Thursday, June 16, 2011

Letting the to do list go

Recently I have tried REALLY hard to not say the phrases "in a minute" or "I can't right now," to my kids if i am pushing them off for my "to do list". I realize that too often I push them off for later and am missing the "nows." Today was one of those moments. I'm behind on laundry, my bedroom still needs cleaning up, fix it projects and designs projects were calling. I even invited friends to come over to play with the kids so I could get something done.

Savannah came up to me after lunch and asked if we could do something together. I opened my mouth to give her excuses, or ask her to wait till later till I had finished this, this and this.... and luckily stopped myself. I asked her what she was thinking and she gave me a few ideas. I've known that I have really needed to give Savannah more personal time lately to see how it affected behavior, general happiness, etc. I knew this moment was her asking for that personal time.

A few weeks ago I asked my kids to pick one thing they wanted to learn how to do this summer and we would spend some time each week learning how to do it. Savannah picked sewing, Mirian cooking and Isaac picked learning how to ride his bike without training wheels.

Savannah asked if we could learn how to sew today. In my mind I thought... "oh not now, that takes lots of time to learn how to do that, and we have friends showing up in 10 minutes." But I held my tongue, agreed, and we set out our plan. She has wanted to learn how to sew on the sewing machine. I figured a easy quilt would be the easiest. Squares and straight lines. So I let her pick some fabric from some of my sheets I've cut up.

I taught her how to use the rotary cutter and cutting board and how to measure her squares so they were the same size. She decided she wanted to throw some strips in there as well instead of just squares. I helped her with fabric that was a bit too long for her to reach all by herself, and let her cut out all her squares. She did a great job.

I then had her take all her pieces and lay them all on the floor in a pattern she would like. I tried to encourage her to make both a pattern vertically and horizontally, and she went to work. It was fun watching her change colors, rearrange them, and finally declared that this is how she wanted her quilt to look. I have to keep the obsessive compulsive part of me under control when it comes to visual colors, patterns etc, and let her be herself. She did really good for her age. It was unique but had some pattern still to it.

I then had her find matching markers and draw her quilt on the paper and color in the different squares so she would know the order to sew them in. She drew it all in, got it all planned, put all her squares together and then went and started pulling out the sewing machine without me realizing it. :)

(see her pattern there on top?)

So I showed her how to thread the machine, set it up, and sew a straight line. She was a little nervous at first, but did really good about sewing straight. I then showed her how to follow her pattern, how to put the right sides together and start sewing her squares into strips. She was nervous at first, but ended up becoming a pro. She has some advantages to having Beau's analytical and systematic mind when it comes to organizing things. She easily could understand following the pattern, and figured out how to mark squares off when she finished them. She figured out how to sew her thin strips together, and ended up finishing up all her strips by the end of the night. Tomorrow she gets to iron them out and sew the strips to finish her top.

The best part was seeing how proud she was of herself. She was so excited to show Beau that she was using the sewing machine all by herself, and that she was making a quilt all by herself. It was worth everything I didn't get done to see the confidence she had in herself, how excited she was, and what a great job she was actually doing. She was sewing really really well (skill wise). I had some young women ages 12- 14 that I was trying to teach how to sew that did not do near as well as she did. She was bummed when she messed up one time during the whole thing and we had to unpick two squares. The only other thing she was bummed about was that she couldn't get the whole thing done tonight so she could sleep with it. I had to try and explain to her that this was a long p project, that we still had to put the batting in, quilt or tie it, put the binding on etc. But I can't wait to see how excited she is when she finishes it completely.

I was also excited to see how well she did. She also mentioned how a couple of months she sewed some headbands by hand and embroidered her friends names on top to give to them. She explained that one girls was really excited and happy about it and wore it all day. The other one didn't really like it, shoved it in her backpack and never looked at it again, while commenting to someone else that she wanted something different instead. Savannah mentioned how that made her feel really bad. She had spent all night sewing it by hand, and had given up all her free time to make it for her friend, and then to have her not want it. It was a great chance to discuss how the two different girls made her feel, and how we need to be careful how we react to people when they do nice things for us like that. Do we show that we are appreciate of it, and help them feel good, or do we make them feel sad about all the time and effort they put into creating it. What a great time for life lessons not only in physical homemaking skills, but people and life skills too.

Now I just need to give her some more training and I can start getting her to sew all these projects I never have time to do!

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