Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Back to Basics Sewing, Pt 2

When purchasing patterns for my guys, I look at the same things as I do for myself and Little Miss.  How many ways can I use the pattern?  Are their multiple size ranges?  Can I wait and buy it on sale?

For the guys, I have a few basic patterns only.  Sleep pant patterns often come with a t-shirt pattern included.  With Little Man, I have the option also of making him elastic waist pants from the same pattern for him to wear during the day.  Just that one pattern can provide Little Man with nearly any clothing need he may have.  The sleep pants can be made long or as shorts. 

Shirts are a pattern that I am getting from Buckaroo Bobbins for both Joe and Little Man.  They have western shirt pattern packs with multiple styles in both the men's and boys' sizes.  The size range within the pattern packs are complete for most sizes.  A boy's pattern pack would carry nearly all the sizes needed until the boy grew old enough for a small men's shirt.  For about $20 you would have both the boy's and men's pattern packs to add to your collection.  They also carry vest, jacket, and outer coat patterns.  One of our favorite patterns that I still have to purchase is the "Ranger" coat.  It is a very long length duster type coat with a double layer at the top to protect in the rain.  For little ones, they have the "Little Ranger" that is a duplicate to the men's version.

One of the cautions that I like to extend to those considering making their family's clothing is to pay close attention to the style.  Don't invest in styles that are fleeting or trendy.  These will not save you any money.  Instead, go for the timeless styles that you can work with for years to come.  You can easily take a basic pattern and through the fabric choices that you make, you can turn an every day style outfit into one that can be worn on special occasions.

One example of dressing up a pattern for a little boy would be the sleep pant pattern.  Using flannel they are comfortable sleep pants.  Using fleece they become a winter weight sweat pant.  If you make the exact same pattern with an elastic waist in a nice poly/cotton fabric they can become a pair of church pants.  From a heavy linen or broadcloth, the pants would make a nice everyday wear pant to play in.  The trick is to sew the front seam so that there is no button closure and use elastic only instead of the drawstring elastic.

The next, and likely the greatest, expense to sewing is the fabric.  For each of my patterns, I have an index card with the fabric amounts needed for Joe's & my current sizes and the next size up for the children.  When summer weight fabric goes on sale at the end of the season, I could take these cards to the store and know what fabric amounts to buy for the following summer.  The same applies to buying winter weight fabrics.  By knowing the amounts for the next size up, I won't be short on the fabric when time comes to make their clothing.  Some fabrics are used more than others.  Muslin is always in supply here.  Next to linen, it is likely the fabric I would find the most use for. 

Sewing for the home is treated the same as clothing.  I buy one pattern pack that contains as much as possible to meet the needs of that particular room.  Whenever possible, I would consider checking second hand stores for old blankets, table cloths, etc., before buying new fabric.  An old quilt in need of repair usually has enough area in good condition that you can cut it into pieces to use for other things.  Placemats, hot pads, changing table pad, are a few ideas.  If the old quilt has a cotton or wool batting, you can use it to make "momma pads" or the soaker pads to place inside of a cloth diaper to increase absorbency.  Old linen table cloths can be repurposed to make linen napkins.  Those old decorative bed sheets can be made into curtains, aprons, or furniture scarves.  Never discount the idea of using repurposed fabric for making quilts!  You can save a tremendous amount of money doing that alone.

When tossing out worn clothing that cannot be repurposed, carefully cut out the buttons, pockets, zippers, and any other notions that you can reuse in another sewing project.  I remember my Grandma's old button box.  I had many hours of fun in my childhood simply looking through them.  She saved any notions that she could possibly use again.  Sets of matching buttons were strung together on thread to make them easy to find.  I learned much from observing her habits in this.  Today, I find that prudence to be a money saving idea that serves me well.

The last tip that I have is one that I recently began doing.  Little Miss wants a cloth doll for Christmas.  I went to Mardel's Christian Book Store which has a very large selection of curriculum and teaching supplies.  In the back of the store, they have a self-service copying and laminating machines available for a very low cost.  I took the pattern pieces for Little Miss' doll and laminated them.  This pattern is a discontinued one and I wanted to preserve it so I can use it often in the future.  I wouldn't do this will all of my patterns, but those that are often used or no longer available would be good candidates for it.  For a multi-sized pattern, simply trace off the pattern pieces in the size needed.  If you will be making many of that item, you may want to laminate the traced off copy.  Crafting type patterns are most likely the ones I would use this idea for.  If you are making crafts to sell at a bazaar or craft show, certainly having a laminated copy of the pattern would be a benefit.

In closing this topic, I would mention one more thing.  Always have a written record in a little notebook of what patterns you have and their size ranges.  This will prevent you making a duplicate purchase later on.  If there are other patterns that you are wanting to purchase, have a list and make note when you buy each one.  Watch the sales.  Most fabric store chains will have all patterns from a manufacturer on sale once every couple of months, alternating pattern companies in each month.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Back To Basics Sewing, Pt 1

This is a topic that I have talked about before but wanted to revisit.  Many times, I hear people say that it is expensive to sew your family's clothing.  They are right and yet they are wrong.  It comes down to how you go about it.  If you buy patterns often and expensive fabrics, the costs can be much higher than store bought.  One factor to remember is that typically homemade clothing will be more sturdy than the cheap clothing bought in discount stores.  There is always a way to cut the costs however.  In these next couple of posts, I will explain how you can make sewing for your home and family more affordable.

One of the best ways that you can cut costs is to be prudent in your pattern selections & purchases.  When I have to buy a pattern, I always plan ahead and wait for a sale.  I have been able to purchase patterns for $1.99 each that were sold at up to $16.99 at regular price.  In all, I have purchased over $120 in patterns for less than $30. 

The second thing that I have done to keep costs down is to be creative in my pattern choices.  Buying pattern packs that contain several options  are always best.  Let me give you a couple of examples.  I bought the "Frillies" pattern from Buckaroo Bobbins.  The pattern is one that I have spoken of before.  It contains 2 versions of a camisole, 2 versions of bloomers/pantaloons, and a petticoat.  At first glance, you can easily see that made in a plain muslin or linen fabric, the clothing is old west period underpinnings for ladies.  Take a second look though.  Omit the wide ruffle on the petticoat and you have a half slip.  With the petticoat ruffle omitted and the straight line of the petticoat extended to the length of the finished petticoat, it becomes a full length skirt.  The bloomers, ruffle omitted, can be made into wide leg capri pants or extend to full length for slacks or sleep pants.  Cut a shorter length and you can have shorts of whatever length you prefer.  The camisoles can be made of any fabric to become a pretty summer top to add to your skirt.  The options are nearly endless!  All from a simple pattern pack for old west styled underpinnings. 

The second example is that of Little Miss' dress pack called "Nicole's Dress" which also came from Buckaroo Bobbins.  In the pattern set there is a simple plain dress with pinafore.  What I love about the dress pack is that you can make it with the long sleeves or with short.  The best part is that the single pattern pack, containing girl's sizes 4-12, only cost $7.95.  Add to that the underpinnings pattern pack that I had bought from McCall's patterns before it was discontinued.  When I bought the McCall's pattern, I got it on sale for $1.00 and bought it in all sizes available.  So, for under $10.00, I have underpinnings, dress and pinafore for her in all sizes up to size 12.  Being that she is currently in size 5, I won't have to buy a pattern for a long time.

The point is, I try to get as much out of the patterns as possible.  I never buy a single purpose pattern.  The only exception may be if I ever buy an apron pattern.  Then it is only because the apron wasn't a part of a pattern pack I used.  Even with that situation, I would only get an apron pattern that has options in how I make it.  By holding down the number of patterns purchased for each family member, I can hold down costs.  I buy can watch for sales on the fabrics.  Buying winter or summer weight fabrics when they are off-season and on sale is a bonus.  One added perk to using only a few patterns is that you are able gain skill in making the clothing.  With experience, the construction gets easier and faster. 

The last issue on this that I want to mention is that many people overlook the free sewing patterns available online for making clothing accessories.  One case in point.  A hooded scarf pattern I saw at the fabric store cost $11.95.  I found free directions for making the same thing online.  Be resourceful and do a Google search for any accessories you want to make.  There are many available if you take the time to look at them.

Christmas & Fabric Gift Bags

Less than a week until Christmas. Oh my. I look around the house and there is little signs of the upcoming holiday. So, this week, the kids are making decorations as well as some little gifts. They are doing great with the homeschooling. Grandson is loving his new school materials and Little Miss is enjoying the materials that she is using. She was surprised to notice that she has earned 2 badges in her Little Keeper's program. We won't have them until after the holidays, so I am thinking of saving them until the next time Daddy is home and then making a special event out of it by us taking her to dinner at her favorite place "Growls", which is pronounced Golden Corral by the rest of us. For those who don't know, Golden Corral is an all you can eat buffet. If given a vote, Little Miss will choose her "Growls" every time!

I have been busy in the evenings working on gifts. Mainly finishing up smaller projects. It is such fun to be able to make the gifts, with a house full of people, and no one know what you are doing. Requires a few late nights sometimes, but it is worth it.

I still have to finish making stockings and Little Miss' doll. If I can, I will sew up a few fabric gift bags to use instead of paper gift wrap. I am considering making a batch of the fabric gift bags later after the holidays to have a supply for during the year. I hate the idea of spending so much for paper wrap. With the fabric gift bags, I can make them to use with Joe and the kids. Once used, they can be saved for another time. If giving the gift to someone outside your home, the bag can be reused by them or they can fill it with a potpourri to make a nice scented bag to display in their home.

If you do much sewing, you know that there is often fabric left over. Sometimes, you have pretty fabric from an article of clothing that is out-grown in size. The fabric can be repurposed into the gift bags. The bags can be made of an assortment of sizes to fit nearly any wrapping need. I love the ones that are about lunch bag size. Those would get used more often than any other. A few bags made slightly larger would round out the set. If you need to stiffen up the bag bottom, place a piece of poster board or cover a portion of a cereal box cut to size into the bag bottom. Coordinating ribbon makes a nice closure.

In being conservative in the spending not only of our finances but in the natural resources the Lord has blessed us with, fabric gift bags just makes sense to me.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why a Small House Plan?

As readers have known, we have been wanting to build a smaller home
further back on our property. The old homestead will be then used for
other purposes. Possibly a small shop or store. We have been looking
at house plans and I was disappointed. The plans available today are
all for very large homes that are far from being practical when using
alternative energy resources. So, I have spent the last week designing
my own floor plan for a 3 bedroom home.

The plan started from a 28' x 30' (840 sq ft) log cabin design that I
found online at a college website. It is one of many that are free to
print out and use. The cabin was the same dimensions. The rooms on the
floor plan included 2 bedrooms, kitchen, and living room. No bathroom.
Guess it is a camping style cabin that utilizes an outdoor privy.

The first thing I did was to redesign the bedrooms. In the original
plan, the 2 bedrooms are side by side on one of the 28' sides of the
plan. I changed the orientation to make 3 bedrooms, 10' x 10' each,
along a 30' wall. The bedrooms may seem small by today's standards, but
they fit our lifestyle. We homeschool our children and live on a small
farm property. We believe that bedrooms should be for sleeping or quiet
time. Most of the day, the children are doing their schooling, playing
outdoors, or doing some other activity as a family. There is no need
for large bedrooms.

Next to one bedroom, I drew in a 6' x 8' bathroom/laundry. I remembered
how my in-law's single-wide trailer's bathroom looked. It was small,
but very functional. I based the bathroom on that. Again, it is not a
room that people spend a lot of time in, so only needs to be functional
in size.

The kitchen area is next to the bathroom so that the water pipes can
share a wall area. The kitchen is in the smaller portion of the living
area, which is completely open. No walls except those that separate the
family area from the bedrooms & bathroom. Ample windows in all rooms,
along with the front and back doors, are aligned so that there will be
very good air circulation from cross breezes in the summer.

There are a reasons for the size of this home. The first has already
been mentioned. When you are using alternative energy resources, you
need to scale back. I realize that is not the popular or desired
response. Many who complain about solar or wind power do so because
they want a system that is outrageous in price to be able to keep their
current lifestyle. They have so many TVs and other electronic gadgets
that a smaller system would never be able to keep up. We have managed
with only a small solar panel system for a year now. The only complaint
that I can think of is that if we have too many overcast days in a row,
the cell phone does not charge well. We plan on adding a bit more to
our system so that I can also use my netbook while it is charging. This
is purely for convenience though.

When you depend on cross breezes to cool your home, an open floor plan
with fewer walls is a benefit. If you keep the doors open to allow the
air to circulate from one room to another is a great way to stay
cooler. We notice in our current house that when you open it up and a
breeze is blowing, the house stays much cooler. On the other hand, in
the winter a smaller home that has an open floor plan will be easier to
heat. A centrally located wood stove or a well placed propane wall
heater will be able to heat the entire home without any trouble.

I often have mentioned the time Joe and I toured a museum's rebuilt
period home that was sparsely furnished. That is my dream. To have a
home that contains only what is essential for the lifestyle of our
family. Having a smaller home encourages you to be sensible in how much
stuff you hang on to. If storage space is an issue, you are more likely
to use discretion in what you choose to keep. This in turn will make
maintaining of the home easier.

It would not be difficult to add a pantry onto the home. Adding on a
back porch and enclosing one end to make a pantry beside the kitchen
would be easy. We have wanted a 4-season porch anyways. This would be
a good option.

Joe still has to look over the plans and see what he thinks of them. He
may have ideas for adjusting the plans. That would be great. He always
has wonderful ideas. This is a step closer though.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finding Calm in the Chaos

What a day!  Finally have made major headway in reorganizing the house again.  A couple of months ago, my eldest daughter's family moved in with us after a job change.  Finding room for 2 families in a single small home has been interesting to say the least.  I am so happy that I had already purged so much of the excess that we had.

Today, they helped me move my treadle sewing machine and a dresser into the bedroom.  The sewing machine had been in the front room, but the space is now needed for my grandson's school desk.  The next thing to be moved will be my antique desk.  Still need to make room for it in my bedroom though.  With a small amount of more work, that will be easily done.  Well, preparing the room will be anyways.  Need to wait for my beloved to be home to help move that heavy desk!  Having the antique furniture is a blessing and a curse.  A blessing in that they hold up over time very well.  A curse when you have to move them about.  I sure don't know how they did it back in the horse wagon days.  All I can think of is the poor horses having to haul the stuff  - even if only from town to the homestead.

One of the most noticeable factors of having purged the excess prior to the household changes is the space we have.  At first, it seemed like barely organized chaos.  We have been organizing everything gradually and now the house is regaining it's open areas again.  It has required a bit of creative thinking, but everything is finding a place in such a way that you would never realize that so much is actually being stored in the home.

The return to a more open feel of the home has led to Little Man being more calm.  Chaos in the home, whether it is clutter or activity, often brings about more meltdowns and sensory problems for him.  I can relate to some extent.  Clutter gets to me also.  I need the calm of an organized house.  Too much mess or clutter tends to overwhelm me.  I lose focus easily in that environment.  I can only imagine what it does to a child with sensory issues.

In thinking about all of the changes that the household has been experiencing, I relate it to our spirit.  If our lives are cluttered with the unnecessary things or chaotic with overly ambitious schedules, where do we find the calm that our spirit needs to commune with the Lord?   Just as a person feels more at peace in an organized home, our spirit feels more at peace when there is a lack of clutter distracting it from the Lord.  Think of it this way.  If you were reading your Bible and praying, would you feel at peace in your surroundings?  Or would you be distracted thinking about the cleaning or schedule that you need to give attention to?  Are you able to truly focus on the Lord and His words that you are reading?  Or are you distracted by chores that need doing?  If you were reading the scriptures and really enjoying the passage, would you be free to continue reading longer than usual?  Or is your schedule so busy that you have to set a timer to avoid missing something on your list of things to do?

Have you ever known someone who only wanted contact with you when they had a moment to spare from their "busy" life?  We have nearly all met someone like that.  They are so caught up in their own life that they don't have time for things or people not at the top of their priority list.  If you are on the receiving end of it, that can become a very hurtful experience.  You extend an invitation to them to visit and the answer is always, "I would love to when I get a chance."  Problem is, often that visit never seems to happen.  I have been on the receiving end of it quite often.  In honesty, I rarely extend an invitation now because of it.  I simply got tired of people not caring enough to call or stop by.  They are happy enough to talk or visit if I am the one initiating the contact.  Yet, they never make the time to do the same towards me.  Being human, I often feel hurt by this and give up trying.  I don't like feeling as though the relationship is one-sided or that the friendship is of such low importance to the other person that they would not notice if I simply stopped contacting them.  Sadly, that has happened.  I stopped contacting people and they never contacted me after wards.  It is as if they hadn't noticed at all.

In thinking about that situation I wonder, how often do I make the Lord feel that way?  He is patient with us certainly.  I think of that picture of Christ standing at the door knocking.  He patiently is seeking to commune with us.  Do we make time for Him?  Do we ever truly seek Him out?  When we do commune with the Lord through prayer or studying His words, are we like a rude visitor who is constantly checking their watch to see if it is time to leave yet?  Or do we spend enough time to really seek His message for that day (or moment) and wait for His answer? 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cold Feet???

It is a long running joke in our home. Cold feet in the winter. My
poor husband teases me about it when he is home. Well, I was
remembering tonight an idea that I tried when living in Montana years
ago - a rice bag! Made from fabric, you can have them in any size you
need. Here is how to make a simple one.

Cut 2 pieces of muslin (or other 100% cotton fabric) to be about 1 inch
larger than your finished bag size. This will give you about a 1/2 inch
seam allowance. Don't make the seam allowance any smaller than that!
You will need the full 1/2 inch by the time you are done. Round off the

Place the fabric wring sides together and sew 1/4 inch from the edge
leaving a 2" wide opening for turning along one short side. Turn bag
inside out and sew the seam again about 3/8 inch from the edge, leaving
the opening unsewn. Turn the bag to the right side again. You now have
a very secure french seam!

Fill the bag with rice. Some people like the nag to be more firm than
others. For a less firm bag, you may consider laying out the bag prior
to filling and with chalk, draw a line across the bag, dividing it into
3rds or 4ths. Fill the bag part way (below the chalk line) and then
top-stitch a seam across the line. Continue filling & sewing across the
line until you reach the top of the bag. Fold in the raw edges at the
opening and stitch closed.

Heat up the bag near your heater or some other warm spot. If I were to
use it, I would place it in the warmer above my wood cookstove. Just
before going to bed, place the bag near where your feet will be. These
are wonderful for achy muscles too.

An idea I remember the Amish used in their horse-drawn buggy was to heat
a big stone or brick in their wood stove's oven or near the fireplace.
The brick was then wrapped in a towel or other thick fabric and placed
on the floor of the buggy to rest their feet on. With a lap blanket
over their legs and the hot stone under the blanket & their feet, it
really helped to keep them warm. May just be a good idea for in a van
or other large vehicle where the heating may not be as good as you would

Simple Gift Idea for Kids

Here is a easy idea for a gift that kids (and maybe adults too) will enjoy. All kids love to use chalkboards. Here is a gift I am planning to make for the holiday.

Chalkboard Box


Wooden cigar box (or something similar)
Paint to decorate the inside & outside of the box
Chalkboard paint
Foam brushes
Box of chalk
Scrap of flannel or fleece

Paint the inside and outside of the box as desired, leaving box lid unpainted. Let dry.
Carefully paint the box top with chalkboard paint. Use an extra coat if needed. Let dry.

Place a box of chalk in the box along with a scrap of flannel for an eraser.

Voila' That is it! Simple, yet most young kids will love it.

Bonus Idea:

If you have extra chalkboard paint left over, use it to paint an old vinyl placemat, for little ones to use at a table.

Another off-beat version of the chalkboard is to alter an old book. Start with an old hardcover book like those found at a thrift store. Glue pages together and let dry. Leaving a minimum 1 inch border around the page edges, cut out the pages using a sharp utility knife. This forms a box inside of the book. You may wish to paint the inside to dress it up a bit. When dry, paint the book cover with chalkboard paint.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Preschooling Little Man

On Monday, I began preschooling Little Man. Up until now, I have worked
with him in preparation for using the TEACCH approach to preschool him
at home. It is going to be a while before he fully has the sequence
down, but he is doing great so far.

The first obstacle was to help him sit still long enough to do a task.
Our son loves to walk in circles and is nearly always on the move. We
first started with a low children's table & chairs. While a nice idea,
it didn't work. He was able to get up and walk whenever he had a mind
to do so. Unfortunately, he had a mind to walk quite a lot! I ended up
sitting him at the kitchen table with his older sister who is
homeschooling at the 1st grade level. Being in a booster seat, he is
not able to get up. This is working out much better. He doesn't even
try to get up, but will wait for me to get his activity ready in front
of him. At this point, I do not have a work center set up. I bring the
activities to him one at a time.

The next step was having a signal for him to understand that we are
going to be working on his schooling. Little Man has one of those ear
flap hats that are so popular today. When wearing it, he stops any
fussing or squirming. We refer to it as his "thinking cap" and put it
on him when it is time to do the task boxes. Surprisingly, as long as
he has that hat on, he is very cooperative. If the hat comes off, he is
ready to get down from the table and go roaming about the house. It is
funny how it works. Some kids on the autism spectrum need a fidget
cushion or a weighted lap mat to apply the weight and pressure they need
to sit still. Little man just needs his hat.

I had 3 tasks set up for his first day. He loves to paint with the
wooden handled foam daubers. I taped the corners of a sheet of
cardstock to the table in front of him. On the cardstock, I had drawn a
simple Christmas tree made up of a large triangle with a rectangle for
the trunk. I placed a dollop of green and brown Tempura paints on an
old deli lid and got him started. Our son needs the gentle guidance of
my hand touching his elbow. I pointed to the pencil lines of the
triangle and guided him in pouncing the paint onto the pencil lines.
Once he pounced the paint on with my help for 3 times, he finished on
his own. The only thing he needed was for me to help guide where his
hand moved by the touching of his elbow. It is really low key
guidance. He just needs a slight touch. If I remove my hand, he stops
working. Once he finished painting the triangle border, he painted the
inside of the triangle. Finally, using the brown to paint the trunk.
The entire time, he worked with my fingers gradually easing the touch on
his elbow to a feathery pressure. I lifted my hand away at one point
and he finished the picture completely on his own. I removed the
cardstock and gave him a blank sheet to paint all on his own while I set
the tree painting aside to dry.

After painting, his next task was to place 8 wooden alphabet building
blocks into a bowl. While the painting with a dauber used his larger
muscles in his arm, this activity with the blocks used more fine motor
development. He had to pick up the blocks one at a time and put them
into the bowl. I had to use hand over hand for much of it. I learned
that painting will have to be the last activity each day or else he is
not happy to do other tasks. While he did complete the task, he wasn't
as happy about it as he was with the painting. Since he was not as
cooperative, I allowed him a break for a little while to calm down and
become ready to get back to task.

The last task of the session was to glue pom poms (ornaments) onto his
tree. This one was very difficult. He had unexpected sensory issues
over that task. He has a sensory bin filled with pom poms that he has
used without any problems. Dipping a pom pom into the dollop of glue
and putting it on the tree was another matter entirely. It was a
struggle. I finally got him to do a few, using the hand over hand
method, before allowing him to walk away from the activity. I am not
sure what set him off. He has touched the pom poms before. Today the
texture of them didn't agree with him.

Overall, Little Man did great. He worked 3 tasks, completing 2 of the 3
without much protest. Getting him used to doing the structured tasks
will take time. I am encouraged with how well he did. I am going to
start using painting as his "reward" for doing his activities each day.
One thing I would do different however is to grab an old adult sized
t-shirt and make a paint shirt before he paints again. A very simple
way to make the paint shirt is to cut up the center back of the t-shirt
from hem to neck. This makes an open back, think hospital gown, for
covering his clothing. To fasten it, you can stitch a ribbon or bias
tape on each side of the neckline for typing. An even more simplistic
method would be to use a large safety pin to fasten the neck area.

It is such a blessing to see Little Man's progress. Even though part of
the activities were more of a challenge for him, he really made some
milestones. He was able to follow the direction of painting along a
line. He was able to do the block activity. Even though he didn't
enjoy gluing the pom poms onto the tree, he did a few. He did awesome!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

God's Grace in Autism

Not long ago, I was asked a simple, yet difficult question. "Where is God in autism?" The person who asked was a reader of my blog and just didn't seem to understand how a loving God would allow autism to happen. They spoke of the burden autism places on a family. It saddened me to read their email. I wanted to answer them here as well as personally.

As most who read my blog already know, we believe that our son is autistic for a purpose. No, we don't feel that God "made" our son autistic. We believe that God "allowed" him to be autistic for a purpose. You see, the Lord is powerful enough that if it were His will, he could cure our son at any time. Nothing is greater than the power of our Lord! If our son is autistic, then we believe that the Lord will use our son's autism as a testimony of His grace and power. Today, I saw a glimpse of that grace.

Our son is now using a regular bed instead of his baby crib. Sometimes in the mornings, he will come into my room and wake me up. He is a very early riser! Today was one of those mornings. I was awaken by my little guy climbing up on the bed. He held onto my hands and we played a little tugging game that he enjoys. When we were done, he leaned against me and said "I love you". That may not seem like much, but our son is considered non-verbal. He mimics sounds and occasionally words that he hears. It is a rare moment when he actually says something with full intent and meaning. The one exception being his sippy cup. For our son to say "I love you" is a huge step forward. Realistically, it may be months or longer before he is able to say it again. His saying it this morning was a strong testimony of God's work in our son. The Lord is working through him to help free his speech! Later in the morning, he brought me his cup and the canister of cocoa mix. It was his way of asking for some cocoa. I made the cocoa for him and as he took the cup, he gave me a big smile and said "thank you" before running off to the other room. This was a first! Not only had he told me that he loved me, but he said thank you when I gave him his cocoa. Again, a glimpse of God's grace.

The Lord may not have cured our son overnight, but He is working through our son. Each new milestone is a blessing and a gift from the Lord. It is a moment of renewed hope for our son. There is no doubt in our minds that one day our son will be able to stand and share his testimony of what all he is able to do. Not what he is able to do in spite of autism, but what he is able to do because of the Lord's blessing him to overcome the obstacles of autism.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Winter Renewal

Well, today we were gifted with 3 large chicken hens that are no longer laying eggs.  My in-laws raised a flock of them for eggs, but they have stopped laying now that winter is here.  They are planning on slowly cutting back the number in the flock and then buying new hens in the spring.  Which brings us to the gift of the 3 hens.  The hens are to be butchered, then I will roast them.  The extra meat will be canned in jars for later.  On a cold blustery day like today, a pot of chicken stew simmering on the stove sounds wonderful.

The days are slowing down to a gentler pace.  I enjoy the "rest" of winter.  The changing seasons give nature a rest from their growth cycles.  Trees that have been green and producing fruit in the warm months are now bare and in a dormant state.  This is a necessary state of renewal in nature.  I think upon the wisdom of that.  We work from the time the ground thaws until the hard freeze in autumn to lay in stores for our family.  After all of that work, our bodies need a restful season to rest and renew ourselves in preparation of the next season. It doesn't mean we are dormant, only that we are resting from the harder more physical work of the warmer months.

The older I get, the more I realize just how much I need this season of renewal.  Not just physically, but in other areas of my life.  It brings with it a peace to my spirit that is not there other times.  That is not to say that my spirit is in upheaval the rest of the year.  Only that in the winter, when life slows down, I have more time to devote to the things that nurture my spirit.  I have more time to read, sew, crochet, and other activities that I enjoy. 

In homeschooling, the children are schooled year round.  In summer, it is a bit more relaxed by comparison.  The days are filled with educational activities that involve the outdoors, such as nature study.  In winter, we are indoors much more and the school work reflects that.  That is when I pull out the experiments and other fun activities that they don't do the rest of the year.  It is a perfect time to teach kids a handicraft that takes more time and patience.  Right now, I have holiday ornaments for the kids to make.  Some will be only for this season, while others will be ones that we can use again in future years.  Little Miss will be working on more literature-based thematic units over the winter.  She loves books, so this is a natural for her.  Homeschool Share has free units for each of the "Little House" books.  Little Miss loves those. 

For my Little Man, I am putting together more tasks for him to work on.  I have so many ideas running through my head that are being written down in a notebook for later.  I am taking basic ideas that I have seen for the TEACCH method and remaking them to suit our needs.  So many of the tasks that you can purchase are more busy work than academic instruction.  Yes, he needs help with some motor skills that he never developed naturally.  That doesn't mean that the academic aspect should be neglected.  One activity is that of stringing beads onto a cord or dowel.  In most task packs, they just have the child string them however they want.  In the beginning, that is fine as they learn the skill.  After that, have the child string them in a pattern to teach sequencing.  In Sue Patrick's book, "Sue Patrick's Workbox System: A User's Guide", she teaches the idea of using interactive posters to teach or review material learned.  For Little Man, I am using that idea on a smaller scale and making them notebook size from cardstock that I will laminate.  My favorite resource for him right now is very basic preschool activities that you would do with a toddler.  He seems on track with some of that. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Simplicity

Years ago, I wrote a blog "Having a Green Christmas". I read through it again and the blog is just as relevent today as it was when I wrote it back in 2008.

Christmas simplicity is taking back control over the holiday celebrations and putting priorities where they should be. The holiday is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Where does that fit in with the holiday craziness that ensues each year? It doesn't. If you take a good honest look at the holiday craziness in your family's celebrations, you may just discover that the further you move away from keeping Christ as the central focus of the holiday, the crazier your life becomes.

In our home, we keep it as simple as possible. We have a small (no larger than 3' tall) tree to place on a desk for decoration. There is also a Nativity creche displayed in the home. Decorations are handmade by the family.

For gifts we limit them to 1-2 per person. Most are handmade gifts, which we prefer. We want to raise our chlidren to appreciate the work and talents of others more than a brand name & price tag. Occassionally, a gift may be purchased but only if it is something we are unable to make ourselves.

T keep Christ central in the celebrations, we have devotional Bible activities for the children. I found online a printable Jesse Tree activity for kids. You can find it at http://tiredneedsleep.blogspot.com/2009/11/advent-and-jesse-tree.html#. The free printable has a link, but the blog post shows how this mom made it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Knitting Nightmares

Okay, I am doing it. I have been talking about wanting to learn to knit
for some time now. Well, I bought a pair of needles about a year ago
and gave it a go. What a first-class disaster! I just had the worst
time trying to do the stitches. They were too tight and just a pain in
the backside to work with. I remember learning to knit when I was in
elementary school. It was a very informal group of girls learning from
a girl's mother who came to the school and volunteered as a room mom. I
remember how she taught us to cast on to load the stitches onto the
needle. Well, after learning how to do the basic knit & purl stitches,
the family moved before we could learn to increase, decrease, or finish
off the piece. In a nutshell, I learned how to do basic knitting to
make a scarf, but never learned how to take it off the needles.

Last year, I carefully loaded a needle and began knitting. When I
reached the end of the first row I switched the needles in my hands and
started the next row. Got through that one and thought I was doing
great. I thought to myself, "Woo hoo! I'm knitting!" Little did I
know, lurking around row 4 was the beginnings of a nightmare. The
stitches were becoming gradually tighter and in row 4 were actually
making a slight squeaking sound as the yarn slide across the metal
needles. By row 5, I could not even slip the needle under the yarn on
the other needle to start a new stitch. I was in such a state of
frustration that I was ready to cry. I set the work aside until I was
ready to deal with it again. So, here I am nearly a year later looking
at that knitting attempt. It lurks on the shelf. I know I need to just
remove all the yarn from the needles and start over. It is my albatross.

A week ago, I was at a craft supply store and saw a beautiful pair of
wooden knitting needles that I fell in love with. I thought about some
handcrafted wooden crochet hooks that were made for me. I use the
wooden ones and prefer them to the plastic or metal. They feel very
comfortable to work with. I thought that if the wooden knitting needles
are as comfortable as the crochet hooks are, I would enjoy using them.
I didn't buy those needles. I love them, but will consider them as a
reward for learning to actually make a finished project using the pair
of knitting needles I have right now. Sigh.......

So, here I sit with that Knitting Nightmare mocking me. I am really
going to do it. I am going to reach over tonight and undo all that yarn
from the needle and banish that nightmare from my sight. If I don't
post again soon, I may need a rescue from a savvy knitter to get
unraveled. Or maybe a Knitter's Anonymous intervention. Or maybe a
good cry over a piece of dark chocolate. Will see what happens.....

New Blog Name

Well, it was on the horizon and needed to be done. I hadn't known at the time years ago whe I began using the Prairie Mom name online that there was another lady in Oklahoma using it. I have never had contact with her, but out of respect I have changed my blog name and email. It no longer reflects the Prairie Mom name. The blog is not being changed in any other way. It is still going to contain posts about family and homesteading. For those folloing my blog through email, there should be no change. You should still receive it as always.

I realise that there may be a bit of confusion at first. I apologise for that. I am just wanting to prevent trademark or other issues later on. The scope of just how many people have access to my blog is gaining enough ground that I needed to make this change now.

I have been gradually making a few change to the blog that readers may have noticed. First, I no longer am referring to my children by their names. This is for safety reasons. The second change is that the future posts are going to include more ofthe back to basics information. Many topics from the early years ofthe blog will be revisited with updated information. I am hoping that the revisiting of the "old ways" of how things were done generations ago will be a welcome pursuit. So much of the knowledge is being lost, but in today's economic situation that information is sorely needed.

Thank you to all who have been following and reading my blog. I never thought it would have such interest as it does. When my beloved husband first encouraged me to start a blog, I didn't think I had anything to say that others would enjoy reading. It humbles me to see just how many actually do read it.

My new URL for this blog is http://grannysimplicity.blogspot.com and you can email me at grannysimplicity@gmail.com.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Charlotte Mason Inspiration

I love the theory and approach of Charlotte Mason in regards to
educating children. I have always believed, from the time I first came
across the books about her philosophies, that she was one to something.
Tonight, I had a "Charlotte Mason moment."

I have been thinking of crafts and other activities for the children to
do for the holidays. I am sad to say that most have come under the
heading that Miss Mason would have considered to be "twaddle" and not of
real substance. I am fully to blame. I failed in this. I lowered the
bar for the kids below their ability to the point of being patronizing.
I am not fully against the quick cutesy stuff that children do at public
schools or preschool. It all has it's place. Should that be a part of
homeschooling though? As homeschooling parents, we expect a higher
standard for our children. If we didn't, they would be in public
school. The cutesy crafts can be fun and can be a part of our
children's creative play experience. Having an "art box" with basic
craft supplies that the kids can do on their free time is fine. They
can get the instant gratification and free expression that creativity
brings. But should we leave it at that? I think we should go further.

What ever happened to teaching our children more meaningful skills? A
little girl learning to do embroidery or some other stitchery or a
little boy learning to make things from wood or other craft? Why do we
lower our standards and expect that these things are too difficult for
our children? Do we really believe that or are we simply lazy in our
own thinking? Maybe we don't have the knowledge of those skills
ourselves. Wouldn't it be a teaching moment for our kids if we learn
right along side of them? They would see that the skill is something we
value enough to learn ourselves, not just expecting them to do it.

Miss Mason rightly believed that teaching children the home crafts and
skills were beneficial to children. They learned to take their time and
finish something they started. Children learned a valuable lesson that
not everything comes instantly. Sometimes we have to work at a project
or task for a period of time before it is completed. When finished,
they have pride in the fact that they stuck to it and are proud of the
finished project. It can elevate their self-esteem.

In my Grandmother's generation and early, it was common for children to
learn the home crafts and skills from an early age. Yes, back then it
was more important due to lack of funds to buy new. Does that change
anything for us today? In an "instant gratification" society, are we
not wishing our children would appreciate the work and talent those
skills required? They don't gain that appreciation through osmosis. It
must be taught.

I remember when Little Miss made her first tied doll quilt. I had to
help her sew the quilt together, but she meticulously tied the quilt
with embroidery floss. She was so proud of it. She made it just
shortly after her 4th birthday! For her 6th birthday in March, I am
surprising her with her own little sewing box with a few basic
supplies. I have fabric scraps that she can use to make another doll
blanket, doll clothing, or some other project. I will have traced out
some simple doll clothing patterns that I have available so she can use
them to dress her doll. As a child, I used to make my Barbie doll's
clothing quite often and really enjoyed it. Who knew that making those
doll clothes would be the laying of the foundation for my being able to
make clothing for my family today? Back then, I was just having fun
with my dolls.

I am so grateful to have come to this realization while Little Miss is
still so young. I have time to correct myself in this area of lacking.
The home crafts can easily be included in her workboxes. Either the
project or a picture of the craft would suffice. Only other thing she
would need is gentle guidance and a quiet place to work. Both are
easily done. The Little Keepers program she is doing has excellent
beginner projects that she could start with. For embroidery, just a
sampler of a few stitches would be a good start. I find online quite
often free printable primitive style stitchery patterns & designs. They
are simple drawings in pencil on muslin that you use as a guide for
stitching. We could even take a favorite coloring book picture and
trace it onto the muslin for a design. My mind is spinning with ideas
now. She has been asking to learn to sew. This will be a nice start.
With Christmas approaching, I may draw out a few simple designs for her
to stitch up to be made into a framed picture, ornament, or other gift.
Whatever the project, she will enjoy picking out which picture she wants
to stitch up.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Homemade Art Supplies Recipes

One aspect of living a rural life is that you cannot easily just go around the corner to the store for every little thing.  This includes making a quick trip to the store for craft supplies.  From the stand point of being frugal with our resources, it is a waste of fuel and money to go buy new each time.  Another area where I take a lot of care is in the issue of chemicals.  I am working to cut chemicals out of our home as much as possible.  Already, I am gathering in a notebook recipes for homemade cleaners and other products that we can use in place of the store bought versions.  The next area that I am going to work on is homemade art supplies.  In past years, I have made a few art supplies like glue, play dough, and chalk.  Now, I am learning that there is much more that you can make at home with most ingredients being things you can find in your pantry. 

A wonderful place to start looking for the recipes is a website called, "Blessings for Life".  I found the website through a Google search and was thrilled to see it.  On the site, you will find a blog entry containing a long list of recipes for homemade school art supplies.  The woman who writes the blog was very thorough and the list is extensive.  I cannot readily think of an art supply that she did not include.

Whether you can use the recipes now or not, it may be fun to print out or otherwise save the recipes for your own reference.  You never know when it will come in handy.  The art supplies could be made for children/grandchildren in your own family, a preschool class, or church Sunday School children's class. 

Having the ready reference of the recipes can be a blessing if you ever find a need for such a supply item and no time or money to run to the store.  With the holidays coming up, it may be fun to make some play dough or other art supplies as a gift to a young child.  Then, in the gift basket, you can include the recipes for the child's Momma. 

I love the idea of making our own art supplies.  In a homeschool mindset, making the recipes with little ones can be a part of their schooling.  Math is used when measuring ingredients.  Science can be used in explaining why certain ingredients cause specific reactions.  Color theory is utilized when mixing food coloring to make colored play dough or paints.  You can even get into the history of making some of the supplies.  When was play dough first made?  What is the difference between the cooked play dough and the older salt/flour clay in both the ease of use and in the dried project made from them? 

One of the best lessons that making your own art supplies teaches is that of making do with what you have.  This goes right along with our family's attitude of living more simply and conserving our resources.  Why spend $$$ on store bought when you can make a similar product for pennies?  When it comes to play dough, our son doesn't like the store bought.  It is too sticky and he doesn't like the feel of it.  Give him the homemade and he is happy.  I am able to knead in just a bit more flour to get rid of the sticky feel of it for him.  Water color paints, which our daughter loves to use, are made very quickly & much less cost than the store bought.  If she runs out of 1-2 colors, I can make her just the colors needed instead of having to buy a whole new set just to replace the color(s) she ran out of. 

I am so happy to have found the website of recipes.  There is another good one called "Artists Helping Children" which has a large amount of recipes for art supplies.  You will also find art projects with well-written instructions on their website.   A quick search on Google will find you many more websites of recipes.  These two however, are the best ones that I have found thus far.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tending Our Fires

Living off-grid and using wood heat is a lesson unto itself. There is
much involved. You have to buy or cut well seasoned, dry firewood,
knowing what types of wood puts out the best heat. Your wood supply has
to be more than sufficient to get you through the season. You must have
sharpened chainsaw, ax, or other method to cut & split the firewood to
the size needed. Firewood needs to be stored in such a way that it is
protected from the rain, ice, and snow to keep it dry. You also need a
supply of kindling or fire starters. In the home, you need to maintain
the stove and chimney. Keeping the chimney cleared of any built-up
creosote to prevent a chimney fire is vital. Your wood stove's firebox
needs to be checked to make sure it is in good condition, as well as any
indoor sections of stove pipe. The seams in the pipe have to be checked
for any smoke leakage through a small test fire.

Once everything is ready and the temperatures dip down, you start using
the wood stove. Whether you use it for heat or cooking, the fire has to
be tended and maintained. Using our kitchen cook stove as an example,
it has a small firebox. The stove heats very well, but needs wood added
to the firebox every few hours to maintain the hot embers. If the fire
goes out and the kitchen cools down, it takes a bit of time to get the
kitchen warm again. If the wood you bring in from outdoors is too damp
from rain, ice, or snow, the fire takes even longer to start. If the
wood wasn't protected and became saturated in a rain storm, you may not
even be able to light the fire. It all takes careful planning and care
to keep the fire going and the kitchen warm. I often use the wood
cookstove to prepare meals in the cooler months. A constant fire is
needed for this. Again, it takes maintaining the wood supply to keep
the stove hot enough to cook as well as heat the rooms.

Let me paint a scenario for you. You stock the stove very well at
night, but sleep deeply enough to not stock it during the night. In the
morn, you awaken to a stove with only tiny embers and a bin of damp wood
to get the fire going again. It is still possible to get the fire lit
and heat the room again. However, the amount of effort you have to put
into it is much more than if you had maintained it all along.

How often do we treat our relationship with our Lord as the above
scenario with the wood stove? We begin the relationship by lighting
that initial fire, stocking it as needed to keep the relationship
going. Then one night, we allow ourselves to figuratively "go into a
sleep" instead of tending that relationship. We grow complacent or
become distracted from our spiritual journey with the Lord. Sometimes
it is a conscience choice, but often it isn't. Just as we can go to bed
with every intention of waking to tend the stove, only to sleep through
the night, we can sometimes "fall to sleep" in our relationship with God.

Think on the parable of the 10 virgins. All had lamps that were filled
with oil and had trimmed wicks when they started out. Only half had
extra supplies to get them through the night. The others were
complacent and had not stayed alert. Which one describes where you are
in your relationship with God? Are you diligent in your efforts to
build and nurture your relationship? Or are you simply content and
growing complacent with the efforts you have already put forth?

Our spiritual relationship with God is much like a fire that needs
constant tending. Not the the Lord needs us to continually tend and put
in an effort for His sake. We need to do it for our own sake. We need
to continually seek Him out and make Him a vital part of our lives. He
is always there. It is us who need to turn towards Him and answer His
gentle call to us.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Play Dough Recipe & Gift Idea

I found a website tonight quite by chance.  It is Sensory Processing Disorder.  I was doing a web search for a homemade Play Dough recipe and stumbled upon the website.  After glancing through as much as my phone would allow, I thought I would pass the link along.  What I noticed is that they have a lot of information about Autism and other types of sensory disorders.  If you have need of this type of information and resources, then that is a site that may be of interest.

As I mentioned, I was searching for a play dough recipe.  I used to have a really good one, but it was misplaced.  Our son is getting more involved and wanting to mimic what our daughter and grandson are doing.  With this in mind, I decided to make play dough again.  In the past, our son was not interested in anything that felt sticky or strange on his fingers.  Commercially made play doughs have a slight stickiness to them that caused him to not want to touch it.  In making homemade versions, I am able to control the dough consistency to match what he will tolerate.  I have been finding that if I knead in a bit of Cream of Tartar into the dough before giving it to him, it makes the dough more smooth.  Cream of Tartar also has a quality in it that will extend the shelf-life of the play dough.  The following recipe, found on the above mentioned website, will last about 3-4 months.

Play Dough Recipe

In a 2-quart pan mix together:
1 cup flour
½ cup salt
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar

1 Tablespoon oil
1 cup water with food coloring in it

Cook over a medium heat.  At first it will appear to have too much water in it but will quickly begin to form into a ball of dough.  When dough pulls away from the sides of the pan, take out of pan and lightly knead until smooth.  If necessary, knead in a little flour to remove any stickiness.

Store play dough in baggies or air-tight containers for 3-4 months.

If you do a web search for play dough activity ideas, you will find many activities to teach fine motor skills and sensory activities for young children to enjoy.  With the holiday season coming up, you can make up a batch of dough without food coloring.  Choose a recipe that can be baked to harden the dough after it is formed into shapes.  Allow the kids to roll the dough about 1/4" to 3/8" thickness.  Cut out into shapes using holiday cookie cutters.  With a drinking straw, make a hole near the top of the shape for threading a ribbon through after it is baked.  Place the cut outs onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake according to the dough's recipe directions.  When hardened and cooled, use markers or paints to decorate the ornament.  Let dry.  Thread a length of ribbon through the hole to make a hanging loop.

One Christmas gift that the kids are making for their Grandparents are hand prints pressed into the clay.  The dough will be rolled out about 3/8" thick and cut the size of a dessert plate.  Once their hand print is pressed into the clay, it will be baked until hardened.  They will then paint the hand print, let dry and add the ribbon for hanging.  I will write our son's name and year on his.  Our daughter will write her own name and the year on her hand print.

If there are little ones on your gift list, consider making them a basket filled with various colored homemade play dough.  Include in the basket the recipe for their Mom to help them make more as needed throughout the year.  I have also seen batches of homemade play dough prettily packaged in little baskets or containers of about 6 colors each being sold in craft shows.  Using unsweetened drink mix, such as Kool-aid to both color and scent the dough is a fun option for doughs you give as gifts.  The only caution I would add to that is to be sure the scented play dough isn't given to a child who is likely to eat some of the dough because of it having a fruity scent.



Home Canned Thanksgiving

We had Thanksgiving a week early in our home. Joe had the weekend at home, so we took the opportunty to celebrate together. As I was preparing the meal, I did something different this year that turned our really well.

I bought twice as much turkey as we needed and roasted both. One was served for the meal, the other was deboned and packed into canning jars with a bit of water & broth. I filled the canner with the jars of meat and processed them.

When I made the whole cranberry sauce from fresh cranbarries, I used 2 bags of cranberries instead of the typical 1 bag. I was able to fill 2 pints and 6 half pint jars. I processed the half pints and 1 pint jar for later and served the 2nd pint jar with the meal.

Sweet potatoes from the produce department were already diced and canned in pint size jars. I drained the liquid from a few jars and seasoned them as I mashed them for making sweet potato casserole.

I baked a whole pumpkin. It was then sliced into wedges that I peeled and diced to be placed into pint jars. I filled the jars with water and processed them also. I now have a supply of pumpkin to use for pies or breads this winter. I will be adding another whole pumpkin's worth of canned pumpkin as soon as I get that one baked as well.

I am now thinking that in the future, I will be home canning much of the holiday meal's foods ahead of time. Having the canned sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and cranberry sauce made preparation of the holiday meal so much faster and easier.

Joe is loving it. I made up a box of Thanksgiving foods in jars for him to cook on the truck. When he cooks the turkey, he will likely be adding a scoop of dried seasoned bread stuffing mix to the pan to make his turkey & dressing. Add the canned gravy and his meal is all set!

With the actual holiday still a few days away, I hope this may inspire others to give it a go.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gratitude for Our Blessings

Thank you all for the encouraging comments to my blog about vaccinations. Joe and I never make such a decision without really knowing what we are talking about. We never take our children's health lightly.

Over the past week, I haven't blogged as much. I went to the doctor & found I had an upper respiratory infection, sinus issues, and had coughed so much my throat was raw & swollen. The doctor made the comment that it was as though I had strained something, which caused the swelling on one side of the throat. After taking Z-pack antibiotics, I am much better.

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. The time is going by way to quickly. We have so much to be grateful for this year. Joe's job is going very well. He doesn't get home nearly as often as we would like but we are blessed that he has a job that supports us. I have often felt that Joe's minstry is on the road. Each new student that he trains is an opportunity to share his faith. He has never been shy about living his faith in front of others. From this, he often has people ask him about his beliefs. God gives him opportunities to share His love with others.

Last week, we had a scare that turned into a precious gift from the Lord. My eldest son, who is a trucker driver, drives a tanker hauling fuels or other liquids. He was hauling an explosive liquid and rolled the truck several times. We finally learned that he only had minor injuries from broken glass and a sore leg from where it got pinned. He was very blessed! Semi truck roll-overs are rarely that good of an outcome. It was a blessing from the Lord that he was able to basically walk away from that accident.

Homeschooling Abbie is a treasure in my days. The little moments when she "gets it" and becomes animated are moments that I hold dear. Recently, she realized that she was not only reading sight words but was able to sound new words out all on her own. The pure joy on her face and excitement was a precious gift. When she realised that she was able to sound out words on her own she said she was so happy that God is helping her learn to read. Wow! At 5 yrs of age she already is gaining the understanding that our talents and gifts come from the Father. Abbie is wanting to learn to sew. I am putting together a little sewing kit for her. Collecting buttons and fabric swatches for her to use is turning into a fun project for me. I bought her an embroidery hoop and floss. With the muslin that I already have and some iron on designs, she will be able to learn to do simple stitchwork. I am going to let her make some of these from muslin blocks. When she is done with each one, I will date and save them to make into a patchwork quilt wall hanging for her.

Micah has been gaining so much ground in his development. He is trying to talk so much more and we are beginning to get a good glimpse at the sheer size of his vocabulary. Little things will trigger him to talk. One being when you get him a sippy cup of water. He uses a cup that has the Cars character "Speed McQueen" on it. When he sees that cup he says, "ca cu" for car cup. We are noticing that he often will drop the last sound of a word. One word that he has no trouble at all saying is "cookie" which is what he calls anything from a cheese cracker to a vanilla wafer. By simply easing off and treating him like a typical child, he is gaining far more ground than when he was getting a lot of the therapies. I still work with him in a prechool-type manner and is supporting the language he is able to use. We acknowledge his speech by responding to it. If he asks for a cookie, he gets one. In doing that, we are reinforcing to him that his speech has meaning and purpose. Micah is gaining independence also. He is learning to color, paint, dress himself with limited assistance, feed himself, and interacting much more. God is blessing him daily in his growth.

There is much more to be grateful for this year. The above is just a drop in the bucket. I will write more later.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Vaccination Nonsense

Took Little Man to the doctor.  He has strep throat and ear infections again.  He seems to get them once every 3 months or so.  The doctor said that some kids are prone to them and do better once their tonsils are removed.  They will document how often he gets strep then decide.

While at the doctor's office, I got into a "discussion" with her.  She first questioned why I said Little Man is autistic and who made the diagnosis.  According to her, he didn't look autistic to her.  Really???  So, what does an autistic child look like?  On one hand, I am thrilled that he is seeming to be more typical and stims far less.  On the other hand though, I am not happy that she questioned that we would call him autistic & suggest that we came up with that all on our own.  I told her who diagnosed him and their findings. She was accepting but unimpressed.  (Note: she works for a competitor company of the university medical center that diagnosed him.)

The next bit of "intelligence" that came out of her mouth was over the issue of our not having vaccinated him or finished vaccinations for his older sister.  She refused to hear our reasons, then told me it was "her job to educate the uneducated" people who come into her practice.  Are you serious???  She actually believes that the uneducated people are the only ones who don't vaccinate their kids?  Did I happen to mention that she is a young doctor?  I don't want to insult any blond readers, but you do share a hair color with her.  Unfortunately, she came off as the stereotype.  

Her following bit of "brilliance" came when she remarked about a medical convention she had recently attended here in Oklahoma.  According to her, there was an informal poll taken asking the doctors in attendance to raise their hand if they would REFUSE treatment to a child who did not have their inoculations.  By her estimation, 95% of the doctors in attendance raised their hands.  Only 5% were willing to treat a child who had not been vaccinated.   She said, "That should tell you just how important doctors think vaccinations are."   Oh really???   No, dear educated one, it tells me that 95% of the doctors are admitting to being prejudiced and willing to discriminate against anyone who does not vaccinate their children.  Doesn't matter to them if it is a religious or other reason that the parents have chosen to not vaccinate.  They are admitting to not being willing to treat a child for that reason alone......not having been vaccinated!  Where is the parent's right in this to choose whether or not to vaccinate?  I know that if you opt out of the vaccinating of your children while on WIC, you sign a waiver stating that you are opting out.  It is not illegal to refuse vaccinations.

The discussion then turned to schooling.  She noted to me that public schools would not allow our kids to attend without vaccinations.  That is fine, I told her that we are homeschooling.  She then argued that you can't homeschool a special needs child.  I let her in on the fact that there is no law preventing it and that many special needs children are homeschooled successfully.  She stated that a special needs child requires an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for their schooling.  Well, here again I educated her.  Every homeschool parent chooses a curriculum to fit the needs of each of their children.  In essence, every homeschool child has an IEP set up.  No homeschooling parent treats their children's education as a cookie cutter situation.

"But what about therapies that a child gets at the public schools?", was her next argument.  Well, last I knew, therapy was not a part of academic education and can very easily be done privately.  You don't have to go to public school to get speech, occupational, and physical therapies.  Parents can very easily hire therapists privately away from the school setting.  It is called, going to the office for an appointment.

I came right out and asked, "If you knew ahead of time that my son was not vaccinated, would you have refused treatment?"  She didn't reply.  Well, her silence said it all.  In her silence she admitted that she would have not treated him.  If she would have treated him regardless of whether or not he was vaccinated, she would have said so.  I asked if it was her hospital's company policy to not treat kids who are not vaccinated.  She replied that she didn't think so.  Good thing.  Had she told me that it was their policy, I would be making that fact widely known to every autism support group I could find in our state.

Joe and I have not believed vaccinations to be the reason for our son's autism.  We have our own reasons for not vaccinating.  Experience with our daughter proved to us how dangerous the vaccination program can be.  Our daughter became very sick with a 103*F fever for 3 days with vomiting & diarrhea for the entire 3 day period she had the fever.  When I called and told them, I was told that was a "normal reaction" and acceptable.  Really???  Well, it wasn't acceptable or normal in our eyes.  She was 3 years old and they had no concern for dehydration or her health.  They had given her 12 inoculations at one time in the form of 4 booster shots, 5 of the inoculations were for things she was up to date on and didn't need.  When I complained, WIC told me that "beggars can't be choosers" and gave her the shots anyways.  We never took her back for vaccinations again.

In our country, the FDA requires all foods and any products that are either ingested or put on the skin must contain labeling that discloses what it contains.  An exception to this rule is vaccinations.  How do you know that there is not an ingredient in those vaccinations that your child is allergic to?  With the vaccination schedule that children are placed on, being given several vaccinations at one time, if they have a reaction to something in 1 vaccination, how do they know which one?

I explained this to the doctor and she, in her vast and infinite knowledge, told me that there has never been a case of a child having a bad reaction to a vaccination.  Oh, give me a break!  She really believes that in all the years of children being vaccinated, there has never been a bad reaction?  Guess she never heard of the fact that if you have an egg allergy that you can't have certain flu shots, because of the flu shot containing egg in it!  Even the medical experts agree that if a person is allergic to a component in the vaccination (such as the egg in flu shots) then they are at higher risk of having a severe allergic reaction to that component.

By not knowing what is in the vaccinations, how can we say we are making an informed choice?  How can we protect our kids from the bad reactions to the vaccinations if we don't know what they are being given?

What it comes down to is that I will now be starting a search for a doctor among that 5% who does not discriminate against kids who are not vaccinated.