48 In Articles

coming up for air & the pleated apron

Someone asked what I was doing in the last post… I was right there with them making fruit salad when I smelled a stinky and looked down to John Martin only be taken back by the disaster surrounding us that took the children less than 5 minutes to create.
Usually on days like the one I showed previously {which has been very similar to most of our days this week} I start self-talk that sounds like this, “How in the world am I ever going to have my house picked up? I need 3 or 4 clones. I can’t keep anything clean. I clean one room only to turn around to find another disaster. I just finished cleaning up from lunch and now I have to think about dinner… what are we going to have dinner? I have frozen chicken breasts… I guess I’ll thaw them out…” then I reach in the freezer to find…


a smiling hedgehog,
that gently reminds me of the joy of the Lord; that I get to take care of these children {and their messes}, that I get to have them home with me, that I get to do their laundry, that I get to prepare their lunches, and that I get to make dinner. That all of the little things that I find to be slightly frustrating have been entrusted to me. And I am thankful…
Or was, until I couldn’t find anything to serve with the frozen chicken breasts… it’s a vicious cycle you know!
The little ones have also made a discovery. A discovery I really was hoping to introduce them to the summer before they leave for college. But Morgan came in and said, “Mom do you know there’s a website called PBSKids. ort ?” I tried to tell her there was no such thing… that it was all pretend… she didn’t buy it! πŸ™‚ So, here’s our newest challenge.


Sharing time on the computer with 2 kids who don’t like to share time on the computer with each other. Conveniently, if they need a potty break they don’t have to go far.


A lot of you asked about the board behind me in the picture with the apron. It is a bulletin board that I covered with outdoor fabric and added nailhead trim. I found mine through a local freight company but the brand is Best Rite and they have fabulous products! You should go see. If you’ve been around long, you know I have a fascination with all things “teacher supply store-ish”… I can add their site to my list. One hangs by our back door {which is open for light}. It is 4 feet tall by 8 feet long.


And I have another one in the playroom that is 4 feet tall by 10 feet long… it’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen and I LOVE it! It has cork around the outside and dry erase in the middle.


It conveniently came with map clips, so I immediately had to find a map, or two.



The map came from a friend who’s a teacher that I met through the blog {that will probably make her feel uncomfortable… but it’s ok, we’re real friends now, not just internet friends}. The retractable map has both the United States and the World. It’s really fun!


And last but not least… the apron tutorial. Both fabrics I used were vintage. The floral was my mother’s {and has nothing noted on the selvage} and the turquoise came from my grandmother’s stash.

Thank you, Marla for hosting the tutorial at your site for me. Please click on this link to save or print the step by step tutorial https://marlaandshane.com/Pleated_Apron_Tutorial.pdf

Please make one this weekend! It’s very easy and I made the step by step tutorial {with pictures} very easy to follow. I would love to see any you make! Feel free to make as many as you want to give away but please refrain from mass producing them to sell for profit on etsy {or elsewhere}… unless you want to give me 90% of the proceeds and then we can talk!

Happy Friday!

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  • Jennifer
    August 14, 2009 at 11:01 am

    A great website for little ones is http://www.starfall.com It teaches kids letter sounds and then progresses as they progress. My kids at school love it!

    I also love your blog! I'm not a mom yet, but you make me look forward to it everyday! God Bless your sweet, adorable, sometimes messy and stinky family!

  • Cora
    August 14, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Yes we GET to do all those things when we have children…..Children are a gift from God, only loaned to us for a time to teach, nurture, and love! What a huge blessing and privledge!!
    Thanks for sharing with us!

  • Ben and Kristen
    August 14, 2009 at 11:08 am

    I think we share a crush on school supplies/teachery things. I have a Knowledge Tree outlet around the corner from me and have not made it there yet this summer. I am dying to go! I love the idea of teaching our kids things while they are still at home (ie under 5). BTW thanks for emailing back about the diapers! We are going to go for it as soon as we are out of the ones we are in now.

  • Megan
    August 14, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I've been constantly checking your blog for the apron tutorial and am so excited to give it a try!

    And thanks for reminding me of what a privilege it is that we get to take care of our little monsters. I've had a tough week with mine and needed that little reminder…I also need a good dose of patience. Got any to spare?

  • Amanda Thrasher
    August 14, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    O.k. it cracks me up about the teacher friend who is now a "real" friend. My girlfriends are sitting here at the beach with me going, "what are you reading?" "who is Darby?" I told them you were my best internet/email friend and they think I've lost my marbles. one day soon—real friends.

  • Amanda Thrasher
    August 14, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    O.k. it cracks me up about the teacher friend who is now a "real" friend. My girlfriends are sitting here at the beach with me going, "what are you reading?" "who is Darby?" I told them you were my best internet/email friend and they think I've lost my marbles. one day soon—real friends.

  • Molly
    August 14, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Ok, so I've been reading your blog for months and I have a girlfriend crush on you. I read and keep saying "me too" or "I can help" or "what??" — so I finally made an account today to tell you hi!
    Get a digital kitchen timer and set it for 10 minutes and every time it goes off the girls have to switch who is on the computer. That is what I do for my 4 and 6 year olds. They can't argue with a timer and it is easy to use so they know how to reset it themselves.
    Thanks you for ALL of your posts! You are who and what I want to be when I grow up (even if I'm sure that I'm much older than you).

  • Laura
    August 14, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    sweet. thanks.

  • Becky
    August 14, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    great job on the "tut", D. i'll have to give it a try. but mine will have to be more….oh i'll just say it…plus sized.

  • Amy
    August 14, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    The smiling hedgehog is hilarious!I was just telling someone that, although my first born is now 2, I finally felt like a mom the other day when I opened the washing machine and pulled out a plastic teacup with my clean clothes, then got in the shower and found the leftover stick from a lollipop on the side of the tub! Each day I can't wait for a few seconds to myself (usually naptime), but as soon as I get them, I'm ready to wake her up!!

  • Kristen
    August 14, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Thanks for that reminder. It was definitely good for me to hear this week after sending AC off to first grade. It is truly a blessing! AC loves pbskids and starfall!

  • aedozier
    August 14, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Too cute!!! I second what Amy said. I am always ready for a few minutes by myself during nap time(and I work full time) but I can't wait for her to get up!

  • Jessica Ranjbari
    August 14, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Of course I love all the pictures – and your bulletin boards! I'm most excited about the apron tutorial though… I've been wanting to make one for a while, but needed an easy tutorial. I'll send pictures once I make one! Thanks Darby πŸ™‚

  • Nancy
    August 14, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    I completely agree that we are blessed to "get" to take care of these kids and to be able to be home to mold them as God has entrusted us to do. I love your blog, love it, love it, love it!
    Having been a teacher before children, I let out a gasp when I saw the gorgeous maps and cork/dry erase board. I want to come play at your house! πŸ™‚

  • Nancy
    August 14, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    One more thing… I have found my daughter's Tinkerbell sunglasses in my freezer. Why? She likes how foggy they are when she puts them on. I am no longer surprised when I see them next to the toaster waffles.

  • Invited In
    August 14, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Wow sister!! I sure wish we new each other in real life:) I just love reading about you and your family. What a blessing it is to be able to learn and relate to a sweet lady like you who is also in the midst of motherhood.

    I too have a weakness for school supplies as well as a means to organize them.
    Discountschoolsupplies.com has become my new favorite supply source. They have great prices and a huge selection, which is great for a cheap(I mean thrifty) mama like myself.
    Blessing to you!!

  • duchess
    August 14, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    You are so on your way to homeschooling.
    You already have most of the stuff for a great classroom.
    I'm just sayin'.

  • Amanda @ Serenity Now
    August 14, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Love school supplies!! πŸ™‚ I wonder if I could lift a bulletin board from my mom…she teaches 2nd grade at a local Christian school. Nah, I bet she'd notice if she went in tomorrow and her bb of the Fall scene was missing. πŸ˜‰

  • Mahalo
    August 14, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Darby, thank you for your post today and your pictures from a couple of days ago. I check your blog often. I am a mom of three boys under 8 and expecting our 4th child. I have so many days where I feel overwhelmed with my household duties. The part you wrote about "getting" to do these things for your family really touched me and was a gentle reminder for me to change my focus when I feel like I can't keep up around this busy house. Also, I love the bulletin boards. I have on in my office that is 3X5 feet, just waiting for the perfect showcase wall. Thanks again for creating such a great blog.

  • Victoria
    August 14, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Ahhhhh thanks for the reminder about all we "get" to do. πŸ™‚

    I understand about sharing the computer with my 4 year old. She loves pbskids.ort and starfall.com.

  • thelaundryisneverfinished
    August 14, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Ha! That picture of the girls is a daily picture of my boys. Ry has actually learned a ton on pbskids; it's really surprised me, in a good way. Jack is his little sidekick.

    And I love the God reminders that give levity to the day-they are lifesavers in the day of a mom!

  • Ashley
    August 14, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    That sounds like every day for me!

  • Devon
    August 14, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks Darby for being kind enough to post the apron tutorial. You could make a ton of $$ off of your original and innovative patterns and you are kind enough to provide them to us free of charge.

    That hedgehog was hilarious.

    Aren't kids the best? The little guy held a dance party last night with me and the hubbie. I've truly never laughed so hard in my entire life. Crazy times, both good and bad, always makes me realize what really matters.

  • Ashley
    August 14, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    That was me that asked, I think. And, I wasn't making fun, of course. I love it. I want to be involved in a mess like that. I just couldn't imagine what y'all were doing. Love the mess. Love the boards. Love the hog.

  • the brown's
    August 14, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    love the hedgehog!

    that would brighten anyone's day!!

  • mary katharine
    August 14, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Okay, I don't have time to read all of the comments, but surely someone other than me got a much needed laugh about the potty seat!!! That's awesome. "Good Stuff" as my husband would say. And btw, try having one computer and FOUR little ones wanting to use it all at the same time:). Thank goodness the fifth hasn't discovered it yet. The little green backlight on the "on" button on the printer keeps her attention thus far (when she presses it there is also a nice little "beep." yes, hours upon hours of fun for her!!).

    And as far as the twitter entry … I have to say, the MOST excitement I've had with twitter was getting the email on Sunday that you wanted to follow me. HA! I was almost convinced I should actually try and DO something with my account. While the thought was intriguing, it was fleeting, trust me. But my excitement and the little self image boost I had from thinking that you actually cared enough about me to want to follow me was dashed when I read your entry. πŸ™‚ Oh well … it was nice while it lasted.

    Again, you are such a blessing to so many … so many you do not know.

    To God be the Glory!

  • Haydee
    August 14, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    You really saved me today. I needed something handmade as part of a gift and I made your apron. (I'll email you a pic ASAP) The instructions were super easy to follow and it turned out perfect! Thanks so much for your generosity in sharing your talents. You should seriously publish a "simple sewing" book- your kids are Uh-dorable!

  • Jacci
    August 14, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    That hedgehog was a great chuckle. My husband, Sam, glanced around at the screen just as I scrolled to that photo. He gave me the funniest look πŸ˜‰

    Sweet reminders of the privelege and GOD GIVEN labor of love we have as mamas. Thanks, sister.

  • Elizabeth
    August 15, 2009 at 5:45 am

    thanks for the tutorial, darby!

    i cracked up at the hedgehog. my daughter got one of those too….i think in a happy meal or something. i find little things like that every once in a while and it always makes me smile too

  • The Cribb Family
    August 15, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Loved the hedgehog surprise……..thank you for reminding me to quit being selfish and realize AGAIN that we are so priviliged to be trusted with the precious lives of our children..it is easy to forget when they are fighting, tearing up the house, etc…love your bulletin board. I made a really big one almost just like yours for our back door area a few years ago…it is so handy & I leave all our photo christmas cards on it. I know this sounds stalkerish, but from what I can tell about you from your blog, i think you are my clone…..too bad we aren't closer to help each other with cleaning, cooking, etc…motherhood is demanding, but it is all worth it.
    In Him,

  • erika
    August 15, 2009 at 7:35 am

    precious, absolutely precious. all of it! i love you!!

  • Krista
    August 15, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Thanks for the apron tutorial! I went and bought my fabric last night … can't wait to make it … well, attempt to make it. Have a great day!

  • Marcy Swan
    August 15, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I have never left a comment before and I don't see how you possibly have time to read these. Thank you for letting us see that your house is a mess sometimes and that you also talk to yourself! I have 4 kids under the age of 8 and a husband that is gone from sun up to sun down working. I am happy that he has a job because for 7 months he did not. I enjoy your blog, I don't know how I survived without your cuke and sour cream stuff!! I used to be an interior designer about three kids ago, maybe I will again one day. I loved your post about being content, I pray for that every morning. I am trying to simplify and be thankful for all of my blessings. God did not give me more than I can handle, I just need to ask him for help more often.

  • Sue
    August 15, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    I made an apron using your tutorial. It was easy and didn't take very long with your great instructions. Just wish my picture looked as cute as yours!!!!!!!

  • rustic rooster interiors
    August 16, 2009 at 8:26 am

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your Blog… I've been following it for a while now. Your kids & family are adorable! I couldn't stop laughing when I saw the picture of your daughter standing on the potty next to the computer… Classic! Plus, I wish I had the talent & skills to make that apron (I’m going to try & get my mom to make it for me, cross your fingers!). ADORABLE! Thanks for sharing everything…
    XOXO, Alexandra

  • Tina
    August 16, 2009 at 11:05 am

    just curious…are you gearing up for homeschooling?

  • Anonymous
    August 16, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    i just made my little apron last night and it is SO CUTE. thanks for the great tutorial!

  • jade
    August 17, 2009 at 7:32 am

    hi darby! it's been a while since i popped in. i haven't seen a blog in what feels like ages and of course i had to check yours first. πŸ™‚

    so… we found a my little pony in our fridge this weekend. makena's cousin was hiding it so she could take it home. too cute!

    love your kitchen mess. looks like my house right now.

    and i'm with you on twitter. i do it for craft hope because i know people are watching, but use fb for my personal stuff. hey, i should find you. going now!

  • melissa richie
    August 17, 2009 at 10:54 am

    I'm just now reading this post, and I smiled when I read about the hedgehog. I feel like I had a similar realization this past week, too. I blogged about it last night before I had a chance to read this.

    I don't know you, but I think it's cool that God teaches us all sorts of things at all sorts of times in all sorts of ways and then puts us "around" people who are learning the same thing…

    happy monday!

  • Kendall Boggs
    August 17, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    love the apron! My mom taught me to sew when I was 9. Ewe, that was 41 yrs. ago. yikes! She had to chew me off her arm cause i was clued to her while she sewed. Anyway, since Jordan doesn't sew [yet] we are going to use this apron as her first project this week when she is here visiting! I'm thinking wrappin that tie around to the front and having 2 large covered buttons (to secure it) would be cute. (but I'm always trying to complicate things. You are amazing girl!

  • Carmen
    April 11, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    The apron tutorial is magnificent! I made one to send to a friend and she LOVES it! Thank you for easy, step by step instructions and all the pictures. I’m a very visual person and they helped immensely. I blogged about it here: https://seaschell.blogspot.com/2010/04/swapping-with-mia-part-2.html

  • New Things « The Davises
    April 28, 2010 at 10:25 am

    […] of them out in a half-day but such is life in learning.Β  You can find the tutorial for the apron here.Β I can’t believe it but I just realized I didn’t take aΒ picture of the dish […]

  • Molly
    August 26, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    I just tried opening the link to the apron pdf and it is not working. Looks really cute!
    Hope you get it up and running again!

  • Anna
    August 30, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Aw, man. I was psyching myself up to make this as my first sewing project of fall. It’s too cute! πŸ™‚

  • michelle
    May 15, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Is the tutorial available? I went to the link but it won’t load. I’d love to make this to keep at work for when I have to prepare food for dept events.


  • Stacey
    February 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I reallywanted to read the tutorial for the pleated apron (it’s adorable!) to see if I am skilled enough to make it. However, the website listed is no longer available. Do you have the instructions posted anywhere else? Thanks!

  • Jennifer Saranow Schultz (aka Hint Mama)
    November 11, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Using a bulletin board to display kid artwork is such a brilliant idea. I included it today in a post on 7 clever (and frugal) ways to display the ever evolving art from little ones.