Friday, October 31, 2014

7 QT about an inspiring book, a life-changing quote, and some thoughts about choice

1. I have been reading Clare's Costly Cookie to my son, and we have both really enjoyed it.  The author is very skilled at teaching children how to talk to God and how to examine their consciences.  I think this is a great book to read to children who will be receiving the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion for the first time and older children, too.  I have found it to be helpful in planting the seed of desire for confession and adoration in my own heart, as well.  I highly recommend this book.  You can order it from Holy Heroes.

2. My 9 tips for sewing on Cub Scouts patches post is up now.
If you find yourself procrastinating with sewing on new patches, you may find my tips helpful.  I have gone from being quite anxious about sewing them on to feeling much more confident.

3. Have you ever tried the Lumosity games?  For a while, I had a habit of playing them four or five nights a week on my phone.  I think they were really helpful with improving my attention, memory, and mental computation skills.  

4. With the 40 Days for Life Campaign going on right now, I decided to listen to a Lighthouse Catholic Media talk by Lila Rose this week.  It was riveting and challenging.  At the end of her talk, there was a bonus segment by Matt Smith from his talk "God of My Future."  This excerpt had many great nuggets of truth, as well as a C.S. Lewis quote that I can't stop thinking about:
  “For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.”― C.S. LewisThe Screwtape Letters

I have always struggled with being fully present.  So many times in my life when I am not happy with what is going on, I just escape to the past or a probable future in my mind.  What a waste.  I know I'm not the only person who has trouble with embracing the moment, especially when it is not a desirable situation.  Hearing Matt Smith expound on C.S. Lewis's quote gave me a new way to look at living more fully in the present.

5. I have really been enjoying a round of philosophical emails about life with one of my friends.  She and I have different viewpoints and faith backgrounds, but I have to say that she is one of my dearest friends, and my life is enriched because of her.  The way she thinks and sees the world challenges me to more fully understand why I believe what I do.  I once saw Sister Helena Burns speak, and I remember her mentioning that she had a close friend who was of a different faith background than she (perhaps agnostic or atheist--I'm not sure), and someone who tired of this friend's comments on Sister's Facebook page suggested that the friend be blocked.  Sister Helena replied with a resounding "Never!"  That made a strong impression on me, and I have to say that I count my blessings often that this friend of mine is in my life.

6. Not too long ago, I watched a TED talk by Barry Schwartz called The paradox of choice.  It was a fascinating talk, and one thing he said really made me think.  He said that he assigns about 20% less work to his university students now than he used to.  The reason for this is because students' minds are more occupied than the minds of past generations.  He said it is due to students having more choices to make in life, such as whether or not they will get married now or later or have children, etc.  In the past, people just got married and had children at a set time in their lives and didn't deliberate over these questions regarding "when" or even "if".  Very interesting.  I know I have struggled with an over abundance of choices before.  For example, upon returning to the U.S. after living abroad for nine months, I found the cracker aisle in Wal-mart to be quite overwhelming.   

7. I need to remember to stress to my son that Halloween is really "All Hallow's Eve."  Perhaps I will get out our Saints books and try to read some throughout the month of November.  Speaking of Saints and All Saints' Day, Bonnie at A Knotted Life has some great ideas for celebrating this time of the year.  Happy Halloween!

Thanks for hosting, Jen!  For more Quick Takes, go to Conversion Diary.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

9 Tips for Sewing on Cub Scout Patches

I don't really enjoy doing extra-fine motor types of activities such as sewing by hand.  It's always been somewhat difficult for me.

When my older son joined Cub Scouts last year, it was during a time period when my infant son could not be put down.  So, I sewed the patches on whilst holding a baby on my lap, which was kind of exciting, because I was doing something productive while holding him.  However, it was pretty brutal.

A couple weeks ago, I needed to sew on some new patches, because we moved over the summer, so I updated the council, the pack number, and the den number.  After spending 45 minutes on the den patch, I knew I needed to do something different.  So, I searched around for some online tips, and I came up with one idea of my very own.

My hope is that if you are having a not so fun time at sewing on your scout patches, these tips will help you, so you don't have to resort to paying someone to sew them on.

1) Don't aim for perfection.  If your stitches are not the same size, or if you have a bit of a mess on the back side of the shirt, don't worry.  I doubt anyone will notice but you.  The goal is to add the patches so that they look pretty good and will stay affixed.

2) This was a game changer for me:  Use a curved upholstery needle. 

I recently had to mend the binding on a rug, so I bought a few upholstery needles.  While working on the rug, I wondered if a curved needle would be useful for sewing on Cub Scout patches...  Yes, it is!  I used a smaller/medium sized curved needle for the patches.  You can use trial and error to choose the best size for you.  If someone out there is good at physics, maybe you can explain why the curved needle is so much easier than the straight one for thick materials.  All I know is that your fingers will thank you!

3) Use a straight pin to hold the patch in place before you start to sew.  You may need to adjust the patch as you tack it on, but this will help immensely.  

4) Do NOT attempt to iron on the patch.  There is some type of plastic on the back, but the patches are not "iron on."  If you use an iron to try to apply the patches to the shirt, it will create a sticky substance that will not come off the shirt very easily if you have to remove/replace patches.  I say this from experience.

5) Similar to #4, do NOT use a patch adhesive (such as Badge Magic) that is available in stores.  It may make applying the patches a little easier, but it is said that it's not easy/impossible to remove.

6) When adding the pack numbers, first pin the numbers together, and then sew them together.  

If you have a sewing machine, you may be able to use this.  I did it by hand, and it made it worlds easier to sew them all onto the shirt sleeve.  This site gave me the idea.

7) Do NOT double your thread.  That was a mistake I was making.  You only need a single thickness of thread.  Doubling it creates more room for error.  Thank you to commenter, LT, on this site for the idea.

8) If you need an idea of how to start your thread and finish it off after you are done sewing, here is a pictorial.

9) If you aren't sure where to place the patches, this site or this site can link you to some guides.

Now I feel much more confident that I can sew on any future patches without it taking an eternity and without having a nervous breakdown.  I hope you find these tips helpful, as well.  If you have any additional tips to share, please add them in the comments section!  

Friday, October 24, 2014

7 Quick Takes About Sewing Cub Scout Patches, Scheduling Breaks and Confession, & Catholic Psych's Blog Post

~Sewing Cub Scout Patches~
My family moved this past summer, so my son is in a new Cub Scout Pack and Den.  This requires new patches.  The first time I sewed patches onto his Cub Scout shirt, I did so while an infant napped on my lap.  That was fun and not difficult at all...   So, I was not surprised when I dreaded updating his patches.  I ended up searching for some tips online, and now I think I can somewhat tolerate sewing on any new patches.  I plan on dedicating a separate post to my tips for sewing on Cub Scout patches, so stay tuned.
~Weekend Dread~
The other day, while waiting to pick my son up from school, I overheard two moms discussing the upcoming weekend.  One mom reported that she felt excited about the weekend, but then quickly questioned her happiness, because hasn't she learned that the weekends bring chaos and more craziness than week days?  Unfortunately, I have felt this way before, too, but I don't want to live like that!  Now I just try to focus on the fact that it's very nice to be able to hang out with my entire family.  Also, a few alterations upon entering the weekend have helped relieve the dread...

~Communicating Weekend Expectations~
As a person who often just "goes with the flow," I have occasionally resented how my weekends turn out.  This is typically due to me not making my desires for the weekend known to my spouse.  Simple communication to him regarding what I would also like to accomplish can be enough to help matters.  For example, if I am feeling that I need a break, saying so can sometimes afford me an hour or two by myself, which does wonders for refreshing me.

~Scheduling Confession~
Just last weekend, I recognized that I was in desperate need of going to Confession.  Before the weekend began, I added two calendar entries to my husband's and my shared online calendar.  I even "invited" him to the events so that he would surely see them.  One event was for confession on Saturday afternoon, while the second was for Sunday morning's.  With his attention already drawn to the idea that I wanted to go, on Friday evening, I asked him which day would work best for us.  Since I added it to the calendar, it became an official event for our weekend, and thankfully I did get to go.

Back to the topic of extreme busy-ness, sometimes I wonder what the purpose of over-scheduling is.  What is the point of being so busy that there is no time to relax?  I guess some people probably thrive on it, but I know it is unhealthy for our family.  We need down time.  When my older son was in two after school activities following the birth of our second son, we finally nixed one of the activities.  It was simply too much for us.  After that, we could breathe again, and the chaos subsided somewhat.  I don't know about anyone else, but I almost feel that homework is almost like its own extracurricular activity.  Upon arriving home from school, after you factor in snack, chores, homework, supper, and bedtime routine, there's not much time left to play and be a kid.  It makes me a little sad.

~Interesting Blog~
I recently began following the Catholic Psych Institute's blog, and I found the most recent blog post to be quite thought-provoking.

~Housework Tips~
Over the years, I have collected many tips on housework that I think could be very helpful to others, so I plan on putting together a blog post of those tips, too.  

Thanks for hosting, Jen!  For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 10, 2014

First Quick Takes, Machu Picchu Book, Kitty Cat Harness & More

This is my first 7 Quick Takes ever!
Even though I know I don't have an audience yet, I don't feel this is a waste of time.  Writing has often been therapeutic for me.  This is also good practice, so I can sharpen my skills.
This is not my first blog ever.  I kept a blog for a short while when my family lived overseas for nine months.  I also kept a different blog when I was struggling with secondary infertility.  Perhaps this world and that one will collide one day.
I have a special kitty cat who loves to be outside.  He used to have free reign when we lived in the country (as in not in the city).  Unfortunately, we moved to a city, and he cannot go out unattended anymore (roads!).  We are thinking about maybe getting an invisible fence for him, but in the meantime, we use this handy harness to take him outside.
Cub Scouts is such a great organization for my son.  He gets exposed to various activities--it's quite diverse.  I'm really looking forward to getting some popcorn soon, too!
I am currently reading this book which chronicles an author's adventures to Machu Picchu.  Ever since I saw the Travel Channel show where Sam Brown visited the ruins, I have wanted to go there someday.  Anyway, the book was a gift from my husband several years ago, and I am finally getting around to reading it.  So far, it is very entertaining!
A few years ago, I also added the Holy Land to my travel wish list.  It's difficult to know if that will ever pan out...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Avoiding a Rushed Life

I was reading through a blog post from The Fisk Files today and followed a link to a blog unknown to me called Sipping Lemonade.  Lauren's newest post includes several of her favorite Mother Teresa quotes.  I read through them, and many of them made a noticeable impression on me.  However, one of them highlights a recent realization I had regarding a new phase in my life:  I really don't like to be rushed.  Mother Teresa said:
“Everybody seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches and so on. There is much suffering because there is very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other, there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.”

My family recently moved to a bigger city, and I am feeling the effects of our surroundings.  Things are more rushed here.  Processing all of the extra sites and sounds is taking its toll on me.  I need extra time to calm my senses. 

When I have to move too quickly, I suffer and so does my family.  When internal equilibrium is lacking in my life, whether it be because of lack of sleep, poor nourishment, too much busy-ness, spiritual dryness, or a hurried pace, there is not peace in our household.  Scarcity of peace in our family does not add peace to our community or to the world.

Avoiding a rushed life is about more than just making a better life for myself.  Doing so helps my husband and my two young boys.  It also helps everyone we interact with.

Peace truly does begin with oneself.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Like a Ping Pong Ball

Some days, it seems as though it would be an enormous waste of time.

Other days, I feel my fingers would not be able to move quickly enough.

My mind is made up to abandon it, and then I become inspired.  Sometimes I feel that I need to get it all out.  Back and forth I go.

Over the summer, I heard that the modern blog is going to die in the near future.  That did discourage me from attempting to revive this outlet of mine.

But, now that summer is over, and a plethora of overcast days are awaiting me, I am suddenly more motivated to put my thoughts down on the electronic page.

With my history of few and far between posts, I wonder if I really have the stamina to continue on more consistently.

What is the point of keeping a blog, anyway?

Does a blog make an impact even if no one reads it?

Yes.  Yes, I think it does.

How does blogging impact you?  How do you find yourself affected by the blogs you follow?