I also didn't bother with the right looking swords. I just carried my bokken. I managed to find a cheap pair of reading glasses at Target that look like Jin's! I popped the lenses out and had no problems at all. Oh, want to see something funny? I overshot the arm curve with my serger. I thought about starting over but I'm cheap (even though my fabric cost $2) and decided to cut that section out and patch it. It didn't show when I put it on!


So, there you go! Our semi-homemade halloween! Plus my mom who was hilarious on Halloween night.