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Christmas 2013 Advent Activities

I’ve sort of made a tradition of sharing my list of Advent activities each year to help inspire you to make your own.  I’m a bit late this year, but you know what? As busy moms, sometimes things just don’t happen on a perfect time schedule.  That doesn’t mean, though, that we can’t find time to make memories with our children and teach them about the important things in life while we’re doing it.  The season of Advent is the perfect time to slow down a bit and do just that!

On to this year’s list:

1. Decorate the Christmas Tree
2. Make Handmade Cards for Grandparents
3. Check Out Christmas Books from the Library
4. Make Ornaments
5. Visit the Zoo
6. Attend the City Christmas Tree Lighting
7. Act in a Christmas Play
8. Visit a Craft Show
9. Shop for the Local Food Pantry
10. Enjoy a Family Game Night
11. Shop for Toys for Children in Need
12. Bake Cookies Together
13. Walk Through a Living Nativity
14. Watch a Christmas Parade
15. Host a Cookie Exchange
16. Shop for Sibling Christmas Gifts
17. Drive around Town to See the Christmas Lights
18. Ring the Salvation Army Bell
19. Have Ice Cream in PJs at a Local Ice Cream Parlor
20. Visit Family Out of Town for the Weekend
21. Eat Out for Dinner
22. Go Caroling
23. Watch Christmas Movies Late into the Night
24. Bake a Birthday Cake for Jesus and Sleep in New Christmas Pajamas

We’re very flexible with our list.  Other opportunities will likely pop up during the month and plans will change.  I keep this list handy in case I need to switch out activities before the kids pull them from their pockets each day.

I would love to hear what your favorite activities for Advent are! And, I’m on the hunt for a great Christmas ornament project, too.  Do you have any suggestions?

Our Loss

Thank you so much to all of you who shared in the excitement of the news that we were expecting our seventh baby. We were so thrilled. Sadly, last Friday, just shy of 13 weeks, I miscarried that little one. It’s been an emotional week of ups and downs, but I’m doing well. I’ve been surrounded by the love of friends and family, reminded of how blessed I am even in such a difficult time. After a few days of recovery, my husband and I made the decision that it was best for me to continue with my plans for Market next week. Everyone is different when it comes to dealing with early pregnancy loss. I have a need to keep my hands busy and having something constructive to focus on has been very healing for me.

I’m going to share a bit of the story and some of my feelings in the following paragraphs. I totally understand, though, if it’s too much, and you’d rather just skip the rest. I have a tendency myself to avoid things that might make me cry. Things will be back to normal here soon.

Miscarriage is such a difficult subject to discuss. Many, including myself, deal with it in silence for the most part. This is our sixth pregnancy loss, and each has its own story. A positive pregnancy test is so full of joy and excitement for all of us, but when you’ve experienced a loss in the past, it’s met with a measure of caution, as well. Because of our past losses, we keep our pregnancies just between my husband and I until I start feeling those familiar strong pregnancy symptoms. In the past, that has been our sign that the pregnancy is healthy and will continue without a problem. That wasn’t the case this time. I had just breathed that sigh of relief to be past the high risk 12-week mark. I was allowing myself to really dream of who this little person would be. Our conversation was full of guesses as to gender and suggestions of names. We’d started the process of gathering the baby items that we’d loaned out to loved ones. We were chatting with our little ones about their new little brother or sister. I was even feeling those little occasional baby flutters. The bleeding came on suddenly and without warning. I was in the middle of a photoshoot for a new set of patterns — I’m so thankful that I had decided to do it here in my own backyard. Within a few hours, it was all over. Traumatic is the best word that I can find to describe it.

Like everyone who has walked this path, I wondered if there was anything that I could have done to change what happened. I’m thankful that I’m confident in my knowledge that nothing comes as a surprise to God. It’s not easy, but I’ve been able to see glimpses of His hand in all of this, even through my anger that He would allow this to happen to us . . . again. If you’re walking this path right now, I think it’s okay to be angry. Don’t hold onto that anger too long — it’ll take over — but if you’re like me, it helps to yell at God like a two-year-old having a temper tantrum. Sharing your real feelings is part of having real relationship. He’ll still love you and still draw you back to Him . . . even if you refuse to pick up a Bible for a week. He’ll send along friends to share His word or sneak in a song that speaks to your heart.

If you happen to have a friend or loved one who has recently experienced a pregnancy loss, my advice is to offer your prayers, do something practical or just loving, but be understanding. If she doesn’t want to see you and chat, don’t take it personally. If she’s like me, she doesn’t like for other people to see her cry. We’ve had meals and snacks provided by friends all week. We’ve received cards, notes, emails, texts, Facebook messages. The flowers that you see above were hand-delivered by two very dear blogging friends along with chocolate a few days after I came home from the hospital. (As a quick side note, I am so blessed to work in the fabric/sewing/blogging industry. I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of kindness and support that I’ve received from the people that I work with and alongside. This industry is truly one with heart.) Every message, meal and gift helped to lift us and get us through.

Even just being willing to pretend like everything is normal can be a blessing. I had an appointment to get my hair done on Tuesday, and I really couldn’t reschedule it. I texted my hairdresser on Monday evening, told her what had happened and asked her to tell me everything that she wanted to tell me via text so that we could just act like nothing was out of the ordinary on Tuesday morning. Since it was my first time leaving the security of my own home, it was so nice to just join in the everyday busy salon conversation. It’s amazing how encouraging it can be to just experience normalcy for a bit.

I have quite a bit of work to get done over the next few days, but I’m being kind to myself and not worrying about getting everything finished. Things may not end up being quite the way I had expected them to be, and that’s okay. If you happen to run into me at Market or anywhere else, please feel free to act as if everything is normal. I promise that I’ll appreciate it. If you ask me how I’m doing, I can’t promise that I won’t fight back tears, but chances are I’ll be just fine. I’ll probably say that I’m doing okay. Really, I’m sad, but joyful, too. When I run across the co-sleeper in the garage or my youngest asks again about the baby coming, the sadness comes crashing back in on me. My dreams of getting to know the baby that I was expecting are not going to happen. I can’t change that. In spite of that, though, I am so blessed with so much, and for that, I can find joy in the midst of my sorrow.

Coming in 2014 . . .

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve blogged! Eeek! I’ve actually been struggling to keep up with everything lately. My days are currently ruled by all-day nausea and the overwhelming need to just take a nap! There’s a really exciting reason for that, though!Someone with tiny fingers . . . . . . and tiny toes will be joining our family in the spring of 2014!Since Hopeful Threads is hosting a Create Hope Designs sew-along this month, I couldn’t resist sewing up a Watered With Love Layette Set for Baby #7 in this sweet organic cotton interlock from Birch Fabrics. I’m hoping that this will be the first of many outfits that I get to sew (and knit) for this little one! Right now, though, I have five weeks until Quilt Market, and I’m so far behind! If you don’t see me around here as much as usual, at least you’ll know why. (I’m probably sneaking off to eat something strange that I’ve been craving . . . like mashed potatoes . . . for breakfast.)

A Little Love in the Shape of a Pillowcase

My oldest daughter and her husband (Katie’s mom & dad) are house parents at a children’s home here in Florida. Right now, their house is home to ten teenage girls. I know many of you just took a deep breath at that thought, but I have to tell you that these two LOVE their job and can’t imagine doing anything else. The girls that they live with are just like other teen girls. They’re beautiful. They’re funny. They’re caring. (They adore Katie!) Some love sports. Some love video games. Some love art. They’re all amazing girls with bright futures ahead of them. Like every person in this world, though, they need to know that people care about them. I think that their house parents, along with the rest of the staff at the children’s home, do an amazing job of that, but I’ve had this idea for a while that maybe I could sew something for each one.

All of you who sew know that when you sew a gift with love for someone, that finished gift reminds the receiver of how much you care about them each time they use it. I really wanted to do that for these girls. Like many of you, though, my schedule is crazy busy. I’d put this on the back burner until a few weeks ago when I was reading about Simple Simon & Company’s Skirting the Issue project. I saw that they were sewing pillowcases to give and thought, “Pillowcases! That is perfect!” I can personalize them for each girl, she can use her pillowcase for as long as she wants, and she can take it with her wherever she goes! So, I called my daughter, and we put this plan in motion!Each girl shared her favorite colors or animal or character or sports team or whatever she wanted me to know about her likes, and I used those to choose the fabrics. All of the fabrics came from Joann Fabrics locally, and I used my own 9 1/2 Minute Pillowcase Tutorial to sew them up.

Lions & Scooby Doo

Florida Gators & Zebra Stripes

Jamaican Colors & Lime Green and Black


Pink and Purple & Cats

Once I had all the pillowcases done, I thought they needed fun packaging . . . and chocolate. I folded each one and slid it into a clear zippered bag with a few goodies, and I added some ribbon to make it pretty.Then I added each girl’s name on a washi tape label. (I did use the girls’  real names on the finished packaging — these are not their real names.) Much more fun than just the pillowcase, right?Now they’re all ready to deliver to their new owners! I hope that these amazing girls enjoy them, and that they provide a little reminder that someone cares about them and is praying for them wherever life might take them in the years ahead.

A Beautiful Day for a Beach Baptism

A quick post for my family nestled in here among those about sewing and crafting — Our sweet Samantha was baptized this morning, and our extended family wasn’t able to join us. My prayer is that these pictures will make each of you feel as if you were there with us on this overwhelmingly beautiful day at the beach! Lots of love to each of you! (Of course, my dear blog followers are very welcome to enjoy this celebration with us, too. I feel like many of you are family!)

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