Clothing Choices

Have you ever been one of those people who had different “wardrobes?” Meaning, you had church clothes, play clothes, school clothes, painting clothes, etc.? I didn’t, at least to my knowledge. However, now that the church I am attending is a little more formal, I have begun to think that having a few “church clothes” that don’t get dirtied at the park would be a welcome relief from the frantic searching on Sunday morning for something clean to wear. It is very likely that this is a problem of laundry management and less of wardrobe, but the question still remains. My son wears a shirt, tie, and pants to church that he would never wear to the park. My daughter, however, has no dress to wear to church. I think it is worth it to find something nicer for her to wear that signals to her little brain that it is Sunday and it that means a special time to worship God and learn from his Word.

Which brings up an interesting point, clothing has always had a significant impact on the way we behave. Businesses have long required their associates to dress according to a set of standards, even when they won’t be coming in direct contact with customers. Why? Because when you are dressed nicely, you act nicely. So, what about school clothes? I am wondering if it is worth the effort to make a specific “school uniform” for Jordyn. It doesn’t even really have to look like a uniform, I don’t think, just so she knows that when she wears them, it is a school day. I think it might just help trigger my brain as well. Perhaps we do something simple, black or blue skirt, white shirt. Easily made or purchased. Wonder if it would help focus my energy…


Why I Don’t Like Numbers

I have been working frantically on crafty projects lately. Almost to the exclusion of all else. Almost.

Anyway, I am planning on making a quilt for each of my children for Christmas, which has become an overwhelming project. Not to mention that my daughter (and I) are (still) out of clothes to wear. Although, Jordyn did get a few nice play dresses from Eric’s co-worker, which is getting her by for right now. I just don’t have enough and what I do have is awful.

Here come the numbers: I cut strips for the nine-patch blocks for my kids’ quilts. I cut all of them precisely 13 inches long. After all, my blocks were going to be 6 inches square and that is the double after seam allowance that I came up with. You might need to know at this point, that alternating with the nine-patch blocks, are going to be simple 6 inch squares and I did my math for those squares first. If you note, a 6 inch square doubled would be 12 inches, but, HA, you need to add seam allowances and their are four (top and bottom, twice) in these blocks. At 1/4 inch, my math is SPOT ON. Everything worked out great, the 72 (ish) blocks that I cut out for my children’s quilts are exactly 6 1/2 inches square. Perfect. Problem is, I knew that those squares were correct and I just assumed that it would be perfect for my nine-patches. I guess I didn’t really think because if I had, I would have remembered that when cutting long strips to be sliced for the patches in a nine-patch block, their would be more than 2 seam allowances…there would be TWELVE!!! Basically, it boils down to: I was 3 inches short on every strip, for both quilts. Now I approxiamately (because I refuse to do the real math now) 15 blocks short on each quilt.

Are you confused yet? My head is still swimming and it is 2 in the morning (which is another number problem!) and I just finished making a tent dress which makes me gain about 100 pounds just by putting it on, really. I think I am giving up on dresses. They will flatter my figure when I’ve lost an additional 50-75 pounds. In the meantime, I will stick with button down blouses and 6 gore skirts. Simple to sew, simple to tailor, simple to change (ish). It’s not ideal, but it will have to do. Now what do I do with all this yardage that I bought for DRESSES???

Dressing for the Summer

So here we are, the first day of August, summer is in full bloom and women who would otherwise dress modestly are finding excuse after excuse to not wear beautiful, long, flowing garments. I think the heat issue boils down to what is socially acceptable. In the 1800s, when they had a scorching week (like those in the Pacific Northwest have been having lately) they had no alternative. They couldn’t strip out of their clothes and run around half-naked so they had to figure out what to do to keep themselves cool. They could stay out of the sun, wear light colored clothes, wear a hat, and stay well hydrated. They had the joy in knowing that this too shall pass while they fanned themselves with homemade fans and ate things that cooled them off.

Today, when it gets warm, we think we need to remove clothing, because it is socially acceptable to do so. This way, we don’t need to be as inconvenienced by the seasons. Unlike the extremely seasonal lives of our ancestors, our lives run year-long, not offering any variation based on the season. We are spoiled by air conditioning and heating systems as well as our recreational activities.

We assume that the only way to cool down is to remove clothing (or wear less of them)- that it is the inherent properties in clothing that are making us overly warm. This isn’t always the case though. Think about it, have you ever sat in a car wearing something black? I have, I was wearing a new black skirt and the sun was shining right on my lap and I was frying. My mother offered me her white sweater and I refused saying it would just make me hotter. However, eventually I gave in and you know what? It made me cooler! Adding a white layer actually reflected the sun enough that I could feel a difference. There is a reason that you see women’s clothing from older time periods in white. We rarely wear white these days, even pastels aren’t really “in fashion” but for summer clothes, white is essential. Now, I am a plus sized woman and the thought of draping myself in white is not appealing, so for now, I try to stick to cotton because it breathes, and as light a color as I dare to go, especially on top. It really does help!

AND DRINK LOTS OF WATER!!! Sweat is your body’s own air conditioning, if you are not hydrated, it doesn’t work. Common sense applies even if you are wearing tank tops and cut-offs or a beautiful flowing dress- stay out of the sun and keep covered when you are in the sun!!!

What to Wear?

I have been following Lady Lydia’s blog, Living at Home, for a long time but lately she has been doing a series on modest and feminine clothing reflected in older artwork and how to apply that to our daily wardrobes. It has been an excellent source of inspiration for me. I have always been dependent on current fashion to dictate both the style and fabric. I thought that I was choosing things that I liked, but really, I wasn’t. Now I have several dresses to make with less than thrilling fabric, but that’s okay. They are still nice and will be pretty.

So with the school year coming up, even though we are still smack dab in the middle of summer, I have been trying to figure out what dresses I am going to make for fall and winter. I will probably start with a summer weight dress, but only one. I also need to be sewing for my daughter too. Basically, I have enough sewing to keep me busy for a long time!
Here is my sewing list:
Daughter (Jordyn):
2 Summer dresses for her birthday in August
2 Corduroy dresses for fall/winter
2 Cotton long-sleeve dresses
2 Full slips
5 pairs of modesty shorts/capris
2 knee length bloomers out of flannel
3 2 winter nightgowns (one in progress)
Brown skirt (already cut out)
Blue skirt
2-3 Blouses
1 Summer Dress
3 2 Fall/Winter Dresses
3 Full slips
1 Half slip
5 Pairs of bloomers
1-2 Pairs of flannel bloomers
3 Nightgowns
Christmas Outfits (that is for Christmas pictures, not receiving on-)
Vest for Noah and Eric
Dress for Jordyn
Skirt and Blouse for Me
Among all of that, I have several little projects, a handbag (or two or three…), these cute crayon roll-up bags, a couple of stuffed animals and dolls for Christmas gifts and I would also like to make my children each a new quilt for their bed for Christmas. Yes, I am already thinking about what to do for Christmas. I don’t know if we’ll do Santa Claus this year. It really disturbs me that I am required to do a substantial amount of lying to my children just for the “fun” of it, but we’ll see what the husband thinks. Feel free to weigh in on the topic. (We have decided to do Santa, based largely on another family’s discussion of the topic with us.)
I suppose what I am trying to say is: I have a ton of sewing to do!! I love reading progress reports, so I will probably try to post some as well, with pictures. I doubt that those items will be enough to get us completely through the winter, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to make a dress here or there once I’ve gotten into a good routine. I am still looking for an easier dress pattern to make for my daughter (with no buttons or zippers) because I am rarely buying everything for the dress in one stop and I don’t like having to wait to find matching buttons or zippers. It’s much easier if the pattern is just simple! I just found this one, which comes with two different sleeve options and looks easy.
What I really need now is to carve out some time in my schedule to sew. It shouldn’t be terribly difficult because of my current living situation, but it will require me to sacrifice nights lounging around the TV and most likely, my sacrosanct naptime as well. Hopefully, it will be worth it in the end, to know that I have created two wardrobes for my family and moved on to the Christmas gifts…
Updated 10/24/2009

Fun Challenges

In church today we discussed “perfection” using the first few verses of James 1. That whole notion of counting it all joy when you face trials and tribulation wasn’t what I wanted to hear this morning (err, yesterday morning…it’s late!) but it was, as always, a well-timed sermon. So speaking of challenges, despite the constant turmoil of living here, which I know is producing good fruit in my life through the working of the Holy Spirit, I have decided to attempt two different challenges.

The most recent is a home cleaning challenge and you can find the initiator here. I have decided to go through and “spring clean” several areas. Living as I do, in an extended family situation, there are always other people around to help keep things tidy, but there are areas that have been neglected, so I’d like to tend to those.
1. Living room- all that unwanted stuff that collects because you forget to remove it, along with a good vacuuming and window washing.
2. Kitchen- scrubbing the floors, clean out fridge, reorganize pantry and cabinets.
3. Dining Room- mostly the downstairs bathroom and the game closet, which is a wreck.
4. Master Bedroom- suffice it to say, this is the messiest room in the house, and it should not be that way!
5. Back Room- that evil, tiny, multi-purpose room.
6. Garage- where all our leftover junk is stored. Q: Where is that thing that I had when we used to live there? A: I don’t know honey, look in the garage. Q: Where is it, in that garage? A: Who knows…see ya next week though, if the spiders don’t carry you off first. Sigh.
Hopefully, I will be able to take (and POST) pictures of my progress. I fully expect this challenge to take two weeks. Though my list is pretty short, some of these projects are multi-day types, like my bedroom for example. It should be really nice to get everything clean and tidy, and (gasp) keep it clean, in theory. I have a related resource that I will be reading during these next few weeks called, Home Comforts, which is really a manual on how to keep your home. I found it at my library after two different recommendations. I reserved some “crafty” books as well just to “try them out.”
Okay, so the next challenge is much more fun. It involves feminine dressing. I know that not everyone agrees on what is “modest” and what is not, but when we take the time to address modesty in light of femininity, things take an interesting turn. I have been a big fan of Mrs. Sherman’s website, Living at Home, for a long time now, even though I don’t always agree with everything she says, does, or suggests. However, I love what she has been doing lately. She has been taking older painting that show the feminine clothing of the past and pulling from them inspiration that she translates into something slightly more modern and wearable. Among all these posts have been little nuggets on sewing tips, dressing tips, modesty tips and so on. She prefers for her comments to be anonymous, so there is really a feeling that you can ask whatever you want and not be shamed. I have really become almost addicted to this series (hence the need for the first challenge!). So, she hasn’t issued an official challenge per say, but I will endeavor to take pictures of myself during these two weeks spent cleaning so that you can see my feminine wardrobe change as I add new pieces.
One subject I need some help with is hair dressing. If anyone knows some tips or tricks on what to do with medium length thin hair, let me know! I can’t stand hair in my face and it is just too hot to leave it down (we get to about 100 degrees these days…with no air conditioning!) I would love to look into older styles, but I really need simple!
***edited to add: I have found another great website for Christian women, called What Women Never Hear and it is a collection of articles geared toward the modern woman written by a man. The few things I have read are very interesting.

Stop in for a Long Visit

Hmm, grab a nice hot cup of coffee or tea (or just water to cool yourself down in the pre-summer heat) and spend a few minutes at my kitchen table. I have freshly baked brownies with hidden spinach and blueberries…No? Why not? Okay, I’ll pull out my secret stash of Dove chocolate and we can chat? Milk or dark? 

So many things have been going on (see here or here) that I really have not had time to write. I love writing and always will, but one of my struggles has been properly using my time. I love the saying, “Idle time leads to idol time” because that is really true for me. I love my computer and my “free” time, only my free time is coming at a time that really isn’t free. It belongs firstly to my Lord, then my husband and then my children. When I have fulfilled all my obligations in those three areas, then I am allowed free time…that’s not what I’ve been doing!!! Anyway, I see myself blogging once a week or so for the next few months but hopefully, as I learn to manage my time well, I will have more time available for blogging. I have been scheduling my upcoming homeschooling year, planning out the books I’d like to go through and whatnot, establishing a new family routine and schedule along with ChorePacks which are truly awesome! I have also been trying to create a summer wardrobe for me and my daughter out of the fabric I already have and most lately, I’ve been searching for a job.

My homeschool plan is pretty cool, at least I’m excited about it. I kept going back and forth about early “formal” academics and reasoned that if I were to put my daughter in kindergarten (which is what I’m talking about) she would be into much heavier academics than if I were to homeschool, but, I don’t think that I am a late-starter. I do acknowledge that during the first few years (from about 5-8 years old) what you are really doing is giving your children character training while teaching them to read and write and do math. I am so okay with that, but, I don’t think that the fact that I will be attempting to develop character is a reason to sluff off on the work I’d like my child to do. My curriculum for kindergarten includes Saxon Math K, which is really a dumb thing to have purchased, but at the same time, I am extremely glad to have a script with which to guide me as I try to teach my kiddo about patterns, calendars, and counting (among other math concepts). Was it necessary? No, probably not. Can she learn all of those things without a text? Absolutely. Can I teach them effectively without the program? I think not, truly. I don’t tend to be very good at explaining things to my children. One of my many flaws. I appreciate the book telling me what to say and when. I will add my own personality when I need to. Outside of that, I am using Sonlight’s Pre-K (4/5) program except it’s Bible component, I have a replacement in the Children’s Illustrated Bible. I have begun to teach Jordyn to read with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading and finally I will be using Handwriting Without Tears only because it was easy to order. I estimate that our days will be somewhere between one and one and half hours. Obviously, if my child starts freaking out and shows signs of hating school, we’ll slow down and just enjoy reading, but I think she will do very well with what I have planned.
As far as schedule goes, I have found (thank you Duggar family!) Managers of Their Homes and Managers of Their Chores and ChorePacks. My kids love the ChorePacks and so do I. It is a fun, easy reminder of the tasks that need to get done and my kids love flipping the cards. I even made myself one (to demonstrate how cool it was to the kids) and I love it. It is so much easier than a list for my little morning routines, when I can easily forget to do something (like start a load of laundry!).
As for the summer wardrobe…well, that is pretty tricky. It always comes back down to several dichotomies. Modesty or fashion? Skirts or pants? Dresses or skirts? Long or short? Bathing attire or ??? And, the end result is that if I make a decision in one category, can I neglect the rest? I am doing this to please the flesh or the Lord? What is the root here?

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. I Peter 3: 1-4 KJV

I don’t think that those verses say that apparel is irrelevant, but I do think that they speak to the heart of the matter. It isn’t about what you wear, as much as it is about the condition of your spirit. Am I wearing dresses and skirts to feel like I am doing okay? Am I just covering up the sinful pride and ambition and yes even anger and fear that I feel? Am I behaving in a manner so as to have someone describe me as “meek” or “quiet”…I think not. I think that is why I LOVE watching the Duggars on TV. Michelle Duggar is such an example of what a meek and quiet spirit looks like. It is peaceful to witness. I have a long way to go. For now, I would like to wear primarily dresses or skirts. I can’t think of a good reason to wear pants, though not standing out comes to mind, so I want to try to wear more of them.
I am making a dress from a pattern that I got when I was almost 20 pounds heavier, and it doesn’t fit anymore…so I’ve been scaling the pattern down, which is essentially creating my own pattern and now, I have the pleasure of learning how to construct a sleeve pattern. It is really fascinating stuff and I’ve always wanted to know, but it is a little more than I bargained for.
And last but not least, a friend of mine has given me a contact to email about a work from home computer job. It is a good job, but it will be very difficult for me to do. I am especially worried about timelines and deadlines, but if the Lord provides this job for me, then I will know that it is in His will and I know that He (and He alone) will give me the strength to accomplish it.
Finally, as you might figure, I don’t think I’ll be writing too much. I’ll do my best, but that list is pretty long and I have even more than that to do…but it was nice visiting you for this little while. I’ll stop by your place as soon as I can…

Apostate or Heretic?

A little internal turmoil will really get you thinking, but, before I get in to all that, perhaps a short history is required. I grew up in a Catholic church and the large majority of my large family is Catholic with varying degrees of devotion. When I was 12, my parents got a divorce and through that process, my mom left the Catholic church. We began attending a church called Inland Community Church and we were very happy there. My mom wished for more hymns instead of the praise music, but she loved the verse-by-verse teaching of the Bible. She grew as a Christian and we grew to become Christians. It was at this church that I was baptized as a believer. However, problems eventually arose (as they usually do) and we discovered the youth pastor struggled in sexual sin (with the girls of his youth group) and the associate pastor was stealing from the church. After an all out confrontation with the church leadership, my family and several others, left the church and found a Calvary Chapel. Calvary was a breath of fresh air for sermons that had gone downhill since we first began attending ICC. Calvary Chapel’s are known for their verse-by-verse Bible teaching and their back to basics style. They are good, Bible believing people, but… they seem to take things a little too lax, like wearing blue jeans to church among other things. It was really the blue jeans that got to me first, which is why I mention them.

Last July, I had the opportunity to confront this ideology head-on and I started wearing skirts more often. I felt convicted to dress modestly and femininely, not something I could accomplish well wear tight blue jeans. I found an article on headcovering and tried that out, but it became too much of a challenge and I stopped. I was still wearing skirts and I still believe skirts should be the staple of a woman’s wardrobe. The one MAJOR thing I was lacking was a community of like-minded believers. This is what I craved. I started looking for churches, and even found an Independent Fundamental Baptist church in town, but we were moving and I was still unsure of myself and my convictions and felt like rocking the boat wasn’t the best decision for this moment in time. I am still looking for a group to belong to and that is what worries me, the fear that I will choose my beliefs based on group participation and less on what is actually correct.

Here’s where I get down to the real nitty gritty. One of the most frustrating things I am dealing with right now is the name-calling. Everyone takes a stand on so many different issues, from Calvinism to Arminianism, skirt length, headcovers, beards, lifestyle (agrarianism), homeschool method, child-raising, Bible version…so on and so forth. What really gets difficult is that (particularly in the Calvinism versus Arminianism debate) we label the “opposition”. The Arminians call the Calvinists heretics and the Calvinists call the Arminians apostates. All the other issues follow along with these two groups and I just get so frustrated!

What am I to be: an apostate or a heretic?  

And what concerns me even more is that, unlike my mom, who was convicted to leave the Catholic church after seeing that confession wasn’t right and that Catholicism created people that “did” church on Sunday by just putting in their time (the real story is about the women chewing gum and gabbing behind my mom through the portion of the mass just after communion where the Catholic is at their most “holy” because they have just consumed the body and blood of Jesus Christ…I remember thinking that I had better pray quickly before he was digested out of me and I would be left powerless…anyway, these women got in the way of my mom’s worship of her Savior (yet another aside, my mom was a Bible-reading Catholic) and we left the church.) and the failure of the priest to absolve her sin of divorce, I feel like I just want to belong to a group

Of course, I want to please God in what I do and that truly is first and foremost in my mind, but lately I have been wondering what exactly I am supposed to do. I am tired of being “tossed by the waves” and I fear for doing the wrong thing. I am okay with following whatever “rules” need to be followed, I just need to know that I am following God and not man, nor man’s interpretation of God. I think at the root here is this utter frustration with who I am and where I stand in God’s kingdom. Am I really a part of it? Are my actions sanctifying me? Am I truly serving God my wearing skirts, covering my head and choosing hymns over modern praise and worship? Are these things really important? And why, why do we demean other Christians? To separate ourselves from them, to define ourselves better? Does that not also cause us to puff up ourselves, just a little? We agree that Christ is the Savior of this world and that we are only saved by grace, through faith, right? Does the rest of it even matter? I imagine that the God who took the time to send His own Son to die on a cross for us would have some details about how to live and how to worship Him. Does it all really hang on Matthew 22: 37-40,

Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

What does that mean? Does that mean that that love really is the bottom line…that “all you need is love?” What does it mean to have the law and prophets hanging on it? I would dearly love some answers here. Nothing has tried my faith so much as this.