Thursday, February 28, 2008

"The Monocacy"

My oldest son, Taylor, entered his school's photography contest earlier this month. I think it was a great experience for him (and I also think it can count toward a boy scout merit badge).

While we were out geocaching one Saturday afternoon, we came upon this old stone bridge. It crosses the Monocacy River. It had rained prior to our visit and the water was moving so rapidly, that it was scary. (It also gave us the opportunity to talk to the boys about water safety and to never, ever! enter water like that.)

Joe and Taylor climbed down the steep embankment and Taylor took some pictures. This is the one Taylor entered into the contest. The Monocacy. He won second place. Good job, Taylor!

(I want to go back to this bridge. There was a very cool antique cast-iron sink dumped by the river. It was too heavy for us to drag it up the hill.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Have You Seen These?

This series of books is very similar to The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Daring Book for Girls. I bought The Boys' Book: How to be the Best at Everything and The Girls' Book a couple of weeks ago and the kids love them. They are a smaller version, less detailed, and easier for younger children to read. Jackson (1st grade) can read them easily. Last night at the school book fair, I picked up The Moms' Book: For the Mom Who's Best at Everything. (And I see there's a Dads' Book and a Family Book coming later this year.)

I'm thinking these might be the birthday presents that I give my nieces and nephews this year.

On the health front: Sawyer is nursing and drinking well, but not eating much. He never had a fever and was never fatigue or lethargic. He had a little diarrhea, but I think it was a one-time "flukey puke," as Miss Chris said.
I, on the other hand, have a quivery belly today. Maybe I just need to eat something...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

From Australia

A few weeks ago I received an email from Yvonne saying that she found something she thought I might like and wanted to send it to me. I didn't know what it could be until yesterday when the package arrived.

Remember when I said I liked pendants? Well, Yvonne sent me three! They are so me! I can't wait to wear them. I might have to plan my outfit around the necklaces.

And, if that wasn't nice enough, she also sent

a bag for Spenser! It is so stinking cute! I love it. Seriously love it. It is exquisitely made. I would try to use it myself, but Spenser has proudly claimed it and loves it. Can you blame her?

Thanks, again, Yvonne! You made my day.

In other news, I'm fearing Sawyer is sick. It might have been a fluke, but he threw up in the middle of the night. He is not feverish at all. He nursed well this morning and is sitting in the high chair now. Except, he's not eating his beloved Cheerios and bananas. That's not a good sign. My poor baby.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cherry Times Two

Yesterday afternoon I attended a baby shower for my cousin. She is expecting twin girls in April.

I knew immediately that I would make some kimonos for the babies, but I didn't know what else. I had so many ideas, but sewing in multiples takes longer. (I'm used to spreading out my multiple projects. Skirts. Shirts. Etc.).

I finally decided to make some receiving blankets. The blanket idea came from this book. They are flannel with handmade cherry fabric bias tape. Yum!

I wasn't going to make a diaper/wipe case, but when I found some of my all-time favorite diaper rash ointment in sample size at the town pharmacy, I knew I had to make a matching diaper carrier. I wanted to make a little pocket on the front for the ointment, but I forgot.

And these red swirly buttons just complete it!


Spenser went to the baby shower with me. We called it a "baby party." On the way home she sang a new song. It was to the tune of the Alphabet Song, but she substituted the word "baby" for everything. At the end of the song she sang, "Now I baby, baby, baby ...." until the end. Funny little girl.

And for the baby book: Every night Spenser loves to smell my bubbly hands after I wash her hair. Usually she replies "Mmmm. Shortcake," because of the strawberry shampoo (Strawberry Shortcake, the doll, is her all-time fave). She just picked out a new shampoo that has a starfish on it. When I washed her hair the other night she commented, "Mmmm. Patrick." She kills me, that girl! I guess someone's been watching a little too much Spongebob.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I Smell Like Meat

Soapmaking is a learning experience. Some scents work better than others. And some oils have better moisturizing abilities. It's kind of a trial and error, even if you use a soap recipe.

A month ago, I embarked on a new adventure. Lard soap. I had never made it before and I thought it might be different to try. I read everything I could find. At first the soap smelled so good and lavendery. I added dried, crushed lavender and even though it was very speckled and mouse-poopish, it smelled like a winner.

Fast forward four weeks. The time it took for this soap to cure.

I decided to try the soap yesterday. At first, all was well. Then, something went awry. After the soap was wet and lathery, it started to smell like meat. I wasn't sure if it was an olfactory malfunction or in my head. But I started to smell like meat. The more I washed, the more I smelled it.

I was afraid to go outside. What if all the neighborhood dogs could smell it and they wanted to sniff me or eat me? I had visions of me looking like the pied piper with hungry, barking dogs chasing after me.

I smelled the same bar of soap yesterday afternoon. And it smells like lavender again. I don't get it. Now I'm thinking of new names for this soap. Like "How to Catch a Man (or Dog) Soap" or "Manly Meat Soap" (men like meat, right?). Any other suggestions? Have any single friends who want a man or a dog?

* * *
Last night Joe was in the ER for six hours for a bad viral stomach thing. He was severely dehydrated and they gave him a few IVs of fluids. Poor guy drove himself. We couldn't reach nearby friends or family and he didn't want me to have to take all of the kids in with us. My mother offered to take him to the hospital, but he didn't want to make her drive the 20 minutes to get him and the 20 minutes to the hospital. She was more than happy to do it. She commented, "It's not like he's asking me to drive him to Wal-Mart, although if he really had to go, I'd take him, too."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

On-The-Go Bag

Remember this guy? I had plans for him all along. It's just taken me this long to figure out what to do with it.

The plan was to make an on-the-go carrier for a sippy cup, some bibs, a toddler fork and spoon, and some Fun Chops to keep in the car "just in case." I originally planned to make a drawstring bag, but was afraid of the linen fraying around the string. Then I thought of a zippered pouch, but I thought it might be wonky. Then I started thinking that a wristlet might be easier to carry with a strap. Then my idea morphed into a zippered tote. Then I realized I don't want to figure out a zipper and a handle (it was more than my brain could handle) and it turned into a regular tote.

That, my friends, is why it took over a month to make. The actual execution of the bag took very little time.

[Notes: The outer shell is linen and it is lined in little polka dots that are either navy or black. We bought the Fun Chops on eBay, after Carter got the blue pair from geocaching. They work and the kids love them.]

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter

I've only been a little crafty lately. Just a little. And that little bit is secretive for a baby shower, so I can't share it. So, instead, I'll show you some soap from my last soapmaking experience when Joe was out of town. Chocolate peanut butter soap. It smells like Reese's. I haven't made it in years, and I can't remember why. It smells so good. I just have to wait another two weeks until I can try it.

(The honey blossom and lavender soaps have completely cured, but I haven't tried them yet.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

For Church

Remember when I was on my pants kick? And I had cut out nine new pairs for Sawyer? Well, somehow, these pants were never sewn. They have been sitting in my WIP basket for months. Seems I lost my mojo. And I'm happy that I did.

You see, Sawyer's legs have gotten longer and all the cute little pants he was wearing in the fall are now high-waters. Poor baby #6. I finally decided if these pants had any hope of being made and worn, they needed to be longer. So I cuffed them. In polka dots.

And, while the shirts to match his high-waters still fit, they are getting a little stained. He still wears them, but I thought he needed more options for church. He gets "faux ties" to wear.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Family Day

Today may not be an official Family Day like it is in Canada, but we are enjoying our long weekend together as a family.

Today's plan: more geocaching and an indoor soccer tournament for Taylor.


Friday, February 15, 2008

It Went Well ...

It started
with flowers
and ended

with jewelry.

I gave Joe the Hong Kong Phooey DVD set, some Three Musketeers bars (he recently claimed they are his favorite, although we've been married almost 13 years and never knew it), and a cherry pie (his favorite). I probably got the better end of the deal.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Valentines

This was the scene at our house last night. The oil lamps were not for ambiance. They were a necessity. Due to the ice yesterday, we lost our power for five hours. Five hours with six kids. it got a little wild at the end (just trust me on this one). It was too nasty to send them out to play. It wasn't bad until it got dark. Open flames and children scare me. (My father is a retired firefighter and my brother is a firefighter, I can't help but be extremely cautious.) They were getting excited thinking about sleeping together, in sleeping bags, in our family room near our gas fireplace. I was thinking it was a night that was never going to end ...

It ended and our power was restored around 6:30 p.m. And not a minute too soon.

Thankfully, I was a little prepared for Valentines Day. I made the felt fortune cookies a few weeks ago, they just needed their fortunes, candy, and assemblage. I made Rice Krispies treats last night and drizzled them in red melted chocolate. Hearts for my family, squares for school.

A little Valentines shirt for my girl...

And a smocket for my girl. One side is linen with a double heart pocket, and the reverse is the heart fabric, which I bought on clearance last year after Valentines. (I would have made things for my boys, but I don't think they are fond of wearing hearts.)

Happy Valentines Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Day at Home

This warms my soul. It makes my spirit smile. It's Carter (9) shoveling the sidewalks of our elderly and widowed neighbors. He doesn't do it for praise. He doesn't do it for money. He does it to be kind. He does it voluntarily. No one ever thanks him, except for me. And it's not easy work to shovel brick sidewalks. They are jaggedy, old, and uneven. You can only push for a foot or two before the shovel handle hits you in the gut. Over and over again.

It snowed yesterday. The children had off for Election Day. The snow turned to ice last night. And school is closed again today. So, here we are ...

with a little lady I like to call "Little Red Riding Hood goes swimming at the ballet." She had way too much fun with her dress-up clothes yesterday.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Baby Lounge Pants, Part Two

I cut out two additional pairs of baby lounge pants for Sawyer a month ago. It's taken me this long to actually sew them. Obviously it was not a priority. It became a necessity when I realized Sawyer didn't have any clean shirts. Sew or do laundry? Hmmm. I think I'll sew.

I love the flannel on the right. Squirrels and acorns. They are killing me! They look Japanese to me.

[And before you think that I don't do laundry, I do plenty of laundry every day. And I am almost always caught up on laundry. It's just that I still have some leftover Dreft baby detergent and I'm using that for most of Sawyer's clothes. (His dark corduroy pants and jeans go in with our clothes, so I didn't realize I had clean pants and no clean shirts to match.)]

On Sunday afternoon it was so windy that a large limb from our neighbor's tree cracked and broke off. Thankfully it missed both of our houses and my neighbor who had just walked under the tree a few seconds before it happened. The top of the tree branch is caught in one of our trees and I have the tree to thank for our windows staying intact. Carter was petrified to sleep that night, as his second-floor bedroom window is right next to where this took place and it was still so windy that night.

Monday, February 11, 2008

If I think it,

will spring come? I'm ready for winter to be over. I just want warm weather. My mind can't help but think of springy clothes. This shirt may be a little premature (with highs of 29 today and blustery tree-limb-breaking winds), but I couldn't stop myself.

Last week I ran into the fabric store, for one thing, when Spenser and I spied this fun cherry print. You know how I feel about cherry fabric. Spenser screamed, "Mommy, I love it!" so I knew it had to come home with us. And I knew it would be a shirt, but there are too many options. I decided to go with Simplicity 4206. I have only made this pattern into dresses, so it was my first attempt at the shirt. I lengthened the shirt a bit, but it looks wide, but we'll see once she wears it.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Mama needs a new cherry shirt.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Hopscotch, Anyone?

It occurred to me the other day that my children have never really played hopscotch. Why, you ask? Because we have a brick sidewalk. The bumpiness of the bricks makes it nearly impossible to draw on, shovel, ride a scooter, etc.

I felt almost as if poor Spenser was being denied one of my fondest childhood memories. Hopscotch. My sister, neighbor, and I would play hopscotch all the time in front of our house. I remember even playing in the rain (running up to the front porch in between turns) before the rain washed away our game.

Thus, I decided we needed indoor hopscotch.

I used regular pre-cut craft felt (two layers) and hand appliqued the numbers on and the blocks together. And, if you can see in the top photo, matching "rocks" or bean bags. The felt is "sticking" to our carpet very nicely. I will just have to warn the children of taking it to dangerous, more slippery, hardwood floor areas in our house.

I just finished late last night and the children have already eagerly tested it out. We need to review the rules (they don't get it yet).

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Around the House

... hidden "geocaches" around the house for each other to find.

... late-night soapmaking.

... a "fortune teller" on top of a cub scout uniform.

Also around the house: Last night before dinner, Spenser announced she wanted a haircut, which she has never had (besides cutting out a few twisted knots). She was very adamant. I asked her if she'd like her hair cut like mine. At first she said "yes," then she said, "no, like Daddy's." Hmmm. Thinning on top would not look so good on her. Then she said, "no, like the boys." Again, a flat-top is probably not the best look for her.

During the conversation I promptly got up and started hiding all the scissors. Who knows what she might do. It was so sudden. (The last time I got my hair cut, I asked her if she wanted hers cut, too, and she declined.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Bird

Yesterday I had a few moments to craft and I took advantage of it. I made the bird from this book. He is made from red wool felt and my beloved white with red polka dots. I have been unable to find cotton stuffing locally (and even not locally), and I just can't justify the shipping costs to buy it online yet (almost as much for the stuffing as it is for the shipping). So I used polyfill. I know. It kind of negates the whole wool felt goodness.

I can see making more of these in the future using scraps. In fact, I already have them planned in my head.

(This morning my FIL took my boys to "Dads & Donuts." Joe is out of town and I really didn't want the boys to miss it. I sent my old camera with them. I can't wait to look through them.)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Teaching Compassion

I have been focusing lately on teaching my children about compassion for others (each other) and compassionate service. We have been thinking of ways to show compassion towards others through service. We are still doing Operation Service and are getting blessed in many ways.

One neighbor called to thank me for a meal recently and told me that she had just gotten out of the hospital. The boys told me later that she answered the door while she was receiving oxygen. She was very grateful for their visit and the meal. She especially loved that the boys delivered the meal all by themselves.

Just last week I took Spenser and Sawyer to the library for a quick trip. Then I remembered that Joe had a bunch of old, prescription, military-issue glasses from his pre-eye-surgery days (that he found recently in an old filing cabinet) and that the library has a Lions Club eyeglass donation box. I explained to Spenser why we were doing it, and she was happy to help. We donated eight, brand new pairs that day!

Near the library is a rehab center/nursing home. And it just so happens that our favorite Aunt Lettie is there right now. She fell a few weeks ago and fractured her hip. She had surgery and is now receiving therapy every day. She may be there for a month or so.

Spenser, Sawyer and I stopped by to visit her last week. But then I thought I should take the rest of the children, so last night after dinner, we slipped out to surprise her. She was so happy to see us. (Joe is out of town, so I was flying solo with the children. And they were excellent!)

Sawyer wanted Aunt Lettie to hold him and was throwing a little fit because she couldn't.

And, last night, in my rush to get dinner put away and shoes and coats on the two little ones, I somehow neglected to see that Sawyer had no pants on. I think I had just changed his diaper and got distracted. The boys were laughing when we were getting ready to leave ... Poor guy.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I Will Not Be Defeated

The dress from Friday's post did not prevent me from attempting the pattern again. In fact, if you know me well enough, you will know that I will not be defeated. "If you're like me," you make it again. ( ... and again ... and again ... okay, you get the point.)

On Friday night, I was determined to conquer the pattern. The sizing had to be accurate, I was sure of it. Yet, the neckline was just too big. (Actually, I don't know if Spenser tried it on because she announced, "I don't like that," when she saw the dress. All I know is that the dress kept slipping off a children-sized hanger. Maybe in two years, when it fits, she will like it.)

Anyway, I had remembered that there were a few others in blogland who had used this pattern and, surely, they would have found a solution for this problem. And right, I was! I found this shirt with notes that she put pleats in the sleeves to compensate for gaping neckline. And, what do you know? It totally worked. So, maybe technically, I didn't conquer the pattern, but it turned out. And Spenser likes it. And she wore it to church yesterday. In my book, that means I conquered it.

(Fabric notes: The body of the dress is Alexander Henry's Lemon Blossom. The bias trim tie is Alexander Henry's Pop Dots. Both are from my stash. I also made the ties a little wider so that the design is more visible. This is the pattern for the shirt, which is just a shorter version of the dress.)

Friday, February 01, 2008

If You're Like Me ...

... you're always looking for your next "fix." Craft fix, that is. You're scouring books looking for the next project. And then you find it.

In a Japanese book.

And, if you're like me, you will go through your fabric stash looking for the perfect fabrics. And then you find them. And they seem "meant to be" paired together.

And, if you're like me, as soon as you find them, you can't wait to start.

So, if you're like me, you have to wait until the kids are sleeping before you can begin the project. And you're so excited. And you're not sure if you're doing it right because it's all in Japanese. And then the sleeves look a little funky. And the neckline is a little too big for a three-year-old girl. And you feel defeated.

And, if you're like me, you're not gonna let it stop you. You forge ahead and hope for the best. It's cute. It's wonky. But it's finished. And, there's handmade polka dot bias tape! I think it's right up there with handmade gingham bias tape.

(Are you like me?)

Fabric is Kleo in black/orange by Alexander Henry.