Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday: Powerball

So, there were actually winners last night, but only 2.  That earns them, payout option of around $190 million EACH.  Even after tax that's close to $100 million.  Now I wonder who really needs that much money.  On paper can you even spend that much money?  Could you decide what you could spend every cent of that on?  I'm a numbers person.  I love

But $100 million dollars isn't exactly donate 10%, pay off your cars, house and student loans change.  If I did that and paid for all 6 kids college I'd still have over $89 million left.  Even if I toss in houses, cars and college for all the immediate relatives I'm still above $88 million.  14 day Disney Cruise for 25 doesn't even dent it.  I like my pretty new van but a big extended cab pickup for hubby.  Maybe a bigger house.  Yeah, not even close to spending 3/4 of it.

As you drive around town or listen to the radio it hits you what can really be done with that much money.  That half built church on the corner, I wonder what it would cost to finish it?  A gym for my own church?  Sponsor the next 10 years of VBS at the local church we enjoyed doing this past summer.  I wonder how much it would be to pay off all the layaways at my local Walmart?  I wonder how much it would be to start a charity that sponsors people who need money for ABA for their Autistic child.  Or even just the $1000+ it can cost to have a child privately evaluated for Autism.  Scholarships for moms who don't qualify for financial aid, to go back to college.  I wonder how many "drive thru differences" I could make?  Wouldn't it be fun to just start a TV show where you go around making a person's wish come true?

Even just living expenses.  If I invested just half of it in a safe, low yield investment like a CD I could live off the interest alone and I'd be living way above my current standard of living.

Or I could just blow it all on a $2 million house in each state.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tutorial Tuesday: fleece carrier cover

So you have a Kinderpack with Kool Nit or a Bamberoo with Solarveil, don't ditch it come winter, cover it.  Or cover any other carrier just for extra warmth.  This same tutorial can be used for a woven fabric when it isn't so warm but you will need to serge or zig zag all edges after you cut but before you sew together. 

You can also make this as a no sew using fleece (fleece does not fray, woven fabric does so you cannot do a no sew with a woven).  To make as a no sew you will need to add 4" to both sides of the hood and sides.  Once you add those 4" you will not do any of the sewing, you will instead cut 1"-2" strips on both sides of the body pieces and hood pieces.  Lay the carrier between the 2 body pieces and then tie 1 strip from the front piece to 1 strip from the back piece everywhere except where the carrier straps need to come out.  Where the carrier straps need to come out you will just cut off the strips.  That leaves only the tie downs at the bottom of the carrier to worry about.  You can either do the variation that covers the waist strap and add 4" to that and tie around that, though you would have to untie to remove it.  Or do the cover the waist strap version, adding 2" to the back and 1" to the front.  Buy stick on velcro and stick it onto the extra and wrap around and velcro closed.  Or you can cut a hole at least 1" from the edge of the bottom and tie your ribbon onto that.

To start you need the carrier you are making it for, you can use measurements as well but having the carrier handy is a good visual.  Lay the carrier out and measure the carrier across at the widest point.  For a carrier with seat darts this will not be at the waist.   Add about 1.5" for 1/2" seam allowances and 1/4" topstitching.
Then measure from the bottom of the waistband to the top of the carrier.  If your carrier has a hood and you want your cover to have a hood you need to have that on/out and measure to the top of that instead.  If your carrier does not have one and you want one, measure your child's hat or coat hood (or child) and add several inches for growth room and if the carrier does not come up as high on them as a coat would.  This is the size you need for a carrier that does NOT cover the waistband.  The extra length is going to accomodate for when the seat is filled in by child, any stretch, and any seat darts.  If you want the carrier to also cover the waist band you will need to measure the height of the waistband and add that.  Or you can measure the carrier 3D instead of flat, meaning measure from the bottom of the waistband, into the seat dart, and up to the top.  Whichever method you use, if you are doing around the waistband you will then need to add 2" to accomodate the velcro or snaps. 
Now cut 2 pieces of fleece to the height and width you just determined with your measurements and adding.  Fold that in half so the sides are even.  Lay a childs coat or jacket hood on top (or you can use a plate) and cut a round portion out at the TOP ( if your fabric has an up and down you need to pay attention to this) FOLDED edge.
Next open the fabric back out flat.  Next you need to look at your shoulder straps.  Most are attached at an angle.  Lay your carrier, lined up and atop your fleece.  Mark where your angle is, keeping in mind you will also have an extra 3/4" for seam allowance and topstitching, as well as possibly more if your carrier is not as wide at the straps.  Therefore your carrier will not be flush against the side of the fleece.  It needs to be centered instead.  Cut at an angle along the mark then cut up into the hood angling so that you are going back out to meet the full width (or your hood will be too small at the top).  For symetry I then fold it back over and cut exactly the same from the other side but you can also just repeat this for the other side,  Your resulting 2 pieces will look similiar to this (sorry, all 3 times I forgot to take a picture and I'm a bad artist).
Fold it back in half so the sides match again, right sides together.  Sew from the back of the hood (what looks like the top middle of the "heart" on top of the diagram above) forward to the front of the hood (the edge along the side).  Repeat for other body pieces.  Opened up (with the hood top folded down to lay flat) and laid out this is what it will look like now.
Place right sides together I pin the corners together, then the seam of the hood.  Then to mark where I do NOT sew I also pin on each side of the hole for the webbing on the body.  You know the angled portion isn't sewn because it is the shoulder strap hole.  But to determine where the webbing will be be, measure your carrier, from the body of the waist to the bottom of where the webbing meets the body.  Make the hole wide enough to fit the BUCKLE.  If you made it to cover the waistband too, measure the waistband, add 2" and mark each side with a pin.
Once pinned sew from 1 bottom edge (or pin) up to the pin marking the webbing hole.  Then sew from the top of the webbing hole to the angled area for the shoulder straps.  Repeat for the other side.  Then sew around from the top of one shoulder strap hole, around the hood to the top of the other.  Turn right side out and smooth.
If you made it to cover your waistband, now attach velcro or snaps to close the bottom.  If you made it to not cover your waistband you need to attach ties or straps to keep it from riding up too high.  You can use ribbon, bias, finished fabric, etc.  I made this one with snap straps, I attached the snaps to ribbon.  The finished project picture I made with tied ties.  Measure your waistband and add an inch, cut 6 ribbons that length.  If you want them to tie on, add enough to be able to tie them, cut 6.  Pin one on each body piece, for a clean edge fold the bottom up about 1/2" before you pin.  Pin them next to the side seams and in the center. 
Topstitch around the bottom edge making sure the entire edge is folded up about 1/2".  At the ribbons backstitch and restitch so you have a total of 3 (or more) lines of stitching there to reinforce the attachment.
I then topstitch, this helps keep it in place and smooth.  I sew 1/4"-1/2" in from the side seam.  Sew from where you started at the bottom (or pin), to your hole for the webbing.  Then from the top of the hole to the bottom of the shoulder strap hole.  Repeat for other side.  DO NOT topstitch closed your holes.  Topstitch around from the top of the shoulder strap hole, around the edge of the hood to the other shoulder strap hole.  Now place your carrier with the hood down, stuffed, or removed, atop the cover matching up the shoulder straps to the holes.  Mark the top of your carrier.  Top stitch along that marking.  This will keep the carrier from sliding down too much.
Contrastly, if you use the hood a lot you can mark where the hood straps are and leave holes open for those in the hood, as you did for the shoulder straps and webbing, when you are sewing and again when top stitching so the hood is covered but usable for sleeping.
Now attach velcro or snaps to your straps if you didn't make them long enough to tie.  Stick it on and cuddle a baby.
This is my first tutorial and I didn't take near enough pictures.  So if anything is unclear let me know.  If anyone makes the no sew version and takes pictures and posts them let me know and I'll be happy to link to it.  I promise next weeks will be better.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Just another manic Monday

Every Sunday people around the globe dread Monday. I hate the idea of having to get up early again or taxiing kids around for the week. However, on the weekend I run from the kids. By that I don't (usually) mean run and hide. I mean I try to keep the house semi livable without tripping over kids.

During the week I have 1 home half the day and add 1 the other half, until the rest get home from school. That isn't enough to be underfoot so I stick to my cleaning "schedule". Yes, I have a schedule, but that's a whole other post. When there are 6 kids (or more) in the family room I don't even attempt to clean around them. I clean the living room instead. When they make their way to the living room to read, i clean the kitchen instead. When they make their way to the kitchen for a snack, I clean the dining room instead. And forget cleaning the main floor bathroom while there are that many people in the house, someone always has to use it. I feel like my day is spent being chased into different rooms.

Therefore I spend my weekends only getting by in the house. Instead I do laundry, clean up the yard, clean out the car, clean upstairs, etc. By Sunday my house is looking quite cluttered. Sunday I start to look forward to the catching up I can do on Monday. Yes, a part of me looks forward to a Monday.

When I wake up Monday and start to plan my day, I am soon reminded that my daughter has therapy smack in the middle of my day. This isn't a new thing, she's had it at the same day/time for a year. I guess in all the "excitement" to clean, it just slipped my mind. That only gives me the morning because right before therapy 1 gets off the bus and right afterwards I pick up 2 more.

My Monday afternoons are spent with toddlers who only napped in the car and kids that are tired from a long day back at school. This particular Monday was also spent juggling bedtimes alone since hubby flew out early that morning. Maybe I'll catch up on housework Tuesday.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Sharings

Today I didn't make it to a morning mass with the kids. Hubby was serving one of the masses and my son's birthday party is this afternoon. I'll be going sans the small ones this evening instead.

So I have no experiences or ideas to draw on from today. I want to, instead, share some general information that will help on any day. Sundays, mass especially, is a day we ask more of small kids. That makes expectations even more important.

Coming up with an expectation is more than half the battle. It's like coming up with a goal. If you make a goal to triple your salary this year, most people will not meet that goal. If you make the goal to lose 30 lbs this month, most people will not meet that goal. The same applies to our expectations for our children. If you expect a 2 year old to sit, quiet and still, for an entire hour that expectation will not be met. Developmentally a 2 year old does not have the ability to sit still and quiet for an hour. Any other day of the week you are happy if they do that for 15 minutes in front of an interesting, toddler friendly TV show.

Just as you cannot lose 30 lbs in a month, they CANNOT sit still that long. CANNOT is the key word. It isn't that they won't, it's that they can't. One is deliberate and one is not. Would you punish your husband for something he cannot control? What if he started getting grey hair and you didn't like it? Even though it may not be something you want seen in public, it also isn't something he can control.

There are things a toddler can do though. They can look through a book. They can sit down. Once you have realistic expectations you can teach them to your child. You can remind them of the expectations before you go somewhere. You can remind them when they forget. Kids do forget, just as adults forget. If you expect anyone to never forget anything then your expectation is unrealistic. Kids are learning and may need more frequent reminders as they learn. Hurting them, embarrassing them, and punishing them will not make them remember faster.

The great thing about having realistic expectations is that you will not get upset as frequently because they are not being met. By getting upset less you are more easily able to keep your cool longer. Keeping your cool is a wonderful example to set for your children. That is a skill that will help them throughout life. Because, "You get more bees with honey".

To help set realistic expectations you have to understand the developmental level of your child. The book series "Your .... Year Old" has a book for each age. The books are short and easy reads. They cover a child's emotional, social, and physical development though. You would want to know what you were in for before you climbed a mountain. Raising kids is even more important than that. Why not be prepared?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Some new ideas

I've seen everyone else doing them forever and I really like organization so I think I'm going to give it a try. A new blog "schedule". Not something every day, but an idea for many days to give me a jumping off point, or a shove to do a post I've been avoiding. We already have "sharing Sundays", so we'll go with "manic Mondays", as a tribute to my first blogs. My first blog was to chronicle all the helmet decorations we did when my son wore a Docband for Plagiocephaly exactly 5 years ago. To this day, that blog, which I maybe post to once a year, continues to get many hits from parents wanting decorating tips/ideas or before/after pictures. Because of that, and the lack of resources, I have left that blog up even though I don't post to it. After that, I wanted to start a family blog, as a spinoff from that one I named it Manic Mommy. Then I promptly forgot about it. Manic Mondays will usually be about the coming week or the weekend past. It will talk about how I (plan to) handle (or should have handled) the chaos.

Tuesdays will be Tutorial Tuesdays since I've promised so many people tutorials for fleece carrier covers, ponchos, crochet patterns, help with their Ergo, etc so this day will be a tutorial, sometimes sewn, sometimes needlecrafts, sometimes no sew, sometimes just help. Hopefully, having to fill my Tuesdays I will get in here to get all the things people are waiting on.

In shamelessly copying everyone else, I will make Wednesdays wordless. Of course today is far from wordless but I'll include the pictures I would have shared for a wordless day anyway.

I am tossing around a "thoughtful Thursday" to get me into trouble. It would be a day when I share my opinion on a conversation or question that has come up that week, a current event, or something that's gone viral. But my opinions tend to make my mouth (or fingers) explode, and get me into trouble. Is it worth it? What do you think?

That leaves 2 days. I would like to have a review day that I share information on a place we've traveled/visited, the book I'm reading, or a product we've tried. I can't come up with a catchy title for that day. Maybe I want something general so it could also be used for giveaways and contests? Decisions, decisions.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sunday Sharings

Last week the priest gave a wonderful homily on love. This included parental love, familial love, and unconditional love. It talked of loving others as God loves you. It also talked about discipline, which means "to teach".

During this homily, as usual, some children got restless. Some parents struggled more than others. One small child was dragged out for a spanking. Right as the priest finishes preaching love a child is facing a spanking. It wasn't a child who was hitting, or more disturbing than any of the others. It was an average small child, one who developmentally really couldn't sit still and quiet for an hour. It was a child who wanted something but either wasn't being given it or wasn't being understood. It could have been any child in that mass.

In other words, it wasn't the child, it was the parent. I always look for the good in people. Maybe it was a parent who was frustrated. Maybe the parent already had a rough day with the children. Maybe it was a parent who didn't know an alternative. Maybe it was a parent who thought this is what was the "right way" (you know what happens when you "spare that rod").

I waited a week to write it. I wanted to find the right words. I am human and have no right to judge. I needed the time to let go of my feelings for the parent before I could let my sorrow, for a child raised that way, be expressed in a constructive way.

God does call us to protect the weak. That doesn't just mean the abused, sick, or hungry. That also means the children. Not just our own children, but all the children who are not receiving that unconditional love.

I've decided to spend Sundays sharing. I will share a tip, a website, a bible quote, a book title, a product, a craft, etc. I will share something that could possibly help your child make it through an hour mostly sitting. Or I will share something that will help you understand where your child is developmentally. I will share something that will give you an alternative. Maybe it will instead be a prayer for you, something you can have in your head to help with your frustrations.

Today I will start with something small since I've already talked so much. Today I share the Serenity Prayer. Because a child's developmental level is something you cannot change. It doesn't matter how you punish, you cannot make a 2 or 3 year old be capable of sitting perfectly still and quiet for an hour. Just as you can't make a 1 or 2 year old, going through a separation anxiety phase, stop crying when you leave them in the nursery. Or just like you can't make a 1 or 2 month old sleep through the night. That doesn't mean that every part of every developmental stage is easy. It does mean that accepting that it cannot be changed can help you relax about it.

It also takes courage to change the things that are not developmentally appropriate. It takes courage to discipline a child. It takes courage "to teach" them rather than just punish then. It especially takes courage to discipline them in the way they need you to when you are out in public. You have to be able to ignore the scrutiny around you. Some of that scrutiny is just in your head, it isn't real. Some of that scrutiny is real but it doesn't matter. How you treat your child is something you have to live with, not them. It can take a lot of courage to realize that and then move forward, remembering who does matter, your child.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

It's Saturday

It is early, 7:23 am to be exact.  Yes, I know that isn't particularly early.  It is a Saturday though, don't people sleep in on Saturday?  Even though I have 6 kids I do sleep in on Saturday.  Of course, "sleeping in" may have different standards than others.  I usually get up at 6:30 am so 7:30 am is sleeping in.  L usually sleeps in too, we sleep in together.  The other kids are old enough to walk downstairs and turn on the TV.  If L wakes up she is old enough to walk downstairs and watch TV with older siblings.

So, why am I up before 7:30am on a Saturday?  Nope, it isn't even for anything exciting.  Usually S is the first one up so she opens the gate, goes downstairs and turns on the TV.  Today A beat her to the gate.  A cannot open the gate so A screams.  Does S open the gate?  No, she instead tries to find out what is wrong.  A screams again.  Did I mention that A usually sleeps in too?  Soon I am awake.  If A is awake it must be at least 7:30am.  But I can't be sure because my phone died in the night.  My phone charger died too so I can't even plug it in without borrowing a charger from the husband or kids.  I guess I'll get up.

It is freezing, why is it so cold?  I go downstairs and check the thermostat.  That is when I get the double bad news.  It is 6:40 am and it is 66 degrees in our house.  Yesterday it warmed up enough to switch to the a/c but I forgot to turn it back to heat before bed.  I turn the heat to 72 then go cuddle the kids in a blanket on the sofa watching TV.  I walk to get myself a blanket and the lights flicker.  The power had gone off then on again.  This resets everything. 

So here I sit, way too early in the morning, waiting for the heat to turn back on from "wait", the cable box to reboot, and someone to wake up and take pity on me.

The great thing about mornings like this is that you know the day can only get better.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sometimes its better not to know

I love my kids, don't get me wrong. And it's so much fun to watch them grow and learn. When your kids are delayed in any way, that learning elicits even stronger feelings. You celebrate every single word that comes out of a speech delayed child. The first pun from an autistic child is more than just humorous.

Some days though you can't help but have the passing thought, why did I want them to talk? Admit it, when your're not even sure your 4 year old has taken a breath in the last 30 minutes, the thought crosses your mind. When your 2 year old tells you "no" for the 37th time that day, you think it.

Soon your kids learn to spell. No longer can you ask your husband if he's up to taking the kids to the "P-A-R-K". With spelling comes reading. Then they start reading the newsletters from school: Sonic night, Wendy's night, Movie night, you can't get anything past them. Don't take them shopping once they can read. "But mom, it's on sale".

Before they can read they learn the basics. On some long days you don't even know the basics. As I sit nursing a headache my kids want Popsicles. Ok, sure. I make my way to the freezer and hand the 2 year old an orange Popsicle. She glares at me. I hand her a purple Popsicle. She glares some more. What do you want L? Blue. I empty the brand new box looking for a blue one. Obviously I don't know my colors today, because the box clearly shows it doesn't even come with blue.

Friday, November 2, 2012

These are a few of our favorite things

The holidays are coming and the big question is, what is your 1 (2, 3, etc) year olds favorite toys. As this question came up again my daughter was playing with a pair of rain boots. That brings me to our favorite "things", not necessarily "toys".

For the crawler, our favorite thing is anything they can pull up on, push, bang with their hands, empty, throw, etc. A full laundry basket is a good one. Ok, they like push toys and activity tables. But a full laundry basket (full of anything, not just laundry) is stable enough to support them pulling up but still able to be slowly pushed around (as oppose to some push toys that go so fast they fall down). When they're bored of that they throw everything out one by one. Soon they land on their bottom as the basket tips on its side from less weight. From there they empty the rest and move on to playing with the basket. Eventually it ends up upside down. Now the larger side is down so it's more stable and they pull up on it again. They can bang on the bottom like a giant drum and push it around some more. You just gained 15 minutes of independent play from something you already had in your house. It grows with the child too. Soon they become climbers that will get in and make it a nest, car, boat, rocket, house, etc.

Toddlers favorite toys are the dishes. You can buy plenty of toddler size kitchen toys. Or you can raid everything plastic you have. Soon your toddler is using your little pot and wooden spoon as a drum while wearing your colander as a hat. When that gets old they start using your plastic ware as stacking toys. The really fun mom even lets them take a plastic pitcher and some cups onto the porch or into the tub to practice pouring. If you want to get mommy if the year you can even let them "wash" them in the sink. If your not so brave, some large (in other words, not choking hazard size) Pom poms, balls of socks, old jar lids, or homemade bean bags can be put in and out of them. Bonus, this is a good time to practice colors, shapes and counting.

Preschoolers love being like big kids. Give them a coloring book and crayons and they will color for a bit. But give them a piece of paper and a pencil or pen and they'll "write" and do "homework" like the big kids for much longer. Do you want to step it up a notch, google a cooked playdoh recipe (cooked lasts longer and has a better consistency than the no cook recipe and homemade crumbles less than store bought plus uses so much salt they don't try to eat it after the first taste). The staples for any craft friendly pantry are flour, salt, cream of tartar, dawn dish soap, glycerin, white school glue, starch, rice, kool aid packets, and cornstarch, with these and a couple plastic containers your ready for any rainy day.

School aged kids can get by with bags and blankets. With the blankets they can make forts, tents, castles, puppet theaters, hammocks, etc indoors or out. With the bags they can pack flashlights, snacks, sticks, rocks, leaves, socks, etc for crafts, picnics, and play. Sticks become guns and swords (for both boys and girls whether you like it or not). They can also be crafted into wands, mobiles, etc. Rocks are good as hammers, weights, money, treasure, or painted as paperweights or pets. Socks become balls, treat sacks, beanbags, gloves (or animal "paws"), or puppets. Leaves can be pressed, printed, rubbed, used as tickets, money, for a collage, or hung from the stick mobiles.

All the older kids need is a library card and the imagination you have been nurturing with the above "toys" since they were born. A ball or box thrown into the mix for any age doesn't hurt either. Those too tight clothes you have figured out you'll never fit in again, the heels your afraid to walk in, and a pair of rain boots add the perfect "outfit" to their make believe play. You'd be surprised what you can do with a t shirt (smock, cape, mane, ninja mask, purse, etc).