Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shifting Gears

Just one week and a day left before the begining of inservice training for the next school year. I went into school today to check on things. My new forensic science books were in, and there were 40 of them! That seemed like a lot, so I pulled up my rosters. Only 30 students signed up so far, but still, that's a lot for a brand new course. There are 23 in my chemistry class, which is three more than there are seats in the class, so I'll wait for that to get sorted out. I took a textbook to Jamaica and spent the trip home reading, outlining and brainstorming ideas. I've got the syllabus roughed out and a time line for each of the units. I'm starting to get excited about some of the cool stuff we're going to to be doing.
No sewing in the last couple of days, the kids have started playing a game called The Sims. Their families were all in dire straights, so they recruited me to try to get everything back in order. I don't know why the game has me so mesmerized, but I keep going back to check on everyone and see how they are doing. Then when the kids go back in and mess everything up again I get frustrated that all my work has been wasted. Is there some sort of metaphor in that I should be pondering?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Home Again

We got back late last night from Jamaica. There was a delay in Montego Bay and we almost missed our connection, but made it after a mad dash through the Maimi airport. Just the usual travel stuff, but after 12 hours in transit, it was good to be home. The kids had hugs and kisses for us this morning, but were generally pretty nonchalant about the fact that we were gone for almost a week. I guess that means they had a good time without us.
It was so nice to get away and not have to worry about anything for a while, but being home always feels pretty good, regardless of how nice the vacation was. The laundry is already in the washer, and I went through the mail this morning, so there isn't even a lot of catch up to take care of.

I didn't quite make it through drinking the alphabet. I only had two drinks left on my list the last night, but they didn't have the ingredients for a Zombie or an Undertow. Still, everyone needs a goal, right? I'm not usually much of a drinker, but I was getting into the spirit of things. The waitresses and bartenders were helping me think of things for each letter, which was fun. We made friends with another couple at the piano bar, and he was sending me horrible tasting drinks. If ever anyone offers you a shot of Fernet Blanco, just say no! I think a Fuzzy Navel is a much nicer way to get an F crossed off the list, although someone else suggested Frangellica which is also nice.
The food was very good, but the focus was more on quality than on quantity so you didn't end up with that stuffed feeling that is so unpleasant on cruises. Everything was presented beautifully, not just at the two restaurants that required reservations, but also at the walk-in ala carte places. I so much enjoy having everything included. Knowing that you've already paid for the entire vacation, it becomes fun to just enjoy everything that is offered. The snorkeling was very nice, and sailing was fun. Those pictures are on the waterproof camera, so I'll have to have them developed. I wasn't very good at water skiing, but I tried anyway. We spent a fair amount of time just relaxing in hammocks with a book as well. They had a little flag you could stick in the ground if you wanted someone to bring you a drink. I thought that was a little bit to much though, and usually walked to the bar for a refill.
Our sunset boat cruise was excellent and it included swimming in caves, but no cliff diving for me. I'm terrified of heights and watched in terror as other people plummeted into the water. They seem to have a very relaxed atmosphere about everything in Jamaica, and didn't bother to even count the number of people on the boat to make sure they all came back. I thought it was unusual, but it wasn't until we started to motor off without the captain that I realized how easy it would be to loose someone. He was a little upset that nobody had noticed he wasn't on the boat, and I think he was swearing up a storm when we went back for him, but of course it wasn't in English, so it was hard to tell.
The Jamaica that you see outside the boundaries of resorts is a little bit scary. The scenery is breathtaking, but it is spoiled by garbage and debris and abandoned buildings. When you go through the towns and villages there are bars on all of the shop windows. The residential buildings don't always have windows and the roofs are made of corrugated tin held down with cinder blocks. A lot of people that work at the resort actually live on the property in a set of dorms that they have for that purpose. Even the resort itself had lots of security guards, although they were very friendly and would even take a picture if you asked them. I made sure to ask if it was safe before I ran outside the boundaries of the resort, but he assured me I was OK as long as I stayed on the beach. He still took my room number though to make sure I came back.
The resort property was pristine and immaculate. There are people raking the beach all day long and making sure everything was clean and tidy. Sometimes it seemed that there must be as many employees as guests. Every restaurant had separate people to pour water, bring bread, take drink orders and serve food. Then entirely different people would come to clear the dishes when you were done and use little crumb sweepers to clean the table. So I guess real life is ready to return. Maybe I can get one of those crumb sweepers for the kids?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ready Set Go

The bags are packed, the notes are left. The in-laws arrived and are settled in with the kids. Everyone is getting along great and the kids are ready to shove us both out the front door. I've lost the argument over whether to bring the lap top or not, so I won't be updating my blog until we get back. I think they are getting drenched by the storm right now, so I'm hoping it will all clear out about the time we are due to arrive. That's my plan anyway.

Friday, July 18, 2008

All Set

I went out today and got a manicure AND pedicure. I've got a new bikini, a new book and a reservation. What else could I need? The tropical system is due to arrive about the same time as us, but it doesn't even have name yet. I think it would be a funnier story if the storm got a name. Even if it is a little bit rainy, someone else will be doing the cooking and cleaning and the kids will be safely at home being entertained by their grandparents. My big goal for the week is to work my way through the drink menu and the activity schedule. I've even got some Dear Jane blocks to keep me busy on the flight. Life is good.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Quilt Washing Day

I'm sure in the old days I would be hanging the washing out on the line to dry in the sun. But I don't think clothes lines are allowed in our neighborhood and it rains every day in Florida this time of year. So I've spread the quilts out to dry over patio chairs under the covered lanai. Something has been smelly in Ryan's room lately and I can't quite get to the bottom of it. I'm hoping it's something simple like the quilts or pillows and not something complicated like water intrusion through the wall. That side of the house took the brunt of the last couple of hurricanes so I tend to worry about mold and such. I haven't seen any evidence, but I'd feel better if I could get rid of the smell. Maybe it's just 7 year old boy smell.
I'm slowly getting to the bottom of my cleaning list. Kurt is on his way back from the airport now, so maybe he can do a few little things this afternoon while I run out to the store. I've got a good start on packing so I think I'm in pretty good shape overall. Gwen Marston's Liberated Strings book came in the mail today, so I'm thinking I should take a few minutes to relax and look through it before I do any more work.

Friendship Bread

Someone brought bags of friendship bread to the Girl Scout meeting on Monday. Then one of the leaders compared it to the ashes of campfires that are ceremoniously collected at each camping event and then spread into each new fire. The idea is that the same ashes unite all of the fires to each other. Today as I was finishing up the Dad's Plaids blocks (finally) I put together some of the "bonus" pinwheels from a quilt I made when my nephew was born last year. My quilts never seem to end. Little bits of one lead to another and the scraps from those lead on to the next. I'm thinking of putting a wide border on this one and doing some kind of appliqué. I might also experiment with some more wonky letters, but I'm not sure what they should say. The original quilt was called Zach's Shining Star, so I should try to tie that theme in somehow. Maybe something like Star Light, Star Bright. It's not very big, so I don't know how many words will fit.
One of my neighbors called this afternoon to chat and we discovered that both of our husbands were out of town for dinner. We went over to let all the kids play together and ordered some pizza for dinner. It was nice to catch up on all the neighborhood gossip and chat over a glass of wine. After I came home and got the kids put down, I did some serious chain piecing and am just about done with ALL of the blocks for the Dad's Plaids quilt. It takes a lot longer to make a king size quilt than a cute little wall hanging. Steel Magnolias was on cable, so I sat and matched up squares and cried my eyes out. I'm such a sap sometimes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I seem to be doing the same thing day after day, but each time I get a little closer to the end goal. It's a never ending game of successive approximations. Each time I attack the same space again it gets closer clean, a little less chaotic and a little emptier. This is the closet where the computer and all of it's ancillaries live. It also holds girl scout supplies as well as overflow of scrap booking and quilting supplies. I'm still supposed to fill all the holes from the old closet organizers and repaint everything, but that's still pretty far down on the list.
I went swimsuit shopping for Jamaica today. Yikes! I don't mean to start a rant here, but I am not in love with current fashion trends. I spent too many years sporting maternity clothes to voluntarily wear them while I'm not pregnant. And all of the shorts are either so short that everything hangs out, or right below the knee making my calves look giant. And then I started trying on bathing suits! I'm in decent shape for a middle aged person with three kids. Chubbier than most marathon runners, but still not exactly obese. I just wanted a simple two piece, big enough to cover the stretch marks. Is that too much to ask? Somehow everything that wasn't really skimpy looked like a dress. I finally ended up finding something that would work at Target, and lucky me, it was on clearance.
Last night I had a social get together with the Girl Scout leadership team. Did I mention that I gave in and agreed to take the school coordinator position? I talked my co leader into sharing the job with me, but I couldn't convince her to take it completely. I'm not sure how I'll make everything work during registration and pre-planning, but I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Still working slowly on Dad's Plaids. I think I have about 96 out of 144 blocks done. Most of the others are in progress somewhere, it's just a matter of working them all through the pipeline. Kurt's out of town again and the kids are all settled for the night, so I should take advantage and sew into the wee hours. Maybe it I'm really lucky they'll let me sleep in tomorrow morning.

Monday, July 14, 2008

It Can't Be

We've just begun packing for our romantic Jamaican getaway. Five days at an all inclusive couples only beach front resort with water sports and yoga and white sand beaches. Then in my in box was a link to weather underground, our favorite hurricane tracking site. We all have our favorite sites down here. We know which computer models to follow and when they update them. We've learned the hard way all about hurricanes around here. So it doesn't even have a name right now, it's still just an investigation, but it's headed straight for Jamaica! It Can't Be!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

An Award!!!!!

Thanks so much Amanda, for giving me the Brillante Weblog award. It was so nice of you to think of me! I had to laugh when I saw the list of her nominated bloggers, because we read most of the same blogs. I looked through my list and tried to find my daily reads that did not duplicate the ones already listed. These are blogs that make me want to smile, laugh, think or quilt. Thanks to all the bloggers who inspire me in more ways than I can name.

Beth at bzqltr who's machine quilting inspires
Rhonda at Doxies on my Quilt who makes beautiful quilts in duplicate
Melinda at Creations by Melinda who makes great screen bags that are on my list to try
Nines at Prairiequilts who juggles so many kids and still manages to be crafty.
Peg at Happy in Quilting who has gotten so many of us motivated with her challenge
Tazzie at Tazzie Quilts who uses great reproduction fabrics that make me want to expand my stash
Shinynewthing at Too Many Hobbies who, like me doesn't try to limit her number of hobbies

The rules are as follows:

1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog/
2. Link to the person you received your award from
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4. Put links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of the people you have nominated.

Plugging Ahead

I'm still working on the Dad's Plaids block. I know if I could just sit down and spend 2 hours on it i would have the blocks done, but two uninterrupted hours don't come easy around here. I only have a few of the star blocks, because they are fussier to make, so I think I'll place those strategically in the middle.
I've been tired by the time I get all the kids down and happy to curl up with a book. I read a cute one yesterday by Sophie Kinsella , it was on the new book shelf at the library. I've tried to read her shopping series in the past, but I don't have any patience for all the shopping talk. I've read two of her other books though that are very cute. Not exactly cerebral, but good light escapism.
I'm still going through all of the kids old school papers getting them ready to go into scrapbooks. It's so hard to figure out how much to keep and how much to throw away. I end up taking pictures of the bigger stuff and putting those in the scrapbook so that the originals can go away. This is the Thanksgiving leaf from preschool where Ryan was thankful for his refrigerator, and a self portrait by his very first girl friend, Caroline.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Helping the Economy

I haven't taken any new pictures recently, so I thought I'd post this one of Sydney on the 4th. She has more personality than any one child deserves!
I seem to be in a shopping groove lately that doesn't end. Like quilts, one thing just seems to lead to another. I recently got the new Gwen Marston (Collaborative Quilting) book in the mail which inspired me to pick up some black and white fat quarters while they were on sale. Then I ordered a running book on Amazon and remembered that the other Gwen Marston (Liberated Strings) book was still in my cart. I think I got a deal on shipping because my order was over $25. Today was a housekeeper day so I was out killing time with Ryan. We ended up at Walmart because there aren't that many places to hang out at 8 in the morning. I was only shopping for sale stuff, but ended up with a cart full of clearance summer clothes for the kids and a few more school supplies to cross off the list. By then AC Moore was open, and they are having a HUGE going out of business sale. They don't really carry fabric, which is why I never shop there, but I managed to find a couple of quilt kits in patriotic colors and a few things for scrap booking. Then when I went to put away the couple of scrap booking things, I realized that I needed to order some page protectors. I have been using Creative Memories strap-hinge albums, but they are changing their page size. I didn't want to end up in the middle of an album and not have the right pages, so I had to do an inventory and find a good transition spot. This made me realize that I had some old albums that didn't have page protectors on all the pages, which led me to another inventory and an order for 6 packages of page protectors! Now I have to decide whether to switch to the new size of Creative Memories pages or switch to the other kind of album so that I can get them in regular stores. My Creative Memories consultant would probably turn her nose up at that, but she hasn't been having many crops lately, so keeping caught up on supplies isn't the easiest thing to do. Now I'm feeling a little guilty about spending too much money. Summers are always like that around here, just because I have time for projects, and those always need stuff.
On the quilting front, I got some more Dad's Plaids blocks put together and cut out most of the rest. I think I have about 90 done so far, out of the 144 I need for a king quilt. I took a break because I needed to iron and didn't feel like getting everything out. The house is all nice and clean from a combination of company and the housekeeper. Projects can wait for another day.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Leaders and Enders and Odds and Ends

We had a nice visit with Mom. She's in Orlando at meetings for the next couple of days and then we'll take Anna over to spend a few days with her. Of course it's hard to accomplish any projects with company in the house. The guest room is my usual sewing place, or the dining room table which I clear off when the house is supposed to be clean. I did get a stack of leaders and enders ironed and put away as well as sorting and laying out a new batch.
After I get a new batch of leaders and enders laid out, I tend to just power through and sew through them all. I'm not always the most patient of people I guess. Mom wanted to watch the season finale of The Bachelorette, so I also got some more cutting done on the Dad's plaids quilts. While I was at it, I cut 12 blocky stars blocks out the same fabric. They both use 2.5 inch strips, so I thought I might as well. I needed to be social and sit with mom, but I haven't been watching the show, so I needed something to occupy my mind. The show was 3 HOURS long, so I had plenty of time to sit and cut.
Last night we celebrated Ryan's birthday. His big day is two months after the girls and I have ours, so we are always a little hung over with birthday party fun by the time his comes around. He chose lasagna for his birthday dinner. Actually he chose leftovers or lunchables first, and I talked him out of it. We've had three birthday parties in the last week, so I'm a little done with cake by now. Ryan chose white Funfetti with white Funfetti frosting. Maybe I'll freeze half for later. With Jamaica coming up in a few weeks I'm trying to avoid too much birthday cake.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July to all the bloggers in America! I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday. We spent the evening at a river front park that sponsors a festival every year with carnival games and food vendors. There is a fountain where the children frolic and play. Then the symphony plays patriotic music while the fire works go off over the water. Mom came with us and we met up with several groups of friends, some of whom we planned to meet, and some who just happened to be there. We all had a lovely time, with plenty of food and good company.
The kids all enjoyed themselves completely. Poor Sydney passed out cold about halfway through the fireworks and had to be carried back to the car at the end of the night. There is something very sublime about cradling a sleeping child in the middle of a bustling event. I know I won't get many more opportunities, so I'm trying to savor each one. Anna's friend Sierra was there with her mom who is one of my running partners. She had family in town as well, so there were quite a few of us gathered together.
I got up this morning for a run and got in a quick 6 miles. I've been trying hard to decide what to do about fall marathons this year, and I'm having trouble. I did two marathons three years ago, but for the past two years, I've only done halves. The first time because I was having back issues, and last year, just for a change of pace. I enjoy the half marathon distance, but I kind of miss the long marathon training runs. That sounds silly, doesn't it? I shouldn't miss a grueling 20 mile run. So we've been discussing the possibility of doing the marathon, but as a run/walk this year instead of a run. It would be something new to try, but might not be as taxing as trying to run the whole thing. We did the run this morning that way, and the time was about the same, but I'm less tired than I usually am. I'm having my running partner read the book that explains the theory of the run/walk and we'll take it from there.
Not much on the quilting front. I finished the binding on the OC and the log cabin quilt and got in a little practice on hand quilting using my new thimble lady thimble. So far so good, although I haven't quite got my rhythm down yet.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Kit Movie

A group of just us girls went to see the new Kit Kitridge movie today. Most of our Girl Scout troop is just crazy about anything having to do with the American Girl Dolls. All the third grade girls who read at least 6 of the books got to go to a special tea at school and even bring their dolls along! Kit is the doll that Anna has, because I thought they looked so much alike. So I gathered together all of the scouts who are in town and we had our girls afternoon out. They brought along their dolls and we all had a grand time. I wish I had thought to bring a camera, because all of the girls bringing their dolls to the concession stand was just way too cute.
They enjoyed the movie, even though it was set in the Great Depression and had some very sad parts. I thought there was plenty of plot and history to keep the grown-ups entertained as well. Just to prove how warped I am though, I kept looking at the depression era fabric and wondering why their weren't more quilts. I'm now inspired to do something with a stack of Aunt Grace repro prints, but I think all I've got is a charm pack stashed somewhere that I tried to do some appliqué with last year.

Something Good in the Mail

I ordered a Thimblelady thimble ages ago. It was right after Christmas, and I waited patiently, knowing that it was coming all the way from Australia. Eventually I contacted them and asked where my thimble was, so they sent another. Finally, I asked a third time and asked for an address verification, thinking something must be wrong. Sure enough, Paypal had the wrong shipping address and the thimbles had been going to the house we sold four years ago. It was entirely my own fault for not checking the address, but they sent me another thimble anyway. I am so impressed with their customer service! I have to wonder what the lady who bought my house is doing with all my thimbles? I am pretty sure she doesn't sew.
Anyway, they have been incredibly polite and accommodating. I saw the Thimblelady on Simply Quilts, and her hand quilting is just incredible. She quilts with the side of her finger and a deeply dimpled thimble, which is supposed to improve comfort and control. I'm anxious to see how it works. I've got the Elm Creek Quilt ready to go. I'll let you know how it tuns out. Maybe after Mom has left I'll have some time to practice.

Before and After Part 2 -- The Dining Room

My craft table The dining room table before
The dining room table after.

The house is in pretty good shape, but I've come up with a list of home improvement projects now that should keep me busy for a while. We've been in the house for about 4 years now, so some of the things that we did when we first moved in are getting a redo.

  1. make a curtain to replace Sydney's broken closet door

  2. repaint the master bathroom to match to the new tile work

  3. replace fixtures in master bathroom to match the new tile

  4. paint and organize the study closet where we keep the computer stuff

And some of the things on the to do list when we moved in, never got accomplished.

  1. finish the cushions for the toy room shelves

  2. hem the drapes in the dining room and formal living room

  3. figure out a better way to store the pots and pans in the under the stove
  4. cabinet

And some things just need to be done again and again.
  1. clean the fridge

  2. have the carpets cleaned

  3. scrub the grout and tile in the front of the house

  4. clean and touch up the baseboards

OK, now I'm tired just from looking at the list. I wonder if I can get all that done before my in-laws show up at the end of the month?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Visiting With Mom

Mom arrived from Georgia this evening. She had hardly walked in the door when Sydney looked at me sternly and said, "You can leave already, Mom!" She thought that because Noanie was here to stay that Mom and Dad must be leaving. I always think that we explain things to the kids, but they seem to see things from their own unique perspective. She thinks if a grandparent is coming to stay, that must mean the parents are leaving. We didn't want to disappoint Sydney, so Kurt and I headed out for a nice quiet dinner at Carrabbas. I had the Pollo Rosa Maria, which was lovely, and they were even having a special for $10 off a bottle of wine on Wednesdays.
We got back in plenty of time to sit and chat with Mom and get caught up on all the family going ons. We were all sitting calmly in the family room when Sydney came wandering out of her room. I thought for a minute that she was going to ask for a glass of water or to use the bathroom, but then she walked into a wall and we all realized that she was still asleep. I picked her up and carried her back to bed, but I don't think she ever noticed.

Is THIS what a guest bedroom is supposed to look like?

The craft desk before
The guest bed before

The craft desk after
The guest bed after

Mom's coming for the holiday. So it was time to do some cleaning and reorganization. I had been in the middle of projects for so long that the clutter had gotten away from me. Coming soon to a blog near you, the sequels, "Is this what a dining room is supposed to look like?" and "Is this what a laundry room is supposed to look like?"
Gotta boogie, we've got a birthday party at 12:45, and its a long haul from here. Fortunately it's near the fabric store and my favorite deli.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Kid Quilts Day 2 and a Double Date

Ryan was so concerned that the Girl Scouts made quilts without him that he felt he needed a quilt of his own. He didn't like the idea of giving away his hard work, so he chose fabric from my personal stash so that he could keep his quilt when he was done. He chose Pokemon fabric (of course) and pulled three of the colors from the focus fabric arranged to look like they were "coming out" of the middle section. He used such concentration that his quilt actually turned out better than the ones the girls made last night. Look how proud he is!
The last two girl scouts finished up their quilts today, so that is 4 official finishes for the the troop! Our quilting session was interrupted by the arrival of four Sandhill Cranes in our front yard. I never get tired of looking at them.

There were two males and two females, so I'm guessing they were two mated couples. It is possible this late in the season that it is two parents with their offspring, it's hard to tell when they are all full sized. We usually see a few sets roaming the neighborhood, but there have been more since they started building a new addition to our road. I think the wildlife is feeling displaced by all the noise and commotion.
I've been trying to get some things accomplished around the house. It really is a losing battle with the kids home most of the time. I did laundry most of the day and helped the younger two get their rooms clean so I could vacuum. The threat of sucking things up in the vacuum seems to be the only thing that gets them to make sure everything is picked up. My mom is coming to visit for the July 4th weekend, so I'm also trying to get the guest room to look more like a guest room than a quilting studio.