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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Goodbye to another local store

It's official...due to there not being a seriously interested buyer, Valley Fabrics of Stuarts Draft, Virginia will be closing at the end of today.

While I can completely understand Kathy and Leo's point of view, I feel bereft of any local, supportive, creative fabric store now.  When we moved here (nearly 7 years ago), I could purchase fabric at Walmart (meh), Valley Fabrics, and Ben Franklin, or I could drive to Charlottesville to go to JoAnn Fabrics (need to improve customer service).  Ben Franklin closed last year, and now Valley Fabrics is closing.

We were fortunate that our local Walmart was not one that went to the pre-cut pieces of fabric and actually has a fairly decent (if you overlook the quality) selection of fabrics.  However, Valley Fabrics was where I typically went for the fabrics for my DDs various "custom-made" outfits, the notions that I thought I had purchased but that I apparently overlooked....and sometimes, it was just a place I went to get my sewing mojo back when I wasn't even remotely interested in looking at the sewing machine.

Eventually, I will probably have to resort to ordering all my fabrics from various online sources...but it's just not the same as being able to actually look at and feel the fabric....

Kathy and Leo and Phoebe (and everyone else) will all be greatly missed.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

sewing status and rainy days

Table runner is done - reversible with pink/black zebra on one side and black with pink/white flowers on the other. 

Fabric is pressed and pattern pulled for the toddler bolero jacket, which WILL be ready/done by Wednesday morning when I go in to the elementary school to do copies.

DDs Easter dress is still sitting in pieces, but at least some of them are being put together into some semblance of order.  I may have to purchase more lining fabric, though...and sadly (because I don't want to see another local fabric store disappear), the store now has it marked down to 50% off as they are closing at the end of the month...ah well.

My Easter dress isn't going anywhere...still in flat-fold stage...oh well.  I have a few pieces of clothing that need finishing - hook/eye at top of zipper, hand-sew hem up, sewing down that may be what gets done instead of trying to squeeze in a complete outfit...then I can just wear one of those things and be happy with it...or at least

Now, we had planned to work in both the bonus room and the garden today, however, the garden is temporarily ruled out because of the continuing rain.  SO.....time to get into the bonus room and get what sheetrock we can put up.  Of course, we can't go buy any today....rain.....but at least we should be able to see how much more we need to purchase to finish that room off....then I get to do the nail divets and seams....yes, will need more drywall compound....but it's progress....

The fence around the back yard won't be getting done this year, even though we were trying for it....but we will repair what we have, as best as we can, and save up the money to get it done next year....if we are lucky, we may be able to get it done in the fall, but I'm not holding my breath over that....tuition for T's school comes first.

Off I go....time to get dressed and start either pounding nails or holding the sheet rock up....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easter, wedding, table runner...balancing projects can be

So, I finally got started on DDs Easter dress....then I couldn't find the zipper.  That derailed the project for a couple days, but I found it today, still in the bag from the  So ok....I can get back to work on that, but in the meantime I have 2 customer projects now. 

One is a table runner for a friend...I'm making it reversible for and black zebra striped on one side, and black with pink and white flowers on the other. 

The other project is a pint-sized bolero for the daughter of a teacher at the elementary school.  Her daughter is going to be in a wedding next month, and given the odd weather, she wants to make sure that she has a jacket to wear over the sleeveless dress.  Oh, the little one wears 12-18 month clothing....yes, a child that young IN a wedding.  But...who am I to judge??  SO....found a pattern today and pulled 3 different yellow fabrics.  She loved the jacket design and chose the middle of the 3 shades.....the other 2 will be used for other projects.  I think I will use one to make a 3-pocket apron to hold my clothespins in when I hang out the laundry....better than a plastic

Have washed the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers to figure out what I want to make from them....thought pajama pants...Steelers for my son Ravens for me....but now I don't know.  Also have a few yards of Marvel SuperHero fabric that was going to be turned into pillowcases for all 4 of us.....projects backing up again, but things are settling down a bit around here, so hopefully I can work my way through them.

Happy sewing everyone (oh, and my Aspie boy made a point to ask if I would be teaching him about the sewing machine this summer/next school year)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Time getting away from me

SO....ok, it's March 18th.....after all the crap of the past few weeks, I decided to take a look and see what NEEDED to get done in the shortest time....well, that would be DD's Easter outfit...all cut out, need to locate my interfacing, then get to work on it....if the children would just be in school for a full week, I might be able to do it (last week, DD had abdominal issues on Tuesday, DS came home with a migraine on Wednesday - turns out he hadn't taken his meds, and DD got hit in the face with an errant kickball on Thursday)....we are waiting to hear if her nose has been broken again...xrays weren't in office yesterday as we had been told they would be.

I don't want ot actually PLAN anything because, every time I try to make plans, things go horribly, I'm HOPING to get to DDs Easter outfit this week, DH wanted my help in getting some sheet rock up in what will eventually be his office, I have to call the orthodontist's office to see if they are making appointments for June since that is when he wanted DD to come back in for an evaluation to determine if it was the proper time to put spacers in (small mouth, no room for her adult teeth), and then I need to get back to listing items in my Etsy shop so that I can clear things out....phew...oh, and of course, I've got the little Easter goody bags to make for DDs class and the teachers/secretaries....

I will be making copies of some review tests for the children and if they blow through them, I will move them on to the next level for our summer school program....thinking of 1-2 pages of school stuff M-F (only takes about 30 minutes at the most), cooking on Monday and Wednesday, sewing on Tuesday and Thursday, nothing extra on Friday as we can use that for local field trips and such.....and each day will have some form of planned exercise....I am determined that both children will actually grow some this's not as hard for DD, but for DS, to be smaller than all his peers is not a pleasant thing....hoping that if I get him started on a regular, fun exercise program, he will continue it and by the end of summer, he will at least be 5' (he's close, but 11yo how weighs less than 70lbs...even though he eats regularly??)....

Argh...time to hang some laundry and pray the rain holds off until evening....

Friday, March 16, 2012

checking in....

So, the post about my son (his essay) really should have an update to's now gone global!!  People are asking if they can re-post it, print it out to share, email it, etc.  With luck it will be on the ASPEN website and not just on their FB page.  To see his face when I read everyone's just glows.

School is another issue...we have decided on a program, I have done the preliminary number crunching and it is feasible, and now we have the placement tests to work on...probably over spring break when we aren't putting up sheet rock and getting started on the drywall seams and nail divets.  I am still working on putting money aside to have our fence replaced by the late summer/early fall while also trying to come up with the $$ for the schooling, and while it will be tight, thankfully the meal planning and such helps make so it is possible.

Haven't gotten back to cleaning out my workroom yet, but then again, things have been all over the place for over a month now.  School issues still aren't resolved, though in one meeting the points that we wanted to make were well received after being totally ignored and shut down at the first meeting....unprofessional, disrespectful behavior from school administration who is now trying to say that was how my hubby treated him....even though I'm biased, I wouldn't hesitate to call my DH on it if he was being that way...he didn't lose his cool until we were leaving and tried repeatedly to make his point but kept getting interrupted and talked down to....way uncool...anyway.....that's another story for another time

I have DDs Easter outfit started and need to get to work on that, but am in the process of getting the house tidied up, clothes hung on the lines to dry, and general busywork right now....

what are you all doing as schools get ready for spring break and summer vacation is only a few months away???

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How my 11yo describes his life (Asperger's)

Aspies (people living with Asperger Syndrome) are pretty cool. Although we may appear strange, act different, or talk too much, we are not really that different from you. There have been some pretty famous Aspies in history such as Mozart, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Edison, to name a few.

The way that I, and other Aspies, see the world is that there is no middle ground (gray area), just foreground and background (black and white). I also look around me and see a bunch of neurotypicals (also known as nypicals) and think most of them are the ones with the differences. One really big difference between nypicals and Aspies such as myself is that you use and understand sarcasm, but I just look at you funny because I don’t understand the tone or inflection of your voice.

I think how you (nypicals) see the world is that you just look around and know how to make friends easily. I also think that when you look at me, or others like me, you probably think, “Why is that kid acting so weird?” Another thing about most nypicals that I’ve met is that you (nypicals) tend to whisper about me behind my back, thinking that I don’t know. Aspies don’t do that because we don’t really have a filter and say exactly what we are thinking with no anticipation of the reactions of others.

Aspies are cool because we brought music, understanding of the planets, physics, and light to the world. Because of how we think (mostly outside the box and looking at the future), we are often the owners or upper management in businesses. Some people even think that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates should be added to the list of famous, influential Aspies!

I hope that I have managed to persuade you to look at me for who I am as a person and not for how I act. I also hope that you will keep this in mind when you meet someone who seems a bit different than you - chances are you may have just met another Aspie.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Allowance based on points earned....for my lovely friend, Lisa

So, Lisa and I met for coffee and were talking about children and she said how she had trouble getting her girls to keep things tidied up and how it was sometimes a struggle to get them to help out around the house.  I actually did NOT come up with this point system, it was actually found in "America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right On the Money" by the Economides family (you can google the title...I borrowed it from the local library).

I told Lisa that I would put a blog post up so she could see what we have running in our house, but here's the basic breakdown: morning point, school point, chore point, and round up point.  Each point has different things that must be accomplished in order to be earned.  Just doing the "basic" list will earn each child a total of 26 points (no school on Saturday or Sunday) and we decided on $0.20 per point for any total from 26 points to 30 points. do they get to 30 (or more) points??  By doing extra chores or helping out with things that normally aren't their responsibility.  For 31 or more points, we pay them $0.30 per point.  We also make their time with electronics dependent on their if they earn $9.60, that would be 960 divided by 60 (minutes in an hour) and that ends up being 16 hours of electronics - payable in poker chips (each chip represents a different amount....white is 1 minute, blue is 10 minutes, red is 60 minutes) only SOUNDS really isn't...but you must be able to stay on top of them when it comes to paying up with the chips, or they will sneak time in and not pay for those minutes/hours spent rotting their brains.

SO here we go:

Well, let's start at the earn their morning point, they MUST: get up and dressed with no fighting, take their vitamins and have breakfast, brush their hair and teeth, and get everything ready for the day....see, not really that hard, but our oldest has Asperger's and ADHD, so he sometimes has trouble with this.

Let's go to the top picture where it lists how they earn their school and chore points.....for the school point, they MUST:  have gotten NO think times during the day, completed ALL homework neatly, have all homework written down neatly (both children, so we can sign off on it as required by teachers), and get all their papers in the proper sections of their notebooks (problem for both kids who like to just shove it in the backpack and then forget about it).  Again, nothing too difficult for either child (mine are 11 and 8 and we've used this for at least 2, closer to 3 years now).

For their chore point, both children MUST:  complete ALL chores promptly with NO reminders.  Ok, this may sound harsh, but....each child has their own list of chores as you will see soon, so they are old enough that they can walk in, read off their list, check to make sure they are done, and move along to the next thing....for some reason, this seems to give them the most trouble, so I've recently told them that if I have to say anything more than "check the chore list", they will NOT earn the chore point for that day.

Finally, we go to the middle picture, the "round up" point.  This is the one that finishes off the day and sets everything back to zero for the next day.  To earn this point, both children MUST:  put their own things away, get dressed and ready for bed, get their clothes out for the next day (to avoid fights in the morning), brush their teeth, and be in bed, with their lights out at the proper time...again, nothing too difficult for either of them. we move on to what they need to do to earn their chore point....some may say it's a lot, but keep in mind their ages and the fact that nothing on either lists takes more than 10 minutes (unless they choose to play instead of getting it done and moving on to something else).

As you can see, both children are expected to clean their bedrooms thoroughly...this doesn't mean that they have to dust and vacuum means that they have to have the floor picked up, no papers piled up on nightstands near lights (fire hazard!!), no piles of clothes all over the place or under the bed....common sense cleaning.  We divided the care of the pets up between the two of them....our oldest is responsible for feeding the 2 cats and for changing the cat litter, but our youngest is responsible for vacuuming the litter and spilled food up and for feeding the dog.  Both are required to put their clothes away properly - piles on the floor, or worse...on the floor NEXT TO THE HAMPER is something that smacks of laziness and REALLY annoys me....have told them that if they can't even get the clothes in the hamper, I can't be bothered to wash them...that has worked a little bit {sigh}.  Our oldest is responsible for the dishes (loading and unloading the dishwasher), dusting the family/tv room,  and vacuuming the living room and tv room as needed - simply because he's taller and a bit stronger than our youngest. Plus, since he's the one that wants electronics all the time, he should be the one that dusts the room that houses them...just my thoughts.  Our youngest takes the kitchen trash out to the huge can in the garage, and is responsible for scrubbing the table - which makes sense since the majority of the milk and syrup spills happen on her side of the table.  Again, none of these really take more than 10 minutes, and they don't have to be done every single day.

So now we have what they can do to get above the minimal 26 points:
There are chores worth anywhere from 1-5 extra points (and sometimes they do things that aren't on here and the parent they helped gets to decide how much it was worth).

For 1 extra point, they can:  water the plants or the garden or they can swiffer the family room
For 2 extra points, they can: scrub the kitchen counters, swiffer the kitchen/dining room floor
For 3 extra points, they can: help fold clothes, help with baking or help with making a meal, or they can change their own sheets (something neither child likes doing)
For 4 extra points, they can: help with the yard work or help with the groceries (bringing them in and putting them away, though as they are getting older, they will start with the shopping as well....teaching them how to get the best deal and use coupons...better to start when they are young )
For 5 extra points, they can: have a kids' cook night (where they are primarily responsible for meal preparation with only some assistance from parent(s)), do their sibling's chore, or clean up their sibling's mess

Not surprisingly, they both try for the last one more than anything else....not only do they earn points, but they get to rat out their sibling....{sigh}.

Here's the breakdown of how we use the poker chips that they earn:

For a white chip, they have 1 minute of electronics or 1 piece of candy
For a blue chip, they have 10 minutes of electronics or 2 pieces of candy, and
For a red chip, they can have 60 minutes of electronics or 3 pieces of candy or a soda
Not only does this help limit their time playing games or watching tv, but it limits the amount of junk they are consuming....AND it forces them to make the choice and once made, that's the end of it.  Oh, NO, they are not allowed to trade in 2 red chips and get 6 pieces of candy or 2 sodas....

This is the chart that we use - found it free online, so I just printed it out and make copies as I need them - one for each child.  The stickers were found on clearance, but sometimes I just put in checks for completed and x's for not completed....and i total it up at the might be able to see that they earned 13 extra points yesterday....they helped with dinner and Dad was primary chef, so he decided they deserved extra points since they both helped with dicing veggies for tacos (something that I still can't handle watching....keep picturing cut fingers and visits to the ER)....obviously they are going to be in the $0.30 per point range this week...last week they weren' make it a "family thing" I am the one who tallies everything, but before they get their allowances, Dad has to review and sign off on it....if they get less than 26 points, they don't get paid because they didn't even do the minimum required work....too many days of that in the real world, and they'd end up fired....we can't and won't fire them from the family, but we will withhold allowance from them.

This is working really well...worked great for the year leading up to our family trip to Disney because we had told them we weren't buying loads of crap after all the $$ we spent just to go on the vacation (we did buy them jackets and ears, but they bought the dual-edge light sabers and other memorabilia that they wanted).  The great thing is that they know there are certain things we will NOT purchase for them (pokemon cards among them), so when they have money in their spend banks, they can buy them and we won't say anything.

That's another thing....we make them divide their allowance into 3 banks: 10% give, 20% save, 70% spend....for Disney, we got rid of the 70% bank and has a 30% Disney and 40% spend....whatever was in their Disney bank was what they took with us.....they actually opted to NOT use their spend bank and add it to their Disney bank (yay...they are actually thinking things through!!!).  We have had discussions about trendy clothing and the increased expenses involved and I have told them that I will give them the $$ that I would spend on a non-trendy item, and they will have to use their spend money to make up the far nobody wants the $90 tennis shoes (though I almost bought a pair of $80 jeans....sanity returned before I made it to the register).

Once they have what they think is a decent amount in their give banks, they decide who to donate it to.  Sometimes it's the church, sometimes it goes to the food bank, but they get to make that choice.  Once their save bank starts getting full, I take it and deposit it in their bank accounts (local bank, no fee, and I am also on their account as custodian until they are 18).  We started the bank accounts for them because we discussed how having 2 children would be expensive when it came to them driving.  We have decided that, while we will buy them a good, solid, safe, used car, they will be responsible for the increase in insurance and keeping gas in the car....hence the savings accounts.  The great thing is that they have no idea how much they have in their accounts, and I plan on keeping it that way for as long as I can because I don't want them accessing the money for trivial things when they are both more than likely college-bound (both are honor roll students) and will need the money for other things.

SO....there it is...the allowance plan for our household....sounds difficult but really isn't.  The hardest part was figuring out how much the extra chores were worth.  I bought a big whiteboard and put it up in the dining room so everyone could see everything...and it also has space leftover that I set up so that each family member had a little memo section - I can write notes to the children about schedule changes, hubby can write reminders to me about groceries that we need...whatever...sometimes it's just the perfect place to write reminders to each other that we love them....

baby clothes

Finally had the motivation to finish up an outfit for a friend.  It was originally planned as 2 tops with coordinating pants....but I didn't buy enough fabric, so...blah.  It ended up being 1 top with flannel bodice and striped cotton flounce and 2 pairs of pants that could be worn with it - one out of the flannel and one out of the striped cotton.

Here you go:

I need to root around to find 3 buttons to put on the back of the top and I need to get in touch with "mom" to get the baby's waist measurement, but other than those 2 things, it's done.  And now I remember why I liked it when my children graduated to toddler was HARD doing the hems around those narrow sleeves.....ouch!!!

But, it's done, and so is the purple to work on MY daughter's Easter outfit, then back to make a romper and a couple of baby dresses.....

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Contests are over, so now I can do fun little things

Well, the "red dress contest" is officially over and voting will start soon.  I have removed the badges as the contest voting was completed and I found out that I didn't  The point really wasn't to win, it was to challenge myself to enter and complete more contests....I've put out a lot of challenges for myself this year.

Now I can focus on finishing up some baby clothes for a friend...have 3 pairs of pants cut out and will put them together today (minus the elastic in the waist until I can get in touch with her) and have 1 of the coordinating shirts ready to be cut out.  Then I have 2 more shirts to cut.....followed by 2 precious little dresses and a romper.  Hopefully I can get these done before the little one outgrows them!!

Of course, there's also the outfit that my own daughter requested for Easter...kind of a retro design...drop waist dress, matching jacket...and of course, it is pink and ivory...not sure what she's going to do for shoes, but we shall see.

No other real projects with a deadline, so once I get through those, I will do some more blankets for Soldiers' Angels (which will help them and get more fleece out of my workroom, thereby giving me more space to work in)'s a win-win as far as I can

No pictures in this post...sorry....but there will be a post soon per request of a friend that details the allowance by point system that we use in the house, and that will include a picture of our whiteboard with the chore breakdown and point values and whatnot...pretty sure I explored this way back when this blog was fairly new, but pictures are always helpful.....see y'all some other time