Friday, August 31, 2018

Quilting for Eye Tracking

A couple of years ago while I was participating in the Row by Row Quilt Contest, my daughter got interested in quilting.

Ah! Now that she's interested, perhaps I could get her to work on her eye tracking and spatial reasoning with quilting! She had a month off from college classes (a rarity) so we hoped to conquer a little quilt for her.

At one of our favorite quilt shops she chose some lovely batiks for a small quilt of her own. I had already found an easy quilt pattern for her.

I did the rotary cutting for her, since her hands aren't as coordinated, and rotary cutters slice you up if you aren't careful.

Then I let her use my sewing machine. She hadn't used a sewing machine since taking classes at the Colonial Williamsburg Costume Design Center. I thought that coordinating the use of the pedal while pushing the fabric under the needle would help her spatial reasoning skills...and ultimately help her with her driving. She gets flustered managing too many things at once.

She had trouble eye tracking, so I put some 1/4" tape (purchased at a quilt shop) on my machine  to help her see how to keep the fabric strips lined up. Because she wasn't keeping the strips straight, the seam came out crooked, and she had to rip them out. That's never fun. The tape helped, but she still struggled...and got tired quickly.

Eventually she had all the initial strips sewn together. I rotary cut them into squares. Here she is arranging them into a pattern.

1-Arranging Lay Out

Then she sewed 2 rows of blocks together, and this is as far as she got during August of 2016. She's been busy ever since, between college and work.

2-Process 8023016

As great as this looks, the eye tracking was a struggle. I've talked to the vision therapy doctor about it, and so my daughter got new exercises. However I keep researching for more ideas to add to the exercises. There must be a missing ingredient.

Now that she's done with graduate school, we work on extra spatial reasoning activities on her days off. I thought we could pull this project out and finish it, but she bought another sewing project, which we are now working on. Details on that, and the missing ingredient, later. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Our Journey Continues-Sensory Integration and Vision Therapy

FINALLY! Found a developmental eye doctor ...surprise, surprise...who diagnosed my daughter with the an issue with the eyes. He said she is such a sweet girl and must be a genius to have had such horrible eye tracking issues all these years and yet still be successful in school and have such a sweet personality. He said most kids with this condition that he's met are angry and frustrated trying to deal with life. .This explains all the trouble in teaching her to drive. She might always have driving trouble because of lousy peripheral tracking.

I posted that heartbreaking revelation to facebook 6 years ago. She has had many gains since then, yet still has a few mountains to conquer. 

The other day I had posted:

For the first time in decades, no one here is "going back to school." So glad of that! Finally I can get my daughter back on track...and I have her full permission to share our journey, now that she is back in the Laurie School of Commonsense, Spatial Reasoning, and Sensory Integration.For all the positives gleaned from college, it was such a shame how the professors undid the higher level thinking with reckless abandon.It was with tremendous heartbreak to see that she had slogged down considerably, resulting in the demise of many of her original plans for her future.
In the last few weeks I've poured my time into working on spatial reasoning and sensory integration with her. Within a week CFA was noticing that she was more efficient and much speadier!
Along with her VT exercises, I am adding in "body awareness," because she isn't aware of what she is to do with what, or where it is in space. Neither is she aware of sensations.
On top of that we add a new spatial reasoning activity each week. Got to keep things fresh for the brain!

Over the years I've learned that there is no one who will invest in her for what she needs like I will. I made our home school journey unique, tailored for her, so that she could grow instead of getting stuck in a crack. 

Like I did in the past, I am researching new activities, applying all that the therapists and doctors have trained me to look for. One thing I have learned is that doing the same therapy activity repeatedly eventually grows old for the brain. The brain must have new activities in order to stimulate new neurons. 

She has given me permission to share the journey we've taken...and are still taking. My goal is to get her to where she can live independently.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Sewing Summer Pastels

I can't believe summer is nearly over. As usual I've been quite busy helping my daughter with her vision therapy for spatial reasoning, and sensory integration.

Meanwhile, I've also been busy sewing. So many of my clothes have completely worn out, that I've had to toss them into the trash. I hate to spend money on fashions I really do not enjoy from the rack.

So, I've determined that this year is for stash busting. My linen closet was full of fabric waiting to be sewn. The stores are full of fabric for which I really do not have any care.

These 4 are completed garments I have already worn. My son has kindly photographed me in the yellow and blue dresses on the right. I hope to get blog posts out about them within the next couple of weeks. The blue one is based on a 1960 dress!


These 5 blouses and 1 dress are still works in progress. Mainly they need buttonholes. My sewing machine makes horrid buttonholes, so I have been hand stitching them. At least that gives me a chance to work on my 18th century sewing! I hope I can finish them before summer is over!


I've already used the backpack, on the right, on two hikes. The tote bag on the left is nearly finished. Two other styled tote bags have been cut out and are ready to sew. Oh, I've also sewn 3 zipper cases, with another cut out.


These two sun dresses are nearly finished...and both are made from extra fabric from historical gowns I've sewn.


I've loved sewing with these lovely pastels. Soon I will be sewing autumn/winter clothing with my darker colored fabrics.

I've started an Instagram account where I'm sharing nostalgia and my sewing. I'd like to connect to other seamstresses. My username is lahbluebonnet.

Monday, August 13, 2018

'Twas a Napoleonic Exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Recently I visited the exhibit, Napoleon: Power and Splendor at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia.

1-Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of Fine Arts-Richmond, Virginia

The layout was quite intriguing, built around Napoleon's various "staff members" that comprised the Imperial Household. Each room introduced a different "staff member," then detailed his responsibilities, while showcasing the items for which he was responsible.

The ladies were not to be forgotten. Each of Napoleon's wives, Josephine and then Marie-Louise, were also featured within the context of the Imperial Household.

The simplicity of Josephine wearing a muslin gown contrasted with the elegance of the bust that was displayed in the center of the room.  (For sewing enthusiasts, yes! I did wear my early 19th century inspired skirt...linen and rufflicious! I was hoping for a gown to be on display, but there were only a few paintings.)

Josephine greatly advised how to promote a positive image for Napoleon. Since he was a Corsican by birth, the goal was to make him appear worthy to be included with the prestigious heads of Europe.

(Napoleon was actually asked to lead France, with great hopes that his leadership would finally end the years of the bloody French Revolution. As Napoleon successfully brought peace and organization to France, the other nations allied against him, for fear that a successful republic in France would foretell an overthrow of the governments in their own countries.)

2-Josephine Bonaparte laying a wreath on the holy myrtle 1796
Josephine Bonaparte laying a wreath on the holy myrtle, 1796

This glass and stone mosaic was incredible...and hearkens to the Republic of Rome.
3-Napoleon in his study wearing the uniform of a grenadier of the guard
Napoleon in his study wearing the uniform of a grenadier of the guard, 1813-1830

Napoleon was no connoiseur. He preferred simpler fare. Yet, state dinners were sometimes necessary...and sometimes was the operative word. In his entire reign, he only had 8 state dinners.
A Napoleonic State Dinner Setting

This is an impressive collection from the mid-19th century, of which there are actually 16,000 pieces!
5-Collection of Imperial Guard Figurines
Collection of Imperial Guard Figurines, 19th century

The piece de reistance of the entire exhibit was the Throne Room.

6-Throne Room
Napoleon's Throne Room

If you can't go to Europe, this is a grand way for Europe to come to you.

7-Throne Room
Napoleon's Throne Room

As a lover of fibers and tapestries, this room peeked my interest in the attention of detail.

8-Throne Room
Napoleon's Throne Room

This definitely took the concept of being "keeper of the keys"  to a whole new level. The one who wore this key about his waist had a most important position. They are still worn by those in Europe with this position in royal households today. Here you can see the eagle, another symbol from the Roman Empire.
9-Key of the Chamberlain of the Imperial Household
Key of the Chamberlain of the Imperial Household

After displays of gorgeous silks from Lyon that decorated the palaces, was this lovely cashmere shawl. Quite a bit different from the type I find available to wear today.
11-Cashmere Shawl
Cashmere Shawl

This lovely workbox full of sewing implements was gifted by Marie-Louise to one of her Ladies-in-Waiting.
12-Workbox given by Marie-Louise to one of her ladies-in-waiting
A Lady's Workbox

And finally, Napoleon's tricorne...made of silk, felt, and beaver pelt.
13-Bicorne from the Emporer's Wardrobe 1812 made of felt silk beaver pelt
Napoleon's Bicorne, 1812

The only thing I can think of to top this experience, is to meet Napoleon himself. Actually my kids and I did meet him a few years ago...and  sometimes he can be seen in and about the Richmond area and the museum during this exhibit.

If you'd like to learn more about Napoleon, I highly recommend Napoleon by Vincent Cronin, which is heavily documented to understand a different view of the man from what we commonly hear.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Lovers' Overlook...aka Bears Den

This afternoon the kids and I hiked to Bears Den in far northern and western Northern Virginia. We went after church. My son promised me that I could wear my pretty dress and shoes on the hike, it was so easy.

He had been here with his dorm mates when he attended Patrick Henry College. However, dubious me changed into a blouse, shorts, and sneakers after church and lunch. So did my daughter. Smart girl! Good thing, because it had been a while since his last visit. He accidentally took us to a different path, which was longer and steeper. Also we took a detour down, down, down to the creek when he said we instead needed to go up, up, up to see the view.

Although it was a much easier hike than we took the week before in Harper's Ferry (more on that later) it was such that I was glad I was not wearing my pretty dress and shoes for this hike. Instead I wore my new much more comfortable than several pairs I've had before. I've learned the squishy ones are great. These are actually running shoes but I'm a walker instead of a runner. I haven't been running since my head surgery. Also here is my newly sewn backpack. I had the fabric in the stash, as well as a pattern for backpacks. I'll share more about it later.

Backpack at Bear's Den Overlook

But what you really want to see is the view of Bears Den Overlook...

Bear's Den Overlook 1

Panning the camera around to that gorgeous view...

Bear's Den Overlook 2

Stunning view from 1350'.

Bear's Den Overlook 3

That is Route 7 down below.

Bear's Den Overlook 4

It was difficult getting these pictures without people. Small groups came and went so I finally got a few scenic shots.

Bear's Den Overlook 5

We had considered staying to view the sunset, but that wasn't possible for us on that day.

Bear's Den Overlook 6

In all that lovely quietness, my son pulled out his violin.

Bear's Den Overlook 7

He is self-taught.

Bear's Den Overlook 8

He lightly played a few tunes he is learning. Someone else who plays for the orchestra greatly admired his violin, sitting and listening. He finally asked if he could hold it (it's really a cheap violin). We asked him to play but he said he didn't have any tunes memorized, but he certainly played some scales well.

Bear's Den Overlook 9

So soothing to the soul...

Bear's Den Overlook 10

It was interesting that of the people who came here, many were couples of various ages. From young to much older to in-between...lovers were smooching here and there. Cozy-ing up to each other. One couple brought a hammock to tie up to the trees and share. Talking sweet nothings to each other. I think they misnamed this place. Should be Lovers' Overlook.

Bear's Den Overlook 11

On the return hike, we were surprised to see this cool geological formation.

Bear's Den Overlook 12

We didn't notice it earlier, because that is higher ground. From the other side it looks like all the regular surroundings.

Bear's Den Overlook 13

Bear's Den Overlook 14

Bear's Den Overlook 15

Afterwards we found the other entrance...which my son assures me is much easier. Must be because one of the couples was more nicely dressed. We'll try that path next time with a picnic lunch! Or dinner to view the sunset!

Turns out that the path we used belongs to Bears Den cabin resort area!