Friday, December 30, 2016

Sock Organization

Someone suggested that I give the boys shoe boxes to decorate and we could store their socks in those (Thanks, Kelly!). I love that idea and when their socks get bigger and I have to move them to a larger drawer, I will be doing that (and probably be blogging about it in a few years). I'll have to save a few shoe boxes. 

I did find these extra plastic bins I bought to organize our craft supplies. They fit in the drawer perfectly. And I was able to get all their socks in them. So for now, this is our solution. It is going to be so much easier to find the right socks. 

I wish I had remembered to take a before picture. Just imagine the drawer full of socks and no bins. :) 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas from all of us! 

All my siblings are in town. We've stayed up late three nights in a row. It's been fun, but exhausting. Today we crashed and all took naps - some short (me) and some long (boys).  

The boys received some great new books, all sorts of creative toys (including a stuffed chicken), Coast Guard action figures and a helicopter, their own custom made plates from my sister, fancy new pajamas, and Legos. 

I'm thinking up so new ways to organize and store toys so that they get pulled out in groups and only one group at a time. Once I figure that out I'm sure you'll hear about it. Meanwhile, feel free to throw suggestions my way. 

I'm going to go enjoy my readers edition Bible!!! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Public Service Announcement

I've been having trouble with my comments recently.  Several people have told me that they aren't working.  So, I am going to be playing around with them in the next few weeks.  Right now I have them set as anyone at anytime can comment. Let me know if you have any trouble. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Library and book total for year

Last Thursdsy when it was 24° F outside and super windy we went to the library. It wasn't as scary to take three little boys as I had thought. Although, there was no one else in the children's section. We'll see if I'm singing the same song once I take them and there are children everywhere. 

I'm kind of a book snob. I turned down quite a few books that the boys randomly pulled off the shelf (there are a lot of junk children's books out there) and I directed them to series that I enjoy reading. We've been reading lots ever since. 

In the last week I've read 4 books. That brings my yearly total to 39. I feel like I should finish one more to make that 40.  Oh wait. I finished the Old and New Testaments (I'm not going to count the Bible as 66 books, but I think it deserves at least two books - it is long) and our yearly devotional. So, that brings me up to 42. :) 

42 total
4 books I didn't enjoy (2 by women 2 by men)
7 or 8 I hope to pull out again
14 fiction (4 of those from this week)
28 non-fiction 
14 female
28 male
11 older than 80 years (I need to read more old books) suggestions? 

I have one or two more I might finish.  I'll let you know If that happens. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Drawer Organizing

Is this weird? 

I put pant and shirts on their sides so that I can see everything that is clean. I try to put clean clothes in the back so that they rotate through. 

I roll matching pajamas up together.  It makes it so much easier to find them. 

Do you have any children's clothing tips? 

I need to figure out something for socks. Right now the boys share a drawer. Sometimes Warren wears socks that are too big and sometimes Martin wear socks that are too small. Other than getting a new dresser, which we have no room for, I don't have any other solutions for socks right now. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A little update

We've been doing a lot of reading. I finished a book this week! I stayed up late a few nights this week to read. 😳 One of my friends sent me the first Emily book by L.M. Montgomery for Christmas. She is a fun read. Not as charming as Anne, but enjoyable. They make me want to go visit P.E. Island again. I have the second two books on hold from the library. 

We have been enjoying our table under the stairs in the play closet. This room (closet) is still one of my favorite places in the house. What a great space. It just makes me happy to be in there.

It makes me laugh because we often are sharing the same 12sqft, which is a little more than 1% of the house. I love having them in my space (most of the time). Some day they won't want to be anywhere near me (or each other). So, I am soaking it all in now while I have them. I love the little years!! 

Faith of ten years ago is flabbergasted that present Faith is saying that. She had no idea what being a mom would do to her sense of what-really-matters. And she didn't think she would ever really like kids and would rather work and use her degree... She was wrong. She likes her own kids and she uses her degree all the time while managing children. 

James is a pretty happy baby. He is usually only grumpy when he is hungry or sleepy or wants attention. But as soon as one of us talks to him he cheers up. He especially loves his brothers. He is sweet.

I've been working on some more Christmas presents. We've finished wrapping almost everything and putting together boxes to send to family. It was so much more relaxing to finish Christmas shopping in November. It has given me a chance to work on a few extra things that I didn't think I would have time for. A friend gave me five yards of vintage wool and it was perfect for a project that I had been wanting to do. Pictures coming after Christmas. :) 

We are looking forward to doing some more Christmas baking next week. Is there something you make every year? We do chocolate covered prezels. Now that the kids are older, I might start doing gingerbread or sugar cookies... We will see. Do you have any other traditions? 

Thursday, December 08, 2016

A tree skirt for GC

For as long as I have known her, my mother-in-law has mentioned wanting a tree skirt. Since I never know what to buy her I decided to make her one this year.  She mentioned it again about two weeks ago and I thought, "wait, I know how to quilt! What a perfect present. I'll make a tree skirt." Then I thought, "oh no, it is almost December. They'll get their tree soon." 

But it just so happened that they were going to visit Jared's sister for a week and wouldn't get back until this week and then get their tree. Most of my spare time for the past two weeks has been used to work on this. 

At first I wasn't sure if I liked it, but as so often happens with quilts, by the end I was in love with it!! Each step of the quilting process adds a little something to the quilt. It is a fun hobby. 

Oh, and this happened to be the pattern my MIL had been saving to make herself someday. I didn't know that. I just knew that she had given me the pattern a few years ago. I used a bunch of her old fabric scraps to make the trees, stars, and binding. 

Of course, when I tried to take a picture both boys wanted to sit in the circle. 

Or stand. 

Here is the fabric cut for the trees. It was a lot of little pieces. Cutting them all out took about two hours. The only reason I know this is because Jared was watching  a college football game and I finished by halftime. :) 

Here are the blocks made. We tried putting the red centered stars in the front, but it made it too red. It seemed more balanced with the green centered stars. 

For quilting: I outlined the stars three times to look like they were shining. I outlined the trees once. And I tried swirl quilting for the first time because I thought it would look like snow. 

I worked on the quilting for about a week off and on. The outlining took the longest.   I did the swirls in two evening stretches. 

Jared and I debated the size of the hole for a while. We finally decided on 9" because his parents have a real tree. I couldn't find anything that was a 9" circle around my house. Then I remembered I owned a compass (of course, I'm an engineer!). 

It took me a while to work up the courage to slice the seam and hole. I was sure I would mess up and ruin the whole thing. 

Jared made the scrappy binding for the quilt while I finished quilting it. He also cut out the stars. They weren't on the original pattern, but I thought the trees needed something. I appliquéd them on. 

The binding took about two days to sew on. 

Some closer pictures of the quilting. 

Closer picture of the stars. (Little feet in every picture). 

Two Sets of little feet in this picture. What fun to spin in the middle. 

And here is the back. I sent Jared to the store for either a flannel or something Christmasy.  He brought this back because he knows I love polka dots and his mom loves red. The back ended up being 45" by 45" and a piece of fabric is 40-42". So, I pieced a long strip on the back. I could have cut a little square to fill in the corner, but I made a little four block. I don't like boring backings to quilts. I didn't have time to design something special, but the four patch gives it a little personality. :) 

I washed it before I gave it to her and I used six Shout color catchers. They were pink when I removed them. 

The tree skirt is called Starry Forest and is found on Sew Mama Sew. The blogger app won't let me put in links :( 

But I took a screenshot to show you what I changed. 
1. I made my center all white. 
2. I added stars to the trees. 
3. I used various scraps in the trees instead of just two patterns. 
4. I made normal stars that were out of  5-1/2" squares instead of wonky stars. 
5. I used scrappy binding. 
6. I didn't include ties. I didn't see the point. 
7. I angled the corners. Jared's suggestion. It almost gave me a heart attack having to trim off the corners. Once again, I thought for sure I would mess it up. 

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Schedules and Posts

Because I am starting some schoolwork with Martin, i have realized that my days need to have a little more structure. Also, when you have one child, they set the schedule. Go-with-the-flow planning even works with two children. While one is sleeping, you play with the other one. Most of the time you just include the you get child with whatever the oldest is doing. "Oh, you want to paint? Okay. It is painting time for everyone!" But throw a third child in the mix and a child that wants to start reading and doing schoolwork and being more intentional is required. 

Also, having a newborn just throws everyone's sleep schedule out the window. But we are stabilizing now. The boys sleep well. James has a mostly establish pattern. I'm missing my early morning alone time (tea, devotions, and gym (some mornings)). I think in January I'll be almost through mono, hopefully, and ready to wake up at 5:30am. My body is still needing the 6:30-7am time for now. And I have to figure out the whole nursing before gym thing or maybe  just going early and hoping the baby doesn't wake up while I'm gone... I'm not sure how that will work. This is the first baby that Jared has had a later office start time, which means the gym is actually a possibility in the morning. 

Coming in 2017, a schedule for the Sheltons, meal planning by the month (instead of week), more sit down schoolwork, scheduled read-out-loud time, planned outings, scheduled blog posts (I'm thinking three days a week), and more. Maybe we'll think of a house project or two and try some new recipes.

Now to just sit down and plan our weekly schedule. Any suggestions? What things should I schedule in? 

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Christmasy Sewing

It is December! That put me in the mood to make something fun and christmasy. More photos when I finish quilting.

Are you making any Christmas presents this year?  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cookies and Christmas presents

It is a Shelton tradition to make and eat gingerbread cookies. It is one that I haven't picked up. The taste is okay. It is so much work to make and decorate them. This is only the third year (out of 8) that I have made a batch. 

I know Jared loves them. 

I thought the boys would enjoy icing them. 

And enjoy eating them. 

And I needed a dessert for ESL. 

I've been doing a lot of sewing recently, but they are all Christmas gifts. So, no craft Friday posts until I give them away.  I've finished 5/7 projects so far. The two biggest are about half finished. I have three other projects that I might work on if I have time. 

And I have finished all my Christmas shopping and started wrapping gifts!!! So exciting and less stressful. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

School happens

Today, as we were making gingerbread cookie dough, I heard, "Mom, look we can blow on this molasses and it gets wider." 

I looked over and the two boys are blowing their hearts out over a little drip of molasses. And yes, it was getting wider. I had let Martin pour the molasses and some of it had spilled on the counter. Baking with kids is messy and slow, but it keeps them busy and hopefully teaches them something. 

Perfect science lesson moment!! Let's study viscosity. I put some cookie dough on the counter and had them blow on it. It didn't move. Then we tried water and soup suds and discussed the differences in how they moved. 

"Mom, the soap really spreads out!!"

And then everything got mixed together and even the cookie dough moved when soap was under it (brief mention of friction thrown in). We didn't get to surface tension. Maybe next time. 

Wouldn't it be great if I could work the gospel into all our conversations as easily as science? That doesn't come as easily to me. However, the more I practice the better I become at weaving it into life. Having children has helped me practice  speaking about what I believe. It is easy to think about things in your head, but harder to explain them to others. There's my bit of encouragement to you. Keep practicing and it gets easier. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Table over the stairs

This is my sewing table. I love it!! Jared built it so I could lay quilting pieces out on it and other sewing projects, but I mostly use it to quilt now. Standing up and quilting is so much easier. :)

Jared built it a few years ago for me. It is right over the stairs. This space wasn't being used. It was just wasted space. I love finding areas in our house that aren't being used and can be put to use. This is one of my favorites. 

We usually only clean the attic space when Michelle comes to visit. :) It is a bit of a disaster up here right now.  Fabric has a way of multiplying and spreading out all over the place. Also, we store the Christmas gifts up here. Come January, this area will be so much more neat. 

*Thread rack - came from a church yard sale
*Little shelf that holds my big threads - Jared made in high school shop class
*Table - made by Jared

Friday, November 18, 2016

Heat transfer

Today's school lesson is on heat transfer and friction. We are testing how different materials react to energy being applied to them. 

Results: This metal handle gets quite warm. The wooden bunkbed ladder doesn't have a noticeable change. 

See. Science is so much easier for me than English. 


Martin is only three, which is too early for real schoolwork. However, I try to work learning activities into much of life. As we play outside we talk about the different trees and how the leaves change colors. We count the eggs that we find. The boys sort things as we play with them. They help me cook.  They play with bowls and cups and measure out pretend food. We count food as we eat it. When we read books we talk about the location of the book or different cars that we see. When a book mentions money we pull it out and I show them how different coins have different values (what does 50 cents look like in pennies, nickles, dimes, and quarters).  Recently, we started keeping a list of the animals that read about (Blueberries for Sal - Bear, Crow; Caps for Sale - monkeys; etc.). I am about to hang a map in the boys' room where we mark where each story takes place. 

We are a little math heavy. What do you expect from an engineer? But I do try to read at least 3 books a day, usually more (I'd say we hit 10-15 most days). We also talk about letters and the sounds they make as we read.  I found this great school curriculum that weaves learning activities into great children's books.  Here is a sample lesson that they provide.  It has inspired even more conversations and gives me more art and English ideas. It is kind of fun to read a book, purposely, every day for 5 days (or 8 days or 10 days...).  I am using both the Before Five in a Row and the Five in a Row books.  The Before ones are a little more basic, but they have great play activity ideas in the back.  I'll probably write more about them once we spend more time with them. 

Legos, Trios, Tinkertoys, and blocks can all be problem solving skills and basic math. Often we count the blocks or sort them in groups. Martin seems to like order and patterns, like me.  I think he is going to be my child that I relate to the most in schoolwork, but who knows, maybe I will have three little math brained children.  That would make my life easier. :)

(Big Ben by Jared - he is way better at building than I am)

We have a few mini Lego sets and Martin just loves putting them together over and over again. We pull them out once a week or so. He's learning how to follow instructions and match pictures and pieces. They also help build his little hand muscles. Mark down points for dexterity. Have you tried to put together the smallest Lego pieces?!?

While Martin works on something small, like Legos, I try to distract Warren. Today I asked him to carry all the reusable diapers from the drying rack to their room.  What would have taken me one trip took him about fifteen trips (and used up a lot of time).  I stuffed the diapers while he was running back and forth and then he put away the completed diapers.

Sometimes we let him help find pieces. He is getting really good at matching pieces to the pictures in the instructions. I am surprised how well he does. They both still need a little coaching and cheering. But we really like our Legos so far!!

And example of our "English" lesson.  B is for blueberries, bread, and butter.  See, I am very lazy on the whole English thing. I was just telling Jared how I don't really have any plans for English. It doesn't come naturally.  Math (and science) just work themselves into my every day conversations.  I have to work really hard at talking casually about letters and sounds and rules for reading.  Bleh. 

So, that is how we do "school" right now. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Overall Fix

I love overalls on little kids. I have them in almost every size from 12 months to 3T. In the smaller sizes I have them in various colors and fabrics (Jean and corduroy). 

Most of our pairs are either hand-me-downs or purchased second-hand. The overalls have plenty of life in them except for one problem, the snaps are worn out and pop open a lot. 

Problem solved. For about 20 cents I fixed each pair by adding extra snaps with my new snap tool.  I love how the red snaps turned out on this pair!!

These overalls aren't going to be busting open anytime soon. 

I skip closing the metal snaps when I use them. Otherwise, that would be way too many snaps to close each time I change a diaper. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Do something!

Charles Spurgeon:
I believe in eggs, but we must get chickens out of them... Brethren, do something; do something; do something. While committees waste their time over resolutions, do something. While societies and unions are making constitutions, let us win souls. Too often we discuss and discuss an discuss and Satan laughs in his sleeve. It is time we had done planning and sought something to plan. I pray you; be men of action, all of you. 

I am reading a book about partnering together with other believers in ministry. This quote stuck out to me. 

Monday, November 07, 2016

Thankful day 6-10

6. For sleep. When I'm pregnant I wake up four to five times a night to use the bathroom and often can't fall back asleep right away. I did a lot of middle of the night reading before James arrived. So life is great once the baby comes and I get 3-5 hours of sleep at a time!!  Sleep is gift from God and I am so grateful for every little bit I get. 

7. For health. Having three boys and a husband with colds is never fun, but it could be way worse. God has blessed us with good health and I try to take advantage of that. 
Yes, running ESL while being pregnant was hard and semi-directing while having mono and a newborn is exhausting, but it just makes me depend on God for the strength and staff. He always provides ad richly. I doubt it sometime, but He always provides. We had a missions conference speaker a few years ago that inspired me. He said:
God provides great energy to His people to do His work. 
I have found that to be incredibly true. Last year, I was exhausted and worn out every day while being pregnant, however, Thursday night's would roll around and I would feel good ( not always great, but way better than I had been feeling just hours before). God sustains. He provides. Blessed be His name. 
John Piper has a great quote that I try to remember while working in ministries: 
"It you are sufficient for your task then it is too small."
I want to use what little energy I have for his kingdom. It is hard some days, but it is worth it. 

8. For my chickens. They make me laugh. 

9. For beauty. I love the fall leaves and my summer flowers. Winter snows are spring rainy days are lovely. What a creative God we have. I am thankful the world isn't the same. It would be boring. But it is not. It is beautiful! 

10. For people that bring you meals when you are sick. :) I have a post about this almost written. So many people have blessed us with food while I have been sick. So many meals. So many loving friends stopping by to take care of my family. It is humbling. We feel so loved.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Quilt College BFF

Before James was born I started this quilt.  I actually have it ready to quilt, but I haven't taken a picture of it in that stage.  I wanted to quilt it before he was born, but my belly was in the way.  I couldn't get close enough to the machine to be able to quilt it well.  Now that James is 6 weeks and I will be cleared by the doctor to start doing things again, I can't wait to get back to making this.  Hopefully, pictures of the finished quilt will be posted in a few weeks!!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Thankful day 1 - 5

I am thankful for:
 ...Jared. He has taken such good care of me since James was born (and always). He cleans the house and washes clothes and changes diapers in the middle of the night so that I can rest. He makes me laugh and reminds me of what really matters. 

2. & 3. & 4. 
 ...these two squatters that found in the backyard today. I invited them in for dinner. :) We have so much fun together. I am so grateful that they are patience with me while I have to be paying attention to the baby and while I have been sick. They are so sweet and I love how they love each other. And I adore their imaginations!! 

We have such a great backyard (for the area we live in). I love my big tree in the middle of the yard and all the space we have to run around. It really isn't that much space, but it feels like it by the way it is laid out. I love it. Also, I love this cooler weather. Is that five? Oh well. 

...Sweet baby James. I don't really know him yet, but he seems to be a good fit and he is very sweet. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Warnie Turns Two

Yesterday, we celebrated this guy's birthday with a trip to the beach (our first of the year) and a stop by our favorite playground. 

Hello, ocean. You're not so bad when it is cooler and there are no people. :) What a lovely day. 

The baby didn't like nursing on the windy Boardwalk. He was probably sad he couldn't have popcorn. 

What a beautiful time of year. Fall is definitely my favorite time of year. 

It was wonderful to have Jared off work for the day. It is so much easier to take the boys places with an extra set of hands, especially these days since I am so exhausted. I told Jared that by lunchtime, most days, I feel like I've been played 55 minutes of a soccer game and there are 5 minutes left. You are sore and tired and just want to give up, but you also want to win. So you keep going. I just have to push through the last 5 minutes (afternoon) and then I'll win the game (get to go to bed). :) 

Happy Birthday, Warnie. We are glad we have you. We celebrated over the weekend with our families, but I forgot to take pictures. Everyone had a great time. And Warren loves all his new presents. They are especially useful in distracting the boys while I rest. We are so loved by our family. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Boys' Room

It is hard to take pictures in small rooms. I had this trouble capturing the bathroom remodel pictures. Also, I was planning on picking up the clutter to take pictures of their room, but why hide what their room looks like 90% of the time? This is real life, not a magazine insert. Just imagine a few more books on the floor and you have the normal state. :) 

* Nursing/reading chair. We spend a lot of time piled in this chair. Sometimes two of us, sometimes four. 
* Blanket on back of chair crocheted by a dear friend for our wedding. It makes a great tent. :) 
* Bunkbed (imagined by me, designed and built by Jared). 
* white, nine cube organizer from Lowes. 
* Wainscoting (on bunkbed) leftover from bathroom. We left the top three cubes open so that they could be accessed from either side. The baby's clothes and burp clothes are stored here. 
* Boxes from Garden of Eden peaches. :)
* Quilts by GC. 
* IKEA crib thrifted for $40 when Warren was born. 

Under the bunk bed. 
Books books books!! You can never have too many good books in the house. We spend a lot of time each day putting away books. This was Jared's idea. He suggested turning the crib, under the bed, so that the boys could have a little reading nook under the bed.  

* Changing table is a dry sink that some friends were getting rid of years ago, before Martin came along. Jared wanted it because it was solid wood. I wanted it because it would make the perfect changing table. We use a towel on it instead of a changing pad because the pad is too high and takes away the effectiveness of the edge. Diapers are stored under the table out of sight. 
* Corduroy was painted by my sister for our wedding. It is one of my favorites things in my entire house!!! 
* Print of Bible verse from Mr. Howard. I snagged it from the church when they remodeled the nurseries. 
* Curtains sewn by me when Martin was born. I have been thinking of updating them to navy or grey to match the boys other stuff, but this is real life. I don't have time to make everything in their room match. 

* The baby sleeps to the right. Crib on loan from my in-laws. 
* Dresser used to be Jared's when he lived alone in the house. 
* Bookshelves were made by my Dad and used to be mine. 

* Storage bins for the different size clothes.  I collect clothes two to three sizes bigger than the boys wear right now and throw them in bins. 
* Books on the shelves are mostly thrifted. When I see a good book I buy it and add it to the collection.  I love old science books! * Quilt on the crib was also made by GC when Martin was born. All the babies have used it. 
After five weeks the boys have adjusted quite nicely to having to all share this space. The older two have been sleeping through the baby's feedings.  Having the rocking chair where it is has been perfect because neither boy can see me in the middle of the night from where they sleep.  So, even if they are roused from sleep a bit, they fall back to sleep quickly.

Both Martin and Warren seem to really like their beds.  Martin loves climbing the ladder (so does Warren - they often play up there during the day).  Warren likes to crawl to the farthest back corner of his bed when he falls asleep.  I guess he likes it dark.  

I love this room.  I am so happy with the way it turned out.  :)