Friday, May 29, 2009

The World is Our School

Nothing I have ever done in my life has ever come close to the joys of spending my days learning with my children. The day my first was born, I knew I couldn't leave them to the care of another. Before he was 3, I knew I would homeschool him. The reasons are myriad, you've heard them all; faith, freedom, fun. As in any journey, the road twists and turns. We've moved, we've traded one style for another. We've grown from one student to 4, plus two in the wings. We've had the privilege to befriend some of the most wonderful people that could've crossed our path. I've always been determined to follow homeschooling as a lifestyle. Comfortable with routine and structure, we've favored a more traditional approach to educating, using the classical method. It suited our lifestyle, and made the academic part of homeschooling go more smoothly.

As the years have turned into a decade, I've come to understand many things about the homeschool lifestyle in general and about myself. There is no superior way to educate your children at home. Your style of "school" HAS to fit your family. You can lose the dogma of institutional schooling in the attempt to not saddle your children with the baggage that entails, but you may come to find that in your family one way works better for you. As the parents, you will have to figure it out.

Our family has decided, parents and children together, to let the kiddos attend a very small Christian school next year. I am pleased with their philosophy, as it fits well with allowing children to learn at their own pace, does not label with "grades", and follows the classical approach. If all schools were run this way, ours would be the best in the world, as they used to be. Surely we will hit some bumps in the road, and after this year I may well bring them back home.

I am also of the heart that I need a year to tend to my 2 youngest, who seems to always get the tail end of my attention, and work at my craft. My family is my first passion, but as a designer I am driven to work at creating. So, some may say I am "choosing" one over the other, some may say I am "giving up". I believe I have done this long enough to know when to recognize that I may be a little burnt out and need the year to regroup. From my children's attitudes, though, I see that they find this an exciting new adventure, and are looking forward to trying something new. This, I realize, is what education is about. So with prayerful anticipation, we take the next turn.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Some Pillow Talk...

Today I am featuring Preethi, from PillowTalks, an exotic glimpse into Indian art:

I am an independent crafter and have been crafting since the age of 7. I love creative arts and enjoy transforming the regular and mundane into beautiful works of art. I firmly believe that art knows no boundaries and has no limits; it spans distances, minds and imaginations. That said; I do not restrict myself to any one form of crafting or using a single medium. So I paint, sew, sculpt, craft - using paper, canvas, fabric, clay, wood - anything I can lay my hands on! I draw inspiration from a variety of things, foremost being culture & nature. I am from India and the country offers us a humongous amount of exposure to art & craft and needless to say that we are well fed on a diet of culture & mythology; an integral part of our life here.

I love the opportunity to meet & see the works of artists all over the globe. At the same time I love the opportunity I have in showcasing the artform I practice here. I love to give others in the world a glimpse of the people & life here through my art works. I look forward to the day when art around the world would be freely accessible to everybody. I believe that every beautiful piece indulges in some intimate conversation before one decides to buy it. Hence, the name pillow talks …

Most of my art pieces resonate the Indian culture & mythology. Of these items shown; one is an intricate form of Indian art which depicts tales from Indian mythology, bright & colourful. Second is banyan leaf painting, I dry the leaf and then paint on it..I prefer painting people from various religions & caste in India in their traditional attire. It’s a very painstaking process to get it right...

Visit PillowTalks' Etsy shop!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Of chicks and things...

A collection of fun I had this week. I finished my niece's dress just in time for her to get it home last night so as not to be harried today with errands. Her hair and such isn't done, but she's still a gorgeous chick! She'll knock 'em dead.

Somehow school has been slid to the back burner this week as Spring Fling looms in the corner and the prom dress issue has come & gone. It goes like that, your kids become appendages as you run from fire to fire, showing them what you hope is grace under pressure. They need to know that life sometimes takes over, hair cuts, food pantry deliveries, the garden needs straw, etc. I've noticed lately their ability to make the best of close quarters has been greatly aided by the invention of Nintendo DS's that can connect to each other and 3 kids (the ones who fight the most I might add) can all play the same game, together! They actually DO interact, and have fun! Love those things.

I pulled out my pattern folder this week, so my designs wouldn't get stale, and revived my little chicks who had been given a debut but never got to stay out of the dressing room. I think they're just funky and fun enough that girls OR boys can wear them. Birds are enjoying the design spotlight lately, so I think mine fit right in.

Speaking of birds enjoying the spotlight. I stay home for 2 days, and these birds build a nest right on my tire. I was so glad they didn't lay eggs. But geez, it makes you think. Am I that lame that I stay home long enough for birds nests and cob webs to be constructed? Maybe that's good. Save gas, slow down, keep it simple, bla bla bla. But if this is how fast and efficient birds work, I do believe we should clean house and let birds run our government.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WHY do we do these things?

I am not a candy maker. There, I said it. I can bake, I can sew, paint, build, garden, cook, break boards with my hands, but I can not make candy. How often do we try these things we know we cannot do, just to see the same bungling efforts end in the same ugly result?

I see these gorgeous confections in the stores of my etsy friends, on the shelves in retail land, and I know why they can do it and I cannot. It's because I don't have the candy gene. There, I said it. I'm missing a link of DNA. I need a support group.

Truffles. Anonymous. Yea.

The wondrous wafting odor of cream, butter, corn syrup and oh, probably a bit too much kahlua and amaretto looked great going into the fridge. It just never got hard. Not even enough to roll without dredging our hands in cocoa/powdered sugar. So we finagled these blobs back into the fridge, melted the chocolate, and tried to cover up our shortcomings with a lovely drizzle over the top.

So, you see, that didn't go so well either. Luckily I do not possess the ego gene. So I'm sharing this hilarious mess with you. Thankfully, I did manage to make something I am a little better at! I got a little tipsy eating just a few of them. Yuck.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Buying Baby Shoes

Ok, seems like a no brainer, right? Wrong!

I can't tell you how many one-shoed babies I've seen out there pointing at their naked foot while mom nonchalantly pushes them miles away from the poor castaway shoe, possibly never to be seen again.

Here are a few observations I've made once I started making baby shoes over a year ago.

1. People buy shoes WAY too big for their babies. I know, I've done it too. Let's do a little experiment. Moms, go put a pair of your hubby's shoes on and walk around. What do you have to do? Right! Curl your toes to hang on so your shoe doesn't fall off. Yes, they're tied tight, but that feeling while your foot slides around the shoe is that you have to hang on. This is not good for new walker's feet. This is reason #1 why hand made shoes rock. Whether I, or someone else, makes them, you can request the shoes be made to fit your child. Plus a little room to grow. Infant feet really don't grow that fast. You can also request them wider, or more narrow. A crafter should have no problem with this. Most of us have so many in stock and the rest we list as custom.

2. It's hard sometimes when every shoe we buy seems to be different in length. Make sure your seller lists the length of the shoe. Baby's foot + 3/8 of an inch is a good length. The problems with buying shoes sight unseen on line when the actual length isn't listed is fairly obvious.

3. Hard soled shoes. The old info about stiff hard soles and ankle support has long been debunked and can actually damage the growth pattern of little feet. The new wisdom says that until a baby walks, there is no need for shoes. Since we cannot go barefoot all of the time, soft soled shoes are the least constrictive, and there's plenty to choose from. Of course, I sell baby shoes, but I wholeheartedly agree with this concept. A great article about
hard soled shoes .

4. Back to the lost shoe issue. This also points back to the hard soled shoe argument. they just don't stay on. Elastic ankles are such a wonderful invention! They should gently hug, but not bind, cutting off circulation. It's a hard balance to attain, since every baby's ankles are different, and some babies have chunky monkey ankles. My most satisfied customer comes back over and over because I make her son's shoes EXACTLY to the shape of his foot. He has very chunky ankles, an adorable little muffin, but most shoes bite into his ankles. This is the other benefit to a custom crafted shoe.

Even as children reach toddlerdom, I see more and more parents opt for soft soles to continue to allow their child's foot to develop in the most natural manner. I hope as time goes on we will see less and less adult foot issues. As any chiropractor would tell you, we change our natural posture to compensate for poor structural development. When I am at home, I generally wear my own soft soled mocs, unless I am working in the garden or on a concrete surface.

I hope this article was helpful to you!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Today's Musings

So, today I went to a baby shower. My 5 year old wanted to know why we were going to give someone's baby a shower, she should have a bath. Got to love 5 year olds.
This little baby was born quite premature, weighed in a a whopping 2 lbs. I had made her some preemie shoes that are still huge, will be for quite some time. Here's the gift I gave her.

Of course, at now 3 lbs, she won't wear it until most likely next year. I've never met the mom, she is my sister in law's new daughter in law. I cannot imagine what they've been through, and what is yet to come, I only hope this child escapes any long term issues related with that level of prematurity. Parenting is hard enough, isn't it? For all of you struggling and sacrificing to take care of special babies and children, I take my hat off to you.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I Want Comfort & Quality!

I bought this on etsy last week. I cannot wait to get it! Doesn't it look comfy? and I'll let you know how wonderful it is when I get it!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

18-24 Month Reclaimed Suede Mocs

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Spring Fling & Lesson Learned

So, with the Spring Fling mere weeks away, we toil to transform a church hall into a 60's psychedelic romp. My garage is full of decor we've cut and are painting. The teens and one very busy mom have cut a gazillion circles for beaded curtains, there's one very secret photo backdrop for goofy hippie pics, a big, a yellow submarine and a Magical Mystery Tour bus on the way. The huge pile of Boogie Mocs are awaiting their cobbler to finish up for a June show. So here's what we have thus far.

The other project, and the point of this post, is alterations on a prom dress for my niece. It's gorgeous, but it's satin, and anyone who's sewn with satin understands this. Satin is a nightmare to sew. The bra cups need to be taken up and tucked into the beaded band. The back dips WAY below where it should and has to be taken in also. The hem is asymmetrical, and about 2 feet too long, and the straps had to be taken up. The catch: with the exception of the hem, it all has to be done by hand, since the beaded sections cannot go through the machine. ACK!

Since my niece is super small, this 00 is huge on her (I know I know!). She was told the alterations would cost about $100 by a professional seamstress. Since I am somewhat of a professional, I was aghast at the cost, and agreed to make the alterations. I mean, how DARE someone charge that much! Then I began to rip the seams, cut and resew the straps back in between the lining and the outer dress. The beads all fell off, so I had to glue them back on, then resew the straps in. 2 hours. Then I had to rip the seam on the beaded band in the middle, futz with the three layers of padding, lining and satin, cut it down, slippery as it all is, and hand sew the layers back together. 3 hours. Mind you, I still have to hem the slip and the dress, plus take the back apart, cut and resew by hand.

Ok, here's the gist. $100 isn't really all that outrageous, considering the work on an almost $300 dress. As a crafter I should have known this. How often do we undervalue not only ourselves, but our peers in the art/craft world? The designer world? The manual labor world even? I know from years of being an artist that one's work is worth what people will pay for it. Now I also know that sometimes we don't stop and consider how much thought/work actually goes INTO what seems simple to those who have never done it. So I hope to make this dress perfect for my niece, who I love and would do anything for (almost haha), and next time I see a price for a handmade item, sewn, knitted, woven, or otherwise, I'll remember that if I want people to value MY work, I really have to value theirs! Happy crafting!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Yay! I finally did it!

I guess it's official. Here I am, among the multitudes of bloggers, excited at achieving this status, yet pondering my ability to interest anyone in what I have to say.

I'll be showing my creations, of course, and featuring many wonderful crafters and artists from etsy and elsewhere. But first, here's what's going on in KaBoogie land.

On the home front, there's homeschool to finish up for the year, and we're easing into dropping one subject at a time as the kids finish up each book. You homeschoolers know this one. There's this inate need Well, us anal types anyway. I am focusing mostly on my freshman in HS, since I feel strongly that he needs transcripts, I am dotting all my i's, so to speak.

Our teen group, consisting of 11-18 yr olds, is having their Spring Fling. It's a magical night for them, of course. Last year we had an asian theme, transforming a dingy Elks Club into a gorgeous Japanese inspired dinner dance. This year it's "Yellow Submarine". We're concocting giant submarines, Beetles (the car), hippie cutouts for pictures, and a Magical Mystery Tour bus. Dozens of smilies, peace signs, and flowers. The moms are doing the big ticket items, as usual, they get difficult, and the kids are helping wherever possible, because we try to keep some of it a secret from them. I'll be posting pics of our progress.

On the Etsy front, I'm still diligently trying to promote myself in the best possible ways. It's really hard not to waste time with free advertising that doesn't yield results. I'm waiting for my lead test results on some suede samples I sent a while back, I am sure she's VERY busy. Until then, I wait. I want to be CPSIA compliant, and for now this is the best I can do. I've got a large wholesale order coming, a show in June (same time as the dance, YAY!), and another two in the fall. I am also trying to streamline my stock, and find out what REALLY sells. It's a fascinating process with all of the tools we have available!

So this is where I'm at. All of you with kids know the busy life of mom. It's a fulfilling life, one I wouldn't trade for a large manufacturing business making assembly line shoes. A word about my business model next time. I'm curious as to other's models, and how they stick to them. SO much to say after all!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!