Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happiness. Lately. November 2014 (vol 6)

Happiness.  Lately.  November.  My monthly collection of "Happiness" - appreciating God's goodness in the little things and seeing his grandeur in the simplicity of my life and "Lately" - what I've been into and up to...

It's a short list this month, not because it hasn't been blessed, but because this last week I've been fairly detached from the online world.  I've enjoyed it that way - lots of time to recuperate from bronchitis and be with my family - but not a lot of time to reflect back on November :(  

Happiness is...

Aaron getting to meet his pen pal of a year and a half!!  Isn't that great?!  We took our second family road trip/vacation this year (unheard of) to spend a few wonderful days with my Aunt Janet and then to spend a day with Aaron's pen pal, Joseph, and his family!   Joseph's mom and I were in Residence Life together in college and though we were close friends then, we haven't seen each other in ten years!  So, it was a real treat for Aaron and for me :)  We met them for lunch at a pizza place and of course all the kids hit it off very quickly!  Then we went bowling and then back to their house where the boys played outside and Legos.  We hated to leave shortly after dinner, but we had to get back on the road before it was too late.  We're really hoping we'll be able to spend more time with their family again soon!  

the first snow

Picture out my front window when it was sunny where we lived, but dropping 7 feet of snow
 on friends 15 minutes south of us.  You may have heard about that crazy storm...
first fire in the fireplace! 


from the kitchen - a first snow cake :)

I've been reading...  

I finished Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy, by Rumer Godden  I don't read a lot of fiction these days, but I forgot just how much I love Rumer Godden and might have to stop watching mindless Netflix so I can get back into my reading habit :)  

 Soul Gardening Journal.  Have you heard of this?  It's wonderful!  Created by mothers for mothers.  It's free!  but they will gladly accept your donations to help continue publication.

Advent reading.  Here's my previously published list of Advent favorites and added to it this year is the book chosen by my prayer group, Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting, by Mother Mary Francis.  

I've been crocheting lots of of stuff for Christmas!   I'll probably have some updates on all that as Christmas gets closer.  Gotta keep a few secrets here ;)

Thanksgiving in all things.  Thanksgiving was hard this year.  I posted this St. Josemaria quote the Wednesday before - I really needed to take it to heart...

"Make it a habit to raise your heart to God, in acts of thanksgiving, many times a day. Because He gives you this and that... Because someone has despised you... Because you don't have what you need, or because you do have it.

"And because He made His Mother, who is also your Mother, so beautiful. Because He created the sun and the moon and this animal or that plant. Because He made that man eloquent and you He left slow of speech... Thank Him for everything, because everything is good."

I read this only a few hours after finding out that we would not be hosting guests for Thanksgiving due to the illness going through out family.  Rereading this was so instrumental in helping me not dwell on the disappointment, but instead to bless God for our circumstances - our immediate family would still all be together, cozy, at home!  Thanksgiving was still hard.  We were sick and we were "alone."  But it wasn't terrible.  And in the days after, we received a lot of help from my wonderful, generous parents, especially while I got to a doctor, got meds, and went back to bed.  And we're finally starting to come up out of the illness.  Finally.    

So, I think that's it.  Short and sweet.  I think it will be a little more like that as we proceed through December.  I have a long list of things I've been wanting to write about, but I think it's more important right now that I focus on His short list for me - peace, prayer, joy, family.  I hope you all have a blessed Advent!

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**  Feel like joining me in reflecting on the past month and sharing some of the moments that made you happy and the things you've been up to?  Link up your November list of Happiness. Lately.  I'd love to have you join me! **  Don't have a blog?  Let's chat in the comments!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Ceramic Tile Coasters (Kid-Made Gift Series)

I'm so happy to have Veronica from His True Image blogging
here today for the latest in the Kid-Made Gift Series!  
Veronica blogs about the beauty of life with her husband of ten years and 
their three little ones.  She's a fellow fan of St. Josemaria Escriva, which automatically makes us kindred spirits!  
This was one of her posts that I particularly enjoyed :) 
After you're done checking out the project she and her kiddos did here, head 
over to her place and poke around!  
Welcome Veronica, and thank you for sharing your time and talents here!

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It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” 
-Bl. Mother Teresa

** Many thanks to Theresa for having me here at her wonderful blog and for giving me the opportunity to share some ideas for her Kid-Made Gift Series! **

 It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... shopping, that is.  And why not do a little shopping – and crafting – around your very own house?!  Christmas crafts are the best and a great opportunity for your kiddos to understand and experience the virtue of generosity!

We decided to make some lovely coasters.  Cute and functional – doesn't get much better than that! 

Here's what you need:
·       4 x 4 white ceramic tiles (found at Home Depot or Lowe's)
·       your favorite scrapbook paper (you can also use paper napkins or cotton material)
·       Mod Podge (any finish you'd like)
·       foam brushes
·       scissors
·       clear acrylic finish spray
·       adhesive felt circles

Since my kiddos' cutting skills aren't the best, I did the cutting for this project!  First, I traced the tile onto the scrapbook paper (I traced it 8 times since we made two sets!).  Next, I cut out the squares slightly smaller than what I had traced (i.e. If your tile is 4 x 4, then cut your paper into a 3.75 x 3.75 square).

Now, the fun part.  The kiddos spread Mod Podge all over each tile, as evenly as possible, and then placed the scrapbook paper squares on top of each tile.  Make sure to smooth out the paper as much as you can in case any air bubbles are visible.  Let the tiles dry about 20 minutes then add a layer of Mod Podge on top. 

 *Note: at this time my youngest decided waiting was way overrated and went to play while mom and big sister finished the gifts! *

Wait another 20-30 minutes for this to dry and apply another coat of Mod Podge on top.  We applied a total of 3 layers,  but you can do as many as you'd like.  We waited about an hour after the final coat and then took the tiles outside (or any other well ventilated area) and sprayed them with a clear acrylic finishing spray – 2 coats in total. 

Lastly, we placed four small adhesive felt circles on the bottom of each tile and voila!  Two beautiful sets of coasters for grandma and abuelita!

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other kid-made gifts in this series:

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I'm posting a different craft idea every week, so don't forget to check back for more...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Embrace the Ordinary :: vol 16

Our pace has been slowed, forced to a crawl by injury and illness.  

Last week my husband threw his back out and got a crazy bad chest cold on the same day.  He was out of commission for shoveling snow and doing laundry and lifting kiddos.  Then Sweet Baby James and I got the cold and that's where we are now.  And it's pretty bad.  This cough and congestion and achy body doesn't leave anyone with much energy or desire to do anything except go. slow.  We've been embracing the slower pace with a great deal of grace (and help from family!)   

Sometimes in the face of illness I get frustrated and irritable.  I'm so grateful that the Lord has blessed me this last week with extra doses of patience and affection for my sick hubby and baby.  And I'm so grateful for the grace to embrace much-needed rest for myself with a lot of peace and not a lot of guilt.  (Kids are watching a lot of Wild Krats to facilitate this "rest" :)  No guilt!)  

Embracing the cozy cuddling that comes with illness :)

“…there is something holy, something divine hidden in 
the most ordinary situations, 
and it is up to each one of you to discover it.”  
St. Josemaria Escriva, Passionately Loving the World

Linking up with Gina to share in celebrating the ordinary moments that mark our grace-filled lives.  Head over the Someday (Hopefully) They'll Be Saints for more stories of Embracing the Ordinary.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

So You've Invited a Type 1 Diabetic to a Birthday Party... What Now?? (Diabetes Awareness Month)

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.  
Each week I'll be featuring a diabetes-related post. 
Anything specific you'd like to read about?  Let me know!

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A blogger friend, Ann-Marie, asked a great question regarding hosting a party or event that a child with type 1 diabetes would be attending.   Thanks, Ann-Marie!  It was so thoughtful of you to ask for suggestions on how to help a family with this specific need!  

cupcake image from
I have to be honest, if I was to give you a list of the things that are trickiest to navigate with a type 1 diabetic child, parties would be very close to the top.  Perhaps other t1d moms would answer differently, but for me, buffets and tables filled with snacks for the taking are kind of a nightmare.  Snacking and drinking go hand in hand with mixing and mingling, but the carbohydrates consumed while "grazing" as it were, are very tricky to keep track of, especially when a child is running around and enjoying all that a party has to offer!  

But I have children, and I know what it's  like to host and attend large-scale parties with lots of kiddos, so I know that buffets will never go away!  Busy hostesses know that snacks and buffets are the way to serve a crowd without going crazy, right?  On top of all that, children (and adults) with diabetes have to learn to live and be healthy in the real world (which includes parties and buffets!) so in my mind, there's really less that a hostess has to worry about and more that we have to do to educate and train our child.  Instead of expecting a party to be catered to our diabetic's needs or turning down invitations to parties that don't have a pre-planned menu for a sit-down meal, Russ and I have to work at guiding Aaron through how to attend a party that has a snack table and how to have fun and enjoy himself while also taking into account his health and well-being.

With all that being said, a thoughtful hostess can still help a diabetic (and his parents!) by taking a few things into account.  

* Let the parents know that they are welcome to attend the party and stay for the duration.  At this point in our diabetes journey, I cannot imagine dropping Aaron off at a party alone.  He is not fully capable of doing his own carb counting/insulin dosing/correcting for physical activity, etc... and I would never place those responsibilities on the hosts of a party.  I can't speak for everyone, but I think that for most families, if the parents aren't welcome at the party, the diabetic child would not be able to attend.  

* If you know what you're going to serve, offer to send the menu to your guest ahead of time.  This is probably the best case scenario.  A diligent parent will have an idea of what her child will most likely eat off of that menu and can begin to prepare even before the party starts.  They might alter what a child eats for breakfast, for instance.  Or some parents, knowing that there will be a snack table with party-perfect carbohydrate delights (like chips, pretzels, and fruit), may prefer to give their child a partial bolus of insulin so that the child will have some "on board" as he makes his first trip to the buffet.  (A bolus dose of insulin is insulin given to specifically cover carbohydrates consumed as opposed to the daily injections which provide a baseline.)  

* If you serve something from a package or make something from a box mix, save the packaging or the nutrition label, so that the carbohydrate info is available to the parents.  I have gotten pretty good a guessing on basic party foods like pizza, cake, and ice cream, but if you make something out of the ordinary or you set out a bowl of Chex Mix, it would be a really nice gesture to have the serving size, carb info, and measuring cup on hand.  

* Have diet drinks available.  Even though diet drinks are one of those things that make health-conscious people cringe, they can set a parent's mind a little more at ease at a party.  At a party, people tend to grab drinks and enjoy them over the length of the gathering.  Having diet pop or diet lemonade lets a diabetic hydrate with something a little more "fun" and "party-like" than water, but not have to consume it all at once and take insulin injections for each glassful.   If you're uncomfortable serving diet drinks, the next best thing you could do is suggest that the guest bring his or her own.  It really makes that big of a difference!

* Ask your guest to bring a treat to share at the party.  Many parents may offer anyway, but even if they don't offer outright I think most would be happy to bring a treat to share that would be appropriate for their diabetic child.  Giving them the OK to bring something low carb or carb free might make the party more "do-able."  Treats like no sugar added popsicles or sugar free jello can easily be enjoyed by all the kids in attendance.  

* After you've made some, all, or even none of the suggested accommodations for your diabetic guest, you're done.  The child is not your responsibility.  His parents should (and will!) monitor him and care for him.  You don't have to drastically change your party, but the parents and the diabetic child do have to be attentive and diligent.  Attending events with food and managing blood sugars while there is all part of learning to cope with the lifelong illness.

* Finally - and I'm pretty sure this goes without saying - please don't make a fuss over the child with diabetes.  Unless a child is visibly unwell, there is no need to comment on his condition, and especially not about what he's eaten or what's on his plate.   He may want a private place to check his blood and receive insulin so as not to draw attention to himself, but in my experience, those things become second nature so quickly that a child and his parents won't think anything of just doing it to the side and having it done with before anyone else notices.  There really is no need to draw attention to anything diabetes related, and if a concern or question does come up speak to the parents in private.  Kids even with this chronic disease are still kids, and it's healthier for them emotionally and psychologically to be "just another kid" at the party.   The parents will thank you for treating him as such and will be so grateful that you invited him in the first place!  Thanks for not holding back the invitation because of his condition!!

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Ann-Marie, I hope that helps.  I truly appreciate the question and I'm touched by your thoughtfulness and desire to support parents and kids with this particular situation!  Bless you!

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Other posts in this series:

Picture Books for Advent and Christmastime

It's almost time to get out the Advent boxes!  One more week!  I'm really looking forward to seeing all of our favorite holiday books again!  

Just in case you missed it last year, I'm reposting it again - my list of our Advent and Christmas books - specially notated with stars and double stars so you can easily spot which ones are the absolute best!!  One star (*) means it's a great book.  Two stars (**) means (in my humble opinion) you should do whatever it takes to get this book from the library or from this here Amazon affiliate (I thank you in advance so very much if you order through here!) 

(from Ordinary Lovely!)

What are some of your family's favorite books for the upcoming season?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Growing Up: the Milestones and the Other Stuff

Today I've been pondering this...  

Our children are growing up every moment of every day.   There are big moments and then there's all the other stuff, and a mother's reactions to "growing up" can really run the gamut. 

We're always on the lookout for the exciting milestones that let us know, she's growing up!  We joyfully let all of Facebook know when our babies give their first smiles and cut their first teeth.  We cheer them on when they roll over for the first time, smack their lips at their first taste of mashed food, and take their first steps.  We love to announce when our little fashionistas start dressing themselves and when our little sluggers join their first team.   Milestones, in my opinion, tend to be a mother's public pride.  Our little ones are growing up and they're doing it well!  There's so much to rejoice in!  

In my experience though, it's never really in the milestones that our baby's growing up hits us between the eyes and catches us off guard.  Every mom knows there are times when you look at your child in the most ordinary of circumstances and wham!  you see them growing up.  It's a look they give, or a word they use, or just an inflection in their voice.  It's something that makes you see them as older than they were just the very minute before.  It's usually something very small.  And it evokes less pride and more pondering.  It even tugs a little at our heartstrings.

My Clare, who is two and half, has been growing up a lot lately.  Both kinds of growing up.  As far as milestones are concerned, she's officially finished toilet training.  Yay!  Yay! Yaaaaayyy!!!  She's been our easiest so far, but that doesn't diminish her accomplishment.  I'm really proud of her!  I praise her a lot and shower her with, "You're getting to be such a big girl!" with true joy and sincerity.  Toilet training is a big deal in the list of things that mean "growing up."  But it's not when I'm helping Clare get her teeny tiny "big girl" underwear back on that I think, Woah.  She's growing up fast!

The big things don't catch me off guard.  

Today I witnessed the other kind of growing up - one of those moments that comes seemingly out of nowhere and almost knocks you off your normally unshakable mom feet.  Clare brought a Lego creation to me and said "Look at my decorations." 

I think I stopped breathing for a second and felt a little pain in my heart.  Just a few weeks ago Clare was tirelessly gathering pine cones and sticks and bright fall leaves to bring into our house as decolations.  And we all loved it and would do whatever we could to get her to say the word decolations over and over.   

Today she said, "decorations."  I didn't wonder when I'd be able to get on Facebook and proudly announce her newest accomplishment.  I privately held on to that "growing up" moment and pondered the dichotomy of my reactions to the various ways kids "grow up."  

They're always growing up.

I'm so proud of their accomplishments, both large and small, that are part of maturing.

I love the more complex relationships and interactions and conversations that big kids are capable of.

But a little part of me mourns the loss of the small things that make their littleness special.  

As one is lost, it is replaced by something equally special, but the old "little" ways will never be again.  Clare's decolations are gone.  It's more than just a word.  It's the things that make Clare who she is at age two.  They're being replaced.  And I'm mourning that a little.

(but they're being replaced by the things that will make her wonderful at age three, so I'm rejoicing too!  Kind of beautiful how it works that way, huh?!)  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

5 Acrylic Yarns With Which it is Actually a Pleasure to Work!

Let's talk fiber.  

I like working with natural fibers (almost) as much as the next person.  Besides looking and feeling fabulous, there's something feelgood and wholesome about crafting something out of cozy wool or smooth cotton.  

But sometimes crocheters and knitters alike, just need a decent acrylic.  Acrylic yarns are generally cheaper than natural fiber yarns, and they come in a much wider variety - all the colors of the rainbow, every color in between, and even in colors that you didn't know existed, as well as sparkly, feathery, flecked, sequin-studded, striped, plaid, and polkadot.  Their cost and variety make acrylic yarns perfect for novelty projects and crafts.  

One of the down sides of acrylics, is that some of them are really itchy, scratchy, and not delightful-feeling.  They're nice and cheap though, so these are the yarns I give to my kids to do whatever it is they want to do with yarn...

I tend not to use these acrylics because they're not nice to the touch, and they're not nice on the hook.  (They're rough and "sticky" and definitely don't glide along the hook into easy stitches.)  But I've used a lot of wonderful acrylic yarn myself for craft projects and soft and comfy hats and scarves.  There are some really nice acrylic yarns out there.  So, since I love a good list of *the best of ___* and I love talking about yarn, here it is...

5 Acrylic Yarns With Which it is Actually a Pleasure to Work
(in no particular order)
(Links are not affiliates.  I just wanted to direct your to a place to view the variety!)

This was my favorite yarn to use when making my first blanket.  It's so soft and cuddly, glides on and off my hook easily, comes in lots of lovely colors, and I can't recall a time when I've pulled a giant tangle of knots out of a Bernat Satin skein - it usually feeds out very nicely :)

Oh my!  This yarn is so soft and supple.  If you have a kiddo (or adult!) that doesn't like scratchy hats, scarves, and mittens touching their skin, this is the yarn for you.  It's really that soft - think baby kittens (that's all I could come up with even though I actually hate cats...) 
The colors aren't perfectly solid; the varied shades in each strand give it interest and depth.  
(As you can probably tell, I'm practicing to be a product description writer for Yarns 'R' Us...  Thanks for putting up with me :)  ) 

I initially bought this yarn because the skeins are big and I needed a lot of yards of a few specific colors (they are 322 yards and I got them for $3!!)  I was so very pleasantly surprised by the quality once I started using them!  It's so rich.  It's worsted weight, but it feels thick and luxurious on the hook.  It's soft and stretchy and perfect.  I'm currently using it for a few hats, but the leftovers are begging to be used in a baby blanket I think :)

This yarn is an anti-pilling acrylic.  It's soft, but sturdy.  That's all very nice.  But what's really nice is how fun the print options are and how perfectly it works up into a funky, warm hat :) 

I left like I had to include a bulky weight yarn in my list, so this is it.  I have found that the softness of these yarns are inconsistent from color to color.  Some are soft enough and would feel comfortable in a chunky scarf or hat, but some are less soft and are probably more appropriate for crafts (like this basket!)  This yarn is easy on the hook, work up quickly and neatly, and comes in lots of fun (or boring) colors.

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What are some of your favorite yarns to use??  What are you creating these days??

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Easy-Peasy Bookmark Craft (Kid-Made Gift Series)

I'm so happy to have Micaela from California to Korea posting in the 
Kid-Made Gifts series this week!
After you're done reading here and making a bookmark, be sure to go hang out with her at her site - this was one of her recent posts that I like a lot!
Welcome to Micaela's readers new to Ordinary Lovely,
and most especially, Welcome and thank you, Micaela!

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My girls are taking a hand sewing class and their teacher is out of this world.  She is the perfect mix of challenging and patient, crafty and practical.  Last week she helped the girls make simply adorable bookmarks, and we quickly decided that these would be gifts for girl friends this Christmas!

I’m going to be really honest here, people.  This particular edition of the craft was completed (and all photos taken) by me, in about 20 minutes, in a car, heading southbound to San Diego.  No, I was not driving.

Lesson: if we can do it, anyone can.  Have fun!


Needle and thread (or sewing machine)
Safety pin
Hair tie


Cut a ribbon to about 18 inches (16 if it’s for a child who reads shorter chapter books).  

With the decorative side down, lay a hair tie over one end and fold the cut end of the ribbon over twice, so there are no exposed edges.  Use the safety pin (or a straight pin) to secure it temporarily.

Using the stitch of your choice (running stitch is simple and quick), sew a seam below the hair tie.  Pro tip: sew back and forth a couple times because the tension of the hair tie can cause the ribbon to unravel if you don’t do this part carefully.

Turn the ribbon around, and fold the ribbon over once, then fold into a “v” shape.  Use a safety pin (or straight pin) to secure it and then sew in the same method as above.

Turning the ribbon so the decorative side is facing up, attach your button near the “v”.

To use as a bookmark, lay in the bookmark on your page near the binding.  Wrap the bookmark around the outside of the book and attach the button to the hair tie.

And voila! Your bookmark is complete! Keep it for yourself or share it with your best friends.  Make it with your Little Flowers or American Heritage Girls group.  Put them in stockings or give them away as party favors!  The possibilities are endless.

Micaela is a homeschooling mom of 4, with the fifth set to arrive any day now.  She enjoys reading, writing, taking pictures, and laughing.  Most of her free time is spent… oh wait.  She doesn't know what free time is.  But she does love her family and friends and her faith.  You can read more about her adventures at her blog, California to Korea.

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other kid-made gifts in this series:

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I'm posting a different craft idea every week, so don't forget to check back for more...

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