Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Taking Stock

I was tossing and turning in my sleep last night. Painting the house has started the never ending "t0 do" list running in high gear in my head. Something about having the outside all shiny and clean makes me think the inside should match. We've been collecting stuff for a garage sale for a while now, so when I couldn't sleep I started a list of things to be collected and put into the sale. Then I made a list of home improvements to work on and I could be busy for quite a while.
The end of the year is also an opportunity to inventory accomplishments and goals. Since this is a quilt blog, I'll start with quilty things. I see in my side bar that I finished 18 quilts last year. I stopped counting in the heat of the nursing home lap quilt frenzy, but 8 of the 18 belong to that group. I know I made up others from the kits, but those were part of the project, so I won't bother to add all that up. I also see from the side bar that I have 13 WIPs listed (works in progress for non quilt people). I'm thinking that finishing one UFO a month is a good goal for the year. That still gives me wiggle room for new projects if I work on current pace.
It isn't quite as easy to quantify the non-quilty goals. All of the home improvement and upkeep is such a never ending cycle that I'm not sure where to start. I suppose I could break the house down into rooms and try to focus on one each month. I'll have to start thinking about how that could work. I think I'm on track for the excerscise and health arena. Losing wieght is a also a never ending goal, so I won't even bother to list that one. How about you guys, is anyone else thinking about resolutions for the new year?

House is DONE

We finished the house painting yesterday after several days of hard labor. My legs are tired and sore from climbing ladders and scaffolding, and I may never get all the paint out from under my fingernails. I am very thankful that we didn't have to pay someone to do the job for us. The going rate for painting a house this size would also buy a moderately priced car. Best of all, I know that it was done well. The cracks got sealed, the windows caulked and cleaned and the landscaping trimmed. Now I am looking forward to doing something nice and relaxing. Maybe Bonnie's mystery quilt, that sounds like a plan. First though, the scaffolding needs to get disassembled so it can go back, and I need to pick up the debris so I can get an official "after" picture. Then maybe a nice jacuzzi bath and a browse for mystery fabrics. That sounds like a plan.

Finally, Christmas Number 3

Our final Christmas this year happened on the 26th. Kurt's brother just bought a new house and moved, conveniently, just about half an hour away from my mom. The moving truck arrived just a few days before us, so we got to go see Kurt's brother and and family at their new house. Amazingly, given the short time, they had all of the boxes unpacked and were mostly settled in before we got there. The men were put in charge of installing TVs and and hanging heavy things on the wall.
The kids were put in charge of making sure the toy room was properly broken in. They had a great time playing rock star on the playstation and had quite a little band going.
We enjoyed a traditional Christmas lunch of turkey, ham and sweet potatoes along with family favorites like hashbrown casserole and black olives. It was wonderful to see both sides of the family on one trip. I know we will enjoy getting the cousins together more often now that more families are in the same general vicinity. The afternoon brought a visit from more "cousins" who live in the Atlanta area.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Christmas Take 2

Our second Christmas was on Christmas day. After Santa came on the 24th, we were off to Georgia to see Mom and all the aunts, uncles and cousins on our side. Everyone was happy and healthy this year, and very happy to be together. We've been trying to reign Noanie in on the gift giving for years, and I think this year we finally managed to achieve our goal! I knew it had gotten out of hand when the kids skipped making a Christmas list for Santa and sent it to Noanie instead. There were still plenty of gifts for all the kids to enjoy, but not so many that they were overwhelmed. The girls all got Barbie mp3 players that have not been off their ears since, and the boys got wall climbing cars that are just really cool.
All of the kids spent some time with Zach, who is very interactive and getting around really well. He is on oxygen all the time, but just crawls all over the place knowing that someone will carry his tank over when he runs out of tubing. Anna wanted to hold him like a big baby doll, but he was too busy exploring. Ryan sat on the floor with him rolling a ball back and forth and practicing the signs for "play" and "ball. Sydney was very curious about why he ate through a tube, and had lots of questions.
Tom outdid himself on Christmas dinner as usual. I was second in command and had such critical tasks as peeling apples and stirring sauces. There was a pear and fig stuffed pork tenderloin to go with the prime rib as well as fettuccine Alfredo with shrimp and scallops. We even made a homemade applesauce for the kids. He finally decided, as a concession to the kids, to do the dinner buffet style, which is totally contrary to his gourmet tendencies, but it is easier. Maybe when the kids get a little more independent we can go all out on the presentation again. After diner was a "Chinese" gift exchange for the adults and stockings for the kids. We finished the evening off with a holiday Pinata. We've had one for the past three years, and it is just way too much fun.
Christmas number three is still on Kurt's camera, so I'll post about it next time. For now we are all home again and happy to be settling back in. Today we worked on the traditional post vacation laundry and unpacking as well as getting a LOT of painting done. I think we'll be able to finish off almost everything tomorrow if we keep making such good progress.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention -- I finished off the last Twilight book last night! Wow, that was so much fun. I love "discovering" a series when there are already several out there, ready to be devoured in a big reading marathon. I have to make plans now to go and see the movie. One of my running partners, Ashlyn, is willing to go with me, even though she has already seen it, she is a big fan and is going to keep me company.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I am already on Christmas number two for the year, but realized I haven't reported on the first Christmas yet. I thought it was only kids from divorced families that got multiple Christmases every year, but mine have come to expect it.
Christmas number one came on December 24th. That was the "real" one. Cookies and milk, stockings hung with care. Anxious children herded off to bed. Thanks to the invention of Santa Sacks, we had the wrapping done in plenty of time and stockings stuffed with gifts gracefully stacked under the tree. It doesn't really matter how many gifts are under the tree, they always look small compared to the size of the giant tree. We used to have a regular sized tree, but it always looked silly compared to the really tall ceiling in the family room.
The children followed the rules, remaining in their rooms until we fetched them at the normal time. I am not one of those mom's that is willing to be awoken at 4 a.m. by children reporting that Santa has come. The rest of the morning was spent playing with new toys, checking them all out one by one. My new Wii fit was a big hit, although I didn't get much time to try it out yet. I was hoping it would help me get some sort of exercise when Kurt goes out of town. About the time everyone started to get tired and grumpy, we loaded them into the car and took off for "Noanie's house." Noanie is my mom, she lives about 8 hours away. My brother and sister both live much closer to her than I do, so they all converge on Christmas day after opening their own Santa gifts. It was a blissfully uneventful trip, the kids slept a good portion of the way. I took lots of pictures today, but they aren't downloaded yet, so I'll report on the next two Christmases later.
I hope everyone had a great day and was able to spend time with family and friends.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And the Stockings Were Hung....

Shhh, Santa is coming. Because we asked him really nice, he always comes to our house on the 24th instead of the 25th. We took a break from house painting today and commenced with Christmas preparations. Apparently, Santa wanted gingerbread houses this year instead of cookies. We worked diligently on those this morning, pulling out all the frosting and decorations we could find. After that Dad was the lucky one who got to take the kids to see a movie while Mom finished up a few last minute details. He said The Tale of Despereax was quite dreadful, but the kids still enjoyed the outing.
This evening brought the traditional Christmas eve present of new pajamas and a festive Christmas movie.
Sydney and I were a little tired I guess and were asleep before the movie ended. Leave it to my husband to snap of picture of me passed out cold. I did wake up long enough though to participate in the wrapping and arranging of the gifts. Thankfully that is a snap in our house as Santa doesn't wrap gifts. Instead he delivers them in color coded "Santa Sacks" which are made of fabric. All is quiet now, and I am ready to call it a night. I'm guessing tomorrow will be an early morning at our house.

Monday, December 22, 2008

House Half Full

I just love the names they give paint colors. Our house is going to be a lovely combination of kitchen twine, caribou, and penny loafer. Doesn't that just put an image in your head? We almost went with baguette, eclaire and espresso, wouldn't that have been yummy?
We were lucky enough to be able to hire on some extra help for our house painting yesterday. My running partner Tom's son is in town visiting and available by the hour. With his help we powered through half the house in our first day! It was the bottom half of course, which is the easiest part. We're going to have to rent scaffolding for the top part and didn't want to leave it up over Christmas. So instead we are finishing the detail work on the bottom and letting the rest wait until after the holiday.
I went out this morning and finished up the edging and trim over the garages. I even got the carriage lights and house number put back up. I'm not very good at electrical though, and only one of them lit up this evening. I don't know why, but it makes me feel better to have one small section all the way done. This afternoon I braved the cold to go out and paint the shutters on the bottom floor. Wow, shutters take a long time to paint! All those nooks and crannies have to be taken care of one at a time.
Nothing much on the quilting front. I've started a new Christmas quilt that is meant to be a going away present for a neighbor who is moving, but I've been bone tired at the end every day recently and haven't made much progress. I'd better get a move on if I want to get it done, they are leaving before the new year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Time Flies

Where has an entire week gone?
When last I checked in, I think I had just finished off the nursing home quilt delivery and was hosting my in-laws while waiting anxiously for the arrival of my dear husband. He stumbled in during the wee hours of the morning but still managed to be up before dawn due the the time difference. He brought a nice upper respiratory thing home with him, which seems to have missed all of the kids except Anna. (Also some beautiful sweaters for the kids I need to get pictures of still) I've finally downloaded pictures from the camera, and gotten some photos from Miss Sheila's memory card as well, so I'll share more of those tomorrow. Today I'll just zoom through the week and bring things up to date.

Last Sunday, Anna was singing in church in the morning. Her friend Sierra was dancing, and so I went and dutifully snapped pictures of them being all adorable. Kurt's mom was nice enough to come with me while Kurt laid low at home, still claiming jet lag.

The afternoon brought a lovely Christmas open house. My mother in-law came along while Kurt took Ryan to a birthday party. I'm not sure why the only picture I managed to snap was one of Anna and Sierra again.

Monday was back to work for the first day of finals. I put my nose to the grindstone, determined to have everything finished and entered by the end of the week. Tuesday was a repeat performance, followed by Sydney's class party conveniently scheduled just 20 minutes after the end of my last exam. We pasted and glitter glued ornaments, and tasted lots of frosting on these adorable little "gingerbread" houses.
By Wednesday I was finished with exams and spent the morning finishing off the last dregs. Grade calculations, comments, that sort of thing. So by Thursday I was done. Anna's class party just happened to fall in the morning on Thursday so I was able to make that as well, and helped out with "winter" themed activities of ice-cream, insta-snow, and Florida snow men made of white slime. I forgot my camera that day, so no photos of the third grade fun.
Kurt and I both off then on Friday, so we went out to breakfast together, finished off the Christmas shopping and went to the hardware store to choose house paint colors.
Saturday morning was my scheduled long run of 23 miles! I tried to get out of it, but I have these persistent running partners who wouldn't let me get away with it. Meisje was only scheduled for 18, so we started at 5:30 with a 9 mile loop. We came back for Tom and he ran with us for the next 9 mile loop. After dropping Meisje off back at her car, Tom and I did another short loop to bring the total to 23. I was tired at the end, but still functional, much to my own surprise. I got back to shower and change while Kurt went off to buy paint.
The rest of the afternoon was spent painting the house. We're going to rent scaffolding after Christmas, so for now, we're just painting the lower part of the house. I'm off to paint. I've volunteered for the low down trim work while Kurt goes crazy with the big 18 inch roller. We'll see how much damage we can do in a whole day. Happy Sunday everyone.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I almost forgot to mention. Kurt's parents made it in to town, but I'm still waiting for him to show up. His international flight was delayed for three hours, and by the time he made it through customs, he had missed his connection. He was traveling with two other people on the same project, and the one who drove to the airport managed to catch his flight, leaving the other two stranded. I called and reserved him a shuttle so that he could get home, but his flight isn't due in until 11 p.m. I feel like I should stay up to meet him, but by the time he gets out of the airport and home again it will probably be the wee hours of the morning. I'm guessing he'll be pretty much done between jet lag and traveling and the cold he managed to catch while he was away. Isn't business travel fun?

The Big Day

Today was finally the day we went to the nursing home for Christmas caroling and lap quilt delivery! I was worried that after working so long on making the quilts, that giving them away would be difficult. Instead, the girls were all happy to find someone to take their quilts. We started by singing a nice set of Christmas songs. When it came time to deliver the quilts,each girl remembered exactly the quilt she had made and went to find someone who wanted it.
Most of the residents were very appreciative of the singing as well as the quilts. The were very impressed by the fact that the girls made them.
Several of the girls sat down and spent time with the people who got their quilts. This is Madison who wanted us all to come and meet her new friend. Not all of the girls were as outgoing, but spending some time getting to know the elderly was a very positive experience for them. We will definitely set up another afternoon or two after the holidays for the girls to go back and spend some time with the nursing home residents one on one.
Anna made two quilts, but was most proud of this one because she picked out the fabrics herself.

I was very happy with how everything turned out. There were a few extra quilts which the nurses saved for some of the residents who were sick and unable to come to the caroling. The girls are already asking when they can make another quilt so that they have one to keep for themselves.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Coming Home

Endeavor arrived back this afternoon right before the school bus. There was weather when it was supposed to land originally, so they diverted to Texas and piggybacked it home on an airplane. I didn't get my own picture, but this one was sent by someone from work. Everyone here is bracing for the end of the shuttle program and wondering how it will impact the area. We already have one neighbor leaving, he works directly for NASA and couldn't pass up a good offer to move out of state. They have a son Ryan's age and they play well together, so I will be sad to see them leave, but I would do the same thing in their position.
We've managed pretty well in a single parent household for the week. I am so thankful that I don't have to do this alone all the time! My mom managed from the time we were all small children, and every time I try to "go it alone", I have new respect for what she managed to do.
The quilts are all folded and ready to go. I need to clean Kurt's car out in the morning so that it is ready for carpooling, and I noticed that his back tire has a slow leak, so I should take care of that. The babysitter is coming at 1:30 to stay with Ryan, Sydney and Ryan's friend Lucas. Kurt's parents will be here sometime, they are coming off of a cruise and couldn't pin down an exact arrival. I hope it doesn't confuse the babysitter too much if they show up while I am gone. Kurt will be back in the US by early morning, but has to catch a connection and won't be home before bedtime. Sunday is another doozy with Anna singing in Church in the morning, a birthday party and OM in the afternoon as well as a holiday open house that I don't want to miss. I suppose we'll do as much as we can and count ourselves lucky to have so many options.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's Begnining to Look......

I bit the bullet today and worked on putting up some Christmas decorations. Kurt got the tree up before he left, but he let the kids put on all the ornaments and they needed a little redistribution. They could still use a little help, but I didn't feel like getting the big ladder out again

I braved the attic to look (unsuccessfully) for the tree skirt and pulled down some Garlands, bows and lights. Then the kids and I spent the afternoon spreading holiday cheer. Do you have any idea how silly Christmas lights look when strung on palm trees? We're all going over to share dinner with our neighbor who's husband is out of town three days every week, we try to get together whenever Kurt is gone. We are going to bring cookies.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Oh So Close

I just connected the last binding on quilt number 40. All that remains is hand stitching on the last 4 quilts and possibly some more labels. I have a sad and pitiful version I drew with a sharpie marker that is on the quilts made by the girls. I tried to whip up a quick label with clipart and microsoft word, but I am missing an eye for graphic design that allows me to come up with something I am happy with. I'm hoping my friend Meisje will bail me out, she is much better at it than me.
I've managed to muddle through two and a half days as a single parent with no major mishaps. I thought I was in trouble when the school bus didn't come this morning, but a kind neighbor gave all of the kids a lift to school so I wasn't late to work. I stayed late at school to catch up on grading but still made it home in time to meet the bus this afternoon. Sydney had a field trip to the grocery store today and said it was, "the best day ever!". Anna finished her science fair project this afternoon and is quite proud of how adorable her board is. Ryan spent the evening making pulleys out of things he found in the toyroom and then we had lunchables for dinner.
Oh, I almost forgot the most exciting news of the day. The school librarian hooked me up with books 2, 3 and 4 in the Twilight series! Both copies of 1 were checked out, but she's going to save me one when they get turned back in. Guess what I'll be doing over Christmas break? This is the last full week of class before exams so we are winding down quickly.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bone Tired

As promised, my ride to the OUC half marathon showed up at 5 a.m. on the dot. I am so thankful that I didn't have to drive that I never even complained about the early start. We timed things pretty well because we had just picked up packets, chip timers, checked bags and used the facilities when the gun went off. Actually I had just gotten my turn when I heard the gun and tried to hurry things along as best I could. Being a chip race, it didn't matter that we weren't first past the start. Meisje was kind enough to organize this whole road trip. Ashlyn did the same race with us last year, and Amy was along for the first time this year. It was a beautiful day for a race, just a bit chilly and overcast. I thought for a few minutes it was going to start raining on us at about mile 9, but it never materialized. Ashlyn and Amy both wanted to finish below 2:10 and Meisje was going to give the Galloway method her best shot to prove that it was a viable marathon strategy. My plan was to start running and see how things went, I still want to break 2 hours at some point, but having not run a step since my 2o miler last week, I wasn't sure today would be my day. Meisje and I stuck together for the first 7 miles or so, walking at each water stop, passing the others and then falling behind as we walked and then ran again. Meisje got some serious energy going and started to pick up the pace after the halfway point, doing sub 9 minute miles and losing time at each split. I decided not to try to keep up with her and dropped back as she powered ahead. I plodded along, keeping a steady pace as first Amy and then Ashyln passed me by. I finished in a still respectable 2:07:40, 4 minutes behind my pace last week, and last of our little group. Every one was pleased with their finish times. Meisje came in at 2:03 something, just 15 seconds off her PR time, despite having walked every mile. Amy came in at 2:05 something with Ashlyn shortly behind at 2:06 something. We even had time to stop at McDonald's on the way home! I have developed a habit of stopping for unhealthy food on the way home from races. Something about the hot grease and salt just hits the spot at those moments. People wondered a bit about the four of us in our sweaty race gear with medals around our necks. Let them wonder! A marathon medal can only be worn for a short time, when the race day is done, it is left to hang as a dusty reminder of races past.

I got home in time to shower and kiss Kurt goodbye as his ride came for the airport. He'll call us from his layover, but I think it will be too late by the time he arrives at his destination to talk. I was carpooling to the birthday party, so we all pulled out at the same time as Kurt and his coworkers. It was a bowling party at the air force base, so we allowed extra time to go through security and get checked in properly. The birthday party was as calm as any gathering of 17 young children full of soda, pizza and cake can be. I was drafted to help out, and so did quite a bit of scurrying getting shoes, lining up lanes, distributing food and such. It is amazing how many children will burst into tears when faced with a dismal bowling score.
We are home again at last, full of birthday party food and wondering if we should try to eat a nice healthy dinner. I'm voting for pajamas and a good snuggle in a warm bed before it is time to put the kids to bed. Then I'm going to enjoy a nice hot whirlpool bath and try to get my tired legs energized enough for a new day.

Friday, December 5, 2008


I bet you are all sick of hearing the same thing by now, but here are the next two nursing home lap quilts. I'm begining to lose track, but I think these make 35 and 36. They keep coming in and out for bindings and labels, so they aren't all in one place for ease of counting. I do know that Miss Sheila picked up another kit this afternoon before I got home and after that, there are only two more kits left in the box. I think I see a glimmer of light.
I've got another half marathon in the morning. This one is in Orlando, so I have a ride coming at 5 a.m. I'm bringing a pillow in the car! I don't have a long run scheduled this time, so I can just do the 13.1 and then quit. Kurt is leaving on a jet plane at 1, and Anna has a birthday party at 2. I said I'd stay and help out, so that means everyone is coming along. Kurt had scheduled an OM meeting for Sunday, but I made him cancel it when the other coach couldn't show up either. He let me know at 4:30 that there was a work party tonight that we were supposed to go to tonight. I tried valiantly to get a sitter, but that isn't easy to do on such short notice. He went alone while I snuggled up in flannel PJs and finished my quilts. I've got everything ready to go for morning, so I think I'll call it a night. I know there is another quilt-a-thon this weekend, I won't be able to play along, but I hope some of you are.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Progress Report

I took 30 and 32 to Daisy's yesterday to work on the binding. 33 was a kit that got finished and sent out for hand stitching before I thought to take a picture. However, 34 and 35 came back to have the bindings attached. These two were made under Miss Sheila's supervision by two of our kind neighbors. I think the florals are very pretty and the workmanship is excellent.
Anna has been working diligently on her science fair project. She is testing different surfaces to see which ones show fingerprints the best. She had me bring a fingerprint kit home from my forensic science class and practiced yesterday lifting latent prints from a tile.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Deadline Nears

Last night was our Girl Scout Troop meeting. The girls signed labels for their quilts and we practiced singing the Christmas carols we are going to perform when we go to the nursing home to present the quilts. Only two weeks to go.
I thought I would get lots done on the Thanksgiving weekend, but that never panned out. Instead I got back to work today trying to finish up enough to get us to our goal of 40 quilts. The Shoofly Orphan Quilt (#30) was already layered and basted, so I used a large scale meander to get it quilted up in a real hurry. I am not exaggerating when I say I had less than 15 minutes until it was time for the school bus to come, and I was there in plenty of time!
After dinner I got the second OC Orphan Quilt (#32) ironed and went ahead and layered and basted it. Using the same big meandering idea, I finished it off right after the kids went to bed. It took a few minutes to make up some binding and stitch it on, now I can add both of those to my list! I have enough kits that I should be able to get to my goal by just finishing off the last of those, but I'm having so much fun finishing off orphans and extras. At some point practicality will settle in and I'll realize I need to finish it all off. I think I timed myself on the last kit quilt I put together and it took less than half an hour start to finish. Given that math, I have plenty of time to squander.