Simple Cat or Bear Doll Sewing Homeschool Project

I have a sewing machine that doesn’t get the attention I’d like it to. I have decided to get my girls, ages 7, 5 and 4, involved in some sewing projects. They really love to create with me, and it is a wonderful skill to pass on.

So, I got the pattern from a pattern book. It is copyrighted so I can’t post it here, but honestly it is a simple design that you could draw out on your own.

I took the girls to our local walmart and let them choose the fabric they wanted. Then, we changed one of the cat patterns into a bear for my middle girl, which was done by changing the ear and belly shape, and making the face slightly different.

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Shopping for fabric

Once they picked out their fabrics, we copied the patterns onto the fabric and cut it out. I decided to add the belly, ears, and face appliques before sewing the whole doll. My 7 year old did a great job hand sewing all those pieces on! My 5 year old did it with some help, and my 4 year old watched me do it for her (she showed me how she wanted everything to help out).

My oldest daughter did some of the machine sewing herself with my supervision, which she loved.

The dolls came out looking handmade (lol) but not too shabby for our first doll project. I was proud of their participation, and they enjoyed having something uniquely theirs.

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5 Reasons Having a Big Family is Good for Kids

I often see in the news that my generation does not want children, and I see this in my life when I reconnect with old school friends. I am definitely in the minority, being married with children. Of those who DO have children, it is rare to find a family with more than two.

I understand there are many reasons women and men have for putting off marriage, and for limiting family size. Most cite their education and career goals as being the priority. Many of them may end up having children later in their 30s, or even 40s as it becomes increasingly common.

But what about the idea that having more than 2 or (gasp) maybe 3 children, harms the children themselves?

“You won’t have enough time for each child!”

“It is too expensive, the kids miss out!”

“You can’t show enough love to each of them!”

“The older kids raise the younger ones!”

“The kids resent their siblings!”

I would like to address these common objections here with experience from my big-but-getting-bigger family of 6 (soon to be 7).

  1. We make time for each child. Sometimes that means scheduling a special mommy/daddy and me day with one child, alternating who it is. During the week, Daddy takes individual kids out for a walk around the neighborhood. They enjoy some time alone, getting all the attention for themselves. I rotate which child goes food shopping with me (they actually love this haha). Also, we homeschool! I spend a lot more time with my children than many parents do for that reason alone, even though I have more of them.
  2. I do not find babies or toddlers to be expensive, they don’t need much and since I have had children already we reuse many of the same items. When they get older and want to participate in activities, it can get costly but this is where we teach them how to think critically about what they want to do the most. This past year classes included dance,music, robotics, and cheerleading for part of the year. This coming year there will be dance, music, choir, cheerleading and STEM. This does NOT include the many free or low cost activities available, often at a steeper discount for siblings. We have a YMCA membership which allow us to swim, and take classes for a low fee or for free. We make serious use our local libraries, who always have fun and free classes for the kids. State parks are favorite as well, and we have some nature loving kiddos. Lastly, many of us homeschoolers get together and make our own fun for free.
  3. Of course we can show enough love for each of them! Our hearts expand with each child. I have a mommy sixth sense for which child needs some extra loving, and make sure to check in with them regularly. We foster trust and communication, so that they can come to us if they need anything, or feel left out. Not only does mommy and daddy give them love but they have the added benefit of many siblings who love them. The older kids adore the hugs and kisses from baby brother!
  4. The older children do NOT raise the younger ones. This accusation often comes when people don’t understand the dynamics of a large family. In order for a bigger family to keep the household running well, everyone pitches in. That includes chores, and helping with the little ones. That said, I feel it is a benefit to give children (including the littlest members) some responsibility. We love each other, and families help one another out. This is our home together, so we all chip in to keep it nice and help each member of the family. I would never give my older kids too much responsibility, and believe me, it is momma alone who is ultimately responsible and takes on the majority of the work. I do not delegate child-rearing to my other children, and much sure that nobody feels like they are being unfairly burdened. They love “babysitting” their baby brother, and enjoy helping him and their sisters.
  5. All siblings get on each others nerves sometimes, but we really make their relationships a priority. They are best friends, and when we take them out individually they always insist on bringing something back for their siblings. I was amazed at how they adored their baby brother, even my toddler followed their lead and never expressed much jealously (unlike when I had two children, and my oldest wanted to return her baby sister). I am expecting their newest sibling in January and they are all very excited to meet the baby, in fact, they keep hoping for TWINS.

So there you have it, I do not buy the what they naysayers are selling. Big families are often close, and homeschooling is something that I believe fosters even closer relationships between siblings (and parents). If your typically sized family is happy as it is, wonderful! But do not allow society to convince you against adding more if it is your hearts desire.

Children are a blessing and a heritage!

Shalom

The Winter Beach and the Wallaby

A few weeks ago I took the kids to visit my Aunt, and my cousin and his girlfriend, who are expecting their first baby. I am very close to my cousin, who is “Uncle Colin” to my kids, and his baby (its a GIRL) will be my first niece of sorts. They recently moved down to south NJ and we stayed for the weekend.

There were many fun adventures for the girls to go on but Markos wanted me to hold him all day, expect for when the huge puppy they recently adopted was around; he stuck his entire hand into the dogs mouth! We don’t own pets so I suppose he wanted to figure out what those teeth were! Thankfully, he is a big sweet dog and nobody got hurt (drool not withstanding).

 

Uncle Colin played his guitar for the girls, and I talked about having babies with Alysha, his girlfriend.

 

The next day, we went to the beach since it was only 20 minutes away from her house. It was cold, but that didnt bother the girls at all. Markos napped in my arms and in my Aunts arms, while the girls ran with the dog and collected bags full of seashells. There is something about the beauty and peacefulness of the ocean that always sets my heart at ease (despite my frown, the sun was in my eyes!).

 

Later, after we went back to my aunts house, we met her neighbors we had heard much about. It turned out that we actually have friends in common, it is a small homeschooling world. The girls played with their 8 year old daughter who gave details about their recent trip to India, and I was ecstatic to meet their pet WALLABY! (or “wallabean” according to my daughter) Here was this wallaby bouncing around their yard! I was

much more excited than the kids were. I was told that he was a rescue (who rescues freaking wallabies?) and he goes in and out a doggie door, and he enjoys peanut butter crackers. I love the wallaby, and hope to visit again haha!

It was a fun weekend, and I will update on more wallaby and dog adventures at Aunt.Pam’s house.

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Shalom.

 

 

I Feel Lately Like…I Fail at Life

Pile of unfolded laundry on my bed. Mountains of half finished homeschool work on the table. A plastic cup with a sad little rock in water (“crystal growing project” for my 6yr old). A backpack filled with microbiology and chemistry books that I have not opened even half as often as should. Tempers flaring. Boobs hurting from 16 month old boob barnacle. You get the picture?

Lately, I want to throw up my hands. Raise the white flag. Surrender.

Everywhere my exhausted eyes look, I see evidence of my failure. Housework? Fail. Schoolwork? Fail. Parenting? Fail.

The truth is, I have overloaded myself. I have too much on my plate. I thought that I could do it all, but then life threw us some curve-balls. I was not expecting so little time to study, but situations have come up that we could not have known. My relationship with my mother, my once biggest support person, is terribly strained. I am not getting the breaks that I am used to.

I have lot of on my mind.

And, frankly…I am sick of being in college myself. Nursing has been my goal, and now I am on my last semester before nursing school. But, my heart is not quite in it anymore. I need to be focused on my kids, at home.

So, here I am. Feeling pretty fail-y. But still trying. Still getting up after 5 hours of “sleep” with my toddler’s boob death grip.

I can not wait for May!

 

Parenting an Angry Child

Let me start at the beginning.

I was so excited to have another baby. Soon, I would have two baby girls! My second child was my first natural birth. She was tiny! She opened her eyes and looked right into mine, and I fell in love right away.

At six months old, she would close her fists and her face would get red with anger if she didn’t want to be put in her carseat. I joked that she had the fiery temper of her Latina/Italian heritage.

She grew into the incredible, intelligent, strong 5 year old girl she is today. Long blonde hair, big brown eyes that turn into laughing half moons when she is happy. My beautiful girl whose name means “light of God”; Liora.

But, her anger has only grown with her age.

I have felt helpless, hopeless, desperate, and depressed. I have felt insecure, inadequate, and incapable.

I have held her strong little body as she flung her fists at me, raging at me until she collapses into a heap of sobs.

It could be smiles one moment, and rage the next. Playing one moment, hurting the next. Toys have been hurled at my head. Her finger nails have broken my skin. Her words have sunk into my heart like a knife; “I hate you”, “your not my real mother”, “you don’t love me, nobody loves me”.

Of course, I know it isn’t true. I know that she needs me more than she can express. I know she hates her explosive anger more than I do.

Lately, she has described her anger to me like this;

“My anger is a person who holds me down and wont let me walk away.”

“My anger is like a remote control.”

She wants walk away. She wants to be in control. She comes to me in tears after the anger flees her body and her true self is back in control; sorry. So sorry.

It impacts her big sister, who cries to me about why her sister isn’t nice.

It impacts her little sister, who is starting to imitate some of her behaviors.

We have gone to therapy, and tried many different things. Right now, we are focusing on being loving and firm. She needs those limits. She needs to understand that she cannot hurt people, even when she is really angry. But she also needs to know that she is LOVED.

It impacts her self image. Somtimes, she sees herself a bad kid. She thinks God doesn’t love her, neither do her parents. That breaks my heart more than any little fist she has thrown at me.

It is this impossible balance of love and discipline. It is this terrible fear of “am I doing the right thing for her?”

Raising a child who has explosive anger is a path I did not plan to walk, but here I am.

In my nightmares, she doesn’t get better. In my nightmares, she is 15 and hates me.

But, in my dreams she overcomes her emotions. She is strong and powerful, but gentle and kind. Despite her anger, she is deeply sensitive and loving. I believe in her, and I will never give up helping her.

For now, it is one day at a time.

Shalom.

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Letting Your Kids Get MESSY

Winter is winding down, slowly warming up for the newness of spring. Here in New Jersey, we had 6in of snowfall followed immediately by warm weather. Our backyard changed from a pile of snow, to a sheet of ice, to mushy mud galore.

So, what does a homeschooling family do when the weather magically turns from stuck-inside-freazing to welcome-spring-warm? Get MESSY of course!

Put those workbooks away kids, it’s time to play in the mud!

Some sad, unfortunate barbie mermaids were abandoned outside since summertime, the girl decided they needed a soapy bath.

Markos joined in the fun, playing with water and mud.

Everyone got a nice bath afterwards!

The joys of springtime are near 🙂

L

6 Awesome Things About Homeschooling

So, it is January 2018, and with the start of a new year comes renewed focus on our homeschooling goals. Although grade levels are basically irrelevant to us, I am currently schooling a 1st grader, kindergartner, and preschooler. Here are some of the awesome things that homeschooling has given to us this week.

1.) Bowling with friends counts as school-

We had some Hump Day fun with other homeschooling families at the local bowling ally. It was the first time my daughters played an entire game without loosing interest. If they went to public school/private school, we would not have been together in the early afternoon. I loved watching their excitement at hitting the pins, and it was nice to take a little break together. (The moms also had time together!)

2.) This is the age for art-

One of my beliefs about early childhood education is that art is just as important as any traditional subject. Children learn so much when given materials to create and explore with color. Imagination is important in our home! I think it’s awesome that I get to watch them create their masterpieces, rather than have them handed to me at the end of the school day.

3.) Dance like nobody is watching-

Similar to my conviction that art is extremely important for learning, I love taking my younger two daughters to dance class. It gives me time to hang out with my 1st grader and baby, while the middle two learn some new moves!

4.) Learning at their own pace-

My almost-7 yr old and my 5yr old girls are on the same reading level, but it really does not matter. At home, neither is behind or ahead, they are simply where they need to be. We can go further in some subjects, and take longer in others, according to their individual needs. Nobody gets left behind in homeschool, and nobody gets bored either!

5.) Sibling love-

I think it is really awesome that my children get to spend so much time together. They have a deep love for one another. Yes, they do fight sometimes! But, they are also best friends. One of my greatest desires as a mother is to see them maintain close friendships as they get older. I believe homeschooling helps foster that!

6. Freedom!

As a homeschooling family, we have a lot of freedom when it comes to how we learn, when we “do school”, and what tools to use to get there. I love being able to shape what our weeks, months, and years look like without being tied to a schedule that I did not create. I relish the educational and time freedom that homeschooling gives our family.