Thursday, March 29, 2012

Patterns, Patterns Everywhere! I have the itch to sew

As if working in the basement and homeschooling aren't enough to keep me occupied, I have acquired the bug for sewing this past month, and there is little end in sight.

It started with cloth wipes. Seemingly harmless little things. Just 2 pieces of flannel sewn together.

Ah, but once I started, I couldn't stop. Soon, I was making reusable snack bags for the kids' school lunches. I combined a number of pictures and patterns I found on the internet and eventually used ripstop nylon fused to preshrunk cotton. Basically, you cut the fused materials into rectangles, sew on velcro, then sew up sides envelope style.

Next was a zippered wetbag for transporting soiled cloth diapers in the diaper bag. I also made a large one with a Velcro strap to hang in my bathroom for dirty diapers and wipes. Here is the free tutorial I used for the smaller bag, and I simply improvised for the strap on the larger bag.

After that, I had to stop due to this and that, but my creative juices couldn't stop running. Now I'm looking at making a number of other baby items, from bibs to changing pads and more. It's amazing how many different free patterns there are out there on the internet. I've also been busy making patterns of my own from designs I like. Here are some of my intended projects:

I found a fun bib pattern with tutorial that is similar to the ones used in Japan. Think I'll try it out. I also love the Bumkins Super Bibs, but I thought I'd like to try making my own. I've found a picture on the web and majorly enlarged it to make a pattern. We'll see how it turns out. I plan to use PUL (polyurethane laminated cloth) and some sort of biased tape.

Sleep Sacks:
Another nice thing to have for baby that can be made relatively cheap. The armless ones are pretty easy too, and there are plenty of tutorials out there, as well as patterns to choose from.

Waterproof Changing Pads:
These are used to keep your baby from soiling whatever they are being changed on, as well as keeping their bottoms off of things you's rather they weren't touching. They also work really well as night and nap time leak stoppers in the crib (so you don't have to change the sheets). Here is a good tutorial. I plan to cut a good sized piece of waterproof PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric), cut another piece of soft/absorbent fabric such as terry, flannel, or fleece the same size. I'm thinking I might bind it together with biased tape. We'll see.

Cloth Diaper Soakers/Liners:
I really like the idea of the Best Bottom diaper system, but I thought I could improve their hemp/organic cotton liners some, and for less. I'm using a soaker of each size as a pattern, but instead of the 6 layers of hemp that they use, I am planning on doing 2 layers of heavy bamboo and only 3 layers of hemp. Bamboo absorbs wetness fast and is softer, while hemp absorbs slowly, is less soft, but holds more. The bamboo, of course, will go next to the baby with the hemp behind. I figure if I sew the two cloth types together separately, then only attach them together at the top and bottom, they will be able to dry more quickly (as both take a long time to dry when there are a lot of layers).

Nursing Pads:
Since I will be washing diapers frequently anyway, I figured I might as well use cloth nursing pads. However, the ones I am interested in most, Bamboobies, cost so much! So, I thought I would take their ideas and make my own. Their regular ones are super thin, with a layer of PUL, a couple layers hemp, and a layer of bamboo velour cut and sewn together in a heart shape. I can do that! Their overnight ones are made from several layers of hemp sandwiched between bamboo fleece. Since I'll be making diaper soakers anyway, I'll already have the material on hand. Why not make them myself?

Mama Cloth:
These are cloth feminine pads. I figure why not try them out, since I'm doing cloth diapers already anyway. Using a couple free patterns I found online, I plan to make the bottom layer of PUL, inner core layers of hemp, and the top layer from bamboo velour with KAM (plastic) snaps on the wings. I figure, if I like using them, I'll make more. If not, oh well.

For now, that's enough. I'm sure I'll find more things to make as time goes on.

Oh, and if you're wondering where I'm finding all of the hemp, bamboo, and PUL, they are sold online. You can find PUL in retail stores, but it is thicker and not as soft/flexible making it better for some projects, and not as good for others. The hemp and bamboo are only found online as of yet. My favorite online stores for these materials are Kids in the Garden and Diaper Sewing Supplies.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hidden Benefits of Homeschooling

Most people who have looked at homeschooling are aware of the well known benefits that it brings. You get to make your own schedule, go at your child's pace, lots of one-on-one teaching, protect your kids from bad friends and other influences, go on vacations when you want, sleep in, etc. Thing is, after homeschooling for almost 5 years now, I've come to realize that there are a lot more hidden benefits. Here's a list to show what I mean:

* I have gotten to know my kids VERY well, in ways that I never would have if I didn't teach them. For example, I know how their brains work, how they learn best, how long their attention span really is, how much they really know, and the difference that lack/type of food and sleep can make.

* I get to learn things too. When my kids study different animals, Egyptians, storms, castles, planets, or mythology, I learn about them too. When they learn new math concepts, sometimes I discover things as well. When my daughter starts passing me on piano, I start learning to try and stay ahead. When they learn Latin, I learn Latin. If they read a book, I often read it too. And it's fun to learn along with my kids. It's turned into a family thing.

* My kids can still entertain themselves for hours on end. They don't need outside entertainment, TV, video games, computers, or whatever else. They find things for themselves to do without relying on me to figure it out for them. They still play pretend, create stories and art, build things, play with their siblings and friends, exercise, make their own food, and simply have fun without being plugged in or given a schedule. They could go all day like this if I let them.

* No homework. This is my favorite. Once we are done with school for the day, we are done. Finished. Nothing more. Go play (once you finish your chores that is). And it doesn't matter if school only took 2 hours that day. You're done!

* I decide what is important to learn (as long as I include what the law says I have to). If I think it is important to learn cursive so that my kids will be able to read it, then I can make sure we cover it. If I don't think my kids need "social studies", I can skip it. Sex ed, scripture study, evolution, the slide rule, you name it. I'm in charge. I decide. Not some outside entity with different priorities and beliefs.

* My kids aren't inundated and swayed with public opinion. If my boy likes pink, then he's welcome to like it. Just because it's the latest fad, doesn't mean my girls are interested. They are the ones who decide what they are interested in. Want more salad? Go ahead! You hate Harry Potter? Go right ahead. It's nice to not have to follow what the social norm says. this also makes them more open to new ideas because they are not concerned with what other will think. Definite bonus.

* My kids will play with anyone. They don't care what their age is, what gender they are, what clothes they wear, what TV programs or video games they play, or how popular (or not) they are. If someone is fun to play with, that's good enough. Baby or senior citizen, poor or rich, smart or slow, pretty or not, whatever. They will be your friend if you'll be their friend too.

* I have constant, on-hand, mother's help. They help clean, cook, take care of each other, teach each other, entertain each other, and so on. When my baby comes, they will help with diapers and feedings. A couple more years and I'll have constantly available babysitters. It's nice to have help, and they are there to give it.

* You are allowed to sleep in, and your kids can stay up late on a school night with no issues. There is no morning rush or stressed pick up time. It's very relaxed. You can have your daily structure as rigid or as flexible as you want it, and it can change as often as needed. Vacation time, doctor's appointments, zoo visits, grocery store, swimming at the rec center, library, they can all be done when the crowds are low. And if a baby comes or you get really sick, you can put things off for a while without having to do "make-up work".

* My kids don't get sick that much. What they do catch is usually mild, most often just a cold. Stomach flu and strep are practically unheard of around here, and even then, they can still do school because it's at home. No waiting for antibiotics to kick in or finding that they are perfectly healthy 2 hours after school starts. No missed classes or fake illnesses around here.

*My car has put on very low milage. I'm not driving to school twice a day, sometimes more. I am not driving all over for this activity and that. I can go for a week and have hardly stepped foot in my car. Sure saves on car maintenance and gas. That doesn't mean we don't go anywhere. We've just taken out the daily trips.

*It can save you lots of money. You only spend as much as you want to on school books and supplies. Your kids don't need nice clothes. There are no school fees. Sack lunches don't exist. Field trips are completely optional and tailored to your income. How much or little you spend is all up to you.

There are certainly more things that I haven't thought of yet. I'm sure I'll discover more as time goes on. In the mean time, I'm enjoying all of the advantages I've got.