Thursday, June 28, 2012

When Kids Sew

Trying to keep the kids busy this summer without destroying my house, watching too much tv, or taking every ounce of my time, has been challenge.  Lately, I've been learning about Montessori style of education and it seems to me that this style would be great for a mom who feels overwhelmed by her kids' constant need for entertainment and the amount of toys all over the floor that barely get played with. 

 I still have a lot of quesitons swirling around my head as to how this is going to look in my house and whether or not I need to get rid of half of our toys, but what I have found is that kids LOVE to learn practical life skills and that is very, very good for them to do so.  Learning to master simple tasks empowers them and gives them a sense of purpose and satisfaction that they won't get after watching Mary Poppins for the 3rd time this week.

So, I started Liam (5) and Analee (3) on sewing. They've mastered lacing, so a needle and thread was the next developmental step.  It's amazing how much fun they had with a couple yards of remnant fabric and a needle and thread.  When Analee stuck that needle into the fabric for the first time and was able to pull it out the other end, the look of satisfaction on her face was priceless. A sweet smile spread across her usually stoic face.  After a few stitches, she was so proud of her self, she even did the "Montessori sigh"-- that sound of work well done. 

Liam came up with this project all on his own. He cut it out and sewed it together almost completely independent of me.  It's a baby carrier for Analee to carry her doll around. She didn't want to put it on for the camera, so Liam's modeling it himself.  He is so proud out it!

Next we're putting together a mini wood shop for him with a few pieces of wood to hammer real nails with a real hammer.   I'll post on it when it's up and running.

Introducing My New Saint Andrew Chaplet

There will be better pictures of this when my shop reopens in September, but for now, here's a sneak peek at the face of my new St. Andrew Chaplet.  This chaplet is my all time favorite prayer that I share with everyone, so I wanted to make the beads extra special.  In case you missed the previous post on how I made these beads, click here.

The St. Andrew Chaplet is a preparatory prayer for Christmas, so purple, being the anticipitory liturgical color of the Advent season, is also a fitting color for these beads. 

The chaplet starts on St. Andrew's feast day, November 30, and ends on Christmas day.  The prayers themselves have nothing to do with St. Andrew, but since it starts on his feast day, we call it his chaplet.  With how powerful this chaplet is, from what I have experienced and witnessed,  I do believe he has a special role in preparing hearts for the Christ Child. 

The star theme of my beads are meant to be a reminder of the star of Bethelehem. As we journey through advent, we followers of the star, just like the three wise men.

The St. Andrew chaplet has also been used as an anticipatory prayer for couples who are trying to conceive or for the pregnant mother awaiting the birth of her baby. Because St. Andrew is the patron saint of women trying to conceive, this chaplet can be a great prayer any time of the year. Julie Cragon has a powerful story of the miracle that happened when she and her husband prayed the St. Andrew Chaplet in anticipation of their first born.

My previous St. Andrew beads were made to look like a star busting forth with indescribable light and life, just as the star over Bethelehem bursted through the piercing cold that first Holy Night to bring us light and life to the fullest.  I think this is a fitting description for these kaliescope beads as well.

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, Oh my God!, to hear my prayers and grant my desires (Mention your intentions here), through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

                              --To be prayed 15 times every day starting on November 30 until Christmas day. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

St. Andrew Beads

I've had this idea to make new St. Andrew chaplets for awhile. I made three different kaleidoscope beads with a star theme and I will use all three of them in the new chaplet.  I will post pictures of the new chaplet as soon as I get it together. UPDATE: Here is the post of the finished chaplet.

Step one was to make the colors.  This was the most time consuming step, as always.  See all the pretty shades of purple? The dark ones look more blue, but it's actually a vibrant purple color.  Along side my shades of purple is my sketch of the first two kaleidoscope beads.

I did the same thing as I did with the different shades of purple as I did with orange and yellow clay.

After my color canes were done, I put some of them together to make my first triangle for the first kaleidoscope bead.  Here's what that looked like:

I stretched the triangle to make six and eagerly put them together to make my star....
HAD to throw this belly shot in. The baby bump got in the way of this photo. Hello baby!

Whoops! I was actually supposed to make 12 triangles, not six, to make a star. A tiny oversight in my planning, but it didn't matter. I just stretched the 6 canes to make 12. I'm looking for a star here, not a triangle! You can see the final cane in one of the last pictures on this post.

Then I set to work on my second kaleidoscope cane. Here's triangle that is doubled up before I stretched into 6 parts parts.  The first triangle was half of this.

The finished cane is a few pictures down...

Lastly,  I made the third triangle.  It looked an awfully like a candy corn and I was worried how it would look. You never really know with these kaleidoscope beads...

Here's the triangle after it was doubled up (side by side) and stretched into six triangles.

After it was pieced together:

And finally, all the canes together before they were rolled out small.

After I rolled out the first cane, I realized it, it was not what I had in mind.  So I fixed it by performing surgery on it.  There are no pictures of the surgical procedure, but you will see in my next post (the final product St. Andrew's Chaplet) that it looks much better. I was sad to lose two thirds of the cane, but, hey, sacrifices had to made.  He was a real trooper (the cane that is...) and he came out looking much better in the end. I'm telling you, these kaleidoscope canes can be unpredictable!

Next step:
Slicing and punching holes. for hours on end.

to be continued.

Birthday Girl's Necklace

One of my sisters turned 15 a couple of weeks ago and when I finished my St. Andrew kaleidoscope beads, I knew one of them would make the perfect necklace for her.  I coupled the purple beads with the yellow damask background beads of my St. Patrick shamrock.  Small wooden beads are knotted in between the clay ones.  Here's the finished product:

It was my first time stringing beads on this type of string. I like the casual/boho look of it, but making all those knots was so time consuming, it would not be the ideal necklace to make for many people.

I have to admit, I'm a bit sad to send this away. This sort of carefree necklace is my sort of jewelry. Just throw on and go! I may have to make one for myself...

Happy Belated Birthday, Katie!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My First Homeschool Conference

I think it's official now.  I'm a nerdy homeschool mom and I love it.   I'm honored to be part of such a group of hardworking, persistent, dedicated and intelligent women.  For the past two days, I attended the National IHM conference in Fredericksburg, VA.  Does that city sound familiar? Why yes, it is where I live!  I got to have breakfast at home, kiss my kids goodby and drive a whole 5 miles to the Expo Center.  I felt pretty lucky.

Attending my first homeschool conference made it feel official.   The last two years of homeschooling for preschool and kindergarten were practice years and now that my son is entering first grade, it's time to get serious. I realized I can't breeze through without a schedule any more.  I need to follow a plan and I may even need to set an alarm in the morning! I'm convinced I need to prepare the night before too.  Yikes.  I can do it.

Here's some highlights of the conference:

  • Getting motivated to get organized and serious about homeschooling.  A few points from the various talks helped my motivation. I realized that I need to use these precious two and half months left of summer to prepare myself- by making lots of beads and organizing my house.  Two things that I cannot do while homeschooling.
  • Seeing old friends who don't live quite as close to Fredericksburg as I do.  I got to see Lacy again (from Catholic Icing).  It's always fun to catch up!
  • Meeting the Holy Heroes kids! I just love what they do.  What a great family! I should have gotten an autograph.  I bought their picture bible too. It's going to be a hit, I know it.
  • Scoring most of my homeschooling books at great prices from the plethora of vendors. I loved being able to flip through the books before I bought them and see if it was something I really wanted.   There was every Catholic homeschooling book there I could ever want, plus every Catholic item I could ever want. I made many trips back to my car to unload! The Keller books booth and Usborne books were among my favorites.
  • Listening to Andrew Pudewa's talk on the power of music. Hands down, my favorite talk of the weekend. I bought the CD so my husband could hear it too. Here's the link.
But probably the best part of the weekend was a purely selfish perk- being TWO days kid-less!  I still came home at night, but that was the longest I had been away from the kids since I can remember- at least three years? It was. about. time.  I felt very rejuvenated! 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Awesome Catholic Movie in Theatres Now: For Greater Glory

In case you haven't heard about For Greater Glory, the Catholic movie that is in theatres as of June 1st, I highly suggest it!  Click here for the website that gives the details of the movie.

We have been blessed by a few Catholic/Christian movies gracing the screens this year and personally, I take every chance I can to show my support for these virtuous movies.  We want more like this and we won't get them if we don't show our support by going to the theatre and seeing them.  If they don't get support from theatres, we won't see them in dvd's; so don't wait until it comes out on dvd- see it now- you won't regret it!

For Greater Glory is the ultimate Catholic guy movie. My husband LOVED it.  He didn't know anything about it before we got to the theatres and when we were there, he was blown away by how good it was.  He kept turning to me saying, "This is awesome!" I think he must have thought it was going to be another sappy drama like October baby (which was really good, by the way, and my husband did like it, despite all the tear jerking scenes!).  So he was very surprised it was nothing at all like that.  It was the exactly kind of gun slinging, cigar smoking, bad guy killing, Jesus loving movie that he enjoys.

Being a Jane Austin kind of movie fan, it wasn't my favorite kind of movie, I did enjoy it.  I thought it started slow, but it did build up to some very exciting and moving parts.  If I would categorize it a movie genre, I think it would be Western.  Western movies have never excited me (except for True Grit, which was just a great movie), but it did have other elements that made it more appealing for me.  The acting was phenomenal. They have an excellent cast that has made this movie very high quality. The screen play was beautiful and the music was too. It's hard to believe Catholic movies have come this far!  I hope they continue down this road.

I think seeing it in the theatre would be perfect for an early Father's day gift or father/son bonding.  I can see some great discussions for teenagers coming out of this movie, like what it means to be a real man (a man of God), what are the effects of a true conversion to Christ, what justice means for the Christian, what actions are permissible when freedoms are taken away, what is not. 

Because one of the main characters is a young teenage boy who has a conversion and becomes a martyr, I think this movie will especially touch the hearts of boys who are struggling to take the faith of their parents on as their own.  For this reason, I wish it wasn't rated R.  I'm sure the rating is going to turn many parents away from taking their kids to see this movie.  However, I found nothing offensive about the mild violence and wouldn't hesitate to show it to a 13 year old boy who has a love for justice and guns.

 If you have seen any other R rated movies in the past 20 years, you will wonder why this one is rated R.  Yes, there is a lot of gun killing. It's a war.  But it's nothing like the Saving Private Ryan style of war movies.  I didn't have to look away once (this says a lot if you know squeamish I am about blood). When there is a gruesome death, like hanging (there are a few- all of them martyrs for the Faith), you never see the act.  You see what happens before and after.  There isn't that awful sound of the someone's neck cracking either. I hate when movies do that.  Now a days, they have to be so gory in every detail, right down to the gruesome sounds of pain.   I did not see a lot of blood either.   No open wounds, nothing eye-averting, or ear-shutting, or I-hope-I-will-be-able-to-sleep-tonight moments.  

I'm not sure how much longer this will stay in theaters- I guess it largely depends of what kind of support it receives at any given theater.  So, if you can, go see it for yourself and if you can't, buy a ticket for someone who can!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

New Shamrock Beads

The finished shamrock cane

I ran out of the old shamrocks, so I made some new beads in the past couple days.  These have the same 'F', 'S', and 'H', for Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as the old ones, but I made these much prettier with yellow detail and green shading in the leaves.  Now I work exclusively with Kato clay because I found it is so much easier to work with and the canes come out with beautiful detail.   It also helps that I keep a lot of clay on hand so I never run out!
baked shamrock beads

It's popular legend that St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach about the Trinity while he converted the pagans in Ireland.  Just there are three leaves on the shamrock, all separate, yet part  of one shamrock, God has three separate persons, but is still one God. 
Moroccan Beads and Shamrock Beads

I started by making a Moroccan inspired cane with yellow clay. I used this for the background of the shamrock cane, but I will also do something else with the yellow beads. Not sure exactly, but I know a yellow necklace will be my new favorite summer accessory!

Sorry for the poor photos. I broke my DSLR and I can't bring myself to drop a few hundreds to buy a new (used) one. I guess need to motivate myself by taking more blurry photos with little Coolpix.