Friday, October 31, 2008


Happy Halloween! I hope everyone had a happy holiday. We have a Halloween tradition of setting a fire pit up in the driveway and sitting out passing out candy and roasting marshmallows for s'mores. The weather was perfect this year! There was just a tiny chill to the air which made it seem more like fall. The neighborhood has gotten into the holiday spirit over the past few years and most of the houses now have people sitting out in the driveway wearing costumes with decorations and music. Some houses give out beer and juice boxes while others bob for apples. It makes it all so much more fun. I always have trouble getting Kurt motivated to celebrate holidays, but this seems to be one that he enjoys.
We had quite a few people making s'mores, especially as the evening progressed. I was afraid for a while that we would run out of chocolate, but we ended up with just enough. Some of the kids had never roasted a marshmallow before or made a s'more. How sad. Some of the older kids remembered the marshmallows from years past and made a point of saving our house for last.
Our kids all had very different philosophies toward trick-or-treating this year. Sydney was so excited and went at it like a madman, running from house to house. Ryan was mellow and hung back with the grown-ups. Anna did part of the block with us and then went off with two of her friends from the bus. It seems like just last year that we took her out for the first time and she could barely say trick-or-treat. I'm starting to feel like they are getting grown up so fast. It all just keeps speeding by.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It Never Ends

I always know that I am starting to get overwhelmed when I can't remember all the things that need to get done. My routine is pretty stable, and I can usually manage to get by with a simple calender and maybe a shopping list. When life starts to get a little frantic, things start to slide. Then something doesn't get done, and it makes me crazy, and I start to feel overwhelmed. I told one of my classes today that I was starting to feel fragmented, a clever student suggested that when you defragment your hard drive, you throw out all the stuff you don't need any more. Of course he thought chemistry was one of the things we should think about deleting!
Sometimes I react to stress by getting my act in gear and powering my way through the list. Sometimes though, I try to ignore all of the things that aren't getting done. Denial never seems to do the trick for me. I just end up getting more frazzled. So here I sit posting to my blog, wondering if I'm going to get the lab reports graded and put together a power point, or just hope I wake up early enough in the morning to get something done before car loop duty. On the bright side, I have managed to power my way through 7 loads of laundry this evening, so I can cross that one off the list.
As busy as it is though, it is all good stuff. I'm happy to be able to do all of the things I do. I am satisfied with the big picture and the major life decisions, and that should be enough to help me get through the day to day. It's easy to forget about that in all of the minutiae.
My nephew Zach is getting better again. The antibiotics seem to be working, and if he continues to improve, he could go home in the next few days. I think it's been over three weeks that he's been in this time, and I'm sure it must seem like an eternity to my sister. I wish I lived closer so that I could help out.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Experimental Quilting.

I had some 6 inch squares that I got from Amy during the giveaway for her 100th blog post. I pulled them out last week while I sat at the kitchen table watching the kids do homework and started messing around. Somewhere in the back of my head was an episode of simply quilts where they made a stack of equal sized blocks and cut through them all at the same time. One of the patterns was a puss-in-the-corner block which should have been pretty straight forward. I decided to try a diagonal version, but didn't bother to look up specific directions, although I know they must be out there somewhere. They sat "seasoning" until I was looking for something to putter around with this weekend.
I lost some size in the seam allowance, but squared everything up to 4 inches. I'm not sure what the pattern is called, but I thought it was a nice cross kind of block. Encouraged by the ease, I whipped up a few more. The measurements shifted a little as I went along, but they all squared up to the same size in the end. Even though it might cause a little wasted fabric, it certainly made the cutting fast.
I alternated them with some teal blocks from my 4 inch block box and found some border fabric to go with them.
Kurt and Ryan were gone on a cub scout camping trip, so I spent the wee hours of the evening of Saturday putting them together to make another nursing home quilt. I just finished up the quilting in a simple straight line pattern and stitched on some purple binding. Usually I just throw my "experimental" blocks into the orphan drawer, it was fun to turn these into a finished project.
Ryan and Kurt came home on Sunday morning covered from head to toe in filth and mud. It stopped raining eventually on Saturday, but left the ground so saturated with water that they couldn't step down without sinking in. They had lots of fun though, and after baths and laundry all was well again. Then the afternoon was our next OM (Odyssey of the Mind) meeting. I kept Sydney entertained while the kids practiced building structures out of straws. Ryan worked for a long time on his, and came up with this cube that worked very well.
As soon as the meeting ended, I headed out for my long run. 15 miles was on the schedule for last weekend, but I missed it while we were out of town. I made that up last night with Tom who is doing the full marathon Thanksgiving weekend and had 20 on his schedule. The first 12 miles or so went pretty well, but then I started to get tired. I walked a lot during the last three miles, but made it home before the kids were ready for bed. I managed to get a shower before collapsing into bed and woke up this morning with tired legs and really scary hair.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Nothing Like a Nice Quiet Weekend at Home

As my dear husband would say, "You're right, it is nothing like a nice quiet weekend at home." The men folk have departed for Cub Scout camping, leaving us girls here to fend for ourselves. It's been a drizzly weekend so far, interrupted by brief bits of dampness. Ice Skating was first on the list this morning, followed by the Girl Scout beach clean-up. We went straight from there to see High School Musical 3 and eat a late lunch. The girls were happy to veg for a while after all the activity, which allowed me a little time to layer and quilt my most recent chaos quilt. Wow do these little guys come together in a hurry. I'm being very original and calling it Lime Green Chaos Quilt. I did a simple meaner in the crumb blocks with some stars in the setting squares. Miss Sheila, my co-leader, is kind enough to hand-sew the binding on the nursing home quilts, so this one is done done as far as I am concerned. The next two Girl Scout meetings are for the girls to work on their quilts, and the weekend after next I'm having a workshop with another troop so that they can make some as well. Assuming everyone shows up and all goes well, that should add another 18 quilts to the stack. I've got a stack of Dresden plate blades that I've done as leaders and enders, I think they might be almost ready to make their way into my next nursing home quilt. It should be a little more traditional than my last two.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I signed up for a scrap exchange a while ago. I have mine ready to send off, but haven't popped it in the mail yet. However, I got this fabulous package of scraps from Emily. She even included an adorable quilted card and a lovely note saying she noticed that I used lots of brights in my quilts and tried to focus on those. Thanks so much Emily!
While I was in a scrappy mode, I pulled out the scrap bin this afternoon and trimmed down some squares. I won a bag of scraps a while back on eBay and have been working my way slowly through those. It's so fun to play with all the little bits and pieces and think about how much fun it will be to put them all together. I think I'll definitely start working on my Irish Chain quilt as soon as I am ready to start another finish.
I was scheduled nonstop all day, so it was nice to sit outside today watching the kids play and sorting through my scraps. It's been a busy week so far, and I think this is the first night I haven't had to go out to a meeting of some sort. My mom called earlier to say that my nephew Zach is back in the hospital again (he came home yesterday). It isn't the bronchial problem they thought it was, so they've scheduled him for a heart catheterization tomorrow. They've moved him from the local hospital he was at previously, back to the heart center where he had his surgery a year and a half ago. If his patches are failing, they will be the best people to deal with the issue. The poor little guy has been through so much in his life, I hope this doesn't end up needing more surgery.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Finishing to Start Anew

I finally stitched down the binding on Dad's Plaids this afternoon! I'll still need to do the hand finishing before I can run it through the wash. I got a little carried away with the washable markers in deciding on a quilting pattern.

There are stars in the main squares with little clovers in the four patches where the corners meet. Then I did a heart kind of feather in the border to finish it off. This quilt was HUGE and it feels great to have it done. The recycled shirts are all soft and snugly, which makes it super comfy to sit under while I am stitching the edges. As much as I love the way the finished quilt turned out, it was challenging to work with so many types and textures of fabric. I have a better idea now what to look for when shirt shopping.
We went out to dinner tonight and I couldn't resist popping into the goodwill to pick up a couple of new shirts. I have a pattern in mind for those, I'll let it simmer for a little while.

Being so happy to have a finish, I took a little bit of time this evening to put together another chaos quilt. I used an alternate straight set with this one, and cut up half blocks to make the border. It's just the right size for another nursing home quilt, I think I still have some green thread that I'll use to quilt something decorative in the setting squares. Maybe a star?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Busy Busy Busy

Last night was our Girl Scout meeting. Childcare was the theme, so we had a babysitting clinic and practiced on all our little brothers and sisters. I think the girls all have a new appreciation for how difficult it is to take care of someone else.
That didn't leave me much time to get in quality time with my sewing machine yesterday, but I made up for that today. I squeezed in a solid hour before the school bus come and managed to get the top of Dad's Plaids done. Not done done, but quilted at least. If I hadn't had another Girl Scout meeting tonight I would have had time to get the binding put on. I should be able to do that tomorrow and call it finished!
I snapped this picture of Sydney this weekend and thought it was just way too funny. When do kids stop sleeping with their little bottoms up in the air? She was one tired girl. I'd better go now, I've promised my forensic science class a quiz tomorrow and I haven't written it yet.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Weekend Visit

We're having a nice time in Georgia visiting the family. We've had my nephew and niece all weekend, and my brother came today with his son, so the gang is almost all here. The kids are enjoying the fall weather. Sydney had a realization yesterday that they probably call it fall because the leaves are FALLING off the trees. She wants to gather some up and take them back to share with her class at school.
My sister wasn't able to make it, she's still at the hospital with Zach. They think they have figured his seizures out now, but the pneumonia still isn't responding to antibiotics. They don't want him to go home until he is breathing room air for at least a day. I think we'll go out that way tomorow and visit them both at the hospital.
The kids all played football in the back yard and then captured bugs. Then they decided to dug up worms so they could go fishing. Thankfully they didn't catch anything or we would have had to clean fish for dinner. We've ordered pizza instead -- much easier.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rainy Day

No pictures today, I brought the camera to Georgia, but not all the cables and cords to download them. I'll try to remember to take some though, even though we aren't doing anything too exciting. My sister is at the hospital with Zach (19 months old) who is having issues with pneumonia and seizures and low heart rate. He has Down Syndrome and started out with open heart surgery at 7 weeks of age. It's been a little rocky since then, but hopefully he'll come through this too. I am afraid to visit him at the moment with my lingering head cold. Instead we are hanging out with Austin and Paige, his older brother and sister. They are about the same ages as Ryan and Sydney and all are getting along fabulously. Poor Anna is feeling a little left out, but I can't produce an extra cousin for her out of thin air. It's been raining all day, so the kids have concentrated on spreading toys all over the house. My mom has taken the girls out to get their fingernails painted. I would have found a bottle of polish and done them all up at home, but she claimed grandmothers prerogative and took them all to a nail salon. I brought along my Elm Creek Sampler and have been diligently hand quilting which is a nice cozy way to spend a rainy day. I'm hoping it will stop raining so I can get in a nice long run while I'm here. My partners are doing 15 while I'm here and I already missed last weekend while I was sick.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Family Times

One of the mom's at the chess tournament last weekend took this picture of Ryan and I with his two trophies. He is still pretty happy with himself for getting TWO. It's been a busy week around here. I'm still getting over my cold, but trying to catch up on all the things I skipped last week when I was working and sleeping exclusively. It's been a low key week at worIk. PSATs were yesterday, parent conferences today, and inservice tomorrow. We are headed to Georgia for the weekend to see my family. My nephew is back in the hospital again and we haven't been to visit in ages. The kids are all excited to see Noanie and all of their cousins.

Monday, October 13, 2008

One and Two Halves

It was a weekend of this and that. There was a football game on Friday, but still not feeling well, I decided to skip it. 12 hours of sleep do a lot to helping your immune system catch up. Saturday morning brought ice skating for the girls and a chess tournament for Ryan. I let Kurt choose duties in exchange for the extra slack he's picked up all week while I've been sick. I ended up with the all day long chess and took along a little Dear Jane to work on while Ryan was in his matches. Ryan had a good day. After loosing his first game, he won the next three and had a stalemate on the last. He got a trophy for 6th place in his K-3 age group and another for biggest upset. If we knew more about how the other players are all rated we could probably figure out who he wasn't supposed to beat. We aren't exactly experts though, and just go for the fun at this point.
I finished my first quilt block early on. It is Hot Cross Buns (B5) with 15 pieces. I started on Sweet Tater Pie (B2) next with the intention of attempting curved piecing again instead of doing the applique I love so much. I had everything precut though and accidentally mirror cut two of the outside white bits. So, being unable to finish that block, I went onto Poof (G5) and got most of the background sewn together before the end of the day. It doesn't seem like much for 7 hours of waiting, but it was broken up into small fragments.
Sunday afternoon was our first meeting for OM (Odyssey of the Mind). Kurt is going to be the coach, and both Anna and Ryan are on the same team. They are supposed to be building some sort of structure out of balsa wood to hold up weight. I'm trying to not get involved and let Kurt do things his way. Still, it was a bunch of new people coming to our house, so the morning was spent getting everything company clean. I was unwilling to mess the kitchen up so soon after all of my hard work, so we went to CiCi's for dinner.
It doesn't seem like much for an entire weekend, but I guess that's the way it is sometimes. I puttered around with Dad's Plaids during down time. I think I've finished about four and a half rows now with about 7 and a half to go. It's coming along and I'm happy with the way it is working out.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Let the Quilting Commence

After all of the backbreaking work of basting the Plaid quilt this weekend, I couldn't help but jump into the quilting on Monday. I have a tiny window of time after work but before the kids are home from school and I've been able to get a row or so done each day. I would have loved to come back to it in the evenings, but Monday was Girl Scouts and Tuesday was the presidential debate. Through a process of negotiation (this quilt is going to live on the master bed) I decided to echo the star pattern in the plain blocks and do stitch in the ditch in the star blocks. Then the little corner four patches get a flower/four leaf clover treatment and I move onto the next block. It's not quite as much quilting as I think I would like, but I can always add more later. It will probably take plenty of time just to get minimal quilting done with the size of this guy.
I haven't made the progress I would have liked because I have managed to catch a monster of a head cold. I'm making it through the day upright, but by the time I'm home for the day I'm happy to just curl up in cozy chair with a quilt and cup of tea. It's been raining every day this week which just adds to that need to snuggle and hibernate. Next week is an odd week at school with short days for testing and conferences and inservices. The quarter is ending, so all of that down time should give me a chance to finish off all of the loose ends.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Murder on a Manicure

I spent the morning finishing the pin basting on Dad's Plaids. I've seen systems with PVC pipe or wooden frames for basting. I even made one just for that purpose, but it just doesn't work on something so ginormous (yes, I'm making up my own words now!). So after crawling around on the floor all morning and scrounging for every last safety pin in the house, I got the job done.

As much as I would have loved to start quilting this afternoon, I was feeling guilty about not doing my share around the house. So instead of firing up the sewing machine, I decided to start painting the bathroom. It's coming along slowly, and even though it's not done, all of the components are usable again. If I was a really good person I would get out the tile saw and finish the part that Kurt isn't supposed to do because of his bad rotator cuff. Maybe next weekend. I didn't paint the high parts, but I did finish everything I could reach with the small step stool we keep in there for the kids. Wow are those ceiling high! I'll have to get the big ladder out later and do the rest. We haven't gotten new light fixtures yet, so I would have had to do more painting when we got those anyway. I'm rationalizing not finishing the paint job, but I was just darned tired by dinner time and glad to put it all away for the night.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pin Basting and Running

I got up way too early this morning to try to get in 13.1 miles. The idea was to do a trial for the half marathon on the marathon course and see what kind times we could turn in. I knew I had put in too many miles for the week and started out in pain. I slowed down for the second half and managed to make it back to the car, and even though it turned out to be only 12.2 miles, I called it good enough. I got back home only to find that I was locked out. Kurt had taken the kids to ice skating and I had forgotten to take a key with me! So I went out with one of my running partners for breakfast and then came home to wait patiently by the pool. A nice long shower helped make everything better and a power nap filled up the rest of the morning.
After all of that I decided to get Dad's Plaids basted and ready for quilting. King sized quilts take a lot longer to make than cute little wall hangings! Just the ironing took most of the afternoon and I got everything layered up right around dinner time. I've got a good chunk of the middle pinned together, but I'm not sure if I've got the energy to go back to it tonight or not. Crawling around on hands and knees is not the best thing to follow up a week with way too many miles. Maybe I'll have a nice relaxing bath instead. The master bath is mostly reassembled now and is usable again. I hope everyone else is getting lots of good quilt things accomplished. Fall seems like such a nice time for quilting.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Goodies in the Mail

I got two books in the mail yesterday for which I had been waiting anxiously. The first is a running book that I ordered when I got the Galloway running book earlier this year. I've been using his run/walk method for my most recent training efforts. This book is by his wife and is specifically targeted to women. It seems pretty good so far, trying to mix technical and inspirational bits together. I'm only three chapters in, but it does that thing where it repeats the same segments in different portions of the book. I guess running books aren't meant to be read cover to cover like a novel. The second book was Bonnie's new book which I would have felt obligated to buy even if it was horrible. It isn't of course. There are lots of comfy looking scrap quilts, almost all of them different from what is on her website. It has some information on leaders and enders and organization, but not as much detail as she offers on her website. There were a couple of new quilts that I might add to my to do list, but I'm being good right now and finishing what I have started.
Speaking of being good, I was out this afternoon running a few errands and made it out of Joann's with only the batting I needed for Dad's Plaids. I decided to go with an organic cotton. I've got a bag of bamboo that I am going to try on Hurricane Road. The main thing I needed while out was a new pair of running shoes. I have worn holes in my old pair and can really feel the difference on long runs. I tried to get them at our local running store. They have done such good things for running around here that I try to support them. They were out of my size in the style I wear and I ended up at Sport's authority instead. I've got 13.1 on the schedule for the morning so new shoes will be much appreciated. I'm off now to work at the football game at school. It's a big game tonight and if we win, we are sure to go to the district championship.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Thursday is for Sharing

I finished up the sharing quilt and it is ready to go to school tomorrow. I had trouble getting the sewing machine to do letters properly. I knew I should have taken all those orientation classes that went with the new machine! I could make it do letters one by one, but I couldn't figure out how to make it remember a sequence of letters. They ended up a little crickety from all the starting and stopping, but it is finished none the less. I tried some of the new variegated thread that I ordered from Connecting Threads and it worked quite well. I got several other goodies at the same time because they will ship free with a $50 order. The prices seem quite good and I've been happy with everything I've ordered so far.
As we were getting ready for bed tonight, Ryan came down with a tooth in his hand. It's been loose for quite a while, and finally fell out tonight. Then he rushed into the kitchen to write a note for the tooth fairy explaining that he swallowed his last two teeth accidentally and asking if he could have money for those as well.