Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Leanna's teacher was pleased overall. She's just moved up again to the 12th level in reading. She's doing fantastic in reading and the teacher says she's a good writer. She's doing well in social studies and science. Her behavior's fine. But she didn't do as well in math as she should have, the teacher was puzzled as to why Leanna did not do well on the math test. As was I. She appeared to know the material at home. She said the only reason she could think of was that Leanna wasn't paying attention? So she got marked progressing below grade level on two of the nine categories in math. The only other two was in the category of grammer, spelling, and punctuation(those three are all one category). Her handwritting and spelling leave something to be desired.......we decided that if Leanna does her homework sloppy I will include a note that day asking for another copy of that homework and she will send it home. So she will have two papers to do the next day. The teacher also suggested having Leanna do it during recess, but I said no, I'd prefer she have recess. She needs a break. And the teacher gave me an extra math book to let Leanna practice with at home.
At my suggestion we discussed the social aspects of school. The teacher wasn't aware of any real problems there but thought if Leanna was having any problems, it might be because she's been making faces at other kids. Yeah, you can't make this stuff up. Kids have a way of finding things you never thought of to put you through. But I'm confident we'll work thruogh it, I talked more in depth with the poor teacher about it (I was prohably her longest conference), and when I got home Leanna and I made a plan up for how to do better in her problem areas. Though I'm focusing on the areas where she needs work, Leanna is doing very well overall and I'm very proud of my daughter!
Leslie Says: November 24th, 2008 at 9:44 am
Emily, Jake, and I went to see Twilight yesterday with a group of her friends from book club. We were all pretty pleased with the adaptation. I thought RP did a lovely job with Edward–you could really see what a difference Bella had made in his life. I thought the casting was superb. But the highlight for me was the comment I heard from a girl behind me after the movie: “No wonder I can’t find a man. All I want is either an elf or a vampire.”
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
It was tough to get good pictures, partially because of our location, and party because I was trying to keep the three boys quiet. And Jacob wanted to grab the camera.
When all the kids lined up at the end, so the principal could take a picture, one father jokingly said, "Everybody say, reservation!" The kids heard him and happily complied. Adults who got the joke all laughed and the Dad buried his head in his hands. He hadn't expected them to do it.
Friday, November 21, 2008
The man who assisted-I don't know if he was a nurses aide or a nurse or what-was really nice too and had Justin just giggling away. There was very little blood this time, even less than last time. The wound wasn't as deep, just longer. No throwing up either.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
It's mainly an advertisement for her ebook, but on the side it has tips you can click on.
Many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck as they struggle to make ends meet. FOX 4 asked you to share your ideas for making your household budget go farther and now FOX 4's Heather Claybrook is working for you with the first in a series of reports on how your neighbors are pinching their pennies. The rising cost of food has been hard to swallow for many people especially people with large families. But one Raytown family has a plan for making mealtime more affordable. Angela Coffman is a back to basics kind of gal who homeschools five children. Her first step toward frugality grew out of necessity."Sometimes I do things I don't know how to do. Like I wasn't a great cook when I got married. I couldn't sew when I got married. But I just learned to dig in and try," she said. Now Coffman is an expert at pinching pennies. She's able to feed her family of seven for $300 a month. That's $200 less than what the U.S. Department of Labor says is the national average. "The kitchen is the heart of where we save money," she said.She's the guru of GroceryShrink.com and she hopes of encouraging others to save money."It's true a lot of people are struggling. I think their attitude is the most important thing," Coffman said. That's why she preaches the gospel of planning and patience. She plans a month's worth of meals at a time and builds that menu based on what she already has in her pantry. "A lot of it came from salvage type stores, dented can shops, things like that where you can get really cheap," Coffman said. For the Coffman family it's a group effort to get the meal on the table. On this day for lunch, the kids pitch in to help make mini pizzas out of day old bread and slicing up a cantaloupe right out of the garden. Coffman also avoids processed or prepackaged food, and goes back to her do-it-yourself roots. Her daughter Heidi is preparing a skillet mix to store for future meals. (Find the Skillet Lasagna Recipe and more here!) All Coffman has to do is add meat and tomato sauce and the meal is done in minutes for just pennies. "It's almost like a Hamburger Helper type thing but half the price because we did it ourselves," she said. Another simple secret is that she only uses cash to buy food and that's something other experts recommend too. "I can't stress how being patient is so important," she said. For Coffman, the patience to wait for a sale price is a virtue that makes pinching pennies pay off. Her lifestyle is basic to the point of seeming primitive by today's standards. She said it's being satisfied with what you have until you can afford what you want."So we don't feel like we're deprived all the time. We're just patient and wait," Coffman said. Coffman and other grocery experts also preach patience when it comes to produce: wait until it's in season, and therefore, cheaper. And if you don't have a big family like Coffman you still can have financial trouble. On Tuesday night we'll visit with young couple who will share the secrets of their financial makeover. Heather Claybrook, FOX 4 News
Jacob may not be able to say the word straw yet (or maybe he can and just chooses not to). But when he handed me this box of juice I told him, it won't work without a straw! So he turned around, then handed me this straw. : )
*because I'm looking forward to the parent/teacher conference
* because i'm looking forward to Thanksgiving
*because I'm looking forward to the annual black Friday shopping day
But most importantly of all Because I don't have to get up at 6:30, ok really more like 7, and go out in the cold to take Leanna to school! Hooray! I can't really sleep later than 8 or 9 because Jacob and the boys won't let me but I should be able to get at least an hour and a half extra sleep every day!
I'm also planning to do some crafts with the kids next week since we don't have to plan our days around getting Leanna to school and picking her up.
Next week should be fun!!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008 Family
So there I was, in the kitchen, explaining the economic downturn to a 10 year old.
And boy, are my arms tired!
What are you people telling your kids about the financial crisis? Any of it sticking? I was having the hardest time explaining why the simple solutions my kid was coming up with—while insightful—wouldn’t do jack.
“But why can’t we just fix it? Why can’t you just go out and get a job?” Wait—that was last month’s question. And the previous month’s.
“But why can’t we just fix it? Why can’t the government just make more money if everyone needs it?”
“Well, sweetie, if you flood the market—with money, or gas, or marbles—suddenly the value of that item goes down. Then you’ve created an inflation problem. Usually we see inflation in the form of gas prices, which were artificially jacked up, but it can also happen with a sudden and significant influx of cash.” I actually said “influx of cash” without laughing my head off.
“But why can’t they just fix it?”
“Because it’s the economy, not a wand. If it were that easy, people way smarter than us would have already solved it and we wouldn’t even be talking about the price of marbles.” Ever.
“But I don’t get why they can’t help.”
“You mean like they helped the failing banks? Like that? Well, sweetheart, people way greedier than us put one over on the rest of the world. And the government is helping. A LOT. But that doesn’t just come out of thin air, it comes out of our taxes.”
“What did you think we paid taxes for? It costs money to run a government and to serve five hundred dollar bottles of wine at a dinner party for world leaders meeting to discuss the crisis. Taxes and the redistribution of them are helping us get by right now. Without taxes, there’s no unemployment benefits and no free school lunch program.
“Let me put it this way: let’s say you had five apples, and the lunch lady wasn’t there to set everything up. You could probably sell those apples for twenty bucks apiece because everyone would want one.” And they’d pay it too, with all the pocket money or gold bars kids in this neighborhood seem to have access to. Better yet, do you take American Express? “But if you had a thousand apples, you might get twenty apiece for the first couple sales, but then people would notice that big stack of apples behind you and wait until the price came down. And you’d lower it in a hurry to sell all those apples before they went bad. In fact, at some point you’ll be thinking about paying kids to take them away because you don’t want a great, stinking, rotting pile of apples left over. That’s because people would buy what they need and then walk away. Once they don’t need your apples, you’ll be dropping that price like a To-Do List just to make a few more sales.”
At this point, his eyes were kind of drifting over my shoulder to the opposite wall where he could see the reflection of Flapjack in a framed print behind us. So I continued, “And that’s when my leg fell off and I had to staple it back on.”
“Hellooo. You just stopped listening. I was talking about supply and demand and apples.”
“Oh. Why would I sell apples?”
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Researchers at Plymouth University in England, with a small Arts Council grant, could not quite test whether an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters could produce the works of Shakespeare, but did see what six Sulawesi crested macaque monkeys would write with a computer over a four-week period. According to a report in The Guardian, the apes produced about five pages of text between them, mostly consisting of the letter S. According to professor Geoff Cox, the monkeys spent a lot of time sitting on the keyboard. [The Guardian, 5-9-03]
Monday, November 17, 2008
Apparently one of the members of the group put a video on you-tube of "the 12 days of Christmas" intermixed with Toto's "Africa." Just for the members' own enjoyment. And a year later it went viral-7 million views for December 2007 alone. Record execs made a deal with them and they now have a new Christmas album out. They did this a decade ago and all the sudden this opportunity comes up based on it. Some weren't even in the music industry anymore. Amazing.
Tom particularly liked the sitcom and teen sensation medly. I love it all-the human voice is a wonderful instrument. Those of you who know Jerome-check out This is How We Do It-he sings that one.
Dr. Thomas Stanley, a man who has dedicated his life to researching successful businessmen in America, has written a series of books on these millionaires. Although he does not refer to the Bible or the book of Proverbs in his discussion of success factors, his research correlates with the wisdom that descends fr om that ancient Book. In the survey of 733 millionaires, Dr. Stanley found the following to be the factors most important to success in life, (Thomas J. Stanley, PhD, The Millionaire Mind, (Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2000), P. 34):
1. Telling the Truth
2. Self discipline
3. Getting Along with People
4. Having a Supportive Spouse
5. Hard Work
Recently I did a statistical survey on the lessons most frequently taught in the book of Proverbs. Mentioned over 140 times in the book, the most repeated character theme in the Proverbs is honesty and the use of the tongue. The Number One factor on the list of factors claimed by millionaires to have contributed to success is “telling the truth!” An incredible coincidence? The next four factors on the millionaires’ list are also prominent lessons in the book of Proverbs. What about a supportive spouse? Ironically, that too can be found in the book of Proverbs (Prov. 31:10).
Several qualifications at this point are in order. Economic success is only one blessing among many potential blessings that attends a nation that upholds the character traits and lessons taught in the Proverbs. Moreover, not everyone who cultivates strength of character in his life is fabulously wealthy. There are undoubtedly some very rich people who refuse to incorporate these characteristics into their lives, but this kind of wealth is inevitably short lived.
After a century or two of ignoring God’s word in our psychology and education theory, many burned-out educators and parents are taking a second look at what God said about education. You can take ten minutes in God’s book and find a great deal of wisdom in this area of educating children. Here is what I found:
1. Character is 99% of the content of an education program.
2. Relationships matter. The parent-child relationship matters. The hearts of our children matter.
3. Sometimes you have to teach, sometimes you have to warn, sometimes you have to cry out in desperation, sometimes you have to repeat an important lesson ten different ways.
4. Learning is an honorable thing.
5. You need to teach knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
6. The existence of God and the fear of God lies at the foundation of all knowledge and wisdom.
7. A good education includes wisdom which is knowledge lived out and applied.
These principles will transcend all other theories and lessons on education. You do not need a doctorate degree in education to become a competent educator. As a parent, God has already equipped you for the task. But you should take a few minutes to study God’s 20 page manual - the Proverbs.
" Liz said...
Oh Susie, I can most definately relate! I had my first in Aug 96 & my second in Mar 00. Three and a 1/2 years between the two of them. It was a good spacing. I was pretty self-righteous about my perfectly spaced children. And then we had #3. On the day she was born, #2 turned 10 1/2 MONTHS old. He was born at the end of March 2000 & she arrived mid-February 2001. We got all the jokes, too. People asking "don't you know what causes that?" or all the little comments in the store "boy, she has her hands full!". Oh, and the best one was a complete stranger eyeballing me & asking "How did this happen?" as if I did something wrong. After gently trying to explain in the kindest manner possible & she continued probing, I got rude back. I said "It happened the usual way...on our living room couch if you must know." When her jaw dropped, I walked away. I mean, really...I DON'T KNOW YOU...it's NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!"
(from comments on a blog post about hating to be the butt of jokes about fertility)
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
A couple thoughts from what I read in the comments:
The cookie-painting thing sounds fun. I think I'd like to try the ornament thing too-though not necesarily on the same day. The rice krispie treat wreaths sound like fun too. Laura and I have been wanting to try a gingerbread house. I still want to do that, but I think this is another good option: I have also found that decorating Christmas Trees (upside down ice cream cones coated with green frosting) is about 90% of the fun and 10% of the work of decorating gingerbread houses. What do you think Laura?
Also from the comments, this is so obvious, but I never thought of it: When using cookie cutters, fill each baking sheet with similarly-sized cookies--all big ones on one sheet, little ones on another, etc. This ensures that the little ones don't burn or get crisp while the big ones cook.
Another tip I thought was a usable one: Fruit leather & scissors lets kids make clothes for gingerbread men. My Mom uses her dehydrator to make fruit leather, fun and better for you than regular iceing! Maybe we can persuade her to make us some for cookie decorating (Hint, hint!).
Words I can remember that I've heard him say: mama, mommy, Dadda, Justin, nanna (for Leanna), Grammy, shoe, sock, hat, light, ball, bye, Thank you, I want that!, uh-oh!, nose, no!, boo!, up, ow!, hungry, stop-that's 22 just off the top of my head. I know there's more that I can't think of.
A President Like My Father
By CAROLINE KENNEDY
Published: January 27, 2008
OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.
Skip to next paragraph
RelatedTimes Topics: John Fitzgerald KennedyTimes Topics: Barack Obama
My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.
Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.
We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.
Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.
Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.
I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.
Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.
I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.
I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.
Caroline Kennedy is the author of “A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love.”
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I see signs of it already-he really does gravitate towards sweet foods.
He also really loves: eggs, sausage, yogurt, and green beans.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Grammy left a hammer lying around and Leanna found it and was smashing rocks with it. They are studying geology in school and she is currently obsessed with picking up every rock she can find.
The child is a Person, complete. Charlotte Mason respected the child. She said: "We must know something about the material we are to work upon if the education we offer is not to be scrappy and superficial. We must have some measure of a child's requirements, not based on his uses to society, nor upon the standard of the world he lives in, but upon his own capacity and needs." (Towards a Philosophy of Education, page 65, 66)
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Amazon fights wrap rage
by Sandy Maple Nov 7th 2008 1:00PM
Just for moms, Just for dads, Holidays, Toys & games, Shopping & recalls
Last Christmas, before wrapping Ellie's presents, I opened each and every box and freed the toys from the wires, tape and plastic tabs in which they were secured. I then put the toys back in to their original boxes and wrapped them up in pretty paper. This additional step took approximately eight hours, but was totally worth it come Christmas morning. If you have ever tried to quickly release a Barbie from her packaging while simultaneously fending off an anxious child who wants to play with her NOW, then you know all about wrap rage.Wrap rage is that boiling anger that bubbles up inside of you as you cut, hack and sometimes blowtorch your way into a toy box to release its contents. It's a feeling that is only slightly diminished when you hurl that box at the Christmas tree and stomp off to the kitchen to add some Kahlua to your coffee.Why do toy manufacturers secure their products so well that you need the entire contents of your toolbox to get them out? I don' t know why they do it, but finally somebody is attempting to put a stop to this insanity. Amazon.com is spearheading the effort to end wrap rage by introducing Frustration-Free Packaging."It will take many years, but our vision is to offer our entire catalog of products in Frustration-Free Packaging," Amazon's Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said. The online retailer is working with manufacturers including the worst offenders -- Fisher-Price and Mattel -- to simplify packaging by getting rid of those awful clamshell packages and plastic coated wires and replacing them with smaller, recyclable cardboard boxes. Amazon, we salute you!
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Laura Ingraham states:
“These days, having such a large family earns you strange glances, shocked reactions, and castigations from environmentalists and anti-population growth wackos. Somehow, ‘being fruitful and multiplying’ is considered self-indulgent by those who put a high value on attaining a certain lifestyle. (These people consider it selfish for adults to devote themselves to supporting a large family, but it is apparently unselfish to spend your money on a lifestyle made up of frequent and exotic vacations, state-of-the-art gadgets, spa treatments, golf lessons, club memberships, boarding schools, and fancy summer camps. If you can follow that logic, please explain it to me.)”
The modern mind does not view families as the fundamental building block of a free society but rather a threat to individual liberty. That’s because service to others is viewed as enslaving, while service to self is the highest ideal. We know the opposite is true…
…families are actually quite liberating. The stronger your family is, the more independent you can be. A family that sticks together and helps each other is more likely to survive economic downturns, less likely to need government-provided health care, and less likely to need day care. Its children will be better prepared for school, and its grandparents will be better prepared for retirement. At every stage of life, its members will have more freedom — and be less dependent on government or other large institutions — than people who lack family support. So if we really want to empower the average person, the best thing we can do is strengthen families.
For the whole article on how Younger Voters add energy, drive from the Morning Call
I know I saw this in my city. Every time I waked downtown they had a a table out with people stopping me asking if I was registered to vote. At the halloween parade I saw young black women actually jeering and yelling boo! at Macain/Palin supporters. Not that I condone that, but it was nice to see people actively caring about the election, you know? I only had Obama supporters knocking at my door-I think because so many people in my income group are desparate for change. And at the Girls Club(that's where I vote) the people there were younger and darker skinned-black and hispanic. I think it will be interesting to see the actual numbers of 1. young voters that did vote(not just register)) 2. Minority voters and 3.women voters.
All in all I am happy to have been a part of this piece of history.
Monday, November 03, 2008
The PTO already has a card that they punch to give you prizes for attending school events. When it's filled you get a five dollar gift certificate. They discussed other prizes and ways to attract parents to come. That's pretty sad. They have to bribe people to join!
Then there was the issue of shots. The last two visits he couldn't get shots because of the medication for eczema. So he's behind. The doctor told me, ok, he's getting 8 shots today. And I said no he's not!
This was clearly new territory for her. She said which ones don't you want to give. I said, well, what are the eight shots? (And they wanted to do a flu shot on top of all that too!) She starts reading them off and she said well he should get this this and that. So she wasn't really letting me decide or even giving me time to consider. It was frustrating. So we left it at him getting four shots, which to be honest, I'm still not thrilled with, but I can live with four at once as opposed to eight. But then she comes back a minute later and says, Oh I forgot one of these is a three in one shot, so he can get an extra one! At the time Jacob was crying and wanting to get down and continue rearranging their furniture. So I wasn't fully paying attention. I tried to explain to her that my objection wasn't to four pricks with a needle, I just didn't want the vaccinations all at once. She said yes and left, but the more I thought about what she said the more it seemed that she wasn't understanding what I meant. I was unsure if she had done what I asked. She came back to bring lab papers and I apologized and questioned her about it once again. She said but the three vaccinations are all in one shot! I explained that I was sorry to be a bother, but I really wanted to minimize the amount of shots at once. He already has the eczema flared up-and that is essentially an immune response-and he also has high lead levels. I don't know if the lead would do anything or not, but having extra lead in your system certainly wouldn't help. I'd rather error on the side of caution. Let me be clear here, I wasn't even refusing the shots, just getting them all RIGHT NOW.
I'm just not comfortable with so many things that can cause so many adverse reactions being thrust on an immature immune system. Particularly when other factors like the eczema are involved.
The doctor said she's go check and see if they had prepared all the shots yet because they would be wasted if they were already prepared. So I said ok. Still not thrilled, but exhausted from two hours with three young children shut in a room with nothing to do. So he ended up with 5 instead of the four that I agreed to and the six that she wanted. Although she never explained to me that two of the others were three in one shots. So he had five needles inserted, but two of those needles had three vaccinations each. So he got vaccinations for NINE diseases today. I thought they would be taking away one of the three in one shots, and she never mentioned there were two of them.
He's supposed to come back in a month to get the other two shots yet. Oh yeah, and then in January he's due for his 18month checkup which means MORE shots! Oh joy.
I hate going to the clinic, both of them. They treat you like you're a moron and need the most basic parenting lessons. Does your child use a carseat? Don't let your child play with electricity. Can your child say 3 words? Sometimes it's kind of funny to hear these young students trying to give me advice on matters they've clearly never dealt with. In some cases book learning just does not trump real experience. The nurses never believe me when I say my kids don't need their limbs forcibly held down-just a hand around the wrist or leg in case they jerk with the shot or just in case. I don't need extra people to hold them down. Why isn't a parent's experience and observations about their child considered ever (not just with that issue)? I hate the condescending looks when I answer positively to them being able to speak many words or accomplish tasks. They aren't geniuses, but they do have a parent who interacts with them. I wish they would take individual patient's histories into consideration in matters like this one today.
"I'd much prefer my small children spend their Halloween night cowering in fear of werewolves and mummies than of car crashes and child molesters, because having the time to dwell in the realm of imagination is what childhood is supposed to be about. Of course, children need to know about real-life dangers, but they deserve a holiday too. What better opportunity than Halloween for children to give shape to their imaginative fantasies, whether heroic, malevolent or sparkly?"
We're often pressured as parents to feel as though a million dangers lurk around every corner. Don't get me wrong, it's good that we're more aware of many potential dangers and that we use car seats, etc. But we seem to be at a point where our fear of danger is impairing our-and more importantly, our children's-ability to fully live. The pendulum swings from full on hysteria to lackadaisical parenting, I really wish we could find a happy medium.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
This year I did all the costumes without actual patterns, Leanna's was tricky. I could have just made the bottom into a skirt, but I decided to attach the fins to the sides. I drew one fin freehand on cardboard, then used that as a pattern piece. I didn't want to make the bottom of the dress tight(like a "real" mermaid) because it had to be tapered but still have enough room for comfortable walking. So I added the lace to make it pretty too. I played around with the idea of making a shell top, but I just couldn't get the shape right and I didn't know how to make it look like a shell without padding them. Padding them would have made it look like I was trying to give her a chest-so I definitely wanted to stay away from that! So I ended up basically making a tube top with straps and put lace on the bottom. Her wig was very very thin, but I paid $1.00 for it, so I wasn't expecting too much. I got some orange spray to fill in her hair with too.