Why your kids need you (and only you)

Doubts about our abilities as mothers are totally normal…but completely unfounded.
Here’s why your kids need you as their mom!

Happy Friday, friends!  Life has been verrrrry interesting lately, what with this new baby around and the stress of figuring out how to manage and balance all of my mothering responsibilities.  Every big transition is like that, don’t you think?  Super crazy and overwhelming for a while, then you gradually settle into a routine and, for better or for worse, this becomes your new normal.

I’ve realized that anytime life throws us curveballs, lots of insecurities and doubts tend to come along with them.  Thoughts about what we’re messing up and about how the rest of our life may be adversely affected by these changes.  Having a new baby means less housework gets done, less time spent with the other kids, fewer opportunities to finish work projects and thoughts about whether or not we’re up for all the new responsibilities and stressors.

Being a mom of a big family means that I struggle with self-doubt and insecurities every. single. day.  I strongly believe that God called me to be a mom, to have all these kids, to homeschool them and to lead the life we live.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t constantly wonder about all the ways I’m failing every day.

Here’s the thing: your kids are your kids on purpose.  It’s no crapshoot that each family ends up together; all parents have personality traits, talents and abilities designed to help prepare their specific kids to become the best people they can be.  I know that sounds like a tall order to fill; personally it seems impossible that I could ever give all my children everything they need.

The important thing to remember is how little our kids actually need to thrive.  Yes, that’s right…how little.  They don’t need Pinterest parties or a mom in runway-worthy looks or even homecooked meals.  I know I’ve talked about this before, but when Luke and I got certified to become foster parents, we walked out of the training thinking about how we, and every single parent we know, are doing a pretty freaking stellar job.  We love our kids, we try to do right by them and we leave the rest up to God.

None of us knows exactly what sorts of trials we (or our children) will encounter in our lives.  But I really believe that we’ll be equipped to handle them because of the families we’ve been given.  Sure, our kids drive us crazy and our parents aren’t perfect – but we’re meant to be right where we are.

While our children don’t need picture perfect moms and dads, they do need parents who  love each other and their kids and who admit and apologize when they make mistakes.  They need parents who realize the blessings of being a parent and at least try to enjoy it now and then!  Parenthood ain’t for sissies…but I know each of us has what it takes to be GREAT at it!

DIY Girl’s Leotard

Make your little girl her own unique leotard, and save a ton of money while you’re at it, with this free pattern & tutorial!


I’m so excited about today’s DIY because it’s so cute, fun and functional!  My girls LOVE leotards, whether they’re jumping on the trampoline, doing gymnastics & dance classes or just dressing up.  The only problem is, if you want anything other than plain black, they’re ridiculously expensive!

After making swimsuits for the girls last year, I decided it couldn’t be all that hard to make my own leotards.  And turns out, it isn’t!  Really!  The best part is that you can give your little girl as much coverage as you’d like.
Read on for the full tutorial and free pattern!

NOTE: the pattern fits about a size 6, but scaling it up or down is not too difficult.  It’s designed for a little girl with a crotch-shoulder measurement of about 36″ (loop a measuring tape from one shoulder, down your model’s front, between her legs and up the back to the same shoulder).  You’ll just need to add or subtract inches from the center of the leotard in order to go up or down a few sizes.

If going up or down more than 2 sizes, you’ll also need to add/subtract a bit of length in the shoulder straps.  Performance fabric is super stretchy though, so it’s very forgiving!  You might try laying a swimsuit that fits your little girl on top of the pattern and seeing where you need to make adjustments.

You’ll need:

*Printed copy of the free pattern (download here – make sure your printer’s set to “do not scale” or “print at 100%” before printing! Overlap short edge of each page with the next without trimming & tape together)
*1/2 – 1 yard of performance lycra or spandex blend (i.e. swimsuit fabric) My favorite source for cute prints is The Fabric Fairy!
*1.5 – 2 yards clear elastic (like this kind)
*coordinating thread

STEP 1: Cut out the paper pattern and decide whether you want to do any color blocking or stripes.  For Kira’s leotard here, I  decided I wanted two diagonal stripes (black and pink) running across the front.  I drew the stripes where I wanted them on the pattern, then cut out a center panel of the pattern piece.

I cut out the top and bottom of the leotard front out of the floral fabric, and then used the center strips I cut out from the pattern to cut black and pink strips.  NOTE: you’ll always need to add a seam allowance (I used 1 cm) where you’ll be sewing these pieces together.  For example, I added an extra 1 cm to the top and bottom of both the pink and black stripes before cutting and sewing them to each other and then to the top and bottom floral pieces.

Also cut 1 leotard back and 1 gusset out of matching or coordinating fabric.

STEP 2: Sew front and back pieces, right sides together, along the shoulders and side seams, leaving the crotch unsewn for now.

STEP 3:  Sew gusset to inside front of leotard (wrong sides together), matching up one short end of gusset with raw edge of leotard front.  Sew along this short edge and both sides of gusset (leaving the other short end loose).  Then match up the leotard back and front crotch and sew, right sides together.

STEP 4: Here comes the only tricky part! Measure your model around her shoulders and upper thigh, where you want the edge of the leotard to sit.  Keep the measuring tape taut, but not too tight.  Then cut a piece of elastic about 2 cm SHORTER than this measurement, for all 4 openings (2 arms and 2 legs).  Do the same for the neckline, for a total of 5 pieces of elastic. Be sure to not mix them up!

STEP 5: Stitch the elastic to the edge of each opening using a zig zag stitch, stretching slightly as you go so that the elastic fits the opening.  I overlap it a teensy bit where the elastic edges meet.  (This is a good time to try leotard on your model and adjust opening if necessary!)
Then fold the raw edge under to hide the elastic and topstitch close to the fold, again using a zig zag stitch.  Repeat for all openings.

**If you have trouble getting any of the openings to fit correctly, you can also try basting the elastic in place and then trying it on your little one.  After you do it a couple times you’ll get the hang of it!

Voila!  Aren’t you so proud of your mad skills??  Now go whip up 3 more and make all the little girls in your life squeal with joy! (and save yourselve oodles of dough.)

DIY Girl’s Leotard

Make your little girl her own unique leotard, and save a ton of money while you're at it, with this ...
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Stashbuilder Box: Pinafore pattern hack

Jump on the pinafore-style dress bandwagon with this easy pattern hack! Have you guys heard about Stash Builder Box yet? ...
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Valentine’s Day Circle Dress

Apparently I just can't get enough hearts and red and pink this year!  Before we say good-bye to Valentine's Day ...
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Inserting a Zipper in the Infinite A-line Dress

Hate buttonholes?  Try installing a zipper in the Infinite A-line dress instead! Let's face it: even veteran sewists find themselves ...
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Loving the difficult child

Despite our best intentions as mothers, some kids go through really tough phases.  If you find yourself struggling to show love to a certain little one, you’re not alone!

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When I first became a mom, I remember just kind of assuming that not only did moms always love their kids, but they always liked being around them, no matter what!  It wasn’t until Liam became a naughty toddler that I saw just a glimpse of the other side of motherhood: the challenge of loving a difficult child.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, our family has had it pretty easy: no kids with special needs or major health issues, no diagnosed behavioral or mental health problems. And yet, I’ve found myself struggling to show love to some of my kids when they’ve exhibited less than lovable behavior.  That’s not an easy thing to admit as a mom…but if you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not alone!

After Liam’s naughty preschool years, my first real struggle with this came with our older twin, the fiery redheaded Vivian (in fact I often blame her spunkiness on that wild hair!).  She has pushed me beyond the limits of my patience more times than I can count.  She has a mind of her own and when determined, she simply cannot be convinced otherwise.  In fact, if she had been my first child, I might have seriously questioned my mothering abilities!

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Vivian’s now getting considerably more mature and easy to reason with- but she’s still a spicy little one. Finn has now become my more challenging child, and sometimes it just breaks my heart that I spend all day dealing with his outbursts instead of enjoying his cute face and personality.  

It’s also extremely frustrating to parent these difficult children in public. For example, I’ve learned that Finn’s meltdowns are best diffused with humor or distraction but when we’re out in public, I feel pressured to scold him when he acts naughty.  It’s a struggle to remain calm and collected when strangers are staring and judging you and your screaming child!

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In the end, I try to remember a few important things when I’m dealing with a child in a naughty phase:

1. Separating the child from the behavior is one of the most powerful ways of continuing to love our sweet kids, even when they’re driving us completely crazy.

Our kids are good people who sometimes struggle with bad behavior.  Just as our mistakes as adults don’t define us, kids are also allowed to throw fits and melt down without being classified as “bad”.

2.  Keeping my cool as a mom goes a long way in helping my children overcome their emotional outbursts.  When children are dealing with a lot of crazy emotions and frustrations, it’s important for their grown up to stay calm and rational (when anyone figures out how to do this while a toddler is kicking you and screaming he hates you, let me know, eh??).

3.  Showing more love is always helpful.  I know how hard it is to give compassion to a child who’s hurting others or pushing your buttons, but I believe this is what we all need the most!

Hang in there moms! And, next time you see another mom at the grocery store pushing a screaming child around in a cart with a maniacal look on her face, just give her a fist bump and maybe slip her kid some candy.

Stashbuilder Box: Pinafore pattern hack

Jump on the pinafore-style dress bandwagon with this easy pattern hack!

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Have you guys heard about Stash Builder Box yet?  It’s this amazing little monthly box full of adorable fabrics, cute sewing accessories and an on-trend quilt pattern.  The company that sells them then takes 20% from each purchase and uses the funds to create quilts to donate to all kinds of people in need!  Sewing for a cause?  Heck yeah!

I about died when I saw the fabrics I received in my October mega box (1 yard of each of 3 super cute prints).  They’re from Maureen Cracknell’s Nightfall collection and the entire lookbook makes me drool.  I think I’m gonna copy that quilt on the cover because it is beyond gorgeous.

I knew I wanted to make a dress for Mimi out of the fabrics and finally settled on this pinafore style.  It’s the CUTEST little summer dress, and perfect over a long sleeve top for winter!  I’ve been meaning to figure out a pinafore hack from my Infinite A-line Dress pattern so read on for the full tutorial.

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Girls and their dolls

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The holiday season is creeping up and I’m getting so excited!  I fully realize that we still have Halloween and Thanksgiving to get through but Costco’s decorations and toys were already out today so I couldn’t help it!

And if you’re in the market for gifts…everyone knows handmade is always better!  Have you guys seen See Kate Sew‘s new line of doll fabric and coordinating prints?  Seriously the cutest, most genius idea ever.  The dolls come pre-printed ON the the fabric, so all I had to do was cut them out, sew them together and stuff them!  My kids went crazy over them!

Click read more to see all the pics!

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Girls’ Skirt Tutorial Roundup!

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Are you seamstresses out there following along with Skirting the Issue over at Project Run & Play?  It’s a massive effort where sewists everywhere are encouraged to make new skirts for foster girls and donate them just in time for back to school.  Last year I invited several friends over to my house to sew up skirts and we had such a great time!

This year, I wanted to share some of my very favorite (easy!) skirt tutorials so that anyone else who wants to join the effort can feel confident enough to do so.  All these are perfect for beginners and advanced sewists alike!  Let’s get sewing!

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Girls’ Summer Basics by Thread Faction

GIVEAWAY CLOSED!  And our winner is…Diarodenaii!  Thanks for playing along, everyone!

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Hi guys! I’m excited to be part of Thread Faction’s Spring/Summer 2016 blog tour today! I already own and love one of Liz’s patterns (remember these cozy joggers?) so I was excited to sew up a few of her current patterns for little girls.
Thread Faction SS2016 Blog Tour

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Juliet’s look here is made up of tank #104 and skirt #106…and I love them both!  This is my first time putting binding on a tank like this and, while my skills could use some work, I think it sure turned out cute!  And the skirt, with attached shorts underneath is just perfect for active little girls.  I hate having to remind my girls to put on an extra pair of shorts to cover those little bums…with these they don’t have to!  Plus, the tank pattern offers lots of inspiration for colorblocking which is my absolute FAVE design element.

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Kira’s wearing dress #108 and it’s so flirty and darling!  In fact I couldn’t decide between making this one, the tank dress (#107) or the romper (#110).   They’re all just perfect for hot summer days.  My girls are pretty minimalistic when it comes to dressing themselves…while they love to prance around in fancy dressups for play, they stick to the same simple outfits when getting dressed in the mornings.  These creations are sure to see lots of wear!  (In fact, one wild little curly-haired munchkin reeeeeally wanted to model this dress instead of letting her sister do it, but she wasn’t being very cooperative and got left behind.  She might never forgive me for it!)

To check out the other amazing bloggers on the tour and their creations, click on the links below!

26/5 Nap Time Creations  * Miss Castelinhos * Swoodsen Says * Needles to say

27/5 Made By Sara * Sew Not Perfect * Hello Holli * Whisk ’em

28/5 House of Estrela * Made By Amanda Rose * Max California Brave Fabrics

29/5 Create 3.5 * Bless by Tone * The College Seamstress

30/5 Ma Me Mi Mo * Paisley Roots Skirt Fixation

31/5 Sew Very * Rebel and Malice * Call Ajaire

1/6 Better Dressed Child * Buzzmills * Handmade Frenzy

2/6 Lamb and ewe crafts * All Things Beautiful * Pen, Seb & Rox

 

Lastly, Thread Faction is having a hue giveaway over on their blog!  Head over HERE to check it out and to enter.    Can we get a shout-out for free fabric?!?

Thread Faction SS2016 Blog Tour Sponsors

Liz has also graciously offered a free pattern of your choice to one lucky Whisk ‘Em blog reader here!

Just click the rafflecopter giveaway link below.  But if you can’t wait, you can purchase any of the patterns HERE!
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Girls’ Summer Sewing: Skorts Edition!

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I’m contributing over on the Project Run and Play blog today, talking all about skorts!  Head on over to the post HERE for more pics and some breezy summer sewing inspiration!

 

Easter & Pattern Updates!

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I apologize ahead of time for the ridiculous onslaught of pictures in this post.  Prepare to be bombarded.

Here are all our Easter pics plus more shots of and details about the updated Infinite A-line Dress Pattern!  Check them out!  (Click Read More)

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Valentine’s Day Circle Dress

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Apparently I just can’t get enough hearts and red and pink this year!  Before we say good-bye to Valentine’s Day for good, I had to share this fun little circle dress I made for my girls a couple years ago.  I made one for Juliet and 2 for the twins back then, and sadly this size 4 version is the only remaining dress that fits anyone.

I can’t wait for Marilyn to fit into one next year – it’s one of my favorite little girl projects ever!

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