Friday, January 28, 2011

FTD's Quilt, Done!

Tomorrow I'll post all the details, using my usual rapier-sharp wit, but for now, FTD's quilt is ready for the quilter! Pine cone borders to polish it off!

Monday, January 24, 2011

FTD's Quilt, Almost Done!

Woot! I got all the blocks on FTD's quilt put together. It took me longer to straighten them all out than to sew them together, which probably means I didn't spend enough time cutting neatly the first time,* then watching my seams more carefully as I sewed. Oh well, it's not like these are going to quilt shows or anything.

It's a little more Christmas-y than I envisioned, but using the traditional red center, for the hearth of the log cabin, and green logs, welllll..... what did I expect?

I've got pine bough and pine cone fabrics to add sashings around it. That should go fairly quickly~~at least as quickly as I can shoving that much material around. I did see a video of a quilt/sewing table a gal made using stryofoam and heavy duty vinyl sheets. . . hmmmmm. . .

The hues of the darkest of the three darks actually has a lot of black in it, so those are much more pronounced than the others, but that just adds another dimension to it.

All in all, so far I'm really pleased. And FTD said, "Cool." High praise indeed!

* I need that Vagabond Sizzix--it will probably be the first thing I order after I go back to work and get the traveling expenses paid off. I'll order mine from!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My One and Probably Only Valentine Crafty Thing

I've been reading the CraftyBlogggingMoms posts (I read a dozen or so) they're all busy making Valentine's Day stuff. I'm not much of a romantic, so it doesn't really float my boat, but here's my contribution. Yippee. It's corduroy and nice and soft. And I do love the colors actually~~for a change from my earth tone stuff.

And did I ever mention how much I love our living room? Here's one reason why:

The room is five sided which makes decorating a real puzzle. We've tried several different things. And since the Man Cave isn't done, DH uses this room for the office, hence the pile of crap on the table there to the right. But here's where I am even as I type:

I have everything I need to make cushions for the window seats. Everything but the courage. My current excuse for not finishing them is that I'm using the foam to fill in the gap on FTD's bed. We bought him a log bed last year (I think I wrote about that last March) and got him a double size frame. He still has a perfectly good twin size mattress, so I'm using that. Turns out the foam for the window seats perfectly fills the gap. So after I rob a bank and get enough dough for a new mattress for him, I'll get right to work on those cushions. Yep. Uh huh. I will.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Another Day, Another Party

When DH and I designed our house, we knew we wanted space for parties. We sort of gave up having cozy little spots, but the design has worked out wonderfully otherwise.

Today's party was a social outing for the kids in FTDs class at school. All of the students have special needs, ranging from multiple issues to deafness to Down Syndrome to autism. We planned this as the Cabin Fever party. We had hoped to go out back and get a good ol' roaring fire going and roast hot dogs and marshmallows and have cocoa, but since it didn't go above 15 degrees today we just stayed inside and had sloppy joes and cocoa and ice cream sundaes. The kids played with the Wii and xbox and the grown ups had a chance to just hang out together, not worrying about what other people think of our kids. We don't get many opportunities like that.

FTD thought maybe 5 people were coming~~his teacher, 3 kids, and a parent. So when 18 folks showed up.... complete with walkers, wheel chairs, canes, what ever, it was quite a crowd! And they stayed over an hour and a half later that we thought. FTD doesn't usually do parties--too much unpredictable commotion. But he lasted nearly through to the end. We had plenty of food and a really nice afternoon.

And now I'm pooped.

Tomorrow we're helping a kid in FTD's Scout troop with his Eagle Court of Awards Ceremony, so that will pretty much shoot the day for us. I was hoping to get back to the sewing machine, but since I had to clean yesterday and this morning, and will have to again tomorrow morning, . . . well hells bells. Maybe Monday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Two Boys, Two Docs

Our trip to the U-M hospitals yesterday with DD went well. The on-site tests went well, and the do at home one, which includes xrays on 2 different days, should be a snap. And oh, yeah, there's something wrong with the poor kid. What we do to 'fix' it remains to be seen, and will of course, involve several more trips to U-M. But now we know the enemy.

Today, I took FTD to the dentist, for a root canal, which in his case involves "IV sedation." Nice try, but they couldn't goof him up enough for the procedure. So Plan B is to pull the tooth along with his wisdom teeth. Yippee. Are we having fun yet?

And superMom that I be, I managed to get all this done during ice storms. We drove up to A2 the night before, which turned out be be a really good call, and today school was canceled all over the place, so we slid to the dentist's office and home again. And now all of my boys are here, my headache should disappear when I find some tylenol, and then its back to the crafty corner and FTD's quilt. That will be nice. Really, really nice.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Some of my Great Peeps!

My, my, my. I've been hard at work on FTD's quilt, then worked on something else for a while, and then just happened to check FB before getting back to work on FTD's quilt. All of a sudden, right there at the top of the screen were these darlings! Four of my great nieces and nephews, wearing 4 of the 11 pairs of jammie bottoms I made for Christmas gifts. What a bunch of great kids. The boys got skulls and crossbones, the girls got elephants and modern swirls. Wow, this either means they fit, or at least they're pretty dang close to fitting. Hmm, maybe Mommy and Daddy need matching jammies, too. . . ..

One Block, Soon to Join Its Friends

This is a single block from FTD's Log Cabin Quilt. I went traditional on this one and used the red center, symbolizing the hearth of the home. I used two different centers and when I was sewing the blocks together I took no heed of where they ended up. Most Log Cabin quilts are square, but this one will be rectangular, so I broke out my colored pencils (oh, I so love colored pencils) to figure out what to do with the top and bottom rows. I'll be done with it pretty soon--today if the good Lord's willin' and the creek don't rise.

This just in (about an hour later). FTD and I spread the 'finished so far' quilt on his bed and both decided it needs another row of blocks on each side. Oh, well, what's another 16 blocks anywho. They sew up in a jif, and I have plenty of material~~I think. . . :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vote for Me and FTD!

Okay, so I'll try to put the links for the contest here. The winner gets a $50 gift certificate to the Fat Quarter Shop, which is a huge deal! So vote here at the Quilting Gallery.

I'm trying to upload their avatar to my bloglist, but that ain't a-happenin' yet. Gotta be in less of a rush than I am now, I guess. Can't wait to get to camp!

Off and Running, er Sliding, er Skiing er.. . .

I'm heading out to Girl Scout Camp Libbey today with the Green Hats! Woo hoo! And we got 5 or 6 inches of nice, ski-able snow. I'm taking so much junk for 2 days that I look like a bag lady, loading all the crap up. I'm also in charge of breakfast for Friday, so I made a meatloaf, yep meatloaf for then. I'm curious to see if this new recipe passes muster with some great cooks.

I feel so guilty for leaving the family behind that I've been working like crazy getting ready. Most exciting news is that I got all 48 squares for FTD's quilt finished. I showed him a couple of ways we can sew them together and he likes the Barn Raising the best. Yea! I'll sew those together next week. Then it's off to the quilt shop, yet again. I might look for a shop with a faster turn-around. I dropped off my Glowing Pine Tree quilt in early November and haven't heard a word from the shop. I'm even going to bind that one myself, so what's taking so long?

So anywho, I'm also entering a quilt contest through another blog. I'm new to this contesting stuff, but I'll give it a try. Each week they select a theme and we send in pics. This week is snowmen, so here's what I'm sending:

I call this one FTD's Snowman, because he helped pick out the colors. I was hoping I could get him to help with the sewing, since it's 90% squares, but that was a no go. I don't think I still have the designer's name. I'm starting a file of some sort to keep track of designers and stuff. Yeah, right, it's on my to-do list. Right up there with "win a Nobel Prize." So anywho, I'll try to post the links to vote for FTD's Snowman. I'll put it in another post, in case I screw it up, which is likely.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Quilting! Yea!

I try really, really hard not to have too many crafty things going at one time. So I told myself I couldn't start FTD's quilt until the Christmas stuff is put away. Well, most of it is put away.... so I started his log cabin quilt today. It took me several tries to find the colors and sizes I like. I've no idea how long this will take. It's a little tedious doing the same block over and over. I might have to do some pillows or something to break up the monotony.

I've got several projects for my peeps lined up, too. Table decorations for DH's Rotary Club's auction/dinner/dance in February; Green Hat roster and teaching a couple of other girls to use excel; and helping to type up the Green Hat Pocket Songbook should keep me out of trouble while I wait to hear about when I'll start back to work. And next week is "Take the Boys to Doctors Week." That will be a tough one.

And I'm going to camp this week! Woo hoo! The Green Hats are renting one of the Lodges at Libbey for a couple of days this week. Scrabble, Scattergories, snow, singing, and not much else. Sweet. (Oh, yeah, and no laundry or squabbling boys!)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The 12th Day of Christmas, my Son came to me.

Nineteen years ago, on the 12th day of Christmas--January 6th--we finalized the adoption of our older son, FTD the special delivery. He came to us in the dark, early evening, during one of those snow showers that makes you glad you're inside. We heard about him 24 hours earlier. He was supposed to show up right after school. I was teaching fourth grade at St. Richard Elementary in Swanton at the time. My class had scheduled a press conference, of all things, to announce the opening of their community recycling center. I had to be there that day, to tie up loose ends, get my lesson plans in order, and explain to the kids why I'd be gone for a while.

We didn't have anything for babies in the house. CSB (the local child welfare organization) staff made it clear that there would be no healthy white babies coming through their doors. We said fine, we'll be very happy with a couple of rowdy little pre-school aged boys. So we had two twin beds, dressers, all sorts of stuff ready for toddlers. When our caseworker said the child was 4 days old, did we want him or not, all I could think was, "What's wrong?" She said, nothing and since he's healthy the hospital wants him out a.s.a.p. .

Holy cow. I've always maintained that you can never find a ranger when you want one, and I couldn't find mine. He was closing gates in the sloppy snow. When he got home, BadAmy came over, too. She was just 21, and needed more cash for college. Talk about a weird evening, college tuition and diaper pails all in the same conversation.

We decided to give it a go.

I got to school early the next morning and was greeted by a co-worker. She said, "Why are you here so early?" "I'm expecting." "That's fantastic!! When?" "Today at 3." Dead silence.

Baby didn't arrive at 3. We waited. We paced. We looked out the window at the storm. Our house was on a road with no other homes, and for city folks, it always seemed to be so far away from civilization. And yes, it is dark out here. All sorts of horrible scenarios raced through my head. The hospital changed its policy. The birth mother took the baby and ran. The agency found someone else. . . . the list went on and on. Finally, out the window, I saw two sets of headlights, slowly creeping down the road. Our caseworker came with the baby's caseworker to be sure they could find our house. The baby had spent the entire day at CSB, where there are lots of kids, but not too many 4 day-old, 6.5 oz. babies. He so enamored the staff that they didn't want him to leave. But he had to come home. He had a borrowed onesie, 2 bottles of formula, couple of diapers, and a quilt. That was it.

During that day, my sister had rounded up the troops and by the time we got home, there were bottles (I had no idea how to use 'em), diapers, clothes, car seats, high chairs, etc. etc.. (Baby crapanalia, I calls it.) We didn't have a bassinet, but like so many babies before him, he fit nicely into a dresser drawer.

The next three weeks held few memories for me. It's like a dream now. We did run into some issues later, given that he was our foster son, in a program called "legal risk adoption." We nearly ran that risk, but just under a year later, on Epiphany, he was ours. What joy.

Yep, the gifts of the 12th day of Christmas are the best.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

YooperVille Goes Back Into the Boxes

I love Christmas~~the lights, the meaning, the cookies, the trees, the snow, the lights, the parties, rummaging through the boxes of stuff from our parents, the lights~~all that stuff makes me happy. So putting away all the stuff makes me not so happy.

I took the tree down on New Year's Day. We always get a live tree and this year's was a doozie. (See my post from 12/xx) It took up so very much of the family room that I decided to take it down earlier than usual. I haven't put the boxes away just yet, since I was birding all day on Jan. 2 and exhausted on Jan. 3 (not to mention DH is sick with bronchitis and very gloomy). We had a bit o' warmth, so the goofy inflatable train and penguin made it as far as the front porch from the front yard. The lights down the driveway stay up all winter, so the school bus can see where our yard is. It really is dark at frickin' 6:30 a.m. when the boys have to get on the bus. I used a lot, and I do mean a lot, of fresh greens all over the house this year. I'm slowing getting those taken down.

But the stuff I hate to pack up and put away the most is my YooperVille Village. Most folks put up nice Victorian villages. Uh uh, not me baby. If I could find shacks with tar paper on 'em, I'd use 'em. As it is, I use Lemax stuff and then change the names on the buildings to suit my own funky taste.

So here's a little tour. I had to cram the stuff differently this year--more stuff and less table. And thanks to blogspot's crappy picture handling stuff, this tour jumps from the UP to here to there and back again. Don't get whiplash trying to follow this.

It started so innocently~~four little fishing shanties from Lemax. I got them on sale at The Andersons on an impulse buy. Dang you Lemax! Now I own dozens of buildings, hundreds of trees, and I plot out ways to use the stuff all year! I'm possessed! I'm obsessed!

I found this addition this year--when I swore I wouldn't buy any more buildings. I had to give it a proper name of course~~there really is a Yooper Tourist Trap! And it's a riot.

Odd things happened in YooperVille this year. One morning I came out and nascar had taken over every building. Then there was the Giant Squid invasion. I'd move it, it came back. I gave up.

A certain someone had to add some other stuff. Hmm, would that be a kid who has lots of O gauge model stuff maybe?

On the back side of YooperVille is West Whereever, Wyotnana. These buildings will be properly named Bucks 4-T next year.
Here in Whitehouse, my friends the Rhoades are the suppliers of the Big D Family tree each year.BadAmy arrived on the scene this year, too. So much for me not buying any new buildings. She wishes she had a house sitting on a mountain.

Molly and Joe, Montana's bestest fishin' huntin' guides, do have a place. Okay, their cabin isn't quite this big, but they do have the biggest hearts. And that's DH's Old Yellow Bus--just like the one he drove in '64. Great stories, those. Ask him to regale you sometime.

Here's a bird's eye view of half of YooperVille, minus the Giant Squid.

But the best part about YooperVille is that we answer the age old question:
Does the Bear poop in the woods?Apparently not if there's an outhouse around.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Birding and Beavers

I must be sort of a grown-up or something. I was turned loose on my own to count birds on the Grand Rapids-Waterville, aka Oak Openings, Christmas Bird Count. My skills pale when it comes to my friends~~I'm lucky to know so many awesome birders. Compared to my non-birding friends, I'm pretty darn good. But whoa, when some of the best birders in the country are leading counts around here, I feel like a complete ninny. But this year, I got to put my skills to the test.

I opted to stay in the park this year, because two friends, Laurie and daughter Annie, decided they'd like to spend some time birding with me. This wonderful family has "followed" us around the country as I work. Vince, the dad, and Matt, the son, have been closely involved with FTD's Scout Troop. Vince and Laurie are both Really, Really Smart People, being professors of pharmacy stuff. Both of the kids are also Really, Really Smart and Talented. And the whole gang is rib-tickling funny. Anywho, they visited us when I worked at Acadia, and then totally surprised me in the middle of a program at YNP. Annie wants me to get a job in Hawaii next, figuring they'll come visit us there. I haven't got a handle on the logistics for that one, sorry Annie.

Laurie and Annie said they could meet me on Birding Day around 10 a.m., so I took the time between sun up and then to scope out the new beavers at Evergreen Lake in the Park. For years, one of our naturalists sort of joked about bringing beavers home with him from his camp in Michigan. We were never sure if he'd really do it or not. He swears he didn't do it, but the beaver are here and taking up residence. They were first sighted about 3 years ago--a road kill actually--then on Swan Creek just outside of the park. They've worked their way to Evergreen Lake, and have found a nice quiet spot to build.

I'll have to do some research, but I'm guessing beavers haven't lodged in this area for close to 100 years. Awesome. And the rest of the good news is that they're in an area where they won't bother anyone else's property.

Meanwhile back to the birdies. . . . .

We three birded from 10 to about 3, finding darn few birds, although many of the ones we did see were "lifers" for Laurie and Annie. Bluebirds in winter~~always a crowd pleaser~~cedar waxwings~~lots of 'em~~Golden Crowned Kinglets, and lots of the usual suspects. We walked a section of the Wabash Cannonball Trail in the park and were treated with red-headed woodpeckers, but missed the pileated by moments. One of the most noticeable things on this count were the low numbers, not only in species but also in individuals. Our section was no different. But driving back, we hit pay dirt. I was driving on the Parkway, when whoosh, a "flying cinder block" by Laurie's description, zoomed past, being chased by a nuthatch and a really ornery blue jay. This was Annie's first encounter with an owl in flight. It landed and took quite a squawking-to from the jay. (The first pic is for you, Loopy.)

Then the Barred Owl did us the favor of turning around and winking in the ever-so-brief sunbeam.

This event pretty much cements my title of World's Laziest Birder. They come to me.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Crafting with the Stars!

Okay, this is so goofy and so fun I just had to try it. Blogger Tam from SewDangCute is putting on the 2nd Annual Crafting with the Stars contest. I just sit around the house and twiddle my thumbs all day, so I decided to play along. Uh huh. Since I didn't take pictures of all 11 pairs of jammie bottoms I made for the Great-Bunch (the great nieces and nephews), entering the ho-ho-ho felty banner I made for wonderful SILs and nieces. There's also one that says Shalom and another that says badamy for you-know-who.

I didn't look at the other crafty stuff, cuz I'd never enter anything of mine, especially something so dang simple and easy and for me~~FUN.

Owling with the Lil' Ripper

If you want to have a magical night, take a seven year old owling.

Last week, Tuesday, the Lil' Ripper (my great-nephew) spent the day and night with us. We first went to the Toledo Zoo for the Lights Before Christmas, where my younger son, DD, was running his trains with the Swanton Area Railroad and Model Club (or something like that). DD is "in charge" of the display each Tuesday. He takes his responsibility seriously--in his own DD way, of course. Any who, all four of us and the little guy all went over. The highlight there was the octopus, which was actually moving~~and moving a lot! Big hit with kids of all ages.

When we got home, we were all bundled up and I asked Lil' Ripper if he wanted to go owling. Now mind you, he kept telling me over and over how tired he was while we were driving home. But he re-energized as soon as we hit the driveway (my guys all three crashed).

Some time ago, I had told LR how to walk silently in the woods, so we did. But somehow, with him in the lead, it morphed to "walk like a penguin--they're very quiet you know, Anna." I had a hard time being quiet since laughing out loud was what I did after he told me that. But dutiful grand-auntie that I am, I walked like a penguin.

I took him over to the scout trail across the street. For a kid who wants a night light when he sleeps, he was completely fearless walking in the woods in the nearly pitch black. I had my headlamp on as we started, but on the way back he told me to turn it off--it might scare the animals. Huh? and Wow! He also told me we had to stop every now and then and be sure to look back for animals, too. What a hoot.

After walking in a few dozen yards, I told him I'm try to call for owls. Have I ever mentioned that my calls suck? Try as I will, I never seem to get it right. But to a 7 year old with a high, squeaky voice it mattered not. I told him he should try it with me. We went for Barred Owl, as it's the easiest for a kid to remember. And what a joy to stand in the silent woods with darling kid and calling for owls~~and to savor the companionable silence in-between. Not a thing stirred or called back to us, but the fun is in the trying.

It really was cold, and I really was tired, even if Lil' Ripper wasn't, so we walked home. The Christmas lights were still on at home, and they gently lit our way. Of course, for a bedtime story it was Owl Moon by Jan Yolen, followed by North County Night by Daniel San Souci. Being a too-cool 7 year old means being too cool to snuggle for books very often, but that night we did. It might be the last for he and I, but if it was, it was the best.