School Projects

Fun Projects

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Time for Everything

To Everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

(Ian helping remove border rocks; the spot where my Chinese Lanterns used to be; The Lanterns that will be dried for fall decorations)

The last two lines of this passage came into my mind this morning, while I was working out in my garden. It's getting to be that time of year where all the fall jobs of gardening need to be done, so that next spring you find that, hopefully at least, a few things survived the winter. Since my garden was less then fantastic, and since my husband will be digging around the foundation in the next few days anyway, this process has begun a little earlier then usual this year, and has been a little more involved. I am calling it "de-gardening".

(Before and after pruning shots of my raspberry patch, we'll find out in the spring if I did more harm then good.)

I was a little depressed about the devestation in my garden, and those verses seemed to fit my mood (the Beatles song based on them has always made me melancholy), so I looked them up. While I can quote a good chunk of that whole section, I was a little startled by the two lines BEFORE the gardening ones, because I hadn't remembered how the whole thing started. "A time to be born," Here I was, bemoaning the loss of a few flowers, while at the same time counting down the days until the arrival of our new baby (and a whole new project =) Suddenly the loss of a few plants became rather meaningless. There really is a time for everything (like flower gardening), but once again, the Lord needed to adjust my perspective just a little bit.

Monday, August 30, 2010

House Project 2010

Since we live in an older, (think VERY well-used) house, we do lots of house projects. The first year we moved in we had to de-gunk everything and scrape and paint the exterior trim. The next year we had to repair drywall in a bedroom, and the year after that brought us a remodeled bathroom. Last year we undertook a major project: re-roofing the house, which also lead to several auxiliary projects like adding insulation and patching holes in the ceiling (don't ask). This year, the major project has to do with the foundation. Namely, fixing it so that it doesn't leak or, in a worst possible case scenario, eventually collapse inward. For any number of very good reasons, the start date for this project kept getting pushed later and later into the summer (and thus closer and closer to the due date of baby #3). But, the time has finally arrived to start the project, and this weekend, Aaron rented a jack hammer and got started removing the patio.

(Aaron hard at work when we arrived home from a friend's house)

(Aaron and a financially enterprising neighbor kid)

After seeing how much fun Daddy was having, the kids wanted to get in on the action too!

But, since my due date and the project so closely coincide, I am banned from helping. Not that I really mind avoiding back-breaking work, but I do like to be involved in these projects. Stay tuned for how I navigate access to my washer and dryer after the removal of the basement stairs next week (one day after my due date)!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kids and Cards

This past weekend, a good friend from out of town visited. We had great fun going to a local parade, eating picnic meals and spending hours at the beach. In the midst of all that fun, schedules and nap times and bedtimes were thrown to the wind. It was wonderful. Then the weekend ended, the friend went home, and Monday morning arrived. With it came mounds of dirty laundry and dishes, piles of miscellaneous things to deal with and put away, and worst of all tired and crabby kids who had been spoiled with too much fun!

What to do with those kids? The housework simply could not be put off! Usually I would say "Go outside and play" but considering the horde of mosquitoes trying to get inside the screen door, that wasn't a very good solution. After all, no matter how crabby my kids are, they deserve to keep most of their blood supply inside their small bodies! Then, I remembered that we needed to make anniversary cards to send to my Grandparents, who will be celebrating their 60th anniversary in a few days. A project - PERFECT!! So, I handed out card stock, stickers, crayons and markers, and left the room. I didn't care what sort of disaster occurred in the kitchen, as long as I had a few uninterrupted minutes to get some of the rest of my work done. It worked like a charm, with only minimal fighting over sticker sheets.

Eventually stickers got boring, and Ian moved on to glitter (Brynnie moved on to playing with a balloon). He was being very sweet, and apologizing for spilling glitter on the table. This unusual behavior should have alerted me to the fact that my hassle-free chore time was almost done, because the next time I came through the kitchen, disaster had struck. Not in the form of a glittered kitchen, but in the form of a flood of watered-down glue spread all over the kitchen floor. Ian's creativity left him, and even he couldn't come up with a good reason for having created such a mess. He was repentant enough to help clean it up without a fuss though, so I forgave him.

By the time we had cleaned up the glitter and glue and sticker remnants, my last load of laundry was in the machine and it was time to make lunch. That's what I call a successful project!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Got My Fabric Fix - For Now

Every time I go into Hobby Lobby (my favorite store), I cruise through the fabric department, even if I am not planning on buying any fabric, just because it is so much fun to see what they have. Lately, they have had lots of fun prints that I really wanted, but I had no projects for them. It was such a dilemma! Then, one day as I was mentally complaining about another irritation, I found a solution to part of my problem: Baby bibs. My mental complaining went something like this: "Stupid bibs aren't big enough. Stupid bibs never get clean - who ever thought that solid, light colored bibs were a good idea? What an idiot. Stupid bibs are so expensive." No, I wasn't in a very good mood. Then came the light bulb moment! I could buy 1/3 of a yard of all those cute prints (which would hide stains so well) and make my own properly sized bibs. Almost all my problems solved in one short moment. I cheered up a lot (just ask my kids). The fabric shopping helped.

On that same shopping trip, I found some fabric that I just loved, which I decided solved another of my problems (Yes, I admit, I have problems). We go to the library a lot, and the older Ian gets, the more books and movies he chooses. Brynn is also starting to bring some books home, and of course there is me. I usually have a stack. Plus, in a few weeks Ian will be starting pre-school, and there were will certainly be some school books to bring home. All these books had outgrown my designated library bag. I hadn't been able to find a pre-made bag that fit all my requirements, so I had been working out a plan in my mind to design my own. So, armed with a really good Hobby Lobby coupon, I bought plenty of the fabric I liked (so I had enough to experiment and problem solve with) and got to work. Things didn't go exactly as I planned, but I was able to solve most of my problems, and the bag at least looks like I intended it to. We are planning a trip to the library as soon as I finish this blog, so I'll get to find out if it is as functional as it should be!

(On the left is the bag before I figured out how to rig the handle. On the right is the finished product)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Project Lessons

Ever since I started this blog, I find myself looking for topics to write about. I don't want to ALWAYS post step-by-step details of my latest sewing or gardening project, or focus too much on the messy things my children enjoy doing, but since it is a "Project Day" blog, it doesn't seem right to type up something on all the dew-covered spider webs I saw on my walk this morning - even though it was pretty cool, what with the foggy morning and the sun burning through....but I digress. Back on the topic of projects, I came across a suitable idea a few days ago at the library. We go to the library at least once a week, because along with doing projects, my kids and I love to read. While I am there, I almost always check the discard bin, because the thrill of finding something good for free or cheap is too good to pass up. This particular visit was no different, and I found a stack of old crafting magazines for 10 cents. The projects they advertised didn't really interest me, but I was intrigued by how different they were from current crafting magazines. There was mostly small type, and they weren't even in color!
(Popular Handicraft Hobbies for Fun and Profit, late 1970s)

Around the same time, I was given a stack of old kid's project books, from a different decade from the magazines, and the same thought struck me: "These are so dfferent from both those old magazines and the stuff I see now." There were a lot more pictures than in the old magazines, and they were colorful, but they weren't the explosion of photos and text and "green tips" and safety disclaimers that make up modern how-to materials. (Better Homes and Gardens, late 1980s)

Then, my own crafting magazine subscription arrived in the mail: (Family Fun, July 2010)

You would think that crafting would be crafting - that projects today wouldn't be much different from projects 40 years ago - but I guess that isn't the case. I wonder if in a few years people will read my blog and think "Boy, what they did in the '10s' was so old-fashioned!" (Will blogs even exist?) Will scrapbooking have gone the way of the corn-husk doll? Will knitting not be cool again? All this thinking reminded me of a verse I read a while ago, which maybe gives it all a little perspective: "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever. Ecclesiastes 1:2-4
Thankfully, Solomon must have reconsidered his opinion a little bit because later in the book he said: "It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under then sun all the days of his life which God gives him;" Ecclesiastes 5:18
So, maybe the lesson is that projects are fun, and have a certain value, but they aren't the MOST important thing, and that I have to be careful about what place they have in my life.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Gotta Get it Done!

I really hope I am not the only person who gets this way: a project that you really want to do keeps getting put off, until you finally decide to MAKE time for it. Then, circumstances keep interrupting you and slowing you down and you reach a decision point: put it off once more or give up sizable chunks of sleep to get it done. So, rather then do the sane thing and go to bed, you finish the project. Please tell me I am not the only one to do this!

This past week, I had just such a project. I had purchased some great clearance fabric and a sundress pattern for Brynn, and all week long I wanted to get started on it. Things kept coming up that were more pressing, or more fun for the kids, or something, so I didn't get started. Then, Saturday morning arrived, and I had a few hours to work with. The pattern seemed easy enough, so I got going. Things were going smoothly, and I thought "Hey, no sweat, I'll finish this long before I need to leave at 11am."

(Laying out the pattern - despite carefully following instructions, they never seem to fit the way the pattern shows. This time I ended up with enough extra fabric to make some little shorts too)
(My not so trusty used sewing machine, guaranteed to break at least one needle per project - I gotta start saving my pennies for a new one)

Of course then I hit some snags. The snags were mostly children, but also one rookie mistake where I did something the really slow way. Two seconds of thought would have saved me half an hour of wasted time. Oh well. So, I ran out of time with the project half finished. I still felt like I could finish the project in the hours I had between a family event that ended in early afternoon and a bonfire at our house that started at six in the evening, but again I forgot about my children. Sometimes they are wonderful children. When I am working on a self-imposed deadline I start to forget that I love them. A character flaw I admit, but haven't yet defeated. Eventually, I gave up in frustration and decided to get ready for the bonfire and leave my sewing project unfinished for another day.

The bonfire wrapped up at about 11pm, when everyone decided the mosquitoes had stolen enough blood. We did a little bit of clean up, and I was ready to go to bed, when I made a serious error in judgement: I looked at my sewing machine. That project was so close to being done...should I? Shouldn't I? My OCD kicked in, and I decided to finish it, sleep or no sleep. I was gonna get'er done! And I did, at one in the morning. My kind husband refrained from calling me crazy the next morning (although the fact that I was still up earlier then he was may have had something to do with that). Thankfully, my 8am brain agreed with my 1am brain that the dress turned out fine and didn't require having major seams ripped out and redone.

Best of all, Brynnie loved it.