Monday, March 26, 2012

"Willow and Plum Chrysanthemum": A Skirting

A little sneak peek at one of the things being auctioned off at the Love Without Boundaries Art Auction April 12-17th!!!

Willow and Plum Chrysanthemum--Twirly Girl Skirt by Ruffled Feathers Company

This hand-tailored skirt is 100% prewashed cotton and made of gorgeous Asian inspired fabrics.
Sewn with over 80 inches of fabric comprising its width, this skirt is super full for exceptional twirling! 
An adorable apron adorns the front of the skirt for added girlyness attached by four beautiful coordinating buttons. 
The waistband is elastic and features button-hole elastic at one end that neatly fastens to a hidden button on the inside of the waist allowing for it to be adjusted to even smaller waist sizes if needed. (Perfect for adoption trips when you aren't exactly sure of a waist size!)
Exact Measurements: Length of the skirt is 12 1/4" from waist to hem. (Equal to a size 4T, although it could be worn as a longer skirt by a smaller girl or as a shorter skirt by a taller girl when paired with leggings.)
The elastic waist is nicely generous in its stretch. Unstretched at the largest button it is 19 inches. Buttoned at the smallest button unstretched it is 16 inches.

LWB welcomes your donations for the upcoming “Born in My Heart” auction! This spring’s “Born in My Heart” auction will feature fine art and handmade items. If you have an item to donate that isn’t “fine art” or “handmade”, please send it anyway. Items that aren’t listed in the “Born in My Heart” auction will be listed in a future, focused auction to benefit specific children or to fund a medical surgery trip.

If you have questions about items to donate, please contact Debbie at

Auction deadline is April 1st.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Colorizing Our World

I'm an artist.
And we've been living in our house for ... mmmm ... just about TWELVE YEARS ... and the walls are STILL pretty much all white!
(minus the little hand prints and truck dent marks)

It's like living in an empty coloring book.
A bit ... frustrating!

The thing is, I have a hard time committing to any one tiny paint swatch color ... and I made a bad choice the first time around when the color clashed with the wood tone of our trim. BUMMER! So the paint swatches pile up on the counters and ultimately in drawers as I waffle. (I might be able to wallpaper with the number I have. It's shameful I will admit.) And really ... with three boys and not a lot of family close by to babysit them, I just haven't had a lot of extra time (or energy) to paint walls. (although as I think back, I tend to always paint them when they are ALL home, go figure. Maybe they entertain each other better that way? Maybe it's dumb luck. Whatever, it's gone okay.

So far I've painted:
• two bathrooms 2007 (didn't like either color! Total BUMMER!)
• one wall of the dining room 2009 (the color was such a slight cream you can barely tell a difference from the white, {sigh})
• one wall in our bedroom 2010 (loved the color! Finally success!)
• the entry wall and stairway 2011(loved the color!) 
• stairway to the basement 2011 (loved the color!) 
• the boys' room 2011(although they want a sport team stripe yet)
AND NOW, the kitchen and dining room 2012!

Let me know what you think ... I'm not sure how true your monitor will be with the color, but it's a rich deep red tone called "Red Rebellion." Quite fitting ... and funny thing is I've wanted a red wall in my kitchen FOREVER ... and it wasn't until we updated our dining tableware (see earlier post) that I talked my husband into it ...
(He loves it btw.)  ;-0



Dining Room DETAIL with a few more things back in place
(that's vinyl lettering on the left that I design and sell by the way)


Kitchen--After (Not sure if the greenery is staying)
(sorry about the nasty flash reflection)
Kitchen--After (without the greenery)

One of my favorite parts of the kitchen is the little cream colored "HOPE in the Lord" tin-sign that I found on clearance the day I bought the new dinnerware! (The easel needs to be a smidge higher to cover the outlet and to be a bit more steady ...  But it'll do for now.)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Freedom of JOY

I don't often shop ... seriously ... I'm the mom of 3 boys and I always have at least one in tow if not all three.
Boys do not like to shop.
At least not for what I like to shop for. Take them to a hockey shop or a sporting goods store or to S@m's on a free-sample day and I'm sure it'd be a different story.
But a gray day several weeks back I needed to finally return some Christmas items that went unused to the store before it got any later into the New Year and it seemed like it would be good to get out of the house, even if it did mean the hassle of packing a PBJ sandwich for lunch (I'm cheap) for Nolan and myself and most likely a missed nap and a stretched patience (on Nolan's part most likely! Poor boy) and just some general hassle.

I promised him that it wouldn't be a marathon trip to town like it is so many times doing as many errands as possible to conserve gas and make the most of the miles and time and if he were a pal I'd get him a little something to reward him. (simple bribery.)

When we arrived at the store, I had to walk past the little children's section to get to the returns counter and I could not help noticing all the beautiful Spring dresses for little girls.
I think I maybe had even said out loud under my breath, "I wish I had someone to buy a Spring dress for."

And this little voice whispered, "Why don't you? You really can't think of any little girl who might enjoy a dress? Don't think of what you DON'T have ... think of what you DO. You have the ability and freedom to bless whomever you'd like. Enjoy this freedom!"

Oh my. This "little whisper" I've felt before and it was so right. (And I'm not hearing voices folks, so don't get concerned. It's more something in the heart.) Did I need someone who had the same last name in order to buy a dress? I think not.
And I'm sharing this not to pat myself on the back, but to share what JOY it has brought me and I am waiting in such happy hope that the little one that immediately came to mind with that little voice's nudging is just as thrilled. Maybe this little post will even inspire you to enjoy your freedom in new JOY.

And dog-gone-it, I found another dress that just swelled my heart for another little one too ... and it was on SALE--Double Happiness. :-)
And Nolan did get a super-duper-reward for being so good btw. A nice LOUD ambulance toy. :-)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Look Into My Heart

My scheduled echocardiogram and treadmill stress test were yesterday ... and my paperwork said that they would measure to see how big my heart was as well as look at all the structures and arteries.

How very cool!

I mean, what a promise ... they could really TELL me how big my heart was?! And could they possibly see all that fills it?

Well ... of course they didn't reveal any results from the tests until the Doctor has had a chance to review them :-( 
 And I wonder what kind of real feedback I'll get unless there is a problem. They probably weren't talking about the capacity of love that could fill my heart, eh? Oh well.

They DID confirm that my heart was NOT two sizes too small as in the case of The Grinch (and apparently there really is a heart condition, especially found in women, called "Grinch Disease" where the heart is too small! And here I was just kidding when I asked! Who knew?!)
The Grinch, a bitter, cave-dwelling creature with a heart "two sizes too small", lives on snowy Mount Crumpit, a steep, 3,000-foot (910 m) high mountain just north ofWhoville, home of the merry and warm-hearted Whos. 

But I don't think it grew 3 sizes overnight like Mr. Grinch's either. 

I'm just not sure what to make of this cardiac journey and why the ski trip was such an intense magnification of these pesky symptoms that in retrospect I've had pop up now and again for years in smaller intensity. I'd like to think that God has a specific and good plan for it just packed full of blessings, but then again maybe I just need to be aware of my overall fitness and health. (I'm going to hold out hope for the former packed full of blessings-wink~!)

It was pretty crazy to SEE my own heart beating, valves opening and closing, red and blue areas of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood filling chambers right in front of me. And although it wasn't quite as cool as watching a tiny baby in an OB ultrasound it still left me in unanticipated awe and wonder.

God is just so cool in how intricately we are designed right down to the pump that runs our bodies. I almost felt a bit like I was seeing something so private that I should look away. Like it should be something secret and hidden. It certainly took the many years of biology classes and instantly brought them right to the front of my brain in a rush as I tried to make out the fuzzy echocardiogram images while trying to make sense of what I was seeing while also trying to understand if it was good or bad. (This is NOT my actual echo btw.) And it is a far stretch to even begin to think I could understand these images.
One thing I do know for certain ... I have had a lot of unresolved thoughts on my father's early heart attacks (the first when he was 37 and I was only 4 years old!), the fact that he died one day before his rescheduled stress test a few months before our wedding (over 25 years later than his first btw, what a gift of a lifetime that was! Thank you God!) and my own fears of what may lie secretly in the structure of my own heart. I guess I'm being forced to look at these things and in the process realize that the heart is magnificent in its design and the Cardiology Dept. is not something to be feared ... in fact I am in awe of the incredible services available to us right here in our area. 
Just amazing.
I'm kinda wishing I would have studied this in college--what a gift it would be to have that knowledge and skill to help others.)
So maybe God is growing my heart ... or at least growing my familiarity with it and shrinking my fear of it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Day

Things are kinda slow and boring here. I could upload a random photo, like how Brayden and Easton dressed totally alike today, but it's been a bit gray around here and I'm kinda lazy.

The sun is just making it's way through the fog this morning and it promises to be a bit of a change from the grayness and will be an unprecedented 70+ degrees today in these parts. (and through the weekend!)  **TOTALLY looking forward to that.**
But instead of waiting for those great sunshine photos I thought I'd post an email I typed to my husband yesterday. I don't want to loose the last 5 readers that still frequent my blog by continuing in blog silence ya know.

Just a snippet of where I'm at:

Subject: my day
From: Valerie
Date: March 12, 2012 1:54:43 PM CDT
To: Jeff

When I pulled the 5 pair of ski pants out of the washer this morning and saw that someone had failed to remove ONE stinkin' ski lift tag and that it was shredded ALL over the wash to the amount that I considered it MIGHT have been a misplaced diaper, but that it wasn't because I could still see the Copper Mtn. logo in the debris, I didn't think the day would continue downhill.

not so.

I went to find Brayden's summer clothes in the basement knowing 

that tomorrow being 70+degrees he will pitch a fit if he doesn't have shorts ...
I had to unstack the entire wall of unlabeled totes that you stacked to the ceiling yesterday to find that the tote of winter stuff and ski stuff was still mixed together right along with travel medications AND the video camera.
But while digging still deeper under the 5+ (I kid you not) totes of hunting things that for some reason were on TOP of everything (didn't hunting season end months ago?), four or five of them fell on me, and I'm not talking slowly or individually but all at once.
I escaped serious physical injury in case you are worried, although pyschologically, I will forever fear totes stacked more than 3 high.

When I did locate Brayden's summer clothes they were mixed in with mine from when the pipe to the water filter in the fridge broke and I threw them in there in a crazy fit to salvage anything I could in the 2 nanoseconds I had in the deluge flowing from our ceiling. And just when I began sorting them Nolan announced that he was "poo-pie."

Understatement of the decade.

The four to six CUPS of liquid poop that made his big boy underwear sag literally past his knees was beyond me even attempting to save them. I have never thrown a pair of little boy underwear away because of poop until today ... but this was somewhere beyond catastrophic. I'm not even sure how he created so much poop. Quite honestly, in retrospect it was like a scene from the movie, "RV," the color and consistency ... everything ... except there was no laughing.

And here I thought the challenge of the day would be me asking you if the new child we should sponsor next should be through New Day or An Orphan's Wish.
That's small peanuts to everything else I've started today. If I didn't know better I'd think someone/something was trying to keep me from bringing it up to you.
Dang Satan.

Hope your day is going better than mine.
I am going through the now labeled totes to get rid of redundant and worn out clothing. We'll be down to 5 totes of hunting stuff, 3 totes of Christmas and 1 tote of hand-me-downs, not to mention 1 tote of summer stuff and 1 tote of winter clothes/ski stuff.


Jeff happened to get this on his phone (downside of technology, but serves him right for having that blasted blueberry phone with email access all the time) while in a Staff Meeting at work and he could not stifle his laughter. Hopefully he wasn't rolling on the floor in tears.)
So glad I made his day. And I'm SO looking forward to something a little less "eventful" today!
Hope the peek into my yesterday gave you a giggle too.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy Endings-LWB bibs

In April Love Without Boundaries will be hosting its Annual Art Auction (I'll be sure to post more about that later) AND they will also be having its Spring Cleft Lip Surgery Trip.

Top surgeons from here in the US will travel to China to help repair the cleft lips for so MANY children. They will also be teaching the latest techniques to the surgeons there so their work can go forward exponentially even after they leave! Recently one of the organizers for this surgery trip put a request out on FB asking for bibs from anyone who might be interested in sewing and donating them.

Speediness is NOT my forte as she asked in JANUARY and it's already MARCH, but I am happy to say that today we are boxing up 12 special bibs and look forward to knowing that their bright colors and prints might bring a little joy to a little one half way around the world. AND maybe just maybe Shannon (the little one who we are sponsoring) might be one of those little ones sporting one of our creations! (fingers crossed)

Nolan, Easton and Brayden each with the bib that THEY chose the fabric for AND sewed! (YES, they sewed their own bibs ... with a little help...) but lest you think they are becoming homemakers ... it started as a bit of a "redirection" (punishment?) from being OVERLY rambunctious on a no-school day. HA!) But in the end? They were SO proud of their work and I am so excited to have them follow up on the Cleft Lip Surgery Trip story. Who knows how God might use this opportunity in their hearts?

Nolan chose fish and bubbles, Easton chose hockey and Brayden chose a John Deere tractor. (Of course they felt that the BOYS getting surgeries should have BOY bibs!)

Take a look, using the end pieces (The Happy Endings) from many of the skirts and dresses that I have made recently, we pieced together 12 bibs. Maybe you'll recognize a fabric from a project you ordered??!!
(I guess I have one more bib to create to make all 12!)

 And of course there is always room for silliness--here are my little "babies." 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Matters of the Heart--Mine

When I was in college I loved to dance.
We also had a "quote wall" around our dorm room door ... and one of my favorite quotes was, "If you don't feel like you have rhythm, put your hand over your heart to feel the beat and dance!"

Well, I've got plenty of rhythm. In fact too much at times.

My Cardiology Appt. on Friday left me sitting in the beautifully serene waiting room at 8am (first appointment of the day), with calming music playing, water falls burbling, and my heart racing and pounding wildly wondering how I would walk out of the appt.--feeling silly about being there or devastated and even more worried?!
(If I were a cartoon, I'm SURE my heart would have literally been pounding OUT of my chest.)

I sat and read a magazine article about the Tao-te Ching, which I happened to study some in grad-school. It was strange to bump into that of all things there in the waiting room after years of not reading or thinking about it. The quote that caught my eye was, "No arc rises forever ..."
Oh my ... not the calming words I was searching for at that very moment.

Perhaps this only underscored the fact that I'm a worrier.
A "think-through-it-practice-it-over-in-your-head-a-million-times-so-you-say-the-right-thing, do-the-right thing-worrier." Or as my own mom nailed it (mom's SO know these things) "A closet-type A person with overtones of perfectionism" edged with doubt and pleasing that usually leads to not pushing for exactly what I am aiming for and then disappointment." Lovely, eh? I am still a nice person, really!

Well, the Cardiologist confirmed a few things. It is NOT my imagination that things are not exactly how they should be.
However, my heart is not missing a beat, it is actually adding beats, and not just when I'm resting which is what I thought since I notice them mostly when I sit down to rest. The Holter monitor revealed that they're happening all the time, I just am so busy much of the time, I don't always notice them like I do when I finally sit down.

However, it's "not a big deal."
(whatever! tell me that when I feel like my heart is not beating in rhythm or it's going to pound outta my chest or stop.) But really, he's the cardiologist and I'm certain he knows what he's seeing and I'm sure he's seen worse.
Technically it's called Pre-Ventricular-Contraction AND (bonus here 'cuz I get the upper chamber doing it too) Pre-Atrial-Contraction. PVC and AVC

Luckily it is not a pre-cursor to any heart trouble here or later (like a heart attack) and in the words of my doctor, "I could put you on medication for every day for the rest of your life (no thank you), OR you could learn to deal with how it feels when it shows up until it leaves and try to avoid the stressors: stress, caffeine, or whatever it is that triggers them."

That's right, it will come and go throughout my life ... which explains why I've had it crop up in the past, just never, ever to this extreme or level or duration. He explained that many people have them and never notice. Then other people are super-sensitive and can really feel this extra contracting. Apparently the combination of numerous triggers set it off on the ski trip and the high altitude probably didn't help.

HOWEVER, I will mention as well, that he was really glad I came in because this certainly COULD have been the same kind of things that could indicate a bigger problem, so please don't shrug off your symptoms thinking that it's nothing!!!!! It might not be. In fact, in looking at my family heart history he admitted that, "I was NOT dealt a kind hand genetically"-- thankfully THIS is not an event that reflects any of that luckily. It is also NOT the kind of heart rhythm problem that is associated with Lyme Disease which I had in the summer of 2010 (praise God!)

So, it's good news for sure ... but disappointing news to know that it's most likely going to be something to deal with going forward.
I will be having a tread-mill stress test and ultrasound in a week to make sure the underlying structures are sound and not hiding anything strange.
Otherwise, the news is ... I just have extra heart beats. Go figure.

The family

The family