Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Simple Woman #66

For today...  June 30, 2010

Outside my window...  the boys, playing Dino-opolis, a wet driveway (because I hosed it clean), our picnic table, which I uncovered and moved out while cleaning out the shed.

I am thinking...  of a grocery list, and whether I can hang the laundry on the line or is it going to rain,
and it looks like rain.

I know.  Deep thoughts, people.

I am thankful for...  the trip to Children's yesterday, that Tate's HA will soon be fixed, that the boys mostly cooperated graciously with cleaning out the van AND the shed.

Because I got more.  Projects, that is.

And Kerry has some work today :D

I am praying for...  my friend, Kimberly.

I am wearing...  grubby clothes, after working outside.  Need a shower and a change.

I am creaing...  ahhhhh.  Space.  Cleanliness.  Order.
Room to work and think.

I am going...  to take the boys to Grampa and Gramma Grasshopper's tonight,
for dinner and a movie, to celebrate - again - how well they've done in homeschool
this year.  I just got their test scores back.  :D

I am reading...  La's Orchestra Saves the World, by Alexander McCall Smith.

I am hoping...  for sanity and calmness to prevail.  Not always a sure thing in this house.

And that the pile of stuff in the front yard, next to the "Free" sign, all disappears.

I am hearing...  the dryer tumbling, but no noise from the boys.  I hope they're reading.

I am remembering...  the list.  The Mother Load.

From the learning rooms...  no official school of any kind this week.  But the caterpillars are making cocoons and need to be moved into the butterfly house.

From the kitchen...  chicken marinating to grill tonight, along with corn on the cob, and maybe - if I can find fresh and local - raspberry pie.

Around the house...  detritus.  Neglected the inside to work outside today.

On my mind...  so much to do!  It whirls and swirls around in my mind.  Window screens need washing.  Records from Tate's hospital stay last September need to be retrieved.  Our camping disability discount card needs to be found or replaced.

It's a thrill a minute over here.

Noticing that...   I get suspicious if the house is too quiet...

One of my favorite things...  bringing order from chaos.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  little party tonight, and then looking forward to 4th of July.

Here is a picture I am sharing...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hearing Aids, Detours, Quilts, and This Thing

Monday was wet.  Rainy, cloudy, and wet.  And this is a week we're not doing any school.  Though I nearly changed my mind about that, as the boybarians were very restless and irritable.  I suspect they were still unwinding from a busy weekend.

And they were doing this thing which drives me nuts! They hover around me like frantic buzzing bees, absolutely vibrating with tension.  One will ask a question, or initiate a discussion about something.  The next boy will interpret any lull in the conversation - you know, like when you pause between words to breathe - as an appropriate time to interject his own question or issue of choice.  And then the next boy will do the same thing.  And it's all, from their perspective, terribly, exceedingly urgent.

Bzzzzz, bzzzzz, bzzzzzz.

One.  At.  A.  Time.  Please.

Probably didn't help that I was on a self-imposed quilting marathon to finish the vintage tumbler quilt.

Which I did.  Yay, me!  No pics yet.  Coming soon.  I like it.  I really like it.  It's happy.

So today we made another trek to Children's Hospital, this time accompanied by Grampa Grasshopper.  Can I just say again how awesome Grampa and Gramma Grasshopper are?  Why yes, I think I will.  Because, really, I'm a big girl, and I can drive into the city all by myself.  But I'm a little worried about something.

It's the van.  We've nicknamed it Pahoehoe, which is that hot, red lava that flows quickly and smoothly.  But lately I've been calling it Dory.  Because it does this thing.  Actually...
I think it speaks whale...

(If you haven't seen Finding Nemo, just move along.)  It moans sometimes.  And it's probably the power steering, (which still works), but every once in awhile it doesn't go into reverse when I want it to.  And I really don't want to have issues with it, far from home without another adult present.

So hurray for Grampa Grasshopper!

Which also worked out well since they're doing road work along my normal this-is-so-easy route from I-5 directly to Children's, and it was nice to have a driver and a navigator, because I saw places I'd never seen before.

And what a good thing we did make the trek to Children's.  Remember Tate's little drama with his HA and the tomato soup? 

He swore his HA was working just fine after that, but we were all noticing a lot more, "Huh?" and "Whaaaaat?" and missed communication.  Either he had a very coincidentally timed drop in hearing, or the soup did more damage than we initially thought.

Tate was not happy with me for even suggesting such a thing, knowing that sending his HA in for repair means wearing his old aid, and the difference in sound quality is very noticeable to him.  So he kept insisting everything was fine.

Yah.  His Audie hooked the HA up to her computer and it was clearly not functioning properly.  And surprisingly, when it came right down to it Tate was great about it.  Total attitude turn around.  Thank you, Lord.  She (the Audie) did reprogram his old aid - optimized it as much as possible.  And given the malfunction of his good aid, the adjustment probably wasn't so bad after all.  I think the sound is just really different

Should have the "new" one back in a couple of weeks.


In other news, I had planned on putting all my sewing stuff away as soon as I finished that quilt.  But then I remembered, I still have to bind the Christmas quilt when it comes back from the quilter.  So, meanwhile, I'm puttering away at little sewing projects.  Like bibs.  Made from scraps.  Kind of fun.  I may need an intervention.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

In Church Today...

It's been a full weekend.  The boys were at a camp-out on Friday, filled with squirt-gun battles, and spitting watermelon seeds, and swinging from the trees.  Then extra boys joined us overnight, sleeping on the living room floor with my boys, looking like a bunch of caterpillars in cocoons.  Though I'm not sure how much actual sleep happened either of those nights.

And then church today.

We missed last Sunday, due to fun family activities out of town, and it's so very good to be back with our church family today.

Everyone singing.  Babies giggling and squirming.  Toddlers wiggling and peering over the pews.  Pastor Bert faithfully, clearly pouring out God's Word.  Kids dutifully writing their notes.  Grown-ups too.  Carefully, oh so very carefully, passing the bread and the juice, from hand to hand.

Grace has appeared.

And a warm little body sinking into my side.

I felt his head begin to nod after the offering.

Gunnar, are you getting sleepy?

No...  Mama...  I just...  like to...  close my eyes...  a little.

And then the steady, quiet breathing of an exhausted child.

While I don't encourage the boys to sleep through church, I couldn't help but think what peace, to fall asleep surrounded by your family, hearing God's Word.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Since I'm all set up for sewing, and my Christmas quilt is off being quilted, I though I'd make one more.

Long ago, after my friend Ginny talked me into taking a quilting class with her (thank you, Ginny!) we ordered and split a pack of vintage fat quarters.  I think there were 80 fq's in the set - 2 each of 40 fabrics.  Seriously.  I had no idea how much fabric that actually is!

Being slightly neurotic picky about the way colors mix, I divided my fq's into a set of 20 pastels, and 20 brights.  Not primary colors, but brighter than the pastels.  I've made two baby quilts out of the pastels - here and here.  But the 20 brights have been sitting in my cabinet, waiting for the right idea.

Something appropriately vintage.  But not too fussy, because the prints are busy.

Then I saw this tumbler quilt, and knew it was a project I could manage.

Actually, the top went together fairly quickly.  It's the biggest quilt I've made, at 72 x 78... before quilting.

And here it is, waiting, on the school room floor.  Because basting it is my least favorite part of quilting.

Yes, it would've been better if it were a really random pattern.  But really, truly random doesn't usually work out like it ought to.  Or maybe that's just me.

But it's going to sit there overnight, while the batting "relaxes".  That's what I tell myself.

Because, meanwhile, the bathrooms have been sorely neglected.

And you know I hate bending over and putting in all those pins if cleaning toilets sounds better!

And besides, I need to decide on a binding.  I'm thinking it would be nice to use a blue, like the brightest blue block.  Thoughts?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Blitzing... It's Not a Reindeer

The boys (including Kerry) were all invited to a campout, to celebrate a friend's 5th birthday.

Hurray!  Fun for them!

And, hurray!  A quiet house for me!

And double-plus-good, it's leverage for getting more done.  Not that the boys aren't willing to help,
but a little extra motivation is always nice :D

So, before we loaded up the tents and sleeping bags, we did some long-awaited Blitzing,
inspired by my friend Jena.

Grab My Blog Button! 

As usual, the room that descends into chaos the most quickly is the so-called family room.  Which the boys have appropriated as a play room.  Because their enormous bedroom just isn't enough.  Fine.

But opening the door to see this drives me absolutely nuts.
Yes, I know, it's a short drive.
Clutter everywhere, and a pile of books to the right of the TV.

Turning left, to the closet, I found this.
A K'nex explosion, Legos, (eek! you're mixing dynasties!), pillows,
papers on the floor and apparently falling out of the closet,
dry-erase boards, garbage, nerf darts, a towel,
and much, much, more!

And the poor, old lumpy futon looks down-right depressing.
I think, as furniture goes, it's at least middle-aged, and losing the fight against gravity.
I thought about putting it on Craigslist earlier this year, but got rid of some ugly chairs, instead.

While the rest of the floor-space looked like this - more books, more papers.
Hot Wheels, toys, videos and DVDs, etc.
making it difficult to access the bookshelves or the extra bathroom.

But... four people working for 1/2 an hour, makes 2 hours of work!
And, wah-wah!

Now, I see a tidier view from my kitchen vantage point.
And when I go in, and turn to the closet... I can get in there to find things!
K'nex are in their tub.
Legos are in their tubs. (Cannot be contained in just one!)
Books are shelved.

And the futon...
...well, the futon is still sad and saggy, but better dragged upright,
and accessorized with pillows instead of toys.

And the overall effect is peaceful,
rather than anxiety-inducing.

So, now that it's clean, they'll be more likely to
keep it tidy...

You Know You've Had A Full Day...

... when the ride home looks like this.

Gunnar was the first to go.

Followed closely by Tate, the contortionist.

And eventually by Wyatt, though he insisted that boys his age
don't fall asleep in the van.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Father's Day / June Birthdays 2010

I may have mentioned that Father's Day is kind of a big deal in our family.
When we all get together, we have four fathers and six birthdays to observe,
so it can feel a bit like Christmas.

This is just part of it.

But, in spite of the 11 year-old being the only one holding a camera,
we got a few good pics.

Wyatt, very consciously looking very cool, was happy to help distribute gifts.

Which Gunnar was more than happy to receive!

My baby is NINE!

What happened?  Seems like just last week he was Binky Boy.

I mean, just look at the cuteness here!
(On vacation in Oregon.  Happily sucking the salt off the rocks.)

And now he's nine.
Reading.  Writing.  Riding a bike.

Slow down, already!

But, honestly, I'm enjoying watching him grow, and learn, and play.
And listening to him talk, and pray, and think.

I love his tender, compassionate heart.
And his snuggles.

I love him.  :D

Back to the party...

He requested 100 cans of this special peanut butter chocolate cocoa mix.
And was happy to receive three :D

And here's the photographer himself, hamming it up with Uncle Dave.
Gee, thanks, Tate.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blue Stars Table Runner

You guys are way too generous with the compliments.  Honestly, if you could look closely at these things you might just smile politely and nod your head and think to yourself... garage sale fodder!

But you know how it is.  Even when you're all grown up, your mom still loves everything you make :D

And I want some kind of a record of what I've made (hoping my Mad Sewing Skillz will improve!) so I'm posting them here.

This was the first try at making my mom a table runner.  I was going to stitch the outline of their hands inside the stars, with sparkly silver thread.

Did not work.  I bought embroidery thread and had to use a HUGE needle (how do you thread that stuff, anyway?)  It was making huge holes in the fabric, so I gave up on that and just made a blue and white runner.  Looks kind of black in the photo, but navy blue IRL.

Looks good with her blue and white and sparkly winter things, or out at 4th of July with some red accents, so not a total loss!

In the meantime, if you want to see some really inspiring quilting, check out...

Rachel, at p.s.iquilt


the sassy Monica, at HappyZombie


find tons of free patterns at AllPeopleQuilt,  or the Moda Bakeshop (where I found the idea for my Christmas quilt)


lose yourself for hours (and hours) looking at all the wonderful things Amanda Jean, at CrazyMomQuilts has made.

And then I sigh, and hope to be that good of a quilter when I grow up.

Photography Tips for the Rest of Us

Sometimes at family gatherings there are so many digital cameras clicking you just know it will take weeks to sort out all the photos.

And then other family events appear to be recorded solely by an 11 year-old boy, trying to be funny.

Granted, Uncle Dave has a very expressive face, and is willing to ham it up, but - helloooo - there was a party going on!

And this is the best shot he got of Kerry.
On Father's Day.

iphoto's red-eye feature had no idea what to do with those glaring retinas.
No help at all.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thankful Hands

Made this for my mom's birthday (in November) almost two years ago.
Didn't quite finish it on time, due to having my tonsils out.

Got it put together in time for Thanksgiving :D

I traced each of the boys' hands and appliqued them on with their initials.


Monday, June 21, 2010


With all the quilting going on around here lately,
I got thinking about some of the things I never got pictures of.

Now, for some of my earlier efforts...
that's just as well.

But when I was at my parents' house last week,
I snapped a couple of photos of things I've given my mom.

This is the one and only rag quilt I've made.
(Not counting this one, which is not a true ragged edge quilt.)

You see, my mom and her sister had a lot in common.  They both decorated kind of country, very Americana, very red-white-and-blue.  Very vintage.

They horrified their dad by taking the wooden chests he'd made them, painting them, and then "distressing" them.  

He recovered.
And we still laugh about Mom and Aunt Judy
beating their chests.

Being the crafty sort, my aunt bought a pattern and materials to make a flannel rag quilt.  All the materials she chose were red, white and blue.

And they all looked like shirts my grandpa wore. 

I remember her showing me the pattern and the material.
But she never got around to making the quilt.
And then she got breast cancer.

When my cousin went through her things, she gave the quilt kit to me (the only one in the family to possess a sewing machine).  So I made the quilt up for my mom.  We're not overly sentimental, usually, but it reminds me of my grandpa and my aunt.  Good memories :o)

But I think of it as the Sneezy Quilt.  The result was good, the process... not so fun!  You don't prewash the flannel, and little fibers were flying everywhere.  I made the quilt in the summer and the flannel was hot and heavy to work with.  I was constantly sneezing and scratching. 

Glad I did it.  Not in a hurry to make another one!

Simple Woman #65

For today...  June 21, 2010

Outside my window...  it's 53F and cloudy.  Welcome to summer in the Pacific Northwest.  (eyes roll)  To be fair, we count on summer coming right after the 4th of July.

I am thinking...  there is something I can not find and it's annoying me.  A piece of paper.  I think it might have fallen out of a file into my recycling???  Arrrgh.

I am thankful for...  family and friends.

I am praying for...  friends in the Solomon Islands.

I am wearing...  jeans, long sleeves.  Summer?

I am creating...  been working on a quilt.  (See post below.)  Waiting to have a friend quilt it and then I'll bind it.  Hurray!

I am going...  to make lunch soon, to stay home all day, to enjoy my birthday presents!

I am reading...  Bill Bryson books - gifts from Kerry :D

I am hoping...  for a fun, relaxing summer with the boys.

I am hearing...  the volume rising downstairs, where they are playing.  A likely sign that they are getting hungry...

From the learning rooms...  Commodore Perry and Japan, multiplying by five, Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade", word roots, reviewing whole numbers, Martin Luther King Jr., orders of operations, and the Crimean War.

Yes, we are doing some school over the summer.  Every other week, about an hour a day.
Cruel task-master that I am.

It was either a Little Bit of School over the summer, or go to a five-day week.
And we'd miss our PTO days too much. ;D

From the kitchen...  hmmm, must get inspired, but feeling rather blah today.

Around the house...  the booty of celebrating one father and two birthdays.
My "baby" is NINE!  More on that later.

On my mind...  my office is feeling very cluttery, as a result of all the sewing lately.  Looking forward to tidying and getting rid of more stuff.  It's getting easier.

Noticing that...  do boys grow more in the summer than the rest of the year?  I think the longer daylight does something to them!  (Maybe they have some hidden chlorophyll!)  But these long days... light this morning before 5am, and will be light until 10pm.  I love it!

Pondering these words...  Grace and Peace.

One of my favorite things...  the smell of fresh-cut grass.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  playing with friends.  :D

Here is a picture I am sharing...

... 'tis the season...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Christmas in June

I've been working on something...

I mentioned my special fabric.

And my fabric cutting anxiety.

But I finally made a plan I was happy with.  Want to see?

The blocks finished at 7.5".
So the quilt top looks like this.

The blue is not quite that vibrant IRL, but it does pop out from the other colors.
I had a larger piece of the red tone-on-tone snowflake material for backing, but when I decided to use it for the "ribbons", I needed something else for borders and backing.  (Hello Joann Fabric.)
I like the polka dots, though.  I think it works with the Mary Englebreit fabric.
I love the irregularity of the dots... looks like snow.

So I bought some black and used it for the backing, too!
And a few of the leftover scraps.

The picture is a bit fuzzy, but I really love how this came out!
Doesn't it feel like a snowy night?
(Okay, I know it's June, but try!)

And, in even better news... Wyatt's soccer coach is a professional quilter and I'm going to have her quilt it for me.  Woo-hoo!  I'd never priced out having someone else do the quilting, and when I found out how reasonable she is, it was a no-brainer.

Finished pics later...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Day We Had A Fire

As I was cleaning and organizing recently I found some treasures.  This one brought back some not-so-funny-at-the-time-but-much-funnier-now memories.  (Jena, this one's for you... since you had a similar experience lately!)

Early in 2002 we were having what you might call a stressful time.  Trust me, I won't go into all the details, but they included tearing the ancient kitchen apart to install a dishwasher (in our first house), Kerry having shingles, and then losing his job and trying to work out of our living room.  All with three boys, (5, 3, and 6 months) underfoot for a fun diversion (!) in a smallish house.

The boys were about this age...

(unrelated vacation photo).

Kerry went out of town for the weekend and Grampa Grasshopper came over to help out with some kind of electrical project.  The boys were engrossed in a documentary from the library, (either about the Challenger disaster or maybe about explosions, I don't remember), and I was trying to cook a pizza.

And it was taking forever.

When I finally realized that the electric oven wasn't working properly.   

In fact, it was on fire.

Or something like it.  The heating element was burning like a sparkler on the 4th of July.  So I very calmly turned the oven off.

To no effect.  The sparkler kept burning.

That's when I almost freaked out things got exciting.

See, we lived in an 80-year-old house with - as Kerry said - "most of it's charm in non-stylistic areas."  Meaning, we had one tiny bathroom, doors were hung upside down, you had to duck your head on the stairs, and dropped marbles would roll rapidly to one side or the other of most rooms.  And the wiring?  The stuff of nightmares.  So Kerry had impressed on the boys that if there was ever a fire, just GET OUT.

So we had a fire.  Contained.  In the oven.  I hoped.  But I couldn't stop it.

I sent the boys running for Grampa because I - being perfectly logical - had to keep an eye on the fire to make sure it didn't spread.  You know, because if I went down to the cellar to the fuse box and stopped watching the fire - which wasn't really a fire - who knew what would happen?  And if it wasn't actually a fire, and I sprayed the fire extinguisher into the oven, I'd ruin a perfectly-good-yet-still-uncooked Hawaiian pizza!

Grampa to the rescue.  Cutting the power to the oven immediately stopped the fireworks, which were caused by the heating element burning out.

And then I realized.

The boys were GONE.

Oh, they'd made a daring escape from certain doom.  I found them out in the driveway, in the dark night, as far away as possible, convinced that the house was about to explode and strategizing about where we were going to live.  After the house blew up.

It took a long time to talk them (Wyatt especially) back into the house.  That event made quite an impression on Wyatt.  So much so that two years later, at school, he produced this.

I think all the swirly dotted lines are supposed to be our escape routes.  (Either that or we're all flying paper airplanes, but I'm going with the escape routes.)  And I love how he accurately reproduced the sparkler effect in the oven.  He even remembered which side of the element was burning.

I'll say this, he has a memory for detail. 

Just A Little Drama At Lunch... A Story In Pictures

This ...

... dropped into this ...

... leads to this ...
And mom sends boys running in all directions,
to fetch rubbing alcohol, Q-Tips, and this...

... in which the wonder of silica worked its magic.

Leading to this...

And much relief on the part of Mom.

The moral of this story is...

... don't fiddle with your Hearing Aid over lunch!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In Which We Finish Our School Year With A Party

Have I mentioned how glad we are to be done?
A couple of times?

We've been homeschooling for three years now.
Not veterans, but no longer novices.
We've settled into a groove that works for us.
Not a rut, I hope!
But a pattern we can all live with.

Want to know what we've been doing this year?

I'll show you.

Let's start with Gunnar...
... I forgot his handwriting book, Draw Write Now, and his new math book (Saxon 3),
but you get the idea.

Then we have Tate...
... forgot Draw Write Now and an extra grammar book.

And, lastly, Wyatt...
... forgot Vocabulary from Classical Roots.

We've been busy.

So we had a party, on Sunday, with Grampa and Gramma Grasshopper,
and Aunt Tami and Uncle Dave.
You know, a really fancy party,
with hot-dogs on the grill.

And the boys were rewarded with these.
Okay, they weren't that big, but big!

And, in the spirit of a previous post,  I'm proud of the boys for their diligent work, their persistence, and their interest and enthusiasm.

Don't they look happy?

How about a close up?
There we have a 3rd grader, an 8th grader, and a 6th grader!

In all their glory.

Normal to weird in under 5 seconds.