Peruvian Village Quilt

I'm partial to house quilts, so when I saw the Suburbs pattern by Allison Harris from Cluck Cluck Sew, I fell for it immediately. But instead of an American suburb, I wondered if I could instead create a Peruvian-inspired village and make something for Ben and Kristen to use in their new home. (Their wedding is in one week!)

Night in Ollantaytambo throw quilt

Kristen and I took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Peru back in September before she and Ben were engaged. Even then, though, I knew our days for such a mother-daughter trip were limited, which made it extra special. (You can read about our travels here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

Ollantaybambo is the Andean village that we made home for the bulk of our trip. We loved this ancient place which spills down a mountainside! Not all the houses in town were not quite as colorful as the ones in my quilt version, but some definitely leaned toward warm pastels. To guide my fabric selections for the quilt, I made an inspiration board with photos from our trip.

Here's the view we had from outside the apartment we stayed in.


Before we arrived in the Andes we had spent about 24 hours in Lima. Rather than take in typical tourist attractions in the capital city, we (mostly accidentally) lodged at a small Peruvian hotel off the beaten path in a commercial/residential area. From our hotel base, we took numerous walks in the surrounding neighborhoods filled with little parks, houses, and small shopping areas. It was lovely! Among other things, we were impressed with the beautiful, ornate garage doors on the houses. Clearly these doors were handcrafted, not picked up from the local Garages Doors Plus dealer!

Typical Lima house with beautiful door

As an homage to the Liman door artistry, I quilted a wide variety of designs on the village house doors.

It's hard to see, but this door has a wood grain pattern.

And because I hope Kristen and Ben will enjoy snuggling under this quilt, I backed it with cozy fleece. I quilted clouds in the sky area and a simple double loop pattern in the white space. Even in Atlanta, it will sometimes get cold enough to want something warm to wrap up with, right?

Graudation/ Wedding/ Mother's Day Mashup

With a passel of kids, it seems that major life events often come right on top of one another. Take this weekend, for example.

First, Peter graduated from IU's Kelley School of Business!

How wonderful to see God's grace in Peter's life these past four years! Somehow Peter managed a triple major (accounting, business analytics, and technology management) while working every semester. Peter also ran cross country and track with the IU Run Club and was active in our church's college group, ClearNote Campus Fellowship (CNCF.)

We are so thankful for God's faithfulness to Peter, helping this young man grow in godliness while gaining accounting skills and other business knowledge.

Peter will be moving to Minneapolis in July to join Target's accounting department. (P.S. If you have any recommendations for a good church in Minneapolis, please drop me a note! Peter's doing research, but we'd love some personal input.)

Events so often come in bunches! Sometimes it has been the strangeness of having joyful events as the same time as anxiety or even grief. Like when two of our kids graduated from college the same week a younger brother and their grandfather were hospitalized. Or the year when a family member took her life and a grandfather died in the busy days before a daughter's wedding

But this year, our other events of this mashup weekend were happy ones!

On Saturday, while Tim was at Peter's actual graduation, I was hosting a bridal shower for Kristen. (Peter wasn't originally going to go through the mass ceremony, as the important part for him was a business school ceremony the night before. Several of us were able to be at that more personal event.)

What joy to share this special time with ladies from our church who have known and loved Kristen through the years! Oldest sister, Kara, shared a wonderful devotional with biblical and practical advice about how to love your husband, forgive quickly, and serve as his helpmate.

And finally, because eight of our kids were here this weekend, they planned an early Mother's Day surprise. After the big events on Saturday were finished, Tim told me we were going for a walk on a trail in a neighboring town. I was tired! Still, I took him up on it without suspicion. He'd been asked, you see, to get me out of the house for a while.

And here's what I saw when we came home!

Seven gorgeous hanging flower baskets now fill all the slots on my porch!

I'm pretty sure our family isn't unique in having plenty of mashup times where so many different things take place at once, our heads are spinning. Most likely, you have those times as well. Though sometimes I'd like to slow the world down and take things one at a time, that's not what God has purposed for me. I'm so very thankful for His presence and grace for each day, no matter what that day brings.

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; 
He will never let the righteous be shaken.  
Psalm 55: 22 


Testing 1,2,3...

These are some of the rowdies who kept our schooldays lively.
Today these are my three college students.

Many states require homeschoolers to take standardized tests. Happily, Indiana is not one of those states. Nonetheless, for a variety of reasons, since our oldest was in first grade, every other spring we've chosen to have our 1st-8th grade children take some type of standardized test. We've used both the Stanford Achievement Test and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.

I've always dreaded testing years. When we had many children at home it was a logistical nightmare. Would we combine with several other families? Send the kids to a Christian school for testing? Test only our own children at home? (We've done all of these.) Somewhere along the way I became an official test administrator of both the Stanford and the Iowa test. And of course the big question - how to keep the little ones quiet and out of the way while I was administering tests to older siblings? (Answer: Grandparents!)

This year we're down to only one student needing to be tested, but almost accidentally, I stumbled on a painless way of testing! (Painless for me, at least. I'm not sure Ben would completely agree.) Oh, how I wish this had been available back when I had a houseful of rambunctious little people.  

What's this new method? Online testing, of course.

Brewer Testing Services offers a variety of test which can be taken either on paper or online. I chose to have Ben take the Stanford Achievement Test in the online format. The tests ran for three hours on each of two days. We picked the consecutive days and start time, and Mrs. Brewer, who holds a master's degree in Education in Curriculum and Instruction, administered the tests remotely. The whole process was flawless, and we received Ben's complete results in less than half an hour after he finished the final test.

The online test cost $40, which is about what it would have cost for me to administer the Iowa Test and send it in for grading.

PROS: Super easy to set up! Speedy turn-around on test results. Quick communication from the Brewers concerning any questions. Inexpensive. No requirements or training for parent. More time efficient than paper testing. Stanford Online is available for grades 3-8.

CONS: Some research suggests that children perform better on paper tests than on computer tests.

Spring Sewing

Spring flowers table runner

In May we'll be celebrating a wedding of a daughter (!) and the college graduation of a son! Much of my sewing time lately has gone to working on two surprises for those life-change events.

But who wants to work on two projects when she can squeeze in a couple more?

So, in between blocks for the two big projects, I've made a few spring-like little items to brighten our home.

The flower table runner is made from a slight alteration to this table topper from Cluck Cluck Sew.

But then, piecing those corners of the flowers left me with some extra half square triangles. Tiny half square triangles. So I decided to make a little fabric box. Those tend to come in handy for various things. It's the second time I've used this tutorial, and this time I made one change. In addition to using batting, I also adhered a thin layer of interfacing to both the outer basket and to the lining pieces. Voila! This little basket holds its shape so much better than the one I did before.

And finally, here's a larger basket I made. I planned to use at the rehearsal dinner for wedding #1, only to decide it wouldn't fit the bill after all. Instead, it has found its purpose as my devotions basket. In it goes my index card box with my prayer cards, my file of memory verse cards, and a small Bible. Most days I spend my prayer time in a little-used bedroom (she's away at college) where I have this view of one of our crop fields. (It's still too early for our farmer to have planted anything yet.)

This divided basket pattern is available from Noodlehead for $7. I've made a number of these for others, and I love this pattern! It works great to hold diapers and changing supplies, but it's versatile enough to work in many different situations. 

A Praying Mother

Several of my offspring, including my sweet new DIL,
threw a surprise birthday picnic for me this weekend!

Near the end of his life, the Old Testament prophet and judge Samuel spoke to his people. They had rebelliously asked God for a king, rejecting the Lord as their Ruler. Realizing some of the enormity of their sin, the people asked Samuel to pray for them. Here's how he responded:

Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.
Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.” (I Sam 12: 23-25)

I often remind myself of this passage which I think gives an example to fathers and mothers as well as other leaders. As a mother, two of my chief duties are to diligently instruct my sons and my daughters and to faithfully pray for them.

But do you ever wonder kind of impact your prayers and teaching are having? Do you sometimes grow weary in the hard work of mothering, especially in the work of spiritually training and praying for your children?

Tim Challies is currently writing a weekly series called "Christian Men and their Godly Mothers." He'll be posting a new article each Saturday. Start here with the introduction to the series.

Then read about Elizabeth Newton, a frail mother who died before her son was seven, yet left him with a spiritual legacy that lasted his lifetime.

Next you can read Amelia Taylor, mother of Hudson Taylor, who wrestled with God for the salvation of her wayward teenage son until God beautifully answered her prayers.

Even though I was familiar with these famous men, and to some extent their mothers, these stories  encouraged me. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!

A Good Thing! (Really, really good!)

A week ago we had the great joy of witnessing the marriage vows of our oldest son Andrew to his beloved bride, Esther. 

The wedding took place in east Texas, which is absolutely lovely at this time of the year! Arriving in Texas a few days before the wedding, we were able to take in a bit of Nacogdoches, including the beautiful arboretum and magnolia gardens at Esther's alma mater, Stephen F. Austin State University.

Eliza, Jenny, Laurel, and Annie (granddaughters)
Amanda, Ben, Faith, Peter, and Paul

Our trip was a whirlwind, but one filled with continual reasons to overflow with gratitude to God for His many blessings. We were so thankful to be able to meet Esther's family and her church family, and to spend those days surrounded by all our children and granddaughters.

Jonathan and Peter were two of Andrew's groomsmen

But the sweetest of all, of course, was the beautiful wedding. For his sermon text, Esther's pastor choose Proverbs 18:22 which says, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord." Tears began to flow because this is the verse I've been praying for years for Andrew. Andrew and Esther have waited many years for each other, and I can't begin to describe the joy it is to watch both of them delight in each other, thankful to the Lord for bringing them together. I don't think either one ever stopped smiling! 

Except when they were kissing...

Oh no! Don't look!

My very dear friends, Mary Lee, Rachel, and Beth braved the 14 hour drive to be at the wedding!

As Andrew and Esther left the church, we formed a double line to toss colored confetti. My children took advantage of this to send them off in style. 

Amanda and Paul were ready!

Andrew's groomsman and oldest friend, Nathan, made this priceless video of the send-off. He aptly calls it "Revenge of the Siblings." Kristen (in the blue dress at the end) will be getting married in two months, so we'll see if her exuberance in dousing the bridal couple was wise or not. ;)

More on Math Facts

I had to use a tutorial to figure out
how to sew linings on three
little flower girl dresses

Maybe you'd like to paint your bathroom cabinets, sew a baby quilt, or learn how to make one of those snazzy Nutella spiral breads. Most likely your first step will be to search Pinterest for a tutorial.

Not long ago I wrote an introductory post about learning math facts. As I mentioned, some kids master math facts almost effortlessly. But for others, more work is required - both from them, and from their parents and/or teachers.  What I've wanted to do for some time is write a tutorial for teaching these kids addition and multiplication facts.

But writing any kind of tutorial is time-consuming. And with the first part of 2017 filled with wedding preparations for two of our kids, free time has been in short supply.

Happily, I've found an excellent addition math facts tutorial written by Kate Snow, a homeschool mom who has a math ed background.   "Everything You Need to Know to Teach Your Child the Addition Facts" is the best explanation I've seen of an approach that introduces and teaches addition in a common-sense, logical manner.

More than any other strategy, pay attention to step 1 - "Break it Up." Instead of expecting your child to learn all the math facts at once, teach +1 and practice those facts. Then teach +2. Then work on numbers that add up to 10. And so on.

Here let me add a couple of tools that will augment this. Print out a blank addition table like this one. Fill out the chart - but color code the various sets of facts by writing the numbers with colored pencils or markers. For example, the +1 and +2 problems could be blue and the "adding to 10" facts could be red.

Then, mark the facts that your child has mastered by shading those facts in. If he already knows +1 and +2, let him shade over all those boxes. Phew! Instantly the amount of facts she needs to learn looks less daunting! Each time he conquers a new set of facts, color in the boxes.

Next, make a set of triangle flashcards - with a twist. The twist is that you will use the same color code for these facts as you used on the chart. As you use these cards to drill, they will remind your child of the strategy for solving. I used manilla file folders for a set of sturdy flashcards that stood up through many children. Here's one *tutorial* for making triangle flashcards for multiplication and division facts. (I prefer mine to have rounded edges instead of the sharp ones shown here.) Of course, addition/subtraction cards are made in the same way. Just remember to color code them.

Mrs. Snow has numerous other helpful articles and resources. Check our "A Parent's Guide to the Most Useful Addition Strategies."   You might want to sign up for Kate's weekly newsletter, too. If you do, you'll get these three articles:
Should I Change My Homeschool Math Curriculum?
What to do When Your Homeschooler HATES Math
How to Teach Your Kids to Read Math (and Be More Independent, Too!)

Hurray! Now I can continue working on getting my family ready for wedding #1 this weekend in Texas!