Thursday, 21 November 2013

What Families Supporting an Individual with a Disability Really Need from You!

Raising a child with a disability brings additional challenges that other parents may not face, and it is a role that continues into adulthood. Recent research about family quality of life among families with a member with a developmental disability has shown that many families are not getting the amount of practical support that they need from friends and families. It also found that lots of families do not want to ask for help, even when they need it. This makes it more important for everyone in the community (especially those who have family and friends with a child with a disability) to step up and provide supports to these families. Many people tend to feel intimidated or unqualified to help, but I’m sure that there is at least one way that you could make a difference. Below is a list of ideas for how you can help a family with a child with a disability. I would be happy to hear any other comments as well!
  • Send a card or encouraging message
  • Respite! Offer to watch the person with a disability- in their own home, in your home, or take them out. Sleepovers are also nice so parents have a chance to reconnect or get away.
  • Advocate for services for individuals with disabilities
  • Call, text, e-mail, etc. someone
  • Have a family over for dinner- including the kids
  • Help spread awareness about issues
  • Offer to watch kids while parent goes to night class or work meetings
  • Pick up their child from school
  • If you aren’t as comfortable working with a person with special needs, you can provide some special attention to typically developing siblings- take them on a date to a movie or a restaurant, have a sleepover, play games, etc.
  • Offer a shoulder to cry on, or just be someone to listen
  • Give someone a ride to appointments, or lend them your car
  • Bring them a meal
  • Don’t judge, don’t try and fix things, just listen and be there
  • Go grocery shopping for them
  • Offer to help with housework- cooking, cleaning, errands
  • Support the family with donations of clothing, diapers, toys, etc.
  • Send the parents on a date night
  • Financial support- you could give them money, hold a fundraiser, or give them support that would allow them to seek educational or career goals. Medication, special equipment, and therapies can be very expensive, and some of these costs come out of pocket for families, especially those who do not have insurance coverage.
  • Don’t stare in public. Please.

This post is a little bit different from my usual crafts and recipes. As you may know, I am currently a master's student in child clinical psychology. In one of my courses I had to write a paper and then present a way in which it could be applied practically. I decided to write this blog post based on the assignment because I feel like it is a good way to reach people, and I am hoping this post will go (at least a little bit) viral! Thanks for reading :)

Gardiner, E., & Iarocci, G. (2012). Unhappy (and happy) in their own way: A developmental psychopathology perspective on quality of life for families living with developmental disability with and without autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 33(6), 2177-2192. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2012.06.014

Monday, 11 November 2013

Jolie's Quiet Book

My niece just turned 1 this past August, so this summer I took on the project of making her a quiet book. I have seen so many cute patterns online, and my sister-in-law mentioned that she wanted one for her kids, so that's what I did! I had lots of fun picking out templates and making it, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. It took me so long to make though! I used my sewing machine for most of the pieces, but I had to change the thread every time I needed a new colour, which took a while. I also had to cut out the pattern pieces, two pieces of felt, and one piece of interfacing for each removable piece, which was also time-consuming. Jolie loves it though, so it's all worth it!

If you don't know what a quiet book is, it is an activity book made out of felt for young children. They are often used to keep kids occupied during church or in the car. There are pages just to look at, play with, and many of them have educational components such as colours, matching, numbers, and practice fine motor skills (buttons, snaps, zippers).

I decided to make 10 page spreads, so I printed the templates and did all the cutting at once, then all the sewing at once. When I finished and began to put everything together, the pile of pages was quite big, so I decided to split it into two books. The books have binder rings that hold the pages together which open, so the pages can be removed or placed all into one book. All of my pages were made of felt, which also contributed to the bulk of the book.

Below I have a picture of each page, links to the templates, and a few comments. I hope you enjoy my work! For more inspiration, see my quiet book Pinterest board. Most of my templates are from Imagine Our Life, which I highly recommend!

For the cover, I used a light corduroy material from Hobby Lobby, with white broadcloth on the inside. There are handles, and a velcro strap to keep it closed. As mentioned above, there are binder rings that hold the pieces together and also allow you to remove the pages (see the next picture too). I loosely followed this tutorial, but basically I sewed a big rectangle for the cover, two handles, a velcro strap, and two small straps inside to hold the binder rings (see next picture). 
Name Page
This is the only page in the book that I did not use a template for. I cut out the letters for Jolie's name, and attached snaps to the pieces and to the page. I hand embroidered "my name is" with embroidery floss, and sewed three sides for a pocket to hold the letters. I think using velcro rather than snaps would have made it easier to attach.
Ice Cream Sundae Page
I got this template from this link. For this page, you just play with the different ice cream scoops and toppings. One of my favourites because it is so cute!
Bathroom Page
I chose to make this page because Jolie has a book with a mirror at the end that she loves. I got lucky and found some shiny bristol board at Michael's that I used for the mirror. The brush, toothbrush, and toothpaste can go in the mug. The template I used (here) is for one page, but I spread it onto two.
Cookie Page
This page (tutorial here) involves matching the shapes and colours of the cookies. You also practice buttoning the pieces to the page. Super cute!
Mail Page
This page (from this link) is super cute! The envelopes all velcro open and have a letter inside. I sewed ribbon with writing on it on the outside of the envelopes and the inside letter pages. The letters go in the mailbox, and the red handle can go up.
Cupcake Page
This page has wrapper pockets that I hand-embroidered the numbers onto. Each of the cupcakes has the same number of sprinkles (beads) sewn on, so it can be a matching activity. I used the cupcake template here to cut out the shapes, but modeled it after this page.
Farm Page
This page has animal finger puppets that go in the barn, which has doors that open. The template for this page (link) had apples that snap onto the tree, but I thought those pieces were too small, so I made an owl that is under the tree leaves instead. I also sewed taggie-style ribbons under the sun.
Sock Page
In this page (template here) the socks each have a snap on the back and they match onto the right hand page. You can put them in the dryer as well (hilarious!). For the dryer door, I got a clear folder from the dollar store that I cut for the dryer door.
Dress Up Page 
For this page, there is a plain figure on the right hand page, with velcro as her underwear and bra. I sewed yarn on for her hair, and hand-embroidered her face. The suitcase has a zipper on it to store the clothes, which all have velcro on them to stick to the doll. I didn't follow a specific template, but you can find another example here.
Flower Page
This page (template here) just has flowers that you can practice buttoning on and off of the stems.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Baby Bow Headband (Crochet)

I recently hosted a girl's night where we knitted and crocheted together, wore track pants, and ate junk food (i.e. the perfect Friday night in my books). My friend decided to make a headband for her cousin's baby and it turned out so cute that I decided to make my own! This is one of those projects that I feel kind of silly writing a pattern for because it really is so simple and easy to modify, but I know that many beginners benefit from having something to follow, and everyone benefits from some inspiration.

This pattern can be crocheted, and is a great beginner project. It is really simple, and doesn't take that long to complete. If you don't follow the pattern exactly, that is OK too. If you have slightly bigger/smaller crochet hooks, make it a bit bigger or smaller, then that is fine. Be creative with colours! Just be aware that if you use thicker yarn then you will need to make it a bit shorter. Enjoy!

Crocheted Baby Bow Headband

Baby yarn in two colours (size 3/light yarn)
Size G/6 (4.25 mm) crochet hook
Scissors, needle

With the colour you want for the headband, LOOSELY chain 50 stitches (*note: if you do it too tight then it won't be stretchy).

Turn, and single crochet in second chain from hook, and to the end.

**Chain one, turn, single crochet in second chain from hook, and to the end.**

Repeat from ** to ** until it is the desired width (approx. 1.5", or 6 rows)

Sew the ends together to form a headband, and weave in the yarn ends.

With the colour you want for the bow, chain 15 stitches.

Turn, and single crochet in second chain from hook, and to the end.

**Chain one, turn, single crochet in second chain from hook, and to the end.**

Repeat from ** to ** until it is the desired width (approx. 2.5", or 10 rows)

Sew the yarn ends in.

To Assemble:
With the bow colour, sew in and out of the middle of the bow and tie the two ends together to scrunch it up. With the long end (that is attached to the ball), wrap it around the middle a bunch of times. Cut the yarn with a 6" tail, and tie the two ends together. Sew in the shorter end. With the longer end, sew the bow to the headband on top of the seam. Weave in the end to hide it. And done!

Chunky Button Cowl (Crochet)

This is a pattern that I created for a super easy, crocheted, chunky button cowl (inspired by Pinterest of course). This pattern is really easy, and would be suitable for a beginner. The hardest part is probably finding buttons big enough! Enjoy!

1 ball Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick Yarn (or another really chunky yarn)
Size 11.5mm crochet hook (or around there, gauge isn't important)
Yarn needle
2 big buttons

Chain 18 stitches.
Turn, double crochet in 3rd chain from hook and to end.
*Chain 3, double crochet to end.*
Repeat from * to * until your piece measures approximately 35" (or until you are out of yarn).
Sew buttons onto the outside edge of one of the ends, so that when the scarf is wrapped around your neck, the two corners line up (see picture). Sew in loose ends and voila! 

Note that you don't have to make button holes if you are doing double crochet, you can just use one of the gaps as a button hole. 

If you don't know how to double crochet, you can do this pattern in single crochet, or half double crochet instead, if you do this, you will need to add button holes as so:

Follow the pattern as above, except use single or half double crochet. For single crochet, only chain 1 at the end of each row instead of 3, and for half double crochet, chain 2 at the end of each row instead of 3.
Once your piece measures approximately 33", chain 1 or 2, single or half double crochet 3 stitches, chain 1, skip 1 space, single or half double crochet 7 stitches, chain 1, skip one space, single or half double crochet to end. 
Continue to work the piece as above for 2 more rows.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

OMB Grilled Cheese (Onions, Mushrooms, Bacon)

This recipe is again inspired by soemthing I saw on Pinterest (this link). I didn't look too closely at the recipe (which is for BBQ and onion grilled cheese) when I looked at it, and I thought that the onions looked like bacon when I went grocery shopping, so I added bacon (best wife ever)! I also had some mushrooms on hand, so I added them as well. I call this recipe "OMB" Grilled Cheese because there are onions, mushrooms and bacon on it.

Jordan likes to tell everyone about the "most amazing grilled cheese he has ever had- dude you gotta try this". He no longer makes fun of Pinterest, but says that he enjoys the outcome of it. Anyways here is the recipe, hope you enjoy!

OMB Grilled Cheese

-Onions (cooking or red onions)
-Margarine or butter
-BBQ sauce
* I didn't provide quantities because it depends on how many you are making, and it doesn't really matter how much you use (sorry OCD people!)

Fry bacon on a frying pan over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms and sliced onions and fry until cooked, flipping occasionally.

While you are waiting for it to cook, grate some mozzarella cheese. Spread margarine or butter on one side of each bread, and BBQ sauce on the other sides.

Preheat a panini press or separate frying pan on medium heat. Once the bacon and veggies are done cooking, put one piece of bread butter side down on the frying pan. Add some cheese, then the bacon/veggies, then more cheese, then another piece if bread butter side up. Fry it for a while until the cheese starts to melt. Flip it and fry the other side. Voila!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Crochet Hat Round-Up

As I mentioned in previous posts, I have been busy the past couple of months getting ready to sell my crafts at a Mom to Mom sale in Beamsville, ON. The majority of what I have made has been hats that look like things for babies and kids. I came across this pattern, and used it for the majority of the ones that I made! It is a basic pattern, but there are plenty of things that you can do with just using different colours and embellishments. I am not posting individual patterns for the embellishments for each of these hats, but hopefully the pictures will provide some inspiration! Thank you to Micah Makes for the pattern! If you don't crochet, but knit, you could use the basic pattern from my Knitted Baby Bow Hat and use different colours and embellishments, and add stitches in multiples of 4 to make it bigger.

Football Hat- Brown yarn, embroider white stripes

Minion Hat (from Despicable Me)- Yellow, with black stripe, follow the first few rounds of the hat with black and white to make the eye, and embroider the mouth, and add some tassles on top

Angry Birds Hat- Red hat, I made up how to do the eyes and nose (circles and semi-circles for eyes, triangle for nose, rectangle for eyebrows)

Bear hat- brown yarn, crocheted semi-circles for ears

Owl Hat- Light brown on top, dark brown on the bottom, follow the first few rounds in black and white for the eyes to make circles, I just crocheted triangles for the ears and beak

Mickey Mouse Hat- Black on top, red on bottom, follow first few rounds of hat to make ears, sew on yellow buttons. I also made a minnie mouse one with a bow, but forgot to take a picture!
Flower Hat- I followed the pattern without the earflaps and sewed on a crocheted flower
Knitted Flower Hat- I used the pattern from my baby bow hat, and sewed on a crocheted flower

Thursday, 25 April 2013

8 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

I was putting together a blog post of wedding advice but couldn't narrow it down to my "top 10", and I realized that lots of the advice was related to saving money, so I put together this post with ways that we were able to spend less on our money. I hope that someone finds this advice useful! Check out the other post here.

1) DIY as much stuff as possible

OK, so I might be a little biased about this one since I am a very DIY-minded person. However, some things are so simple to do and you can save a lot of money. I made all of our invitations, programs, and place cards by hand, well I had an invitation making party and invited some friends over to help out. Most of the work was just designing the invitations on Microsoft Word, printing, cutting, gluing, and tying ribbons. If you aren't a big DIY person, then just ask someone who is to help you out.

2) See if you can get your flowers from a local grocery store

I asked a coworker where she was getting her flowers from and was surprised to hear that they were coming from a Sobey's grocery store. I was really pleased with how everything worked out. Their prices were much lower than a florist, and they did a great job. Our flowers cost about $350 if I remember correctly for 6 bouquets, 11 boutonnieres, and 4 corsages, made of roses too.

3) Skip the DJ- use an ipod or laptop instead

This decision was a no-brainer for us. We aren't huge party people, and didn't want the dance to be the main focus of our reception.  Even if it was, I think that it worked out better than having an actual DJ. We just made a playlist in advance and hooked up our laptop to the sound system. We enjoyed having more control over what songs were played (we didn't have to struggle through the YMCA). We were running short on time but had a few songs we wanted to dance to that hadn't been played yet so we moved them up, and took out some of the slower songs that weren't as big a hit. This is a really easy way to save money too.

4) Pass on the open bar

We never really considered having an open bar since many of our family members and friends don't drink, but I was shocked by how much it cost! At the place where we had our reception the price per person for open bar was almost as much as the meal! Everyone would have had to get 5 or 6 drinks each to make it worth having, and I knew that wasn't going to happen. We also didn't really want to have people getting drunk at our wedding either. I know that some people consider it "rude" to not have an open bar, but it's a pretty hefty price to just avoid being rude, and I think that many people understand that weddings are expensive. A few other options are to stock the bar yourself, or even to have people pay $2 for a drink and pay for the difference.

5) Spend money on things that people will notice, be more frugal with things that nobody cares about 

This piece of advice was especially salient to me when thinking about centerpieces. There are some wedding  I have been to where the centerpieces were too big and were just in the way. Others I couldn't tell you what they were a month later. Instead of spending $200+ per table on floral arrangements, we used a vase with water, floating candles, and sprinkled rose petals, which was much more affordable, but still allowed us to use the colour scheme. A few candles will go a long way!

This is the picture I took for the people at the hall so they knew how to set up the centerpieces. We had real rose petals, but you get the basic idea :)

6) Skip the giant bakery wedding cake

Jordan and I aren't huge fans of cake, we both like it, but we like ice cream much better! So we decided to get our ice cream cake from Dairy Queen instead. It was only $30, and the girls working there really liked us so gave us extra punch cards so we were able to cash it in for another free cake later on! We served the ice cream cake to the bridal party, and had the caterers do an ice cream sundae bar instead, which I think was a hit. Wedding cakes are so expensive, and some places will even charge you to cut it up and serve it. I know it's a big trend right now, but it's easy to work around. For my sister-in-law's wedding, my mother in law made the cake (for free), used plain white icing, a tiered cake stand, and wrapped purple ribbon around it. It looked and tasted great too!

7) Don't pay anybody to do something that you could do yourself 

In going to wedding shows, there are so many services available to brides, but some of them are just unnecessary! For me, it would have been really silly to hire a wedding planner since I love planning events and was really on top of everything. I can understand why other people would hire one, but it was not necessary for us. Another thing that we were on the fence with was getting a company to come and do a photobooth. The companies that did it charged $1000+, and we just couldn't justify paying them. Instead we used a piece of plywood and leftover wallpaper, a bunch of dollar-store type props, and had a friend take pictures for us. A professional likely would have done a better job, but it just was not worth paying someone else to do it when we could do a pretty good approximation ourselves. I think that our guests had lots of fun and wouldn't have really noticed the difference if it was someone from a company doing it, but our bank account sure noticed the difference! The one exception we made to this rule is that we had our flowers delivered. It only cost $20 and it would have been too rushed to have someone pick them up from out of town that day. Really weigh the pros and cons before paying for anything!

8) Borrow whatever you can

I was fortunate to be able to borrow a few things for free for the wedding. I borrowed my veil and tiara from a friend, and some jewellery from my grandmother. My grandpa also drove us from the ceremony to the reception in his classic car, so we didn't have to worry about that either! Our friends got married the weekend before us and we were able to borrow tons of tulle and lights from them, and then pass them on to her cousin who is getting married next summer too. I don't have any use for all that tulle beyond our wedding day! Take advantage of your connections, a lot of people are happy to help and be involved.

My shoes were from Payless as well, $20!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

10 Things I Learned From Planning Our Wedding

After planning our wedding, I thought that it might be nice to pass along some advice about things that I thought went well for us. I am so pleased with how our wedding went, and it was an absolutely perfect day! We are so blessed to have each other, our wonderful family and dedicated friends. Hope this advice is helpful to someone! I had too many pieces of advice, so I am working on a post about ways to save money on your wedding as well so stay tuned. :)

1) PINTEREST!!!!!!!! 
You seriously need to get on Pinterest if you aren't already. I am so happy that I discovered Pinterest before our wedding. There are so many great ideas that we incorporated into our big day, so take a look! One thing that was also helpful about Pinterest was that my photographer and I both followed each other, so when one of us was explaining a pose, we knew exactly what each other meant. I also have a ton of great wedding ideas pinned, check them out here.
2) Don't skimp on photography 
One of my pet peeves in considering other people's weddings is if they have really poor quality photography. To me photography was a really important aspect of our wedding. After all is said and done, all you have to show for your wedding are the pictures (and your husband of course!). Beware of people who call themselves photographers but are really just people with a nice camera who will take pictures for you if you give them money. Some of these types of people can do good work, don't get me wrong, but you are more likely to get good quality photography if it is from someone who is a full-time photographer. Compare different photographers online and make sure that you get someone whose work is what you are looking for. If you are in the Hamilton/Niagara region, check out our photographer, Emily Foster Photography!
3) Do an engagement session 
I personally found it really helpful to do an engagement session. Most people aren't used to posing for pictures with their mate, so it was nice to get used to posing, and working with the photographer. We were able to get comfortable with what the process was like, and you can see what you look like compared to what you thought you would look like while you were posing. I also think it is great to have nice photos of you and your spouse that aren't wedding photos (profile pictures for life!). This will also give you a heads up of what your wedding pictures might look like. If you aren't impressed, then you at least have the chance to find a new photographer.
4) Do what YOU want! 
Throughout the whole process, my husband and I made it clear that this was our day, and that we would do things the way that we wanted. Of course you should not purposely try to offend people, but in the end it is your day, and it should be the way that the two of you want it. We tried to strike a balance between having traditions and being different. For example, neither of us were keen on doing the garter/bouquet toss, so we skipped it, and I don't think that anybody cared! We like ice cream better than cake so we got a $30 one from Dairy Queen and had an ice cream sundae bar instead of wedding cake. We had fireworks at the end with our sparkler send-off. If someone has a problem with something, it's your wedding in the end and they can get over it (easier said than done of course). 

5) Write your own vows
I am very thankful to have a very sentimental husband, who was actually excited about writing our own vows. To me, this is the most special part about your wedding, and that's the reason that everyone is really there! We had our minister read over them before the wedding to make sure they were comparable in length and that everything was OK. It was a really special moment for us as a couple to make pledges to each other that were truly from the heart. After the wedding, I printed out our vows on vellum and have them framed above our bed so we can always remember and look back on what we said.

6) Treat your guests well 
One thing that was important to us in planning our wedding was to treat our guests well. The people you love are taking their time, and many of them have traveled to be there with you, so don't forget about them! A few things we did to make this happen was to provide finger foods and drinks immediately after the ceremony for the guests before heading over to the reception, putting out games for people to play at the church while waiting for the reception to start, and putting baskets in the bathrooms with toiletry items for emergencies. One thing that I don't like about weddings is when you have to wait for 3+ hours between the ceremony and reception. I think that it is important to have that time to get pictures for sure, but I have been in situations where I went to someone's house, or went to Tim Horton's in between while waiting. For our wedding, I wanted people to feel welcome to hang out at the church building before heading over to the reception.

7) Have it indoors 
I know that lots of people dream of having outdoor weddings, and if you want to do that then that's great. I just knew that it would not be worth it for us to worry about the weather for the trade-off of having it outdoors. I have found that outdoor weddings are either beautiful, or horrible. A lot of the time it can be difficult to hear what people are saying. The weather needs to be absolutely perfect: sunny, but with shaded areas, warm, but not too hot, not too windy, not too humid. It would have been too stressful to wait until the day of to find out if your wedding was going to be ruined. A wedding I went to it was thunderstorming the morning of, but by the afternoon it was a beautiful sunny day. I can't imagine what the bride was going through that morning! It was very relieving to be able to set up everything in the church building the day before, and to not have to worry about these sorts of things. We used tulle with white Christmas lights behind- I think that it looked pretty good!

8) Limit the speeches 
Another pet peeve of weddings is unending speeches. Most of them are saturated with inside jokes that nobody gets but the lovely couple, and everyone else is left bored. A short speech can be just as meaningful as a long one, and will be appreciated much more by your guests. We were very intentional in limiting the number of people who would do speeches (parents of each side, maid of honour, best man, and us). We asked them to all have something written down so that they wouldn't just get up there and ramble.
9) Lists, lists, lists! 
I am such a listy person it's ridiculous. I had so many lists going of what needed to be done, ideas, brainstorming, and many other things. Near the end I had lists all over the place and was feeling a little overwhelmed, so I brought home a piece of chart paper from work and put all of my lists into one place. I found it really helpful having everything in one place (and colour coded of course) because I knew that nothing would get missed and everything that needed to be done would happen. Another thing I did was make a list of all the photography poses and combinations of people (family etc.) that I wanted for my photographer. This worked out great for both of us because there were no poses or people missed.
10) Plan a relaxing honeymoon 
Jordan and I spend our honeymoon in Ontario's cottage country at my grandparents' cottage. Part of the reason was to save money, but even if we had unlimited resources I don't think I would have done it another way. I would have found it really overwhelming to plan a wedding and to hop on a plane to a foreign country the next day. It was really nice that we could just hop in the car for 3 hours with the GPS and go to a place that was familiar, comfortable, private, and relaxing. After such a busy time planning our wedding (and moving to a new city two days after we got back), it was really nice to just be able to do nothing for the week without having to worry.  Our plan was to go somewhere warm in the winter, but this hasn't happened yet (hopefully next year!)