"I have Autism, but Autism doesn't have me."

I started this blog to share my thoughts on what is life as a stay-at-home mom. With changes that have developed and shaped our characters here on the homestead, this is now Tristan's blog (Captain's log?) about life with Autism. We will be sharing various topics, focused on Autism, ranging from the professional focus to being in the parent's seat and how every day is different from yesterday and may not come close to tomorrow. There is much to continue learning when it comes to Autism, and as a family, we are sharing our experiences along the way. Pull up a chair, learn, then go out into the world and make a difference with what you've gleaned. Knowledge is Power!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Life in the Mom Lane

"Building Makes Me Tired"

May is almost out the door and June is on the threshold to welcome us into the summer of our lives. Six more weeks to go, even with the doctor's office trying to convince me that I have an additional week and a half to go; hmmmm, I think a woman knows her body, or at least should, better than anyone could possibly try. Don't get me wrong, yes there are great care providers but I heard it said once and keep it in mind to this day: "They don't call it practicing medicine for nothing...."
I've been lax on posting here, as well as time devoted to my biz page and my musing page. This week especially was a tough one here in New England. Three days in a row that were sweltering and wanting nothing more than to rest and wonder when the heat would break to be able to find the energy to get stuff done. Its hard for me to do nothing, as I've always been on the go. I typically go until I can't go anymore, or at least this was my approach before becoming a mother. It has taken me two years to get it together to find a way to flow through life, things set up to do with the backup plan that it can all change in a heartbeat. And to NOT stress if something doesn't get done that can be picked up at another time. And now with another baby coming, it all changes....again. I have a feeling there will be times of laughter, the euphoric sense of wondering what just happened, and those moments where a good cry is all I need to get back on the horse and nudge into the Mom Lane.
I've been doing some great reading, cleaning up the two articles I have to submit before Monday, take a day to let things settle, and then move forward. Farmer's Market season opens this weekend in some townships but I will not be present until next week. I'll be doing what I can for the month of June, absent for the month of July, and hopefully back in the driver's seat come August. And now I find myself brainstorming what to write about next. Maybe starting with a list would be a great idea, and then work from there.....oh boy, I don't want to become a compulsive list maker......please take away all pens, pencils, paper, I'll even throw in the computer for kicks if it really gets bad.......you gotta laugh......
So, here's to another moment in the life of a mom who loves being a mom, a woman who loves being loved and being in love with the one who's meant for me, and the many, many other things I do that would almost require making a list.......~Mom

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cast Your Vote, Help a Little One

"Colors of the Baby Rainbow"

"Little Feet"

"Stitches, stitches, stitches.."

"Little Princess"
Ah, the long awaited post....finally. I had thought of this idea for some time, and with much more intensive thought over the Mother's Day weekend, I chose not to reveal the gender of my second child. There's more to the story of my decision but why continue to put focus on the negative when I can turn this into something positive and for the benefit of someone else, someone in need? So here it is....
Calling all friends, family, fellow fiber artists, and anyone interested in giving a hand to this project. For every vote cast, boy or girl, a donation of hand made items-hats, booties, and preemie size blankets-to be made to the children's hospital in your local area. I have many friends from all over the states, and would love to see where this will go. The voting will go until either my due date-July 16th-or when we make the announcement of the birth of our mystery child.
When my son Tristan was born, although a full term baby, he came a week early; swallowing and aspirating on amniotic fluid put in NICU @ the Vermont Children's Hospital for four days to clear him out and get him ready to be able to come home. After 30+ hours of labor into delivery, not being able to take my child home was devastating. After nine months of waiting for this little person to arrive, there was an empty feeling at first, frosted over with numbness of having to see him attached to wires and hanging on each progress report as to how he was doing. We both had a tough time going into the unit, just wanting to take him home. Watching other families there with their babies also made it hard to be there. We were very fortunate to watch the healing progress of our child, knowing that we would be taking him home at some point; knowing there were babies there, at least one not going home...its more than I want to give acknowledgement to but know that it does happen.
So, how important is gender? Why are some so overly consumed with boy vs. girl, pink vs. blue when it comes to colors? All I have and will ever ask for is a healthy baby, one I can take home and not feel lost as to how to start the journey of motherhood. As I continue my journey into motherhood, expanding our little family, I hope to hold my baby sooner than 13 hrs later, no wires attached, tests conducted, and to take this child home when I should be doing so. I can never dispute the wonderful care Tristan received in his time of need, because the staff, especially the nurses, were wonderful with him and put my mind at ease that he was receiving the absolute best care he needed. To look at him and listen to him today, you wouldn't know this event ever took place....miracles do happen, as do the speedbumps in life.
So, love the baby....boy or girl.....ask for a healthy life....and forget about pink and blue....

I will need knitters/crocheters to help with this project. Currently, I have two on board but depending on the number of votes cast, there may be quite a number to fill.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Doughnut Art

"I'll paint these, Mom!"

"Sprinkles, anyone?"

"Put the camera down and help me eat this."
I wonder if Picasso worked with food?
We're continuing to work through the alphabet through art projects; tomorrow we finger paint after today's "eels with playdough." The doughnut project was fun; we picked up frosting and 6 doughnuts, as we had the sprinkles here at home. Tristan didn't care so much for the set up but once the doughnuts and the frosting connected by way of the back of a spoon, he was all about the hands on for decorating. It was great to watch him choose what he wanted for sprinkles, shake them on, and then after the caps were secured in place, it was all about the tasting and sampling to find out how yummy those doughnuts were. Two doughnuts were decorated, and the rest were eaten for breakfast-perfect.

April Showers Brought Mother's Day Snow

"Rainy Day Painting"

"Toy Cars Have Many Uses"

"I'd Rather Be Gardening"

"Can you see the snowflakes?"
Last Wednesday, we did our creative project, which was fun. We worked with Playdough today but I couldn't get a good shot of him at any time we were working the dough to make letters, shapes, smell it.... So far, the little man is not too hung up on painting but I think with time, he might change his mind. We're painting again tomorrow but with our fingers instead. And if not, its not a big deal; I trust he'll like what he likes, and not push him to be over the top with achievements. I want what's best for him but I want him to want it for himself. Happy, a life filled with sunshine with the occasional cloud-those do come, even if you don't want them to-and to just be; that's my goal as a parent and what I can give to my son.
And yes, we got snow on Mother's Day....something else. It was interesting to look outside, watch the snow fall in large, wet flakes, see that it wasn't sticking and staying. The day before, I took Tristan to Lowe's for their kids' workshop for a building project; he attends these little workshops and is really becoming more and more hands on with the building. I'll have to post about his projects.
Its been so busy here these last couple of weeks; I still have a list of things to do, writing to get through, soap to make (seems non-stop), a garden to continue planting, and priceless moments to spend with the man of the house-yes, the toddler rules the roost. I'm also research reading and reading to pull myself away from the "heady" stuff to give myself a mental break. And the fiber work? Yeap, still slaving away at that project, and wondering why the potty chair lays in pieces and there's Cheerios under the couch and coffee table....~Mom

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wednesday Creative Project

"The Artist at Work"

"An Army of Ants"

"Oh wait! Here I am before starting the project!"
Wednesday's creative project this week. Its called an "Army of Ants" and I thought this would be a fun piece to do together. Tristan wasn't too interested in the taping the piece of denim to the cardboard, as he was sifting through his markers and checking out the electrical tape I used for the project. Yet, once we got to the part where we could decorate the fabric, he was all hands on deck to do his art-which I have no issues with; besides, the cutting of cardboard, taping of fabric to the cardboard piece will come along in time. His reaction to my applying the marker to the pads of his fingers was priceless; imagine having your mom applying marker to your fingers to create "finger print bugs."
I found this project in a great book about using art to learn and work through the alphabet; the book shows to work up to four projects in one week, making it 26 weeks to work through the alphabet but I've shortened it for us here at home by working through two letters at a time and one project per letter. The book is geared for older kids, like grade school but I believe with a little modification, we can still use some of the project ideas. Listed below is the activity and the supplies needed and directions to conduct the session.
An Army of Ants
-thick cardboard
-scrap fabric to cover cardboard
-masking tape (or tape that you can find that will secure fabric to cardboard)
-inkpads (or washable markers)
-fine tip markers
The Creative Process:
-Cut the cardboard into an 8" x 8" square.
-Cover one side of the cardboard square with scrap fabric and secure in place with tape.
-Draw a block-style letter "A" on the cloth covered square.
-Demonstrate how to create ants by covering finger pad with washable marker, color of choice, and press it onto the tablecloth. Place two prints beside each other, touching. Add legs and antennae with the marker.
-Encourage your child to place "ants" all over his/her tablecloth.
-Campbell, Kelly J. "Art Across the Alphabet: Over 100 Art Experiences That Enrich Early Literacy."
Looking at our bugs, I was glad we used the black marker; something tells me if we had used brown, our ants may have taken on the appearance of cockroaches-run screaming from the room, please! Of all the bugs in the insect world, those are the only creepy crawlers I absolutely can't stand-YUCK!!!!!!
Our next letter is "B" and we'll be painting with paints that begin with the letter "B." Here's to Wednesday Creative Projects! ~Mom

Pattern Directions for Converted Sweater Project

Toddler's Pullover Sweater
(converted directions based on cardigan pattern)
-6 mos. (12 mos.)*
Shown in size 12 mos. When only one number is given, it applies to both sizes. Note: For ease in working, circle all numbers pertaining to your size.
Finished measurements:
-Chest= 22 (25)"*
Sensations Rainbow Classic (Art. 09122458); 100% acrylic; 11 oz. (312 g.); 615 yds. (562 m.); bulky weight.
-1 skein # 42588 Green/Grey Rainbow Classic*
Needles & extras:
-Size 10 (6 mm) needles or size needed to obtain gauge.
-Tapestry (blunt-end yarn) needle
-11 sts. and 20 rows= 4" (10 cm) over
-Garter stitch (stockingnette, or knit every row)
Note: Use long-tail cast-on throughout.
-Cast on 30 (34) sts. Work Garter st until piece measures 11 (12)". Bind off.*
-Cast on 30 (34) sts. Work Garter st until piece measure 11 (12) ". Bind off.*
Sleeve: (make 2)
-Cast on 26 (28) sts. Work Garter st until piece measures 5 (7)". Bind off.*
-Sleeve ribbing
-Cast on 10 (15) sts. Knit 2 rows, purl 2 rows. Work alternating stitches until pieces each measure 7 (9)". Bind off.*
-Bottom edge ribbing
-Cast on 17 (19) sts. Knit 2 rows, purl 2 rows. Work alternating stitches until piece measures 8 (10)". Bind off.*
-Neck ribbing
-Cast on 5 (7) sts. Knit 2 rows, purl 2 rows. Work alternating stitches until piece measures 5 (5 1/2)". Bind off.*
-Sew shoulder seams, leaving a 5 (5 1/2)" neck opening. Sew sleeves onto body of pullover. Fold pullover at shoulders; sew sides and underarm seams. Weave in ends.
Attach ribbing: As you sew on bottom edge and sleeve ribbing pieces, you will notice a gather or "pucker"," which should only be slight; if you notice an extreme gather, detach and start again. Gathering should be uniform for a clean appearance and ensure that sleeves can stay in place if pushed up and that the body of the finished sweater doesn't ride up or cause discomfort for the wearer. Weave in ends.
*You may have noticed an asterisk noted throughout the pattern directions I've listed here. My son is almost three years old but being a novice in the world of knitting, my stitches, depending on the fiber base I'm working with, can be looser or tighter in conjunction with the pattern directions; therefore, I put in all caps that it is important to check your gauge.
I wanted to create a sweater for my child but felt I lacked the confidence to move forward into the world of increase/decrease stitching; remember my swiss cheese reference in my previous post discussing the finished product and the importance of including (after making notes for revisions) a pattern for others to follow. When I found the original cardigan pattern, consisting of blocks (rectangles, if you will), I began to see how it could be converted into a pullover; the ribbed pieces were a "brain baby" during the formation of each piece that would become the body of the sweater. I wanted a sweater that my child could wear outside, when the chill is still hanging in the air in the mornings when we garden, something consisting of a fiber base that could be easily cleaned and cared for (therefore, the choice of acrylic), and assist with my learning process of working with different fibers for functional use. Am I happy with the end result? Yes, I am. I will have to expand the neck ribbing as he grows until he can no longer wear the sweater but I'm willing to work with that as part of my learning process on the knitting playground. Happy creating! ~Mom
-Better Homes & Gardens 1-2-3 Knit: Project-packed Beginner's Guide.
*distributed exclusively by Leisure Arts.

Monday, May 3, 2010

How to Transform a Cardigan Pattern into a Pullover Pattern

"Let me turn....."

"Ribbing on sleeves"

"Stockingnette Stitch for body & sleeves"

"How Do I Look?"
Now, I'm not an experienced knitter; I barely learned by teaching myself and a high level of long distance encouragement from a dear college girlfriend to go ahead and learn how to knit. I've been at it for about a year now, and I absolutely love it! It took me 20 years, most of them spent in discouragement on my own part plus the factor of being left handed while the women in my family are all right handed, just to learn to crochet; so I didn't plan on learning how to wrangle two needles, let alone one hook! Mind you, I consider myself a creatress, and love the challenge of a new project and the pursuit of the end result. The road always goes in two directions for me each time: I either don't try it again or love it so much that I can't resist to keep going in the direction of additional like projects.
I was given a huge bag of yarn, needles, and books not too long ago-I think it may have been just before the Fall melted into the cold of Winter by a neighbor-sweet soul. After sorting through, orgazining my new "stash," I started working on other fiber projects-hoodies, hats, scarves, etc...then, it hit me to try a sweater. I trialed increase and decrease stitches by experimenting with baby booties, and after the results of swiss cheese or moth eaten outerwear, I almost gave up on the sweater idea. It was right after that thought I looked in one of my "new" books again. Two sweater patterns, one for a toddler and one for a baby. The baby pattern is increase/decrease stitch loaded, so I looked at the toddler pattern a bit more closely. That's when the lights went on; I could see how you can alter a cardigan into a pullover with measurement modifications to the pieces, as needed. As I worked each panel-there's a total of four (one for the front, one for the back, and one each for the sleeves), I wondered about ribbing for the cuffs, bottom edge of the sweater body, and the neckline. Ribbing is NOT my best stitch, no matter how many times I've painfully followed the directions and almost resorted to using my needles as kabob skewers instead of the knitting they're made for; although, my understanding is that knitting needles can be used for so much more than just knitting.....
As I completed the panels for the sweater body, stitched each panel together where indicated by pattern directions, I settled into the idea that I was going to try ribbing. I managed, after much thought, a way to work my ribbing so that it works for me and how I can grasp the stitch. After some time, an additional week of fiber work and tearing out stitches-experienced knitters call it frogging-I managed to put the final touches on my toddler's new "spring gardening sweater." Happy with the results, I'm working to turn my modification over for publication. I'm not reinventing the wheel, mind you. I'm giving hope to other beginning knitters like myself that you don't have to make millions of scarves or hats before tackling a sweater for someone you love; just look from a different angle. Pattern directions in my next post.....~Mom