Monday, December 20, 2010

A Good Ole Fashioned Cochon de Lait!

One of the perks of living out in the country and having lots of land is that you get to share it with family and friends without being crowded.  And, you can get away with doing things like roasting a whole pig in your backyard without your neighbors looking at you like you're weird...especially if you invite them over for dinner =)  So, a couple of weeks ago, we invited over a handful of Philip's cousins and their families, our neighbors, and had a good ole fashioned cochon de lait!

  Just so you know, according to the official Cochon de Lait Festival website (didn't you know there is a festival EVERY weekend some where in the great state of Louisiana?!), a cochon de lait is a  "suckling pig (or sucking pig ) is a young pig that has only fed on its mother's milk. The piglet is killed between the ages of two to six weeks, and traditionally it is roasted. The dish is usually reserved for special occasions."  

 The annual Cochon de Lait Festival is in Mansura, LA, the cochon de lait capital of the world!!  You should come down, chere, and pass a good time!  Everyone brought a dish, and we supplied the pig roasting equipment, an ice chest of beer (and lemonade and tea for the children and pregnant women), and coleslaw.  It was fantastic!  We had homemade macaroni, chips and dip, baked beans, breads, and desserts. 

the roasting apparatus

 Phil's Dad is from a family of twelve, and all of those twelve are married with children, so there are lots of cousins to go around!  It was really cool to see a very small handful of the 3rd generation of the LeBlanc clan playing together.  I'd try and give out numbers of grand-kids and great-grand-kids, but I'm sure I won't get the numbers straight....I do know that one of Phil's brothers is the 44th grand-child, because his Mom just told me yesterday when they came to celebrate an early Christmas, the birth of Luke, and that same brother's graduation from college.  So...that should give you some idea of how many great-grands there are...LOTS, and I'm sure there are many more to come!

gotta have the Cajun injector!  (this makes a pretty fabulous smoked chicken, too =)

getting the pig ready for roasting
around 5 hours later, we had roast pig
the 3 year old crowd =)
the 1 1/2 year old crowd =)
the big kids
oh how I LOVE this picture!
taking it off the fire
all cooked!
movie time!!
....and, done.

Little Thoughts

I haven't done a Little Thoughts post in awhile, and I have a bunch saved up to post, but this one was WAY too good to pass up...

 At the dinner table:
Natalie:  "wait...Mom, your water broke at the hospital?"
Me:  "uh...yes"
Natalie:  "but, I thought water bottles were did it break?"

Friday, December 17, 2010

Welcome to the World, Luke!

Our new baby has finally arrived!  We had a beautiful, healthy baby boy on Tuesday, December 14, at 9:52 p.m.  We named him Luke Anthony LeBlanc, he was 6 lbs. 14 oz, and 19.5 inches long (**I originally put that he was 16 lbs...SO not correct!  sorry...I just had a baby, please forgive the typo =).  And, he is just perfect!  I think we are all in love =)  The labor and delivery went very well, and VERY quickly!  It's always interesting to me how if you get around a group of mother's, especially if there is a pregnant one, the conversation inevitably turns to birth stories.  Mothers love a good birth story!  And, of course, I have a good one for each of mine.  Luke's went very well, and VERY quickly.  I had a doctor's appointment the morning he was born, and I was at 2 cm.  I left there thinking that I would have a baby by the weekend, but sure that it wouldn't be that night...little did I know!

Our first family photo with the new addition!

  I had a few contractions throughout the day, but nothing consistent and nothing I couldn't walk or talk through.  I spent the day doing what I normally do, and even worked on a few sewing projects.  I fixed dinner, but then told Phil I was boycotting the cleaning part.  I was feeling pretty tired and sore, so I went to lay down.  After that, I had a few contractions in a row, so at 7:51 I started timing them.  By 8:30, they were still there and were between 3-5 minutes apart, lasting between 30 seconds to a minute.  I told Phil it was time to go.  We called the neighbors to come sit with the kids, called my Mom to let her know, and started our 45 minute drive to the hospital at 8:45.  Phil managed to make it to the hospital in about 35 minutes, and I labored pretty well in the van.  Thank you, Lord, for the Rosary!  I don't think I've made it around a Rosary that quickly in a while...I'm sure I got at least 2 or so of them in.  It really helped keep me was very comforting, too.  I highly recommend the Rosary during childbirth.  Even if you just hold it.  Anyway, once we got to the hospital, my contractions kicked up a notch and all I could manage of the prayers was "Hail Mary", I turned the Rosary over to Phil and just focused on the task at hand.  

just after delivery
 Now, I don't know how your hospital works, but you can do something called 'pre-registering' at ours.  Supposedly it allows for you to go right up to the New Family Center and get in without having to do all kinds of paperwork.  I think I will never waste my time pre-registering again, because we had to fill out information at the Emergency entrance AND at the New Family Center.  This is NOT a fun task when you are about to deliver a baby.  Then, the nurse at the emergency room desk has the nerve to call the delivery ward and tell them "there's a woman here who *thinks* she's in labor"....oh man!

Finally, I just tell her my water broke and we just go up to where we need to be.  The fun really began when we actually got to the lobby of the New Family Center, because my water actually did the lobby...which means I had very little time before the baby was ready to be born.  But, of course, they go through all the requests for information and papers need to be signed by me...I try to tell them to call my doctor and fast, but they didn't listen.  I guess they just had to make sure I really was in labor before they called him.  In the end, the nurse and I did a good bit of yelling at each other...we each had our own idea of how things should proceed.  You know that saying about how "a drunk man's words are a sober man's thought"?  Well, I firmly believe that the same principle strongly applies to a woman in labor.  While I normally try to avoid confrontation as much as possible (almost to a fault), the same is not true when I am in labor.  I make my wants and needs known and no one is going to tell me otherwise.  And, what I wanted and needed was not in accordance with hospital protocol, so the nurse was not very cooperative with me.  By the end, she was literally yelling at me...who does that?!  Aren't we paying them for their services?!?'s one of my soap boxes.  Luckily I had Phil on my side...he just kept holding my hand, and telling me what a great job I was doing, which makes him the perfect husband/labor coach ever in my book =).

  I should note here that if you are having a baby without any medical intervention, you pretty much have to do what your body is telling you to do, and most of these nurses are used to having ladies who are under an epidural, which means they don't have to follow their body's cues quite as immediately.  

They wanted me to wait for my doctor to catch the baby, but I was having none of that.  Needless to say, my doctor was about 10 minutes too late, and from the time I started timing contractions to delivering Luke, it was exactly 2 hours and one minute. 

Luke and his Daddy =)
 So, despite the stress of dealing with hospital protocol and a nurse who was inconsiderate of my wishes, everything worked out in the end.  The baby and I did just great, and within 48 hours we were home and adjusting to life with 4 children =)  The kids are doing really well with him.  

she LOVES him!
 Natalie wants to hold him ALL.THE.TIME.!  Luckily, I'm the only one who can feed him; otherwise, I'd never get to hold my little guy!  But, I think Natalie will come in very handy for when I need to get a shower in ;).  Rachel was a bit skeptical at first, but after I finally got her to hold him for the first time, she didn't want to put him down either.  There is now a battle in the house among the females over who gets to hold the baby.

this was about as close as she would get at first
then she warmed up to him and realized how much fun it is to hold a new born =)
 Andrew really likes him, too, but it's obvious he doesn't have that same built in desire to hold him like the girls do.  It's interesting how that works, isn't it?  He looked over Luke for about 10 minutes, max, and then had better things to play punching bag with the gift balloons we got from Phil's office...

Granny helping them check out Luke
checking out the fingers and toes
moving on to better things =)
Well, I think there is a baby that needs to be fed somewhere around here.  Life with four is definitely more interesting and hectic than life with three, but I wouldn't change anything for the world!

the note Natalie wrote for us while we were in the hospital =)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Have You Had Your Holy Water today?

Did you know that "According to the Apostolic Constitutions, a document dating back well over 15 centuries, the use of Holy Water is attributed to a recommendation issued by St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist."*?  I once saw a friend of mine dip her hand into the Holy Water font at Mass, and then cross herself twice.  I asked her later why she did that, and she said it was because a drop of Holy Water had the power to release a soul from Purgatory into Heaven.  She said that the first time she crosses herself, it is to great Our Lord with the Sign of the Cross prayer, and the second time, she sends up a quick prayer like "Lord, release a soul to Heaven" while making the Sign of the Cross again.  Ever since then, I have taken up the same practice.  "Only in Purgatory can one understand ardently the poor souls longing for Holy Water.  If we desire to make a host of intercessors for ourselves,  let us try to realize now some of their yearnings, and never forget them at the Holy Water font.*"  That little bit of catechesis from my friend has given me a deeper love for and desire for the use of this particular sacramental.  How awesome is it that we have the capability, through God's grace, to help the souls in Purgatory with just a *single* drop of Holy Water!  If only my generosity could be greater for those souls!  So, when we made little Holy Water fonts at Natalie's December Little Flowers meeting last weekend, I was beyond excited!  I wanted to share what we did, because I thought it was such a precious little craft.  Basically, each girl received a small sponge square, a little glass votive holder, and some glitter stickers and jewels to decorate the votive holder with.  Once they were done decorating, the Moms were allowed to fill a small container with Holy Water, and then when we got home, we wet the sponge with Holy Water and put it in the votive holder.  Natalie and I decided to put hers on my teacher's desk, so that we could use it before school each day.  I really think these little fonts would make fantastic gifts for kids to make for their Catholic friends, Grandparents, Godparents, Dads to take to the office, etc.  Or, you could even make a few for around the house:  in bathrooms, night stands, mantels, laundry room...the possibilities are endless!  I especially like the sponge idea, because if you've ever used Holy Water in the home, you'll notice that it evaporates VERY quickly if you just pour some into a Holy Water font.  I have one that I inherited from my Grandmother when she passed away, and I have to say, I kind of gave up on keeping it filled, because I felt like I was wasting Holy Water it evaporated so quickly.  Now that I know this sponge thing works so well, I'm going to put one in my Grandmother's font for by the front door =).  

Here is what we did at our Little Flowers meeting.  I had Andrew with me this time, and he wanted to participate in the craft, so I let him decorate our Holy Water container =):

And, here is my font from my Grandmother...I just love this one!:

*quotes come from, and you can find other fun facts about Holy Water there, as well.

“I have found by experience that there is nothing from which the devils fly more quickly than from Holy Water.  They also fly from the Cross, but they return almost immediately.  Certainly, the power of Holy Water must be great; for my part, my soul feels particular comfort in taking it, and very generally a refreshment and interior delight which I cannot express.” ~St. Teresa of Avila.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord

(complete with fun quotes from Divine Intimacy!)

Advent and Christmas are probably by far my favorite Liturgical Season in the Church calendar.  I LOVE the music we sing at Mass, the beautiful decorations, teaching the kids the importance of waiting and preparing for the birth of Our Lord, and doing the Jesse Tree and Advent Wreath with the kids.  It always brings me back to a more consistent prayer life, and it just really warms my soul.  The only thing that ruins it is the immense stress that the commercialization of Christmas puts on this time of year.  While spiritually speaking, Advent and Christmas are the most joyful for me, all the outside stuff just raises my anxiety to levels that I hate.  So, every year I try to keep focus and not let the stress overwhelm me, but it's just so hard! 

"Sin made an insurmountable abyss between Man and God, and man groaned in the depths of the abyss, utterly incapable of rising from it."

As Advent always has a way of doing, it totally snuck (sneaked??) up on me this year!  You would think I would learn from years past, but of course I don't.  The first Sunday of Advent came, and I found myself sending Phil up into the attic at dinner time to pull out the Advent Wreath, candles, and Jesse Tree supplies.  "All I found was this", he says as he comes down from the attic holding nothing but a metal ring with holes. candles, no Jesse Tree garland, and no Jesse Tree ornaments.  "What happened to all those cool ornaments you made with the kids last year?", he asks.  (Why does he ask me these things?!  I know he knows me better than that.)  "I have no idea." is my reply.  Ok...fine...we'll skip the Advent candles tonight, and I have until December 1st to figure out the Jesse Tree ensemble...right on par with my procrastinating nature.

"To do what man could not do, to destroy sin and restore divine sonship to the human race, a Savior was promised."

So, it's the Monday after the First Sunday of Advent, and the kids and I are off to Dollar General to gather supplies (after we finish school, of course ;).  We pick out some cute garland to go around the wreath, a few new ornaments for the Christmas Tree (no, we have not gotten one just yet...Advent is about waiting, after all ;), and then we head over to the candle aisle.  All they have are white candles.  No problem!  I have a plan for just this incident.  I found it over at the Catholic Icing blog!!  I'm actually kind of excited, because painting with melted crayons sounds really fun!  So, we head home with our supplies, and get to work.
"God wants us 'all to be saved'; for this reason He gave us His Son, and with Him and through Him, all the means necessary for our salvation.  Therefore, if a soul is not saved, it alone will be responsible."

First, find a handful of purple and pink crayons, and peel them...6 year old little girls are amazing for this task =):

Different shades of purple are just fine.  I used a metal measuring cup to melt them in:

Melt the wax on the stove.  I wouldn't recommend swirling the cup around to mix the will probably spill onto the burner...just saying:
This next step is EXTREMELY crucial.  Have a toddler break one of your candles:

Now onto the fun part!  Put some wax paper down, and get ready to paint:

The nice thing about this project was that the crayon wax dried IMMEDIATELY, so it was not as messy as I expected it to be.  And, it made it easier to paint the entire candle in one sitting, without getting wax everywhere:

 All done with the purple candles!:

Repeat for the pink candle, and you're all set:

I realize these are not the most gorgeous and smooth candles you've ever seen, but it was perfect for the kids.  Sometimes, it's better for them to be able to be a part of things than to have things done perfectly.  

Here is our completed wreath, with the garland Natalie picked out.  I had trouble getting the lighting just right for a good picture, but you get the idea.  I also used a bit of play dough in the holes for the candles, because they were just a tad small for the hole...the dough helps keep the candles from wobbling too much:

 The candles are working out beautifully!  I may let them do this every year, just because it was fun and they really enjoyed it.  Tonight, we'll start on our Jesse Tree and Advent chain.  Post on that to come later.  Happy Advent everyone!!  

"'Christ has called the whole human race to the lofty heights of sanctity....  There are some who say that sanctity is not everyone's vocation; on the contrary, it is everyone's vocation, and all are called to it....  Jesus Christ has given Himself as an example for all to imitate.'"


Sunday, November 28, 2010

I can't say that I wasn't warned....

A couple of  Sundays ago, after Mass, we went out to lunch with a few other families from our parish.  Our priest came along, as well.  I think there were something like 20+ people, and the adults were far outnumbered here!  We went to an Indian buffet, which is really indifferent to this story, but it was SO good!  If you've never had authentic Indian food, you should...kind of spicy for the kids, though (and I have Cajun kids, so that's actually saying something).  Anyway, the restaurant pulled a few square tables together, and we were ready to get seated.  Since Rachel was in need of a high chair, that limited me to one of the end seats, since it was easiest to put the high chair at one of the corners of the table.  It ended up working out that I sat next to Father, with the high chair between us (he sat at the head of the table).  Now, while I didn't exactly knock everyone over to try and sit by the 'guest of honor', and I would have happily sat at the complete opposite end of the table, I will shamefully admit that my pride kicked in, and I did feel a tad privileged to get to sit next to him during the meal.  I should also mention that my pride was on a bit of a high from a comment that my OB doctor made to my neighbor about how well-behaved my kids were when we last went for a visit, so I was expecting quite a lovely performance out of them.  Before you start judging, wait...I do, in fact, get that 'lovely performance.'  And, I should clarify that the time my doctor was referring to was the time that my kids were only acting so well because they were under the bribery of Frosties, if they were capable of not making a single peep during said doctor's visit.  So, here we the restaurant...Father at the head of the table, then Rachel in her high chair, then me, then Andrew next to me.  Phil was several seats down (in the middle of the table, locked in by several people on each side of him), and Natalie was across the table, situated somewhere between Phil and me, next to her friends, but *just* out of ear shot of both Phil and me.  NEVER a good move...I don't know what we were thinking.  Actually, my pride was thinking, so that's what that was about.  Anyway, I should also mention that the chairs at this restaurant are darn near impossible to get out of without climbing out of them (I was on the side of the table that was against the wall, so there was no room to back the chair up so that I could properly get my 8 month pregnant self out).  That made for an interesting experience in and of itself.  It also meant that I had to climb out of that stupid chair every time I wanted to get more food (which added up to a total of about a million times, since it was easier for me to get out than Phil, since he was both in the middle and situated against the wall).  So, here we go...the fun really begins now.  Phil and I finally get all the kids situation with the blandest thing we can find on the buffet, which was this AWESOME jasmine rice and these tasty little fried potato thingies - no, not French fries - and, of course, the kids didn't really like anything we put on their plate...go figure).  For most of the meal, Natalie is fine...she's sitting down, happily chatting with her friends.  Rachel, however, doesn't really want to sit in her chair...she wants to climb out..."no, Rachel...SIT DOWN."  Then, she proceeds to bang on the table with a spoon (loudly).  I take that from her...she yells in response.  I calm her down, and she tries to feed Father her rice: "no, thank you, Rachel...he doesn't want your food."  Then she tries to give him a sip of her water.  Then she attempts to demand that I give her a knife O_o.  She also continuously tries to lift the table cloth...maybe to play peek-a-boo??...I have no idea.   She tries to climb out again, and yells to my strapping her in  *polite smile at Father*.  I'm sweating now.  In the meantime, Andrew is on the other side of me, complaining about his belly ache - after Mass, he ate somewhere around 2,467 of those little, white, powdered doughnuts they serve.  He reminds me about every 5 minutes that his belly hurts, and that he'd like some ice cream:  "no, you may NOT have ice, SIT STILL and be quiet!  Drink some'll help."  Then, Andrew starts getting upset because "is Natalie getting ice cream?  Because, if Natalie gets some,  I want some toooooo!"  Gah!  "no, Andrew, no ice cream for anyone!  Now, hush and sit still so your belly will feel better."  Then, he really lets me have it...he finally states, loudly (is there really any other way?!):  "I HAVE TO GO POO!"  As far as I know, Father didn't even hear him say that...and, if he did, he made no indication whatsoever that he did...the man is a saint, and gives phenomenal homilies on top of that!  I've actually already climbed gotten out of my chair 2 or 3 times to take Natalie to the bathroom (first to take off her stockings - they were itching...really bad! -, and once for her to actually use the facilities).  This is in addition to the multiple other times I get up to obtain food for myself or one of the kids various times throughout lunch.  PHEW!  Is this meal ever going to end?!  It's a good thing the food was excellent, otherwise it just would not have been worth it.  The whole time, something about 'not choosing the best seats at the table' keeps running through my mind.  By the end of the meal, Natalie begins to get restless, and is sitting UNDERNEATH the table!!!  Rachel is climbing all over my lap trying to bang her spoon on the table and feed Father her cup of water again.  Luckily, Andrew is just calmly sitting in his chair...or, maybe I made him go sit with Phil...I can't remember...oh wait, now I remember.  He's sitting at a completely different table than the one we are all at!  Please don't ask me how that happened.  On the plus side, I did get to learn a few nuggets of interesting details about Father's life during the course of lunch.  He's been a priest for around 32 years (I think...don't quote me on that exact number), and he went into the seminary right after high school.  He knew he wanted to become a priest when he was 17!  I just love that. I also learned that sometimes, that little thing called 'control' is *just* out of reach, no matter how much you want to grasp it.  I think this Advent, I will try and pray for a deeper trust in Christ, the ability to put into His hands those things that I can't control, and to joyfully accept those things that I can't force to happen the way I (aka my pride) prefer.

Like I said, I can't say that I wasn't warned:
"7 And he spoke a parable also to them that were invited, marking how they chose the first seats at the table, saying to them: 8 When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honourable than thou be invited by him: 9 And he that invited thee and him, come and say to thee, Give this man place: and then thou begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when thou art invited, go, sit down in the lowest place; that when he who invited thee, cometh, he may say to thee: Friend, go up higher. Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee. 11 Because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted."  Luke 14:7-11

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Few (too many!) New Projects

Lately, I've been on a bit of a project rampage.  Sewing, knitting, painting, and yes, even putting ear tags on our cows!  

I finally found some time this weekend to continue working on our curtains for the house.  We've been here almost a year, and the only ones that are 100% complete are the living room shades.  But, that's OK....instant gratification is over-rated ;)  Saturday, I managed to sew the second of the four curtain panels for our bedroom windows.  The valances have been done since last February, and I bought the material for the windows several months ago, but I just haven't had a free weekend to work on it since then.  They are looking really nice, even if I don't have any pictures to show for it yet.  Here is what the valence pattern looks like, though:  

The curtains for the bedroom match the darker shade of tan in the leaves (it's hard to see in the picture, though).  I also got the valence for one of the kitchen windows hung, but I still need to finish the curtains for the window to go with it.  Hopefully, it will all be done by the 2 year mark!
For Natalie's birthday, she received a couple of Barbie dolls.  Now, I'm not against the girls playing with Barbie dolls, but I am turned off by they way those dolls are dressed!  One of the dolls she got was a teacher Barbie with a little girl student, and a bunch of classroom stuff to go with them.  I LOVE that, because we home school, so it's cute to watch Natalie pretend to home school the little Barbie girl.  But, when the teacher doll came out of the package, she looked like this...


 I mean, what teacher actually wears this outfit to school?!  And, exactly what is Mattel trying to teach our daughters about how women should dress?!  I probably shouldn't be surprised, but still!  Anyway, while I appreciated the concept of the doll, the attire just had to go.  So, I thought:  "hey!  I've got a decent amount of scrap fabric laying around...I bet I could make some really cute Barbie clothes for her!"  How hard can it be, right?  Naturally, I hopped onto Google and set out for the perfect Barbie clothes tutorial.  It took some digging, but I managed to find it.  Then, I enlisted the help of my sister-in-law to make a few outfits for me (who is becoming quite the seamstress!), and voila!  Another project on my list of already too many =)  Today, I whipped up a new Barbie skirt and dress:

Ahh!  Much better:  now she is at least halfway on her way to looking less like a Victoria Secret model, and more like a fashionable, yet tastefully dressed teacher =)

 And, the partially finished still needs velcro in the back, and cap sleeves (the skirt needs velcro, too):
The tutorial I used for these cute little numbers come from a really neat craft blog called 'Craftiness is Not an Option'  She has some GREAT stuff on there.  You can click HERE for the link to the tutorials....the Barbie clothes are all the way at the bottom.  I did do a few things differently than what she recommends.  For example, you can see from my skirt picture, I made the waist band a bit thicker than hers, simply because my sewing skills are not that professional, so I needed the extra room for error.  She calls for the band to be 1.25" inches (before it is complete), but I cut it to 2".  And, I added length to the skirt...I did 5" instead of 3.5".  Also, instead of zig-zagging or serging all the edges of the fabric, I just sewed a narrow hem (turned the raw edge 1/4", then turned another 1/4" and sewed down) to give it the finished look.  I'm not good with the zig-zag stitch, and I don't have a serge machine.  That worked out quite nicely, but I had to add an extra 1/2" around for seam allowances.  I also sewed the darts on the bodice of the dress differently than she suggested.  For one thing, I had no idea what a dart was before looking at her pictures (except for those goofy things you throw at a target, that I can NEVER land in the bulls-eye!).  And for another, she has you sewing along side the pins, but that makes me *really* nervous...I've broken too many of my machine's needles by accidentally sewing over pins.  I know there is a way to do it without removing pins and without breaking the needle, but I don't know how.  So, what I did was pinned the bodice on Barbie, then marked where I wanted the darts to go with a pencil:

Then, I took the bodice off, made sure the markings were dark enough, and added a second set of markings about 1/8" to the outside of the first ones:

 Still with me??  Ok...then, I folded the fabric on one of the inside lines, and then sewed down the line that was marked on the outside of it.  Then, I repeated for the opposite dart.  After I sewed it, it looked like this:

front view:

Come to find out, in sewing, a dart is basically there to help shape the bodice of the learn something new everyday, I guess!  I'm not sure if that is technically correct, but it seemed to work.  It may even be way more complicated than using the pins like the tutorial said to, but it worked for me.  Also, I used a rotary cutter and rotary board to cut all my fabric to size...this made sure it was nice, straight, even, and that all the ends matched up properly.  That skirt is actually my second attempt...I didn't even take a picture of the first one.  When I went to sew the back of the skirt together, the lengths of the skirt completely didn't match up!  And, I tried to sew a snap on it, but I sewed one of them on the wrong side, and it just didn't work properly (please don't ask...).  I tried doing the zig-zag thing on the first skirt, but there were loose ends everywhere, and it looked sloppy.  Plus, it was too short.  Oh was fun to make, anyway, and it was a good test run =)

this photo also shows an example of the narrow hem I used in lieu of the zig-zag/serge technique:

Now, all I need to do is go to the fabric store and get some velcro to finish these pieces off!  I think I may get a batch of fat quarters to make some more outfits.  I have scraps, but it's not really little girl-ish stuff.  I'd like to try and make at least one of each of her items.  Ok...enough Barbie clothes talk!  I know I keep going on about it, but these were so fun to make!  I thought it would be difficult sewing all these little pieces of fabric, but it really wasn't that bad.  The hardest part was pinning the stuff together.  

Alright...on to the next project that I've had fun with recently.  Have you ever heard of 'Painting with a Twist' or 'Corks and Canvas'?  I'm not sure if those places are all around the country, or if they are just in our area, but I was invited to two birthday parties at these places.  Basically, it's a 2 or 3 hour acrylic painting class, and you can drink wine while you paint.  It's really fun to go with a group of girl-friends.  And, while I didn't have the wine, I did have fun painting, and I think I actually learned something!  They have all kinds of different paintings you can choose from, but the birthday girls picked out which paintings we did at the two classes I went to.  The first was Van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night.  It was supposed to look like this:

(I realize this isn't *exactly* like Van Gogh's, but it was the sample from the local artist who teaches the class, and it was very good).

When I got there, they gave me this:

And, by the time I left, it looked like this:

Now, keep in mind that I have absolutely NO artistic ability, whatsoever.  I know mine was not the best in the class, but I was pleased.  At the second class I went to, we did a Fleur de Lis with circles.  I didn't get a picture of the teacher's painting (which was really beautiful), but this was the blank canvas:

It's kind of hard to see, but this it has a Fleur de Lis outline on it:

And, this is how mine turned out:

Again, I claim no artistic ability.  So, masterpieces they are most certainly not, but it was a lot of fun making them!  If you ever get a chance to go to one of these classes, I really recommend them.  I think they would be fun no matter what your skill level at painting.  Here's a link to the website:  Corks and Canvas or Painting with a Twist.  I think it's the same franchise company, but don't quote me on that....

Ok, onto the last couple of projects I've been working on.  I've been really getting into knitting lately.  What I love about knitting, besides the therapeutic and relaxing aspect of it, is that I can pick it up for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, and then set it down and come back to it later.  You can't really do that with sewing...when I sew, I have to really make sure that I have a large block of time carved out where I know I won't be interrupted.  Knitting, on the other hand, can be stuffed in my bag to do while waiting for the doctor, or by the bed to work on while laying the kids down for a nap, or even brought outside while I watch the kids play.  I have a lot of different things I want to try and make with knitting, but I'm trying to exhibit self-control here!  Phil makes fun of me for having a bunch of different projects going, but I'm convinced it's normal...right???  Right now, I have 2 knitting projects I'm in the middle of.  One is a baby sweater for Rachel.  I've been working on this for probably 6 months now, and the back is finished, and I'm more than half-way done with the front.  The problem is, I think the yarn is the wrong gauge for the needles.  My stitches are way too tight, and the sweater is kind of stiff.  I think I want to rip it out and try something else with the yarn and properly gauged needles.  I'm also working on a baby blanket from this pattern.  I'm just about finished, so pictures to come soon!  It's a really cool pattern.  I also attempted a pair of leg warmers recently.  I didn't finish them, because I was just trying to figure out how to use double point needles.  Again, the needles were too small for the yarn, so the leg warmers came out really stiff, but they were super simple, cute, and didn't take long to make, either.  I want to make a set with the proper needles for the yarn.  Oh, and I finally finished my set of wool diaper covers that I was working on over the summer!  These are one of my favorite things to knit.  They take an afternoon to make, and the chunky yarn and big needles are fun to work with!  They have buttons on them and everything =)  Can't wait to try these out on the new baby!!!

And, last, but not least, the final project I participated in was to help Phil tag the cows.  Now that we have 9 cows in our herd, and will hopefully increase that number come springtime when a few of the females calve, Phil decided it was time to start tagging them, so we could keep track of who's who, and of what kind of care we give each one.  So, we got to really test out the new cow chute for the first time this weekend.  And let me tell you...I am no cattle farmer!  I'm really just along for the ride.  I love having cows in the yard, the beef they provide, and the milk they will soon provide (when we get our milk cow...hopefully this spring), BUT I really don't enjoy messing with them.  If Phil asks me to, or he needs a second person to help him out, I'll do it, but it is a sheer act of love, because quite frankly, those things intimidate me when they get within a certain distance of me...especially if there is no fence to keep them from charging at me.  Like I said, I love having them in the pasture, and the benefits of beef/milk cows, but up close and personal...I feel so vulnerable around them.  And, according to Phil, they can sense my fear, so that doesn't help.  We have a love/hate relationship, me and those cows =)  But, anyway, this weekend, Phil needed an extra hand, so I went out there and helped him get tags in the cows ears.  Although, I'm not sure how much help I really was...I think all I did was bother the cows (that whole fear sensing thing), and make weird faces while trying to hold the nose pincher things, so the cow would be still, while Phil pierced its ear.  Yes, that was my job...the nose clamp holder.  It was interesting.  I'm hoping that the more I'm around them, the more comfortable I'll get.  But, they stare at me funny!!  On the plus side, when I told Natalie that the way Daddy put the tags in the cows ear was the same way that girls get their ears pierced, she decided she doesn't want to do it anymore =)  Hopefully that will keep her at bay for a few more years...

 one of the calves, unhappily waiting for us to do what we have to do:

Phil demonstrating how I should hold her:

Success! picture of me in action.  Phil had to act quickly...I wasn't very good at holding the cows.  I was afraid of hurting her.  Go figure. 
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