Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Moving and Paying It Forward

Last night, we donated Ava's purple gait trainer to The Emily Ann Griffin Foundation. I know Emily's mom, Inger, from our work together on the Mott Patient Family Advisory Committee. I also interviewed Inger and her husband Matt for a blog posting on The Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation Clinician Page.

Ava's purple gait trainer meant so much to us. It was the first step to help her become independently mobile.

Ava hasn't used the purple gait trainer in a while, but I kept forgetting to bring it with me when I saw Inger. I hope it makes another kiddo and family as happy as it made us.

Ava used a Reverse Position Walker after the gait trainer.

And now, she is walking by herself. We are so proud of her hard work, and the hard work of all who support her.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Happy 5th Birthday, Maddi Bean

Maddi turned 5 today.  Maddi was our first scheduled c-section so we were able to choose this day specially for her.  We were so excited to meet her, our first daughter:

Maddi has always had a smiling personality and laughs easily.

6 months old

Happy birthday, sweet girl.  I hope you always stay the happy, funny, beautiful little girl both inside and out, forever.  
5 years old!
I also turned this:

Into this:

Her performance of Let It Go is much better in her Elsa dress!

Friday, March 14, 2014


My friend, Kim, shared this piece of inspiration from 105.1 The Buzz's Facebook page:

May 2, 2013:
"Meet David Herron. He's a former military man, whose daughter couldn't find a prom dress that she liked because they were all too, despite having no dressmaking experience, David bought a pattern and fabric.....and made it for her BY HIMSELF!"

I hope that Maddi's Elsa Gown turns out as well as David's daughter's dress did.  And not like this Denise Huxtable Gordon Gartrell Classic from the Cosby Show:

In case the embedded video doesn't work:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

LoLH Phase 1: Advice Needed and Videos of M & M

Yesterday was a Snow Day in Michigan.  On March 12th.  I can hardly believe it.  But, the day wasn't a total loss because the Postal Office delivers in rain or shine, snow or sleet.  Therefore, the new sewing machine still arrived on our doorstep.  Introducing the Brother Project Runway CS5055PRW Electric Sewing Machine!  Just the name alone makes me feel like a professional...Project Runway...oohhhhh.  Good marketing, Brother, good marketing.

After work, when the roads had cleared, I stopped at JoAnn's for a pattern and fabric.  I started looking for a pattern by opening a drawer and was faced with this:

Thinking that there must be an easier way to find a pattern, I flagged down the experienced woman behind the enormous cutting counter and she pointed me to a well-organized book.   I looked through the book and realized that this dress would require different parts of two different patterns. That doesn't scare me in the slightest (eek).

The next job was to pick out the fabric for the top, the skirt, and the cape.  With the perfect fabric selected, I took it to the cutting counter where there was a man also buying fabric and thread.  I followed him to the thread section, haha.  I also purchased new cutting shears and lots of pins.  I went home and set up shop, here is my workstation:

You may notice that I chose four different fabrics.  Again, why not go big?!  The top material is a bit see-through so it will need a liner.  I have no idea how to best attach the liner for easy sewing.  The woman at the store said I could do something to it - the word started with a "b", but I can't remember the word to even google the method - anyone know?

I found a nice stretchy, flowy material for the bottom of the dress which will hopefully lay better than the poofy skirt in the pattern.  I couldn't find a 100% sequined fabric in blue for the top of the dress, so I went with a fancy design of swirls sprinkled with sequins:

Next is the sleeve and cape material.  It has glitter all over it, much to my chagrin, but it was the best fit for the project and color of the other fabric:

After setting up the sewing station and reading the sewing machine instructions, I successfully wound the bobbin and tried a few practice seams.  The fabric may be tricky to work with since it is delicate, meshy, and stretchy.  I have already gone to Facebook to ask for advice on reverse stitching, but still have more questions.  If you have any answers or tricks and tips, please share here or on my Facebook post.

1.  How do you recommend marking the lines to be sewn - with one of those chalky white things that I see the seamstress use or pin the pattern to the fabric and sew together (then tear the pattern off after sewing?).
2.  Should I follow the pattern for the size Maddi is currently or measure her and compare - in other words, how accurate are patterns for sizing, typically?
3.  It was hard to guide the material and sew a seam at the edge of the fabric, should I leave a bigger edge and then trim later?  Or is leaving a bigger edge on the inside of the dress no big deal?
4.  Using the single stitch setting felt flimsy, which type of stitch is your go-to stitch?
5.  Repeating from above, what is the best way to attach the liner to the top?
6.  Anything else that a beginner sewer should know?

Thank you in advance for all of your advice and help. I told the nice lady at the store that she would likely be seeing me again (asking for help). She smiled and said, "yes, please come in and show us the finished product".  I chuckled, blushed, and thought, "I'm not sure I will want to bring it out into public", but then I realized that Maddi would love to wear it into the store and she will probably be beaming; and that's all that matters.

To make a lengthy post even lengthier, I want to share these videos of Mason and Maddi.  They have a new bedtime routine for Ava.  Mason reads her a book and then they both take turns singing Ava a lullaby before shutting the door.  They're the sweetest lullabies I've ever heard.  Mason creates different lyrics each night (my favorite song, that I didn't capture on video, was when he called her little darling).

Maddi singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (it's dark and she sings softly):

Mason's song (also dark in the room and he sings softly):

Monday, March 10, 2014

A New Etsy Store or A One Hit Wonder?

The last time I sewed a piece of clothing was in 6th grade.  I thought it was 8th grade, but it was actually in 1987 when I was 12 years old and taking my first Home Economics Class.  I chose to make a pair of Bermuda shorts since they were all-the-rage.  They looked something like the picture below.  I remember mine to be more of a yellow background, even uglier, and I wore public...a lot. Ugh.

1980s Bermuda Shorts
Photo Credit:
It would be 25 years before I would attempt another project.  That is really hard to type, for the record.  I thought it would be a good idea to make Maddi's 3rd brithday cake.  A Hello Kitty Cake.  It seemed simple enough, Hello Kitty doesn't even have a mouth so decorating would be simple.  I decided to invest in a Wilson many-pieces frosting set thinking that I would make elaborate birthday cakes for each child every year, thus saving us tons of money and putting the new kit to good use.  I made Maddi's cake and several cupcake cones, dropped the tip of the froster down the disposal, broke the disposal which necessitated a new disposal.  And haven't seen the frosting kit again.  I believe it made it through the move.  It may even be sitting in our pantry as I type, I just won't be confirming its location any time soon.

Similar to Maddi's cake.  Sadly, I cannot find a picture of the actual creation.  Maddi's cake had black piping around the bow and a yellow jelly bean nose!
Photo credit: on the watermark
So, of course it makes perfect sense that I would now, 2 years after my many one frosted cake, decide to start a new project for Maddi.  One I am calling - Labor of Love and Humor.  Like every 5 year old girl and her mom, we love the movie Frozen.  Maddi especially loves Elsa when she is fancy and glittery and shoots ice.  She requested an Elsa ice dress (and high heeled cowgirl boots) for her birthday.  Sure, no problem.   Googled Elsa dresses and they range from $50 (cheap)-$200 and up, depending on the Etsy maker.  Problem - I refuse to spend that much money on a dress I don't even like.

Enter brilliant idea #1 - I will borrow Grandma's sewing machine and make my own dress.  Wait 5 minutes, brilliant idea #2 - I will buy my own machine and make the dress myself (and the machine will get good use because I can then make curtains, throw pillows, all of my children's future clothing).

I've ordered a sewing machine that had a review from a teacher that uses them with her 4th-8th graders with no problems.  Perfect for me since the last time I sewed I was in 6th grade!  Add 1 to Cart?  Yes please.

I have decided to blog about this Labor of Love and Humor so that it is saved forever. Anyone remember the heirloom bracelet that got flushed?  Well, I can't have that happen with the Elsa Gown.  That one day it will be gone from sight and forgotten. I am writing about this process so that one day Maddi will know that even though I never crafted with her (glitter and glue - I just can't do), I tried to do something crafty for her.  Maddi is my stop-and-smell-the-roses little girl.  She is the best of me (love of life) and the worst of me (stubborn) all rolled into one.  But, for her 5th birthday I am channeling her stop-and-smell-the-roses attitude and appreciating the time, energy, and the stepping-out-of-the-box-ness this will take of me. And I am excited about it.  I am hoping that the next project will be something we will make together.

Why is it a Labor of Love and Humor?  Because I'm making this out of love for Maddi and the humor will come during the process and the end product, I'm sure.  Stay tuned.  I'm sure it will be a breeze to create this:

Photo credit: Disney
And who knows, maybe this will be the first creation of a new Mother-Daughter Etsy Store...just kidding!