Archive for the ‘4-H’ Category

Here it is…the final week of The Summer of Color challenge that is being hosted by Kristen at Twinkle Like a Star. This has been such a wonderful project, and helped motivate me to:

– do some projects that I’ve wanted to do for a long time,
– create new window star patterns,
– try existing window star patterns in different colors, and
– make a quilt.

Projects I’ve Wanted to Do

I did several embroidery projects during the weeks when the featured color was pink and green.

Embroidered Greeting Cards
Pink hand-embroidered greeting cards.

Embroidered Dala Horse
Green hand-embroidered Dala horse and tree.
They can be used as ornaments or tags.
For the Blue Week, I did some sewing projects – a bunting and tablecloth.
Blue Bunting Close Up
Blue bunting.

Puzzle Tablecloth
Tablecloth that I made by tracing puzzle pieces
onto pieces of fabric. Each are hand-cut and then ironed onto
the white fabric using an iron-on adhesive.

Create New Window Star Patterns as well as Use Existing Patterns to Make Window Stars in New Colors

For many of the weeks, I enjoyed making window stars in a variety of colors. It was fun to create new patterns and see what the new window star would turn out like.

Trio of Purple Window Stars
Trio of purple window stars.
The pattern on the bottom is one I created.

Equally exciting for me was to see what window stars look like in different colors using patterns that I normally use.

Trio of Brown Window Stars
Trio of brown window stars.

Two orange window stars.
I’ve made these patterns before, but never in orange.
The pattern on the left is one I’ve used before, and
the pattern on the right is a new one I created.

Two yellow window stars. The pattern on the left is one I created
and the one on the right is one I’ve made in different colors
but never in yellow until The Summer of Color challenge.

Creating a Quilt

My on-going project during the summer was a quilt. Each week, after the color was assigned, I created two quilt blocks that were about 11 1/2″ square. Each square included seven different patterns of fabric – to represent the seven days of the week.

My goal was to use only fabric, thread, and batting that I had on hand.  This wasn’t a challenge when I was doing the squares – it seemed like I had plenty of fabric to choose from.

WIP - The Summer of Color Quilt
Five weeks’ worth of quilt squares.

However, once I got to the backing and batting, it became a bit more difficult. I didn’t have either the fabric or batting in the size I needed for the quilt. So, I had to piece both elements together to create the quilt.

The batting needed to be hand-sewn in order to attach each piece to one another (there were three pieces of batting used). For the quilt back, I used one of Sophia’s floral-print sheets and cut about a six-inch section off the end.

By cutting that in length-wise and sewing the pieces together, I was able to create enough fabric to sew to the other piece…thereby creating a quilt backing.

Quilt squares bordered by 3″ white fabric strips.
The white fabric strips are from
bed linens that were discarded from a hotel.
I washed the sheets and was able
to use the fabric to make the quilt.

What I like about the quilt is that it is made entirely from fabric, thread, and batting that I had on hand. I didn’t have to purchase anything to make it!

The Summer of Color quilt that I made
during June-August 2011.
Lots of color will be welcome during the middle of winter
when the landscape is all white and
the temperature is well below zero.
Sophia, Olivia, and I will use this
soft, colorful quilt when
we homeschool and read together.

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On 5 Kids and a Dog, there’s a series called the ABCs of Homeschooling.  This week’s letter is “P.” 

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter P …is for Painting.

One of the activities that the girls enjoy doing is painting. When they were younger, they did quite a bit of wet-on-wet watercolor painting.

Watercolor Painting
Sophia doing a wet-on-wet watercolor painting.

I would soak the watercolor paper in water for a bit, lightly dry it off, and then she would paint using all-natural paints. The paints were made from plants and were from Germany. They were nice quality paints which resulted in some pretty colors.

Initially, I had the girls start with painting only one color. Then they learned to combine a couple of colors.

They also have enjoyed painting clothes and accessories.  When they were younger, the painting was more abstract; and as they grew older the did more representational/realistic painting.

Olivia Decorating a Purse with Fabric Paint
Olivia decorating a purse with fabric paint.
She is wearing a shirt she painted and
used when she did art and crafts projects.

One Christmas, the girls received paint kits. They traced the first letter of their first name onto a canvas and then added different shapes and swirls around the letter. Using a variety of acrylic paint, they created their own unique images.

Painting on the Day after Christmas
The girls painting the first letter of their first name on canvas.

Another activity the girls enjoyed was tracing their hands onto canvas, coloring the hand with oil pastels, and then painting with watercolors around the outside of the handprint.

Olivia Painting with Watercolors on Canvas
Olivia making a handprint picture
with oil pastels and watercolors.

They also have enjoyed painting without a paintbrush. They’ve used fingers, hands, pine needles, marbles, and vegetables.

Sophia Doing Marble Painting
Sophia doing a Valentine’s Day painting with marbles.
Sophia Painting Her Potato Print Shamrock
Sophia carved a heart into a potato.
Then, she made 3 prints of the heart to make a clover shape.
She added the stem, ground, and
some details with a paintbrush.

Doing vegetable and fruit printing was a fun process. Using peppers, apples, celery, and other fruits and vegetables yielded some interesting and pretty prints.

Vegetable Print Painting in Ag Class
The girls with other homeschoolers doing
fruit and vegetable printing.

Using hands and getting messy are the fun parts of painting for the girls.

Olivia Making a Handprint Christmas Tree
Olivia made a handprint Christmas tree.
She’s painting the tree trunk and snow with a paintbrush. 

In addition to creating their own images and work, they also enjoy using painting kits. Early on, they did some simple watercolor painting with pre-printed images.

Sophia Watercolor Painting
Sophia doing watercolor painting with pre-printed images.

When they were 7 and 9 years old, they each did a paint-by-numbers kit. These are not the kits that I grew up with which were substantially easier.

These kits had very tiny spaces, lots of blending of paints, and required much patience and time. The end-product is one that both the girls were so proud of and framed.

Olivia Painting by Numbers
Olivia doing a paint-by-numbers painting.

They each entered their paint-by-numbers paintings in the county fair and/or 4-H; and both did very well. Entering the paintings for 4-H (in Cloverbuds and Crafts) was a great way for the girls to share their experience about painting and what they liked/found challenging about the process.

Olivia with Cloverbud Judge
Olivia meeting with the 4-H Cloverbud judge
to discuss her painting.
She’s 7 years old in this picture.
Painting has been and will continue to be an important part of homeschooling. It’s been something the girls truly enjoy, and it gives them an opportunity to creatively express themselves.

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There’s a ten-week challenge called The Summer of Color that’s on Twinkle Twinkle Like a Star. The Summer of Color encourages participants to focus on creating an item (or more) in a specific color each week.  Currently the challenge is on Week 3, but I wanted to start from the beginning and do all ten weeks. 

As I looked back on my pictures, I realized that I had already done two projects in the first week’s color (blue) during June. 

One was a blue bunting that will be for Olivia’s half birthday in July.  I had never made a bunting before, and wanted to see if I could make one.  I made two different versions – a red,white, and blue one for the Fourth of July; and the blue one pictured below.

What I like about making buntings is that it uses up scraps of fabric or reuses fabric that was for something else (e.g., bedsheet, shirt, pajamas).  At nine feet long, the bunting will add a decorative and festive touch to Olivia’s upcoming birthday celebration.
The other blue item I made was a tablecloth with puzzle pieces made from blue fabric. I selected about a dozen pieces of different fabric and cut out squares from each piece. Then, I ironed on the iron-on fabric adhesive to the back side of the fabic.
I traced 24 puzzle pieces from one of Olivia’s puzzle onto the adhesive backing and then cut out each puzzle piece.
I could have ironed this tablecloth before taking a picture of it.
Why create more work for myself?
It will be folded and then need to be ironed again
before Olivia’s 4-H demonstration in about a week.
Olivia placed each piece where she wanted them on the tablecloth (she is using it for a 4-H demonstration about making a jigsaw puzzle sandwich). I pinned and then ironed them in place. I asked her if she wanted me to machine stitch or hand embroider around each piece, but she liked the look of the tablecloth without the stitching.
The white fabric is some that I had on hand.  Again, it was a great way to use up some fabric and put it to good use. 

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Every Friday starting on July 1st through the middle of August, there’s a Smart Summer Challenge going on at Pink and Green Mama,  Naturally Educational, and Teach Mama.  The goal is to do daily educational (yet fun) activities with your children. 

As the challenge says, “The learning activity can be as simple as reading a book, or doing a simple science experiment, or as involved as packing up the crew and visiting a museum or hiking your local park. It’s as involved as you want it to be, and our focus is to help parents realize the important role they play in helping their kids avoid the summer learning slump.”

They have daily suggestions for ideas if you need inspiration, and each ties into a weekly theme.  This week, the theme was “You are on the Map.” 

During the past week we did the following activities:
Sunday – Did 4-H projects for the county fair.  Both the girls finished their embroidery projects – Olivia made an embroidered pillowcase and wall hanging; and Sophia made an embroidered stuffed dog.
Olivia’s embroidered elephant.

Olivia embroidered the first letter of her name
as well as flowers, leaves, and vines.

At 8 and 10 years old respectively they’ve been doing embroidery for a few years now and enjoy it.

Today’s map location:  home (to do the project).  Embroidery, itself, though is believed to have originated in the Orient and Middle East at about the same time. Chinese embroidery dates back to at least 6,000 BC. (Source)

Monday – Olivia learned to do papercutting with an exacto knife for one of her 4-H projects.  This was a challenging project because the knife has to be held a certain way in order for it to cut properly.  After cutting the image of the horse, she layered black and blue paper behind the cut-out sections to create the picture.

This is the paper cutting that Olivia made. 
She cut the image out of white paper with a knife and
then punched holes with a paper punch along the top and bottom.
She put black paper behind the horse and
then blue paper behind the entire picture.

Sophia spent the majority of the day preparing food for her 4-H demonstration about using herbs in cooking/baking, medicines, and personal care products.

Sophia doing a 4-H demonstration about herbs.
She showed how to make cucumber-basil-ginger herbal water,
sage tea, and lavender spray. In addition to these items,
the club members and parents could sample
chocolate chip mint cookies and iced mint tea.
All the herbs used were from our garden.
Both the girls did a demonstration in front of about a dozen people on Monday night. 

Olivia loves to do puzzles, so she did a demonstration titled
“How to Eat a Puzzle.”
She showed the 4-H members and parents how to make
a puzzle sandwich, and then
invited them to eat their first puzzle piece. 
Puzzle sandwich that Olivia and I made together.

They will do the same demonstration at the County Fair on July 13th.

We also visited two farms where 4-H members live.  One had rabbits, horses, dogs, and cats.  The 4-H member focused on sharing information about her rabbits and showing them at the fair.

The girls listening to a presentation about rabbits.
Rabbits are on their list of animals they’d love to have.

The other place we visited was a dairy farm.  The girls both learned a lot about raising and showing dairy cows; and now want to do the dairy project. 

Olivia is taking a look at a three-year old cow.
They would start out with a spring calf to show next year (one that is born in March-May 2012; and show it in July 2012).
This is the size calf that the girls would work with:
about 100 or so pounds.  Not the huge 1,500+ pound ones.
Today’s map location:  three different rural towns in Minnesota (including home).  Olivia’s paper cutting projects has ties to China.  More information about paper cutting is HERE. 4-H began in 1902 in Clark County, Ohio.  More information about 4-H is HERE.
Tuesday – The girls enjoyed having two friends over.  They introduced them to Bailey and Hoss (the pony and miniature horse), played a game, climbed trees, had a picnic in the fort, and searched for and found lots of frogs and toads. 
In the afternoon and evening, we spent time reading.  One of the books we read was Arabian Nights: Three Tales by Deborah Nourse Lattimore.
Today’s map location:  Today was spent at home.  One of the stories we read takes place in ancient Cathay (known today as China). The other stories were set in fictional locations.
Wednesday – We picked strawberries at a nearby patch and learned about strawberries.

Sophia holding some strawberries that she picked.

We also went to a buffalo farm and were so excited to see lots of young ones in the pasture.

Buffalo in the pasture.

In the late afternoon, we had a backyard picnic while enjoying the sounds of nature.  The strawberries and picnic tied into our on-going nature study that we do (we try to do at least one nature study per week using the Handbook of Nature Study).

Having a picnic on the deck.

Today’s map location:  two small towns in Minnesota (one for the patch and picnic; and the other for the buffalo farm.

In addition, we can add Brittany, France (where the garden strawberry was first bred) to the places we “visited” this week.  The garden strawberry is a cross between two varieties – one from North America and the othe from Chili.  The former is noted for its flavor while the latter was noted for its larger size.

For the American bison (also known as the American buffalo), the location is North America.  At one time, their range was roughly a triangle between the Great Bear Lake in Canada’s far northwest, south to the Mexican states of Durango and Nuevo León, and east along the western boundary of the Appalachian Mountains. Due to commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century, the bison nearly went extinct. Today, buffalo can be found in reserves, on farms, and a few national parks.

Thursday – Sophia had a harp lesson in the morning; we went to the library to return some books and check out more books; and learned about Vietnam a bit in the afternoon.  We are finishing up our multi-year around-the-world geography study. 

Some of the postage stamps from Vietnam that
Sophia has in her geography book.

We skipped ahead from U to W back when Prince William and Princess Catherine were married (since Prince William’s mother was from Wales)…and then continued on with X, Y, and Z (Mexico – since no countries in the world start with the letter X; Yemen; and Zambia). 

Realized we didn’t do V…so we began learning about Vietnam today. 

Today’s map location:  two cities and one rural town in Minnesota for the harp lesson, library, and at-home study.  We also learned about Vietnam today…so we “traveled” back to the east.

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The girls are members of a 4-H club that has an active community service program.  At the last meeting, the project was to bring food to donate to the local food shelf, Family Pathways.  Collectively, the children donated 93 pounds of food to the food shelf.

Sophia and Olivia bringing their donations
for the 4-H food drive.

Sophia and Olivia each brought four cans of food to the meeting for the food shelf collection.  As we chose items from our cupboard, it was interesting to listen to their first reaction.  Sophia said, “I like tuna fish.  Why are we giving it away?”  Olivia added, “I like macaroni and cheese.  We should keep this.”

When I explained that that each of those items could make a meal for a family who may be hungrier than we are, it made some sense.  “That tuna fish could be combined with noodles and Miracle Whip, and a family could enjoy lunch together.  And that macaroni and cheese…that could give some children food for a couple of meals.” 

They understood then, and were more than happy to give food that they knew that other children would enjoy eating.  If they would eat it…then certainly another family might enjoy the food as well.

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This week’s book for the 52 Books in 52 Weeks is Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry.  Ms. Henry has written a number of books about horses including the Album of Horses of which both Sophia and Olivia have a copy.  It’s an excellent resource that has information and illustrations about different breeds of horses. 

When we did a unit study on horses a couple of years ago, I read Justin Morgan had a Horse to the girls.  This book is part of Sonlight’s curriculum for Sophia, so I’m going to read it again to them.  Being that the girls are older, they may hear some things they didn’t hear the first time around.

The back cover summarizes this 170-page book:  Joel Goss knows that Little Bub is a special colt, even though he’s a runt. And when schoolteacher Justin Morgan asks Joel to break the colt in, Joel is thrilled!

Soon word about Little Bub has spread throughout the entire Northeast — this spirited colt can pull heavier loads than a pair of oxen. And run faster than thoroughbreds!

This is the story of the little runt who became the father of the world-famous breed of American horses — the Morgan.

The girls received some past issues of Horse and Rider from one of the parents in their 4-H club whose family has and shows horses.  They have been cutting out pictures of their favorite horses and putting them aside for use in a project.  I’m not sure what they have in mind…so it will be interesting to see what they create.

This week, we’ll also be looking at the 4-H horse project booklets for Sophia and determining which activities she’d like to do between now and the County Fair (in July).  I’m also going to look at the curriculum for Cloverbuds (a 4-H program for children who are in second grade and younger) and see if there are any horse-related project that Olivia can do.

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The seventh day of the No Impact Week Experiment focuses on giving back.  According to Yes! magazine’s website, “By giving back, you slow down and appreciate what you have. The conversation and community that you will experience will give you that all-important, essential nutrient: happiness.”

The challenge today is to be charitable, act in good faith, and become one with others. As the website says, “Ultimately, you will not only be giving back — you’ll be getting back.”

Volunteering and Health

According to Yes! magazine’s website, “More than 30 peer-reviewed, longitudinal studies have found a strong connection between volunteering and a decreased risk of heart disease, lower rates of depression, and greater longevity.”

The No Impact Week Experiment suggests making a list of all the ways you contribute to your community now. Here are some ways that I contribute to the community:

– Volunteer at the homeschool co-op on Mondays throughout the school year.
– Hold doors open for people if they are near me when they are entering a building.
– Donate items on a regular basis to the second-hand shop so the proceeds from their sales can support programs that help individuals, families, and seniors in need.

Donation to Project Quin
Sophia and Olivia with clothes and diapers that we donated to
Project Quinn – a special project serving Native families in Alaska.
On an on-going basis, we also donate clothes to the local second-hand store.

– Help my dad with his medical and dental appointments; and work with his case manager at the senior day care program to ensure he’s receiving personalized and meaningful care as he deals with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Looking at the Sensory and Memory Quilt
Quilt I made for my dad that has photographs that he and I picked out out. 
Almost every time I see or talk with him, he mentions the quilt.

– Donate my hair to Locks of Love. I just donated a ponytail in Fall 2010 and am growing my hair out again. This was the third time I’ve grown and cut my hair, and donated it to Locks of Love.

Ponytail to Donate
The third ponytail I donated to Locks of Love in Fall 2010.

– Share my sewing skills with different non-profit organizations.

Pillowcase Dress for Little Dresses for Africa
A pillowcase dress that I sewed and then sent to a non-profit organization
that provides dresses to girls in Africa.

These are the things that come to mind immediately.  I use to be much more active in the community – especially when I ran a non-profit here at the farm.  However, once that ended in 2003, I became more focused on raising Sophia and Olivia (both of whom have special needs); homeschooling them; and working with different agencies that provide therapeutic care to address sensory issues as well as developmental and speech delays.

Handmade Pillowcase
A set of pillowcases that I made for a hospital
that has a section that serves children who have cancer.

Even from 2003-2009, I had many more ways I was giving back to the community through a variety of organizations and interests of mine.  This is making me very aware that I have definitely pulled back considerably during 2010 – particularly the latter half of the year. 

Operation Christmas Child
Several years ago, Sophia and Olivia filled shoeboxes with gifts
as part of Operation Christmas Child.

Increasing One’s Impact on the Community

Many years ago, my doctor observed, “You’re burning the candle at both ends and in the middle.”  More recently, I completed a six-week caregiving program through Family Means.  The main focus of the program was learning how to take care of oneself when you’re a caregiver.  Often times, caregivers give too much of themselves, leaving behind the things they once enjoyed and people with whom they enjoyed spending time. 

One of the activities that we did during the caregiving program was set one goal each week that we wanted to do that would bring enjoyment to our lives.  In doing this, people become stronger and healthier so that they can have the energy and enthusiasm to continue to make a difference in the community. 

The No Impact Week Experiment asks, “How can you step up what you’re already doing and do more?” At this point in my life, I think the following actions would be achievable (spread throughout the year)

Continue to look for little ways each day to make at least one person’s life a bit easier.

Send letters or postcards to people.  One thing that my dad use to do was clip articles from the paper if he knew the person mentioned in the article.  He would send it along with a little note to the person.  I like that idea. 

  I also read somewhere that rather than sending a Christmas/holiday newsletter, to send personalized letters to people you’ve received them from.  Each week pick one or two people, and share with them how they’ve brought joy to your life.

Incorporate volunteering into the homeschool curriculum. Find organizations that would welcome young volunteers.  The Doing Good Together website has some wonderful ideas for ways that families can volunteer without leaving their home as well as ways families can volunteer in the community.

Setting Up Pumpkins in Memory Care Area
I drove the girls to a local nursing home where they
helped put out pumpkins that their 4-H club carved. 
This was taken outside the Memory Care Unit.

Participate in the fall fundraising event sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. This year’s event, Walk to End Alzheimer’s, is scheduled for September 24th.  More information is HERE.

Go on a mission trip to Tanzania! There’s an opportunity to do so in 2011…and I have wanted to go to Africa for many years now.  I’m hoping to raise enough money to be able to go.

 “For it is in giving that we receive.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi

Identify Your Level of Impact

The No Impact Week Experiment had the following pyramid on its website and asked participants to identify where they are on it.

At this stage in my life, I’m between the “Weekly” and “Monthly” levels.  From 1989-2003, I was at the top of the pyramid – working for various non-profit organizations and/or running a non-profit that I founded.  The important thing I need to remind myself is that I’m still on the pyramid. 

Crafting for Charity Class
“Crafting for Charity” class I taught in Spring 2010
to a group of homeschool students.

A Life of Service and Giving Back

Giving back and being of service was a value that was deeply instilled in me when I was growing up.  As an adult, I can’t imagine living a life any other way.  The amount that I give…and how I choose to give…varies with my interests and with factors I cannot control (e.g., my parents’ declining health). 

What I have realized in reflecting about today’s focus of giving back, is that I have shifted my focus of service from the community to family.  Recognizing that caregiving responsibilities will not cease in 2011, my goal is to determine how to gradually incorporate being of more service to the community – local, country, and world. 

Perhaps one way to do this is follow Tiffani Titus’ idea of doing 52 Weeks of Giving.  She was looking for ways that she and her children could do volunteering on a regular basis, and ended up doing small weekly projects.  She found a variety of opportunities, and she and her family made a commitment to do one good deed per week. 

In doing an internet search for “52 Weeks of Giving” I came across a church website that is doing a program with the same name.  At the bottom of this LINK there are numerous ideas for projects that can be done throughout the year.  It’s worth checking out.

If it’s easier to follow a plan that someone else has created, take a look at 52 Weeks of Impact.  Each week through 2011, the website will feature a different cause or theme; and offer ideas for action toward making the world a better place.   

“Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.”
~ Lao Tzo

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