Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Mother's Christmas Worries

Thinking through the presents we have yet to wrap and worrying that this is a small Christmas, will my children notice we don't have much?  Should I have worked harder to find what they wanted used so they could have more?  will the shiny boxes and un-scratched toys make up for the lack of volume? Will they notice that we only give home made to each other and the rest of our family or will they be so caught up in the joy that the magic fills in the gaps?

The light in their eyes is what i live for.  Seeing them really GET Santa this year was so magical for me.  Seeing them dance with the angels at our church pageant brought me such joy.  Singing Christmas carols with them on a sleigh ride at my moms house almost made me weep.  I don't need things, I don't need new, I shop at rummage sales but I long to make their fleeting childhood everything it could be. I know our situation is only temporary, once I graduate I can get a decent job and we won't be so tight.  We have a house, we have 2 cars, we have heat, we have food, I have a gym membership so that I can get 2 solid hours of homework time a day.  I know we are blessed, I know many people have less. That doesn't make it any easier when my children ask for more and I have to say no.  I KNOW its good for them. However, when my son literally is dreaming something, but we've already purchased what he asked for last month it breaks my heart a little.  When he asks to go to walmart to visit the toys since I told him they were decorations it breaks my heart a little.  I hold the little pieces together because I know they don't know they miss out on anything, but I know.

Instead of a store bought advent calendar ours is homemade and has activities we can do for free (like make paper snowflakes, and a clearance gingerbread from last years post Christmas sale). They don't realize that not everyone does that, and hopefully it makes memories they'll cherish

Instead of new Christmas stories we re wrapped the ones they opened they same ones they read last year.  They don't remember, but I do.

They joy on their faces gives me such hope

We don't have much but we have love.  we have hope.  we have each other.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The difrences between the Praxis II 5161 and the Indiana Core 035

OK, I know that title looks almost like gibberish, but it should make this post easier to find for those who need it.

I've been doing online school with WGU to get my secondary math Teaching certificate and, since the school is based in Utah, I had to take the Praxis to get my degree, but since I live in Indiana I had to take the Indiana Core 035 to get my Indiana license and thought, since I have experienced both tests it might be helpful to share my experiences.

My Preparations:

  The great thing about WGU is that they provided me with 3 practice Praxis tests plus the one free one that comes from ETS and a lot of practice worksheets (though i didn't find out about the worksheets until the night before the test for me, but that's more my fault than anything).  I also picked up a college Math workbook from Half Price books that let me go through and practice all the dusty old math from algebra and pre-calc.  I also watched alot of videos on you tube (especially kahn academy and mathbff) I used those for things like matrices which i never learned and Math/logic which I couldn't remember the specifics of since I took the class for that about a decade ago.

The Praxis

...had me more panicked.  There are so many articles and posts about how the 5161 is so intense, plus the median score is below passing and there's rumors about a 33% pass rate per taking... for those of us with math brains, that's a horror story right there... especially when you're a perfectionist like me.  The great thing is the graphing calculator for the Praxis, it will even calculate zeros, intersections, max, min, or anything you could need really.  They also provide a great reference sheet that includes all the info for polar/Cartesian conversion, volumes of solids and more (all available on the ETS site for perusal before the test)  The Praxis was a lovely 60 (or 66, can't remember right now) questions long and it felt like plenty of time.  I do recommend that If you can't think of how to solve the problem within the first 30 seconds or so of looking at it, guess, flag it and come back to it at the end.  You don't want to run out of time, and you don't get penalized for guessing. I used all but 5 mins of my time, and didn't feel rushed, but i may have been if I was 10 mins from the end and hadn't touched all the problems.

Core 035

... I wasn't really worried about this one because I'd just come off of the Praxis win and figured I should get this one out of the way when all the info was still fresh and holy cow did it kick my butt.  As of right now I've got a preliminary Pass, but I'll update that when I receive my official scores. If you haven't taken 3rd calc (or at least thats what wgu calls it) or at least know things like vector graphing, polar graphing, logic tables, and beginning teaching concepts I'd hold off.  There were things I'd never learned.  Plus the reference sheet is not as detailed and the digital calculator is a scientific not a graphing.  There was alot more matrix problems up to 3x4 that I saw.  Plus its 100 questions, which was a snug fit, I wish I'd had a half hour more.  I did get back to all my flagged questions, but I didn't have time to work them as thoroughly as I wished I could, and a few were blind guesses.

All in all I think the Praxis II 5161 is easier than the Core 035, though few people need to take both. Preparation material for one will work for the other with the added information of vectors and higher level calculus, all done without access to a graphing calculator for the IN035.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Introducing a New Section of my Blog : Camping!

So the hubs and I had bee talking about taking the kiddos camping this year, but I wasn't sure that I was ready to take them tent camping.  So, I've been stalking the craigslist camper pages and... I found it.  I found the one.  :-) I knew walking up to it that I was in love.  It was missing a couple things that I thought I "had" to have (like air conditioning and a toilet) but feeling how cool it was inside when set up (it was a toasty day and it was at least 10 degrees cooler inside the camper) and we can always get a little potty for the kids. but its HUGE for the price we paid, is in incredible condition and did I mention huge?

So... coming soon... all our renovations and modifications we make, plus campsite reviews and hopefully wonderful memories that we make with this "little"beauty.

Meet our beautiful new '01 Coleman Mesa

 It came with an aftermarket roof bike rack that will fit bikes for all of us.  The roof needs a little bit of repair, but its a pretty easy fix (looking online we're going to use grizzly grip truck bed liner to paint over the ABS roof to repair the hairline cracking)  We're also going to need to replace the rubber gasket at some point.  We're storing it in the garage, so its not as big of a deal, since it won't be exposed to the elements.

 It has a sitting area... ugly, but that's EASY to fix

 Dining area and KING size beds :-)

 REALLY out of date fire extinguisher, (inspection form had dates from the 90s, so it will be replaced) but its bones are in good shape, and LOTs of storage

Galley's in good shape and the stove looks like its never been used

 I'm so excited to put my own touch on this little baby and make some memories with my minions.

Stay tuned for details from our first trip and how I keep this puppy stocked and organized

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Memory Pillow Tutorial

Ok, Friends, its time for Part 2 of my latest project.  A very dear family friend recently lost her husband in a motorcycle accident, so I have been making memory pillows for her and her family (her husband had a very unique sense of style) and wanted to post a tutorial for how to make them. I posted earlier in this post how to make them, but this post is about making the covers.

 But first I want to take a chance to say ALWAYS watch out for motorcycles when you're driving, you have a Ton of metal protecting you, they have leather and a helmet protecting them.  You're Bigger and Stronger, WATCH OUT FOR THEM. Its just like we teach our kids. Watch out for the little kids, help them, keep them safe. Do the same for the riders, they're smaller and lighter. and if you bump them its minor for you, but a big deal for them.

OK, anyways, back on topic.

The first step is to pick your shirt and  inspect all the button holes
Like I said, he was unique :-)


A button hole this warn is one to avoid, it won't hold very well on a pillow, so go around it for your pieces

 Measure your shirt and try to figure out your placement.  Watch out for the arm seams, this tends to be right around the shirt pocket and is often the narrowest part, If you get the shirt seems on to the front of the pillow it looks a little weird,  but not unuseable, its ok to have the seams for the sleeves in your seams, so don't be afraid to have the seams in your first cut, just don't let them be more than an inch or two from the edge.

I like to center my measurements over the buttons, Like this pillow below is going to be 19" on the cut (since its an 18" pillow) so I have the measuring tape centered at 9.5" over the button hole

Cut your pieces to be an Inch bigger than your pillow form (like for an 18" pillow you would cut a 19" square.

The first time you make one of these pillows, especially if it was a friend or family member, it will be very difficult to cut into the shirt, that's OK. Grab a glass of wine, or cut it WAY bigger than you need.  Remember you can always take it in and make it smaller.  Now that I've done quite a few of these, it doesn't bother me to cut into the shirts, but the first couple took some psyching up (or liquid courage ;-) ).

 Put your pieces right sides together and sew all 4 sides, don't worry about leaving a turning space because you can unbutton the buttons and use them to turn it right side out.

I like to use my serger, but I know not everyone has one.  I would recommend  doubling up on your stitching, like doing two rows of straight, stitch, or zigzag if your fabric has some stretch too it.  there won't be a ton of force on the stitching, because if its too tight the buttons will gape, but there will be some force on it if anyone leans on the pillow or sits on it, and you don't want the stitching to pop.
 Try it on the pillow to see how it fits, you don't need to turn it right side out for the first fitting, this is just to make sure its close.  The more you do, the less you'll have to fix each time.  Feel free to sew it looser the first few you make, its easier to take in the pillow case than the pillow.

I didn't take a good picture of the next step, but I'm going to tell you anyways. Its totally optional, but  I like to dock the corners of my pillow cases.  It keeps you from getting floppy corners.  That always bugged me about the throw pillows at the stores.  When you sew a straight square you can't get the pointed corners stuffed in a way I like.  So I notch off about an Inch off each corner.  I also use this opportunity to sew the care tag from the shirt onto the corner, especially if its not a standard wash and dry fabric. For example, my friend had ALOT of Silk shirts with very unique embroidery, and I'd sew the care tag and the description of he embroidery into the corners.

Turn it right side out and stuff your pillow form in.  Button up the pillow and you're good to go!
Isn't that Sew Cool! 

Make your own pillow form - for $3

 Hello friends!  Ive been working on a project lately that I wanted to share with you (because there simply aren't any tutorials out there that I thought did it well enough) but its got alot of steps (judging by the 66 pictures I just uploaded) so I'm going to divide it up into 3 seperate parts.  This is Part 1, on how to make a pillow form, for details on why I'm doing this project, see part 2, it will have the whole story.

OK, moving on, I hate having to pay 10-20 bucks for a pillow form that I then have to create a cover for, thats just rediculous to me, especially since when I'm making pillows for friends/clients, I try to keep the costs as low as possible. So instead of 10-20 bucks a pop, how about 4 for $9... Now we're talking!  I go to Big Lots and get 3 of the pillows shown below, but you can check around at walmart or any other big box retailer near you. The Big Lots near me had the best price for pilows.  Don't spend a fortune... You're going to cut it up.

I usually buy these about 9 at a time, but then it gets a little hard to move in my sewing room :-)

 This pattern makes about an 18x18 pillow, (well actually i think most of these wound up at 17x18, so if you're looking for a perfect square add an inch to my dimensions below)

I measures and cut across the fabric on one side of the pillow 18 inches from one of the short sides

just the fabric
 Cut the fluff down he same line, it takes me about three passes to get all the way through, just stab the bottom scissor through the fluff to go partway down.  Oh and don't use your best scissors, the fluff will dull them pretty quick.  I grabbed my paper scissors and they work just fine through the fluff.
take your time and make many passes, its easier than trying to muscle through it in one blow
 when you get through all the fluff push your two fluff-lets apart  and cut the fabric apart, save the little piece, we'll use that in part 3, but for now we're just going to use the big piece.

Push the fluff-lets apart

And cut your fabric

Smush the fluff down, you're looking to get as much slack in the fabric to be able to stitch it shut, so really smush it down.  I know it bounces back, its fluff and all, but squish it as much as possible

Pinch your fabric closed to make sure its got enough room to run through your sewing machine.
 I like to serge mine closed, it makes a great finished edge, but if you don't have a serger don't worry, just stitch it across a couple times, you could do a zigzag if you want, but the fabric doesn't stretch, that just would give you a wider seam.  I would recomend doing 2 rows of straight stitching (about 1/4 inch apart) with an optional zigzag between them, then cutting off the excess fabric.  But Like i said, if you have a serger its super duper easy.
 The trickiest part is getting around all the fluff and keeping the fabric taught.  I often have to hold the fabric coming out the back taught to keep the tension good, otherwise the bulk of the fluff has enough force to pull one of the pieces of fabric out of the needles
 Sometimes it takes a bit of finagling to get it all to go through, but this is way cheaper, so you gotta put alittle thought into saving money :-)
 Woo Hoo, thats all it takes. Check over your seam of course, I often have to go back over a space or two because I've only caught one side into the stitching.

Whoops, lets fix that gap

Tada! Pillow form for $3 and about 15 minutes once you get used to doing them.  Way cheaper than the $10-20 that Joanns wants to charge you!

Isn't that Sew Cool!