Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Art: Field of Flowers

Last year I wasn't able to get around to crafting with my palms until it was too late. They were all dried out and not bendable. This year I was determined to make new flowers for my sad looking (and dusty!) flowers that I made five years ago. It was time for them to be burned and buried (or brought to church for them to burn). Since the boys were napping and Adam took Nora to work with him, I was able to get some quite time to document the process and show others how to make them as well!

You can either work with a palm that it still together with it's two "leaves" or separate them and make something else with the other half. I chose to separate them. If you leave them together you'd just have a lot more flowers.

Next you need to split the palm into several little segments that are about an 1/8 inch wide. I ended up with 9 on my single "leaf."

Then you pick out strand, and figure out what height you want your flower to be (I like to vary mine so they're not all the same height. Then you start to make your petals. First, just make a simple loop.

Then make a second so that it looks like you have a bow. You're going to want to pinch the center to hold all the petal centers together.

Then make a third petal by bringing the loose end under the center of the flower and pinching it.

Then make a fourth petal by bringing the loose end over the center of the flower and pinching it.

The make the last petal, the fifth one, by bringing the loose end under the center of the flower and pinching it.

Now that you have all your petals pinched together at the center, you're going to use the loose end to weave around the petals to hold them in place. Start by going over the petal next to the loose end, then under then next one, then over... (you get the idea), making sure you pull it snugly to the center of the flower as you go. You will not want to include the stem of the flower in your over-under weave, or you won't end up with a true weave.

Keep pinching the center until you have gone around twice (once won't hold all the petals in place). Then you can let go of the center and keep weaving over-under until you only have a tiny tail left.

The tiny tail you can stick through a little hole or gap you see in the center to hold it in place so it doesn't unravel.

Once you're done with the weave, if you're finding you have unevenly sized petals (which I almost always do!),

you can adjust them by pulling a little on the smaller petal. You can play with it a little to get them all evenly sized by following the path you made with the petals.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Allowances: Six Years Later

Shortly after we were married, we discovered that Adam and I had very different spending habits. I was a saver, he was a spender. We both still fit into those categories very much so, but almost 7 years later, we've found some middle ground that really seems to work for us.

First of all, communication has always been a huge key for us in all areas, but especially when it comes to financial concerns (and you'll see that as you read on). Even in the beginning, we were communicating about how I didn't like the idea of him spending money on this or that, and how he felt we had the money to spend on whatever it was. We were often in disagreement in our communication, but we were talking about it and being honest with each other. We have never hid money or purchases from each other, as that only causes them to not trust you, if (but more likely when) they find out, and builds resentment. Of course, we've asked each other to not check the account around birthdays or Christmas, but we've talked about what our limits on gifts are each time it comes to that time of year.

With our differences in spending habits and our almost constant disagreements, several people suggested we try an allowance system. Adam was really for it, since it gave him money to spend, I wasn't really for it, as I saw it as something children get from their parents, and I didn't want to be Adam's parent, I wanted to be his wife. Eventually, though, he won me over to the idea.
We worked out a system that suits our needs, but have been flexible with it as well. Life changes at different stages, and so we've adapted our system to meet our needs. First, to address part of my concern, we both get an allowance from us together (not mine from him and his from me). The amount has varied at different life stages anywhere from $10-$30 per week. When we've had a had a good steady income from his job or my job, it's been higher, when we had lower paying jobs it was lower. And when Adam was in college, I was on unemployment, and we had a new baby, we weren't allowed to spend any of our allowance.

I've heard some people use a cash or envelope system, but I knew that wouldn't work for us. We use credit cards pretty much exclusively because of their benefits (and pay them off each month, but that's for a different post). For us, we kept track in a spreadsheet. We picked Monday as our payday, and I'm in charge of keeping track, since I'm the one handling all the receipts when I'm paying all the bills anyway. It is a little more work for me, but Adam helps by entering his stuff sometimes, and the financial peace (not to steal from Dave Ramsey!) we have found between us is totally worth it to me.

We came to an agreement on what would come out of our allowances, and what wouldn't, but again, it's a flexible system where we communicate. We decided it would be our "fun money." If we wanted to go out for lunch with co-workers, or grabbing a drink at Caribou, or video games, or new clothes, that would come out of our allowance. Gas for our cars would not, unless we were taking a long trip somewhere, for example, hunting up north, or going to a friend's cabin. Groceries or going out to eat together or as a family would not either. We also decided right away that if either of us were thinking of saving up and making a large purchase, that we would discuss it first, like when I bought my DSLR camera or when Adam built both of us new computers.

The day we started, we both understood that our system was going to be flexible. Adam already wanted to "pre-spend" his allowance. While I wasn't too keen on the idea, I understood that he wanted to go to a gun show with his family, and had been considering buying a gun for a while, so I was okay with it, but then he agreed that he wouldn't be spending any money until he got out of the hole. And, other than needing to grab lunch a couple of days, he didn't spend anything. There have been a couple other times since we started as well where things have come up where Adam wants to "pre-spend" or take an "interest-free loan" out. We discussed what would be fair, and then decided on what we should do. 

Now, six year later, I think we've both learned a lot from each other. Not just from the allowance system, but from our communication. I'm finding that Adam is finding ways to be more thrifty and searching for the best deals on stuff that he wants to buy. He's also become a better saver, and not just with his allowance, but with money that we spend (or don't spend) together. In turn, Adam has helped me learn to be okay with spending money on myself and not feel guilty about it. 

A Little Scare for Daddy

I had my 30 week appointment last week, and, as is usual for me, I started measuring behind. Dr. Mahan didn't seem really concerned even though I was measuring 2 1/2 weeks behind, until she looked at my chart. Apparently, I hadn't grown at all since my last appointment (when I measured perfectly!). I had an ultrasound scheduled for my next appointment at 32 weeks, so I figured I'd just have the growth ultrasound tacked onto that ultrasound. But, she wanted to get me in right away, and that she did!

Lacy, the ultrasound tech, came right to my room and brought me back. I wasn't worried about the growth part at all, but I wanted to know about the cyst that she found at my 20 week ultrasound. She checked, and it was gone! Praise the Lord! I know they told me that it wasn't anything to worry about, but I still did a little.

I was also hoping that she could get a 3D ultrasound so that I could have one of her along with the rest of the kiddos. That baby girl was all squished and cuddled in there though. She tried, and when she turned on the 3D, I could see her furrowed eyebrows. She has a mad face just like Nora did in her 3D ultrasound, and through most of her newborn stage. I'm just going she's not actually as mad as Nora was as a small baby!

29 Weeks 4 Days

Once she finished the ultrasound, she told me that she was measuring at 30 weeks and 1 day, perfectly! I thought then that I could cancel my ultrasound before my next appointment, but apparently Dr. Mahan didn't have her check that the placenta isn't an issue with my c-section scar since it's anterior. (Maybe baby girl will cooperate for a 3D next time!)

When I got home, mom (who was watching the kids) and I were working in the kitchen when we clogged the disposal. Adam hates having to take it apart and unclog it, so when he got home, I told him I had bad news and tried to butter him up. He wasn't having it though and was pushing away wanting to know what was going on. I finally told him what mom and I had done and he looked relieved. He knew I had an appointment and thought the bad news was about the baby, not the kitchen sink. I felt horrible, not even thinking that that was where his mind went! I think that's the happiest I've seen him fix that darn sink though (not that he was smiling about it).