Surviving Being Off Track – Week 2

The second week of being off track is now over and we are all getting a little stir crazy. With only one week to go there is still time to make some memories and have lots of fun. The moaning about having to go back is already in full swing, especially from my oldest who hasn’t warmed up to his teacher and at this point probably never will.  I chalk it up to helping him build character by doing things he doesn’t like. He doesn’t agree.

Here are last week’s highlights –

  1. The Library – We finally made it over to the library and grabbed a bag full of new books to read and a few DVD’s to watch.  Oldest son would only grab science books, and that’s okay because that’s what he loves. The rest are Spongebob and Barbie books. Nothing for me this time, Baby D started acting out before I dared venture into the grown up section. Next time I’m planning on reserving a little something for me so it’s super easy to grab.
  2. Playing in the snow – it snowed two days last week which meant sledding and snowmen!  IMG_2234
  3. Movies – We love movies around here and almost watch one everyday.  It gives the kids a chance to wind down for a while and gives me some much needed peace. Our favorite titles this week were “The Lorax” and “Cloudy and a Chance of Meatballs 2.”
  4. Planetarium, again – This time we went to the dome theater and watched “Ultimate Universe.”  Did I mention that having a membership is really awesome?  My son is already planning our next trip.

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    My three little monsters on Mars

  5. More Minecraft! – I’m now hoping that the novelty of playing together is starting to wear off.  I’ve spent way more time mining imaginary rock than a sane person should.  It’s still pretty fun, but so much screen time is starting to put a kink in my neck and back.

As for me, I’m still pretty happy about how the break has gone.  I’ve managed to keep the house under control and have started a new goal with my writing using the Giveit100 website where you work on something for 100 days straight trying to improve.  Most people have health and fitness goals, mine is to work on editing my book and get into a habit of working on it everyday.  So far it’s working for me and I think it’s fun, I hope it lasts!

Teaching Sewing to Kids

I’m a mom first, writer second.  I dream of being that kind of fabulous mom who comes up with all sorts of crazy and memorable activities for my kids.  Problem is, making up crazy and memorable activities takes lots of time and energy.  And, well, writing just takes lots of time.

Needless to say, when I find an activity to share with the kids I’m really excited.

Not too long ago I had this brilliant idea that I would start teaching my kids about how to use a sewing machine.  I learned how to sew when I was a kid and have been grateful for the skill all my life.  I had a simple project, a tote bag, and all the materials on hand. Showing my kids something new, where they actually make something useful, how cool is that?  Mom of the year, here I come!

Step one, cut out the pieces.  Simple enough, right?  I thought so.  All the pieces were squares and clearly marked.  I had looked forward to some quiet time while they sat and worked on this step.  However, Mr. T couldn’t manage to cut even close to the line and was zigging and zagging all over the place.  Miss K was determined to cut on the line but couldn’t get the scissors to work.  Baby D was determined to give the scissors a try and nearly cut big holes into sister’s project.  After a whole lot of whining, their’s not mine, I ended up cutting out the pieces while holding off baby and sending the other two off to play.  Now that we’ve started I’m committed to finishing, but I’m having a sinking feeling that I might need some chocolate before this is over.

The next step is to pin the pieces together.  The idea of sewing pins and kids is a bit dicey, especially with Baby D roving around stealing whatever he could get his hands on.  Miss K loved the idea of pinning so much she managed to get forty pins in the one foot section of cloth we were working on.  Mr. T, on the other hand, couldn’t get the hang of pushing the pin in then back up again. Since it’s a straight line it’s not a big deal for me, but for beginners those pins really help do keep everything organized.  Six demonstrations of how to pin later and no progress on his ability to do so, it’s time to move on.

At last we sew!

Cutting and pinning will never measure up to the golden trophy of getting to use mom’s awesome sewing machine.  And boy, were they excited!  I sat Mr. T in my lap and showed him the pedal and the needle and how it moved up and down.  His job was to gently push the pedal while I guided the fabric through.  So, naturally, he jammed his foot down on the pedal as fast and hard as it would go.  He thought it was the funniest thing in the world.   Repeated encouragement to knock it off didn’t help and after a few minutes I had to ask him to go off and play or risk turning his bag into an mangled mess.

Miss K, on the other hand, demonstrated much more control and was thrilled to watch the different sides come together as she pushed the pedal.  By the way, guiding fabric with a gazillion needles in it and a kindergartner at the pedal is far more exciting than it sounds.

In the end, the project took much longer and much more patience than I had imagined. It’s going to be a long time and take a lot of convincing, and perhaps some more chocolate, before I teach another sewing lesson.  For now at least I can say that I’ve exposed them to some of the process of sewing and it will be more familiar – should there be a next time.

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Two tote bags, finished!

Salt Dough Gone Wild!

It was one of those long stretches of summer afternoon when it was too hot to go outside. The kids slid around the house, skulking, with nothing better to do than pick fights with each other and in general, drive me nuts.

Days like these scream for distraction and that day a movie wasn’t going to cut it.  I scanned through my “Gonna try this” folder on Pinterest and saw a post about salt dough. Perfect.  It’s creative, it’s quiet, it’s unplugged, and even better, I had all the ingredients.

My kids, like most kids, love play dough.  When they play it’s a whole body sensory experience.  The dough ends up ground into their clothes, hair, crumbled all over the floor, and mushed into the carpet.  If it were cleaner, I would do it more often.

So, we made salt dough and I set the kids to the task of making dough people.  Soon the house was filled with laughing once more as they posed and dressed their creations.  One of the perks of salt dough is that once it dries it can be painted. Usually this process takes several days of air drying, or several hours in a warm oven.

I’m not that patient.  Plus, I read that salt dough can be speed dried in the microwave. Dough boy got nuked and turned out great.  Once he had cooled off he was indeed dry and ready to paint.  Dough girl was a different story.  She was long and thin with narrow delicate limbs. Dough boy was stocky and thick.

It wasn’t until I smelled the panic inducing smell of smoke that I realized my mistake. Dough girl was on fire.  I grabbed the plate and ran her outside, hoping to minimize the amount of smoke that filled the house. But it was too late.  The whole house reeked of burnt flour, which is oddly similar to the smell of burnt popcorn.

Dough girl was toast.

I braced myself for the tantrum that was sure to follow. It didn’t come. Instead, I found my daughter doubled up in laughter.  She thought the whole incident was hilarious!

There was enough dough for her to make another, and this time I made sure not to light it on fire!

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