Monday, April 30, 2012

Sweet Scents in the Air

Honeysuckle on the vine

This morning has been glorious, with the greenery springing back to life after a full night of storms.  Honeysuckle aroma is so thick in the air that it is invading the house this morning.  We have 2 windows open and the front door opened for fresh air, and all the honeysuckle is in the back, but strong enough to make its way to the front. 

I love the scent of honeysuckle.  Growing up in SE Oklahoma, it was a given that if you had a farm you had some honeysuckle somewhere.  Must be a southern tradition. (wink)  Here in the SE corner of Kansas, it's everywhere, and I love it! 

It was such a joy to wake up to the air cleaned from the humidity and muggy feel of yesterday.  The many inches of rain that fell in the night brought out more blooms on my tea rose, more seed sprouts in the marigolds, made the starter sunflowers stand a bit taller, the starters of squash and zuchini stand tall and proud, and the rest of the established greenery in our front yard just a little bit taller and greener. 

I love spring!

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Government Backs Off Child Farm Labor

I ran across this post concerning the government for the time being stopping the idiocy of preventing children from working on the family farm.  This can be found at Our Simple 


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Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Special Olympics 2012

(Note:  This will be picture rich, so if this doesn't load immediately, please be patient.)

It's that time of the year again when the tracks heat up in competitions for gold, silver, and bronze medals. 

Mr. Kevin participated in the 8-11 year old division for the softball throw, standing long jump, 25 meter walk, and 25 meter run.  This was his first track and field event with the Special Olympics, and he was uber excited.  He did do bowling in the fall of 2011 (and medaled in gold), but this was a much bigger event as far as he was concerned.  THIS is what he has seen on tv commercials.  :)

Mr. Kevin added 4 medals to the gold one he picked up in bowling.  He medaled gold in the standing long jump and the 25 meter run, bronze in the soft ball throw and the 25 meter walk.  Needless to say I was one proud Mama!  Kevin was having a blast, as his biological dad and stepmom drove 3 hours one way to see his big day.  They video taped his events and I took about 200  a few still shots.  Ok, so I love pictures. :)

This was the first time we'd been to the Carnie Smith Football Stadium at Pittsburg State University, here in Pittsburg, KS.  Kevin's para, Mr. Matt, had been a volunteer at the Special Olympics a year before, so he made sure Kevin and his Special Ed teacher, Mrs. Slack, were there for the opening ceremonies. 

I read that over 500 athletes along with approximately 350 volunteers attended, and after seeing the stands and the infield, I believe it!  Everyone who could physically stand did so as the torch runners entered the track and brought the torch from our police department to the stadium.  The Kansas State Highway Patrol, Crawford County Sheriff's Department, Pittsburg State University Police, and Pittsburg City Police all had runners who completed the entire run together.  For the  national anthem, the Pittsburg Fire Department had a ladder truck with extended ladder up, and an American flag attached to the ladder, parked so that it sat near the Jungletron.  The Jungletron had a flag waving across the big screen.  An athlete in the adult's division said the Pledge of Allegiance.

Once the ceremony ended folks scrambled all over the track and field to their destinations.  Many of the adults had their events first on the track, and one man who participated on the track was 83 or 87 years old!  We had an hour and 45 minutes between opening ceremonies and Kevin's first event, so we got to see a lot from the stands for a while. 

Kevin's first event was the softball throw.  He came in 3rd, but he tried hard.  While he waited for his turn, I went to the end of his lane to get pictures, and ducked many balls from the next lane over.  The boy from the next lane had a good arm and an amazing curve ball!  Kevin's friend Shelby gave him lots of hugs before and after the event.

Kevin and his para Mr. Matt from school

The standing long jump came next.  It was on the opposite long end of the field.  We sat quite a while, then the festivities started.  Kevin had 3 jumps, and made his best attempts.  His dad coached him on how to jump. 

Kevin with his dad and stepmom at the standing long jump seating area

Gold Medal!

The next two events came after a lunch prepared by the volunteers.  The hotdogs on the grill, chips, apples, and water filled up the athletes, and we got some much needed rest in the shade by the PSU lake.

The 25 meter walk was something I won't forget anytime soon.  Here various types of walkers stayed and waited their turns.  There was the assisted walk, with paras holding hands to guide, children in large 4 legged rolling walkers, one child holding on to a para's leg.  They walked and made their best efforts, and the grins were huge at the finish line.  Kevin was in the regular walk, and came in 3rd.  He was in the 25 meter run as well.  He burned rubber in that one, well, Kevin's way. :)  He came away with a gold in the run, and had to have help up the stairs as he was so tired after a day in the sun and doing all his activities!

Seeing all the events and activities makes me appreciate all the things Kevin is able to do.  I know he has limitations, but he has been blessed with having must more independence than many of the children (and adults) there.  According to the doctors when he was born, he wasn't to live through the night, then he wasn't to walk or talk, he was to have CP or other neurological disorders.  Oh, he has problems, but nothing like many of the ones we saw yesterday.  I'm very thankful for this!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thrifty Modesty

Modesty is a hot topic in the Christian realm, and so it should be.  The world around us flashes more skin than a porn movie, and us Christian adults and our impressionable children are innundated with it.  It's up to us to show our children, by Bible and by modeling, what modesty is.  Granted, each person's view on modest dress is different, and should be led by the Holy Spirit instead of the fashion police, but in the end, we're to dress to glorify Him. 

That all said, finding modest clothing can be rather daunting if you have a small budget.  Our budget is around $2000.00 for a family of 5, for rent/utilities/insurance/medicines for hubby (copays are outrageous even with Medicare if you fall in a doughnut hole--hubby is disabled btw), food, pet care, family basic needs, etc.  Clothing purchases fall to the bottom part of the list.  It has to.  I've found ways to be thrifty and still clothe our family in ways I believe (and hubby agrees with) that is modest and appropriate for how we are trying to teach the kids.  It just took a little creativity. 

The boys and hubby are fairly easy to buy for.  The boys are 10 and 10 1/2 (stepbrothers).  We've taught them that they don't have to have the highest name brands and all the newest things.  They are pretty pleased to get anything that fits them, although Lightning McQueen and Mater and cartoon characters do excite them--they are boys!  When possible, we try clearance racks at Walmart, Bass Pro (yes, we are Bass Pro loving folks), Cabela's, or anywhere we are that has clothing.  BP and Cabela's has the higher quality clothing for boys that can withstand some heavy duty use, and when they are on clearance, they're a steal.  I've heard Macy's, JC Penny's, and others have good sales, but never stepped foot in Macy's (we don't have one here, but can go to Joplin, MO to the nearest one), and Penny's for us is out of the way most of the time, tucked away in a small "mall" at the edge of town. 

For another option, I've tried local thrift shops for the boys.  We have one here in town that's called Four Paws, and the money earned there goes to support the local animal shelters in the county.  I've donated outgrown clothing and items, and turned around and purchased decent clothing when they've had $1 per bag sales.  I purchased all the boys' winter clothing this way late last summer.  I spent maybe $10 for a season of clothing for 2 children, plus vintage linens for me, and they stayed plenty warm and had no problem with finding clothes in their closet.  These were heavy name brand clothing, well made, very little wear, and easily fixable if needed.  Mr. Kevin wears sweats most of the time, due to not being able to really work a zipper/button easily when he needs to urgently handle that (something he works on in OT), and I've been able to affordably find plenty there as well.  Mr. Michael wears jeans most of the time, and I found plenty that were in his size.  Michael, tho 6 months older, gets Kevin's hand-me-downs, as Kevin is larger built and is about a size or two ahead of Michael. 

As the summer heat hits us (beginning in late February/early March this year), the boys are allowed to wear shorts.  Nothing very short, must hit near the knees or lower.  They play soccer, both in the YMCA leagues and at home for grins, they have PE at school, recess as well, and when we can they go to the park to play.  I see no problem with shorts.  Their shirts are mainly solid colors, with occasional cartoon characters, approved by us.  No shirts that show a diabolical look--those are occasionally given to us by Kevin's biological dad as a hand me down from a cousin, but they find homes elsewhere. 

Hubby is easy also to buy for.  He finds clothes through Cabela's and  Bass Pro clearances online, and takes advantage of their free shipping and other sales when we have funds to purchase.  He keeps his clothing for  years, and I fix them.  His dress pants he wears to church and other occasions where they are required (such as when his RN license is in use), his dress shirts the same.  He wears shorts in the summer and around the house, along with T's.  He keeps his palette pretty plain and simple.  He is a plus size, and it's harder to find his clothing in thrift shops.  When I can, I buy them there, but alas, it's not as often. 

Miss Jess in handmade culottes with eyelet and a purchased top

Miss Jess is the easiest for finding modest clothing at a good price.  She's 8, and her dad tells her she is a princess and should dress like one.  Of course she eats it up!  I have found thrift shops are iffy for her.  She wears factory size 12-14, or even a ladies' XS/SM, so I look for ladies' skirts that are a little short and alter them for her.  A ladies' mini or knee length skirt is the perfect length on her (much longer than the original intent of the designer).  With minor alterations at the waist, she has a new skirt.  For tops, we try to stay away from the clingy stretchy style that's so popular.  If it's a T shirt, I buy 2 to 4 sizes larger than her actual measurements in order for it not to be clingy.  I seldom pay full price for a top--there's plenty of clearance year round!

I also sew for Miss Jess.  I've purchased patterns through Candle on the Hill, Fairy Tale Frocks and Lollipops, Olabelhe, Marie Madeline, and other indie designers, along with the Simplicity/McCalls/Butterick patterns.  My go to patterns are mainly from independent ones, with blouses that can be dressed up or down, calf to ankle length skirts, cloches, culottes, etc.  I've designed my own  tiered skirts for her, made jumpers from the Olabelhe Jillian's Jumper pattern, designed a sleeveless dress from the Scientific Seamstress, and tried out other ones on her as well.  I will admit as grows in size finding patterns to fit her AND look modest has become more of a chore.

I can hear you--"fabric is expensive!"  Well, yes, and no.  Sure, if you pay retail for big name designer fabric, you'll easily pay $8 to $15 per yard.  Or, you can find outlets, from Jo-Ann's (they have wonderful sales and coupons), Michael's (with coupons), Terri at Fairy Tale Frocks and Lollipops has been running specials, and then there's many Walmart stores as well.  For a more vintage feel, hit the thrift shops and flea markets for adorable fabrics you won't find anywhere else!

So, the thrifty means for Miss Jess is thrift shops, clearance racks, and mostly sewing by me.  She's fine with that--she loves handmade clothing!

As for me, I'm the hardest to find thrifty clothing for.  I'm the most expensive.  Thrift stores hold mainly vintage fabrics for me, by means of linens.  I'm a plus sized girl, and finding ready to wear items that are modest (new or thrift shop)--may as well search for a needle in 5 haystacks at night without a flashlight.  Oh, I've found a skirt here and there, one I've worn until it's threadbare.  I made a pattern off of it so I can make more. :)  Tops are not so easy to find, as I do not like stretch knits.  I have a few, but they are not at the top of my list. 

My option for affordable clothing is to sew them.  I have a few trusty patterns I rely on, such as a blouse pattern by Coni Crawford, a dress pattern from Candle on the Hill, and my own skirt designs.  I've been able to make a dress for under $10, skirts for $1 to $2, and my aprons are made usually of scraps or vintage linens.

I know there's plenty of other affordable options for modest clothing.  The ones I've shared have worked for us on our limited budget.  Rather than putting out the money, I tend to invest time.  I have more time than money. 

So, this is the Abella's way of being thrifty and modest. :)


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Special Olympics Is Coming To Town!

There's excitement in the Abella home! 

Mr. Kevin, 10, is our Olympian.  He is in his first year of Special Olympics, and has been practicing hard for tomorrows events.  He's super excited, has been chattering for weeks about it, even has his dad driving down from 3 hours away. 

Needless to say, I will be stepping away from the computer tomorrow as I cheer on my Olympian at the Pittsburg State University's Carnie Smith Stadium.  Of course I'll be taking plenty of photos!  I'll return on Thursday (that's the plan anyway) with a full play by play and lots of pics to share!

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