Taking a summer break. See you in a couple of weeks.
I just wanted to make sure I give you all the right idea, after writing all about my summer scheduling. Let it be said for the record: we do not do every single thing every day. Some days everything goes swimmingly. Some days nothing gets done. Most days I hit most of the high points with the kids, but I'm chronically behind on housework. And I know from experience of past summers that I will stick to my plan more in the beginning of the summer than I will by the end.
Yes, housework is what has been suffering most. I try to schedule simple meals and keep up on laundry and dishes, and enlist the kids to help me, but even so, if you walk into our house, you will probably find toys everywhere, dirty dishes in the kitchen, and floors that desperately need sweeping and vacuuming (and mopping, because Pip likes to pour his own drinks). The garden needs weeding; the box of shoes has been dumped again because someone couldn't find a sandal; someone is mad at me; the garden is parched and overrun with weeds; I haven't made breakfast in weeks.
One thing I know from experience that I have to watch in the summer is my own sanity. In the summer, I miss my night out to orchestra every week (we take the summer off), and at the same time I get to see a lot more of my lovely children. I love them and take full responsibility for them and I'm glad they're home, but let's face it: things are a lot crazier around here when they're not in school all day. I try to take quiet time when I can, and sometimes my husband will put off other plans so I can take an evening off. I appreciate him so much.
In the end, life is good. I have three children who are happy and healthy and learning and growing, and they have parents who love them. Even if the balance in our home hangs a little too far toward the messy side sometimes, we live life here, and we're comfortable here, and we're happy here.
We're much happier when we get out of the house every day. I try to plan a good mix of fun and have-tos. Here is our schedule of activities outside the house:
- Monday: Library.
- Tuesday: Take a walk in the morning. Piano lessons. Ballet for Tiger Lily.
- Wednesday: Adventure day! The kids choose a fun activity, and they are excused from some of their regular tasks.
- Thursday: Grocery store day. The kids get to choose something fun to eat for lunch.
- Friday: Visit a park. French horn lessons for Red Chief (and the younger two get to tag along and run up and down the stairs in the music building, which they find surprisingly exciting).
- Saturday: I can't schedule Saturdays. They always happen differently.
- Sunday: Church.
We actually stick to this schedule pretty closely, although it's always subject to change if something out of the ordinary happens.
I make my kids do actual work every day during the summer. On top of their schoolwork and music practice, they have to keep their rooms clean. The rooms are a bigger thing than they should be. I am trying to train them to get their rooms 100% clean every day so they don't get out of hand, but some days I am impressed how fast they can get them out of hand.
They're also supposed to be doing household jobs every day, but I have to admit that I'm not as consistent about assigning those jobs as I should be. However, they do end up helping a lot, even informally: they help with Pip constantly, and do jobs when I ask them to (mostly dishes and picking up).
I cruelly force my kids to do schoolwork every day during the summer. I have had people ask before if my kids are homeschooled. I always take that as a compliment. They go to public school, but I can't help getting a little extra in during the summer. What's more, I sometimes assign them extra during the school year (like math facts practice!) if I think they need more work on something, and if there is time.
Here's what they're up to right now:
Red Chief (10)
- French horn
- Division workbook
- Writing workbook
- Typing practice
- Math facts: passed them all off through division, so he's excused
- Spanish on Duolingo (he picked this up to replace his math practice, and he's excited about it because he's planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country next year)
Tiger Lily (8)
Everyone knows Pip, and to know him is to love him. Frequently at church, we will pass by someone in the hall who greets Pip by name. I don't know some of these people, but they know him. He's hard not to notice: he's friendly, adorable, and loud. I don't know what the future holds for this little boy, but I can't wait to find out.
There was no keeping Pip away once he discovered the currants were ripe. I don't know how many he ate, but I enjoyed his gesture of taking out a bowl to collect them, since most of them went straight into his mouth.
I have made some freezer jam, but I need to pick again. I will share my recipe soon—so I can look it up when the currants ripen again next year!
Tiger Lily was baptized in all white, but not in this dress. The church lends out jumpsuits to make things easier for people. It is not strictly necessary to have a white dress, but most of the little girls around here get one when they're baptized, as a tradition, and Tiger Lily has been looking forward to getting one for years.
I think I already told you that I tried out one pattern and the bodice wouldn't go over her head. I have ceased to be disappointed about that because take two turned out so much better in the end than the first one would have, even if it would have fit over her head. (But if you're dying to know, I was going to make this pattern in white eyelet, with sleeves and no collar.)
I've wanted to try sewing up the Oliver + S Garden Party Dress ever since it came out several years ago. I needed a pattern I could rely on to work and not be frustrating with my limited amount of time, and I knew that this would be the one.
I have sewn a few things from Oliver + S before, and I am incredibly impressed by the clarity of their instructions. I find the instructions in mainstream sewing patterns to be frustrating, but Oliver + S patterns are always crystal clear. I used to be a technical writer, so perhaps that is why I have extra appreciation for the excellent, clear instructions and illustrations.
On top of that, sewing one of their patterns is almost like taking a class. No detail is missed; the seams are all finished; and I always learn something new.
Tiger Lily's dress (take two) went together beautifully. I used fabric left over from the construction of my mother-in-law's wedding dress (that would be from over 35 years ago!) for the main part of the dress. It was some kind of silky synthetic, I think. I lined the whole thing with a white top sheet I had sitting around (it was mine, but the bottom sheet wore out). The overskirt is lace fabric, which my mother-in-law picked up for me on sale years ago. To top it all off, I used thread from the sewing supplies I inherited from my grandmother.
I had never lined a dress before, but I remembered reading about an underlining technique a long time ago, so I did it that way, because I was daunted by the thought of sewing a separate lining. I don't think a separate lining would have worked well in this dress in any case.
I cut all the pattern pieces out of the wedding dress fabric (size 8 with size 12 length), then I cut everything (except facings and sleeves) out of the lining, then I cut the skirt pieces out of the lace. That was a lot of cutting!
Then I basted the lining (and overlay) pieces to the dress pieces. That was a lot of basting! The front skirt piece is cut out along with the bodice, so I had to trim the lace down to the waist. I was worried about it, but it worked out beautifully.
I worried a little about the hemming, because the construction of the dress would not allow me to do separate hems for the three layers of skirt. I ended up basting the three layers together at the bottom (more basting!) and turned it up and hemmed it all together. It worked out just fine.
Gathering the bodice with two layers of fabric was a little more difficult than it would have been with one, but it worked just fine.
Things I learned:
- Gathering with multiple rows of stitches works MUCH better and looks MUCH nicer than the hack I keep seeing on Pinterest where you zig-zag over a piece of yarn.
- Basting a line of stitches along a line where you want to iron something is much easier than measuring it as you iron.
- How to make a thread chain button loop. This is actually the one thing on the dress I need to redo: I made my loop too long and it won't stay closed. But now that I've made one, I know that it will only take a few minutes to make another.
- How to underline a garment.
And, just for fun, here is a picture of the last time Tiger Lily wore a white dress—for her baby blessing (I didn't make this one). Next up: her wedding! (But not for a very, very long time!)
Tiger Lily was baptized on Saturday. In our church, you can choose to be baptized starting when you're eight, and Tiger Lily jumped at the first opportunity. We are proud of her decision to follow in Christ's footsteps.
Her father performed the ordinance, and all of our family, her grandparents, and one cousin came for the big event.
Will share pictures of the dress tomorrow!