Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter Sewing Plans

Well this weekend my goal is to get some sewing done!!! Seriously need to get my older daughter's Easter dress made (wanna see a pic of what I'm going to make it out of? Wanna wanna? Wait for it...) and my younger two's outfits washed up. My son's came from WalMart and is going to dual-duty for my brother's wedding this spring. My baby's dress is a beautiful brand new with tags dress that I actually swapped for on SwapMamas.com. (As an aside, if you're thinking of joining SwapMamas you should know that they are totally revamping their system and relaunching in about a month so if you don't want to deal with their growing pains in the meantime you can wait until the relaunch.)
We have searched for an Easter dress for my oldest and come up empty. We found a few stunningly beautiful ones that when I examined them closer turned out to be pathetic quality and/or workmanship. Since I don't want her Easter dress to fall apart in the wash, I decided to be brave and sew her one. Ahhh! I'm not that great at sewing. I understand the basics but pattern instructions confuse me. I think whoever writes the directions on those things gets a thrill out of making things seem harder than they have to be and scaring off would-be budding seamstresses. I have once or twice just ignored the instructions and pieced the item together without them.
But I digress; I was going to tell you about the dress for my daughter. I am not really good at sewing and I can count on one hand everything I've sewn since I had kids that wasn't a plain skirt. I can also count on one hand all the dresses I've made in my entire lifetime. Scary thought. Considering the fact that I not only have to sew my oldest's Easter dress this weekend, but also a formal skirt for myself for something I have to do in a few days. Jury duty. I don't think my full flowery go-to skirts are quite what they have in mind when they said to wear something court-friendly. Maybe it doesn't matter but to share a little secret I'm kind of paranoid about doing something wrong since someone I know told me about a mom who got arrested for contempt of court because she couldn't find a babysitter! Eeek! So that's got me all in worry mode that if I do something they deem inappropriate they're going to arrest me or something. I'm kinda shy so I think if they merely gave me the dissaproving eye I may well just wet myself in terror. Okay maybe not quite that bad but you get the drift, I aim to please. ;)

Now where was I? Oh yes, the dress! I happened to have swapped (yes on SwapMamas again) for a lovely spring skirt that is definately way too small for me back in the middle of the winter and saved it. See?


So my super secret sneaky plot is to turn it into a pillowcase style dress for my daughter's Easter dress. :D See how well I cheat? Lol! If I can manage not to mess it up too bad it should be fairly easy and not time consuming. The PROBLEM with this style of dress is that, as per my opinions on modesty mentioned in the previous post, I think a pillow case dress is going to be a mite skimpy. So I want to mommy-rig a plain white muslin peasant top for her to wear underneath, using this pattern as a guide:

So we shall see if this takes my time and effort quota into "shoulda-just-made-a-whole-dress-from-scratch" territory. I'll keep you posted...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Immodest Past (and The Modesty Survey)

I don't remember how or when it was that I stumbled upon The Modesty Survey, but I do remember that it was a great encouragement to me, a little convicting, and it gave me some motivation in an area of my life I had been neglecting for quite a few years.
As a little bit of background for you, when I was a toddler my mom put me in jeans. I just didn't like the feel of them pinching my middle, and lavished in the praise I received from everyone I met when I wore dresses. What toddler doesn't like to be told she looks like a princess? So one morning my mom was getting me dressed and I told her I didn't want any more pants at all. Only dresses. I think it took a while before she realized I was serious. I wore sweatpants to bed when all my nightgowns were dirty and rarely did I wear any sort of pants for day-clothes. My dear Nana made my sister and I each a new dress each Christmas and Easter so I wore my pretty made-with-love dresses everywhere all the time. It just felt right. Then when I was a few weeks shy of my 13th birthday we moved and I had to start all over with making friends. My first friend, and for a long time my only friend, lived on a ranch. Baling hay and branding calves were all in a day's work for her, and being in her company I began to be invited to ride horses and such, and she would add, "And um... wear jeans, OK?" because she just couldn't imagine how I'd be able to do anything safely in a dress. So I bought jeans. And wore them when I was visiting my friend. And despite still doing farm chores in dresses at home, pretty soon, when the majority of my public activities went from being done in dresses to being done in jeans, I just only really kept up with buying a dress that fit for Church. The majority of my wardrobe became jeans and tank tops. Practical for sweating out in the sun riding horses but not really modest. But I wasn't thinking of that back then. I am ashamed to admit that my focus was not on being modest. I was becoming a hormone-laden teenager and began to dress to draw the eye and unfortunately I got it. I had alot of guys trying to flirt with me until they realized I wasn't going to do what I was advertising (by my attire) for. I can't say as it really hit with all clarity until I was much older. Teenagers are by nature (or culture?) very insecure, selfish, and attention-seeking. Despite being a Christian, I was no exception. I thought that if boys didn't flirt with me and try to get me out of my clothes then I must be ugly. I was told that they would do just that if I were to show more of myself by wearing less. And so I did. But I always felt uncomfortable, fidgety, and guilty when I was not wearing a modest outfit.
For a little while in my mid-teens, my parents started driving 2 hours to church every weekend to go to a Mennonite-like church. We were expected (by my parents) to wear long dressed and a bandana on our heads to church so as to not offend the congregation or cause their younger members to stumble. I remember that despite the brevity of our time with that congregation, seeing the other teenaged girls dressed so contrastingly to popular culture, and also contrastingly so full of confidence and joy and beautiful radiance, it made a deep impression on  me.
I did not immediately switch back to all dresses. In fact it was long after I was married, and not too distant in the past, when I began to wear skirts often once again. I did have a slow journey to more modest pants-and-shirt wearing before I wound up back in skirts. Part of what propelled me back toward modest dress was the previously mentioned Modesty Survey. I think I was feeling convicted about modesty from a sermon I heard and did a search online to find out if a woman in pants is really a stumbling block to a man! I didn't really expect to find a clear answer, so imagine my shock when I found The Modesty Survey! The quotes, the details, the honesty and vulnerability of the men... well it's really something that I think will blow you away or boost your modesty resolve as it did for me.
Click HERE to view The Modesty Survey for yourself. First take note of how many signatures there are of men supporting us women in choosing to dress modestly. I love that. This is a survey of 1,600 teen boys and men. First click on Overview and read about the men who took the survey and how to read the survey. Then go back and click Survey Results. Select a category from the left column and a "question" from the right column and scroll down to see the graph results and statements from men on this concept. Hearing how some men feel about some types of dress, and about modesty and women in general, brought me to tears. Tears of hope and regret. If only someone had showed this to me as an insecure teen! How much of those awkward guilty fidgety days spent out in public trying to look like a piece of hot sex so I would be worth something (backwards much?!) would have been avoided! How much confidence would I have gained and inner beauty been able to shine through if I had only known! And yes my Daddy did try to tell me how guys think but I wasn't really close to my dad and with the whole world telling me otherwise, I honestly didn't believe him. Or maybe I didn't care, or didn't want to. I thought that whatever his ideas and opinions were, they were of people my dad's age. He wouldn't know anything about what real guys my age now this decade think. Times have changed... I wish there had been a Modesty Survey for me back then. But it's not too late to raise my daughters to be confident modest women! I wasn't raised to wear dresses, grew away from my parents, was expected to date and wear makeup. My parents' change of heart on these matters didn't come until I was around 16 years old. But my own daughters are still tiny. I have a head start at being able to nurture modesty and confidence in them. I have the advantage of knowing now that what I do now and in the future affects my future relationship with my kids, whether they will try my and their father's words of experience on life.

I am drafting a sort of statement of modesty for myself and my girls. It's a work in progress. Perhaps I'll share it in my next post. :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Beautiful Rainy Morning

Today is a beautiful rainy day. I'm tired after being up late watching movies with my Better Half and then waking up every hour or two to feed the little one. She's 7 months old now and I've been pondering how to get her to sleep longer at night. She sometimes, pretty rarely, wakes only 2 or 3 times in a night. I am praying those nights become more frequent and the nights of hourly waking less frequent. My kids have all woken up many times a night as babies so this is not unexpected. It's a stage. Other, beautiful parts of babyhood make up for the lack of sleep. :) Giggles and smiles and seeing her learn how to roll around and sit and eat mushed up babyfood. She says "da da da da da da!" but doesn't seem to connect it with her Dada yet. She's so beautiful! Her smiles are amazing! And she's getting ticklish... ;)

My 2 1/2 year old son has been really testing his limits. He's wearing me pretty thin. I lose my temper alot and yell. Then I regret it and pray for grace. Again. He's also talking alot more. He's still kind of hard to understand. He often says things that would be a good sentence if they were in the proper order. Like this morning he was pointing to the bathtub and said to me, "Mama, take a bath where we this it is!" Makes sense in an adorably jumbled up way. ;) If it were in the right order it would be a really good sentence for a 2 year old. He is still so lovey and is always climbing in my lap and giving out hugs and kisses. He has trouble with colors (I hope he's not colorblind- my FIL is!) but he's getting to know all his body parts and we're working on telling the difference between a penny and a quarter.



My 4 1/2 year old daughter is turning into an amazingly helpful and motivated young lady. SHe's 4 so of course she has her moments, but I can see how far she's come since the "terrible twos" and it's a beautiful sight! She loves to help, loves to learn. She has a strong desire to be in charge of every detail so that is something we are trying to tame. She drives her brother nuts trying to puppet his every move. She loves to take care of her siblings which is such a blessing! She thinks she's so special when I ask her to "babysit" the baby for me while I use the bathroom or put the wash into the dryer. She's learning the different coins and how to buckle her own seatbelt. She still draws. For HOURS every day. She loves drawing so much! She has scissors now which she uses to cut out the things she draws. We've had a couple locks of hair find their way into the blades but if a little bit of uneven hair is the worst thing that ever gets accidentally cut, well we're in good shape. ;)
So here I sit today, staring out at the rain and thinking how thankful I am for my little family! :)