Sunday, August 24, 2014

Summer Vacation and Special Needs: Why We Go Despite it Being So Stressful

I came home from summer vacation more drained than before I went. It was tough and sometimes I wonder why we do it. Let's face it, sometimes, when you have special needs kids, it is easier to just stay home. They crave routine and are familiar with their surroundings. At home, Dan has the run of the place. We've already secured rooms and important things so I can be at my computer or the sewing machine without worrying that he will get in a bit of mischief. He will usually entertain himself for quite a bit without asking me to get up for food or drink. 

Outings are another issue but I do it anyway going to the occasional museum, zoo, or park. Holding on to him for dear life and nervous that he might escape, but I still do it and I feel he sometimes gets more out of these city outings than vacation.  For some reason, going on vacation without having these safety nets  for a couple of days gets overwhelming for me. So why do we do it? Here are seven reasons why:

 1) It's fun getting there

It takes us about 2 hours to get to our destination. During that time I sit in the back with the boys because our aunt rides in the front seat. Yes, our aunt comes with us but she is adamant that I not include her in anything on the "internet" so I won't talk too much about her. I am usually in between them and I get to enjoy cuddling with Dan and talking to my oldest. He's a talker now so I get an earful. We talk about school, sports and play trivia games. We simply enjoy each other's company without any distractions.

2) It's beautiful scenery. I am very visual and the place we go to is beautiful. Nuff said. lol

3) The boys, especially Dan, love the water and get to bond with Dad

I am not a water person. I don't know how to swim and I rather just spash around than immerse myself in a  pool so it works splendidly that my husband loves the water and enjoys this time with the boys. My oldest, who usually is scared of the water, really enjoyed it this year which goes to show that sometimes you have to keep trying. 

The down side  to all of this is that instead of taking pictures, I should have been sitting down on a chair and reading my magazine. By the time I sat down, Dan had already had enough and only wanted to be with me. Next year you might not see any pool pics.

4) I experience the kindness of strangers.

You might wonder why Dan has a pink vest with pretty flowers on the side, or maybe not but it would not have been our first choice of color. Well, we forgot to buy any floating water gear for Dan. Last year we did fine with the  noodles provided by the pool but apparently Dan got bigger this year and they were hard to tie around his torso. When we did manage to tie it, it just kept getting loose. Well, a nice man must have seen us fumbling around because he came over and offered to lend us his daughter's swim floaty jacket. I don't think his daughter was too happy because she kept watching us like a hawk but we were so grateful for the kind offer and Daniel enjoyed himself immensely.

Also, the kind man I always talk about, (I mentioned him in this post from 2012) was at the merry go round again this year and he again recognized us and refused to take our tickets when offered. I think I love him. Which brings me to the next point.

5) I don't own a merry go round or other carrousel rides.

Dan just absolutely adores merry go rounds. My oldest, not so much, he detests rides. So yes, I could take him to Central Park and pay an arm and a leg for several rides while the older one just watches but it's nice to have this time of unlimited rides with Dan. My oldest was off playing miniature golf with his aunt so I had no pressure to stop because he was waiting for me. 

Oh, and I again, got my special bracelet which lets everyone know I am riding with a special needs child. I think this is cool. 

6) I got to see D again.

We have been coming to this vacation spot for the past 4 years and I met this lovely woman, the second year we came. She was the housekeeper assigned to our room and we bonded immediately mainly because I speak Spanish. Most people in this establishment are of Irish descent and I, with my big curly hair, immediately stick out. Last year someone thought I was a worker and asked me to bring them juice at their table. lol. Anyway, when D realized I spoke Spanish, we were off talking about everything! She asked me about Daniel and I immediately told her about his diagnosis, she was so kind and offered hope as a friend of hers also had a child with autism. She shared about her family and some of the struggles she has been through. So when we arrived and we saw each other, it was like reuniting with an old friend. Although she isn't smiling, she is super pleasant, funny and such a hard worker. It was great to see her again and to know she is doing well.

7) My oldest made a friend

I didn't want to post his friend's full picture as I didn't get permission from his parents to post it.  

This, for me, was the best part of our vacation. If you have read my blog for any length of time, you should know that my oldest is also on the spectrum although many people would not know it since he is extremely verbal and is practically mainstreamed. These days we are mainly dealing with social issues. Usually, he spends vacation with just us but this year, he met the nicest boy who was a year older and they immediately bonded over sports, my oldest's favorite topic!  I could not have planned it better myself. They talked in the pool, on the balcony, a little during breakfast, and they did it all without me prodding, coaxing, or my monitoring my son's behavior. He was totally appropriate,  friendly, and sweet. This made my heart sing! Before we left they exchanged addresses and promised to write to each other. This gave me so much hope for my son's social future!

So this is why I might continue going. Dan comes back wired and its hard to get him back in a routine. He is now pacing feverishly and screaming for soda which we let him have because well, he was on vacation too, he should have some fun, but we're paying for it big time now. 11 days until school. But whose counting.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Romper/Jumpsuit from Men's Suit Pants Tutorial

Hello, I'm back!

I started this project in my old place and finished it here in my new space so I thought it was appropriate for this to be my first tutorial.

My husband gave me a couple of his suits to reconstruct. I love that he supports me and always asks me if I can do anything with his clothes before he gives them away. I usually don't take everything because there are a lot of people that could use the clothes (I know I am always grateful for the hand- me-downs I get for my kids!) and I need to limit my refashioning stash. It can get overwhelming if I don't.  Anyway...

When I saw the pants, of course I knew that I immediately wanted to make a jumpsuit/romper. I wanted to challenge myself, though, and use only the pants as my fabric and not use any extra material.

I started with this inspiration photo by Junky Styling, a label well known for refashioning mens suits. They also published a book full of even more inspiration photos! You can get it here

Junky Styling

The first thing I did was chop off about 12 inches from the bottom of the pants. The cut pieces will become the bodice of the jumpsuit. But we'll talk about that later. 

This is what you are left with for your capri-like bottoms.

I eliminated the zipper along with the waistband by cutting all around it. 

I then cut the inseams and the crotch seam apart. I did not cut the side seams, I left them as is. 

I opened up the front and back part of the pants (still held together by the side seam) and placed a pant "front pattern" on top of each pant front side and cut around. I did the same with the pant back parts. For the pattern, I cut apart pants that fit me very well.  

I then re-stitched the inseams (front to back) and the crotch seams together. 

Now for the left-over bottom pieces. First, I unfolded the hem on each.
Then I turned it around (the folded part will be the top of the bodice) and cut one side open of each. One will be the front bodice and one will be the back side of the bodice. 
To add interest, I further cut the front bodice into three corset-like pieces. 
Then I sewed them together

This is the back
I sewed the front and the back on the side seams. Not sure why the back ended up longer than the front but that was easily remedied by chopping the extra fabric off. 

Then I cut right through the middle of the front bodice and about 1/4 inch down the middle of the pants, and stitched the top to the bottom. I refolded the top of the bodice, ironed it down, and sewed it down flat. Then I installed a zipper through the entire middle of the bodice and 1/4 way down the middle of the pants.  (I forgot to take a picture of this step, I apologize). 

I had left over fabric which I used to make a thin tube that went around my neck and was sewn right above each bodice side seam. 

There you have it! My men's suit pants to jumpsuit/romper refashion!

I love the way it came out and happy that my sister Melissa was around to take outside pictures.

I like it even more with a little sweater over it as I love the details of the straps peeking out. 

Here's a close up. 

So tell me how you like it. Would you do this refashion? Do you like it better with or without the sweater? Let me know in the comments and thank you so much for dropping by! 
God bless!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

I Moved!

I apologize for not posting. I just moved to a new place and have yet to unpack fully. 

My sewing machine is still dismantled and this is killing me! I am going through major withdrawal. I have so many sewing projects in my head that I want to get started on. At last it's reminding me that I am also a singer so if I can't sew, I'll sing! lol

Also on a positive note, I have my own sewing room. It's right off my bedroom which I can lock so that makes me super happy! Dan will not be destroying fabric or sewing books! lol. 

Can't wait to get back to blogging and showing you some cool new refashions and shop news. Thanks for your patience!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Dress to Flower Pants Refashion

 I finally redesigned the very first garment I ever sewed; this brown flower dress.

This was an extra special refashion because not only was it the very first garment I made but it was also made jointly, with my mom. I remember, vividly, together choosing the pattern and the fabric, and collaborating on this project. I get a warm fuzzy feeling every time I think about it and will cherish that moment forever.

I wish I had a picture of my wearing it because I wore it a lot. At that time I was fresh out of college, not making much art, and looking for new art making experiences. Sewing was a perfect fit as it generated much  needed clothes for my very first museum job. 

However, not only did it not fit me anymore, but it also was no longer my style, and, I hate to say it but, it was ugly. I mean, how did I ever wear this? It's a muddy brown, shapeless and long! But I couldn't bear to give it away as it had too much sentimental value.

Then, I thought, with the current trend being flowers, I would make it into flower pants. I made my first flower pants two weeks before so I would just follow suit and do the same with this dress.

So this is what I did. I basically turned it upside down and cut four pieces of this pants shape out of the bottom of the skirt; 2 front pieces from the front of the skirt, and two back pieces from the back of the skirt. I then cut the pockets out of the front of the top. Only the back was left. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it.

I absolutely love that I can wear the dress my mom and I made again, even if it's in the form of pants. I say it all the time. Clothes have meaning!

And then my son photo bombed my photo shoot. They don't take me seriously here, lol.

Do you have a garment that has deep sentimental value that doesn't fit anymore but you can't part with it? Tell your story in the comments. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sew and Tell: Front Fold Over Flap Jumpsuit

I love that it's finally getting warm outside on a consistent basis! I have been wearing this fold over flap jumpsuit a lot more often. 

I made this jumpsuit from scratch from knit fabric on clearance from my favorite fabric store in the Bronx, Save-a-Thon. 

I posted a picture of this on Instagram not too long ago and some of my followers wanted to know how I made the fold over flap. It's really not rocket science, so I made a simple drawing to show you. A very simple drawing, since I don't draw very well. 

 I made pants the regular way except that I made the top wider than usual so I would have enough fabric to fold. 

I folded one side and then folded the other over it and stitched. 

I also ruched the bottom part of the pants using the pattern from Pattern Magic 3. You can see those pants in this October post from last year. 

I really like it but the next time I make it, if I do, I will make it less baggy. 

So what do you think of the fold over design? Too out there? Let me know. I love feedback! 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Quick, Easy Refashion: Dress into Tunic

Sometimes it just takes a simple chop at the length of the hem and sleeve of a garment to totally transform it. 

 I bought this dress for a $1.00. That's right, a $1.00. I loved the netting on the top but the rest of it looked a little dowdy. I did wear it several times as is and sometimes with a sweater vest. The vest gave it a more boho, chic look but with summer coming, I thought it would look cuter as a short-sleeve tunic. I was right! 

 The empire waist looks a lot more passable as a tunic.  Btw, I love the way the super flash just highlights the garment and hides my face. I don't mind that at all. 

I love it and wore it to the Guggenhein Museum on Friday with a cute necklace and cuff. 

What do you think of this quick and easy refashion? 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Spring Break 2014

Hello! I have been MIA from the blog because of Spring break. I had the boys for  whole week and a half! I have a love/hate relationship with Spring break. On one hand I love it because it helps me focus on the boys as I spend time with them and take them out. I also see the progress they have made both socially and academically. The difficult part of Spring break is more about Dan's behavior. He is a non-stop destruction machine and if he does not have structure, he is bound to break something in his manic frenzy. Yes, this is what happened this spring break. He tore magazines and books while I was looking the other way. He's sneaky like that. His cuteness sometimes allows him to get away with it. 

Nevertheless, this time around, I decided to document Spring break. I figured it would get my oldest involved as he constantly reminded me to take a picture, it would add some structure to our day, and also keep me organized as I planned events. 

So here they are, a visual document of our Spring Break. descriptions correspond to pictures row by row. 


1. Monday was a beautiful day so we went to the park. My caption on my intsagram (nelescdesigns) read "a gated park is an autism mom's best friend"

2. The boys and I in the park


3. I worked at my museum job and the kids stayed home with Dad. This is a shot of one of the artworks by Deborah Grant, The Birth of a Genius in the Midnight Sun, 2012. It rained that day so I didn't feel bad that they stayed in.


4. We went to my sister's house. My sister has a way with Dan. So glad she and her girls love and accept him.


5. We went to the Fire Safety Zone, with another family who also has a son on the spectrum. Check out Miz Kp's blog,  Sailing Autistic Seas. It does have a sea of information and insight into living with a child on the autism spectrum. 

It's always difficult to go out with Dan but he did surprisingly well. 


6. We stayed home because I had a lot of work to do for my Art for Autism fundraiser. I felt a little guilty but I stepped out to get the mail and it was cold!!! So I didn't feel so bad. Notice, the weather always dissuades my guilt! lol. 


7. Art for Autism fundraiser. Micah and our cousin dropped by. It was a great day and will blog about it separately.


8. We went to the movies and saw Rio 2. It was wonderful! Micah really enjoyed it but Dan fell asleep. I wasn't complaining.  The photo was of Micah and I walking to the train afterward. Dan did not want any part of the pic.


9. Hubby took Micah out and I took a walk to the library with Dan. Sometimes we have to separate them and give them individual attention. 

So there you have it,  our Spring break  in 9 pictures. It was fun but I am sure glad they are back in school. 

How was your Spring Break?