Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My goals for today ...

Today is Tuesday, which means no preschool for Jack! Yipee! I get to stay home and catch up.

My goals for today:

"movie morning" for Jack and Mason (just realized family room dvd player is not working)
cut and repaint toenails
cut and file coupons from Sunday's paper
cut and label boys' school pictures and Spenser's 1-year pictures
sew "sisters are forever" pillow for myself (like the ones I made for my sisters in 2002)
start "home is where the heart is" plaque for Andy's girlfriend, Melanie
start new handbag
go to library
get Personal Pan Pizzas for boys using their "book-it" vouchers

Sounds like a lot? huh??? Oh, boy...

Monday, January 30, 2006

I spy an Oompa Loompa ...

Oh -- it's just Spenser after her pasta dinner!
Hey! It's working now! After about 20 attempts!

This morning I awoke to some suspicious feelings in my eyes. My eyes were a little tacky and Joe said they were a little red. Please, please don't be pinkeye!!! I decided to go sans eye makeup today, so I have no visible eyelashes! I actually feel really self-conscious. Actually, my eyes feel fine. But it's better to be safe than sorry. And boy would I feel sorry for myself if I had pinkeye!!!!

I stopped by Mom's house today, after dropping Jack off at his pajama party at preschool. She was making homemade bread in her standmixer. I decided it seemed simple (thus the recipe is "simple bread") and would try making it. It was simple alright. Let's just hope it tastes okay.

Spenser is very loving today. She keeps hugging and kissing me. I love every minute of it. I think I need to go get some more from her ...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

This is the drawstring bag I sewed for myself. I always have issues with fabric selection. I finally found three that I liked that had similar colors. The lining is the same as the middle fabric. I intended to make the drawstring and the handles using that same fabric, but I didn't have enough. I decided to use what I call the "Oprah O" fabric that I used on the top, however it all blends in together. I didn't think it through enough before sewing. I also had beaded-trim issues. It wouldn't stay put in the seam and is not up and much as it is. I guess this is just a trial run. It may wind up being Spenser's in a few weeks (or maybe after she's out of the putting-everything-in-her-mouth stage -- she can't be trusted).

Spenser in the pants that I "made" for her. Actually, they are made from an old shirt of mine. I was about to donate it to Purple Heart and read online how someone made baby pants/pajamas/shorts out of old t-shirts (and used the original shirt hem as the pants hem). I decided to try it and grabbed this shirt out of my donation pile before they came on Friday. They turned out cute, except -- I forgot to change the stitching when I sewing the waist-elastic casing and it looked to noticeable from the outside (pink zigzag-overcast stitch). I was afraid that the fabric would "run" if I removed the stitching, so, I decided to cover it with pink chenille rickrack. I think I should have left it alone... (I don't know if you can see it, but it has a silver, metallic thread running through it. Very cute.) So, sisters of mine, if you have cute old shirts that are stained or whatever that you want to part with, I can use them!!!!!
This is how Mason dressed for church today. Seriously. He wore his "boat-tie" (bow tie with boats), cowboy boots and Burger King crown. Good thing he's #4. Taylor would have never gotten away with wearing the crown to church. (I heard a few snickers as he proudly walked around.)

Spenser in her personalized onesie.
Hello again! I've been locked out again. For some reason, I have a difficult time logging in. It seems to never work while Joe is at work, but miraculously starts working when he's home (not very often). He must be my good luck charm. lol

I've been sewing a lot lately. I've now made another embroidered drawstring bag for Spenser, three for my oldest nieces, a curtain for our computer room door (which I don't think I really like), another bib (embroidered this one), a drawstring bag for myself, a Superman pillow for Mason, and a pair of pants for Spenser.

I haven't put my sewing machine away yet. I've had it less than a week, and I can't believe how much we've bonded! I haven't sewn anything today. In fact, I don't think I've even touched it today. We might be going through withdrawal. I better pay it a visit before long.

Carter had his regular 9:00 a.m. basketball game on Saturday. I think they lost. Joe wasn't there (he was working again) and I was trying to keep an eye on all the boys (Spenser was in her stroller). Mason kept running THROUGH the court to get to me. I thought for sure he was going to get pummeled. Somehow he escaped injury.

Taylor's game was at 4:15 p.m. and was about 35 minutes away. The boys played on the trampoline all afternoon, since it was 58 degrees. When it was time to go to Taylor's game, he said, "Are you sure you want to take me?" I think he was trying to get out of going and doing some reverse psychology on me. Of course I did not want to take him, but I cheerfully said, "Yes, you are part of a team and you have to go." He had a good pass in the game.

Jack woke up Saturday with both eyes flaming red with pinkeye. He said "my eyes automatically shut and I have lots of sleepy-men." Poor guy. Luckily we had some drops here from his last bout in August.

Mason and I bought some Superman fabric last week at Wal-Mart. I was very surprised they had some. One was just a print and the other was a pillow panel. I bought a little of each, and a pillow form. He had very large tears when the lady put the bolt away. He wanted the whole bolt of fabric! I washed the fabric and he was ecstatic running around using the fabric as a cape. I told him I was going to make a pillow out of it, but he really wasn't interested in it. On Thursday night, all four boys spent the night with Joe's mom and I sewed his pillow. He came home and was devestated! He said I ruined it. He tried to rip it apart. I sewed some buttonholes and buttons on it to keep it shut and put it on his bed. He later found it there and immediately fell in love with it. (Although, he is a little abusive with it and the buttonholes are getting stretched and everything. I bought some velcro to sew on...)

Coming up this week:

Tomorrow Jack has a "pajama party" and show-and-tell at pre-school. He's taking the pillow I sewed for him last week, because they are assigned the letters "P, Q, R & S."

Carter has to start working on his 100th-day project for 1st grade. He has gathered 100 Army men and has to turn them into a project. He wants to put mud down and make a battlefield. Thanks to his teacher for that idea. Cute, but a little messy! I hate that kind of stuff (and Joe has to work late again this week...)

Taylor has a Gifted & Talented project due this week. His teacher called me to explain the project to me. He has to write 2 paragraphs about an author's life and style of writing. Then he has to write a paragraph about what a sequel would be about. My goodness, that seems like a lot to ask from a 9-year-old. (Taylor said he's almost done anyway, as he's been working on it during school.)

I know I'll be sewing this week. If anyone has any suggestions of things I can make, let me know... (I'm going to make personalized drawstring bags for the nephews from blue ticking, but I have a lot of nephews!!! That will take a while.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

We are having a thunderstorm in January! Can you believe it? It's thundering and lightning out there!

Well, at 3:15 p.m. Monday my new embroidery/sewing machine arrived. Because I had to read the thick owner's/instruction manual (and take Taylor to basketball), I wasn't able to try it out until 10:00 p.m. that night. It worked beautifully.

So far I've made a pink, fleece drawstring bag for Spenser; a monogrammed pillow for Carter, Jack and Mason; and I "embellished" one of Spenser's pink onesies with her name and a flower. Very cute. I can't say that my work turned out perfect, but it was nice getting to know my machine. Mason's name on his pillow is off center. He wanted his pillow to be orange and green. I did his name in orange and made a scalloped edging with green. Jack's name was green. No other embellishing (it was my first). Carter wanted his name in blue and red stitching around the outside, but *no* fancy stitches for him. I tried to leave a cute little 1" border, but he asked me to trim it more, so it's now more like 1/4". Taylor didn't want a pillow (I ran out of material and running scarce on batting).

Taylor is funny. This morning he asked if he could "buy breakfast" at school. I didn't know that was even a possibility. (Why have I been making breakfast all these mornings? I could be sleeping in!!!) He then explained that, when he woke up, he misread the clock and thought it said 6:59 a.m., but it was really 5:59, and he ate breakfast. By the time he was leaving for the bus (8:05 a.m.), he was hungry again. BOYS!!! He played on his PS2 all morning, when he could have had a second breakfast if he was really still hungry.

I gave him $ anyway, I thought maybe he just wanted to try it (he even claims they serve leftover pizza from Fridays on Monday mornings -- now Carter wants to start buying breakfast). But today, he came home with his money. He didn't think I wanted him to buy breakfast (I think he felt guilty). I explained I wouldn't have given him the money if I didn't want him to buy it and that I didn't want him to be hungry. So, now he wants to buy it tomorrow...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Our linden tree. We hated to see it go, but it was too much of a hazard to keep it. The safety of my family comes first, trees last. Sorry -- I would have been a tree-hugging woman (I really, really liked this tree), but when a limb fell last summer and took out 5 birds with it, I knew something had to been done. (Truth is, I don't miss it too much, yet. Maybe I'll miss the summer shade from it, but I like looking out my window and seeing the boys' bus coming down the road.)

Bud (our generous neighbor) and Joe in front of the tree's large, rotten base.

My return!

Alas! I have returned!!

I have been having trouble logging in, so I had Joe help. Turned out, it must have only been ME -- he logged in without any problems. So, I'm happy to be up and running again.

So much has happened.

First, I found my stroller (at church). That's where I left it, in my hurry from basketball to scouts to home. I was kind of disappointed because I saw a cute pink Jeep stroller months ago that I liked and kinda hoped I wouldn't find mine so I'd have an excuse to buy it!

Taylor's basketball team FINALLY won it's first game on Saturday! Well, I guess they had to. His team lost every game in the first set and were pushed down to the 2nd division. At least it was a victory -- no matter how you put it.

Carter is working on his 100th day school project. He has to collect 100 things and make something out of it. He wants to do something with Army men. I'm sure we have *at least* 100 of them around here!

Jack is still Jack. Being nice and all. Last night he said the bedtime prayer and said, "Thank you for a nice loving home." It was so sweet. I'm glad to know that it is sweet and loving in a 5-year-old's perspective. It always seems quite chaotic to me! But what do I know???

Mason is still wearing only Superman clothes. Luckily (?) I found his Superman shorts that the elastic busted in and I repaired them. He has not taken them off since (well, maybe for church and baths only). He's currently wearing Superman shorts and a Superman sweatshirt. I keep telling him to save them for Monday, but he just can't help himself. (A cute little Mason story: a week or so ago Mason found a postcard from our summer vacation to Topsail Island, North Carolina, with a battleship on it. He studied the picture for awhile and then said, "This is a temple-boat, right?" I guess the masts resembled the spires of our temples.)

Spenser is cute as can be. I don't think she can be any cuter. She climbed the baby gate from the family room - computer room and tumbled onto her little brown-haired head. At least it was a cushioned, carpeted fall this time, unlike her bout with the kitchen floor a few weeks ago. Spenser was sick a little, but we realized she has 2 new eye-teeth. Now, luckily for both of us, she is sleeping better at night.

Joe was on leave this past week. We had to have our 200-year-old tree euthanized. Sad, but true. It was too much of a risk having it so close to our 130+ year-old home. I was worried about the safety of my children, both in the house and outside. When the giant linden tree was leveled, after 2 days, the entire center was rotted beyond belief. It was only a matter of time until it caused some major problems. Thanks to a generous neighbor, who paid for half of its removal, we were able to have this taken care of.

I am awaiting the arrival of my new sewing/embroidery machine. I ordered it last week and, according to UPS, it is in Baltimore and will be delivered tomorrow, Monday. I'm excited beyond words. I have had many sleepless nights (starting off with Spenser crying and ending with my daydreaming) thinking about all the projects I'm going to do. (That's where I'll be all week, if you don't hear from me.)

Other news on my extended, but close family:

My sweet baby niece, Olivia (now 4 weeks), is recovering from RSV. She is no longer requiring round-the-clock breathing treatments. She has gained back the weight she lost while being sick. And we're very thankful that our prayers were answered.

My brother, Andy, is in his second week of fire academy. We are very proud of him. While he already has had the training from local classes (he's been an EMT/firefighter since he was 16, he's now 21), he is taking the "real" classes now for a neighboring county. We know that Andy will do a great job. He has been a great EMT/firefighter and has held many offices and won awards in five short years. Plus, he has my father's firefighting genes (who retired after 30+ years for a neighboring county).

I will post pix of our tree. You won't believe how giant it is (or was, before's its demise).

Until then ...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

This morning was busy. Joe had to work. Carter had a pee-wee basketball game at 9:00 a.m. and Taylor had a game at 10:15 a.m. Luckily both games were at their elementary school.

After getting into the school prior to Carter's game, I realized I should put Spenser in her stroller so I wouldn't get so tired holding her for both games. I ran out to the car and the stroller wasn't there! I'm sure no one would steal it because it's only an umbrella stroller (and there are more expensive things in the car to steal). I couldn't figure out where it was.

Finally, I tried to remember when I had it last. Wednesday night. Carter had basketball practice at the school and Taylor pushed the baby around in the hallway to keep busy. We had to leave practice early to get Taylor to Cub Scouts. I thought maybe I left it in the school parking lot, so I checked the "lost and found" at school. It wasn't there. I'm now thinking that maybe I left it at church from Scouts. Either in church or in the parking lot. I'm usually not so forgetful, but all this running around has me losing my mind. (I guess we'll check church in the morning.) What a dumb thing to leave behind. I guess I'm lucky I got all five kids home that night!

Oh! I talked to Carter's teacher this morning and she loves the chocolate-mint soap. She said she wants to learn how to make some because her children are actually washing their hands regularly now! I guess the teachers won't hate me for brown lather.

Friday, January 06, 2006

A sisters' picture! We have always loved taking our pictures together. This one was taken in front of the Washington D.C. Temple on September 9, 2005. From left: Lisa, me, Emily, and Kate.

Here is most of my family in front of the Washington D.C. Temple on September 9, 2005. From left: my father (Ron), my mother (Debby), Lisa, me (holding Spenser), Emily, Kate, Andy, and Peter. My brother, Craig, could not make it that day. We went to the temple to find peace and solace on the third anniversary of my sister, Kristen's, death. Kristen (22) died in a car accident on September 9, 2002, and we miss her dearly.

Joe and Spenser, our angel.

From left: Mason, Spenser, Jackson, Taylor & Carter.

A visit from St. Nick on December 23, 2005. He wanted to make sure that the children were still on his "nice list." Mason, 3, told Santa that he did not want any dirty rocks (coal)!

This is my *older* sister, Lisa (right) and I (left) at my annual New Year's Day party. She's only 18 months older than I, but I enjoy letting others know that she is older. We were often asked if we were twins growing up. She's my "twinsie" and "bestie."

This is Spenser in her New Year's Eve party dress. We hosted our annual NYE party and she was all decked out, with a disco ball above her head!
January 6, 2006

I have decided to try blogging. I don't know why I think I have time for this. As the mother of five children (ages 9, 7, 5, 3 & 14 months), I am usually busy running around. I have a few spare minutes now, as my children and husband are enjoying our weekly Friday "family movie night," and I'm not much interested in the movie selection tonight, Fantastic 4.

My name is Lera. I grew up in a small community in Maryland. I always thought I was a city-girl. I never thought I would want to live in a small community, especially since I was "punk rock" in the 80's and 90's, through high school and college. But, that was before I got married and had kids.

I married, Joe, in June 1995. Since that time we have had two homes, a few fish, and five children (and a few annoying, unwanted mice).

Together we have four boys: Taylor (9), Carter (7), Jackson (5), Mason (3) and one girl, Spenser (14 months). Okay, please don't comment on the choice of my baby girl's name. It was a girl name I've wanted to use before the birth of my 2nd son. I've heard it all from people. Everyone thinks she has a boy's name, but if you look at the spelling (and you look at her), you can tell that she and the name are completely feminine.

We currently live in an old, historic town in north-central Maryland. Our house was built in 1876, with an addition circa 1910. It is an "L-shaped" house. We bought it as two separate apartments and have made it whole again. We have been working on it for more than 5 1/2 years (while I was newly pregnant with Jackson). We still have more work to do, but the improvements thus far are incredible! (Especially if you look at the before pix!)

While I love to try new things, I don't really do any one thing *great.* I like to sew, but I'm not very good. I like to cook, and my husband eats most of my food (he's pretty picky). One thing I've tried lately is soapmaking. I have found this quite enjoyable, although time consuming. I have found that making soap, late at night while everyone else is asleep, is fun. Lately I've been making all kinds of chocolate soap (chocolate, chocolate-mint, and chocolate peanut butter). All smell yummy, but trust me when I say they do not taste yummy (a long story for another time). I made soap for teachers, friends and family this Christmas. So far no complaints. (I am waiting for a complaint of brown lather/bubbles from the soap, as it was made with cocoa powder. But I *promise* that it comes off the shower wall easily with water, and off of soap scum you didn't know you had until it turned cocoa-powder brown, with bleach-water.)

I hope you enjoy reading my blogs. I will try to update them regularly, as time permits. And I will start posting pix soon.