Joy in Routines

When we lived in eastern Washington for 5 1/2 years, almost every weekday morning went the same way. I’d pull our trusty red wagon down the hill holding whichever toddler(s) we had at the time. We’d drop the big kids off at school, then continue our walk to go across the town’s footbridge where I’d stand while the toddlers grabbed rocks to through into the running water (in the Spring) or the dry creek bed (the rest of the year).

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This will always be our favorite footbridge.

Next we’d go past my favorite brick house and wave at the kind woman who lived there, stroll by the old foundation of a different house while the littles oohed and ahhed (every.single.time) at seeing a “broken house”, turn the corner to go across another bridge and climb the steps of the church there, pass the school (and climb those steps too), then make our way to the ever-fun-to-explore dirt road that would take us across the highway and up the long gravel driveway hill to our house, where the toddlers would sit on the kitchen counter and help me make my coffee.

The day had begun.

It was a beautiful routine and I missed it dearly when we moved. I didn’t realize until this summer just how much my now 4 year old missed this routine too.

Six Wednesdays this summer I drove the big kids to an art class at the museum in a *relatively* nearby town. While the older siblings worked on their clay creations, I got to hang out with our four and one year olds. The first day there my preschooler remembered we passed a bridge across the river down the block.

“Let’s go to the footbridge like we used to do in Washington! I loved that!”

Be. Still. My. Heart.

It had been a year and a half since we moved and, even at her young age, she still remembered our beautiful morning routine.

So, instead of hitting the grocery store as planned, we walked to and across the footbridge and found a playground on the other side. After playing for a bit, we walked further down the street and found another bridge to cross, where we looked down and mused about the path by the river below. Then we continued on and found the city library, which had a sweet little children’s section. After reading for a bit, we got momma a drink and the kids a snack from the library coffee shop. Then we ended our adventure by sitting on the painted picnic tables by the museum, sipping and munching away until set class was over.

Guess what Ms. Four Year Old insisted on doing during each and every other art class time this summer?

Yep. Exactly the same thing. Even down to how we stopped on the bridge and commented on the path below.

And she talks often about how excited she is to do it again next year. Who knew what joy an hour and a half once a week could bring into our hearts!

Now I’m looking for ways to cultivate simple walking routines into our everyday in our *new* town. We don’t have a footbridge, but I’m guessing that’s a less important part of the routine than simply being together.

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The painted picnic table where we ended each walk.

For Project Notes on E’s Baby Shoes, see this post.

Toddlers, Church, and Rodeos

Y’all. I had a brainwave last night.

I’m on my fifth rodeo involving parenting a toddler in church. Rodeo, I say, because containing a toddler in the pew and riding a bucking bronco are pretty much the same thing sometimes. 😆

It’s not an easy task! Especially when the toddler is a boisterous, busy baby in love with his dad who he can see and hear, but not touch, for the 45 minutes to an hour that comes every Sunday right during morning naptime.

It’s a whole thing.

But I’m preaching to the choir here, I know! What I realized last night was that all my older kids (ages 4, 6, 9, and 11) sit perfectly fine each church service, and even participate (well, to varying extents depending on age and mood, let’s be honest). And I have no tricks to the whole thing.

I’ve tried myriad methods of “pew training”. Toys. No toys. Books and coloring sheets. Nothing but a hymnal and momma’s lap. Snacks, no snacks, snacks only during the sermon. Special church bags. Just a bulletin and pencil. Leaving during the sermon and prayers or sticking it out regardless of our noise level. Sitting in front. Sitting in back. Sitting in the balcony. Sitting on the floor. Having someone sit with us.

Different methods have worked with different kids at different ages. Only one thing has stayed consistent: we’re in church.

One of our “sitting on the floor” church days 🙂

So, to the (actually very sweet) lady who informed me after a particularly difficult communion Sunday that “the devil is sure working on that baby.” It’s not the devil, it’s typical development working on this rambunctious 13 month old. Typical development and the Holy Spirit. Because my baptized baby of Christ is in church soaking up the Word, surrounded by fellow believers.

And, yes, causing a ruckus because he gets close enough to touch his dad at communion, but then has to walk back down the aisle without his favorite person in the world.

But we’re in church and the Holy Spirit is moving regardless of baby’s antics and right in the midst of my trying to keep our pew in some semblance of quit-ish order.

No matter how you’re approaching pew parenting. No matter how much of the service you hear. No matter if other parents look like they have more successful Sundays than you. No matter how your kids are sitting (or not sitting). You’re in church.

And, trust me, if you keep slogging it out each week, year after year, one Sunday you’ll be sitting in the pew and realize that your kids are actually sitting too. No matter what method you’ve used to get there.

You’re in church. That’s the important part.

So carry on, parents with busy toddlers in the pew. I’m right there with you and we’ll make it to the other side. Someday.

**I want to add that there are some precious kiddos who may never be able to physically or mentally sit through an entire church service. That’s okay, too! Thankfully how we sit at church doesn’t prevent the Holy Spirit working or keep Christ’s love at bay. ❤️

Summer Flew By Once Again

Summer flew by here as we come into the final stretch before school starts in earnest. Our days have been filled with travels, parks, walks, swimming pools, doctor appointments, a first birthday, art classes, and lots of back yard sitting (which I’m doing in this pic). ⁣

Of course, there’s been plenty of sewing too. But this spring, I happened to read some super mushy article about how you only have 18 summers with your kids, so I’ve been doing more sewing for family and took a break from sharing as much on social media.⁣

It’s been fun to regroup, try new things, get back to old things, watch my youngest learn how to walk, and listen to my oldest learn a new instrument.

Life is short. Instead of trying to jam as many things as possible into that brief span, I’m trying to enjoy everything in front of me as much as I can.⁣

Project Notes on Airplane Toes:

  • Pattern adapted from Beautiful Pie Shoe’s Soft Soled Baby Shoe
    • Find pattern here
    • 3-6 month size
  • Adaptations
    • Embroidery on toe piece, hand drawn and stitched
    • Cuff of heel piece cut in half, then 1″ added to the top before stitching just the top down for the elastic casing (reducing thickness of layers where sole attaches)
  • Materials
    • Suede cut from the sleeve of an old suit coat found at a local thrift shop
    • Sashiko weight cotton embroidery thread
  • Future thoughts
    • Make sure airplane is low enough on toe piece to make elastic threading/button holes simpler

Summer Days, Cicada Shells, & Baby Shoes

My plans for 8am – 12pm today went something like this:⁣

Eat breakfast, label and organize school supplies with the big kids, put baby down to nap, shower, write a few letters, get baby up from nap, ride bike to the post office to deliver said letters, eat lunch. ⁣

Instead my morning was as follows:⁣

-8am-
eat breakfast⁣

-8:15-
get invited on a cicada shell hunt with the 6 year old⁣

-8:44-
discover a live cicada shedding its shell⁣

-8:45 – 11:22-
watch cicada slowly release itself and walk up the tree⁣

-11:31-
get baby from nap; return to discover the cicada finally took off, much to the kids’ delight⁣

-12:00-
eat lunch⁣

The cicada at approximately one hour into our viewing. Who knew the process took so long?!

It may not have been the most productive morning by most measures, but it was incredibly enjoyable to see the wonder and rapt attention on the kids faces. ⁣

And it was productive in the way that observing nature always is – it teaches us about the world and ourselves in endless illustrations of life.⁣

So today I learned about waiting, not rushing, as the cicada waited for just the right moment for each movement. I learned about taking steps carefully and deliberately, as the cicada thoroughly felt out each slight motion before taking full moves. I learned about shedding the old to move into the new, as the cicada left its exoskeleton behind, but not doing so too quickly.⁣

And I was reminded, yet again, that nothing can hold a kid’s attention like nature. ⁣

Summer is coming to a close all too quickly. This summer, as a cicada sheds its shell, our baby has shed infancy and become a toddler. His feet have outgrown his shoes three times already this year. He now requires leather soles for romping about and sturdy toe pieces for scuffing. Today I was reminded that he’ll be shedding his latest pair of shoes soon as he continues to grow and run away from babyhood. ⁣

Time to cherish this last week of summer and stop everything to revel in two of the beautiful intricacies of creation- cicadas and toddlers.

For those wondering, yes, I just compared my baby to a bug. I’m okay with that. 😆

Now, off to organize those school supplies!

Cutest baby feet ever. Even if they do require new shoes every three months.

Project Notes on E’s Baby Shoes:

  • Pattern adapted from Beautiful Pie Shoe’s Soft Soled Baby Shoe
    • Find pattern here
    • 12-18 month size
  • Materials
    • Leather sole cut from the cuff of an old leather jacket found at our local thrift shop
    • Inside seams finished with a zig-zag stitch and button holes used for the elastic to prevent fraying
    • 100% machine washable
  • Adaptations
    • Shoe toe pieced together from three denim scraps to include a triangle at the top center
  • Future thoughts
    • Make a paper piecing pattern to replicate this toe in all the sizes
    • Waterproof
    • Try additional color schemes

Together.

My four kids teach me so much about life.

Our youngest is every bit of two and a half, with a strong will to boot.  Her favorite phrase for the past 6 months?

“Do it self!”

Followed by…

“I got it!  Do.  It.  SELF!”

You get the drift- she needs to do everything on her own.  With no help.

And that’s fine a lot of the time.  I try to keep our schedule relaxed enough that I don’t need to rush her to get in and out of her carseat, which she does at a snail’s pace.  She can put her shoes on on her own, wrong feet and all.  Who cares?  And she can take her time screwing the cap back onto the gallon of milk.

But she can’t pour herself full glass from that gallon of milk.  I know.  She’s tried.  And it’s a lot to clean up!

I was struggling with how to get across to her that there are some things that she really can’t do “self” yet.  They’re either dangerous -like crossing the highway by our house- or cause a huge sticky mess, life the aforementioned milk.

Any time I tried to explain this, though, it just caused me to have bad grammar (“No, you don’t got it self.”) and caused her to scream like no toddler has ever screamed before.

One day she was screaming about wanting to dump the entire container of yogurt into the blender all on her own for smoothies.  And, for some reason, instead of getting frustrated and repeating, “You don’t got it!” to her, I simply said, “Together.”

“Let’s do it together.”

She calmed down, looked at me, and said, “Okay.”

And we did it together.

Along with her 4 year old brother.  So, yes, there were three hands putting the yogurt into a small blender.  Overkill?  Maybe.  But my little girl learned that sometimes “together” is better than “self”.

Isn’t that true of our adult lives too?

We rush around trying to get everything done by ourselves.  Stressed, tired, and burned out.  When, really, we could be spending life together.  Helping our neighbors weed their garden, taking a walk with a friend who is grieving, giving our husband a lingering kiss goodbye instead of rushing out the door, or making a smoothie with two hands too many.

It’s amazing what happens when we slow down enough to do life together.  It may take more time.  It may even be more stressful at first.  But it’s truly a beautiful experience.

My toddler still wants to “do it self”, and 75% of the time she’s able to.  But when she’s not, when the task is too dangerous or difficult, all I have to say is “together”.  Then she looks up at me and says, “Okay, Momma.  Together.”

Most of the time.

But it’s a step in the right direction.

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Closeness.

IMG_0258A word struck me this morning as I snuggled my babies on the couch and read them book after book.

Closeness.

We all crave closeness.

Connection.

Intimacy.

When I’m reading with my kids, I’m as close to them as I can possibly be.  In fact, they argue over who gets to sit in my lap next.  But it’s more than that.  Physical nearness almost necessitates emotional connection and presence.

How can I be present and connected to my kids if I’m moving us all so quickly that we’re distanced from one another physcially and emotionally because there’s no time?  No time for slowing down.   No time for just sitting and being together.  No time for closeness.

Slowing down doesn’t mean being lazy or not fulfilling your potential, as I’ve been told.  It means taking the time to be close to the most important people in your lives.  It means fostering intimacy in your relationships.  It means being there, physically and emotionally, for those who depend on you most.  Because to make this world work, we all need to depend on each other and be there for each other.  And we can’t do our part in that equation if we’re running around at breakneck speed.

Intimacy comes when we pare away all the bad (and good) unnecessary stuff in our lives to spend time with the ones we love.

Connection comes when we take the time and energy to be fully present in our conversations.  Even as our looming to-do list grows longer and longer.

Closeness comes when we make the time to slow down.  To slow down and be together.

Be the change.

I started sewing shortly after we started a clothing closet at our church.  As a social worker, the clothing closet was a way I could use my skills and give back to the community at the same time.  People donate gently worn clothing for others to use, free of charge.  We have given out an incredible amount of clothes, but the supply far exceeds the demand.  There are so many donations each month that, after we sort through for what the community needs, we pass the rest to other thrift stores or textile recyclers.

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As I was putting worn out jeans into bags for textile recycling, it occurred to me that I could use the jeans to sew!  As I dug further into the lifecycle of textiles, I became more and more passionate about recycling and upcycling clothing before it hits the landfills.

Reclaimed for Good was born.

“Reclaimed” because I work with rescued textiles.  “For Good” because a portion of my sales go to support local causes like the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery in Spokane, WA.

“Reclaimed” because we have been reclaimed through Christ.  “For Good” because we have the duty of caring for creation and each other.

We can all “be the change” in different ways.

Mine is through sewing, living slowly, and loving my family.  And it’s a work in progress.  Every day.

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