Thursday, April 26, 2012

Knitted Hand Towels

When I was growing up I used to get hand towels from my grandma for my hope chest.  I loved them!  When I was first married I would use them till they were faded.  I didn't want to part with them or throw them out until they were replaced by new ones.  Now over the years my grandma has made me several and I've been able to switch them out.

Every month I plan a girl's tea party/ craft day with my friends.  We have made so many fun things for our home.  The part I love about planning it, I normally choose the craft.  So of course I choose things I want to learn to make.  A couple months ago I asked my friend to teach us to knit hand towels on a loom.  

It was so easy and fun; I have since made 10 different hand towels!  This time I chose to make three different colored ones as gifts for my children's school teachers. The kids have a sink in the classroom and I thought they might appreciate a cute hand towel. 

I always let the kids choose a gift to give their teachers for the last day of school.  Normally we do a plant.  I thought this would be a fun change.  Can you believe it's already that time again?  Summer vacation is coming!

loom knitted hand towels

I start by cutting my hand towels in half and sewing a small seam, folded once. Whenever you dry your hands, you usually would grab just one piece of it so it's completely unnecessary to keep both sides to the towel. This way you get two towels for the price of one.



I don't know any special knitting or sewing terms so this is going to be said very simple. In fact, I will try to explain it best with my pictures.  This might be a bit like the blind leading the blind.  I am definitely no expert here.  Thread your craft needle and start by poking it through the backside of your towel. Make sure you also end with the yarn out the backside. This will matter more on a towel with a picture.



You want to start weaving your yarn in and out until you reach the other end.  I try to save as much yarn as possible so I don't cut my yarn off until I've completed the entire row.  Then you can play with it and make it fit better.  You will need to have extra yarn on both ends, long enough so that when you complete your towel you can tuck your strings in.  You can see from the picture about how much I leave on the right end.

loom knitted hand towels


Your next step is to slide the loops onto your loom. Make sure the pretty side of the towel faces out, and the backside with the strings in on the middle of the loom.

When I bought my loom it came in a set of 4 different sizes.  I always use the smallest, but I know all 4 will work the same. I wait until I get all the loops on and then I tie a knot as close to the towel as possible on each string.

Now you're ready to start your knitting. I tie my yarn onto the peg on the side of the loom before I do the first row.  I usually untie it after a couple rows.  It's too hard to keep it tied the entire time.


Once the yarn is tied on you can start winding the yarn around the pegs.  You start by winding behind the first peg, circle around it clockwise and move on to the next peg. Circle behind it clockwise and move on to the next peg.  You continue this until all your used pegs have been circled.


I found this to be very confusing when I was first learning.  I took a picture without the distraction of the towel to show you what this will look like.  Take notice of the first peg.


The part that looks like a continuous string will always be in the middle of your loom.  It should never appear on the outside. Just remember, if you're going clockwise around the loom, you will wrap it counter-clockwise around the peg.


For your hand towel you want to make sure you never do a full circle around the loom.  You can use all the pegs on your loom, however you don't work in a continuous circle.  I start by going counter-clockwise around my circle, and then once you make it to the end, your next row will be clockwise.


When you have completed your row, find the first peg.  This is not the one you just wrapped the yarn around. Using the loom pick, lift the bottom row of yarn over the top of the peg. Work your way counter-clockwise, just like you wrapped it counter-clockwise.


Once you have lifted the entire bottom row with your loom pick, you will take the yarn loop on last peg you touched, and gently with your fingers put it on top of the loop on the peg next to it. Each time you complete a row you will be shortening it by one peg until you get down to only 4 pegs.

Use your loom pick; lift the bottom row of yarn over the top of the yarn loop you just placed on top.


If you started going counter-clockwise, you will now be circling back around clockwise. You should always go the opposite way you just finished of your row.  Every time you switch directions you will wrap your yarn a different way.  The way I always remember it is when the yarn makes a continuous line it must be in the middle of the circle, not the outside like I have pictured below.


Keep alternating directions and continue to move the last peg until you make it down to four pegs.


Sometimes you will encounter the two lines of yarn bunching up on the outer edges. (Pictured above)  It can be hard to know where to put your loom pick to correctly lift the bottom yarn over the peg.  Somehow it gets moved to the back.  If you turn your loom around you can see the bottom row much clearer. (Pictured below)


It's up to you how many rows of 4 you want to continue making.  I don't have a set amount.  I do them until I feel like it will fold over the bar on my stove snugly.



It's very simple to finish it off.  You can now cut your yarn leaving about 8 inches on the end.  Remember you want to be able to tuck this in. Using your craft needle, beginning with the first peg closest to your yarn, run your needle through the loop on the peg, and gently lift off the peg.  Continue to do this for all 4 pegs. When you have all of them off of the loom, tie a knot as close as possible.


You're almost done!  You need to tuck in all of your yarn ends. It should be four of them.  It's very easy to do this if you thread it into your craft needle. All that is left now is sewing on a button.  The yarn is loose enough you can choose anywhere to button it into.  There was no need for a hole!


I found some really cute school buttons to add to my hand towels for the teachers!  I hope they like them!

loom knitted hand towels

I am so glad I learned to make these towels!  It's an easy project that you can finish very quickly.  I made all three during one movie with my son.

My grandmother's towels will always be special, but it sure is nice to have some backups on hand for when the others are getting ratty looking.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Italian Wall Lizards

For the past several months my children have been referring to the lizards that call our backyard their home, our pets. They've even named them. The one with the long tail is Gabriel's, Mr. M.  The one with the short tail is Geode, which belongs to Ariel.  I don't have pictures of our third lizard, Wall-E, who lives in a rock garden in front of our home.

I have been a little put on edge by them as I'm not fond of any animals or reptiles.I don't know if these lizards are the same ones, but we've been a home to this type of lizard for several years now. And they always choose the same part of our yard to live in.

I had to laugh when I read this on Wikipedia "Its natural habitats are Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation, rocky areas, rocky shores, sandy shores, rural gardens, pastureland, plantations and urban areas." They actually do live by the rocks in my yard, and on my patio.

The story behind these Italian Wall Lizards is quite fascinating.  Several years ago in the 1950s or 60s it is rumored that a pet store either released these lizards, or the lizards escaped. Whatever the purpose behind it, the lizards appear to be well established in my backyard some 50 years later.

Italian Wall Lizards

Italian Wall Lizards

Gabriel's lizard, Mr. M. lives in the back door of our home that we never use. The screen door doesn't seal completely, so we keep a towel in it to block the weather. I think he finds it quite cozy. This lizard is also really shy. He is very inquisitive, but holds back. You will commonly find him peeking his head out of the crack where the step meets the house. He will rarely show his entire body to us unless he's seeking refuge in between the two doors.

Italian Wall Lizards

Geode, the lizard with the tail that appears to be cut off or not fully grown is very friendly. He likes to come right up to you if you sit very still. The minute you move, he will run away. This has freaked me out on multiple occasions. 

When Zechariah or the kids play outside in the backyard, I love to join them by reading a book.  I normally will sit on the steps in front of our back doors.  However, the longer the lizards have lived with us, the more adventurous they seem to become.  I don't move around a lot, so periodically I find a lizard right at my feet or perching right behind me.  I have since taken to sitting on a chair.  I can ignore the rustle in the grass much better when I know I am elevated and don't have to worry that I might place a hand on top of a LIZARD.

Italian Wall Lizards

For all those people who complain that the city I live in is boring, we have intrigue and mystery all around us.  I have exotic lizards living in my backyard acting as pets to my children. 
How awesome is that?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sauerkraut Dip

It's time for another family favorite, sauerkraut dip. I know sauerkraut is a food not everyone can stand, but if you like it, you'll love this dip. When we're kickin' back and relaxing as a family, we love to have a pot of this simmering in the crockpot. It's a comfort food. I wish I could recommend this for your next party, but alas when we've tried to make it for our friends it gets passed over. Sauerkraut really is an acquired taste.

sauerkraut dip

 This has been a favorite for several years now. Every summer we spend a weekend visiting with Titus' grandparents, and they served us this dip one day. We loved it and had to have the recipe for our own.

Sauerkraut Dip


2 pkgs. 8 oz. cream cheese
1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 14.5 oz. can sauerkraut, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup (optional) The last few times I've actually forgotten to include this and it still has turned out great.
1 lb. hamburger, browned

 Put all your ingredients in crockpot and heat through till cheese is melted and hot. Serve with chips or crackers.

sauerkraut dip

Monday, April 16, 2012

Kids Say the Darndest Things

One of my very favorite places to eat lunch is at a Thai restaurant. They have the most amazing panang curry that I eat as often as I'm allowed. In fact, for the past few months, Titus and I have been trying to perfect our own recipe of panang curry, but haven't been successful enough to even compare it to this dish.

Zech really loves the restaurant due to the fact that he has made a friend there. He is constantly requesting that I take him out to Tuptim Thai. I'm not sure if it's the food he gets, or the attention that's given to him that makes the trip most enjoyable for him.

Every time we go, a lady there will spoil him. She's given him free appetizers, but most importantly she does origami. Today he received a big boat and a small boat. Each time she makes something for Zech she will require a thank you from him. This time was no different.

"What do you say?"

He thought about it for a while and responded, "That's great?!?" It almost came out like a question for him. He wasn't sure what she wanted.

Maybe I need to brush up on manners with Zechariah...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

In Weakness We Grow

It's time to get really personal here. It always amazes me how in tune I am with my children. When they are struggling with an issue, I always feel like I'm right there with them. Or maybe it's that they're right there with me. When God is dealing with us about something, we are ready to spot and convict others of the same thing.

There is absolute truth there!

For the past couple of months, I've been angry. I couldn't figure out what to do about it. It seemed that no matter how much I prayed, and tried to fix things on my own, the anger and bitterness was still there. I couldn't get away from it.

I struggle a lot with perfectionism, and I often push that onto others. One of the biggest pitfalls of this is the judgment that comes with it. I am so judgmental and I hate it. It's something I despise in myself, yet I fall into it so easily. Recently, I heard a comedienne speak. She said that Christians need t-shirts made, "Judge me. I'm judging you." I had to laugh because it's hurts that it's true sometimes. We figure out a certain area of our walk with God, and then we look down on others who haven't yet arrived. As if we ourselves have...

"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor." Matthew 7:1-5 (The Message)

About three weeks ago our pastor's sermon was titled, "Anger." I knew it was for me. I felt like he was reading my mail, or following the blogs that I chose to read. The day before his sermon I read a convicting post. I can't take things so personally. The only life I am completely responsible for is my own. I need to put all my focus on “working out my own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12) If I stand alone, then I stand alone with God. I am not the one who should convict others. That's the Holy Spirit's work.

My bitterness, judgment, and anger were all wrapped up into one messy package. I had forgotten how to enjoy my own life.

What do I do with my anger?
1.) Understand it's not a sin to be angry.
"You do well to be angry—but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge." Ephesians 4:26 (The Message)

2.) Know why you're angry.
*** The root of anger is always fear ***
What am I afraid of?

This one statement has helped me so much! I had never heard that fear was behind our anger. It is so true though! I have since looked at every situation and found that ultimately I was afraid of something.

I feel that this will be a life-changing revelation for me. I figured out my two biggest fears. The first one is with my children. I found that when I'm frustrated with my kids, it usually comes down to, "Maybe I'm not really a good mother after all."

And my second fear deals with others outside of my family, "Maybe I really don't matter to them."

It's amazing when you bring things into the light, how much easier it makes them to deal with. The fears get smaller when you recognize them for what they are. Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. When we know what the threat is, we can figure out how to combat it.

3.) What action do I need to take?
Don't react in your anger, but let your anger move you to action.
Anger is the fight part of you. It motivates you to change something or do something.

4.) Realize anger has a short shelf-life.
"Even legitimate anger left on the counter overnight turns into a maggot-infested attitude."
Ephesians 4:27 "Don't stay angry... Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life."

Over the past few weeks, I've learned a lot about anger in a hands on practical way. I've been amazed at how much easier it is to let go of it when you understand it.

My children have been along for the ride with me. I think anger is an attitude that other people latch onto. I've tried to talk about fear with them, but their minds don't yet seem capable of seeing those other emotions. All they can comprehend is the anger that's right in front of them.

I like to be creative in my discipline, and I was getting tired of taking away the computer and DS time. This week we had a blow up, and I wanted to deal with it in a more constructive way. I remember my mom requiring me to write papers on certain topics I was dealing with, and I thought this would be a good time to start with my children. They have written apology letters in the past, but this time I wanted them to write a research paper.

They had a few requirements for their paper. First, it needed to contain at least one example. The example could be anything, true or false. The example needed a solution that Jesus would agree with. The paper would be at least two hand written pages including two different Bible verses. They also needed to write about a goal they were making for themselves; something to help them grow and change for the better.

This project took several days to complete, and it came with much sweat and tears. Both kids handed in a sloppy copy that needed a few adjustments. I think we're all really happy with how they turned out, and I pray that the process allowed for some change in them to take place. That was my goal.


Anger
by Gabe

Have any problems with anger? Gabe has a problem. Lets help Gabe let go of his anger. One day Gabe was eatting a brownie. After he ate it his mother said clean up your crums. Gabe started to clean up his crums with his hands. His mother said with the vacume cleaner. Gabe lost his temper. Then his mother said sit on your bed. Gabe said Zech was the won who even made the crums. Then again his mother said sit on your bed. Then he walked up to Zech and said this is all your fault. Zech began to cry. Then Gabe stomped to his room. Do you think he should have done that to Zech? NO!

In Ephesians it sais don't let the sun go down on your anger while you give a foot to the devil.

Getting angry is not a sin. But letting your anger control you is a sin.

God also gets angry. Like when all the people in the world started worshiping Idoils. God gets mad a houl bunch. He got angry more than 75 times. But he still does not force people to do what he wants.

In Proverbs it sais He will die for his lack of desaplin. And stumble around in great stupitady. That actuly sounds pretie enbarising if your angry. Because it sais stumble around in great stupitady.

Gabes goal is to breath slowly intell he's not angry and figure out why he is angry.

And never ever forget to not hold on to your anger.


Gabriel worked really hard on the research part of his paper. He looked up many different verses and learned a lot about what the Bible had to say about anger. I taught him how to use BibleGateway, hence God got mad 75 times.
Together we made a poster for his wall that reminds him about the steps and goals he wants to take in getting rid of his anger. I found the information to be very practical and applicable to more than just children.
feeling angry helpful tips

Kindness

By: Ariel

This is why you should be kind. You should be kind because it makes people happy. And the Golden Rule is “Treat Others The Way You Want To Be Treated. When you don’t follow the Golden Rule it makes Jesus very upset. When you have the urge not to use kindness, think about the other person’s feelings. Here’s an example of not using kindness. We’re at my house and Gabes happily writing in his notebook. I walk over to him and kick him. Gabe yells “WHY DID YOU DO THAT”. Then mom walks in and I say “I didn’t do anything”. That’s not being kind and it’s also lying.

Another reason you should be kind is that being mean is a sin. In the bible God says” Love each other as I have loved you. The greatest love a person can show is to die for your friend. You are my friends if you do what I command John 15:12-14. That means be kind to people like God has been kind to you, and the biggest thing you can do for your friend is to die for your friend. That’s showing a lot of kindness for your friend.Heres an example of sort of dying for your friend. Someone at the playground is bullying kids. Then they start bullying Megan. I could say “Stop if you have to bully someone bully me “.

Here’s another bible verse Proverbs 11:17 A kind man benefits himself but a cruel man brings trouble on himself. That means that someone who is kind has good things come but a mean man gets bad things happen to him. Listen to this. We had just eaten spaghetti. Mom asks “Does anyone want to do the dishes. Ariel offers to them and she got paid a dollar because she offered to do them. If she didn’t offer to do them, she would have to do them tomorrow and not get paid.

Here are my goals. I’m going to try to not be mean to anyone for a whole month. When Gabe gets mean, just try to be nice. Jesus said when someone hits you turn the cheek so they can hit the other cheek Matthew 5:39. When I want to be mean I think about Valentine. If you don’t have a bird named Valentine think how the other person would feel. Think back to the golden rule “Treat others the way you want to be treated. Think about this, what if they said that to you. That is my report.


I am so glad that God doesn't leave us the way we are. I'm also glad He doesn't change us all at once. Imagine how overwhelming that would be? God is patient and kind, and does not give us more than we can handle. It is in our greatest weaknesses that we have the opportunity to exhibit the greatest growth and change. Thank you, God, I'm not the same person I was yesterday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Childlike Faith

Saturday was a very busy day in our household. We had things planned from morning until night. I spent my time driving Ariel and Zech to their appointments, while Titus took Gabe to soccer.

This wasn't an ordinary soccer game, first there were team pictures. The idea of this stressed me out a little, but I knew it was out of my control. I tried to make sure everything was at least in the dryer before I left the house, and the rest was up to my husband.

Gabe spent a bit of time looking for his shin guards. You can't play soccer without them; they are an absolute necessity. Titus informed him he wouldn't be allowed to play, but Gabe went ahead to the game anyways. I guess at this point my son was getting desperate. He prayed a prayer that might seem impossible, but to him it made sense.

"God, please help me find my shin guards. Let them just walk over to me."

I'm not sure if these words were uttered at home when he had a chance of finding them, or if it was while he was sitting on the sidelines of his game. This is one of those lessons that are hard to teach your child, but still you have to do it. Gabe knew his shin guards were lost on Thursday. He had three days to try to find them, however he didn't put much effort into it.

So now he sat, silently, crying on the edge of the game, not allowed to partake in the fun. Soccer has become a very large part of who he is. It has helped him to develop his social skills immensely, and it's worked on his coordination. For him to sit out must have been pure torture.

If you remember, I wasn't there. I was with my other two children. This is all secondhand knowledge. I was getting ready to walk out the door with Ariel, for her birthday party, when in walked Titus and Gabriel. Gabe's arms were filled with bags from Dick's Sporting Goods. I figured they must have taken a shopping spree after the game. I was wrong.

"It was all free. Some guy was giving it out."

This brought quite a bit of confusion for me. People don't walk around at the soccer field giving out bags of equipment. It's a nice thought. But that doesn't happen.

After some discussion, Gabe shared a wonderful story with me. Another dad on the team, saw Gabriel sitting on the sidelines, and decided to do something about it. He ran up to the sporting goods store, and made it back in time for Gabe to play the last quarter of the game. He bought Gabe a new set of shin guards, shoes, and a ball!

The most commendable part Gabe shared was how he said that simple prayer first, "God, please help me find my shin guards. Let them just walk over to me."

"I guess He used a person to bring them to me."

childlike faith shin guards
I love the way God loves on us. It blows me away. God has blessed Titus with a job that provides above and beyond what we could need or ask for. But God doesn't have to be confined to a box, or a set of guidelines on how He cares for us. He can bless us with a stranger's kindness. Yes, we could afford to get those items for Gabriel at any time, but how much would they have meant to him?

Now when my son sees his new cleats, or his new soccer ball, or the shin guards that walked over to him, he will see God's love and blessings. It was such a faith building opportunity for my son, and I am so thankful to that man for being willing to be a part of it. He spent a pretty penny on a boy he hardly knew. But he made a lasting impression.

God works in mysterious ways. And sometimes He just needs us to be willing to be those feet that walk something over to a little boy, or sometimes He needs us to step back and allow others to walk it over to us. We cannot be too proud to accept God's blessings in our lives. Not only did He provide those shins guards, but He went above and beyond with a new ball and cleats. Both were things that were not necessary, but they were very much desired.

The first season Gabe played soccer we told him he would need to try out the sport first to see if he enjoyed it. Then we would buy him the special shoes. We didn't want to invest a lot of money up front, if he was going to hate it. He loved it, and we forgot our promise of the cleats. He never asked for them again. We might have forgotten how much a new pair of shoes would mean to a little boy, but God didn't.

Gabe told the man in awe, "I've always wanted cleats."

Thank you, God, for loving my son!

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