Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Sweet Surprise in the Mailbox!


My dear friend Melissa embroidered two adorable matching tea towels and mailed them to me as a surprise. Talk about a wonderful trip to the mailbox! Thank you, sweet friend! I am so grateful for these treasures, and for our friendship, which I also treasure very much.

Little Elena thinks these tea towels work great for peek-a-boo! I am very impressed by the fine workmanship of the needlework, look at that!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mending a Pop-Up Book

Book mending is a little mentioned, yet ever so handy skill for any homemaker to have!

Farmer Fred is a favorite of a certain 1 year old I know. I actually have taken it upon myself to hide this book now and then, so that we don't spend all day reading it!

Recently Farmer Fred and his barnyard animals suffered some wounds from Hurricane Elena, who got a bit overexcited and did quite a bit of damage. So, I got out the Scotch tape and did a lot of mending, thinking to myself yet again how interdisciplinary homemaking is.

In the incredibly exhaustive encyclopedia of homemaking skills entitled Home Comforts, author Cheryl Mendelson covers book mending with great aplomb. However, she doesn't say anything about pop up books! (I'm grinning as I write this, please don't think that I actually looked it up before I got out the Scotch tape.) Its a great book and every homemaker should have access to it.

But I don't think my 1 year old should have open access to Farmer Fred. I will be keeping this book out of reach and I will be chaperoning her time with him from now on. *smile*

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Saying Yes to Sewing

As a little girl, I remember saying:
"I want to learn how to sew."
"No you don't," replied my mother.
"I want to learn how to sew."
"No you don't," announced my grandmother.
They told me to spend my time other ways, to "save time and trouble" buying ready made items. They did not understand. Their particular response to my wish to learn this skill was both baffling and irksome to me. "'No, you don't'?" I thought rebelliously, "Yes, I do!"
Now that its 2010, I'm 30 and have my own little girl. Goodness knows if she'll want to learn to sew...though she is interested in everything I do, so I wouldn't be surprised. But! I am determined to create a sewing-friendly environment for us. When I embroider, I hand her my smallest embroidery hoop to hold so she can feel included. And earlier this week when I popped over to my sewing machine to mend a diaper cover, I sat her in my lap so she could watch. Look at the glee in her face!
Does anyone have more ideas which I could put into practice as I continue to craft a welcoming household attitude to sewing?
Over at Raising Homemakers, which is a wonderful resource for others who are interested in such things, be sure to peruse August 18th's link-up! You might find some kindred spirits who are also striving to manage a godly household (maybe even one that is sewing friendly!).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Telling Our Stories: Family Heritage

Six generations of women from my maternal line grace the pages of this photo album! My daughter, me, my mother, my grandmother, then her mother (my great grandmother), and then her mother (my great great grandmother) are all pictured in this red leather album.

Six! these generations span from my great great grandmother, who was born in 1861 Holland, to my daughter, born in 2009 Ohio.

The mother-daughter poses throughout the album are at times strikingly similar: the way my Great Grandma Mary held her baby - my Gramma Greta, is nearly identical to the way grownup and married new mommy Gramma Greta held my (infant) mother in the photos. There are photos of both my Gramma Greta as a girl on her bicycle in 1930s Illinois and my mother on her bicycle in 1950s California. There are Sunday best photos, mothers-with-new-baby photos, a few pool photos, working in the garden photos, and children wearing costume photos. Right now my one year old daughter is quite impressed with the ones of "Gramma Moie" (my mother) as a tiny girl proudly holding not one, but two well cared for dollies!

Every morning, bright and early and sometimes bleary eyed, my little Elena and I come into the living room and she motions to look at a few big books that are carefully kept out of her reach: she wants to see her baby book, our wedding photo book, and lately she's been especially keen to see the red 6 generation album. It is amazing the way she requests it so often, and the way she really pauses to study the photos. I point things out, I explain a little here and there -- I want to respect her interest and respect the ladies in our family line by passing along what I know about them. But I am careful not to be heavy handed with these little requested tutorials, after all, she is only 15 months old and I wouldn't want to overburden her.

This past January my Gramma died and went to be with Jesus in Heaven. She was prepared for crossing Jordan, as her own faith was strong. Her mother was a Christian too, and so was her mother. The fathers and husbands in this particular line of mine were, from what I know and from the sounds of histories I cringe to recall, very possibly not such godly men. Yet in spite of these troubles, I think with admiration of these Christian women who kept passing along their knowledge of Christ's love and salvation to the next generation. (Note: accepting or rejecting Christ is a personal decision; we don't "inherit" salvation from our family. However, I'm pointing out how each generation has a huge influence on the next.)

I feel like I really knew my Gramma well, and getting to know her is one of the big treats of my life. Being kind of a history nerd as well as an adoring granddaughter, I was sure to ask a lot of questions over the years, and jot down a lot of recipes that I wanted to preserve, and most importantly spend a lot of time with her when I could. My Gramma was somewhat reserved and didn't relish talking about the past ("It's over!" she'd announce, and busily tend to the task at hand). But we took lots of walks together, and played lots of games, and played music together on our instruments. Most especially, we kept up a rapid and faithful correspondence for years: about 15 years in earnest, right up until last November, when it seemed she didn't have the heart to write, or too much to write about, and I was swamped with baby care and a move. We had a good visit in December, though, and she was able to meet her great grand-daughter Elena for the first and only time.

For me, the 6 generation photo album is a wonderful way to introduce Elena to our family history. She gets a kick out the photos of herself at the end of it, and as she grows up I hope it will click for her: she is part of this line of women, and she can be proud of the ladies in her family line.

In our evening prayers, I have begun to pray each night that God will bless Elena and help her to teach the next generation to love Him. It is such a troubled world, I figure she and her children will need all the prayers they can get, so I should start now. Gosh, is that a negative thing to say?

Preserving family heritage and passing along the stories of our families, whether it be through photos, heirlooms, genealogies, saved correspondences or music, is another branch of homemaking that we really should embrace. A homemaker's work is never done - and our tasks are sometimes very sweet. I'm realizing all of this now, and feel like praying for the future generation is a way of preserving family heritage that I'd never thought about until recently.

What do you think, readers? What are some of your ideas for preserving family stories and teaching little ones about the past?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Being Ladylike

Why not create an exhibit of sorts to both beautify your home and emphasize certain important ideas? I was reading in a lovely old book called The Christian Family about the symbols in our home. For example, putting up scripture and tasteful crosses and items of beauty will inspire and instruct those who view them.

I pondered this, and decided to put up a display in the nursery that might make an impression on our little Elena. The theme of the display is Little Girls in Dresses Doing Interesting Things. And, I believe that the clothes we wear are important, too. As my husband and I believe that girls should dress like girls and boys should dress like boys, I wear a skirt or a dress nearly every day, and Elena wears a dress, a skirt, or a feminine romper every day. (Babies' rompers are soooo sweet!)

So, I'm hoping that these lovely images are making a good impression on Elena. I don't think its ever really too early to begin making this kind of an impression on children. You may have noticed me mention before the fact that homemaking is interdisciplinary; that is, we homemakers undertake tasks of many many sorts. Well, here's an example of that! What category of homemaking is this? Gender studies? Art appreciation? Regardless, please enjoy our little exhibit from the nursery, which is otherwise entitled, Being Ladylike.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Evening Prayer

This evening my husband, our daughter Elena (15 months old) and I gathered at her crib for her bedtime prayer. Jeff held her in his arms and put his hand on her little head, I stood with each of my hands on each of them. Right after Jeff began to pray I felt Elena's tiny hand rest on my head! I nearly teared up!
Because of my husband's work schedule, 5 nights a week I am the one who prays with Elena at bedtime. During the 2 nights a week that we are both there for these prayers, our togetherness seems to make it all the more meaningful.
I love the above illustration by Jessie Wilcox Smith; doesn't it strike a chord in you, too? Prayer binds us together and binds us to our God - may our hearts and households be full of prayer.
It is my goal to help create a household in which our children know that my husband and I love God, we love each other, we love them, and that God loves us all. I'm always trying to keep this goal in the front of my mind, both because it is important, and because I'm not entirely sure I have a handle on how to make this happen. So, it is something that I pray about. Much good has come from these prayers; it seems that there is nearly always some way to demonstrate each of those loves as we live out each day. We are not perfect. I do not have all the answers. But I wanted to share this painting with you, dear readers, as well as tonight's sweet little prayer time scene by the crib.
How does your family make prayer a part of household life? Please feel very welcome to comment on what works for you, as I hope to foster some dialogue on this and learn from you all.