Pinners Conference -Phoenix

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I feel like the last three weeks have been a whirl wind of back-to-school shopping, meet the teacher nights, last minute sports physicals and various other things.  My little sewing machine sits forlornly staring at me every time I walk into my bedroom. I’ve got a million and three projects I want to start, but I just can’t seem to find a chunk of time to start even one.

Last night I said “Enough, you must create!” While my girls were playing with the neighbors I stitched this sweet little strawberry up. It was gratifying just to start and FINISH a project in one sitting. I love that embroidery can be quick like that.  I’m thinking I’ll turn this little guy into an outside pocket on a skirt for my youngest.

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If you’ve always wanted to learn hand embroidery and you live in the Phoenix area; I’ll be teaching this Arizona Sampler at the Pinners Conference in October.  My friends Bonnie and Heather are teaching along with so many other talented people.  You know you’ve got projects that have been sitting on your pin boards for just shy of forever- this is your chance to MAKE those projects and learn some skills.

If you use the PROMO code “HEATHERHALES” you can save 10% on your tickets. I’d love to see you at the conference and can’t wait to share my love of hand embroidery.

Summer Roadtrip

This summer we drove 4,513 miles in two weeks, hitting 11 states (not including Arizona). The main purpose of the trip was to go back to Kansas (where my husband and I met while attending KU) and visit with friends and family we hadn’t seen in a long time.  It was an absolute blast!  I lost track of how many times I told my husband we should move back. BECAUSE KANSAS IN THE SUMMER IS GREEN!

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After visiting our Alma Mater, we attended our friend GR’s annual firework show.  It was a great show, probably one of the top ten I’ve ever seen, but the best part was helping with the root beer floats and being able to see so many people I knew years ago as they came through the line with their children.

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After Kansas we went to Nauvoo, IL. It was beautiful and educational. The two weeks we had to make this trip were just about the right amount of time, although I wished we’d had a few more days to spend with friends and an extra day in Wyoming. When planning this trip a friend told me that her family would create a theme or a motto for their trip- you know to give everyone a lens with which to view their experiences. Our unplanned motto was “Keep your hands to yourself”, as we found ourselves chanting this multiple times a day.

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After Nauvoo we went back to Missouri to spend time with my Sister & Brother-in law. My kids were over the moon because their Aunt & Uncle let them take rides and drive the golf cart- I think it was the highlight of their trip.

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We spent the next two days driving across the entire state of Nebraska (that was the day the check engine light came on, and we couldn’t find a decent park to eat lunch at) and Wyoming. Those were LOOOOONG days, for everyone.

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The good days and wonderful experiences far outweighed the long days in the car.  We are so grateful for friends and family who put us up for a night or two; the Garcia’s, the Gordon-Rosses,  and dinner with the Tenny’s.

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We average about six to seven years between trips like this. Next time we do this our oldest will be out of the house….which makes me sad. I’m so not ready for our family structure to change; but I’m glad they will have these memories.

Internet Worthy House

Dear Pinterest-

After three years of living in this rental house I finally hung something up on the living room walls. It started before breakfast when I was scrolling through FB and one of my groups announced an estate sale a mere 5 min from my house.

“Self”, I said, “lets go! Lets go find a treasure we don’t need and probably can’t afford.” As I’m rather obliging, I threw my hair in a pony, woke the kids to tell them I was leaving and off I went. As luck would have it I found more treasures than money in my pocket but settled on two late 60’s arm chairs.

After I got the chairs set up in my taupe/beige-y living room I realized the room lacked any color and character. “Paint! It needs paint” I said to my daughter, “Today is the day, we are painting today!”

Of course I went straight to you so your interweb of pins could tell me what color I should paint my bland living room. Oh, but pinterest, the over abundance of color. It was too much and I simply couldn’t decide.  I sort of lied to my daughter and said, “Oh, not today, Daddy will be mad if we paint without letting him pick the color too”. Which is the truth, but that wouldn’t have stopped me from painting today if I had found a color I loved.

I sat in my new chair and pondered what to do. The mirror, the lovely aqua mirror that has been sitting on the floor in the living room for three years! “Today is the day, I am going to hang it”, I thought.

Oh my heavens! The fiasco of hanging a heavy mirror is not even funny. Especially since I have only used a power tool one other time in my life. I had no idea what I was really doing and took eleventy million trips between the garage, the living room and google because I forgot everything under the sun and only had a vague idea of how dry wall screws work.

But Look Internet! I hung the mirror!

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It looks tiny in comparison to the large and empty wall space all around it. There should be more, but I’m tired now. I know the space does not and will probably never look like the living rooms of IG and pinterest, and today I am ok-ish with that.

I’m pretty sure my friends will not stop liking me because my house looks bland or boring. I’m fairly certain my kids will still be moderately cared for in our mismatched brown house, although I secretly think a perfect house might make perfect children and perfect everything because that is what you, sweet Pinterest, have been whispering to me for years.

I’ll admit to being a bit nervous about new people. People who don’t know me and like me yet, they *might* judge me on my house…I guess I’ll just have to be extra kind so the new people in my life will be so blinded by my shiny kindness they won’t be able to see the not quite perfect-ness of my home.

Maybe in another year or so I’ll get around to making some colorful pillows for the couch…but then again, maybe not, because that would mean picking a color scheme and accents and maybe actually painting….I haven’t got energy for that. I’ve got kids to raise, a husband to help and vintage clothing patterns to sew.

xo

Heather

 

Vintage Pattern Review

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About two weeks ago I moved my sewing room into my bedroom so that my girls could each have their own room.  Of course there isn’t near enough room in the master bedroom for all my sewing stuff,  there are still boxes and bags of fabric and pillow forms all over my room. Monday I decided I couldn’t wait for everything to be perfect to start sewing again and I started a blouse.

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The pattern is McCalls 5120 from 1959.  It was super simple and straight forward to sew.  I originally sewed the tucks at the waist line but didn’t like the look (it gave a nice nipped in waist look, but it would have been uncomfortable on my daughter), so I unpicked them. I also made the neck a little wider so my daughter didn’t feel like she was choking with the top bottom done. I debated about doing the buttons vertically, which is typical for dress shirts, but decided against it as there wasn’t the traditional placket. Altogether cutting and sewing was probably 3-4 hours.

The fabric is an in house designed AGF print, Chic Flora, that I picked up the last time I was in Houston visiting my mother. After I finished the blouse I realized my daughter had nothing to wear with the shirt!  Which was really not a bother, just an excuse to keep sewing.

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I whipped up this super simple Simplicity 4763, wrap skirt in a navy corduroy that my friend Janet gifted me. The pattern I have is a waist of 26″ and 36″ hip.  Even though it was cut for an adult figure, I knew as a wrap it would be very forgiving. I omitted the pockets and the contrasting top stitching and cut 5″ off the length. After cutting out the three pieces I probably spent 2 hours total sewing this up, it was very simple.

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My daughter was a little worried that the wrap would show her underwear, but there is enough overlap that everything is covered, even in a twirl.

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I love this skirt so much I want to make one for myself!

Happiness- 30

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I don’t know that this interview was meant to be too terribly thought provoking, but it was, for me. I thought about what makes people happy and how much or little we need to be happy. I know intellectually that I have a pretty good life, but sometimes the emotions of that get lost in the first world dramas of my day.

In the fashion of Whole 30, I’ve decided to create a Happiness 30. Thirty days of making an actual list of what I am grateful for that day. Because I need accountability, I will be posting my daily list on my Instagram account- and occasionally linking over here.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, has identified 12 behaviors that lead to greater happiness. I’ve decided to focus on six of those behaviors as a way to gauge my own success over the next thirty days.

  • avoid social comparison
  • practice acts of kindness
  • express gratitude
  • learn to forgive
  • intense focus on the present moment
  • practice religion and spirituality

If you’d like to participate (I really would love to see what this looks like for you!) please tag your photos #happiness30

 

 

 

Summertime in the ‘burbs

Nothing makes me crazier than too much unstructured time. Not just unstructured time with my kids, but I have to create schedules and structure for myself or I become slothful, unproductive, and growl at people. I need boundaries and expectations to function (on a side note, I’m currently reading Better than Before and it is really fascinating to evaluate yourself by these constructs!) .

Enter the 2016 edition of….THE SUMMER CHORE CHART….

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(click the image if you want to download the pdf file to use at your house, minus my children’s initials)

Katie Hughes posted her chore chart to instagram last week and emailed her file to those who were interested. I liked her format and used it to revamp our chore chart- far more classy than last years!  Next week my goal is to create the daily activity list. Baby steps. I’m trying to find my groove again after our weekend trip to California.

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What are you doing this summer? How do you keep the summertime doldrums at bay?

Life Lessons

I recently had an argument with my son about black suits. We went shopping for a new suit and he kept pulling out black jackets. I told him that at fourteen he had no real need for a solid black suit. Black suits were for funerals and very formal occasions, I explained, far too fancy for regular church services. Motherhood is full of teaching moments, important lessons and inconsequential lessons. Who knows if my son will even remember this little lesson about formal and informal suits based on color and cut.

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Its funny sometimes to reflect on the lessons that have stayed with you. I was thinking of a few of the gems I’ve learned from my own mother.

  1. If you’re going to cut your hair short, do it in the winter. When its hot you’re going to want to be able to pull it back and off your neck.
  2. When buying eye glasses, pick a frame that matches your hair color- they will flatter your face.
  3. Never wear white or black to a wedding (I know this rule is considered old fashioned now, but I’m a die hard)
  4. Butter and real maple syrup.
  5. Don’t stay in hotels near pawn shops and don’t make eye contact with anyone on the street near a pawn shop.

I learned the hard way to always pack shampoo on a vacation.  When I was fourteen my mom, sister and I took a road trip through Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. The first morning on our trip I realized I didn’t have shampoo and I don’t think our motel offered any either. I asked my mom where the shampoo was- because surely it was her responsibility as Mom to make sure those things were packed! Mom was not amused or willing to share her shampoo and my sister and I were on our own for not packing any. Its something we all laugh about. At the time though I was mortified that I couldn’t wash my hair, I think I even resorted to bar soap a few times. In hindsight I don’t know why it never occurred to me to go to the nearest drug store and buy a bottle…but it didn’t. Life lesson learned.

At thirty-eight, I am still learning lessons from my mother, and I hope I never stop. My mother is amazing at supporting her daughters even when she thinks we are crazy or cannot see the logic in our choices. There were times when I made choices I knew my mother wasn’t happy about (getting married at twenty!), but she always, always supported me. As my own children are ageing and beginning to make their own independent choices- some of which I don’t agree with, I feel crazy, frustrated and helpless.  I recently asked my mother how she was able to be so supportive when my sister and I were sometimes making stupid choices. Her response just left me in awe. She told me she knew that she wasn’t always right, and that sometimes there is more than one way to do something, or an avenue that maybe she can’t see. I have been trying so hard to remember this as I ride the crazy roller coaster of raising teenagers…I’m trying to learn humility.

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My parents divorced when I was very young and to be honest it still has ripple effects in my life today. The silver lining (more like platinum) in their divorce is that I now have Kathy in my life.  She and my father married when I was seven, and I love her. Because of Kathy I’ve been known to say “hooray for broken families!” I could not have asked for a better step mother. I’ve learned a few little gems from her along the way too.

  1. Never wear navy with black.
  2. Your purse, belt and shoes should always match (I’ve given up on the purse bit).
  3. Easter means new spring sandals!
  4. There is always something to laugh about, even in the midst of challenges.
  5. When eating a sandwich that has been cut into two triangles, you always eat from the end, not the center.

I laugh more with Kathy than anyone else in my life, she can take an ordinary situation and make it funny. When I was twelve or thirteen Kathy, my sister and I were all at the mall flipping through a clothing rack. Kathy pulled out a shirt that looked more like a leotard but with intentional under-wire cups (this was the 90’s), she held it up to us and said, “Its a fill-in-the-blanks shirt”.  I’m not sure what it was about how she said it, but my sister and I busted up laughing. For years after that when we saw shirts like that we’d call them fill-in-the-blanks and chuckle to ourselves.

I’m so grateful to have her in my life, I’m so thankful for her listening ear and her patience. She is probably one of the best listeners I know, sometimes I get off the phone and wonder if I even let her get a word in edgewise but she never makes me feel like I’ve monopolized the conversation.

I am so lucky to have these two women in my life.  I am a better person because of them, who I am today is because of them and their love for me (Dad gets credit too!).

Mom- thank you for never giving up on me, even when times were really hard. As a mother myself I understand some of the pain and sacrifice that comes from not giving up on your kid. I Love You.

Kathy- thank you for always listening to me, for being my friend, for making me laugh. You accepted me from day one. I Love you.

Happy Mother’s Day

What Morning Looks Like

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Maybe eight or nine years ago my Grandmother, who has a very deep love for the Book of Mormon, challenged her children and grandchildren to read the Book of Mormon again as a family.  I had one reader and one non-reader at the time and thought, ugh, the stories of the BOM don’t always make sense to me, how on earth can I read this to my children and have them get anything out of it??

I have a deep love and respect for my grandmother and I just could not ignore her challenge. My husband suggested we start reading together before we put the children to bed. That lasted maybe a week before we switched to reading in the mornings. By the time bedtime rolls around I am so ready for everyone to GO TO BED AND LEAVE ME ALONE, that I really struggled with putting on a good face and reading the word of God to my kids.

We started reading two, maybe three verses every morning before the kids went to school.  I would read the verses to them and then we’d talk about what we read, I would try to summarize it in a language that they would understand. I’d relate the wars to the people of Tempe feeling like they didn’t have enough land, so they started a war with Chandler to take over some of their land- anything to help bring understanding to my kids.

Our reading has evolved over the years, I think it took us something like five or six years to finish the book as a family, and then we started over again. These days, with three kids and only one sort-of not quite a reader yet, our mornings look something like this:

6:45 am my alarm goes off, I literally drag myself from slumber and shuffle down the hall to open the doors to my children’s rooms where I mumble something like “Rise and Shine” but more like “get up”.  I usually have to sit down in the girls rooms and rub their cheeks to get them to wake up and then we all shuffle to the living room. My daughters take up the couch, my son is buried in a blanket on a chair, while my husband and I take the two remaining chairs.

My husband who is infinitely more alert in the mornings than I am, opens his scriptures and reminds all of us what page/verse we are on. This is the moment where it dawns on my kids that they need to have their scriptures with them- so then there is a slow stumble to the book shelf to collect the books. Then my patient husband has to tell us all again about ten times what page/verse to turn to.

We each take turns reading a few verses of an entire page. My husband, the alert one, will sometimes ask questions to see if the children understood what they read (um, we didn’t even try asking during the Isiah chapters of 2 Nephi).

Then, in theory, we all kneel together around the coffee table for family prayer.  What it really looks like is my husband kneeling at the coffee table with one daughter perched on his back (as if he were giving her a horse back ride), my son, still covered in a blanket kneeling at the chair, the other daughter curled up next to me, while I get as close to the floor as I can without actually looking like I am laying on the floor- and then we pray.

Its a whole lot of effort- especially for someone like me who is not a morning person, but I know that it makes a difference in our daily lives. It helps my children think beyond themselves, it helps them to put their problems into perspective, and I know when we invite God into our home we are kinder to one another.

King Benjamin (in the book of Mosiah) had three sons Mosiah, Helorum and Helaman, whom he taught the language of their fathers- which was Egyptian. He wanted his children to know Egyptian so  they could read the records of their people-which were the plates passed down from Lehi. If they couldn’t read and understand Egyptian they wouldn’t be able to (as Mormon writes) ” read and understand His (God’s) mysteries, and always have his commandments before our eyes”. Benjamin didn’t want his sons to grow up and raise their children in unbelief, he wanted a faithful posterity. I have the same hope for my posterity, and I know if I don’t teach my children to understand the language of the BOM (and the Bible) then they will not be able to understand the mysteries of God.

 

What I’m Reading 2016 edition

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I really enjoy keeping track of the books I’ve read over the years- here are the following years

2015
2014
2013
2012

This year I am serious about using Goodreads for suggestions and book summaries.  I’m still figuring the site out and how to “friend” someone, but I’d love to be your reading friend!  If you know how to do the whole friend thing- you can find me on Goodreads as HeatherInAZ.

Without further ado- here is what I’ve read so far….

  1. In the Unlikely Event– Judy Blume
    I really enjoyed the writing, the characters and the story…but I felt like the story had no point…there was really never any resolution. It was just a snapshot of a moment in time and I didn’t care for the ending.
  2. Yes Please -Amy Poehler
    This was a fun read. I enjoyed hearing Amy’s voice, and I appreciated her honesty.
  3. Carry On Warrior– Glennon Doyle Melton
    This was a very easy read- Glennon writes as if she were sitting next to you.  She talks a lot about God and religion, I skimmed through a few of those parts. She shares her story of addiction, recovery and continual self growth and acceptance.
  4. Murder On the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
  5. The Sound of Glass -Karen White
  6. Letters From Home– Kate Mc Morris
  7. Fiercombe Manor– Kate Roirdan
  8. The Boston Girl -Anita Diamant
  9. I Gave My Heart To Know This– Ellen Baker
  10. The Gilded Hour – Sara Donati
  11. The House on Tradd Street – Karen White
  12. The Goldfinch-Donna Tartt
  13. Sea Change – Karen White
  14. Keeping House- Ellen Baker
  15. Falling Home – Karen White
  16. The Nightingale – Hannah Kristin
  17. The Color Of Light- Karen White
  18. A Long Time Gone- Karen White
  19. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin

Parenting is Not for Wimps

For the last 2 months my week day mornings consist of nagging my teenager to hurry up, get dressed, brush his teeth, pack his lunch etc. I’ve offered him money if he can be ready to leave for school on time. I’ve threatened to take his bedroom door off so he can’t go back to bed after we’ve read and prayed together as a family. I’ve threatened on many occasions that if he isn’t ready on time he will need to find his own way to school….and every time I’ve failed to follow through, rationalizing in my head that this time an exception should be granted.

But, not today. I warned him right after he got up that if he wasn’t in the car by 7:40am he would need to find his own way to school. He wasn’t ready until 7:45am. He wasn’t that late, I started to rationalize; and he did get dressed faster today than any other day…I didn’t want to penalize that. Plus, I’d never ridden the route with him before, and all the cars backing out of driveways…would they see him, would he see them?

I swallowed my fears and gathered my courage to tell him he needed to find his own way to school.

He stormed out of the house as if I were the devil.

I texted my husband, who was already at work:

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After a stomach churning twenty minutes he made it to school.  Riding his bike to school also meant he had to ride home.  When he arrived home he was coming from the “wrong” direction.  He told me he rode home ALONG THE FRONTAGE ROAD to avoid seeing the kids from his old school.  THE FRONTAGE ROAD, the road with really fast cars and not so friendly homeless men!!!!

I know, I know…this was character building (for both of us), it taught him responsibility, and independence (you know that skill he’s going to need when he moves out at 18). He even told me it wasn’t so bad and he may do it again.  It took a lot of guts, but I turned to him and said, “If you’re not ready by 7:40 that will be your only method of getting to school”.

I know this is a good thing for him, but man it was hard for me. I have no problem helping my kids be successful when they are helping themselves, but I get mean and snarly when they don’t help themselves and I just enable them. Enabling isn’t really good for either of us, but it is the easy way out (at least in the short term).