Monday, September 19, 2016

The Hulk and Braiding Foot Bliss

The more I use my Bernina sewing machine the more and more I absolutely love it.  I have so many possibilities at my finger tips between the attachments and presser feet and accessories.  It could have been almost overwhelming if I had tried to learn about all the options at once.  And I admit when I pop into my local Bernina Dealer and ogle their latest machines I do feel a bit overwhelmed still with all the other options out there.  Recently, I sold some of my extra crafting supplies on Ebay and decided that I was going to spend a little bit of those proceeds on some new feet for my sewing machine.  One of the presser feet I purchased was the #21 Braiding Foot.  You can learn more about this presser foot at Bernina’s Website here.  Today, I used it for the very first time and I am in complete braiding foot bliss.

The word “Superheroes” has found a permanent place in our home.  They are some my family’s favorite types of movies.  And now that my kids are getting a little older, they have become so enthralled with them that all four of my older children requested superhero costumes for Halloween this year.  I admit I am a little bit intimidated by this request, and I am worried that I won’t be able to get them all completed in time especially with the upcoming surgery and twelve week recovery I am facing soon.  So I decided that just maybe if I worked on them a bit this summer I would have a better chance of getting them completed by October.
The Hulk is the costume that my husband and I chose for our four year old this year.  Mostly because he is super small for his age and so completely opposite of who The Hulk is in the films and cartoons that we found the idea of it pretty amusing.  So I tried to figure out the best way to make a cute costume and keep it as simple and time saving as possible.  I found an awesome baby/toddler costume on Etsy for Hulk that was my inspiration for this project.  You can check out my inspiration at: KadydidDesigns.  So I bought a pair of purple sweatpants and a white long sleeved t-shirt on Amazon and set to work as soon as they arrived.  First, I tried the pants on my son and had to cut off the extra length that would have been dragging, because of his being so small (makes waist and length sizes a bear to find that fit him well).  Next, I marked his knee where I would be doing the ragged edges.  After cutting the random edges around the knees I zigzagged the edge and proceeded to the waistline.  Because he beefs up when he gets angry The Hulk is always ripping and damaging his clothes and in the cartoons he often has twine or rope around his pants to help hold them up.  So I bought some 1/8 inch white cord to use for my version of rope and I am so glad to be able to say it fits in the braiding foot.

You just slip your cord or ribbon through the front of the foot, which keeps it centered and feeds it beautifully onto the fabric you are sewing.  With a zigzag stitch, I attached it all the way around the waistline of the sweats, after removing the faux purple tie that was attached when I purchased them.  I still can’t believe how slick and easy this cording went on.  The foot was great and kept the seam it was sewing next to in place so it didn’t curl funny. The feed on the machine was so even that the elastic in the waistband didn’t have a chance to shift or move and get sewn into the cord seam on accident.  So a tiny success in my sewing room today and a good start on at least one of my kids costumes.  I am so glad I splurged and invested in my new braiding foot as I now see many sewing possibilities for it in the future.  I highly recommend this foot for anyone who does clothing and costumes and well as home d├ęcor.  I am planning on adding green to the legs so I don’t have to use paint for the proper look and skin tone.  But that is a project and an update for another day.

This entry was originally posted on July 29, 2014 on my previous blog.  I am currently moving all of it's contents to this blog.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Crafting a Homeschool Education

“Should I homeschool my children?”

I think this is a question that is gaining more traction with parents over the past several years.  Personally it is a question that I have considered briefly several different times in the past.  Each time I faced the same feelings and questions that most parents do when considering this option:
  • I don’t have a degree in education.  Am I qualified to teach my kids?
  • Will I do more harm then good by educating them at home?
  • How can I possibly re-create public school at home?
  • What about socialization and letting them have friends?
  • Will they be able to get into college without being an official High School Graduate?
How does a parent decide to homeschool their children?  Well I don’t think I can answer for every parent, but I can share my journey in reaching my decision with you.  It first began about the time that my oldest was getting ready to begin third grade.  She had struggled through second grade with reading and fluency and I spent hours everyday when she got home re-teaching homework that had not been covered well enough in class for her to understand.  Ultimately that year I figured I had helped enough and she would be okay, since her class work was getting done and it was only the testing she struggled with by the end of the year.  Fast forward to this spring as she began the second half of her fifth grade year in school.  I could tell there was something wrong, but I had difficulty figuring out exactly what it was.  My daughter seemed depressed and was quiet all the time.  She took to hiding assignments until the last minute because they weren’t something she felt capable of doing.  A chapter book like “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” was well beyond her reading ability.  She still preferred to read Rainbow Fairy books at about second grade level, and this was after the battle of wills it had become to even get her to read at home for her required thirty minutes a day.  I was beside myself with worry knowing that if I didn’t do something she was going to fall far enough behind that it was really going to affect her confidence and possibly her future if she needed to be held back a year or struggled in high school.

This same year her sister has been struggling with the fourth grade.  She clashed with her teacher and with the restrictions and lack of creativity in the curriculum.  I really hadn’t been paying much attention to “Common Core” until it hit our schools and started affecting my children.  As I started to research what it was and what it involved and asked my children how they were being taught different subjects in school I learned something that really opened my eyes to our current education system.  Not only were the teachers struggling with teaching common core either from not enjoying what they were required to present or because it was difficult to present, but it also made it impossible for the teachers (that we love because they work outside the box and really teach our kids well) to teach our kids, some of the best teachers have even given up teaching for a different profession altogether.  For example: so many restrictions were placed on my girls science fair projects this spring that it was no longer a fun science fair project but drudgery that everyone in my house groaned about and didn’t look forward to.

My son’s experience with first grade this year has been a rollercoaster, and while I couldn’t ask for a better teacher, because she is an amazing woman who not only manages to keep my son who is quite ahead challenged each day and engaged in school, but she also manages to do that with the kids who are struggling.  In a perfect world we would all have teachers that could reach our kids and teach them as well as she does and homeschool wouldn’t even need to be considered.  If you want to read more about his challenges read my previous post about drugs in school.

Finally I looked at the school’s calendar and schedule for the rest of the year.  I was surprised to find out that from January to May the only thing the schools are teaching our kids is how to take tests.  No new material is being taught.  They spent a couple of weeks doing drills and practice problems to get the kids ready for the upcoming test and then the following week they test.  Then this cycle is repeated until the end of April.  By the time they reach May both the children and teachers are burned out mentally and don’t do much until the end of school.

After much prayer, debate with my husband and pondering I came to the conclusion that I’ve had enough and so have my kids.  I talked with each of my girls individually and had them pray about the issues as well.  Together we felt it was time.  Our family was going to stand up and say “Enough.”  We were going to take back the control of our learning and education and learn how to love learning again.  With the decision made my family’s journey into the realm of homeschool has begun.  Where we go from here I have faith in the Lord to guide me as I begin crafting a new talent.  The talent of teaching my children and crafting a curriculum to fit their needs and interests.

This entry was originally posted on June 19, 2015 on my previous blog.  I am currently moving it's contents to this blog.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

My First Grader’s Experience with Pills at School

In January while washing laundry I found a little Ziploc bag with a assortment of different pills in it in the wash.  Not labelled in any way and each pill was different.  Needless to say I kind of freaked out a bit with my husband as we talked about how to approach the kids and handle the situation.  Fortunately for them it was a quiet freak out that they didn’t witness.  All they saw was the calm and composed approach we used to deal with it.  So I started with my fifth grader and the conversation went something like this “Hey sweetheart I was doing laundry today and I found something weird in the wash that isn’t mine.”  I showed her the baggie and asked.  “Is this yours or do you know anything about it by chance?”  She insisted that she had never seen it before and didn’t know what it was.  Knowing I can trust her because she is always honest with me, I moved down the line to my fourth grader.  Same conversation and same answer.  While it was a relief it was also more worrisome because now I only had my younger children left to ask.

When my first grader walked in the door from playing outside I asked him the same question.  His response “Are those mine mom?”  I calmly asked him to tell me a little bit about the bag.  “Oh, a friend at school gave it to me but I didn’t know what it was so I just put it in my pocket and forgot about it.”  Did he take or eat any of the pills? No.  Did he understand that this little bag was considered drugs? No, he face turned very pale and he insisted that he would never take drugs and didn’t know that medicine was drugs.  The details of the event were that another first grader had given him the bag on the playground during lunch time and told him not to worry about it because he would forget that he gave them to my son.  Fortunately, because we have a child with epilepsy and a heart condition we have previously instilled in all of our children how dangerous medicine can be and that if they take their brother’s pills or anyone’s pills without mom or dad knowing they could get sick and die.  Because of this knowledge about medicine and not the talk about drugs we had with my son, he was protected and knew better then to take any of the pills he was given.

My son’s teacher was contacted and the school principal got involved and I gave the principal the now partially dissolved pills from being in the washing machine to show the other child involved and the child’s parents.  Do I think the other first grader should be punished severely? No.  This may shock you and you may disagree, but at the age of 6 years old I firmly believe that this child didn’t understand that he was doing something so dangerous any more then my own 6 year old son did.  I only wanted to make sure that the child understood that it was dangerous and should never happen again.  Honestly, it could easily have been a daily pack from mom’s purse with her vitamins and a pain killer or something, but it was not something that I could just let go.

Now that it has been dealt with I have had the strong impression that I needed to share our story.  Not because I wanted people to tell me what they thought about how it was handled, but because children deserve to be protected.  I have always wondered when the right time to warn my children and teach them about drugs and medicine was, and I can honestly say that with the world the way it is today that as soon as they head off to school, or as soon as they can reach the medicine cabinet is when you should be talking with your children.  Tell them what medicine they are taking when they are sick and why you are giving it to them.  Explain what could happen if they took too much of it and help them understand that when you take something and you don’t need it because you are sick it is considered drugs.

This entry was originally posted on March 22, 2015 on my previous blog.  I am currently moving all of it's content to this blog.