Thursday, March 1, 2012

Be Careful What You Pray For...

It's funny the lessons God teaches you.  The way He works is often considered "mysterious" as we are going through the muck and mire, but in the end, when you can see how everything expertly fit together with not so much as a single seam, you realize that His ways are not so much "mysterious" as they are an intricately woven tapestry that is our lives.  So many times, when the storm is raging, it is easy to look up to the sky, shake your fists and ask "why God? why would you let this happen to me?"  But the truth is that we are children of free will. We make our own choices.  It is a matter of listening and paying attention to the road signs God has placed in our path that determines if we will follow that beautiful pattern He laid out for us from the moment we were conceived, or if we will make our own pattern.  Either way, I believe we end up where we are supposed to go.  I just believe that the way God has planned for us has proven to be so much easier in the long run.

At 32, I know that I have not learned all of the lessons that I need to in order to function the way God would have me.  But I would think I at least had a good start!  These last several months have proven that I am still so young in so many ways.  I look back on the last 10 years - that is how long Patrick and I have been married - and I see how I thought I knew just what I wanted and just how it should be.  But moving forward and watching the twists and turns in our lives I see where we tried so hard to do things our way and failed and where we left things to God and got right where we needed to be.

We have cause to celebrate these days.  Not that there has been any finality recently, but things appear - at least for now - to be on the upward swing.  But in seeing the many things we have to be thankful for, I am also seeing the reason we are here.  My blessings are at the result of someone else's suffering.  Did I cause that suffering?  No!  Did I make people make the choices they did?  No, of course not!  But is the result of those choices bringing me joy and them pain?  Yes.  A lot of pain.  And I am in the position this time around to actually see that unfolding as it is happening.  I am not blissfully living in the bubble of my own world with no idea how the things that are unfolding are affecting everyone involved.  I am not completely ignorant.  The world of a foster parent includes exposure to some tough things.  It is no "creme puff" life when you are dealing with children who have been abused and neglected.  I have always been realistic in my acceptance and understanding of how things work.  I have lived my own experiences enough to know that while I may not be all that "street savvy" I have a general idea of how things work.  But that does nothing to prepare you for watching the daily struggle of someone who is suffering while you are rejoicing.

I titled this post "Be Careful What You Pray For" as a reminder to myself.  Throughout the last year I have made it a point to not pray for a specific outcome with this placement.  I have made it a point to pray for God's will in this situation.  I have prayed that God's will be done and that He give me the peace and openness to accept His will no matter what that may turn out to be.  I have focused on my faith and trust in His path and while it has been easy to falter in the last several months - as the peacefulness and ease of the first 6 months wore off and we started to get down to the nitty gritty drama - I have made it a point to continue to pray not that things will work in our favor, but that I will continue to have faith and trust that He will take care of ALL of us, no matter how grim it may seem.  And seeing what I have seen the last several weeks, I am glad I did.  Because being careful what you pray for is not always just for the funny, ironic things or the things that turn out to not be what you wanted after all.  Sometimes it is the only way you can live with yourself after the "fat lady sings" and you know that your celebration is at the cost of someone else's loss.

This is most definitely one of the harder lessons I have had to learn.  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  I struggle with reconciling my joy over what someone else's bad choices are bringing us and seeing the effect those choices have on everyone involved.  I understand that I am not responsible for anyone's suffering.  But the knowledge that my joy is someone else's pain still stings.  I remind myself to at least keep in mind that some things come at a price and to continue to pray as a servant of God's will and not my own.  As I have learned in other life lessons, His plans always work out to be just what we need and in better harmony than anything I could every put together on my own!

Till next time...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cutie Patootie Boots

I have the girls' outfits for Christmas all picked out, but I really didn't have any fun shoes or slippers or anything that really went with the rest of the outfits.  Since they are baby feet, I didn't want to spend a lot of money on something they may only be able to wear for a few months at the most.

I have seen several tutorials out there recently for making your own baby boots. There are some really cute ones on one of my favorite blogs Kojo Designs.  These ladies are amazing!!  If I can one day aspire to have half their talent, it would make me a happy girl for a long time!  :)

I was going to try out their tutorial, but I don't really have any shoes to sacrifice - much less TWO pairs of shoes to sacrifice - that really fit the girls and would work for that application.  But they did inspire me to find some other options.  That's when I stumbled across this pattern from ithinksew.com.  I love it!  Just what I was looking for with things I already had on hand!

So of course I had to make a pair for both of the girls.  I think they turned out alright!



The pattern is not only a really decent price, but it was easy to follow and comes with several different sizes. I also like that they offer adult size shoe patterns.  There are so many to choose from that I am sure I will be busting out some more shoes for the girls.

I did make a couple of adjustments to the pattern for these. They are really pretty nifty in that they just velcro close along the side.  The buttons are just for decoration.  But I found that while the flap closed just fine along the side with the velcro, it left an opening at the top of the foot.  It is probably just how I sewed them.  So I just tacked the flap to the top of the foot right in the middle.  That way the flap will stay where it should over the foot when it is closed, but I can still open them enough to get the girls' feet in there.

The other thing I did was used the smallest size - 0-3 months - for both girls.  Maddie's feet are the same size as our other little angel's feet even though they are 4 1/2 months apart.  I have found it rather frustrating in shopping for baby shoes of any kind that they tend to run very big if you go off of their age to size.  The 0-3 month size fits both girls just fine.  They may not have much room to grow, but in all honesty, these probably won't be worn after this winter anyways.

I also just used an old sweater turtleneck I had that was in the donation pile to make the outside of the boots. I used some fleece I had on hand to make the inside lining.  I didn't use any interfacing as it suggested as they hold up pretty well on their own.

So we shall test these bad boys out soon enough.  If nothing else, they will certainly keep those tootsies warm!

More Recent Projects

I think it is safe to say that I have rediscovered my love for crafting. It has been hard to find time to do anything worth posting about for a while now. And though if you are paying attention, you will see that I am writing this post at about 10:30 pm on a Wednesday, I am still getting to bed at a relatively decent hour....I mean, I can sleep when I'm dead right? :)

Honestly, most of my recent crafts and projects have been so easy that I can get them done in the hour or so after all the kiddos get to bed (and Maddie is of course generally the last one down!).

I have been finishing up a few Christmas projects I wanted to get done. I still have a handful that need my attention, but I wanted to play a bit first. So this last project was for me! I totally stole the idea from my Boss's Boss who wore the most adorable jingle bell necklace and bracelet to the Children's Holiday Party at work recently. I was in love! She told me where she got it and I am sure I could have bought it for what I paid to make it, but I like the colors in mine a little more. Sometimes crafting is not necessarily cheaper - but it does let you customize!

So without further ado...my festive Jingle Bells!




Of course they couldn't have been easier to make. You will need:


  • A handful of jingle bells in the sizes and colors you prefer (I got mine at Hobby Lobby and used the bigger ones for the necklace and the smaller ones for the bracelet. The earrings are a combo of both sizes).
  • Chain - I used chain I had on hand and just cut the lengths to the size I wanted for the necklace and for the bracelet. You could also make it that much easier and use an already assembled chain necklace and bracelet.
  • Split rings or jump rings (I had split rings on hand)
  • For the earrings you will need an pair of ear wires or your preferred earring and smaller chain to make the layers.


Assembly is simply putting the bells on the chain using the split ring or jump ring.  I spaced them out on the bracelet evenly, but I used different spaces in between on the necklace.  I wanted something that was a bit more "whimsical".  The earrings are just assembled with different lengths of smaller chain to keep the bells staggered.

I know that is not much of a tutorial, but I didn't take pictures as I was going along.  It really was a pretty fast and easy assembly (if you use jump rings it would probably go even faster.).

I am going to bust these babies out tomorrow at work.  I hope they keep me in the Christmas Spirit.  :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Everywhere!

You know how you tell yourself every year that you are going to keep it simple and take your time and not stress when the holidays come?!? You know how you never listen to your sage advice at 10:30 pm the day before your kids Holiday parties at school or parties at work?!? Is that just me??? :)

Well, we have been busy the past couple of nights trying to cram in our last minutes crafts and baking and prepping and wrapping and taking care of babies and everything else in the mix. I was still trying to throw projects in to the mix last night on the way home. Patrick looked at me and said "enough!". So I had to cut a few things I really wanted to do, but since I was up until midnight last night anyways, I guess that was ok. :)

So we made ornaments, cookies, garbage candy, fudge, pumpkin bread and these adorable (or at least the idea was adorable!) Rudolph Sausage Balls.
(if you look closely in the background, you can see some of Alex's sugar cookies!)

I think they turned out ok. I would have preferred those Christmas Tree shaped pretzles because I think they would have looked more like antlers. I couldn't find them anywhere in my sprint through the Walmart. These pretzles kind of make them look like mice, but I guess they could also be Christmas Mice! :) Anyways, they were super easy to make:

Make your sausage balls (I made a double batch as Gabe and Alex were both taking these to their parties today). You can find a recipe online just about anywhere, but I use the following for a double batch:
4 cups of bisquick (I have also used pancake mix in a pinch!)
2 lbs of sausage (two small "rolls")
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (I actually just throw in a few handfuls until it looks right.)
mix, roll in to balls, bake at 350 degrees for about 15 - 20 minutes

Once your sausage balls are cooked, and while they are still warm, take a knife and cut a small slit in the top. Stick your pretzles in the slit so they stick up like antlers. If you do it while they are still warm, they "stick" to the pretzles a little better to keep them in longer.

Once your "reindeer" have cooled completely, you can put on a nose with one of those gel icing tubes or get creative and use just about anything (mini m&m's or red hots or anything red!). I used a glitter gel icing tube I found at Walmart and just put a smidge on the sausage balls where a nose would be.

Done!

You could also go a bit further and put eyes on with a black gel tube or mini m&m or something like that. I was already "in trouble" for not keeping it simple last night so I didn't go that far.

I think this wasn't a bad trial run. I may have to experiment some more to come up with some better ideas - you know maybe when I don't have so many irons in the fire!

I still have a few more things to get done for Christmas this year, but we are on the downhill slope for now - unless I see some more cute ideas I just HAVE to try out!

Merry Christmas!

Linking up to the following:



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Projects I have been working on

I know it has been a while - a long while - since I have posted. But with four kids at home (two babies!!) it is the rare occasion that I can get online for even a few minutes, much less in enough time to make a blog post. But with Christmas coming up, I have been working on a few projects to keep my sanity - a little anyways. Here are a few things I have been working on...and a few things I will have up in my Etsy store once my "good" camera is charged. For now, you must deal with the not so great photos from my phone. :)

Leg Warmers/Leggings
RUFFLES AND BOWS!!





RUFFLES AND FLOWERS!!





Christmas Themed Clippies
Snowmen (one for each girl of course!)

Christmas Trees


I am putting the leg warmers up in my Etsy shop soon. I have a few other projects in the works that I will try to post about soon as well. I am linking up this post to the Ribbon Retreat Blog December Linky Party.
and

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Virtual Shower....

So we tried to do a virtual shower today.  We kind of made it up as we went and my parents really put a lot of work and thought in to how we could do it.  In the end, the easiest way seemed to be to shoot a video and post it online...the idea being that we have so many friends and family that are either out of town or can't get out as easily.  So we thought if we hosted a shower online we could still include those people while making it as easily accessible as possible.  Thus the virtual shower idea was born.  :)

My dad created a blog to post the videos and the information and we just got the first round uploaded.  So feel free to stop by and take a look!


Perhaps we can expand on it some more as we progress and even get pictures and videos up of Ms. Madelyn when she gets here.  Which, by the way, is in t-minus 4 weeks!  My doctor is monitoring me closely and he will for sure induce at 39 weeks, but we may go earlier depending on if my blood pressure continues to misbehave.

Till then...Much Love!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whatcha Doin?

Said in my best Isabella impersonation from Phineas and Ferb....those of you who know what I am talking about are either parents or like Patrick, secretly (or not so secretly) enjoy watching kids shows even though you don't have kids.

We don't have that "problem" in our house....not having kids I mean of course.  You know, because right now we have three with one on the way.  There is no shortage of kids in our home these days.  It's actually the reason this blog has been so neglected actually.  That and growing a baby takes pretty much every ounce of energy I have and turns it in to mush!  So between kids and pregnancy and working and trying to make sure said kids have food and clean clothes (though, if I am being honest, Patrick takes care of that by himself these days) I haven't been doing much of anything.  I pretty much feel like a bump on a log these days.  We are at 8 1/2 more weeks before my due date so I am avidly counting down the days while at the same time praying that Madelyn doesn't come early so she can be as healthy as possible - and so I can have a little more time to pack that silly hospital bag!  :)

So some other quick updates:

Gabriel turned 5 - YES!  I said F-I-V-E!!  Where has the time gone?  My baby boy is getting so big and becoming such an amazing little boy every day.  He will start kindergarten in September (something I am pretty sure I am not really ready for).  I tell him all the time that he has to stop growing and he looks at me and says "mom, can I just grow up a little bit?" and puts his two fingers together to show a little bit.  I tell him he can grow a "little bit" but no more!  :)  He is such a big helper and while he is definitely the fulfillment of my curse (the one your mom gives you when you are younger 'one day I hope you have one just like you!') he is such a great kid!  Funny how you don't have to share any common DNA for "the curse" to hold true!

Alex is....Alex.  It has been so fun to see his personality develop.  When we first got him at 9 months the thought that he would be a goofy, shy and outgoing at the same time, mess pot was the furthest from our minds.  To see him develop into this person is not only entertaining, but exciting - though I will admit that his 3's are way more challenging than his 2's have ever been.  We tried soccer class for both boys this last month.  While Gabriel excelled (the kid is a natural at all things sports!) Alex preferred to run around the gym until the instructor got there and then hang out with me and Patrick and Miss P on the sidelines.  I did get some "action" shots, but most of those are within the first 5 minutes of class.   He does love to play with Gabe and so we are going to keep trying different things with both of them to see if we can find that one thing that will break him out of his shell - of course, those that have had the pleasure of seeing Alex sans shell know that once that shell is broken, there is no putting it back together!  So we may crack it first and then let it come apart in small pieces - just to give the rest of the world time to acclimate.  :)

Miss P is just doing what any 3 month old does - eat, sleep, laugh at us being silly and making goofy faces, stare at any ceiling fan and become instantly mesmerized, etc.  I can't say much more about her as her being a foster placement still we have to protect her privacy more than even our own.  We have hit some challenges recently with the fostering thing.  When you have had a break between kiddos you tend to forget some of the more frustrating parts of being a foster parent.  You tend to focus on the good things only and so when you get that call for a placement you go in to it again with renewed hope that this time will be different!  And while each case is truly different, what stays the same is generally those things that were challenges all the other times.  Between visits to our home from everyone involved in the case to doctor's appointments and WIC appointments and paperwork and the blasted waiting with no inforrmation, it is not easy to be a foster parent sometimes.  Especially when it is a situation like our current one now.  Being pregnant doesn't help me to handle the emotional ups and downs any easier.  So basically I am a mess pretty much all the time.  Not because anything has happened, just because it is not easy.  And then I hold Miss P and love on her or see her grin the moment she sees me walk in the door or hear her giggle at Patrick's goofy noises or the boys' bieng silly and eveyrthing is ok - it's worth it.  Even if we don't get to keep her forever, it is worth it. 

So many of our close friends and family are dealing with so many other challenges and hardships these days.  It makes my pregnancy discomfort and frustration over "the system" seem so petty and selfish.  What we have to deal with is nothing in comparison by any means.  And while it consumes me so that I am walking around with blinders on, I have to remind myself that even my insignificant complaints are heard and God is watching over us.  So we continue to focus ourselves on taking this one day at a time - one foot in front of the other - checking in with God to make sure we are still on HIS path - and praying when we stray.  As my director said recently "I know God will not give me more than I can handle, sometimes I just wish he didn't trust me so much!"  :)  That which does not kills us, does literally make us stronger.  And it's all in how we roll with it.  So, we will try not to make it so long between now and the next update...till then God bless!