Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Costumes--Whew!

Well, we made it.  Halloween costumes were finished just under the wire.  Sort of.  Here they are, in chronological order.
Rollo, the Purple Ninja, has been planning this costume for a long time now.  Inspired by the colorful characters in Lego's Ninjago world, he has assigned colors and elemental powers to his brothers and some friends, too.  Purple has been D2's favorite color, but Rollo chose it for himself, to go with his gravity powers.  The manipulation of gravity helps him fly, and attract objects to himself at will.  Handy, right?  And he just associates gravity with purple.  What colors do fundamental forces remind you of?
Rollo wanted to get an early start on construction, so we bought the purple flannel and he cut out the trousers (from Simplicity 3577, a pajama pattern) this summer.  And then we didn't get back to them until about a week ago.  But Rollo did it.  He sewed his pants, and finished them on Thursday.  Just in time to wear them to school on Friday.
I took over for the more intricate top.  He wanted a kimono-style jacket with normal sleeves.  So I started with the Simplicity 5839 kimono pattern, and borrowed the shoulders and sleeves from another pajama pattern, McCall's 7950.  (Wow, all my patterns are out of print.  How long have I had these?)  At Rollo's request, I appliquéd the Japanese character shizuka, for silence.  It's a good attribute for a ninja, especially one with a loud purple outfit, don't you think?
The badge on the front is a literary allusion that has nothing at all to do with ninjas.  But Rollo likes it, and it comes from a really good book, Elantris
I finished the jacket on Thursday, too, before helping Rollo finish the pants.  He wanted to make a hood, but I was worn out.  Later that evening, after the older boys' band concert, I draped some cloth around his head and used a few hand stitches to sort of make it stay that way.  I think it makes him look more like a surgeon, but he accepted it.
About a week ago, D2 announced his intention to be a Steampunk Dwarf.  This was certainly influenced by the Caterpillar's recent musical choices, but I'm not sure how much.  And I wasn't sure what to do about it.  Luckily, D2 had the right attitude about it.  "Steampunk is about using what you have," he said.  So we did.
D2 is short, but not very noticeably dwarfish.  He used a pillow to make himself appear a little stockier, and I crocheted him a beard.  I used some thick brown yarn that had previously been in a Princess Leia bun, and made it up as I went along.  I did this during Rollo's band concert on Tuesday (busy week, huh?), with D2 at my side for periodic fittings.  I'm sure it was a curious sight for the people on the bleachers behind us.
We did some more recycling to steam things up.  Scoot spray-painted a non-functional squirt gun and a pair of Rollo's old glasses frames.  Then D2 had a wonderful time hot-gluing various bits of hardware to them. 
What wonderful creativity!  Of course, he couldn't take his weapon to school.  Then he decided it was too awkward to carry around at the trunk-or-treat.  So take a good look--I don't know if anyone will ever see this in real life!
 Scoot wore his referee uniform to school on Friday, and even gave a red card to someone in the hall.  "I should have given more," he said.  "People are always swearing at school."  I'm glad that's illegal in soccer.  Anyway, he decided to go more formal for the trunk-or-treat, and declared himself a Gentleman Rogue.  I was disappointed that he came home without any lupines.
When it was time to go to the trunk-or-treat, the Caterpillar picked up the ceramic skull he made in his Materials Science class last year.  Obviously, he was Hamlet, in one of those modern productions.  (Would a Hipster Hamlet duel with unbated LPs?)
This morning, he changed things up.  The Caterpillar and I had signed up for a Halloween 5k race, and he didn't want to run in jeans.  Or shorts, or sweats, because it was pouring down rain.  So, naturally, he wore his kilt and a shirt from a Boy Scout adventure.  And he borrowed his aviator cap back from D2.  He said the kilt was actually pretty comfortable for running in, and the hat stayed dry inside.
I finally made myself a superhero shirt.  Because who needs, or has, super powers more than parents?  (Eyes in the back of the head, anyone?)  So I went as Super Mom, or Wonder Mom, or, as the Caterpillar called me in a moment of desperation many years ago, "Mom, a Woman!"  I needed all my super strength, and his, too, to keep running through the storm.  But we had a good time running together and encouraging others.  And we came away with an age-group ribbon each. 
They just had to change things up for this evening's trick-or-treating.  Now a Bearded Wizard and a Pirate join the Rogue and Ninja.  Their candy should be safe with that machete along, shouldn't it?

What have you done for Halloween?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ponderizing Moroni 10:9-18

  For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom;
  And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
  And to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
  And again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles;
  And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things;
  And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits;
  And again, to another, all kinds of tongues;
  And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues.
  And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.
  And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ.
Moroni 10:9-18
 Rollo chose Moroni 10:9 for our pondering this week, but we couldn't stop there.  While each of these gifts of the Spirit is amazing on its own, they are meant to all go together.  

Similar lists can be found in 1 Corinthians 12 and Doctrine and Covenants 46.  I've always found it interesting that Paul would advise use to "covet earnestly the best gifts"(1 Cor. 12:31), given the 10th commandment.  The Lord puts it a little more clearly in the Doctrine and Covenants:
And that ye be not deceived seek earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given. (D&C 46:8)
Why are they given?  So that we can avoid being deceived, and "that all may be profited thereby."(D&C 46:12) The coveting prohibited in the Old Testament is a selfish thing, enmity toward our neighbors who have cooler stuff than we do.  Desiring a spiritual gift for the purpose of blessing our neighbors is a righteous desire, and will be rewarded.

Which gifts are best, though? 
For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. (D&C 46:11)
We each have at least one spiritual gift, and we need to learn what it is and how to use it to bless others.  We can receive other gifts when we need them for specific callings we receive or situations we encounter.  In all cases, we need to put forth some effort, to develop, practice and use our gifts, or we may lose them.
Paul and Moroni agree that the greatest gift is charity. 
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.(Moroni 7:46-48)
I think charity encompasses all the other gifts.  With charity, we will really want to benefit all, and we'll know how to do it.  We will share our gifts, and appreciate the gifts of others without envy.  The Lord has such great things in store for us.  Let's use the tools He has given us, and seek for more!

What gifts have you seen in others?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Musical Monday

I don't listen to much popular music, at least not in its original form.  I prefer to sample it through various filters.  For instance, Weird Al's versions that keep the music, but vastly improve the lyrics.  Or covers by The Piano Guys, or Lindsey Stirling, or even the high school pep band, that refine the music and dispense with the lyrics altogether.

The Caterpillar recently found another filter, Postmodern Jukebox.  This group gets together in someone's large living room, and belts out new songs in classic styles.  They do preserve the lyrics, which can be appalling, so make your selections with care.  This number, however, is delightful, and perfect for the rainy sort of day we're having right now.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Space Pirate Queen

 Arr!  Lately we've been enjoying reading the Jupiter Pirates series, by Jason Fry.  It's about the Hashoone family, who ply their letter of marque in the shipping lanes of the outer solar system.  They are led by Diocletia, a no-nonsense captain and stern but loving mom.  While the whole family prefers the comfortable coveralls they wear in flight, a good captain needs something a little spiffier when doing her business in port.

I started with the Éléonore Pull-On Jeans by Jalie, in a space-age stretch denim.  They offer a great combination of style and comfort.

At one point in the story, Tycho, the main character, is frustrated.  He's afraid his usual duties at the navigation/communication station are not adequately preparing him to be a captain himself someday.  His mother has some good advice for him:
 "Tycho, listen to me," she said with a smile.  "Talking to people and knowing where to go are the most important jobs a captain has."   (Hunt for the Hydra, 198)
Those are big jobs for other mothers, too.  So I put my two favorite navigational constellations on the back pockets.  Ursa Major, 
 and Cassiopeia in shiny silver thread.

They're perfect for Captain Moms who like to keep their personal navigation/communication devices at their backs.  It's not my style, but maybe it would suit Diocletia.

Like any self-respecting pirate, I made some modifications for extra cargo space.
That is, I added real front pockets where the pattern featured faux ones.  Because pocket handkerchiefs are totally my style.  In the upper corner there, you get a glimpse of the sneaky knit waistband that increases the comfort of these jeans.  And it won't take away from the captain's style, since it hides under her classy tunic.
I used Simplicity 1162 for a classic blouse, and added this gorgeous lace, to indicate rank.  

Now I'm ready.  Belay that whining, and buckle into the starship.  Time for liftoff!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ponderizing Hebrews 8:12

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.  Hebrews 8:12
Scoot chose this verse for our consideration this week.  It is a very hopeful message, and I'm glad he did.  I decided to take a look at the context.

In this epistle, Paul tried to convince the Jewish Christians that the law of Moses was really just a preparation for the law of Christ, and that the new covenant was even better than the old.  The beginning of this chapter reflects that purpose, but then the Lord speaks of those who enter fully into the new covenant:
I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people . . . for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.  Hebrews 8:10-11
How can we get to know the Lord?  It takes study and faith, but also action, as Jesus taught the Jews:
If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.  John 7:17
We have to keep the commandments to gain a witness that they are divine.  And as we do, our own divine nature will develop, and we will come to know and be more like Him.  The reward of knowing God is amazing:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.  John 17:3
If we are working hard to obey and know God, and his laws are written in our hearts, we will easily recognize when we mess up.  We'll have the faith to repent, to trust Christ to help us do better.  Then, surely, He will be "merciful to [our] unrighteousness," and prepare us for life eternal.

What are you pondering this week?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ponderizing Moses 1:39

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  Moses 1:39
The Caterpillar chose this verse for us to ponder this week.  He has studied it in Seminary this year, and he quoted it in a strong testimony last Sunday.  It made a big impression on me when I went to Seminary, too.  It shows that not only do our lives have purpose, but our lives are God's purpose. 

Christ has assured our immortality through His atonement and resurrection.  We will all be resurrected, and live in perfect bodies some time after we die.  It is a costly gift, but He gives it to us freely.  Eternal life, living like God does, requires faith, repentance, and obedience on our part.  The more people who attain it, through the grace of Christ, the more glory God receives.  It's not a competition--He wants us all to return to Him.

As a youth, I realized that to "honour thy father and thy mother" (Exodus 20:12) goes beyond obedience.  I could bring honor to my parents by behaving in ways that would bring credit to them and the way they brought me up.  I hope I have!  Similarly, we bring honor and glory to God by walking in His ways.

In Moses 1:39, the Lord defines His own work.  But what is ours?  I found the answer here:
Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength.  Doctrine and Covenants 11:20
By doing that, we also show our love for the Lord:
If ye love me, keep my commandments.  John 14:15
It is a privilege to have been a small part of God's work in bringing four people into mortal life, which is required before immortality and eternal life.  I'm trying to teach them to do their work, too, so we can enjoy eternal life together.

Wow, there's so much to ponder in this verse!  What do you see?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ponderizing Psalm 46

In the recent LDS General Conference, Devin G. Durrant advised us to "ponderize" a verse of scripture each week. 
“So what does it mean to ponderize? I like to say it’s a combination of 80 percent extended pondering and 20 percent memorization. . . . When our minds are filled with uplifting thoughts and images, when we ‘always remember him,’ there is no room left for filth and trash."--Devin G. Durrant
For our family's ponderizing enjoyment this week, Dandelionslayer selected Psalm 46, and highlighted some passages for our focus:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Isn't that comforting?  God is in charge.  If we follow Him, we need not fear.  When I read verse 8, I wondered how desolations could be reassuring, but verse 9 made it plain:  He will destroy violence, and save the meek.  Wonderful!

What are you pondering this week?

Monday, October 5, 2015

We Are Grateful for Appliance Repair Videos

I don't like to ask for help.  This goes beyond the old conflict between self-reliance and allowing others the blessings of service.  When I need to consult a doctor or mechanic, I'm always afraid that he will blame me for my problem.  I prepare my defenses for narrow questions and contemptuous looks, but they rarely come.  Most professionals are pretty nice.

Most.  My fears are not completely unfounded. 

When we graduated from coin laundry to our own appliances, we had trouble with the dryer right away.  It just wouldn't work sometimes.  Finally I called in a repairman.  Dandelionslayer happened to be home when he came.  The repairman would not even look at me.  "She must not clean out the lint," he told my husband.  Which I did, faithfully.  Having blamed the problem on me, the repairman went his way. 

We called in again a few weeks later.  A different repairman correctly diagnosed the dryer as defective.  He brought us a new one, which has served us well.  Years later, it started making terrible noises.  So I called for repair.  The repairman did a good job, but wasn't impressed with the problem.  A piece of paper had fallen down the lint trap, into the fan.  "This is a pretty expensive piece of paper," he told me when presenting me with the bill.  But the manual that came with the dryer didn't teach me how to solve the problem myself.  Neither did the repairman.

When a pencil fell into the same space more recently, I skipped the yellow pages and let my fingers walk around the internet.  There I learned how to open up the back of the dryer and clean out the mass of lint, dust, and more than one pencil that had collected there, way out of normal reach.  I felt powerful.

When I was preparing to can peaches this summer, the dishwasher started leaking.  Gushing, all over the floor.  We gave the dishwasher a good cleaning, and it seemed to work fine.  Until I was ready to can tomatoes.  The dishwasher was still pretty clean.  I ordered a replacement gasket, and we washed by hand until it came.  Once it arrived, we popped it in under the guidance of a video expert, and the dishwasher hasn't leaked since. 

While we were waiting for the dishwasher gasket, the clothes washer quit draining.  (Why do these things all happen at once?)  Again, the manual didn't offer any solutions.  But the internet did.  Videos showed us how to take the cabinet off and test the lid switch for continuity.  The lid switch was the problem, so we ordered a new one at a fraction of a repair call price.  I almost did ask some friends for help with finishing the load that was sitting soggily in the washer, and I'm sure they would have been happy to let me bring my burdens over.  But then we figured out how to hotwire the switch, and got through the two laundry days before the new switch arrived. 

As our appliances age, parts become less available.  Things just don't last forever.  During the washers saga, I also took my favorite sewing machine in to cure its noisiness.  I was basically told to take it home and make it comfortable.  I'm far more attached to that machine than any of the washers or dryer, since I've had it much longer and done much more interesting things with it.  I grieve.  But I am grateful for the resources that empower me to fix the things I can.

What have you fixed lately?