Thursday, February 18, 2016

on arts and crafts, and volunteering at your children's school

Charlie ... working on William's Arrow of Light for his Cub to Boy Scout bridging ceremony this weekend.   Of notable mention is his accomplishment of the "Super Achiever Award" which means he earned all 20 of the activity pins available in the Webelos years.   This is not only a big deal, it means his Dad has to carefully wrap a lot of itty bitty loops around the "Arrow of Light."


That Mod Podge in the foreground reminds me of a story I'll try to keep quick.

Last year at this time, Charlie was volunteering extensively at the children's elementary school.  During one of the days that he was there, he sat in on a planning session for the 4th graders upcoming "Colonial Day" celebration.  Seeing as we had already purchased our colonial garb - - and were totally waiting in great anticipation of this event - - Charlie was first in line to sign up and help.

One of the activities that the teachers specifically needed help with was sewing little pouches for all of the students, so when they went from one activity to another - they could collect whatever items were provided, in these little pouches.  They looked so simple to make, and seeing as I have a sewing machine - Charlie volunteered that I'd make all the pouches.


For all 100 students in the 4th grade. 

What Charlie neglected to remember is that:

1) My sewing machine has never been repaired following this unfortunate incident.

2) Due to aforementioned unfortunate incident - it's obvious I DON'T KNOW HOW TO SEW.

"But Jen..." he said when I gasped in surprise at what he'd signed me up for, "How difficult can it be? These pouches look so easy to make. Besides, you do have a sewing machine!" 


Soon thereafter, my mother came to visit - and my Aunt Grace flew in to town.  And miracle of miracles, they were at our home when our Small Group from Church came over for dinner one night. As we sat around praying, I specifically asked that people pray for me because I needed to sew 100 pouches for the 4th grade; and also - that they pray for my husband, because he had signed me up. 

Turns out, one of the women in our group was a master seamstress. (I did not know this!!)  So the next day she and another woman from our small group, descended on our house with not one, but two sewing machines.  A fabric roller, and her incredible expertise.


The five of us - - Mom, Auntie, Sarah, Jenny, and me - - spent the next several hours cutting all of the fabric, and sewing all of the pouches.  It was a cold and about to snow day, so while all of our children hunkered down and watched movies, we dressed in period clothing, sipped hot tea, traded hilarious stories and sewed.   It was magic.


I was hailed as a hero when the kids went to school less than a week later, with 100 perfectly sewed pouches.  And then I told them the story of how Charlie had "volunteered" his sewing challenged wife, and how my friends had saved me - and the teachers thought that was hilarious.  Also, amazing that Charlie was still alive.

The real HERO in all of this, who I absolutely adore ... PLEASE COME SEE ME, SARAH!


So. This year.  When I was contacted by the 5th grade about helping to make ornaments during the children's Christmas party - I recruited Charlie.  After I committed to having my husband help, I found out that the teachers wanted to use a photograph of the children in the ornament.

My first step was to go to the school and take pictures of all 100 children in my kids' Learning Community.   Then because I wanted to make an ornament that would hold up for more than one Christmas, Ifound these adorable little numbers.

Don't they look SO AWESOME?

And they are.  Although when you're making 100 of them - it turns out to be rather time intensive. Each ornament requires 4, 3-inch lengths of yard stick.  So one yard stick (36 inches) yields 3 frames.   Quick little calculation: 100/3 = 33.33 yardsticks.

While we could have bought them at Lowe's or Home Depot, we didn't want the store's advertising on the yardstick.  So we set off for the store and after cleaning out the entire yard stick inventory at Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and Joanne's Fabric, we had a whopping 12 yardsticks.

So we turned to Amazon and ordered another 24 yardsticks, extras in case we made any mistakes.   Then I went out and bought Mod Podge and had to spend some time understanding what it is, and how it works.  Turns out Mod Podge is the best stuff on earth and I don't know how I've lived with out it before.

Charlie then set about carefully cutting each of the yardsticks.

Then he sanded the rough ends.

Then because I was suddenly exhausted, recovering from brain surgery and all, he carefully stained each of the yardsticks with various colors.  This kept him up past midnight for three nights.


Then he cut the backer board for each of the frames.

Then he printed all the pictures and trimmed them up, just so. 

And then .... we went to school with our glue guns, pom-poms (which I supplemented in to the design) and assembled 100 of these frames with the kids.  This is a partial shot:


When it was all over, Charlie asked me why on earth I had signed him up for this extremely time consuming activity, I shrugged and said, "They looked so easy to make.  Besides, you do have a saw!" 

Then I gave him a hug and kiss because I know that if ANYBODY could pull this off, Charlie would be the one.