Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Me Made May 2016-The Evidence

I have to laugh at the title, which is obviously a result of my having recently served jury duty! And I can say that I wore my homemade blue jeans to jury duty with nice (store bought) blouses each day. However that was April, not May, so that evidence is not adbmissible.

After much thought I decided that to organize the photo collection of my Me Made May pledge, and to streamline participation in the group, I'd use one page (this one) for all documentation. Each photo will be linked to sewing details. As I add to this throughout the month, I will change the date of publication so that it will bump up in the queue of posts.

May 1

My daughter wore this retro jumper to church that I sewed for her a few years ago. (Sewing details at the link._

May 1a

I wore my microsuede black pants with this cheerful jacket to church this morning. (Sewing details at the link.)


I wore my refashioned wool coat on this cold and rainy morning. (Sewing details at the link.)


For dinner prep I borrowed my daughter's apron that I sewed a few years ago. (Sewing details at the link.)


May 2

My daughter often wears the blouses I have sewn for her to college. Today she wore her pink and white blouse, that has silver threads running through it. It was such a lovely sunny spring day to wear it. (Sewing details at the link.)

May 2

May 3-While running errands today I wore blue jeans and a blouse that I have sewn. I sewed the blouse before blogging days and sadly no longer have the pattern. It was so quick and simple to sew. I'm not too keen on collars because they are not always comfortable around my neck (most likely due to my need to learn more sewing skills). Details on sewing the blue jeans at the link. 

May 3

May 4

I wore the blue jeans I had sewn to move my son home from college today. In the photo I'm assessing the laundry, where this quilt I had sewn for my son is destined. Sewing details at the links.

May 4

May 5

Today my daughter wore this blouse while working on final papers for college. Sewing details at the link.


May 6

Today my daughter wore her blouse to campus. Turns out I haven't yet done a post to feature it. It was my first try at the pattern and ran into a few fitting issues, hence the tank underneath which really cutens it up! Sewing details for a similar blouse, same pattern, at the link.


Meanwhile I wore my blue  jeans and 100% wool sweater to stay warm on this cold and drizzly day while I ran errands! Sewing details at the link.


May 8

My daughter wore a blouse I sewed for her, which I haven't yet documented  but is based on this pattern.  The fabric came from her first 18th century gown.

Again, I wore my blue jeans! (Details at the link.) It's been so cold this month my blue jeans have been my primary go-to this month.  


Stay tuned for the rest of May when I will bump this up with additional evidence of Me Made May wearables!

Well, we have come to the end of May and I ran out of photos. Actually I got a new camera, my laptop upgraded to Wiindows 10 and life was busy. That was a few too many curves for me to keep up with photo ops, especially when it's difficult to find a photographer. However my daughter and I did meet our goals, and wore clothing that I had sewn throughout the month.
The sewing goals, however, were not met. The second weekend I tried to whip up a pair of shorts...which led to several muslins/toiles to try to get the right fit. That's as far as I got.  I felt a bit defeated this month so we'll see how it goes next year. Why defeated? I have gained weight, not where I need it but in my tummy, hips and thighs. However I have new inspiration to sew this summer for this new pear shaped (that I am aggressively working off, and therefore becoming healthier!) The beauty of that is I will still be able to wear these particular styles when I slim down so will be quite versatile. Stay tuned for that!
Also I learned that I need more "memade" winter attire. May was especially cold so my winter attire became quite redundant. I do have the patterns...
Additionally I realized I need to bite the bullet and pull out all those gorgeous blouse patterns I've been accumulating and make my own blouses!!!
So we'll see what next May brings!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery...and a Visit to my Cousin's Grave

Yesterday we made our annual trip to Arlington National Cemetery to reflect and remember those who gave all, so we could be free. This time our first stop was Arlington House, which I shall share more about in a later post.  


Memorial Day began in 1868 to honor those who died in the Civil War. Originally it was called Decoration Day...the decoration of the graves being flowers. These flowers are those of the garden that existed here long before a soldier was buried at this famous place that once used to be a home. This is one of the first graves at this famous home, dug in 1864. The graves were laid first on the perimeter of the 19th century garden, before Decoration Day began.


As we journeyed down the hill, we watched the flowers being laid in Decoration Day memory of each of our heroes.


The journey is solemn.


All gave some...




...gave all.


One each stone was inscribed a story...


...of a hero...


...who risked all so we could be free.


We journeyed to a weeping willow... 


...where my mom's cousin laid with his buddies.


They were shot down near Japan.


Their story is in this post.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Arlington House, George Washington's Step-Grandson, and Gowns

On this day we visited a connection to George Washington...


...that of Arlington House. I'll never forget my first visit here in 1989.


While walking amongst the graves I was surprised to see this mansion tucked between the trees on top of the hill. Southern Belles in hoop skirts passed by the pillars of the portico. Intrigued, I climbed the steps to a fascinating memorial that George Washington Parke Custis built for the step-grandfather whom he adored.


As mentioned in my previous historical tour blog post, when Washington and his wife passed away Mount Vernon was inherited by a nephew. I'm sure Martha Washington's own grandson would have loved to have inherited the property. He grew up there. His sister grew up there. His father and aunt grew up there. However, the property passed through the Washington side of the family, since Custis was actually a descendant of Martha's first husband who had passed away in the early years of her marriage. George Washington never had children of his own. However he embraced his wife's children and grand-children as his own. Both George Washington Parke Custis and his sister adored their step-grandfather and cherished their years of childhood at Mount Vernon so wholeheartedly,  that they memorialized him in their own homes in adulthood.

Much George Washington memorabilia (papers, clothes, and his marquee tent from the American Revolution) were housed here. The original tent was purchased at auction by George Washington Parke Custis, then often displayed on the grounds. (By the way I've seen the recreation of the marquee tent by Colonial Williamsburg tailors, who have dubbed it "The First Oval Office." My many posts of the process and product, filled with links, can be found here.)

Another historical surprise, to the newcomer of the history of this home, is that George Washington Parke Custis' daughter married Robert E. Lee. (Yes, this is the South's infamous Robert E. Lee from the Civil War.) Below is where they stood for their wedding. 


The book collection!!!! Be still my heart.


When I first toured Arlington House, we were part of a ranger led tour (this is property of the National Park Service). However now there are self-tours where we are free to walk through certain parts of the main floor. Happily there are rangers and staff throughout to answer any questions. Well, I have a fun story (or two). Because of all the crowds that day I was telling my family  all the history I knew of the place (though I know I have more to learn). One of the rangers overheard and nodded that I was on target.

Then after some crowds moved out, my family and I ventured into this room.  We were the only ones there, with one docent. I stopped. One of my favorite people in history was memorialized in that corner niche! I couldn't help myself. I cried out, "That's the Marquis de Lafayette!"


He was a lover of liberty, both in America and France. He was Washington's adopted son. He was granted citizenship to America. He fought in the American Revolution. He was invited by President Monroe to take a grand tour of America and on that trip he was here. The docent was impressed! He told me I needed to go to Colonial Williamsburg to meet a great interpreter who portrays the Marquis de Lafayette. I laughed and said, "Oh, he knows us!" (When the CW Lafayette heard this story he laughed! He was also pleased to have the "shout out" from the Arlington staff!)


After a long discourse on Lafayette (and the CW interpreter) we chatted about the Lee family. This is Robert E. Lee's father, Henry Lee III (aka Light-Horse Harry Lee) who fought under General Washington.


After more discourse the docent invited us to a special behind-the-scenes tour that he was going to give in about 30 minutes, if we were interested, if we wouldn't be bored, etc, etc, etc. We'd love to!!!!!!!! So with one other interested lover of history we got to also tour the basement, the upstairs, the attic and the rest of the first floor...along with all the extra stories!!!!!

I have so many pictures, but being a historical seamstress, I decided to especially share gowns and quilts with all of my historical seamstress friends!

This is an 1860's reproduction wedding gown...


This is thought to have been a wedding dress of Elisabeth Winston Fitzhugh who was thought to be a relative of Mary Custis Lee who was married to Robert E. Lee.



Educating the slaves was important to the Lee family, even though it was against the law in 1831 Virginia. It is commonly thought it was always against the law to educate slaves but not so. In the 18th century many slave owners educated their slaves. Even the Bray School had been founded for them in some places like in Williamsburg. This was partly led by the encouragement of Benjamin Franklin. Slavery was a horrible institution. I am thankful that many slaves were educated. It helped them in many ways...some towards freedom.



Graffiti in the attic...along with the incorrigible legend of the brother who took his sister's dolly, climbed into the attic, crossed precariously over the beams to the head of the pillars (which comprise the portico as seen from the outside in the second photograph shown above) and dropped poor, poor dolly down that pillar never to be seen again. Is she still there?


The view from the portico...



A Civil War grave near the garden. When Lee chose to lead the south, he fled his home...which became a burial ground for soldiers, now known as Arlington National Cemetery.













Friday, May 27, 2016

Bonhoeffer, His Life, and His Example

 "We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God." —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

While reviewing my posts on the various Eric Metaxas books I've read  I was surprised to discover that I hadn't yet done a post on Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I had many references to it but I couldn't believe I hadn't blogged on it. I had put quotes on my facebook account while I read this book because I was so powerfully affected by this man. One of my facebook friends happened to be reading the book too so we did a lot of chatting about the book. It was wonderful!  I highly recommend this book. It will change your life!


Before opening the pages to review my annotations of 2014, I have this deep sense still residing in my soul. Bonhoeffer had a message for his people in the 1930's and 1940's. Bonhoeffer still has a message for us today in the new millennium. Some of the concepts he battled against back then are resurfacing today. This is a timely book, for such a moment as this.

I also have to say, before perusing my annotations, that when I read this book is when I connected with Eric Metaxas at his web site and his facebook page. Interestingly at the time he was posting about travels in Germany and he was showing us photos of the Bonhoeffer sites he was visiting. How cool is that? In fact, here's a link to Metaxas' photo album of the Bonhoeffer Tour.

Oh. Did I mention this book is a New York Times Bestseller? Again, I highly recommend this book! As I open the book I see the page that lists 12 other awards for this book. It is really that incredible!

Anything I say about this book goes hand in hand with what Bonhoeffer, himself wrote in The Cost of Discipleship, which I blogged about here. Metaxas does a stunning job of remaining true to who Bonhoeffer was, while filling in all the details of his life from birth to taking a stand for what was right.

While perusing my annotations I decided to first share my facebook posts on Bonhoeffer:

Facebook (FB) Feb 3, 2014: "Bonhoeffer was firmly and rightly convinced that it is not only a Christian right but a Christian duty towards God to oppose tyranny, that is, a government which is no longer based on natural law and the law of God." The Cost of Discipleship, p30

Wow! Bonhoeffer understood what America's Founding Fathers understood with natural law.  I'm working on a series on our Founding Fathers and how 18th century thought was much different from 21st century thought.    

FB, Feb 17, 2014-"Now reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. Not only reading about a man of God who was born 'for a a time such as this,' but also pulling together German history and the arts through music as well as Roman classical history and literature. A nice way to round out our previous in-depth study of the Ancients"

In hindsight, that is an interesting statement to make. Of course I was sharing my homeschool lesson plans on fb, and I always work in all the humanities into our history presentations including history, literature, speeches, music, food, art of the era. The neat thing, as I dug deeper in this book is that I learned how much Bonhoeffer enjoyed the arts. I remember sensing that the arts was a deeply German thing to do. That's pretty neat, because my maiden name is German and my mom's mother is from German heritage as well (though her father was of French heritage). Of course this makes sense when we look at the rich musical history of Germany, even when looking at Frederick the Great! Bonhoeffer, by nature, was not a rebellious sort. He enjoyed peaceful ways. However, there comes a time, that in order to maintain peace, one must take a stand. He is the epitome of that.

Later that day, FB, "My son is starting Bonhoeffer. I am now reading Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm. The era I was not looking forward to studying has become hopeful, because of finding their books. Men who led the way..."

"Men who led the way..." Now that I have read all of Bonhoeffer completely, I can look back at that statement and cry a resounding, "Yes!" Few led the way. Many waited until it was quite late and hope hung at the edge of a precipice. That is where the "spy" part of the biography comes in. It is a thrilling account to read of how men came together, with Bonhoeffer, in a united effort to take down Hitler.

FB, Feb 29, 2014-"If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Oh, my....that is exactly how I felt reading this book. I know how WWII unfolded. The players at the time didn't. Bonhoeffer kept warning everyone but they wouldn't listen. It was definitely a thriller, but a grim one, because it was all too true and could happen again. Nothing boring about this book! And highly applicable to today!

FB, Feb 19, 2014- "My son is hooked on Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I am too. I am riveted...I am convicted."

FB, Feb 20, 2014-"Reading The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Initially I was reading this from a thoroughly Christian/Bible Study/Devotional Quiet Time viewpoint. Now that I've been reading Bonhoeffer's biography, I've learned how Nazism invaded the German Lutheran Church in the 1930's, rewriting the Bible, eventually replacing it with Mein Kemp, and replacing God with Hitler. Cost of Discleship, written in 1937, now takes on an entirely new meaning when Bonhoeffer says in his treatise on The Sermon on the Mount, "The disciples are not expected to show fear of men, nor malice, nor mistrust, still less a sour misanthropy, nor that gullible credulity which believes that there is good in every man..." p215

FB, Feb 21, 2014-'They wander on earth and live in heaven, and although they are weak, they protect the world; they taste of peace in the midst of turmoil; they are poor, and yet they have all they want. They stand in suffering and remain in joy, they appear dead to all outward sense and lead a life of faith within.
'When Christ, their life, shall be manifested, when once he appears in glory, they too will appear in glory with him as princes of the earth. They will reign and triumph with him, and adorn heaven as shining lights. There joy will be shared by all.' (C.F. Richter).
That is the Church of the elect, the Ecclesia, those who have been called out, the Body of Christ on earth, the followers and disciples of Jesus. -The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, p270-271
On March 8, 2014, we had our history presentation of the Great Depression and my son portrayed Dietrich Bonhoeffer. On FB I wrote-For the first time ever during a history presentation, someone rang the doorbell! Uh oh! Who could it be? I guessed our next door neighbor and it was! We stayed in character as I welcomed him to Chartwell House in Kent, England, and introduced Churchill's daughter (me), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (my son), and the daughter of FDR (my daughter). He's a great guy and played along without missing a beat. He told Mr. Bonhoeffer he had read his book, it was great and hoped to have it autographed. LOL (Our neighbor is a pastor.)

FB, March 27, 2014-Stayed up late last night and finished reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. This book is powerful because of the man who trusted in his powerful God. My son will finish reading this book this week too for his history studies. I've been powerfully influenced by Bonhoeffer over the years, without remembering specifically, because the churches I attend always reference him. Yesterday I was going through a Chuck Swindoll book and found a slip of paper I had tucked in from my church in San Antonio, Wayside Chapel...it was a prayer sheet for our military members which began with a quote by Bonhoeffer. It was this quote that I used to teach my young children to trust God if/when their dad would go to war (because at the time he was "in the bucket" to go to the Middle East. It was right after 9/11.) Bonhoeffer's words and influence are powerful.

"We must commit our loved ones wholly and unreservedly to God and leave them in His hands, transforming our anxiety for them into prayers on their behalf." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Tegel Prison, Berlin, Christmas Eve, 1941. 


From the Michael W. Smith fb post on Dec 6, 2014-
"A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent." —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Now there is a student edition available, also by Eric Metaxas.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hope for Sensory Integration Disorder?

Someone recently shared with me a concern for their toddler. Although beautiful and moving brilliantly along the checklist of development, there were a few key missing elements. As she shared her story my mind went back 21 years to my daughter's story. It sounded so similar.
There were so many things she could do, yet there were a few major things she couldn't do. Those few major setbacks overshadowed the positives. What was going on? After entering the world of physical therapy and speech therapy, and then giving birth to her baby brother, we entered a new world of occupational therapy. It was there that we began to have some answers, but even those answers led to deep, painful questions.
We found that the underlying answer to all of our therapy needs  was a diagnosis of Sensory Integration Disorder (SI) for both of my kids. Today it is also known as Sensory Processing Disorder. Even though the name has changed (and I stick to the name I know, SI), the symptoms are the same. Even though the children were happy children, there were those certain moments of intense meltdowns. Despite the great development in so many important areas, they were overshadowed by a few significant delays.
Why? Some of the description of what Sensory Integration Disorder is, is in my post, here.
How do we remediate it? Some of that story is in the same post, linked again here.
Is there hope? This is what the mother asked of me. This is the question I asked of the occupational therapist twenty years ago. This is the question I asked God while on my knees day by day as I prayed for direction, stamina, and hope. Today, I can happily say yes! There is hope!
Why did we not have a prognosis twenty years ago? Having SI was not even recognized until recent decades. A. Jean Ayres, PhD was a pioneer in understanding this neurological concern. She wrote the book, Sensory Integration and the Child, in 1979. Our occupational therapist lent the book to me when my children were first diagnosed.  I devoured the complex, collegiate text then asked the  OT lots of follow-up questions. Weekly on-the-job training during my kids' therapy sessions during the days of toddlerhood in north Texas was priceless.
My kids were released from all therapies by school age with the intent that I carry on the task of training at home, which I did. A few years later I purchased this copy of Sensory Integration and the Child at a Friends of the Library book sale for 10  cents shortly after we moved back to San Antonio! I was so glad to have this resource for reference to add to all the notes I took from toddler days. However, I am now glad to say there is now a more parent friendly book available. 

I discovered The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun: Activities for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder at the used bookstore when my kids were about junior high age. I snatched it up and love it!  It's everything I learned from the OT. In easy to read wording, it contains loads of helpful and fun activities, as well as explanations and tips. Key to this book is a resource list to occupational therapists around the nation on pages xvi-xviii. I highly recommend getting in touch with one near you. It is invaluable to have an expert at your side. Even more resources are located in the back.   


I honestly cannot stress these safe and fun activities enough! In a world that is succumbed with technology dumping on children, we have paid a price. It is more important to make technology less and activities more. There is a time and place for technology, but there should be far more time given to activities. =) I shall be blogging on this more. =)  However bit by bit, as I incorporated SI activities at home (which increases the weekly therapy session results in an exponential manner) melt downs became less, and development progress became more. It never happened over night, but I saw change grow steadily as long as I varied activities. It was as though the brain and nervous system got bored with the same-old activities. Whenever  things seemed to go stale (or in other words, I saw little progress) I changed things up activity-wise. As a result, my kids gained another step in their development. Also it laid a foundation for me to be more selective in what we did in homeschool time, in free time, even on vacation time. My blog is very much a reflection of all of this. 

Even so, something still seemed to be missing. By college years, we discovered the need for Vision Therapy. This seems to be the missing ingredient. It built on Sensory Integration with more fabulous and familiar activities that were kicked up a notch. When we met with our vision therapy office doctor, she gave me this book. This has more activities that can be done at home or school. However it cannot replace seeing an actual vision therapist who works with a doctor and special equipment during weekly sessions that cannot be done at home.  


For more ideas check my category labels Sensory Integration, Spatial Reasoning, and Vision Therapy under the Homeschooling section of my right side bar. I'll be adding more details in the future.