Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Poetry

pinwheel, pinwheel
source

Who Has Seen the Wind?
Christina Rossetti
Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

Back in July 2011, I chose the name Passing Pinwheels for this blog after re-reading a poem by Christina Rossetti. This is what I wrote what feels like a thousand years ago:

I see the wind. I see it in the branches outside the playroom window. In the clouds rushing across the sky. In the pinwheel, merrily spinning at Garrett's grave. And, perhaps as I write, I can remind myself that just because I can't see the wind...it doesn't mean that He isn't there.

Ken has written another poem (in addition to the one he wrote when we found out that we weren't take Grant home), this one using the name of this blog as inspiration. He hadn't read the post where I talk about the blog and I can't quite figure out how he did such a good job of capturing what I believe is the spirit of my internet presence. Ken writes: Today's poem is taken from the title of Sharaze Colley's blog. The title is striking, and has been rolling around in my head for a while. I hope I've captured something of what she intended by it. I have added it to the album that is donated to their adoption process

Passing Pinwheels
Kenneth Alan O'Shaughnessy
 Colors burning in the bright summer sun
Kaleidoscoping in the breeze
Friends beside me to share in all the fun
There are no other joys like these

Passing pinwheels from hand to hand
And smiles from face to face
Sharing our simple God-spun joys
Blown our way by grace

Sometimes we have to create our own wind
When the breezes cease to blow
We blow and blow with all the breath God gives
To try to make the pinwheel go

Passing pinwheels from hand to hand
And smiles from face to face
Sharing our simple God-spun joys
Blown our way by grace

And when the soft breezes blow in the clouds
And the sun hides behind the rain
We pass the pinwheels safe on the porch
Until the fair winds blow again

Passing pinwheels from hand to hand
And smiles from face to face
Sharing our simple God-spun joys
Blown our way by grace

All we need is the breath of God
A little paper and a stick
A bunch of friends who'll stay with us
Through the thin and thick

Passing pinwheels from hand to hand
And smiles from face to face
Sharing our simple God-spun joys
Blown our way by grace


I do have an update. Bethany has sent the birth father a letter of notification of Grant's birth. As soon as they can, they are going to set up a meeting. Once they get his answer, they'll meet with us to discuss next steps. SO, same prayers as before:
1. K and her other children are safe.
2. God will go ahead and soften the birth father's heart and he will sign the waiver releasing Grant to us.
3. This is resolved quickly. A has to leave for a mission trip next week. It would be wonderful if Grant didn't have to go to another interim care home.
4. Our hearts are also prepared for whatever the outcome here. And, I'll add, wisdom.

On another note, I am working on some photos of a project I started at Christmas for Mike! I'm finishing something up on it because I wanted to ask him what he thought before I did it. Hopefully I can do that tomorrow. I might also share what I made for the Grant Gotcha Day Fundraiser. I want to step out in faith and go ahead do the fundraiser but...I don't know. We'll see.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Waiting and Praying

I feel better today. Thank you for your prayers and messages and calls. So many people have told me they have a peace about this that it can't help but bring us a little more peace. Too, I am so thankful that almost everyone has avoided too many pat answers because, well, if there's anything Mike and I know at this point, it's all the "rough times" trite phrases!

We went to see Grant Jaden tonight. This morning we really felt like we couldn't handle it. But about 4pm, I suddenly decided we needed to go. Mike and I both agree it was the right thing. The knot in our stomachs is much smaller after spending time with both Grant Jaden and his caregiver.

There isn't much new information. They have located the birth father, which is good. But the agency is trying to take measures to be sure that K is safe. She kept quiet about the birth father because she was afraid of what he might do to her. Once she is taken care of, the birth mother counselor will visit the birth father and talk to him.

We are praying that:
1. K and her other children are safe.
2. God will go ahead and soften the birth father's heart and he will sign the waiver releasing Grant Jaden to us.
3. This is resolved quickly. A has to leave for a mission trip next week. It would be wonderful if Grant Jaden didn't have to go to another interim care home.
4. Our hearts are also prepared for whatever the outcome here.

All we can do now is wait. And pray. Thank you for doing both with us.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hanging by a Thread

20 minutes before the call.


I don't want to grow anymore. I don't want to be tested anymore. I just want...something. I want Grant Jaden. I want Garrett. I want to use this nursery we have set up twice. I want a lot of things.

Today we got another call. Grant Jaden's birth mother has named a birth father. The truth is always best but it means we can't take Grant Jaden home tomorrow whereas had we known from the beginning, this time could have been used to track him down. I don't know what happens next. I know some details about the situation and they are not ideal. The birth father is not someone who is fit to raise an infant but he must be found and notified of Grant Jaden's birth. Bethany is meeting tonight to decide what's going to happen. K still wants us to parent Grant Jaden. So that's good. In the meantime, we wait.

Pray for wisdom all around. That Mike and I can live with whatever God's will is. That the birth father will allow us to parent Grant Jaden. Please pray for Autumn. She is sorely disappointed. We all are. I am...I am having a hard time. I know I'll be fine. But right now I just want to go to bed and stay there forever.

Update: I heard from Bethany just now. They will start looking for the birth father tomorrow. Whether or not we take Grant Jaden home depends on the birth father. Disappointing, but better than 3 months from now. I'm trying to hang in there. Helpful verses from friends:
Psalm 94: 18-19
When I said, “My foot is slipping,” 
 your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. 
When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy.

Psalm 5:22
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

Thank you for your messages and prayers. They keep us together.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Recipes and More

Before it gets much later in the year, I want to share some photos from our annual New Year's party! I love having a brunch so much! It's a great time of day, a nice one last party before the vacation is over and, of course, I loooove breakfast food! I'll post some recipes throughout the post because people have asked for them and it'll be easier to just reference friends this way! Plus it'll be nice to have this post to refer back to next time around.

I found this fantastic chalk board at Hobby Lobby on clearance right before Christmas. Last year, I printed out a menu and framed it but I like this so much better. Even if my handwriting is terrible!

I don't usually serve alcohol at parties because I'm cheap but this year I decided to try doing mimosas and bloody marys for my friends who enjoy that kind of thing. I have to say...I thought the bloody marys were pretty gross! But, the people who like them, really enjoyed the shooters I made. I used a Cook's Illustrated recipe and made it ahead of time. I garnished with little bitty celery sticks. So fun! The plastic shot glasses were way cuter than I expected they'd be, too!

Here's the Bloody Mary recipe! I doubled it for the party and had leftovers. Honestly, I don't think I'll do these next time!

From Cook's Illustrated:
Clamato or V8 juice can be substituted for the tomato juice. You can liven up these drinks by garnishing with dilly beans, colossal green olives, caper berries, pickled asparagus, or even chilled poached shellfish, such as shrimp or crawfish. This recipe can be doubled.
Ingredients
3 cups tomato juice
1 cup vodka
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Ice (for serving)
4 ribs celery, trimmed (for serving)
Lemon wedges, or lime wedges (for serving)

Instructions
Whisk the tomato juice, vodka, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, salt, pepper, and Tabasco together in a pitcher or large bowl. Pour over ice and garnish with the celery and lemon wedges before serving.

To Make Ahead:
Bloody Marys can be refrigerated, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 6 hours before serving.

The mimosas were another story! I've had them before and never liked mimosas much. So, I tried out something a little more than just champagne and orange juice. I tripled the Holiday Mimosa recipe from AllRecipes.com and had no leftovers! I'm happy with how the raspberry dressed up the, again, plastic champagne flutes. This is definitely a do again.

I will tell you this. There is no such thing as Too Much Bacon. I ran out last year so I literally quadrupled how much I made this year. I RAN OUT AGAIN. I saw people with entire platefuls of just bacon. The funny thing about it is that there isn't really a "recipe." I throw the ingredients together and it always turns out perfectly! One tip...don't do this with uncooked bacon  because it's entirely too greasy. I'm sure there's a way to do it, maybe by pre-cooking the bacon yourself, switching to another pan and then adding the brown sugar.

Brown Sugar Bacon, Party Version:
1 Package Pre-Cooked Bacon (I prefer costco's kirkland brand)
Brown Sugar
Black Pepper (in a grinder is best)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place one layer of precooked bacon in a 9x13 dish. Sprinkle brown sugar over the slices, I usually pinch the brown sugar using all 4 fingers. Grind pepper over the brown sugar, 5 or 6 turns. Repeat layering as needed. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 30 minutes. Keeps well in a chafing dish.

Dinner version:
Use only one layer on a baking sheet, cook 10-15 minutes depending on preferred crispiness.

I always try something new at a party, mixed in with the old favorites. This year I did a toast bar! So fun! I put a basket of breads on a cart next to the toaster: multigrain, sourdough, and cinnamon raisin breads and plain and everything bagels. Across from the cart on the table, I had honey, nutella, cookie butter, cream cheese, apple butter, strawberry preserves, blackberry jam, and butter. Everyone loved it! And, even better? I had all of those toppings just anyway!

I actually have some more recipes to share but I just realized this is going to be long so I'll post them another time! I don't have photos of the quiches or the hash brown casserole so I'll have to make them sometime--yummmmm. Until then, this is the last food pic...the chocolate fountain! This is our party mainstay! Everyone loves the chocolate fountain and it's sooo funny because Mike's mom got this for Mike as a joke! He was wondering why anyone would ever need a chocolate fountain. Well. I think we've had this for about 7 years now and we use it at every party!

Of course, without proper supervision, the chocolate fountain becomes a clothing and face destroyer, hahaha. But really...parents....watch your kids when there's a chocolate fountain! Etiquette alert! We had a couple of visitors who came for the first time and their kids positively razed the dessert buffet (and no they don't read this blog so it probably wasn't *your* kids, friends who are reading!). I expect people to eat a LOT so I make a LOT. But...wow. I was positively shocked at how some people acted, like...like wild boars! At the same time,  I shouldn't be surprised. I had to ask the same family to take the play swords back to the playroom and away from the china cabinet!!

Now that I have sounded like an old grump...I know I've posted photos of our decorations, but doesn't it look so much better with people added?? So much homier and comfortable!

How cute is this? We invite our neighbors and a good many of them usually come. For two years now, our neighbors in the cove have brought their daughters in traditional Korean New Year's clothing. So fun!

And, finally, the last photo I believe we will take as a family of 4. Too crazy!

:) Don't forget that Ken is still offering his podcast of "How Did You Become a Child of Mine?" I do have a fundraiser of my own ready to kick off on Monday! Stay tuned! Here's a hint:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yep, Totally Planning to Keep Throwing People!

This is way too fun to give up!

A lot of people have been asking me if I am going to continue teaching aikido after Grant gets here. Most aren't terribly surprised when I say yes! It's a big change from how people were before Autumn was born. When I would say I was going back to my training, people would nod knowingly and be all "riiiight." But since I kept training after all the drama around Autumn's birth (I still haven't told that story, have I?) and even after being so sick with Garrett, I guess people have realized that I really am going to keep doing what I love! Plus, I do the administration from home, teach a few hours a week, at times when Mike or other family can keep Autumn (and now Grant), can it get any better? Well, I could make more money, but I won't quibble, ha! Not to mention that I could (and might) write a book about how aikido and my children's classes are a huge chunk of the reason I am doing so well today!

While all my classes are going to resume on February 5 (Mike and I are taking next week off), I am making adjustments. I was going to do my group fitness certification test in February but I am going to put it off until March. I could probably still get the studying in before the February test date but I don't want to leave Grant for 8 hours 2 weeks after he comes home. Longer since the test is in Olive Branch and it will take an hour to get there!


So, we'll see how thing go! Stephan calls this doing ukemi for life. In aikido, we teach people the art of falling, or ukemi. No matter how someone pushes or pulls, you can always roll out and rebound safely, going with the flow in a positive manner. It's a good life metaphor isn't it?

Don't forget that our friend Kenneth O'Shaughnessy is donating all proceeds from the purchase of his poem "How Did You Become a Child of Mine?" He has added two new items to the package! One is a recording of me reading the poem and the other is a message from our family. Check it out!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Great days and great friends

One of the big themes of this blog is friendship. How could we ever have survived and even, in some ways, thrived in the face of loss--not only losing Garrett, but losing a variety of expectations for the future around our children, my health and even just the idea that everything will be okay if we try really hard--without the support of our friends and family? Yesterday is on my list of best days ever and it's all because of our amazing friends!

First, let me share a sweet surprise I found on Facebook last night. I met Kenneth Alan O'Shaughnessy through my dear friend Christine. He wrote a poem in honor of Grant Jaden's adoption last week and you can hear his presentation here as well as purchase a download. Ken is donating the proceeds to our adoption! Here is the poem:

How Did You Become a Child of Mine
Kenneth Alan O'Shaughnessy
How did you become a child of mine?
You weren't dropped by a stork from the sky
You were not grown in a cabbage patch
Nor baked in the oven like a pie

How did you become a child of mine?
Not how baby Eskimos come
With noses rubbed in a frozen cold kiss
Til li’l boogers fall out in the sun

How did you become a child of mine?
Were you sent from Heaven by God?
Did Mommy and Daddy try really hard?
Do we tell with a wink and a nod?

How did you become a child of mine?
It was with travail and pain
Although you didn't grow inside of me
Except in my heart and my brain

How did you become a child of mine?
I waited until you were here
Then chose you alone to become my own
Because you were already dear

How did you become a child of mine?
I waited and prayed night and day
You are the answer to all of my prayers
And I love you in every way

Continuing the Sunday of Awesome...A brought Grant Jaden to our house to meet a whole lot of family members! I am so thankful to her. Everyone wanted to meet him this weekend but for a variety of reasons, Sunday was the best day for it. We didn't want to bombard A with 10 guests so we asked her to come to our house. We had an absolutely wonderful time! Here's Nanny and Boppa meeting his namesake:


And the day doesn't stop there! Last Wednesday, we went to community group and they totally surprised us with a party!


Tara made us a GIANT cake. Seriously, it was four full sized layers AND the chocolate layers had chocolate chips!


Elyse brought us some baby things...that outfit is toooo cute. Dede couldn't make it Wednesday (boo work!) but she stopped at the dojo and delivered an envelope--gift certificates for a babymoon!


We absolutely could not believe it but got in gear to take advantage of it! Autumn didn't have school today and Mike didn't have to work so she happily hopped over to Mike's parents' house and we went out! We got to go to Carrabba's for dinner and we had massages at a place offering a new location discount. Then we went out to see a friend's band. If you get a chance to see Monday Night Card, definitely take it! Afterward, we watched the BBC Sherlock (Mike hadn't seen the finale of season 2) and then, best of all, TOTALLY SLEPT IN. Seriously, I slept until about 8am. I cannot remember the last time I did that!


So, there you go. Best Sunday in a very long time and all because of wonderful friends and enthusiastic family!

Friday, January 18, 2013

First Sight


Meeting Grant Jaden went very well. He's seriously adorable and so very quiet, especially compared to Miss Autumn who pretty much spent year one crying! And I got to go with Grant Jaden and A to the doctor yesterday and he is as healthy as can be. Mike and I are going to bring him to our house for a few hours on Sunday so the grandparents can meet him and we are super excited! We talked to a good friend who had a similar situation with her youngest son's adoption and they visited and brought their son home a few times to get him used to the people and smells of their house and family. Makes sense to me!

I'm still getting things ready around here. I'll start on the nursery this weekend because I have finally gotten Christmas taken care of and everything put to rights downstairs. Autumn asked to keep her Christmas stuff in her room a little longer and I told her that was fine. Her pink Christmas tree could very well be a Valentine tree anyway! Blog-wise, I still have some posts to get caught up on and I think we might do a small fundraiser next week! It'll be a fun one so stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

So much to do!

K's court appointment is happening right now. Please pray for her because I know it cannot be an easy thing.

We are also going to meet Grant today. I have the blanket we have been carrying around and a lovey Autumn slept with last night. She has a pink lamb blanket called Baa so we got Grant what she is calling Blue Baa. Autumn also insisted on getting him something that makes noise so we got a soft rattle. Too cute.


An overwhelming number of people have asked me how they can help. At the moment, we absolutely covet your prayers. Here are the highlights:

1. Grant's birth mother: For healing and strength as well as a strong support system and the counsel and comfort she will need in the days to come.
2. Our family: That we can get the house ready for Grant, help Autumn with the transition, and bond together when he finally comes home.
3. Finances: I even hate to talk about it but please do pray for us as we work out the financial end of things from everyday to the final adoption fees.

As far as more tangible assistance, we have most of the big things. Car seats, crib, changing table, etc. There are a few smaller items we do need and in the next couple of days I plan to start bringing items from the attic to the nursery to make sure everything's still in good shape. If anyone has boy winter clothing, I don't have anything like that. We can also always use diapers, wipes, rash cream, and the like. When we meet Grant, I'll find out what formula he uses. I also have a scheduled pow wow with a friend to find out the best way to care for Grant's hair, haha. Of all the things to be concerned about, right?

Oh, and our sweet, wonderful community group is planning a short meal rotation just to give us a little time to spend with Grant and Autumn and not have to worry about grocery shopping and making dinner. Such a blessing to us! If you're interested in joining, let me know and I'll pass your information to Elyse who is coordinating.

Thank you, friends. This is simply amazing.

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's Official Enough to Name Him

I know so many have been waiting on an update and I am so sorry!! I'm finally caught up on phone calls, emails, and texts...I think! If you have contacted me but haven't heard from me, definitely prod me!

We met our birth mom, I'll call her K, at noon today. The meeting went better than anything in my wildest dreams. We talked for 2 hours with almost no awkwardness or lag. She loves her three children at home so much and is such a great mom that we can only feel honored that she'd trust us with her son. I couldn't feel any better about having an open adoption than I do right now. I might not feel this way in a few hours but at this moment, I feel incredibly calm and comforted. It isn't only a great meeting that has brought such peace. It's also you, your messages, your prayers, and the amazing grace of God. Thank you. There is no sufficient amount of thank you that I can give to all of you.

As of right now, we are planning to bring home our son 10 days from when K can make it court to sign the paperwork. She and the birth mother counselor have already called to set the time but the chancery court didn't call before the end of the day. If the appointment is tomorrow, the come home date is Friday, January 25. If it is any other day this week, it will be Monday, January 28, because of the weekend.

Tohru's expression is how I feel.

I've got a lot more to say but for now, how would you like to know his name? We went around and around with a name. Mike had his heart set on the name Grant. I wasn't really feeling it until my friend Christine mentioned that she liked the gift aspect of the name. Mike mainly just thought it was a great name and I've been so flustered I wasn't thinking at all. But I always wanted a name that meant or indicated a gift or joy or laughter.

Autumn has my middle name for her middle name. And Garrett was Garrett Michael. We bounced around Grant Michael but that's way too similar. I told Mike I loved the idea of our baby having a family name. We went through a few of them and finally settled on one that was mentioned Saturday. Boppa's name is Nolan. I like that name a lot and I love the idea of our baby having his name. When I talked to K, she said that she had chosen a name but that she didn't have any attachment to it and asked what we picked. We told her, and told her the story behind the name, and she approves. So, it's official. I might have to get Mike to write about telling Boppa that we were naming the baby after him because it's a great story.


This afternoon I texted Grant's interim caregiver to find out the best way to communicate with her and told her my name and that the social worker gave me her information. The caregiver, I'll call her A, texted me back, "Are you Grant's mom?" My heart almost fell out through my feet. I got to call her and talk to her and A says Grant is a sweetheart, quiet and happy, rarely cries. She told us to sleep with a blanket to bring to him. I'll do that and pick up a lovey tomorrow for Autumn to sleep with. I think Mike and I might try to meet Grant in person Wednesday and Thursday A invited me to his one week pediatrician appointment.

This is just so unreal!!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

THE CALL

My sister in law Lindsay had a dream Friday night that after her baby shower Saturday, Mike and I got a phone call about a baby.

What is up with Lindsay having prophetic dreams??


Sure enough, at the end of dinner last night, Mike and I got THE CALL. A surprise baby. And we are the birth mother's first choice.

We don't know a lot of information because Bethany didn't become involved until the baby was born on Friday. In 24 hours, our social worker and the birth mother counselor got a LOT done. I'll try to answer the questions our various facebook friends have asked...we do know that the baby is a healthy boy, about 6 pounds. We have seen a photo and he is ridiculously cute but we don't feel comfortable posting it yet. He doesn't have a name and the birth mother hasn't indicated a preference to be involved in the naming. That was something we checked "will consider." We're thinking of names right now but haven't settled yet so if you have any ideas, let them flow!!

Maybe Baby Colley is in interim care locally (this is all happening locally) until 10 days after his birth (next Monday) unless the birth mother expresses a desire for us to go ahead and take him home before her parental rights are officially terminated. The birth mother is asking for some visitation, but nothing we haven't already decided we're fine with: quarterly visits at Bethany for two years and the usual photo schedule for an open adoption.

We are rather in shock but cautiously excited. We told Autumn that there was a mom who might like us to take care of her baby and we showed her the picture. She said, "I hope this is our baby. It's okay that he's not a girl." Ha! We meet the birth mother tomorrow at noon. And we'll know more then.

A lot of people have asked how they can help. Right now, I think prayer and good vibes are the best. After tomorrow we'll have a better idea of if this is really happening, although the social workers seems really confident. In the past, she's been much more reserved than she is this time around. Provided all looks well, we'll start dragging baby things out of the attic, begging friends for baby boy clothes, freezing some meals, and figuring out the new schedule. In the meantime, I have no idea what to wear and while I asked the social worker if it'd be okay to bring flowers or a small gift for the birth mother (she said it'd be a sweet gesture), I suddenly don't know what to get that isn't weird. Ahhh!

Craziness! More tomorrow, I promise!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Autumn and Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is the child who asks me really, really hard questions!

Autumn is preoccupied with death lately. More so than usual, rather, because she talks about Garrett fairly regularly. Recently her questions are disturbingly sharp like, "why did your tummy take care of me but not baby Garrett?" I try to be honest and tell her that I don't know and the doctors don't know and inevitably we start talking about God and Heaven. Sometimes she is angry and I tell her I understand. Sometimes it leads to funny conversations like this morning when she asked if God lives in our hearts, is his house shaped like a heart that we draw. So I explained to her physical and metaphorical hearts.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is coming up and, especially since we are in Memphis, there is a lot of talk about him, his work and his death.  They must be talking about him at school because every time we are in the car for more than 10 minutes, Autumn wants to talk about MLK. Yesterday she wanted to know if he was a king so we talked about first, middle, and last names. And then she needed to know why he's a junior like the tv station at Lainey and P'd's called Nick, Jr.!

The first time Autumn brought up Martin Luther King, Jr., she asked me why he was dead. I asked her if she remembered how I told her that a long time ago, girls couldn't be warriors or soldiers. She did. So I told her that "when Lula, Lainey, and P'd were little, people didn't think that people with brown skin should be able to do the same things as people with white skin. And that they shouldn't be friends. MLK thought that was silly, because it is, and worked hard to make sure everyone could be the same. Some people didn't like that so one day, someone decided to kill him. But, even though they tried to stop all the good things he did, it didn't work and Martin Luther King's good work kept going and going even after he died." I'm thinking maybe that was too blunt there at the end but she surprised me and I have no idea how else to explain an assasination. I'd also rather her hear the details from me than from someone else.

Autumn got a bit morose and said she really wished that MLK was still alive and could be "in our world." I still haven't figured out what "in our world" means. I am assuming in that contexts it's earth as opposed to Heaven but I've noticed Autumn also uses that phrase to mean in Memphis or the United States. Anyway, she asked a lot of questions after that and I answered them as briefly and casually as I could, another one of my "oh, my goodness, Autumn is asking me hard questions" strategies. Stay chill is my motto. She seemed to feel a little better after a bit and chirped, "hey! Baby Garrett and Martin Luther King, Jr., are in Heaven together!"

Now Autumn wants a book about Martin Luther King, Jr., so I am going to try to find an age appropriate one. If you have any recommendations, I would love to hear them in the comments. I'd also be interested in hearing your stories about tough questions and conversations.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Making of...Juliette's Dress!

It's really been a while since I made a dress from a pattern! I saw this lovely, vintage inspired pattern called Juliette's Dress by The Lily Bird Studio on Etsy a couple months back. I eyeballed it a while for two reasons. One, it's an intermediate pattern. I'm pretty sure I've only done beginner/advanced beginner patterns in the past. And two, it's a pdf. But the back of this dress is just so pretty that I got it.

The pattern was, for the most part, easy to follow. Printing it out and taping it together was an adventure. I did well with all of it but the middle which I managed to tape together upside down or something so I had to reprint those pages. Incidentally, Mike would never, ever have been able to make this dress if he sewed! The cutting lines were mostly indicated by colored lines. Fine for me but my poor color blind husband would have been completely baffled.

I decided to use Ashen Roses from Pat Bravo's Rock and Romance line. The fabric is really pretty but the next time I make this dress I might use something shiny. And maybe either more jewel toned or brighter. I'm not sure this color combination is great for Autumn's coloring. The lining and the petticoat are in a coordinating pink I found on sale at Hobby Lobby. I couldn't find a similar pink ribbon so I decided to go with the wine color for the belt. Here's the finished product.

Sorry, for some reason, Autumn looks wired in all of her photos lately! It's hilarious but occasionally not ideal, hahaha. You can kind of see in the photo but there's a seam along the front of the dress where I pieced together the skirt. I should have cut the skirt into three panels instead of two. The instructions had the skirt as one long panel but because of the pattern alignment, I didn't have enough width for that. If I had used three panels, the seam would be at the side. Now I know! All that being said, the back is everything I hoped it would be!

The bodice was the one spot where I ran into a little trouble. The way the instructions had you sew the lining to the outer fabric was different from how I have done it in the past. I stared at the instructions, illustration, and fabric pieces for a good ten minutes. It finally clicked and I promise I said "oohhhhh," right out loud! No more problems after that and you can see that the bodice and neckline are perfect. I absolutely cannot believe that I got that cut out and the sleeves correct. They are so smooth and professional-looking! I think that's why I am so annoyed with myself about the skirt.
 

You would think I'd know by now that everything Autumn wears has to be taken in. She's built just like Mike, long and lean. They both wear slim fit everything. But, the extra width didn't mess with the look of the dress much, other than obscuring the buttons. Speaking of, I have a funny story. I thought I had 3 matching buttons. OH, NO. That would be too easy. But the night I finished this dress, I WAS GOING TO FINISH THE DRESS. So, I sorted through the button jar and found two corduroy buttons with the fasteners on their backs. I took two pieces of fabric and cut them into circles and sewed the pieces around the buttons! Voila! Matching buttons! 
 

I did have a pretty pearl button for the top. I think that's Autumn's favorite thing about the dress. I, by the way, am truly terrible at making button holes. It's not easy to see on the fabric buttons but anyone who looks too closely at that pearl is totally going to see where I missed and went over the edge.

The pattern came with an optional petticoat. I did a truly ugly job putting it together so I'm not even going to show the top to you! It wasn't complicated to make but I didn't realize how hard it is to cut tulle. The petticoat is too big because I was impatiently trying to rush through it. At the time, I muttered a lot about buying one instead but I miiiight consider doing it again. Like with the dress, I'm going to have to go slimmer on the waist and that will make the petticoat even poofier.
  

Going in a little close, you can see where I broke out the serger! I looooooved having the serger to finish the seams and edges. The only thing is dealing with thread changes and breaks. I'm getting better at threading it but it's still a huge pain. But once I get better at that, the time I save not having to sew, cut, and zig zag stitch in separate steps is going to wonderful. Heck, even with the occasional stop to fight with the thread, it's wonderful.
 

I'll definitely make this dress again, maybe do option A. But first, even after having said I had a tough time with the tulle...I might need to try this pattern out next...
  

By the way, I'd love to see you on pinterest! You can find me here. I  have also added a Pin It button to the blog. When pinning something from this blog, be sure to click on the post title before clicking the Pin It button. Otherwise, it'll pin the whole blog and not the post or photo you want!

Submitted to Skip to My Lou Made by You Monday! and The Train to Crazy Make it Wear it Thursdsay!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Holiday Gift Exchange and Free Download

I have sooo many things to get caught up on! First, I thought I'd share something with you! I signed up for the Faces of Loss Grief Exchange back in November. My gift partner sent me two beautiful pniwheel ornaments! I didn't have any ornaments for Garrett. Two Christmases in a row now, I've started looking for or making an ornament, and just couldn't do it. I'm so happy to have these.


I sent her something I made. I love the quote from Winnie the Pooh: If there ever come a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever. I made a simple word art and printed it on linen cardstock. I also found a really pretty frame at Hobby Lobby. Here's the finished product.

That's not the best photo I've ever taken because I was in a hurry to get it in the mail! I like the ombre effect a lot and thought it would spice up the simple fonts a little bit. By the way, if you have never been to ColourLovers, you should definitely look around! I get a lot of my color palettes and ideas there. And, if you want, you can download your own pdf of this word art by clicking here!
Free Download!

I've never done the free download thing, so definitely let me know if it doesn't work! I tested it on another browser but I always get concerned right before I try something new. If you decide to use it in a project of your own, link it here so I can see it!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Shabby Apple Affiliate!

Last week, I was surprised and pleased to receive an email from Shabby Apple inviting me to be one of their affiliates. I love the timing because I've been praying about advertisers and such! For those of you not familiar with Shabby Apple, they specialize in retro style. To quotes their site:

At Shabby Apple, we believe in both femininity and feminism. As feminine women, we create clothing that is artful in design and crafted with a vintage-style flare. Each piece is carefully constructed to both flatter a women’s figure and maintain her mystery. As feminists, we created a company that is women-owned and operated and that donates to help other women start their own businesses. With our old-fashioned style and modern ideals, we believe the best is yet to come!

 If you want to read more about Shabby Apple's charity, click here. They donate 5% of net sales to support women in business worldwide. With every dress you buy from Shabby Apple, you are helping make a difference in the lives of Women Worldwide.

Additionally, whenever you click a Shabby Apple banner or link on this blog, I will receive a 5% commission on any qualified purchases made within 15 days which will, of course, go towards our adoption fund! I am so excited to partner with such a fantastic company!

If you visit Shabby Apple now, they are having a site wide sale! Use offer code NewYears for 20% off.
Dresses from Shabby Apple

I've been surfing their site and remembered that this is where I always intend to buy a swimsuit but keep forgetting. I, um, might need this.
Warm Sands Swimsuit from Shabby Apple

And I definitely need this dress. And the gloves. And maybe the hat...
Panthera dress from Shabby Apple

Happy Shopping!!

(oh, and I might have mentioned this before but I am also part of the Google affiliate network. Right now all I have up is Target in the sidebar but a couple of other groups have invited me to join them through Google, I just need to finally sit down and look them over!)