life

Something New is Coming….

Or rather, someone. ;)

Blog Baby Announcement

This October we will be welcoming baby number five into our home! We are so excited to bring this new little miracle into the world. We’ll be finding out the baby’s gender later this month, but I’ll refer you to this post if you’re wondering my thoughts on possibly having a fifth boy. ;)

So get ready for more teeny tiny baby sewing!

Finding the Lovely in the Chaos

Motherhood is a chaotic business. Each day is filled with noise, lots of messes, and countless challenges. The days can be monotonous and exhausting. When faced with all the chaos, sometimes it can feel anything but lovely.

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Some days it’s easier just to focus on the challenges. To simply clean up the messes, change the diapers, and do the same things over again the next day.

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But every day has something lovely. Every moment. Even in the midst of a tantrum-throwing toddler, there is something lovely. The tear-stained hug when the crying stops, the laughter during the tickling that diffused the moment, the triumphant moment of standing your ground and not giving in to the kicking and screaming.

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“There is a correlation, I’m finding, between beauty and perseverance. It feels like beauty might be knots in the rope you are climbing, gas stations along the cross-country journey, the water stations strategically set up on a racecourse. Beauty is what makes it possible to keep going. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? It’s not just in the things everyone sees, but it is what YOU see, what sticks out to you, the unique moments God gives you to collect up and hold and draw strength from.”
-Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
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Motherhood is a long-distance marathon. A test in endurance. An uphill climb. When you’re in the middle of the race, you feel tired. Your feet hurt. You can’t breathe. But as you keep going, you see the beauty in the persevering. You find your stride, you get your second wind, you drink some water and feel refreshed.

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Annie F. Downs recently released her latest book, Looking for Lovely. It is, in every sense of the word, lovely. I read it in two sittings, absolutely unable to put it down. This book reads a little like a memoir, as Annie shares her struggles and the loveliness she fought to find in the midst of them. Because sometimes you need to actively pursue the lovely. You have to ask the Father to show you all the good gifts He has put in your life, to open your eyes to what’s around you that you maybe haven’t noticed yet.DSC_6251-2 copy

That doesn’t mean that the chaos disappears or that suddenly life and motherhood become a walk in the park. Or that the messes are magically cleaned and the kids will never fight with each other. But looking for lovely can give you – give me – the change in perspective you need to embrace the chaos.

I don’t know about you, but I can always use more lovely in my life. Looking for Lovely is all about collecting the moments in your life that matter. In these days when I’m knee-deep in motherhood, I would much rather set my mind on what matters – the lovely, not the chaos. The snuggling on the couch, the basketball in the driveway, the “I love you” scrawled across the heart-shaped paper.

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Will you look for the lovely with me? Check out Annie F. Downs and her new book Looking for Lovely. I promise, you won’t regret it.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

An Ordinary Day in the Life

Last week, I woke with a long day ahead of me. My husband was out of town and the dangerously cold temperatures were going to keep us cooped up inside all day. I was faced with a choice: I could watch the hours drag on or I could capture the moments of the day, monotonous and messy though they may be. Into my head popped my dear sister-in-law and how she captured her own family’s season of life.

Brooke is an incredibly talented photographer in Michigan (we’re not blood related, so I’m not biased, I swear ;). She prefers to shoot in a photojournalism style, where no one is posed and she’s more a fly on the wall in the midst of whatever it is that’s going on. Looking at her photos is like getting a peek into someone’s life. I love that they capture a moment in time, and she inspired me to capture the ordinary.

I chose to make this a day worth remembering. I carried my camera around throughout the morning and early afternoon, only intervening as I normally would. Nothing was staged or posed. We went about our day, and I watched through my lens, finding the beauty in the everyday. There will never be another today, and I want to remember it. My floors weren’t swept and there are boxes piled up for our impending move, and most of the boys stayed in their jammies longer than necessary. There were tantrums and frustrations and cuddles and silliness. But oh, the sweetness of these boys. Their little toes and their eyes and their Star Wars obsession… these are the things dreams are made of. The way my family is right now won’t be how it is in six months, six years, sixteen years. I want to remember this moment, this season, in all its messiness and beauty.

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No, I’m not “trying for a girl” (thoughts on being a boy mama)

I have four boys. When most people hear this or see me with my four handsome little men in tow, they say something to the effect of “So, are you going to try for a girl?!”

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Now, I’m sure everyone means well when they say this. Most of them say this because they have a daughter or have dreamed of having one. They can’t imagine how “crazy” or “loud” my house is. They think I’m missing out, because their picture of family includes girls.

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But what they don’t realize is when they say this, they’re implying that by having only boys, my family is incomplete. That my four boys haven’t made my life richer than I could ever imagine. What we tell boy mamas when we ask if they’re “trying for a girl” or even when we get excited for the mom who “finally got her girl” is that boys are not enough. Your life can’t be complete without a daughter. And let me tell you, that just isn’t true. Are daughters a wonderful and amazing blessing to their families? Of course! But am I missing out on the goodness of motherhood because my family doesn’t have one? Well, I don’t believe that for a second.

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Being a boy mom is different than being a girl mom in many ways, I’m sure. But I’m a mom, no matter the gender of my littles. I’m not a lesser mom because I didn’t “succeed” in birthing a baby girl. I’ve spent countless sleepless nights rocking and singing to my babies. I have wiped tears and butts and noses. I have cried and laughed and loved more than I thought possible. A mama’s job is to love her kids, and I have so much love bursting out of me for these boys it hurts. Each time someone wonders aloud if we are going to “try for a girl” my heart aches for my sons, within earshot, that they might think they aren’t enough. That they were the consolation prize instead of my winning lottery tickets. Why do we squeal with excitement when we find out a mom of two boys is now pregnant with a daughter, but when a mom is pregnant with her third boy, we apologize to her or say “Aw, well, I guess you’ll have to try for another!” or  “Look on the bright side, at least you don’t have to buy any new clothes!”

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If the Lord had given us a daughter (or four), it would have been an enormous blessing. Perhaps some things about our day-to-day life would be different, but we would have loved her with as much affection as we have for our boys. I’m not going to pretend I have never thought about what it would be like to have a little girl, but truthfully, boys are all I know now. And I can’t imagine it any other way. I don’t sew tiny dresses everyday, but who says boy clothes aren’t fun?!

My house is usually loud and my couches are ripped from all the constant jumping and fort building, and on any given day there’s probably pee on my bathroom floor. We spend our days laughing and climbing and reading and playing in dirt. My heart is full from all the snuggles and kisses and I love yous. There’s nothing I would change about my life. Well, except for getting a maid… I’d like to do that.

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If someday the Lord gives us a daughter, we would welcome her with grateful hearts and joyful smiles. But I’m not and have never been “trying for a girl.” My heart and my arms are full, and I couldn’t be happier. I will relish in the excitement of every niece born into my family, every friend who has a beautiful daughter, and I will stockpile my pink fabrics to sew them dresses and jumpers. And someday, my boys will get married and have kids and there will be daughters-in-law and maybe granddaughters, and then, I will happily “get my girl.”

So when you meet a boy mama, please don’t apologize to her for the blessings God has given her. Don’t feel sorry for her lack of pink, tulle, and pigtails. Instead, share in her joy. Laugh at her stories, listen to her worries, and invite her to your daughter’s princess tea party when she needs a little girly in her life. And kindly overlook the torn couch cushions and muddy footprints through her kitchen.

All photos used with permission from Brooke Collier Photography

Why Creativity Matters to Motherhood

I come across a lot of people who are astonished that I sew. Sometimes they’re amazed because they think sewing is a hard skill to learn (it’s not!). Usually, though, they’re baffled that I can find the time. They see me with my four kids, homeschooling, and they say – “Wow, how do you do it all??”

But in reality, I don’t do it all. I do a lot of things – some of them better than others – but I’ve made it a point to prioritize the things that I love. And creativity is a priority in my life. In fact, I think it’s a crucial part of motherhood. Sometimes I have a sink full of dishes, three laundry baskets of clothes that need to be folded, and floors that need to be mopped, but still I sew. I believe that creativity matters to motherhood.

“You are never too busy to make time for what you love. It’s just a matter of prioritizing — evaluating how you spend your days and dedicating time for what you value. If something is really important to you, you will find a way to fit it into your life.”
-Jessica N. Turner, The Fringe Hours

Why Creativity Matters to Motherhood

This post contains affiliate links.

1. I believe that we are designed to be creative, because God is creative. The Father made us with His own hands, and I think that He meant us to be makers. That means something different for each person. I create with fabric, but for you it might be music or baking or photography or words. No matter which outlet you choose, there’s a part of your soul that is itching to be creative.

2. I want my kids to know that art matters. Kids watch and learn. Even if you never tell them with your words (which, by the way, you should), they will see you doing that you’re passionate about and it will make an impression. They’ll watch you doing something creative, and it will help them believe that they can do it too. Kids are born to create – they need to feel things with their hands and make new worlds out of clay, paint, crayons, and paper. When they see their mama pouring her heart into something she loves, it affirms that natural creative desire they have inside themselves. If raising creative kids is a important to me, which it is, I need to model this to them and show them it’s a priority in my own life.

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3. Creativity is energizing. Every time I sit down at my sewing machine, something happens inside me. As I take the fabric and make it into a dress, a pair of pants, a bag, whatever – my heart skips a beat. I can ride the “sewing high” of a successful project for weeks. When I’ve had a hard day, maybe the kids are sick or someone has flushed a mitten down the toilet (true story) or we’ve all been hibernating from the -40F windchill, sewing can turn my day around. It can put me in a good mood again and remind me that oh yeah, it was just a bad day… we’ll start fresh tomorrow.

4. Learning new skills keeps my mind active. Motherhood is a lot of repetition and sometimes it can make you feel like all your brain cells are slowly dying away. Between wiping booties and boogers and spending your days speaking to someone who can’t make conversation back to you about anything other than Daniel Tiger, it’s important to find something that sparks your creative side.

5. Kids need to see their mama doing something other than taking care of them. I spend a lot of time taking care of my boys. From the time they wake to the time the go to bed (and sometimes even after that), I’m caring for their needs. I’m teaching and training and breaking up brotherly squabbles. I pick up toys and wash dishes and make meal after meal. It’s hard work, and I’m so blessed to be able to do it, but I want my boys to know that being Mama is not everything that I am. When my boys see me sewing, not only do they see me working with my hands, but they notice that I’m doing something that doesn’t involve them. It’s good for them to see that they aren’t always the center of my universe!

6. Making time for me makes me a better mom. In the book The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner, she talks about how self-care is not a privilege, it’s a necessity. I agree wholeheartedly. Motherhood takes a lot of sacrifice, and it’s something I do willingly. But that doesn’t mean I should forget about who I am and the passions that drive me. Taking care of myself well means that I’m less cranky and more filled up inside, so I have more to give to my husband and my kids. I don’t need to feel guilty about the time I spend on myself. As Jessica says, “Choosing yourself is not wrong. The longer you go without taking time for yourself, the more resentment will fester, exhaustion will set in, and you will have nothing left to give — to anyone. Guilt has no place in the decision to take care of yourself.”

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The book The Fringe Hours releases today, and it hits the nail on the head. This book isn’t just for moms – it’s written for every woman who has a hard time believing that making time for herself is important. I found myself nodding along with Jessica’s words, agreeing with her that if I don’t prioritize myself and my creativity, it doesn’t make me a better mom or wife. In fact, it makes it harder on me.

Your creative potential will never be reached if you don’t make time for yourself. By spending your fringe hours – the time you have set aside just for you – doing something creative, something you’re passionate about, you’ll feed your soul and be a better mom, wife, sister, or friend. Creativity is a key part of who you are as a whole person – spiritually, mentally, emotionally. Your creative side matters because YOU matter.

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What are you going to do to make time for yourself? If you’re not sure where to begin, start by reading The Fringe Hours. Jessica gives you practical tips on how to prioritize yourself and take back your fringe hours. Motherhood is important work, but making time for yourself – for your passions and your creativity – is crucial. We need to model the behavior we want from our children. Show your kids that your fringe hours are a necessity. Your creativity matters, mama! Make the time. Do it for yourself and for your kids.

 

Disclosure: I was given a copy of The Fringe Hours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are honest and my own.

Why I’m not waiting for perfect anymore

Life is too short to wear clothes I don't like

I find myself buying fewer and fewer pieces of clothing for myself, because I look at them and think “surely I can just make this for myself instead!” But the thing is, I’ve been saying that for a long time. And I keep holding back, waiting…

To find the perfect pattern.

To be done breastfeeding.

To not be pregnant.

To finally lose the baby weight.

To find the perfect fabric… And then never cutting into it, because there’s no pattern good enough for this amazing fabric.

To have perfected all my sewing skills (ha!)

The past few days, I’ve been taping patterns and choosing fabric for dresses and shirts that I’ve been wanting to sew for awhile. But I keep getting hung up on my fabric choices, hesitating to cut into fabrics that I love, because what if I suddenly lose ten pounds and it doesn’t fit anymore (that’s a lovely dream, isn’t it?) Or what if I decide I don’t like it, and then I’ve used this expensive or hard to find fabric on something I’m never going to wear?

There will always be excuses to keep me from sewing for myself. But really, now is the perfect time. Because there is no perfect time. If I keep waiting for the stars to align and for life’s circumstances to be exactly what I hope they will be, I’m never going to do it. Today I’ve decided that I’m not going to hold out for perfect. I’m going to embrace the imperfections of my life and my circumstances. I’m not going to save my favorite fabrics for someday. I’m going to sew for myself, even if I haven’t met my “ideal weight.” I’m going to sew garments that aren’t perfect, but that I feel good about wearing, because they were made by me. And I’m going to make mistakes and I’m going to “waste fabric” as I try new things.

Because life is too short to wear clothes that I don’t like and to spend my days waiting around for someday. If (when?) I lose that baby weight, I may have to make myself some new clothes.. but then I get to make myself new clothes. And they’ll probably be better, because with each garment I sew, my skills improve and I learn how to fit my body. And goodness, there will always be pretty fabric. I do love buying new fabrics.. :)

So over the next few months, you’ll be seeing more sewing for me. And if you don’t, you have permission to yell at me. Well, gently remind me of this post anyway.

Will you join me?

Happy sewing, friends!

Blogging an Imperfect Life

Have you ever visited a blog and thought to yourself, “Wow. Her house is always so perfectly clean!” or “She is such an amazing seamstress/DIYer, she never makes any mistakes!” or “Holy cow, her food always looks amaaaayyyzing!” Yeah, me too.

I’ll admit, sometimes that makes me annoyed. Because you know that can’t all be real. Of course they’ve had sewing fails. Obviously their living room gets messy and dusty. I’ll bet the first time they tried to dye fabric something probably went wrong. You know that the first time they ever sewed a pair of pants, they probably used their seam ripper just as much as their sewing machine.

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Ever since I started my blog a few years ago, I knew I didn’t want to be – couldn’t be – that kind of blogger. I’d share my successes, but also my failures or my “almost quite rights, but not exactly perfects.”

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One of my first-ever blogged projects… full of imperfections. But I learned from it and am proud of it, mistakes and all.

And on Instagram? I share my messy living room … so you can follow me and feel so much better about your housekeeping skills.

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If we only share things that are perfectly styled, perfectly cropped, or perfectly sewn, how does that encourage someone who is just learning? How does that give us an opportunity to form authentic relationships, based on real-life?

I value growth. I value authenticity. I value being real with the people around me. I value sharing the good and the bad [and sometimes the ugly…] in life and in the things that I make. I value knowing that I have the freedom to make mistakes alongside my successes.

Will I share a lot of the pretty things? Yes, of course. I probably wouldn’t have all you lovely readers if I never showed you my occasional awesome. ;)

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But am I a work in progress? Obviously. Aren’t we all? I have yet to meet someone who is really, truly perfect at everything they do and never makes mistakes. There is no perfect parent, seamstress, chef, housekeeper, fill-in-your-chosen-skill-here… God gifted me with my own strengths that are different from yours. If I look at your blog and compare myself to you [or vice versa], how is that helpful? If I never try anything new and risk making mistakes, what fun is that?

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So when you visit this space, you can be sure that I’m going to share things that I’m proud of – even if they’re not always perfect. Sometimes you might look at something I’ve created and think I have a lot to learn – you’re probably right. I do. And other times you’ll visit, be inspired, and leave having a new skill in your repertoire.

But whichever it is, you’ll leave knowing that you’ve seen the real me – the imperfect, growing, always-learning, grace-filled me. If we all shared our rough edges, our work-in-progress selves, I think our relationships would all be a little bit deeper and we’d all feel better admitting that we don’t really have it all together.

What not sewing for KCW looks like…

I love Kids Clothes Week for a lot of reasons. Each time I’ve participated, I’ve had varying degrees of success. Sometimes I’ve cranked garments out and had awesome results. Other times I’ve gotten really cozy with my seam ripper.

This year I set my expectations pretty low, and while I sewed up the Study Hall Jacket [that truthfully was nearly completed before KCW began], my sewing machine sat mostly untouched.

The dropping temperatures brought colds to our house, and a baby who is itching to crawl has brought even more sleepless nights [and days]. But sewing will always be there… babies are only babies for so long.

45d776aa3ce611e392fc22000a1f9806_8 So while there hasn’t been sewing, there has been lots of coffee…7b2b64a83c1711e3aac622000ab5bc37_8Some game playing..16b5acf83b3c11e3b98522000a9e063b_8 A lot of babywearing…50f1a5283a6c11e3a62222000ab685c6_8More coffee…97687508381f11e3a93822000ae9025c_8

Baby snuggles…b20abb503d9211e39da122000a9e28e0_8And notes that make it all worth it.

Forty Toes

There are forty little toes in my house. That’s not a small number.DSC_0305There’s a lot of time put into caring for these precious little bodies. Some days it feels easier than others… though any parent will tell you that it’s never actually easy.
DSC_0963Parenting comes in seasons … the exhausting, sleepless, just-give-me-one-moment-to-myself-please ones and the rhythms that sail along, giving you some rest for when the tougher ones return.
DSC_0798With so many little bodies, though, the times of rest seem few and far between. And my goodness, you would give anything if they would just.go.to.bed. DSC_0684Parenting is hard. If no one has told you this today, hear this: You’re doing a good job, mama. Forget about the dishes for a bit, and kiss those little toes. That’s what I’m going to do.

When pajama pants make you feel successful..

I know I’m not alone when I say that getting to my sewing machine these days is work. Sometimes life takes over and babies don’t sleep and two-year-olds dump out every box in the cupboard and your sewing table becomes the catch-all for everything.

But when days like that come, pajama pants will rescue you. They will make you feel like successful and productive and like you do something other than wipe noses and bums.

DSC_0670These pants, upcycled from a tee that I loved for years but no longer fit, I had begun sewing months ago. [constructed using the DIY baby pants tutorial]DSC_0669Sometimes it’s the quick and easy projects, the ones that are practical and don’t require details, that give you the most satisfaction.
DSC_0229Because I may not sleep at night or have time to take a shower every day, but I made pajama pants. And that, my friends, makes for a good day.

**Psst… Peek-a-boo Patterns has a sweet Thrifty Thursday deal today! The Varsity Cowl Sweatshirt is only $4! [affiliate link]**Varsity_Cowl_Neck_Pullover