Sock Puppets

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
Try This Tuesday

Only teeny tiny this week as I have a wedding to arrange for Sunday the 20th and so all my energies are otherwise tied up.

It’s a kit for children aged 3 and above which I’ve had for an awfully long time.

Although it’s ‘glue free’ ours needed a little bit of help.

With great results though. What’s more they have played with the end results, way out of our comfort zone.


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Family time

Slurping Life
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Full of activities so my productivity is more or less zilch.

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How to make your own mouse

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
Try This Tuesday

You will need;-
A 12 inch square of felt
Another scrap of felt for the shawl
A scrap of thick yarn for the tail [knot both ends]
stuffing
Two small buttons for eyes [optional]
Sewing thread and needle
Scrap of fabric for the skirt
Scissors

Cut out the shapes in felt from the template
Sew up the back [curved] seam
Insert the stuffing
Stitch the circle on the base inserting the yarn as a tail and check that the mouse stands upright

[Understuffed will produce a concave base which is much more likely to remain standing]

Sew on the buttons [or stitch eyes in place so that it would be safe for a baby]
Stitch the whiskers and ears [folded]
Hem, join and stitch a drawstring runner through the top of the strip
Gather the strip and attach to the middle of the mouse
Cut the scrap of felt into a triangle and snip the edge to make a fringe, stitch in place

Voila!

A Tale of Foolishness:-
The why? Why bother to make your own mouse when you can buy a dozen from Petco at $3.99?

Well as you may recall, currently my son is still at the ‘part cat’ stage of development but loathes the smell of catnip. Anyway whilst we were at Longleat in England he fell in love with a very similar mouse, a mouse manufactured for the princely sum of many pounds sterling. I resisted the purchase and a great pall of gloom descended upon us. The only reason I managed to extract him from Longleat at all, was the faithful promise that I would indeed, given time, produce a mouse. It was so tempting to indulge him especially as he mewed so pitifully but apart from anything else, Longleat’s version was a doorstop and hence it was weighted down with a hefty rock inside, not ideal for international travelers with a weight limit!

In addition, we endure a daily craft during the summer holidays. In this instance we were able to introduce the concept that a sewing needle is not necessarily an instrument of torture but may indeed be the means of achieving the current motivational goal, a mouse. Fine motor skills limitations meant that he was an observer rather than a sewer, but he managed to remain within the same room and peek through his fingers at the scene. Clearly most crafts can be adapted to suit the individual needs of any particular child, but if we achieve joint attention then we’re on a winner, which indeed we did. He was quite happy to stuff the mouse so we did have a little hands on experience.

Of course, if I had been more sensible I would have saved myself a whole heap of bother by not going into the shop in the first place. This is one of the reasons why so many parents of autistic children become hermits, it’s just easier that way. However, we continue to venture forth as the easy option is not always available.

Lastly, I know that this kind of parental indulgence frequently evokes criticism, maybe you have been on the receiving end yourself? All I would say is that people who criticize, [usually ‘Anon’] generally do not have first hand experience, long term with autistic people. If you actually live with an autistic person who has no interest in anything, or maybe only one or two things, to the exclusion of all other things, then part of a parent’s job is to help expand those interests, gently and gradually. Our job is not to eliminate the one or two special interests, that would certainly be a mistake, unkind and probably cruel. No, instead we offer all and everything that we can think of to tempt them into other things. Given time and encouragement there may just be a tiny little spark and it is those little sparks that ignite us into action, no matter how trivial or obscure. I tell you truly, it’s worth every effort.

This design is available in an out of print book called “My Learn to Sew Book.” It is a bit dated but has easy to follow instructions.


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Resin Casting

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Try This Tuesday

You will need:-
Bottle of resin
Catalyst
Mould Release spray
A piece of felt the same size as the bottom of your mould
Interesting thingummy bob
Disposable bowl for stirring
Popiscle stick for stirring
Disposable mould or something you already have but don’t mind sacrificing to art
Waste paper / drop cloth to protect surfaces

1.Read the instructions carefully and conduct the whole exercise is an open air space due to the fumes unless you wish to get high whilst supervising a children’s activity?

2.Check that the interesting thingy fits in your mould without touching the edges or bottom or poking out the top. [this is a great exercise in spatial awareness in and of itself as you have to imagine the thingummy bob in 3D floating in your chosen mould]

3.Spray the mould with mould release and leave to dry. Repeat.

4.Make up a small quantity of resin according to the manufacturer’s instructions in a disposable mixing bowl and add the catalyst. This will make the first layer so that the thingummy doesn’t poke through. Remember that you are actually making the cast upside down whereby the first layer you pour, is really the top.
5.Stir thoroughly without creating bubbles.
6.Pour into the mould and leave to harden.
7.Cover with a cloth so that foreign objects, dust or the occasional fly doesn’t accidentally become embedded.
8.Once dry place your object on the now hardened first layer.
9.Repeat the layers until the object is completely covered.
10.Leave to harden preferably overnight.
11.Cut a piece of felt to fit the bottom of the ‘paper weight’ and glue on securely.

Warning:- take care to explain to the children…… whatever they want to commit to a cast is for a life sentence, non-returnable nor returnable.


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Old dogs and new tricks

There are some lovely people around my neighbourhood and this particular bunch refer to themselves as ‘crafters.’ The term ‘crafter,’ is I believe, peculiar to America, as elsewhere, such people just have ‘hobbies.’ There are all sorts of subtleties that pass way over my head, as I prefer to remain close to the ground like the low life that I truly am. That said they’re a jolly and generous crowd, who welcome newcomers with interest and warmth.

As we age we become wise, or at least that is the theory. Personally I find that as I grow older, I become increasingly scatty, forgetful and what my son refers to as ‘random.’ I am prone to stereotype people, it’s shorthand. It’s one of my many faults but old dogs, mongrels, can still learn new things.

I find that I have learned new things and benefited greatly from attending three, consecutive, six week courses of puppy training. I only wish I’d completely the puppy training before I had the children. That said one of the things I learned, or rather had reinforced, is that many people dislike direct eye contact, far more than I had appreciated. It’s not just autistic people, it’s not just shy people, it’s all sorts of people.

I had this demonstrated to me recently when I attended a curiously American event, a side walk sale. A rough translation of ‘side walk sale’ is when sellers and crafters park themselves outside the shop on the sidewalk together with their wares to sell to the general public, face to face. I am told by those who know about such things, that the general public like to meet the people who make the things that they buy, although I’m a bit doubtful myself.

Hence, here is a picture of the lovely ladies meeting and greeting. Off to the side I am also poised, carving bowls. I’m side ways on, head down, absorbed. It is a non threatening pose that can prove very useful when you encounter unfamiliar dogs to demonstrate that you’re not an aggressive Alpha and just want to play. If I was Joe Public or the man on the Clapham Omnibus, I might step over the occupied woman and take a peek but I’d have a hard time meeting the ever so friendly and enthusiastic ladies, head on. It would just be too intimidating. I would feel obliged to make conversation and praise their work, which I may not like. I am a bad liar and I would be exposed as such. If I liked their work, then that would be great, but then I should feel obliged to buy something and money is tight.

So humour me? With whom would you feel more comfortable and why?

Hosted by “Tracy” at “Mother May I,” but the photo-picture below will whizz you right there with one click.

Just call me snap happy.

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How to make your own Webkinz [posable]

One of the best ways to get organized is to delegate household chores to your children. One of the best ways to motivate your children to co-operate is to provide finely targeted bribes. The current bribe currency around here is Webkinz, but they’re a bit pricey, especially in these financially stricken times. So, if your household is in need of a little extra motivation, why not make a few of your own bribes.

Body
Cast on 30 stitches to a size 10 [US] circular needle. Mark the beginning of the round. Knit two rows knitwise.
Increase one stitch knitwise every second stitch. [60 stitches]

Knit one round
Increase one stitch every third stitch. [80 stitches]
Knit seven rounds without increasing.
Decrease – knit two together, repeat to end of the round [40 stitches]
Knit one round
Decrease – knit two together, repeat to end of the round. [20 stitches]
Knit two together, repeat [ten stitches]
Thread through the tail with the crochet hook and pull through and tie off on the wrong side.

Legs

Knit eight I cords with six stitches, one inch shorter than the length of a standard pipe cleaner. Insert pipe cleaner with a crochet hook and pull through the centre. Fashion each end of the pip cleaner into a loop and squeeze the pointy end tightly with wire cutters. Sew the loose end on the yarn at each end to cover and flatten the ends. Atatch home made or shop bought pompoms to one end. Sew the bald end to the body of the spider on the outside [right side] with invisible stitches.

Sew on eyes and pompom mouth. Secure contrasting coloured pipe-cleaner for the mouth and make sure to neaten the inside ends so that they don’t poke through = tie the ends together on the inside, twist off and add a blob of glue so that if they do move they will not be sharp.

Stuff the body and sew contrasting circle of fabric to the underbelly.

Clearly, they motivate lots of children, not just mine.

Now with the easy part over, it’s down to the real business. If your children have an eye for detail, then a Webkinz logo is an absolute must.

First pick a language, an unfamiliar one. Learn two or three lines, together with an authentic accent. Secondly, decide upon which type of disguise best suits you. Ideally this should be a disguise that is credible, no Chuck E Cheese Mouse suits please. Find you finest pair of small sharp sewing scissors and secret them about your person. Then, take yourself off to the local Hallmark shop or any other fine retailer of the much favoured Webkinz.

On arrival, blend discretely amongst the other legitimate shoppers. Do not draw attention to yourself by acting oddly. Wait patiently for the right moment and then discretely hack off the nearest Webkinz label available. Return the bald Webkinz to the back of the shelf and run like hell. Do not worry if you are caught as you have the best defense in the world, a real justification that cannot be thwarted by logic.

As I may have mentioned earlier, this tackle is not for the faint hearted.

If you find that you’re not a ‘Mission Impossible’ type, your second option is to take careful note of the Webkinz that already enjoy household space at home. Wait until all junior persons are absent from the home, preferably for a long period of time, such as during school and then determine which Webkinz is for the chop? Take your sacrificial Webkinz and slice off it’s leg, unpick the Webkinz logo and sew it neatly on the new and perfectly unique Webkinz of your own design.

Before the children return home, nip outside and find a rock. Smash your front window with the rock from the outside to make sure that the broken glass falls on the inside of the floor to prove that you had no defense against the wicked, Webkinz robber who burgled the house whilst they were away.

Either option should be completed early in the morning. On completion, early in the morning, you shall now have the rest of the day to complete your mission. First it is necessarily to acquire a massive brain such that you are able to hack into the Webkinz site on-line. Once hacked, it is then essential to steal a legitimate Webkinz code. Having stolen the Webkinz code, all you have to do is to perfectly forge the Webkinz papers of authenticity, insert into a plastic Webkinz liner. Carefully wipe clean of all incriminating evidence, such as finger prints. Be sure to wear latex gloves. Attach code package to the Webkinz, with a pale blue ribbon that you saved from a previous purchase.

I think this is probably where I went wrong?

Anyone want a green spider perchance? I’ll forward the ribbon later on, if I ever find it.

Try This Tuesday

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Tackle it Tuesday – Try it Tuesday – a gallery of awards

Try This Tuesday
You have nothing to lose by going green

***

Everyone needs a pat on the back sometimes. As the nights draw in and the schedule comes under pressure, it can be hard for children to stay on track. This is where motivation is key. We all respond well to praise, recognition and rewards and this is a way of helping our children realize that we not only notice their efforts but we appreciate how hard they're trying.

First it's important to narrowly taylor your reward to your particular child. For example, many struggle with homework. It may be that you want to award them for completing their homework in a timely manner over a period of time, such as a week or a month. However, that may be setting the bar too high. Maybe an award for their best efforts is more appropriate or perhaps an award for remaining calm and having a better attitude towards homework time.

The awards can be configured to fit your family, different ages abilities and talents. The most important element is that each child should be able to achieve a realistic goal, otherwise the whole exercise will bring further disappointment and discouragement.

Once you have narrowed down who will be rewarded for what, it is then time to make the awards. It may be that you can encourage your children to take part in the creative process so that they are more involved if they participate positively. Hopefully, making the awards will provide a crafty play time for at least one of your children on a rainy afternoon and perhaps a little one on one time.

Currently, everyone is strapped for cash and some of us are trying to 'go green' at the same time. Whilst it would be fun to see if we can create our own green backs and get away with it, it is probably safer to stick to materials that we already have in our possession.

Under no circumstances should you go out and buy anything new, instead troll through the piles of broken toys and tat that you already have piled up in every corner of your home, or maybe that's just us? You may, however, buy additional supplies of glue.

Assemble your creations and add a blob of Velcro to the back. Aim for lightness so that they will be able to remain in place in a vertical position. Attatch the opposite Velcro blob to a sheet of poster board and arrange your awards. Fix the awards board to a wall in a prominent position at a child's eye level.

The beauty of this project is that you can include private family jokes that mean nothing to the population in general but will tap into your own child's perspective adding an extra layer of insight. For instance one of my sons is very keen on drawing Y-fronts on his figures. No matter what he draws there is always someone lurking in the picture sporting a pair of Y fronts.

Hence:-

I do hope you get the chance to try this one out and reap the rewards yourself!

Cheers dears

Backstory

It is difficult for a parent to actively treat children differently in some situations. For example, when a child has achieved a new goal it is natural to praise them, you can't help yourself. However, some children react negatively to praise. Some children are so enraged when they receive praise that they destroy the object that they created.

The reasons for such a reaction are complex. Some people, myself included, find it very difficult to button a lip and not praise the achievement, especially when the praise flows to the other children. Such differential treatment seems absurd. I would note that this is not the sometimes fatuous praise, a general touchy feely, no content kind of praise, but a specific identifiable praise in the nature of 'you did a great job with that straight line,' 'I really like the colours you chose,' 'his expression is really funny.' Since positive words provoke a meltdown, I've learned to curb my words, remain silent and bite my lip. I could expound at length but I have yet to find someone with similar experiences.

Your award ceremony can be as elaborate or as simple as you choose. For us, the weekend is the best because I am better able to pick a time when they are more receptive.

Involvement and active participation is key but also difficult to engineer. We need a time where there is nothing else more interesting competing for their attention so that they are better able to engage in the here and now. Joint attention to one communal activity is more likely to be successful when other needs are met, other distractions have been eliminated and there are no other impending interruptions waiting in the wings to derail their attention span.

As with all things around here, this project has been brewing for a long time and was broken into small steps. Preparation in advance was primarily concentrated on 'this is what will be happening in the future / this will be fun.' Some children take longer to adjust to new concepts, they cannot be hurried or harried, they need time to adjust. The 'gallery' transition was in the summer. The awards appeared over two months ago. The 'ceremony' was a last week.

Scatological jokes are always appreciated.

Once the awards were made, we placed them in a prominent position for a couple of weeks, discussed, examined and handled them until they became more familiar. We would admire their gallery of pictures and debate which award seemed most appropriate to which drawing. This was in part to gauge their own expectations to see if they had already decided which picture matched which award. By being better able to match their expectations it became more likely that we would able to pick the correct award for the right picture during the 'ceremony.'

This helps address another on going hurdle, the issue of choice. Without getting buried in the details, every positive choice necessarily means a lost opportunity, if you choose one, you lose the other[s]. Choice therefore induces stress and anxiety. It is one manifestation of OCD and perseverance over missed opportunities. Or, to put it another way, the pleasure of one positive choice is wiped out by the stress induced by all the ones that you have not chosen which might be better. Hence an extended exposure to the new thing, makes it less new, less valued and therefore sometimes easier to choose as the 'cost' of making a mistake is lessened. The trick it to time the exposure so that the new thing does not become so familiar that it merely blends in with the wallpaper and has no value at all.

Of course some other children would experience a long period of exposure as more anxiety inducing, longer to agonize over, longer to perseverate upon, as there is usually an equal or opposite effect with any one issue.

Since words can still be a little hit or miss, physical involvement, eye tracking and the kinesthetic connection helped reduce stress, increase their personal investment and advance them to a point where it was possible to try out the ceremony. For our children, we kept this as low key as possible because around here, quite often, actions speak louder than words.

What, if anything, might this mean? For me, this gives me some perspective.

When my children were first diagnosed, the kindly experts told me that they were unable to give me an accurate prognosis for the boys' future. Being of a fundamentally pessimistic nature, I took this to mean that the future was dire. Being of a fundamentally contrary nature, I also set out to prove them wrong. As a direct result, I have actually inadvertently proved that they were right.

I should have listened to my pal, “It’s all Okay,” not “look through a glass darkly.” Suffice to say that this is a tremendous leap forward.

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