Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Monday, April 29, 2013

The 600+ Mile Trip With 4 Kids and a Dog...

I had such a lovely, productive morning! What a great way to reintegrate into the normal rhyme and rhythm of life. I almost felt a little bad about sending the cherubs back to school on such a beautiful spring day. Almost.  :)

I am happy to report that we survived our longest ever car ride, and with the dog! Between audio books-- which are so great!-- the occasional DVD, a little music, and sometimes just quiet, the ride really was not too bad at all. First up, Cape Charles, Virginia. We rented a big beautiful house in the center of town. I say town with a grain of salt. There was much less to do than we had anticipated, but we determined to make the most of it. Our favorite thing?

The golf cart.
I know, right? 600 + miles to the Virginia coast and they're still talking about riding that silly golf cart all over town!

Isabelle loved her wild ride over to the park with Mama!

The beach was a short walk (or cart ride) from the house. Ethan and my Dad, Grampy, enjoyed this spot overlooking the dunes and ocean. (My parents were with us for a few days before heading down to Florida.)

Jonah and Dad on the pier -- poor, poor doggie...Ryder no likey the pier. No, no likey at all. That pitiful dog whimpered and pulled his hardest to get solid ground back under his feet! 

Caleb and I spotted these guys from the same pier on a separate walk down to the beach. They totally freak me out! But they're kinda cool at the same time. Maybe.

There was a big park a block from the house which we enjoyed. Tennis, anyone? The kids kept begging Mimi and Grampy to take them to the park over and over (in the cart of course) because they all loved tennis so much-- I think I see more tennis camp in our near future!

Go, Isabelle, gooooooo! She is lightning fast! And she can hit that ball, too!

One of the reasons we rent a house is because we need more space, and we save lots of money by avoiding having to eat out at every single meal. I guess I also like to tinker around other people's kitchens, ha. It was fun to make breakfast for my Dad, who is also an early riser like me, and each subsequent shift when the next person/child awoke. Maybe I should've left out a tip jar or something!

I guess I get my need for speed from my Mom!  =)

It was super cold and rainy one day, and since the library was just around the corner, we stopped in to ask if they would let us borrow some things for the day. They did, and it was so neat! We rented a movie and got a zillion books and just hung out all day-- it was a relaxing and fun day!

Next up was Virginia Beach and we are about to cross the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel Bridge-- 17 miles of bridge and tunnel spanning the entire bay- what a trip!

There's just water everywhere the eye can see. Poor Ryder. He just knew we were not on "solid ground" Still not a fan-- he whined and drooled the entire way across. On the way back through, Ethan and I spotted one lonely little dolphin dive into the water-- if I'd blinked I'd have missed it for sure. Dolphins have always been my thing, and I think God put that one right there just for us to see.

It was super cold and windy the first day in Virginia Beach, but we walked along the boardwalk anyway. There were a handful of fellow brave least it wasn't crowded! An otherwise adorable Little Someone may have been having a major tyrant/fit approximately 2.7 seconds prior to this photo being taken. Without any prompting or cajoling on my part, big brother swooped her up and, well, problem solved. I really think I just have the best children in the whole entire world! No offense...  ;)

We found ourselves driving toward the (insert-name-I-can't-remember-here) Lighthouse, only to find out that you have to get government clearance at the army base before entering the compound, which houses the lighthouse. That was both humbling and exciting at the same time-- the soldiers check your license and registration, the entire inside of your vehicle, including the hood and trunk and dashboard compartments. Okay, so maybe the part that was slightly humbling was that I keep certain items handy in that dash compartment. Girl items. Ahem. Moving on.

This was a frigid look-out point on the base. We saw a few tanks and other army-type things around us, so the boys were happy. Oops- just realized I didn't get an actual photo of the lighthouse. It looked pretty much like every other lighthouse I've seen, so...I think I won't beat myself up about it.

And then the day we'd all been waiting for, the one thing we'd wanted to do but the weather hadn't been cooperating...we had the perfect day for the BEACH! See Caleb off the left, in the ocean? Yeah, that's pretty much where he stayed the entire time we were there, and that water was FREEZING! I was Worst Mother of the Year by going easy on the sunscreen, and poor thing has been peeling and shedding like a snake all week. Me too, which I don't think has ever happened in my entire life-- not too much fun.

Okay, so Caleb got out of the water for this...

This was the very first time we've ever let the kids get whatever they wanted- anything!- at Dairy Queen, right on the beach. Honestly, that stuff gets super expensive so this was a big deal. Wow, Isabelle, you really splurged there, ha! She was so, so happy with her little chocolate dipped chocolate ice cream cone- that's all she had been talking about for days!

Our last night in Virginia Beach we decided we wanted seafood, especially after a long day at the beach. We walked out of the first place, which seemed like a KFC but for fish, and found what I was afraid was going to be a dark, drab little seafood joint and totally fell in love with the place. Funny how that happens. It was Surf Riders, in case you decide to visit. Definitely worth a look if you're in the area.

Anyhoo. We got home super late and poor Ryder needed to be walked, so I never got pictures of the kids in front of the gorgeous hotel. The first night, Bill took the boys to the fitness center, which they just loved! Especially Caleb. The girls were relaxing, taking baths. There was a little games court, and a large pond with a fountain, and a beautiful formal rose garden, so we walked all around. It was hands sown one of the most beautiful places I've stayed at.

The drive home was especially long, but we made the best of it again, and it really wasn't too bad. The next day was gorgeous and warm (like we thought VA was going to be!), and we were excited for Caleb's first baseball game with his new league. He's in the Majors this year, and that literally makes me queasy because that's a lot of pressure! He played great, and in the 5th inning his team came alive and they ended up turning the game around and winning.

Since we were still technically on vacation, we thought we needed celebratory ice cream cones for lunch.  =)

I just have to include this one...Isabelle has become very self aware lately and she is obsessed with brushing her hair.  I thought this was the sweetest thing.

Okay, gotta scoot! Have a great day!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hauling Rock...and Other Landscape Inspiration

I did it! I finished the rock wall in the front yard!
Okay, so it wasn't actually the rock wall I had in a moment of sheer design inspiration insanity, I started hauling rocks along the foundation of the house and now there is now a lovely, sweeping rock wall on the right side of our home that was nary a thought just 48 hours ago.
Please tell me other people do that, too! (Of course, the original -- and much larger -- rock wall down by the street still beckons, but that one is SOOOO big, and I think I needed to just finish something already. You know?

On Tuesday morning I woke up still heartsick over the Marathon tragedy and decided to take Ryder for a nice, long walk around the pretty southern side of town. Well, it was a long walk anyway--Ryder is not the most enjoyable walking companion! -- and I decided to look for some inspiration for our yard and front door.

This house has always been a favorite of mine. I love the attention to detail.
I realize I've lopped off the entire top of the house, but in my defense, I felt incredibly awkward snapping photos of someone else's space, and the dog kept tugging me along, so before I edited it, it was incredibly crooked too, ha!

This is the porch on the back side, adjacent to what I think is an attached mother-in-law apartment.
It's so charming and pretty!

This rock wall is gorgeous, and I adore the covered entrance to the home. This style is not typical New England, where front porches are narrow and straight, to save on costs, no doubt.

I was able to inspect this wall up close without seeming creepy (at least I hope not!) because the sidewalk went right by it. Good thing, because I noticed that it was much wider than I first realized, which makes constructing a wall much easier! The pieces fit into place better, and it certainly seems sturdier.

This one is my favorite, not even for any reason in particular. I've just always loved it. This one was super tricky to photograph because I was literally in the middle of a busy-ish street,, and while that tree is beautiful, it takes up almost every angle in the shot. I decided it would be safest to not take my good ol' time with this one and hop back up on the sidewalk.

Because it's just so pretty...

And then of course I noticed the owner coming outside, and here I was, snapping away. So I snapped extra quick and trucked it out of there. I mean, went my merry way.

So, now our house...
This is the humble beginnings of my rock wall, the one that feels like it will take the rest of my life. Or kill me. Believe me when I say, I'm already a little wounded.

Well, after my walk, and being inspired, I came home and did what every do-it-yourselfer would do -- I started on an entirely new rock wall! And yes, this one is done!
Do you see it yet? Up there in the background?

Please ignore the bramble and brush...oh, and those awwwwwwwwwful orange steps...but you can see the new wall which sweeps around the corner. I just got a few plants for it today, so now I've got to get it all ready. Currently, it's a moss-infested, orange mulch of a mess. It will be great!

And here are the first flowers in our new yard!
Of course everyone keeps crushing and bruising them with wayward basketballs, but...

Okay, I hear the kindergarten bus so off I go! Have a great Thursday!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

How to Sew a French Seam...It's Easy!

Good Saturday morning! I am happy to report that it is no longer sleeting and SNOWING, unlike yesterday, though we do have a white yard again. Sigh. Oh well, today is already looking hard-working hubs is installing our new dining room/entry floor as I type, children are outside playing since it isn't freezing cold, the sick boy is feeling better, and I'm finishing up some orders (thank you thank you thank you!!!). Then I remembered that I had wanted to do a tutorial on French seams, but I just kept forgetting. Until now. This may be your lucky day!  ;o)

When I was younger I first read about French seams...and was completely intimidated! There was so much measuring and trimming and ironing and snipping and more ironing-- I think I gave up before I ever got started! Then serging became all the rage to make seams look more professional, but truth be told, I'm not the biggest fan. I see the appeal, but I prefer less "factory" type methods of sewing for most projects.

But the raw-edged seams on my handmade items looked a little too homemade, if you know what I mean. So I took another look at sewing French seams, and this time, discovered a simpler, faster way.

It is easy, I promise! The only thing that you really have to consider are the variations in seam allowances, and how they may alter the sizing of whatever you're making. Honestly, I have never had an issue with this. Some patterns call for 1/4 inch seam allowance, while others call for 5/8 inch. If working with 1/4 inch allowances, do all the steps to keep those seams narrow and things should work out just fine. Okay, let's get started!

With WRONG sides together, stitch 1/4 inch (or 1/8 inch by adjusting your needle position to the right) from the edge--

At this point, you can trim the raw edges with a quick cut if you want to sew a narrower seam. You'll be enclosing the seam with the next stitch line, so if that seam is too wide, it will show...which you do not want.

After you've done this a few times, you will get a feel for how narrow things should be, and it gets even easier!

Open out the fabric with the new seam on top and iron it to one side, gently pulling one side taut--

The wrong side will look like this--
(If you want to, go ahead and iron this flat too, but it isn't necessary.)

Next, fold along the seam, RIGHT sides together, making sure the stitch line is nice and straight.

Now, with the pressed fabric folded {still RIGHT sides together} stitch 1/4 inch, give or take, along the edge. I wanted a nice, wide seam, so mine is slightly larger than 1/4 inch--

Position the seam to the desired side and press the RIGHT side.
On the outside things look just as they normally would, but now on the inside, you've got beautifully encased seams--

 Curves are no problem for sewing with French seams! This is a seam with a sleeve and underarm--

Sorry for the terrible lighting (it was dark & gloomy yesterday!), but here is a pic of the finished product- so pretty!

When working with silky or slippery fabrics, and fabrics that fray easily, French seams can be a lifesaver! There are, however, some occasions when sewing with French seams doesn't work well at all. Bulkier, heavier fabrics are a nightmare because the seams get super thick and difficult to work with- I would zig-zag the edges, or yes, even use the serger!

I hope this tutorial was helpful for you to go ahead and try something new! Feel free to email me at 3sonsplus1@gmail dot com with any questions. Have a great weekend!

ps- I just noticed that my pink fabrics are different in the photos, so I hope that isn't confusing-- I had some nightgown orders to finish up, so the tutorial got a little spiced and diced, ha! But I guess that's a really good problem to have!  =)

Sharing with//
Sew Many Ways 
Six Sister's Stuff 
Sew Can Do 
Sugar Bee Crafts 
Lil Luna

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Sewing Project That Made Me Curse

I've been sewing things my entire life, and I can attest to that wonderful feeling you get when you pour your heart and soul into a project and all the seams just happen to line up perfectly, the gathers or what have you just fall beautifully into place, and the whole piece comes out even better than you hoped for.

And then there are those other projects. You know the ones. Nothing lines up, this part is far shorter than that part, it puckers in the worst possible spot, you can't get the sizing right no matter how many times you measure, re-measure, and force ask your child to try it on yet again.


I thought it would be soooo easy to whip up a gymnastics leotard for Isabelle...I read tutorial after tutorial, arming myself with the necessary knowledge, and I was certain it would be effortless and fun. Hours in, and probably on the third or fourth re-do, a colorful little adjective unexpectedly flew off my lips and I knew that was it. (Yes, I was alone-- no witnesses...phew!) I was done. No more wasted time or resources. Now just catching a glimpse of that swanky, shiny silver metallic lame-- and then the added-on-so-it-might-actually-fit-this-time hot pink crushed panne bodice-- gets my heartbeat going double-time and my shoulders tense up. It's time to put in another Etsy order for a new leotard, especially since I adore the first one that I actually bought.

I have made plenty of things with no "real" pattern before, and I guess this one was just not meant to be! (I was going to insert a "ha" there, but alas, I am not ready to laugh about it just yet...) I can't even bear to share a picture of the poor thing, thinking ahead to spare Isabelle some future humiliation.

So we just made some homemade granola to ease our troubled minds, and wouldn't you know, the blog post for that recipe is April 10, 2012! I thought that was kind of neat. It was a rainy day then, and Jonah was home sick; Ethan has been home sick this week, and it has rained off and on since Monday evening. Weird, right? Stuff like that makes me glad I write down all the little details.

Ethan and I were bonding over The Matrix this morning while I finished up this sweet little least not everything was a bust this week! ;o)

I really like the polka dots with the chevron band. I think I'll put it in the shop, but it might be missing something-- a bow maybe? Any thoughts?

Oh, and I will soon have something new to share about our house soon, but for now enjoy this grainy pic...
Bathroom One, almost done!

Have a great week!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Missing Our Special Trees

We planted a special tree for each of our children at our old house.
I know they're just trees, but I really, really miss them.

This is Caleb's Japanese Flowering Cherry tree. Those blossoms take my breath away.  The way the sun filters through the foliage speaks to me.

We planted Isabelle's tree right before we left for Guatemala in June 2008. The tree wasn't flourishing where it was first planted, though, and the next year we moved it to where it is now, growing beautifully and full of life. It didn't seem significant to me at the time, this replanting, but looking back at our adoption journey, it seems quite fitting and extraordinary to me now.

Ethan's crab apple tree, which, after the brutal pruning it endured at my hands one spring, proved it was a fighter. Oh how I loved that tree in the middle of our front yard! Such luscious blooms and heaven-sweet scent.

Jonah's tree is the only one that doesn't flower, but that doesn't make me love it any less- this was our absolute favorite tree in the backyard, and it provided many a shady respite from the scorching summer sun on afternoons when we'd drag a blanket and some books out to the lawn. Now, thinking back, tears begin to well because of the memories associated with this tree.
Okay, so I can't find the pictures I'm looking for at the moment, and a hungry little someone isn't as thrilled about finding just the right photo as I am, so off to make lunch I go...
That tree started out to provide shade for the little swing set...look at those little boys! Eek! I'm dying of cuteness!
 And it grew and grew, until it shaded out nearly the entire left half of the backyard!

We are sooooo close to pushing past that last little bit of frigid, winter-like weather and jumping straight to Spring. Yesterday afternoon Isabelle, Ryder and I were hanging out on the deck soaking up some glorious vitamin D...okay, so we had run inside to grab some blankets off the couch because it was still quite chilly with the wind blowing, but it felt great! I even wandered around our yard in search of any little green things poking through-- there are a few lilies beginning to appear, and two masses of not-quite-right-looking creeping phlox along the rock wall. Other than that, we're left with mostly misshapen, dying-looking shrubs and plants. I think they'll all have to go. So it's going to be one of those kinds of years, ha. Sweat, more sweat, blistered and calloused hands, dirt-laden fingernails, aching back...but it will all be worth it in the end.

Nearly five months in at this place, there is a familiarity now that almost feels comforting. Almost. I'm trying to be patient with the whole process, and the idea of getting my hands in the dirt out there to breathe some life into the landscape does make my heart pitter-pat a little louder. I've even found myself sketching out plans on the backs of used envelopes or kids' old homework papers, sure signs that my thumb is officially greening up for the season. Now if I could just find that shovel...

This year in particular I'm glad for the renewed hope that Spring so faithfully offers. New beginnings, fresh starts, rejuvenated souls and spirits. All of it. Rather than simply missing what we had at our other house, I'm excited about creating beautiful things for us to treasure here, where we are now.

Oh yeah, I'm going to find that shovel and start diggin'!

A little side note-- no one was starved during the writing of this post; I wrote this part first.  =)
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