Saturday, February 25, 2012

Walking away from the Wheel

photo by LoftyDreams

letting someone else be at the helm of your boat is sometimes excruciatingly hard to do
especially if you've been steering for awhile
and you thought you had set a dreamingly picturesque and safe course,
say a trip in the French Riviera perhaps,
a course that you thought would have brought you to those things you thought you needed
and for me, possibly could have sent our uninvited guest partially stranded at the next pier

a couple of days ago i had to relinquish the steering wheel back to the Master
He had always been in the boat with His all seeing, endlessly viewing omniscope
but for awhile He would give me a coordinate or two and i would proceed accordingly to my best judgement
this time He did a complete course correction, needing to be at the helm Himself

how i didn't want to peel my fingers from that wheel and surrender it
for He would not have taken it from me
it had to be me relinquishing

and oh it was a sharp one and jolting in its quick course change
not only for i, for i was not the only passenger
others i love felt the jolt as well

and although i didn't see a storm ahead
or perhaps can't see the even greater beauty ahead in this new course
i feel peace...
along with moments of loss, anger, fear, and defeat,
but overwhelmingly peace
in knowing that i have the Master at the helm of my ship
and that He granted me the strength to walk away from that wheel.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

An Escape from our Uninvited Guest

we have had an uninvited guest imposing on us for nearly 6 weeks...
not the kind that comes with luggage and needs towels, we like that kind!
but the sort of imposition that you just didn't see coming and you're not quite sure when its leaving
the sort of unexpected, heavy burden that keeps you up at night.
one day when it leaves i'll be able to tattle on it.

well we needed a break from it
and where better to leave reality
than Disneyland

snacks and passes in hand
we loaded up the kids
and headed to 'Mimi's House {Felicity's name for Mickey}

i think everyone else in the state needed a break from reality too
cuz it was packed
nevertheless we had a great day filled with just the sort of diversion we needed

{I absent-mindedly gave her snacks, including chocolate covered pretzels, as we left one ride.  Found her covered in chocolate at the next.  Was laughing so hard!  Way to go Mom:) }

D-land is Mike's personal El Guapo
extremely long lines without places to sit, rides to throw his already unbalanced equilibrium more out of whack, lots and lots of walking, for most parts of the year - the heat, all a reminder of his limitations

but because he is THE MAN that he is
and knows the joy that it brings his children to be there
he goes and tries his very best to be able to do what all the other Dads do
and he takes joy in watching his children's elation
in hearing them talk about this and that awesome ride
in spending time with them at their favorite place on Earth

it is difficult for me to watch his face as he grimaces with each step
his grip on the stroller handle that he uses for balance and leverage
but oh how i can not take this away from him
i can't take away his desire to be there for his children
despite his apologies to me and the kids
although it tears at my heart knowing that this day will effect how he feels for days,
it only makes me love him more

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mr. Bowlerman & Miss Charleston - an applique tutorial

as per our Valentine's Day tradition, I created these appliquéd t-shirts loaded with character and humor, just like the little people wearing them.  tell me what little boy doesn't want a shirt with his very own mustache built right in?!  i will tell you that hearts are boys informed me of that after last year's t-shirt design.

my inspiration for these images came from a quirky mobile i fell in love with which i had found hung in a refreshingly darling nursery on Shine Design.  this mobile is the secret fiancé of a Miss Charleston as seen on Flensted Mobiles

having my monthly sewing class is great motivation to get moving on projects i have been wanting to do. this month i taught a basic t-shirt appliqué class.  i am grateful to Elizabeth at Sew, Mama, Sew! for an easy to follow and thorough tutorial on machine appliqué as well as to Shelly and Karen from Figgy's Patterns who contributed to Sew, Mama, Sew! with a post on knit appliqué.  I am sure you will recognize these patterns floating around Pinterest.  oh so adore!!

lets begin with your supplies!
here is what i recommended for my class attendees to bring:
*fabric for appliqués - {I recommend cotton or wool felt - use scraps of fabric, or at the most, 1/4 yd}
     I used a black cotton/poly for the hats and mustaches and an old red cotton sheet for the lips
*thread to match appliqué fabric
*fusible webbing - brands: Wonder Under, Heat N Bond LITE, Steam-A-Seam, or Steam-A-Seam 2 
    {you will need the same amount of webbing as you use fabric}
*iron on paper stabilizer or fusible backing {same quantity as your webbing and fabric}
    I wish I could have found the tear-away kind, but I ended up just trimming instead
*ironing board
*pressing cloth {I use a tea/dish towel}
*scissors for fabric
*scissors for paper {optional but recommended}
*tape measure
*straight pins
*jersey/knit needle {optional but recommended}

on to the nitty gritty:
1. Print out your desired template - Mr. Bowlerman and/or Miss Charleston.  They're not pretty but they'll do the trick:)  If you are doing different sized t-shirts like I did, you can print your template out at varying percentages.  For my 3 boys I printed at 100%, 110%, and 125%.

2. Put your fusible webbing over top of your template with the shiny {glue side} down and trace your template onto the paper using a pencil.  Trim around your tracing leaving a small border.

3. Iron your fabric.  I always like to start out with an ironed piece of fabric before I do anything else to it.  Place your fusible webbing tracing with the shiny {glue side} down to the WRONG side of your appliqué fabric.  Iron it directly onto the fabric following the heat settings recommended by your webbing brand.  Cut out your appliqué, preferably not with your good sewing scissors.  
{we knew as kids that the only thing that touched the shiny scissors that mom placed in its special box, was fabric - not paper, not fruit snack wrappers, not sticks}

4. Arrange your appliqués on your t-shirt in the desired final location.  To ensure center placement, measure from edges of appliqué to side and bottom seams. Place straight pins around the perimeter, making sure to only puncture the front layer of the t-shirt.  This is serving as a general guide for placement of your fusible backing/stabilizer on the inside of your t-shirt.

Great tip from Elizabeth: 
"Keep in mind that the area where you place the appliqué will no longer stretch. (In other words: It’s best to avoid placing appliqués in the bust area of women’s t-shirts.)"

5. Remove the appliqués.  Use them as a guide to cut out pieces of backing/stabilizer for the inside of the t-shirt.  Carefully flip your t-shirt inside out and place your backing/stabilizer, shiny side down, inside the pinned guidelines.  Iron on the backing/stabilizer following the heat instructions on the packaging.  This step was not my favorite and I am open to suggestions of how else to do this.   I ended up getting pin head markings in my shirt.  I guess using completely narrow straight pins would have been fine.  I proceeded by ironing carefully as to avoid pressing any of the pin heads {he he pinheads:)} into the t-shirt.

6. Remove the paper backing from your appliqué and place the appliqué sticky side down onto your t-shirt where you want it to be, measuring edges to seams to ensure center placement. You can also refer back to the original printed template to determine distance of mustache or lips from hat.  Placing a pressing cloth or fresh piece of fabric over your appliqués, iron them in place using heat setting recommendations for webbing.

7. Determine what sort of stitch you would like to use.  For knits you want to make sure you choose a stitch that will stretch with the material.  You can use either an even zig zag stitch or a straight stitch.  Practice on a scrap piece of knit until you feel confident to sew on the real thing.  Make sure the stitch you choose does not cause the material to stretch out and warp in waves.
I prefer a straight stitch, and like to set mine at 3.0.
Change your needle to a new jersey/knit needle if you have one.  
Start stitching, back stitching a few stitches.  Make sure to lift your presser foot and turn as you go around curves and points.  If you have a 'needle down' option on your sewing machine, that makes life so much easier for those curves and pivots.  If not, just turn the wheel to ensure that the needle is down before you lift your presser foot up and turn the fabric. 

Elizabeth gives some great advice if you choose a zig zag stitch:
"If using a zig zag stitich: Starting on the right side of your appliqué, begin sewing, encasing the raw edge of your appliqué in stitches and raising your presser foot to pivot the fabric as necessary. Your needle should always be in the down position before you pivot your fabric. When sewing around a concave curve or angle (as in upper right photo) your needle should be down in the left-hand position, or through the appliqué. When sewing around a convex curve or angle (as in lower left photo) your needle should be down in the right-hand position, or just outside the appliqué."

8. After sewing around the entire appliqué, do a few backstitches to finish.  Remove your shirt from your machine and pull your cut threads to the inside of your shirt.  Trim them as well as any excess backing/stabilizer.  Or if you were lucky enough to find the tear away kind...tear away!

Turn it inside out!  And voile!  Mr. Bowlerman and Miss Charleston appliquéd t-shirts, sure to please any little mister or miss in your life.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Valentine Bowlermen and Miss Charleston

Happy Valentine's Day from
My Bowlermen and Miss Charleston

our little Valentine's tradition was started here in 2007 with my two oldest receiving matching shirts.
my mother had always given us gifts for Valentine's, so I wanted to carry on a similar tradition.
with the addition of Miss Felicity and growing boys in different departments, finding matching shirts became a challenge.
last year i decided that i was going to make shirts instead.
i love how their Love Rocks shirts turned out
so of course, i needed to come up with something different and zany for this year's shirts.
i have to say that i am completely in love with how they turned out.

My Bowlermen

and Miss Charleston

towards the end of our little photo shoot, grandma and grandpa dropped by after a long road trip visiting Abigail, Jesse, Jani, and Liz
Grandma proceeded to teach the boys how to do the Charlie Chaplin walk in honor of their bowler hats and mustaches.  I loved their attempts... shuffling pointed out feet and twirling hand.
a viewing of The Circus and The Gold Rush are definitely in order
as well as maybe a little Buster Keaton and Laurel & Hardy
but my favorite man of the cinema in a bowler hat has to be Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes;)

now we need grandma to come back and teach them the Charleston... i know she knows it!

i would love to do a tutorial on the making of these shirts so stay tuned...
*tutorial link for Mr. Bowlerman and Miss Charleston shirts here*

Friday, February 10, 2012

In the Arms of Your Daddy

in the arms of your daddy
that is where you want to be 
feeling safe and protected
feeling warmth and strength

i can not fathom how dearly Jesse wishes that for Abigail.  
with every embrace he wants her to feel that.
how he wishes he could do more
but oh how i know he is doing so much.
doing just that 
and more
above those arms are the shoulders which carry oh so many burdens
my Jesse is a man, a man who is a man in every noble and true sense of the word.
how this sister is so proud of him

this last photo is such a stark contrast to the videos of a bouncing and lively Abigail i have seen over the past few months.  
yes baby Abigail is back in the hospital today.
another procedure, i believe her fourth surgery since her birth in July.
thankfully she is already out and recovering in the arms of her stalwart father.

the procedure was suspected to take four hours and they were completed in a hour and a half with rave reviews.  i do not have the exact results yet as to what they were able to accomplish or discover from the procedure, but my mother emailed me this morning with the details regarding the purpose for the procedure:

"she is undergoing a procedure to enlarge her pulmonary artery to allow greater oxygen flow.  Her anatomy has been modified to allow blood to flow via gravity from her brain through the superior vena cava directly to her pulmonary artery bypassing her heart altogether to obtain oxygen in her lungs. The doctors are concerned that her pulmonary artery has narrowed preventing sufficient blood to be oxygenated.  This is why she is needing this procedure.  There are 3 possible things that they will do: 1. check the pulmonary artery to see if it has narrowed & check to make sure that oxygenated and deoxygenated blood are not mixing together and causing her saturation levels to decrease 2. they will probably need to use a balloon to enlarge the pulmonary 3. they may need in addition to the balloon to insert a stint to keep it open.  Hope that makes sense!"

both my mother and father are there with Jesse, Jani, and little Abigail today.  My mother expressed gratitude for being able to come up prior to the surgery so that she could spend time with Abigail, to become reacquainted and play!!

"She's a sweet baby girl and is so active.  It makes me happy to see her so normal!!"

our family has been overwhelmed by the love you have expressed for this champion of a baby, even Abigail.  we would love your continued prayers and thoughts as she moves into recovery and observation.

**UPDATED 5:15 pm**

after speaking with my mom, i have more details to share and great news!
the doctors ordered this procedure because they had believed that Abigail's pulmonary artery was narrowing.  they intended to insert a balloon into it, but after doing their initial measurements and look via wires and probe placed through a tube inserted in a vein in her neck, they discovered that the artery had not narrowed after all.  what they had believed to have seen on pre-surgical tests as her pulmonary artery, was in fact an additional small branch that is connected off of her pulmonary artery which is aiding in the flow of blood to the lungs.   from what i understand, everyone has this particular branch, but it is in a different location within the normal anatomy of the heart.

the doctors were very pleased with how everything looked and was flowing.  they believe that she will not require another surgery until she is 3!  her oxygen saturation levels are currently acceptable though still low.  she will continue to be allowed to be entirely off oxygen, a fete that is only been a week or so in the making.   the procedure lasted only an hour and a half and she was then back in the arms of her daddy and mommy.  although she was a little irritable, she recuperated quickly and is now at home!!!

my mother told me that when she had arrived the day before the surgery, Jesse had made a remark to advise her that Abigail was not a snuggler but was in constant motion.  and boy was that the truth, she twisted and turned, always wanting to be put down and on the move.
today after the surgery Abigail just laid in Jesse's arms.  Jesse voiced concerns that she must not be feeling alright, but my mother simply told him, just enjoy holding her Jesse, just enjoy it!

Christmas in February

Christmas in February you say?
Yes!  I promised my very patient mother-in-law that I would post Christmas photos and I never have!  Life over here at the Johnson household is ever eventful and 2012 is proving to not veer from the standard  roller coaster ride we are accustomed to.
So I'll be throwing up some Christmas posts, just in case you were missing the holidays already.

Mike's Spontaneous Christmas Games

Christmas Eve Captures

Christmas Eve: A day of traditions - Polar Express, Devotional, and Family Feud Game Night

**Added Today** Christmas Day - family and worship

Christmas Day - family and worship

the house is warm with color, lights, and gifts 
gifts given by many hands, making our Christmas possible

Christmas morning on the Sabbath
a wonderful reminder of the purpose of the celebration, our Savior Jesus Christ

i loved watching happy hands unwrapping each gift with anticipation...jubilation...followed by exclamation
and in Tate's case..."Yes!  I've always wanted this."
i loved that Felicity adored her baby doll Santa had brought her...and the baby crib bedding a busy elf had made her.  of course she noticed that the baby had an 'ow' in her hair {what she calls a hair clip}
i loved that the boys delighted in simple gifts such as Eyan's harmonica
i loved that my boys' favorite presents were books - never enough in our house -
and of course the scooters and pogo stick

enriched by uplifting music and word rejoicing over the birth of our Savior was the perfect embodiment of the Christmas Spirit.
it was a wonderful transition from a morning of gifts, to bring our focus back to the Gift of Gifts

after our meeting we returned home and i asked my sister Liz to grab a few photos of Felicity and I still in our Sunday best.  the boys were tired out from photos on Christmas Eve.
i delighted in having a sweet moment of connection with my baby girl.

{you can catch a glimpse of my new red hair color in these}

change of clothes and over to grandpa and grandma's we returned
grandpa had made us breakfast in true grandpa fashion - combining foods the way only he can
presenting the saus-cake - a marriage of two breakfast loves - sausage and pancake

after all the family had returned to the house, the unwrapping of the presents from grandpa and grandma, cousins, and siblings began
a magic show kit from grandpa and a flannel robe to Owen from grandma- perfect
a ping pong table to grandpa from all of us - bring on the tournament!

the last fete of the day was to get a photo with all the cousins in their pjs
out of the bigillions of shots, these were the best two.
poor little Tate is sad in the last one because he doesn't have a baby cousin to hold.
next year Tate you can hold Abigail:)


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