DIY Angry Birds Catapult….Life Size!!

After we had our son, Justin’s Angry Birds Birthday party, and posted the pictures of our life-sized catapult on Pinterest—we have had a lot of people ask how my husband made this, and the dimensions.
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So, FINALLY, here’s the dimensions!!
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My husband used 5, 46″ 2X4’s for the 2 base legs and 3 cross bars (2 along the base and 1 across the bottom opening of the sling shot.)  The two vertical posts are 60″ 2X4’s.  Then for the 2 angled boards he cut both of them at a 45 degree and hey ended up being approximately 33”.  He used exercise elastic bands from a sports store and tied them to large eyelets, and then fastened them to a colander.
We have used this for scouting events, and neighborhood parties like our neighborhood Easter Egg hunt—and everybody loves it!! 
 

Fall Sewing Class Schedule 2013…

I am posting my sewing class schedule so my local friends can easily check the calendar and see what new classes have been listed.
All classes are $15 and usually last about 2 hours.  The Anna Tote Bag is my first beginner class (for ages 8 and up) and is the only requisite for other classes.  If you have experience with sewing you may sign up for any class in any order.
I now have 2 Pre-beginner classes for ages 6-8.  They focus on a little bit of hand sewing, and sewing a straight line, and following a curve.
I teach sewing because I love it, not because I am an expert.  My goal is to help my students get excited about creating something independently and feel empowered to try something new—and hopefully continue sewing on their own and use their own creativity to make new things.  My classes are designed as project based so that you usually have something to go home with that is finished(excluding the Anna Tote Bag which is takes two class sessions to complete.)
All classes require the following supplies:
  • a good pair of sewing scissors that will cut fabric 
  • straight pins
  • seam ripper
  • Individual class material lists will be emailed to you when you contact me to sign up for the class.  The class materials are usually under $10 if shopping at Hobby Lobby or Walmart.
You are welcome to bring your own machine, but my classroom is equipped with machines that are perfect for beginners.
2013 Fall Class Schedule
PRE-BEGINNER CLASSES—Ages 6-8 years
(The Pre-Beginner classes are $15, but include all materials in the class fee)
Crayon Roll
Skills taught: straight lines, how to use a sewing machine(all class materials included with class fee)
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Crayon Roll:
Saturday, September 14, 2013 9:30-11:30am
Saturday, November 16, 2013 9:30-11:30am
Bunny Hand Puppet
Skills taught: sewing curved lines, hand sewing, sewing on buttons, pinning(all materials included with class fee)
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Bunny Hand Puppet:
Saturday, October 18, 2013 9:30-11:30am
BEGINNER CLASSES
All class are $15 per student and usually last 2 hours.
Anna Tote Bag
**First beginner class and a pre-requisite for all other classes.  Taught in two, 2 hours class sessions**
Skills taught: cutting a pattern, pinning, sewing straight lines, pivot turns, sewing curved lines, backstitching, seam ripping, sewing boxed corners, finishing stitches
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Anna Tote Bag
First Session($15):
Saturday, September 7, 2013 9-11am
Thursday, September 12, 2013 7-9pm
Saturday, October 19, 2013, 1-3pm
Second Section($15):
 Saturday, September 21, 2013 9-11
Thursday, September 19, 2013 7-9pm
Saturday, November 9, 2013 1-3pm 
Ruffle Embellished Canvas Bag
Skills taught: gathering, pinning ruffles, sewing ruffles, straight stitches
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Ruffle Embellished Canvas Bag:
Saturday, October 12, 2013 1-3pm
Thursday, October 17, 2013 7-9pm
Saturday, November 23, 2013 1-3pm
Up-cycled Ruffle Denim Skirt
Skills taught: pleating, pinning ruffles, sewing ruffles, straight stiches
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Ruffle embellished denim skirt:
Saturday, October 26, 2013 1-3pm
Pleated Zipper Purse
Skills taught: pleating, basting, sewing zippers
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Pleated Zipper Purse:
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 7-9pm
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 12-2pm 
Saturday, September 21, 1-3pm
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 7-9pm
Saturday, November 16, 2013 1-3pm
Ruffle Embellished Pillow
(choose one design, either 12 x12 or 12x 16)
Skills taught: gathering, pleating, sewing ruffles, finishing stitches
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Pillow:
Saturday, October 26, 9:30-11:30am
Saturday, November 9, 2013 9:30-11:30am
Lined Pencil Case or Sunglass Case
Skills taught: lining, button holes, sewing on a button
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Lined Pencil Case or Sunglass Case
Saturday, September 7, 2013 1-3pm
Saturday, November 23, 2013 9:30-11:30
Maisy Daisy Necklace
Skills taught: sewing tubes, knot tying, finished stitches, fabric yo-yo’s(hand gathering), sewing on a button
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Maisy Daisy Necklace
Saturday, October 12, 2013 9:30-11:30am
Tuesday, October 29, 2013 7-9pm
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 7-9pm
Sharon Burlap Market Tote
Skills taught: Sewing burlap, sewing tubes, boxed corners, finishing lining
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Sharon Burlap Market Tote:
Tuesday, September 24, 2013 7-9pm
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 7-9pm
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 7-9pm
And here is a list of classes by month, just in case that is easier…
September
Saturday, Sept 7–9-11 Tote Bag I
1-3 Pencil Case
Thursday, Sept 12–7-9 Tote Bag I
Saturday, Sept 14–9:30-11:30 Crayon Roll
1-3 Ruffle Bag
*Wednesday, Sept 18–11:30-1:30 Ruffle Bag
7-9 Zipper pouch
Thursday, Sept 19–7-9 Tote Bag II
Saturday, Sept 21– 9-11 Tote Bag II
1-3 Zipper pouch
Tuesday, September 24–7-9 Sharon Market Bag
October
Saturday, October 12–9:30-11:30 Maisy necklace
1-3 Ruffle bag
*Wednesday, October 16–11:30-1:30 Ruffle pillow
Thursday, October 17–7-9 Ruffle bag
Saturday, October 19–9:30-11:30 Bunny puppet
1-3 Tote Bag I
Tuesday, October 22–7-9 Sharon Market Bag
Wednesday, October 23–7-9 Zipper pouch
Saturday, October 26–9:30-11:30 Pencil pouch
1-3 Ruffle skirt
Tuesday, October 29 7-9 Maisy necklace
November
*Wednesday, November 6–11:30-1:30 Zipper pouch
7-9 Maisy necklace
Saturday, November 9–9:30-11:30 Pilllow
1-3 Tote Bag II
Wednesday, November 13–7-9 Sharon Market Bag
Saturday, November 16–9:30-11:30 Crayon Roll
1-3 Zipper pouch
Saturday, November 23–9:30-11:30 Pencil case
1-3 Ruffle Bag

Sew and Show Saturday #20—Quilt for Autism…

This is another beautiful quilt made by my mom, and this one is truly all about the heart.  My mom is donating this quilt through a silent auction with the proceeds going to Autism.
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Here are some close ups of some of the button, ribbon, and applique details…
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The heart machine quilting detail on the border is one of my favorite parts about this quilt…
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So appropriate that my mom is giving away her heart quilt—thanks mom for giving your heart to my kids, and especially to Justin!!

Sewing frenzy…

March flew by this year, only because it was full of craziness!!  We had a medical emergency with Justin, since resolved, but of course it happened while my husband was out of town—that just adds to the heightened stress level around here!!  I was so emotionally exhausted afterwards, and still enduring my annual winter blues, that my parents took pity on me and flew me out to visit for a long weekend!!  I am feeling SO much better now—and I stocked up on fabric while I was with my mom.  So now I am in a sewing frenzy!!
We are on a debt diet this year, and with all our saving money tactics we kept the Easter gifts to a bare minimum.  I made a tote bag (pattern coming soon!!), headband, and two boys’ neckties for the kids and ended up only spending $10 total for all four kids—SWEET!!
Here’s how they turned out…
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Cheesy matchy-ness at its finest—I love it!!
The best part about Easter this year was meeting a family who also has a son with Autism.  About six months ago, I received an email from someone who had come across my blog.  She emailed me to ask some questions about Autism because her son was recently diagnosed.  We sent lots of emails back and forth to each other and found out she lived over 2000 miles away!!  We had never met, but quickly became friends through shared emails.  I got an email from her about 2 months ago saying they were moving and would be living an hour and a half away!!  What are the chances!!  We invited them over for Easter dinner and met this sweet, sweet family.  It was like having family to share Easter with—so great!!  I am so grateful for all the many friends we have made through sharing our joys and challenges with Autism.
Besides all my Easter sewing, I am now teaching sewing lessons as part of our debt diet plan—and I absolutely love it!!  I have 6 students now and was shocked to find out they don’t teach sewing in schools anymore—WHAT?!?  I’m determined to bring sewing back—one student at a time!!

St. Patrick’s Day Stockings…

Okay, if you are a bothered by someone who celebrates a lot of holidays (including St. Patrick’s Day), please discontinue reading!!  I have read some interesting posts lately about how too many mom’s are going “over-the-top” with celebrating holidays.  St. Patrick’s Day was the focus of one of these posts.
I have oodles to say about the subject, but I will condense it to say just this:
If you choose to do nothing for any holiday, I still love you and think you are a fabulous mother—truly.  If you choose to celebrate every day like a holiday and hire a professional band and fireworks, I still love you and think you are a fabulous mother—truly.  If you do some kind of celebration in between those two, I still love you and think you are a fabulous mother—truly.  How do I know you are a fabulous mother??  Because I think every mother is, just for trying and getting up in the morning—truly.
So here are my St. Patrick’s Day stockings…
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My mom found a really cute pattern for Halloween stockings and made me one last year.  We were talking on the phone about how awful this winter has been with sickness and depression and she had the stroke of genius to make a St. Patrick’s Day stocking out of the Halloween stocking.  I adapted the pattern and made my own Leprechaun, chunky shoe pattern and I love how whimsical they turned out!!
Because of all the ridiculous illnesses, a health emergency, and my husband being out of the country—again—we actually missed St. Patrick’s Day altogether!!  HA HA!!  My intentions were to just put a note in the stocking every year that tells my child why I feel so “lucky” to have them in our family.  They got a nice green sticky note on their doors instead!!  Perfect!!
But these beauties did make me smile, hanging from my fireplace!!

Disneyworld and Autism…our roller coaster ride…

My parents took our family to Disneyworld this year and it was a well needed break for us!!  We had many highlights, like finding out Justin LOVES roller coasters!!  And I mean love!!  He would bolt to get in line to go again and we had to keep a close eye on him to catch up!!
But we also had some serious lows on the trip.  We are well accustomed to altering our expectations on vacations or any other outings, and so we usually expect nothing and celebrate any small success—even if it means we only stay at the park for a couple of hours, or even minutes!!  If they were good minutes, then we are happy!!  But Justin was just “off” this trip, and it didn’t seem to be triggered by change of scenery or schedule.  Those things CAN be a trigger, but he was crying like he was in pain when we got to Florida—and it just seemed different.
Justin did great the first day, and then woke up sobbing the second day.  So my dad stayed at the hotel with him while the rest of us went to Disneyworld.  Thanks Dad!!  I hate separating my family, but it helps Justin and everyone else to give him some space and just take it easy sometimes.
We called my dad around lunch time and Justin was doing better so he decided to bring him to the park and meet up with us.  My dad rented a double stroller for Justin so that he would have a “safe place” from all the crowds and a resting place from walking and transitioning.
Justin was doing well, so we started going on rides. We love the Special Accommodation pass that Disney has for children with Autism, what an awesome idea to help families accommodate for long lines!!   It was working perfectly,, so we just kept hitting the rides.  At some point, some of the kids needed a potty break, and the others needed food and somehow Justin and I accidentally got split up from everyone else—without my purse, or my CELL PHONE!!!  And then Justin started to whine and I could tell there was a meltdown brewing!!  Yep, just me and Mr. Justin—in a sea of a million people and no way to reunite with my troops!!  We went on the Winnie the Pooh ride, and then paced looking for family—which can only last as long as I am pacing “correctly” for Justin, which I evidently was not doing correctly enough because he started grabbing me and trying to turn me to walk a certain path.  Luckily, I coaxed him into sitting on a bench.  A sweet mom with 4 kids came and sat next to me, and there wasn’t enough room for her kids.  I looked at her and with a nervous voice said, “I am sorry I can’t ask him to move over for you guys, he has autism and that might set him off and my family left me without a cell phone and I am sweating bullets because he is just about to have a meltdown!!”  Have I mentioned that I talk A LOT when I am nervous??  I am surprised she didn’t get the whole family history from me…  She handed me her cell phone to use—hooray for nice people in the world!!  And right at that point Justin lost it and started pulling out of my hand grasp…I just managed to quickly blurt out at my dad on the other end of the cell phone to come quickly back to the Winnie the Pooh ride!!  Note to self—NEVER leave cell phone behind!!
We did meet up with everyone else and were able to go on several other rides and have a good time.  The best experience of the day, by far, was BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN!!
It has always been my favorite ride, and now it is Justin’s too!!  My husband and I took him on the ride together and captured this sweet picture!!  He was grinning from ear to ear the ENTIRE ride!!  We laughed and squealed and it was honestly, a little piece of heaven!! IMG_1564
My parents took Justin and Little Miss to go ride the carousel while my husband and I took care of another family emergency—my baby girl decided to have the worst diaper blow out ever, right in the middle of the park—and we had nothing to clean it up, no extra clothes, no diaper wipes!!  Good times!!  And in the midst of cleaning up that disaster, I got a phone call from my mom that Justin was in a store having a meltdown and wouldn’t get up off the floor.  Oh no!!  I started running to meet her and help and my husband was trying to catch up behind us with the double stroller.  I finally reach the carousel and I can hear Justin screaming but I can’t find him.  I rushed towards the noise and found him in a store with my dad and a sweet friend of ours, frantically unwrapping suckers trying to calm him down.  Our friend had brought the double stroller into the store to try and talk him into sitting and calming down.  He finally sat down, still whining and screaming, and we were able to wheel him out of the store.  My husband and I knew that we had reached that  point where we were now treading on Autism’s “thin ice” and we needed to get out of the park quickly!!
By this point, it was dark and the firework show was about to start.  We knew we needed to get out to the monorail before we got caught in any crowds or lines for the monorail!!  We rushed back to the front of the park, weaving the strollers in and out of people and then as soon as my husband returned the rented stroller….Major meltdown began!!  Justin laid down on the sidewalk and started screaming as loud as he could and when my husband tried to pick him up he just went spaghetti and started wailing louder.   He refused a piggy back ride, which usually helps in these situations.  Not this time—he didn’t care.  My husband rushed him out of the park gates and Justin was hysterical at that point.  I made him stop outside and try to “work through it” instead of picking him up and carrying him, only because I have watched our therapists do this with Justin because they can’t pick him up all the time.  It usually takes an hour, but we get through it instead of just having him scream the whole time.
I parked my toddlers who were strapped in the double stroller by a nice lady who was holding her toddler and said, “I know this sounds funny, but can you watch my kids for me so I can-”  She cut me off and said, “ABSOLUTELY!”  I walked 15 feet over to where Justin was screaming on the cement and tried everything to get him focused on a goal and get him calmed down.  Nothing worked.  iPad, iPhones, candy—he didn’t want ANY of the normal bribes.  He was so hysterical and he just looked so anxious and terrified in his eyes.  It broke my heart. 
After a few attempts, my husband panicked, thinking about the massive crowds that were just about to exit the park because the firework had just started—he picked up Justin and hauled off for the quarter mile walk uphill to the monorail and looked at me and said, “Let’s GO!”  I could feel the tears coming and tried to hold them back.  I went and told the sweet mom who was keeping an eye on my kids, thank you, and managed to blurt out the plea, “Say a prayer for us!”  She said she would and then said, “My nephew has Autism too, and it’s so hard—my hats off to you guys as parents.”  Well, that’s all it took for the waterworks to start flowing for me, and within seconds I was a complete mess and bawling as I am running with the double stroller and trying to push this stroller uphill and catch up to my husband and Justin, whom I could STILL hear screaming.  I approached the monorail and asked the man at the door, through my sobs, to please help me lift my stroller because my husband was busy.  I boarded next to them—Justin now in a very confined space, plugging his ears and trying to wriggle out of my husband’s arms and screaming at the top of his lungs.  And I just looked at the ground and sobbed quietly.  I was so overwhelmed not being able to help Justin and seeing him so upset!!  It was super quiet on the monorail, and I could tell that many eyes were on my family.  But not in a mean way, but it that nice way of everyone respectfully glancing towards us to see if they could catch our eye contact and smile or offer help.  And then as I tried to calm down and verbally comfort Justin, everyone on our monorail tram started offering words of comfort to my husband and me.  They ranged from telling us they understood because they had a family member who was a special needs teacher, telling us not to worry about his screaming because it wasn’t bothering any of them.  Their kindness was so great that it was overwhelming—and it started to replace my overwhelming worry, and the tears of gratitude came immediately.
I was so MAD at Autism right then—mad that its crazy rules and regulations, of only which my son knew the bounds of and fought against daily, were over powering the sweet boy who was having such a great time earlier.  And being mad at Autism is obviously a no-win situation, because Autism isn’t going anywhere!!  I was still mad.  I kind of hoped someone could be a jerk about the situation so I could be mad at them instead of Autism—that would’ve been easier, but it wasn’t what I was supposed to learn from the experience. 
Justin all of a sudden wanted to sit on the bench, and there was no room.  The dad next to Justin lifted up his toddler and quickly put him on his lap leaving a space for Justin which he immediately slid into to.  And then out of the blue, something very strange happened.  An older, somewhat peculiar man, who was sitting next to Justin, started talking to him.  At that point, Justin was literally screaming in his face while plugging his own ears.  And this man seemed quite oblivious to all of the craziness and begins to pull out a stamp collection book and starts telling Justin all about his stamps he’s collected for years.  Inside I was thinking, “Are you kidding me??” It only took me a few minutes to realize after observing this man, that he quite possibly had a form of Autism himself.  I looked at him, and then at Justin next to him and it just became so overwhelmingly clear how mortal we all are.  Justin and that man had the same battle in this life, clearly different levels, but they were both still children of God who came to Earth to get a body and both their bodies had Autism to struggle with.  Then it hit me, that none of this mattered, not the tantrum, not the struggles, not the oddities of the older man—none of it!!  It was just one fleeting, unpleasant moment that would soon be forgotten.  I realized that we are all here in this lifetime for such a short amount of time and it doesn’t matter how different we are, it’s just how much we love each other through our differences.  Justin finally stopped crying before our tram stop, and then the older man looked up at me and said, “I’m sorry if my talking bothered him, I can talk a lot.”  I told him he made me stop crying and he reached out and awkwardly rubbed my shoulder and told me he and his wife love the parks and have been coming for years.  Then he wished me a good night and that the kids would sleep well.
We were all so tired that everyone slept well that night!!  I am so grateful for the blessing of feeling my Heavenly Father’s love through the thoughtfulness of others.  It carried us through that night and helped remind us of all the greater moments we had enjoyed earlier in the day!! 
Moral of the story—Justin LOVES roller coasters, and therefore I will love roller coasters, including the roller coaster ride of Autism!!

ResearchMatch.org…Justin is famous;)

With all the crazy days of ups and downs with Autism, it is nice to have a chance to be proactive and reach out to other parents.
There is a new campaign at Vanderbilt, through ResearchMatch.org, to promote Autism research and Justin’s cute face is part of the promotion!!  My handsome little man!!
If you are are parent of a child with Autism, you may volunteer (it takes less than ten minutes!!) and you may be contacted in the future to participate in research opportunities if you match criteria for a study. This is an awesome opportunity to be proactive!!
Click here to check out the campaign and feel free to spread the word to other parents of children with Autism. The more information we can collect about Autism, the better chance we have in treating symptoms and increasing the quality of life for children and families with Autism.

Sew and Show Saturday—#19. Star Garden…

My mom made this beautiful quilt for my Little Miss.  I have the best memories of this quilt because it decorated our bare apartment walls before when we had moved away from home—it was a little bit of happiness in a rotten little apartment!!
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The nine-patches alternating with the pastel colored, machine-appliqued stars make a wonderful pattern for a little girl’s room.  The meandering vines along the border were always my favorite part!
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The shadowed quilting around the vines and stars is exquisite!!
Another beautiful quilt, mom!!

Sew and Show Saturday—#17. Strawberry Smoothie…

This Strawberry Smoothie pattern by Barbara Jones at Quilt Soup is the perfect Sew and Show for Valentine’s Day this week!!
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Like I have mentioned before, my mom does impeccable applique work!!
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This is such a sweet, cheerful quilt!!  And look at those flowers….still dreaming of Spring!!