Broccoli and Chocolate

“For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Neh 8:10 

I felt the same sentiment toward this often repeated section of a verse as the sentiment John Green shared about another common platitude for sufferers in A Fault in our Stars. 

“Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.”

Strength. 

Joy. 

I’ve heard it a thousand times growing up in church and didn’t really see how joy could be defined as a strength. A comfort? Sure. A benefit? Yes, that makes sense. But a strength

Before I was sick I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about strength. When I did, it was always in reference to working out and fitting into some cute sundresses. Strength training. Strength building. Dress fitting. 

True physical weakness brought about some pretty intense lessons in humility. Going from an active lifestyle to being unable to stand is strange. Your mind is telling your body to do all these normal things you thoughtlessly took for granted and it won’t listen. And it hurts. A lot. Inside and outside. You literally can’t even! You don’t have the strength to do it. How odd. 

That’s what I remember thinking the most at the beginning. How very strange it was that my limbs weren’t listening to me. 

Riding around in a wheelchair has taught me a bit more about humility. It’s humbling to be pushed through a crowd of normal people and have them stare at you, smile a little too much and use small words, or avoid eye contact completely in a pitying sort of way. I want to scream, “I’m perfectly normal! My legs just don’t work sometimes! Please stop looking at me like I’m a tragedy or my brain doesnt work!” 

When you’re in a wheelchair, your disease automatically comes up, too. It’s okay. I understand. You’re curious. But I know after you hear my sad little story, you’re going to look at me with sad little eyes and tell me how sad you are that all these sad things are happening to me. Thank you. I know you’re sincere, but a discussion outlining how sad your life is with every well-intentioned person you haven’t seen in a bit can wear on your nerves. 

You see, I don’t need your sadness. I have a strength in me that I didn’t realize until I tapped into it at my weakest point. 

Joy. 

Currently, I’m in a really great place physically. I mentioned it in my last post, and things are still getting better each week, which is quite frankly a dream come true and I am thrilled. But the happiness that comes with feeling better each day is so easy and fickle, as it is entirely based on what my whacked out antibodies decide to do. Happiness can’t even compare to joy. There is no substance—nothing to hold. 

That little verse in Nehemiah 8, which also advises to drink some sweet wine—cheers!— declares that the joy of the Lord is your strength. A little background: Nehemiah wasn’t a priest. I feel like it’s so easy to look at Old Testament stories and think to myself, “Well, of course he had a big purpose, he was high up in the church.”

 Nope. Nehemiah was actually a regular career guy, more specifically in the field of Persian politics, and God was able to use him to bring some restoration to the Jews after Babylonian captivity. There were obstacles and challenges, but He really used this man and his career for a greater purpose. 

This brings me joy. Not to be confused with a constant state of euphoria. That’s unrealistic and probably pretty annoying in a person. 

I have purpose, and purpose is where my joy resides, giving me the confidence to handle any challenge, disease-related or otherwise.  A knowledge that whatever pain the day may bring, it’s 24 hours where I have a chance to take a small step toward achieving my purpose for living in this world. 

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The Parable of the Talents. And Voldemort. 

You know the parable of the talents?

If you are not a religious sort, or just don’t remember this one, here is my paraphrased version:  A guy gives his servants each a sum of money to invest. He gives one man five talents, another two talents, and another one talent. The first two doubled their investments, then the last one went and basically hid the money under a mattress. When the man comes back and asks about his investments, the one who didn’t bother investing accuses the man of being a swindler and a jerk, so he takes his money back and gives it to the first guy. Then there is some weeping and gnashing of teeth, as it seems there often is in biblical times. (Unrelated, weeping and gnashing of teeth always go hand in hand–can you gnash and not weep??? These are the things I wonder.)

Always the literalist, as an adolescent I figured the parable was saying you should never accuse God of being a swindler and a jerk, and wisely use the gifts you’ve been given for something church-related. Probably the choir or cook for a potluck because I am a girl. Maybe take care of children or do crafts with that tacky glue that churches always have.

After listening to a series on this parable by Beth Moore, it has become a great encouragement and challenge to me.

In the four-part series, there were several great takeaways, but Beth pointed out a small word that hit me straight in the heart. The man entrusted them with his property according to their abilities. They didn’t receive the same number of talents to invest. He knew how many he could trust each individual with, and gave them more when he saw a good return on investment.

It gives me confidence and comfort to know that for some reason, God has decided that I can handle whatever is thrown at me. Whenever I feel overwhelmed at the idea of being responsible for teaching my daughter how to function in this world, or physically I’m exhausted or not having a very mobile day, I remember that God figured I can handle this, and who am I to argue. Don’t get me wrong, I still often do.

You know in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when Voldemort’s goal is to kill Harry in Godric’s Hollow but he just shares his epic tale of rebirth in a lengthy monologue instead? I always roll my eyes and think, “If you would just stop this nonsense, you could have achieved your objective like, 14 times at this point, Dark Lord.”

I feel like God must think I’m Voldemort ALL THE TIME. While I’m not necessarily giving a detailed rundown of my impressive comeback (unless we are discussing fantasy football), or hiding my investment money instead of investing, I like to discuss my really good intentions to do something without actually doing it.

In working with my doctor and a wonderful friend who is an OT, I’ve learned about the importance of building back the muscles I’ve lost over nine months of being couch-bound. At first I was instructed to focus on getting the inflammation under control enough to not do further damage to my joints. We seem to have found a drug combo that is working for me, and I’m getting more mobile every day–yay! I’ve even started to cut back on my steroids. These are all big wins!

But with every step forward, sometimes it’s overwhelming to think big picture on how far I have to go to get where I want to be.

Right now my physical abilities are still very limited. I concentrate on the muscles I use to stand up, and press my feet into the floor. One day, I will be able to do that and my body will follow, standing up unassisted. But until then, I do these exercises so I can work toward something bigger. Intentions won’t cut it–I have to actually do the work and make the investment if I want to be able to walk normally again.

Often my daily actions might feel tiny and insignificant, but I think it’s through these tiny everyday actions we really grow into who we are meant to be. The parable of the talents reminds me that I have a unique set of abilities and challenges me to invest them without getting overwhelmed in fear or distracted by the seemingly mundane.

Otherwise I just don’t see how I will ever kill Harry Potter.

Forgetting to Live

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.

-Joseph Campbell

Since January my life has revolved around waiting. I was waiting for this nagging pain to go away. Then, waiting on a diagnosis. Waiting on a treatment plan. Waiting on insurance. Waiting for a new treatment plan. Waiting for medicine to kick in. Waiting for new medicine to kick in. Waiting to feel like myself again. Waiting for a single prayer to be answered in a way I was hoping for. Waiting to hear from my doctor. Waiting to feel self-sufficient again. Waiting to have a new answer to, “how are you feeling?”

Waiting is dangerous. You forget to live. Forget that right now is important and fleeting. You look around and months have been wasted simply waiting.

But I’m still me, and I still need to remember to live. There is good happening, and I think this month can be summarized in the word “acceptance”. I am now limited, but I’ve always been described as tenacious (or, if you ask my husband, absurdly stubborn), and that will not change, regardless of what this disease throws at me.

The truth of life as it stands is treatments have been largely unsuccessful. I need to walk with a cane or need to be pushed in a wheelchair until something my doctors try is successful. It has humbled me to realize I need this level of help. Perhaps I needed a little more humility in my life.

The thing is, unmet expectations are not going to control me because my joy can’t come from external circumstances about which I have no control, or I would go insane. No one knows what life is going to throw at them, and I am not a special case.

There is so much good, still.

On June 6, I sat on the floor and played Little People with my daughter for the first time in almost six months. I have not been able to lately, but that was a memorable moment I will cherish. 

With the help of an amazing friend, we were able to go swimming for the first time, and my daughter adored it.

While my legs are continually getting worse, my hands and wrists have mostly good days, and I’m able to tickle little toes, hold small hands, pour coffee again, and continue to sew. I was so scared I’d find myself having to stop sewing, which is something I love (oh, and the original intent of this blog. It’ll happen again! I have some cool stuff in the works!).

I’ve learned to give myself grace on days where I’m in exceptional pain, and I think this has made me a better parent. If I as a grown adult need grace during the bad times, how much more does my sweet almost 2 year-old need grace and understanding as she is learning. 

My point in writing this is a personal reminder that while hoping for positive change in the future is valuable, accepting the reality of where I am today is critical to stay hopeful and active. 

What I’m not saying is that I’ve decided that I’m no longer praying for improvement, working toward finding a treatment that works, or being as strong as I can be. 

I’d like to end with these words from a source far more eloquent than I that have given me encouragement lately:

Hyper-cessationist doctrines can knock the feet of hope from under us. Beloved, no one, no matter how brilliant, persuasive, or credentialed, should have the right to take away our hope. The God we serve is able (Dan. 3:17). Everything is possible (Mark 9:23). Nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). We can always hope and pray diligently for a miracle. If, in God’s sovereignty, He chooses to accomplish His purposes another way, let it not be that we have not because we asked not (James 4:2) or that we have not because we believed not (Matt. 9:29). 

-Beth Moore, Believing God 

Of Faith and Of Food

I wrote the first part of this post about a month ago and never published it because I had hoped to be in such a better place and share a really positive one a bit later instead. As I learn about living life with this disease, I decided that I’m going to keep track of the negative parts too, because it’s important to me to track my journey as a whole. 

Written April 20, 2017

People on the Paleo diet are annoying.

In my experience, conversations with them are 50% diet/meal prep, 40% CrossFit, 10% analyzing my plate of food and telling me how I’m slowly but surely killing myself one cheesy bite of pasta at a time. I will never be on the Paleo diet. Give me macaroni and cheese or give me DEATH!

Except now I am starting it.

Ugh.

Actually, I’m starting the Autoimmune Protocol, which is what I imagine would be the Mrs. Kim of diets: Strict, concise, and without all the party foods like dark chocolate, nuts, eggs, tomatoes, and the occasional glass of wine.

Why on earth would I deprive myself of all of my favorite things and become one of those awful people that talks about meal prep?

Today I received yet another insurance coverage rejection for my doctor’s medical treatment recommendation to treat my RA and lupus. That makes four.  

We have hit wall after wall, and I am tired. Tired of hearing no and being quoted policy. Tired of being in pain. Tired of not being able to walk across Target without needing to sit down twice, and feel like my legs were hit by a truck once I reach the car. Tired of saying to my daughter, “Sorry honey, I can’t…” Tired of needing help constantly. Tired of not being able to hold a full tea kettle. Tired of a shower taking the same amount of energy that a 3-mile uphill hike with a toddler on my back used to take.

Tired.

I need something I can control, so I am jumping on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP to those who are hip and in the know) train. I admit I am skeptical because sometimes it feels like nothing will help me feel normal again, and diet seems like such a simple solution to a complex disease. However, I am optimistic based on so many success stories I’ve read and recommendations from actual people I know who are similarly afflicted.

I also believe with my whole heart that everything happens for a reason. There has got to be a reason for all these obstacles, and maybe–just maybe–my symptoms can be controlled a bit by something I can do without permission from a large corporation. Maybe not. 

Faith is not something I often discuss openly with people I don’t know well because I fumble with my words and feel like I come across as naive concerning my belief in the Bible. I am also deeply saddened by the assumptions often made about Christians, especially in the current political climate. These are personal attributes about which I feel extremely convicted as I write this paragraph, but I wanted to share the truth.

Since I began struggling with my health, my faith has been on my mind often. Isn’t that the case when we face something difficult? People are always telling me that they will pray for healing and pray for me to remain in good spirits. It is incredibly kind and I am humbled and grateful, especially because I often struggle with how to pray for healing. 

Since January, my prayers have been focused on getting my diagnosis and treatment quickly. It’s been five months of waking up knowing my day is going to consist of hobbling around my house in serious pain and total exhaustion. I take comfort in knowing that no matter what happens with further appeals, everything will be approved by May 28th. That’s in a little over a month, but it feels so far away. 

Written May 25, 2017

This past month has been difficult, but my current state of mind can be defined in a single word: grateful. 

I am grateful that the AIP lifestyle has given many people control over their disease. When I began, I committed to following it completely and did not “cheat” once for three weeks, which I realize is not a super long test phase. I tried to capture the spirit of the lifestyle by leaning on my support system and filling my body with the most nutrient-dense foods I could, eschewing every possible inflammatory cuisine. I wanted it so badly to work because my current steroid dosage is starting to have delightful side effects like acne, hair thinning, and painful breathing. 

However, my doctor felt it best I not be so restrictive in my lifestyle. Since the onset of my disease, I’ve been losing weight at an alarmingly rapid rate, (not my least favorite symptom, mind you) but on the diet I was consistently losing another 1-2 pounds per day and my pain and exhaustion were very noticeably increasing after the first week. I am absolutely in support of people doing what works for them with their autoimmune disease, but this was not the way for me to go. Still, I am grateful I tried and grateful I’m not wondering if I’m standing in the way of my own health. 

I am grateful for my support system of mom friends and know I am beyond blessed to have people who care for me, bring me laughter, coffee, and food on really bad days, and help pick up all the toys in my living room. There are a lot of toys in my living room. 

I am grateful for my husband who holds my hand when we walk anywhere at my snail speed, does the dishes every night because they’re the worst, takes me on dates where we get a couple beers at West 6th like everything is the same as it’s always been, and helps me wash my hair on days where my arms don’t work. 

I am grateful for both sides of my family–the born in and the married in–who always check in, whether it’s over FaceTime or in person by driving up and bringing diapers, conversation, and hugs. And adorable outfits for Ella. 

I am grateful for my sweet Ella who spends every day snuggling and playing. I am even more grateful that she came into this world before any of this happened and before the ability to have her was closed. 

I am grateful for this book that has helped me in my daily faith crises and my prayer life. 

Finally, I am grateful that there are three more days until I can begin the treatment my doctor has been trying to get approved for me since February. Three tiny days. I realize that there is a chance that the weekly injections will do absolutely nothing, and we will have to try something new, but now, since the ridiculous “trial” is over, I have the freedom to try pretty much anything my doctor thinks will help. 

Three tiny days. 

Love and Tribes and Hike It Baby

I am not outdoorsy. 

In college, I had friends who were nature-lovers and would go on camping adventures. They’d ride bicycles over mountains and scale things and jump off bridges. The uniform consisted of t-shirts made of fancy, tech-y material, hiking boots, and when it was warmer, those sandals you can hike in that are like $100. 

My idea of fun in college was smuggling wine into my dry campus and watching The Bachelor. (That’s still my idea of fun, but the wine is out in the open now. We can discuss Rachel’s upcoming season at a later time.) The only boots I owned had stilleto heels, and if I’m spending $100 on sandals they sure as hell won’t be touching dirt. 

While I was pregnant with my baby girl, I was anticipating becoming a working mama. As I was extremely passionate about my career and the nonprofit for which I was Marketing Manager, I anticipated falling right back into the swing of things after my maternity leave. 

Following the birth of my sweet girl and my return to the office, I found my heart was no longer in my work. I wasn’t capable of being the employee they hired and trusted, and I was also working through some clinically mild but very real post-partum depression that was aggravated by separation from my newborn. 

My stay-at-home mom journey began. 

I was still working at getting a routine down and knowing what to do with this tiny human with whom I was so very in love. I was still trying to make sense of my new SAHM life. I did not yet have “mom friends,” and was pretty sure I didn’t fit in. 

Then I met Hike It Baby

It is not hyperbole to state that this organization has changed my life. I remember my first step was joining my local chapter’s Facebook page, then trying to determine what exactly they meant by “hike.” Were those water-filled backpacks required? Must I wear a caribeener on my person? 

I proceeded to creep on several personal profiles to gauge personalities/levels of outdoorsiness (Here’s looking at you, Laurie and Keira).  I was not going to endlessly wander through the woods with my infant strapped to my back. Then I saw that the next hike was really a group coffee date and followed by a half-mile stroll to a park, hanging out, and walking back. 

If this was hiking, I was on board. 

Ever since that very first coffee walk, I was hooked. I had never been around a more welcoming group of people, all of whom were experiencing motherhood and fatherhood at different stages. I even began to attend other hikes, completed my first trail hike, and started to lead a few. My husband got involved and we started hiking together as a family and with the group as often as possible. 

Hike It Baby has created a community that gave me something to look forward to on days I felt like a sleep-deprived zombie dairy cow. It improved my health, fed my soul, and gave me a safe and accepting place to share the struggles and joys of parenthood.  

I get to see babies grow into toddlers, toddlers grow into children, and families grow together. We are a tribe. We share hysterical tales of toddler shenanigans and heartbreaking stories of when we’ve felt we’ve fallen short as parents. We support each other. No hiker left behind doesn’t stop on the trails. 

Recently I’ve been battling a medical diagnosis that has severely limited my mobility and, to be frank, there are days where my spirit feels crushed. The day my Hike It Baby tribe discovered this my family started receiving meals delivered to our home, offers to help with my daughter, and people to come visit and make days brighter. They have even used their personal connections to get me hooked up with further support. 

I’m deeply moved and overwhelmed by all the love and help we are getting when we need it most. It’s hard to admit when you need a hand, and to be lifted by so many pairs truly humbles me and fills me with joy. 

That’s what Hike It Baby is and that’s what we do. It’s a place where local families become a tribe. And I’m grateful to be a part of it. 

#IAmHikeItBaby

Health Insurance: A Series of Unfortunate Events

“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other books. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle.”

-Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning

Apparently everyone hated 2016. 

I miss it with my whole heart and look back nostalgically, the way I do about playing on the swing set in my backyard as a kid and truly feeling free. 

You see, last year was spent hiking with my daughter and husband. Blowing bubbles and running around the backyard. Weekly music class filled with dancing, playing and learning. Sitting on the floor surrounded with pillows and stuffed animals reading books. Climbing all over the playground. 

I can’t do any of those things anymore. At least for now. 

The first quarter of 2017 would not be highlighted in my personal Annual Report. I was diagnosed with Rhupus Syndrome, which sounds like something you would name a small, yappy dog that pees on your floor every time the mailman comes, but is really a less-than-cleverly named disease. It means I have both lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, a nice one-two punch of autoimmune disease. 

Symptoms arrived in January, welcoming the new year. It began with severe shoulder pain that woke me up in the night, then went away. The same thing started to happen a week later to my hips and hands, then ankles and feet.

I lost 20 pounds in February, which was drastic and disconcerting on my frame, and had the same severe, unexplained joint pain and swelling simultaneously in all joints at all times. It made sleep impossible and eventually rendered me immobile, which is tough when you’re a stay-at-home mom to a very active toddler. 

I saw several different doctors in this time and had many, many blood tests. The second doctor I saw, a gentleman who appeared in his mid-sixties, read me questions about symptoms off his computer screen. When I asked for clarification on one, he turned his laptop around, pointed to the question he had just read verbatim and asked me to answer. I thanked him for clearing that up and clicked a multiple choice reply, wondering why I didn’t just stay home in my pajamas and peruse WebMD’s symptom checker. 

I finally received a diagnosis in mid-March, following a hospital trip prompted when my legs could physically no longer support my body. While getting my pelvis and chest x-rayed during this hospital visit, Dr. WebMD left me a voicemail saying that he was sure everything was normal, and if I still have discomfort, continue to take ibuprofen. This was in response to my many calls four weeks prior after symptoms were rapidly declining and I was really concerned. Thanks, Doc. 

Had I not ended up with a fantastic GP and then a wonderful Rheumatologist, I may have lost faith in the medical community and started writing books with Jenny McCarthy. 

I’d love to say in this paragraph that I’m well on my way to managing this life-long disease and am in good spirits. 

I’m not. 

I try to remain optimistic about my situation that is so much better than many others’, and remind myself every day that there are people in far worse situations. Someone learning they have terminal cancer and weeks to live. Alzheimer’s disease slowly removing every shred of a life lived. Women having miscarriages. People being tortured in war-torn areas of the globe, children starving…so much pain. 

But I remain frustrated and the root of it all is my insurance. 

After three months of fighting the worst pain I’ve experienced, including the time I shattered my ankle and my c-section recovery, my insurance has still not approved my doctor’s recommended treatment plan, even after he appealed it.

The doctor said that the severity and speed of my body’s decline, as well as my blood and joint fluid test results, are abnormal for this disease. 

The medication insurance covers because, as my doctor put it, “it’s dirt cheap,” will not be effective for 6-12 months. I will be forced to use it as my primary treatment for a 3-month trial, even though my doctor knows it will be ineffective for months more in my case. It is a wonderful maintenance medication. 

In order to help with pain management and my joint swelling in the meantime, I am on high doses of steroids that give me the ability to walk around my house on good days, and lift my child if I use my forearms because my hands are too swollen to use them. They are known to cause bone thinning in most individuals starting at about three months. 

If my disease continues at the rate it is going unchecked and untreated, the permanent joint damage that lupus and RA cause will take effect at a much more rapid rate. Lupus can also start to attack my organs. I am 28 and would like to start to curtail permanent damage as soon as possible. 

My insurance company–shout out to Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield!– has decided that these reasons my doctor gave them were not compelling enough to approve treatment. After all, what would a rheumatology specialist know about treating patients with inflammatory autoimmune disease? 

We have filed a grievance of course, and this process will take 30 days. Hopefully. This will give me my medication a month sooner, if we are lucky. 

Here are my questions. 

I am not highly educated on health insurance policies and procedures. I am not highly educated on government oversight of insurance companies. I would like to be. 

How can I vote against insurance companies overriding doctor recommendations? 

Is this issue addressed in government health plans? 

Why is this allowed in the first place?

 How is it less expensive for the insurance company to initially deny something, which would inevitably worsen a condition and be more expensive for them long-term? 

I want to understand. 

It would help me to know that a system is set up that while it’s inconvenient for me for a time, it has been somehow found to help people. Is this truly the case? 

Oh and one more thing. I already know about Plexus. I know they are magical life-changing unicorn supplements of sunshine and healing. Eight of your fellow salespeople have already told me, so PLEASE stop. 

Car Seat Poncho

When left to her own devices, my daughter feels that Ninja Turtles fleece is the fabric to rule them all. I tried to steer her toward this cute floral and she gave me a firm, “No, Mama.” So Ninja Turtles it is! She’s the coolest. 

I used this fabulous poncho tutorial to create it, so I’m only writing a few modifications. 

Bethany comments that it will fit approximately a 12m-3T child, so I upsized it a little. She wisely recommends measuring from neck to wrist to adjust.

Well, my child was sleeping (finally), and I’m no fool, so I estimated and just added a few inches. 

There are specific instructions and a helpful video to guide you in how to cut the circle from the fleece. I scoffed at the idea because I make adorable dresses for Ella that are more complex than this all the time. So, I deftly cut my curve out of my triangle…annnd ended up with two strange oblong halves. I do not waste licensed fleece, so I put a seam right in the middle. There’s an overlay, right?


Onward.

For the top layer, I used a scrap piece of a denim printed cotton by Riley Blake from the Lucky Star Collection that was significantly smaller than the suggested size. But that’s okay! See, I live in the South, and there’s this rule that if an article of clothing I make touches my daughter’s skin, it WILL have a ruffle. So I added one to make up a few missing inches. 

Ella also chose a lavender fabric when we went shopping, so the ruffle can coordinate with Donatello.

How to Make the Ruffle

For the ruffles, I rotary cut 4″ strips and laid them out on the blue overlay until they went around the edges of the overlay fabric about twice, to make sure there was enough fabric to gather into the ruffle. Five width-of-fabric strips worked out well for me.

Okay, now you’re going to make one long strip. Lay two strips right sides together and sew the short edges of your strips at a 1/4″ inseam. Press the seams open. Repeat. 

Finish one long edge of your strip with a serger or zigzag stitch to prevent fraying. I used a serger. 

Hem the bottom edge of the strip by folding it up 1/4″, pressing, and doing it again. Stitch along the edge. It’s best to use a thread that matches your fabric, but I’m out of lavender so I’m using a denim color to coordinate with my overlay. This is not at all because that’s what happens to be loaded in my machine at the moment…maybe. 


Make your long strip into a loop by joining the two short ends. Sew together with a 1/4″ seam and iron seam open.

 Now it’s time to gather! If you’ve serged your edges, gently pull your two straight threads (NOT the loops!) and gather until it’s the same size circle (or oblong shape if you’re me) as your overlay. 

If you did a zigzag stitch instead, you will now sew one or two rows of gathering stitches. It is wise to work in sections when gathering a piece this long. Here is a GREAT tutorial on gathering! 

Clip or pin the ruffle to the overlay right sides together matching up raw edges. 

Sew together, press the ruffles down, and you’ve got your overlay! You can skip the hemming step in Bethany’s tutorial because your ruffle has a finished hem. 

Simply sew along the top of the ruffle when attaching it to the fleece part of the poncho. 

Finishing Up

You don’t really need me for the rest of the tutorial. I followed Bethany and love how it turned out! My only change at the end was to hem the fleece instead of cutting fringe. A ruffle AND fringe may have been over the top. 

So happy we have this option now. Part warm blanket, part coat, and totally safe for the car seat! Plus, my girl LOVES it!! She keeps putting her arms out and running around flying and karate chopping. HIIII-YA!!! 

First Finished WIP of 2017

Receiving surprise tickets to Garth Brooks, realizing your toddler has allowed you to sleep for a solid number of hours and finishing a work in progress that’s been a long time coming…I think those are three of my favorite feelings. Today’s cheerfulness is brought to you by the latter.

The denim and flannel quilt in question was a project for a friend. Her stepfather passed and I turned his many, many pairs of jeans into a queen-sized bed quilt. It was a beautiful project to bring to life and I am so thrilled it turned out how they envisioned. Each pair of jeans is represented throughout.

I think it weighs 1,000 lbs. Approximately.

 

Now, if you’re familiar with rag quilts I’m sure you know that washing and drying them achieves that awesome frayed look with a cool, laid-back vibe. What people don’t advertise is that they look like a HOT MESS after the first few rounds. Don’t cry when after the fourth dry cycle, your somewhat damp quilt looks like this:

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A hair cut with some spring-action snips will make everything better. I swear. My recommendation is to do this particular task with some wine and a movie because it can be a bit tedious. Then again, my recommendations for pretty much everything is to do it with wine and a movie, so you do you.

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(I’m sure you photographers want to know what I’m shooting with to achieve such a professional photo. It’s the rose gold iPhone that’s not the huge one that doesn’t fit in your pocket…second newest? I think? What number are they on now, iPhone 19?)

After more use, love and fraying, this guy is gonna be perfect. The best part about rag quilts is that I’m pretty sure they can last forever, and washing and drying just makes them cozier.

Next project? I’m FINALLY going to make Ella a car seat poncho with the Ninja Turtle fleece she picked out. If she ever lets it go.

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TURTLE POWER!

I Just Went In For Rotary Blades…


The number one priority project in my sewing life right now is a denim and flannel rag quilt for a friend. The backing fabric just came in, so I’m ready to cut! Sadly, my trusty Olfa 60mm was dull to the point of skipping spots, and there is nothing more annoying than that, so off to Jo-Ann’s we went with the simple list…mayyyybe some thread too. I have a coupon. 


Six pillow forms later, it was time to come back. I couldn’t help it–my couch NEEDS pillows and they were 50% off! Looking for some awesome quilted cover inspiration as my next project to use up some Jen Kingwell Gardenvale fabric–anyone have a favorite go-to pattern? 

It’s a beautifully snowy day outside and it makes me want to do nothing but drink wine and sew. Waiting on nap time…

Stargazing

Today was the last day of holiday break for hubby and we spent it doing exciting things like errands, housecleaning (as seen in this depiction of child labor) and grocery shopping. 


Ella received a gift card for Christmas and we used it today on one of our stops to get her one of those toy lanterns which doubles as a star projector on the ceiling. She loves it and has made it a special part of our night time routine where we sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” approximately 100 times and then she says, “Night night stars!” and kisses the lamp. Yes, it’s as cute as it sounds. 

The purchase was a fitting theme for me today, as I’ve begun a journey into reading the Bible in a year for the first time. I’m pretty sure 99% of my Christian friends have done this before, but I have not. It was a trendy thing to do as a New Year’s resolution when I was a youth group attendee back in the late 90s/early 2000s. Don’t worry, I did have a WWJD bracelet I rocked with a DC Talk bucket hat while rapping “Supertones Strike Back,” so I didn’t miss out completely. 

Anyway, true to form, I was already a day behind by January 2nd (is that some kind of record?), so I read the Creation story through Noah. 

I have three questions from the January 1 and 2 readings that I’ve never really thought about in these familiar stories, and I’d love to know your thoughts. 

1. What is the significance of saying, “according to its kind” over and over in the Creation story? It feels redundant and whenever things feel redundant there is usually a reason. 

2. “Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.” This is what Eve is essentially cursed with (besides making childbirth the worst. When God gives a consequence He doesn’t hold back, does He?) but it seems strange to me. I don’t get it. Her desire shall be for her husband…is that negative? I get the “he’ll rule over you” part in the whole man-is-the-head-of-the-household portion of the Bible that comes later. The pairing of these two phrases together seems odd. Why did he say that? (Also, the feminist in me cringed when I read the word “rule,” as later in the New Testament it makes it pretty dang clear that the marriage relationship is meant to be a mutually respectful one built on love and trust. But that’s beside the point.)

3. Cain: who is he afraid of when he says whoever finds him will kill him? Aren’t he and Adam and Eve supposed to be the only people on the planet so far? I’ve always thought that the Creation story was a beautiful allegory of how God created the universe to evolve into what it is in His timing more than a literal 7 24-hour period, but this seems to be a plot hole, for lack of a better phrase. 

Thanks for any thoughts shared! I didn’t anticipate to get all religion-focused on my mommy blog, but I’m so curious to hear what people think.