Thursday, November 26, 2009

Skinny Pants

I discovered this clothing company today. They make pants for skinny kids. I have a skinny kid. I've had the pleasure of buying a pair of shorts that "should be" his size only to have him pull up the shorts, let go and have the shorts fall the entire way to the floor. I have two feelings about this. The first is frustration as it is so hard to find pants (even slims) that fit. The second is a twinge of jealousy. I wish I had this problem!!! OK, enough about me.

Yes, we buy the pants with the elastic inside that gathers in the extra fabric. Unfortunately, we have to gather so much fabric that it just isn't a good look. So, I've tried and tried to find slims to fit. When I get the waist size correct his ankles are sticking out. His favorite pair of pants are elastic around the waist. As we get into the teen years, this just isn't as groovy as it used to be.

So, what's a mom to do? Well, now one option is the Stringbeans Clothing Company.

According to their web site, they make cargo pants for boys and jeans for girls. The pants come with a 4 inch faced hem for rolling. This helps extend the life of the pants as your kiddo grows. They also have a VERY groovy item called cufflinx that iron on to the bottom of the pants to extend the life of those "floods." I see this as more of an option for girls which doesn't help me at all but it is such a great idea.

The price of the cargo pant is $40. I have to admit this is more than I usually spend on a pair of pants. It isn't, however, out of the range of a decent pair of pants at the mall. The website did not mention whether the pants are button/snap and zipper or elastic waist. I have an email in to the company to find out. This makes a big difference to me, as a sewer, for the $40 price tag.

Here's my dilemma: I'm pretty sure I can sew up a pair of similar cargo pants for Nathan for under $40. Now, those will be elastic at the waist pants. I have the pattern, I know how to sew, I have the time. I could make them in several colors.

So, what am I saying about Stringbeans? I think it is a fabulous idea. Few people sew these days. Most people won't balk at the price. The pants probably aren't for us for the reasons mentioned above but I believe many others will find them a good value. I wish these ladies lots of luck and good fortune.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quilty fun..

I bought a seasonal copy of Quilting Art magazine which is a real luxury for me. I acquiesced to the price as there were several projects I thought were interesting. The first was one I modified to make the above "art quilt." I'm no artist but thought this came out OK for my first try. I drew on the flower in permanent ink, used lots of water and fabric paint, steam ironed the whole thing when dry and then went about quilting. I ripped out quite a bit of my quilting until I was satisfied. OK, maybe mostly satisfied. The center of the flower is another medal from Mike's Nana's collection. This one is for Mike's mom's birthday.

I'm also in the midst of a second "painted quilt." This work in progress was inspired by Nolan. He was drawing funky trees this morning and I thought they would be fun in thread. As the boys were working on their Shakespeare Acrostic poems, I was painting fabric. It is fun to all work at the same table, even on separate projects. I'm planning this piece as our bathroom curtain. If it turns out.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We'll be stuffed full of turkey by the end of the day as we have two dinners to attend.It will be nice to see both families in one day. For that we are thankful.

Monday, November 23, 2009

You know you're out of touch when...

I was telling a friend that I made my own laundry detergent. She asked if it was "green." I replied, "It all depends on the color of the soap you use."

Ahem....she was referring to the environmental impact of the laundry detergent, NOT the color.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Hey, didn't this used to be a sewing blog????

Why, yes, I used to post quite a bit about my sewing. Well, I'm trying to get back into the sewing room. My most recent brainstorm came after visiting St. James church. They had the most beautiful modern stained glass windows. Three windows on either side of the crucifix. So, here's my in-progress version using one of Mike's grandmother's treasures from the bag of broken medals and rosaries. She and I loved to discuss the beautiful churches we'd seen, so I think she would approve of me using her precious medals in this way. This is an especially beautiful crucifix and I may have trouble giving this little hanging away. In other news....head over to 60 piggies for a give away and check out her etsy shop. All proceeds go toward their adoption costs. I am still working on the quilt. Really, I am.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Autism and vocabulary lessons

I've shared before that Nathan is diagnosed with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome. We've known this for years and have worked hard throughout his life to help him learn. Autism has many faces and as the trite saying goes, "If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism."

One of the many reasons we've chosen to return to homeschooling has to do with Nathan's unique learning style. Language has always been a terrible struggle for him. He is a visual learner and thinker. This year, one of my goals is to improve his vocabulary. Children with autism generally have very narrow interests. So we've learned to use those interests to help him learn. Nathan loves the Geronimo Stilton books. We've been reading them for years. I think he loves the humor and the illustrations. If you've never read one of these books (which are geared for elementary students), a word is often illustrated as to it's meaning. For instance, if the word zoom appears, it will somehow be printed to look as if it is zooming across the page.

Well, I decided to use the rich vocabulary in these books to create lessons for Nathan. The last two weeks we worked on 12 words from book one, Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye. The greatest thing happened when we were studying Shakespeare on Friday: We came across one of the vocabulary words (respectable) and HE KNEW WHAT IT MEANT! I love when my world comes together like that. The other great thing about this lesson is that he likes doing it (ok, most of it) and he is working independently for the most part.

Here's how it works. I give Nathan a list of words to find in the book. Last week I made him find the words (remember, he's read these books about a million times) and write down the page number and what he thinks the word means. This week I gave him the page numbers (he was a little disappointed). After he has this accomplished, we go over the actual meanings of the words and compare his definitions. I then have him learn the definitions by using quizlet, which he again LOVES! Finally, I have him write one sentence and draw a simple illustration using the word. He's not as thrilled about this part.

He does seem to be learning new vocabulary this way. We have about 30 of these books so I think we'll be working on this for the rest of the year. Click the link at the bottom (I think I've got this right) to see Lesson 2. I'll get lesson one up when I get a chance.

Lesson 2

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Advent lesson plans

I realized the other day that Advent was just around the corner. I can't believe how quickly this year is flying by. I bet if you talk to me in February I may feel differently!

I created our Advent lesson plans from two books. The first is The Real St. Nicholas. I bought this book last year but it arrived after the feast of St. Nicholas and so we really didn't use it. I'm excited to use it as our spine "reader" for Advent.

Yesterday I bought the book And What About Christmas by Amanda Bennett when I was scouring the used homeschool book box at a nearby homeschool store. I took the rest of our lessons from ideas I found in this book. As with everything I do, I pick and choose, make the lessons my own considering what I want the boys to learn and what they are capable of accomplishing.

Week 1: The story of Elizabeth and Zachariah.
  • Read Luke 1: 1-25
  • Write a short story (using dialogue) about Zachariah's visit from the angel.
  • Map work: using an outline map of the "old world" outline the boundaries of the Roman Empire at the time of Christ's birth.
  • Questions to answer: Who was Caesar Augustus and how did he impact Jesus' childhood? How does John fulfill Isaiah's prophecy? (see Isaiah 40)
St. Nicholas study: Read one story per day: Anticipation--A Memory of st. Nicholas Day, The Legend of the Three Daughters, The Nicholas Ship, St. Nicholas Buys a young man his Freedom.

Week 2: Mary, Joseph and the Annunciation (Dec. 8, Feast of Immaculate Conception)
  • Read Luke 1:26-56 and Matthew 1:18-25
  • (Nathan) write a narrative using dialogue describing the Annunciation.
  • (Nolan) write a narrative using dialogue describing what you think may have happened when Mary told Joseph about her experience (and pregnancy).
  • Map work: Draw a map of Palestine at the time of Jesus' birth including Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, Galilee, Samaria and Judea.
  • Question to answer: What is the difference between the seasons of Advent and Christmas?
St. Nicholas Study: read one story per day: The Legend of the Three Stratilates, The Legend of Stilling the Tempest, St. Nicholas Finds the Path, St. Nicholas Retrieves the Ball. **Dec. 6th Feast of St. Nicholas. Put out shoes and fill with socks. My boys are always excited to get new socks on this day!

Week 3: Journey to Bethlehem and the birth of Christ
  • Read Luke 2:1-20 and Matthew 1:18-25
  • Questions to answer: What is the Shepherd's Field? What is it like and where is it? What would an inn have been like in Jesus' day? What is the weather like in Bethlehem this time of year? Find 6 other names for Jesus as mentioned in the Bible.
St. Nicholas Study. Read the play on page 117, The Baker's Dozen. Figure out a way to video tape your own version of this play and post it on Youtube (and Mom's blog).

Week 4: Christmas Week
  • Finish up anything from the prior three weeks. This week will be dedicated to some fun activities.
  • Watch a movie depicting the birth of Jesus.
St. Nicholas Study. Read one story per day: The Legend of the Healing Myrrh, The Sick King and the Simpleton, St. Nicholas and the Ant.

Week 5: Epiphany (the week back to school in January)
  • Read Matthew 2:1-12
  • (Nolan) write a play about the Magi and Herod
  • (Nathan) research and write about Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Why did the Magi give these things to Jesus and what are they used for?
  • Map work: using an outline map of Eurasia, outline the possible route of the Magi.
  • Questions to answer: Who was Herod and how did he affect the childhood of Jesus? Who was Rachel and how was she related to the story of Jesus? See Matthew 2:18, Jeremiah 31: 15 and Genesis 30:22-24.
We will, of course, read The Jesse Tree and add our Jesse Tree ornaments one by one as always. I bought the boys each an advent candle to burn while we read. This will be an evening activity vs. a school activity. Other web sites to visit include O Night Divine, Catholic Culture, Catholic Cuisine and In the Heart of my Home.

Of course, Advent and Christmas wouldn't be complete without music. May I suggest you check out the lovely CD available by a good friend for your listening pleasure?

What are you planning this season?

Friday, November 13, 2009


I noticed that this is my 333rd post. It's hard to believe. Our second week back in the swing of learning at home is going well. I'm still tweaking the program, but for the most part we're in a groove. We are studying South America using a modified program I found on Serendipity. I chose not to purchase the spine book because I didn't think it would work well for Nathan. One of my difficulties in homeschooling these boys is that Nathan's autism gets in the way of a lot of the literature and book study I'd like to do. It is sort of silly to have the boys studying too differently since they're both close in age, yet I need to cater to their abilities. I'm still working on that.
We are also using the Shakespeare study that is outlined in Serendipity. I have to say I think this is my favorite subject so far. We do Shakespeare Fridays for a change of pace. Today we read the book William Shakespeare and the Globe by Aliki. It is a really good read. The boys both wrote a little report on the Bard. I hesitate to call what we write narrations because we really do some note taking and then writing up of our papers. True narration just wouldn't work for us at this time. Last week the boys drew portraits of Shakespeare. They did a really nice job. I've been having them do a lot more drawing than ever before and it has caused some dismay in our household. Nolan has begun enjoying it, however. I don't know if Nathan will ever like it, but it is good for him to see what he is able to accomplish.
Finally, today, we worked on the cooking portion of the Young Man's Handybook. I bought aprons at the craft store and dug around in the sewing room for my fabric markers. Again, Nolan LOVED this project. He is such a hands-on kind of kid. I had them make the pizza dough for tonight's dinner AND (my most favorite part) wash and dry the dishes. Nathan and I are off to a 7th grade Confirmation retreat all day tomorrow. I still have lots of learning to do for next week's lessons so it will be a busy weekend. I bought a used book filled with ideas for Advent and I hope to use it and some other resources to come up with some lesson plans for the Advent and Christmas season. I could use about a week of uninterrupted time to work all this out! Have a great weekend.**Here's Nolan attempting to woo a new back yard kitty.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nathan's week

Here we are in the second week of school (which is actually like the 11th week of school if you count everything, which, I guess, I have to). Today is the kind of day I enjoy. The kids worked fairly diligently before lunch which means we had time to head over to the Y and jump on the treadmill. I'm hoping to get there with the boys twice a week if I can. Here's Nathan working on his quilt. This was a project from his FCS class at school that I requested come home. I wanted him to complete the project. He's going to donate it to the Humane League when he's finished. He is easily frustrated about this project (and was at school, too), which is why I really want him to finish it. He tends to give up too easily.After lunch we had a visit from our friendly, neighborhood cat, Fin. We've had a few new cat sightings in the last week but none are very friendly. We love Fin because he just wants some love. He also has extra toes on his paws which is very, very interesting.Have a great day. I'm off to study the tectonic plates.

Monday, November 2, 2009

First Day of School (again)

I just realized yesterday was the second first day of school for my boys. Once in August at the local school and yesterday as the first day of homeschooling this year. I guess not too many people can have two first days of school.

The day was wonderful. I'm sure every day won't be as nice, but I'm feeling really confident about our decision. I'm looking forward to learning with the boys and discovering this wonderful world around us at our own pace.

In other news, here are a few pictures from this past week or so. We went to a corn maze on Friday and it only took us 2 hours to get all the clues! They also had this really fun bouncy pillow that the kids couldn't get enough of.The boys dressed as Mario and Luigi for Trick or Treat and had such fun. I'm always amazed that they don't want to stay out the entire two hours to trick or treat. About an hour is their max. To be honest, we really couldn't handle any more candy. We also helped at the All Saint's Party at church on Saturday night. It was such a fun time.

In final news, I've signed on to Jackie's 'Joy in the New Year' Challenge. I have only one to finish. Maybe you remember this quilt from two summers ago? We've actually been using it in the sunroom even though it has safety pins holding it together and an unfinished edge. I do really love the way this one looks and took up the challenge to finish it. One big problem is that I'm hand quilting it. I just haven't had the gumption to get back to it. I hope by joining the challenge I'll be motivated!
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